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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 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 1

Santa was nice enough to bring me a few things that will make me enjoy homebrewing a whole lot more. The big guy brought be a chest freezer, and a two keg setup! I’m pretty excited about it and I can’t wait to have my homebrew on draft. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I have with homebrewing is bottling. It takes forever, a lot can go wrong, and you have to wait till it carbonate to drink your beer. Bummer.

Soon enough I’ll have a fully functioning keezer with two taps and room for a third. The term keezer comes from the combination of kegorator and chest freezer. Some in the homebrew community dislike the name, I am indifferent. Anyway, I picked up a chest freezer off of Craig’s List for $80 and the thing looks beautiful. As a comparison a new model of the freezer runs for $150.  I will be keeping a journal of my progress with the keezer along with anything that I find helpful. The project should me pretty quickly since it isn’t very complicated.

I currently live in an apartment and power tools are not abundant, so I am going to make this thing with the use of two tools; a drill and caulk gun. Happy New Year and I hope everyone had a few good beers over the holidays.

Simple way to add complexity to homebrew

Hello long lost beer website. It has been a busy time around here. We are going to be moving back to the east coast, Delaware to be exact, and I was recently back home (PA) to attend my sisters graduation from college. All in all a lot of good things are happening right now. During the hours I spend on the plane I spent a lot of time catching up on some books. Homebrew books to be exact.

One of the book (I really don’t remember which one) was talking about ways to make your beer more complex. It can be done in a number of ways; specialty malts, different base malts, etc. All of these are well and good, but I finally got around to trying something that I have wanted to do for awhile now. Mix homebrew.

For some reason it never really occurred to me to mix and match and come up with something that should taste good. I had a pale ale that I had made, which came out a bit too caramely and my Winter Warmer which is super dark and tasty. My Winter Warmer really ended up being more of a strong stout, mainly becasue I didn’t add any spices like I was originally thinking of doing. I was have a beer on the couch watching the Flyers and decided to make a half and half with my two homebrews.

I have to say, I liked what I tasted. The hops from the pale ale gave the stout some more kick and the caramel helped round out the body of the stout a bit more. The stout helped mask all of the caramel and gave a wonderful richness to the beer. In all the sum was better than the parts. I might start trying to do this more (once I brew again that is) with styles that should compliment each other or maybe even something that doesn’t. Who knows. Homebrew is all about making something that you enjoy drinking and can be proud to call your own.

Importance of commerical beer to the homebrewer

My partner in brewing crime, Pete, made it down earlier this week to visit for a few days. Pete is an avid homebrewer and not only got me hooked on homebrewing, but also craft beer. As he is currently living in Fort Collins, Co, I think you can see that he is surrounded by some good beer people.

Within an hour of Pete arriving, we headed down to the beer store to stock up for the few days he was around for. We got all kinds of good stuff that will show up on the reviews here soon. Pete and I got to talking about how he homebrews so much (I believe he has 10+ cases of homebrew in his closet right now) that he hasn’t bought any new commercial beers in quite some time. His job requires that he is away from home for 3 weeks and then back at home for three. It is an ideal schedule for brewing. He brews furiously for three weeks, leaves, comes home, bottles what he made, and drinks the stuff from the last go around. Repeat.

Anyway, we were talking about how he doesn’t really try anything new, just beers from the Fort Collins breweries and his homebrew. While there is an impressive selection of great beer offered by the four or so breweries in Fort Collins, he is still only having beers from four breweries. He said how nice it was to have some other commercial brews to widen his taste buds and also to get a good sample of what a production beer of a certain style should taste like.

I fully agree with him. As a homebrewer I love drinking and making my own beers, but I am always searching for new beers to try. Part of it is because I love drinking new beers. But more than that, I think it is the fact that I want to have a solid palate and know what goes into a certain style of beer. I also like seeing a twist of a style and getting to experience something that I would never brew myself.