I’ve brewed a whole lot so far this year and I have done something that I have never done before; brew a lager. I’m three lagers deep currently with plans for one more before my basement starts warming up to above lager temperatures. Other than lagers I have been wanted to try brewing a sour beer for some time. I know that it is a time consuming process that can take years and blending different versions of the beer and all of that, but I still want to do it. My current problem is that I don’t have the fermenter space for it and I would need to dedicate one to just funky beers from now on.
My buddy Mike has been wanted to do a sour for some time as well so I think we are going to brew together at some point and pump one out. He sent me a text today talking about aging in a wine barrel. Since we don’t have the combined capacity to brew that much beer I suggested taking the oak chips that he uses in his wine making and dumping them into our future sour. Now we just need to plan out the beer and decide on what we want to brew. Has anyone out there brewed a sour before and/or do they have any suggestions or resources on brewing sour beers?
During the summer I did a post about homebrew wants and needs. Since that time I have added a gas burner and a larger pot. Check off two of my three “needs.” More kegs will hopefully be coming by way of Santa, so I think I have my homebrew needs covered for the time being.
I started homebrewing in college when I found that homebrew was cheaper to make than buying cases of beer. The results also generally tasted better as well. I started with a Mr. Beer and used it for 6-12 months and then upgraded to a 5 gallon system. I stuck with my 5 gallon system for some time and I have recently upgraded things to a new level.
I still do 5 gallon batches but with my new kettle and burner I can do full wort boils. I have noticed a marked increase in my beer quality. Last Christmas I was lucky enough to have a wife that allowed me to build a keezer. I’m hoping to upgrade some of my fermentors to Better Bottles soon as well as get a new mash tun.
Since I have been out of college I have much more disposable income (it’s easy to move up from zero), but I have decided to stick with my slow growth pattern. This allows me to tweak things as needed and really zero in on things that might be causing problems in my beer. One thing that slightly annoys me about some homebrewers is their need to have tons of gadgets. Even some new homebrewers have the latest and greatest without fully understanding what they are doing. I’m all for the love of brewing, but I find it a bit unnecessary to buy every piece of equipment an established homebrewer has right away. I always come back to what my parents told me growing it, “it took us our whole lives to have what we have. You can’t have it right out of the gate, you need to work for it.” It’s a good lesson for anyone let alone homebrewers. I will continue to grow my homebrewery, as I work towards my future goals.
I haven’t brewed a batch of beer in almost three months now and it is driving me crazy. There were two contributing factors for the lack of brewing over the past few months. The first was that I had no room to put finished beer. My kegorator is currently home to two kegs, both of which contained beer (a wonderful porter and a pale ale that needs some work). I wanted to finish off both beers before I brewed again.
I am a big fan of reusing yeast, so it makes sense to brew a batch and brew another when the first one is finished. Because of this I need two free kegs. The second reason for the lack of brewing was that I moved this last week and I didn’t want to have to move a full keg or a fermenting batch of beer.
I am now mostly settled into my new house and I love it, but I would love it more if my kegs were full of beer. There are a lot of things that I want to do with my homebrew setup and this lead me to make a list of wants and needs.
- More kegs (at least two) to put beer. Even if they are not on tap, it will give me a place to put finished beer and to have something ready to go when a keg kicks.
- Gas burner. My old apartment did not allow for a gas burner because of some apartment law, but at my new house I can burn outside. The stove is also electric but the amount of time needed to get a boil is unnecessary.
- A larger pot. I currently have one five gallon pot and one 3.5 gallon pot. I generally do a split boil in order to get five gallons of beer. This gets annoying really fast and also causes problems since I only have one wort chiller.
- My kegorator is able to hold three kegs so I want to get everything necessary to do that. I want another faucet, shank, and all of the tubing necessary.
- Going along with the additional tap, I want a second regulator so that I have have different pressures in my kegs. I currently have a two output manifold, which works great, but only one pressure can be set. An Irish Stout and an APA should be sitting at different PSIs.
- The final thing that I want to get is an extra manifold. Most of my beers can sit at the same pressure, so I would like to have an extra two output manifold to go along with the additional regulator.
So what can I do on a budget? My wants are all on the more expensive side of things. Regulators run around $50-$100 and another manifold will cost about $35. The shanks, faucets and additional hose/connections will be around $50. Now those prices are not outrageous, but they are a bit pricy for me right now.
In the needs arena the kegs can be a bit pricy at $35-$50 a keg. Gas burners can run around the same price and large pots ~7.5 gallons can also be pricy. My solution, Amazon and my credit card rewards. I just purchased a turkey fryer kit that includes a burner and a 7.5 gallon pot for $65, but it only cost me $15. The reason for this is that my credit card does rewards points and one of the prizes is a $50 Amazon gift card. I’m thrilled to have two of the three needs crossed off of the list. Once I finish my needs list I am hoping that Santa can help with the wants. I should be brewing next week and I can’t wait. I’ll get my recipe posted as soon as I finalize it.
It has been awhile since the last Keezer update and I apologize for that. It has been completed for some time and I am enjoying it a little too much. My wife isn’t a fan of its current location, but she does like that I’m not in the kitchen for hours bottling. In the last update I had the taps installed and the keezer was close to completion.
The only step left is to attach the lid to back collar and turn the keezer on. I don’t have any pictures of this step because it was the most straight forward section of the build. Since the photos in this post were taken I have replaced the taps with new ones (Perlick Faucets). I found that the ones that came with my kit would often stick if you didn’t use them every other day. One of them even became stuck to the point were beer would not flow out. The new faucets have not stuck yet and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Please feel free to ask me any questions about my build. It was a fun project and it only required one tool, a drill. Continue reading
The Keezer is really coming together. The collar is on, which gives me the height I need to allow for three kegs in the future. As of right now I only have two kegs and a 2.5 pound CO2 tank. From estimations I’ve seen on different homebrew forums it should get me anywhere between 10-20 kegs.
Now that the collar is attached the position for the taps needs to be figured out. I remembered some of my design classes from college were we talked about ergonomics and all of that to get the perfect height for the “average male and female.” While I remembered it, I didn’t take full advantage of it. I went for simplicity and drilled two holes through the center of the collar. I drilled them on the right-hand side of the collar since that is where the compressor hump is located and where the CO2 bottle is going to live. You can see the results of the holes below.
The taps actaully screw into something called a shank. The shank is a threaded rod that allows for the beer lines to connect to the taps. I used a hole saw that was one inch in diameter in order to make the holes. The shanks fit in there fine and are actually a bit loose before tightening. There are now only a few short steps till the beer starts flowing but I will cover that in update 5. Here is what it looks like from the front so far.