My buddy sent me a link the other day to the NanoBrewMaster, so I thought I would share it with you. It doesn’t appear that you can buy it yet, but basically it is a super small brewery. It has everything from boil, fermentation, and kegging. A first I though it was neat, but when I looked more into it, I didn’t like it. The whole process is computer controlled and you buy kits from the company. It does make 15 gallons at a time, but I’m not a big fan of extracts, especailly when a computer is the one doing the real brewing. I’m sure it would be cool for some bar to own since it doesn’t really take up that much space, but I would rather build my own HERMS or RIM system and it would probably cost less.
One day when I get my kegorator, I would really like to have some nice tap handles. Afterall how can you showcase your beer without all aspects of the presentation being awesome. I’ve been looking around at tap handles (since they are in my price range) and those things are pretty darn expensive. For a good looking blank one it is around $30. No way! I thought about making some since I do have access to the machines, but I found this product, and I thought it was pretty cool.
It is called Tap-Board and basically it is a tap handle with a 3.25 inch chalkboard on it. You can just write what is on tap and erase when done, pretty nifty. Even if I don’t get this product, it gave me an idea for something I could do when I want to make my own. Link to the site.
So I finally got tired of opening my buckets to take hydrometer reader (actually I use a refractormeter). I got smart and made a mini fermenter to show me what is going on in the real fermeter. The main reason I would do this is becasue I don’t want to rely on airlock activity to be a measure of my fermentation progress. I want to take gravity readings.
The first step in making on of these things is the equipment. You need a bottle, preferably clear, a drilled stopper, and an airlock. You sanitize everything the same as you would you fermenter. When your wort is put into your fermenter and combined with yeast, you take a small sample (only a few ounces) and put it into the bottle. Now you have a mini batch taken from your larger one. It is the exact same thing, and if you keep it in the same storage, it should produce the same results.
Why would you want to do this. If you are working with a plastic bucket or a carboy, it can be a pain to keep reaching into your fermenting beer to grab a sample. You run the risk of infection every time you touch it. Also, you take from the main fermenter, you can’t put your sample back into the beer. Making a small version you don’t have to worry about wasting any beer as you can use the same sample over and over since you will never be drinking it.
Another nice thing is that you can visually see what is going on; if you are not using carboy this can be a real advantage. There are a few problems with this method however. The biggest being that a small sample of liquid reacts much quicker to temperature changes then a large sample of liquid. This can increase or decrease your actual fermentation process. I think getting gravity readings this way is a good way to go and you can leave your beer alone while still knowing what’s going on inside.
Two weeks ago I was in Lubbock, Texas doing some job hunting during my spring break. Naturally one of the first things I did was look for a brewpub to visit. I found the Triple J Chophouse and Brew Company. You can check out their site here. Triple J is a nice place; it has some good food (a bit overpriced) and looked to have some promising beer.
For a seemlingly upscale place, the table covers were brown paper. Kind of werid but I liked it. Anyway, onto the beer. I ordered the sampler which came with four of the breweries five beers, my server gave me a taste of the other one as well. From right to left you have the stout, cream ale, rye ale, raider red, and the smaller sample was of their IPA.
The cool thing was that they served their beers in little mason jars. The stout was pretty good; nice, roasty, and well balanced. I enjoyed it but it was nothing super special. A very good example of the style. The cream ale wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t very creamy with no head and a real lack of flavor. The rye ale was a nice treat. I love rye beers with their suttle flavors and this one was a bit different. The rye was really allowed to shine and it got better the more I drank. The Raider Red (Lubbock is home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders) was my least favorite of all of the beers. The website claims it is malty and balanced with hops, but I think it was way over hopped. There was a bit of nice malt upfront but it faded quickly with the hops. The final beer was the IPA small sample. As with the Raider Red it was over hopped, but it fits with the style. My problem was that it went too far with the hops. I like an IPA that has a little something else to offer, this did not. There was not a strong malt backbone to help balance the hops at all. Some may love it, I did not.
If you are in Lubbock for any reason (please don’t) then check out the Triple J. It’s not my favorite brewpub but it offers tons of different beers thoughout the year.