Skip to main content

Homebrewing wants/needs

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.

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.

Wants

  • 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.

 

 

Keezer Part 5

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. (more…)

Keezer Part 4

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.

Keezer Part 3

In my last post about the my Keezer build I stained and finished the collar and also assembled it. Once that was completed I had to secure the collar to the freezer. To do this I used all purpose Liquid Nails. Once the Liquid Nails fully set (about 24 hours or so) I caulked all of the joints as you can see below.

Once the caulk dried I went ahead and drilled a few holes. The first set was to realign the hinges so that the lid could open and close normally. I made a paper template by holding a piece of paper up to the old holes on the freezer and poking holes through the paper with a pencil. Simple, but it worked. Remember I am doing this conversion with as few tools as possible. So far the only power tool required is a drill.

After I drilled the holes for the lid I drilled a hole for the temperature controller. The temperature controller is in charge of keeping the freezer from doing it’s job. The freezer can get down to 0 degrees on it’s lowest setting, I don’t want that to happen because I can’t drink or serve frozen beer. The two pictures below show the hole from the outside and inside of the keezer.

In my next update I will drill holes for the faucets/shanks and button the whole thing up.

How do I make a yeast starter?

There are several things that you can do to help your beer turn out better, but one of the easiest things you can do is make a yeast starter. What is a yeast starter exactly? Well a yeast starter is a “mini” batch of beer that you make in order to allow your yeast to reproduce and become active. This allows you to pitch active and healthy yeast directly into your beer instead of yeast that have been dormant for a long time. By doing this, you cut down on your lag time between when the yeast first enters the wort and the time that it begins to eat the sugars. This limits the chances of other critters who like beer to get a head start. It can also allow you to ferment fuller and cleaner. You can read more about this from Mr. Malty along with information of proper pitching rates.

For my yeast start I use a 1:4 ratio of dry malt extract to water. I generally use 1/2 cup of dried malt extract and two cups of water. From there I boil it for 15 minutes and then cool it quickly. You can put a tiny amount of hops in or leave it without hops. In either case, your sanitation needs to be stellar. Remember these yeast are going to go in your final beer. I use a growler with an screw on cap and an airlock to pour my wort into (once properly cleaned and sanitized). From there I pitch my yeast in and give it 2-4 days to ferment. Make sure you plan your brew days ahead if you are going to do this. You should wind up with something that looks similar to the image below:

A quick recap

  • 1/2 cup of DME
  • 2 cups of water
  • Boil for 15 minutes
  • Cool quickly and place into (sanitized!)  growler
  • Aerate your wort
  • Pitch yeast into wort
  • Seal container with airlock
  • Give 2-4 days and then pitch into brew day wort (more…)