10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Began Homebrewing

Posted by Terry Denham on 4/18/2017

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Began Homebrewing

 

What a pain in the butt it was to bottle my beer:  I wish I had known how much work it was to clean and sanitize 48 bottles.  That’s if you were one of the smart brewers and bought new non-labeled bottles.  Not only were you always looking for bottles, but they had be ones you could get a cap to seal on, no twist offs.  Then you add in the lovely chore of removing labels.  To make things even worse, my wife quit helping me clean bottles.  Then I found corny kegs and I thought I can clean 48 little containers or one bigger one.  Wow, was that great!  No longer cleaning bottles, no exploding bottles, no one could see the sediment in the bottom and no one mooching a bottle to take home for a friend to try - yeah right.

Brewing software:  It doesn’t matter if you started with Pro Mash, Beer Smith or any of the online brewing software.  These will make building your own recipe very easy to do and gives you great records. 


Make a yeast starter:  If possible, always try and make a starter.  This also helps you to plan ahead alittle bit.  Using a yeast starter will give you more than enough yeast for your beer. You will be certain that you have an active yeast that will let your beer start to  ferment sooner lessening the critical time your wort is sitting in limbo.  Plus, when you pick up the yeast a few days early, you will have checked your grains to help eliminate that brew-day call to a brewing buddy and having to ask, “do you have any special B Malt”?  Yes, we all do that.

Measure Ingredients Correctly and Purchase and Use A Hydrometer:  This is why we use chalk boards when listing the beers we brew and serve.  The easiest way for your brown to become your porter is by not paying attention to how much chocolate malt you just added.  Brewing a pale but ended up with an IPA - make sure to add the correct hops, correct amount and at the correct times.  Remember me talking about exploding bottles?  Putting the beer while still fermenting will cause the bottle to explode.  


The Easiest Way To Mess Up Your Beer Is Through Poor Sanitation and cleaning.  A good rule of thumb is everything touching your beer pre-boil needs to be cleaned  not just rinsed but cleaned and rinsed.  Anything touching your beer after boil needs to be cleaned and sanitized.  Remember, cleaners do not sanitize and sanitizers do not clean.

If you can’t make a good stout more than once in a row, there’s a good chance you won’t make a good oatmeal stout either.  Before experimenting with brewing different beers, get the basic beer down.  Instead of trying to brew a 200 IBU and 10% IPA, make sure you can brew a good IPA.


Have good brew friends who can help and give advice (join a club).  Remember that phone call “hey you have any Special B Malt”.  Having brew buddies over while brewing does make the brew day so much better.  They can help lifting and offer suggestions.  Remember to let them have all the beers they want, but I like to wait until wort is going into the fermenter before having a beer myself.  Remember, the porter you wanted to be a brown.  If you’re lucky, they may also help you clean up. 


Brew on a day when you can set aside the time with nothing else planned.  Brew days don’t always go as planned.  A burner won’t light, the mash water got too hot,your pump stopped working for a few minutes you forgot to heat the sparge water.  The worst thing is maybe a stuck mash.  The boil won’t start fast enough.  You get the picture - it happens to all of us at one time or another.  Just remember to allow yourself time to brew without being rushed. 


I really can save money brewing my own beer.  This goes without saying.  That boil kettle on the stove and plastic fermenter still makes good beer but you want more.  A friend of mine says “it is like buying a bass boat to save money on fish”

                                                                                                                                

All my, friends will tell you my favorite brewing statement.  And that is…“we are not putting a man on the moon”.  Keep it simple.  All of the above are ways to make your brew day more enjoyable.  You do have to pay attention to what you are doing.  But just don’t over think the process, we are just making beer - hopefully good beer.

 

 

10 Tips To Make Brew Day Easy

Posted by Terry Denham on 4/8/2017 to Homebrewing Blogs

Don’t spend brew day like this

 

10 Things to do before brew day

 

Recipe:  Have your recipe ready and entered in to your brewing software either an online version or Beersmith.

Yeast:  If you are unsure of your yeast choice, you can check either White Labs or Wyeast for advice.  If you are making a starter, remember to get it started early in the week.  If you need to order or go to your local LHBS, don’t wait until the day before brewing.

Grains:  You should check to be sure you have enough base grains and any specialty grains you may need.  If possible, mill the grains night before as this will help make the morning easier.

Hops:  Once again, you should make certain you have the correct type and amount of hops.  If you use a hop spider or hop bag, check to be sure you have either a new or clean bag.

Propane:  Hopefully the store where you get your propane tanks filled only charge you for the amount used to fill a tank and not the full price to exchange the tank.  It is always nice to have an extra full tank on hand.

Water:  It would be helpful if you can have the water in your mash tun and hot liquor tank the night before.

Equipment:  Pre clean fermenter, valves, pump, chiller and kettles.

Beer:  Buy a beer or two of commercial beer of what you are brewing that day.  I suggest waiting until your wort is going into the fermenter.

Invite a friend:  It is better having a brew buddy around while you brew.  They can lend a hand when needed or also give support.

Clean Up:  This for the actual brew day.  Clean equipment as you go so at the end of the brew session most everything is cleaned and put away.

How use a Keggle Brewing Keggle Kit

Posted by Forrest on 3/15/2017 to Homebrewing Blogs
If you’ve been thinking of making the step up to 10-gallon batches, and you just bought a Keggle Brewing Keggle Kit. You need a 15.5-gallon Sankey-style keg, (unless you know how to weld or have a local welding shop that will do the work)and some basic power tools. The end product is commonly referred to as a “keggle,
Safety precautions
As with most DIY projects, protective eyewear is absolutely required. And given that there are flying, red-hot metal particles involved in this project, I highly recommend safety goggles instead of just glasses. In addition, hearing protection is also recommended. Cutting and grinding metal is very loud and can cause hearing damage. A cheap pair of earplugs will protect your hearing and make the project a lot more comfortable to complete.
First step: vent the keg

Unless you bought your keg reconditioned, you must bleed off the interior pressure. Even empty kegs aren’t really empty, in most cases. There will be a small amount of stale beer and a decent amount of pressure still inside. YOU MUST RELIEVE THE PRESSURE ON THE KEG BEFORE ANY CUTTING OR DRILLING. Failing to follow this guideline could result in serious injury.

My preferred method for safely depressurizing a keg is to drill a small hole near the outside edge of where you are going to cut to top.  It is advisable to cover the top of the keg with an old towel to prevent a geyser of funky, stale beer from reigning down on you or shooting up in your face.

Marking and cutting the top

Use a permanent type marker (a Sharpie, for example) to mark the guideline for the cut. One easy way to do this is to tie one end of a string around the marker and the other end around the center valve on the keg. This low-tech method yields a very nice circle that is pretty close to perfect. If you’ve got a really steady hand, you can also just lean the marker against the inside edge of the outer rim and run it around the circumference of the keg.

A common diameter for the opening on a keggle is about 12 inches I grind edge smoother to remove any burrs

For doing the actual cutting, you have a few options. The most elegant choice is a plasma cutter. If you know someone who owns one of these, this is the best way to cut a super smooth opening with minimal fuss. If this isn’t an option (which is the case for most of us), you can also use an angle or die grinder or various types of rotary tools. Just to compare results, I used a RotoZip rotary tool for about half of the cut and a Dremel rotary tool for the other half. For both tools, I used their respective heavy duty metal cutting/grinding wheels (part # RZMET2 for the RotoZip and part # EZ456 for the Dremel). I also tried using my air grinder, but my compressor isn’t nearly powerful enough to keep the grinder going long enough to make the cutting worthwhile. But if you have a compressor you could do it this way as well.

The smaller the diameter of the cutting/grinding wheel, the smoother a cut you can make. The tradeoff is that smaller wheels also take longer to do the cutting. In my tests the Dremel (with a 1.5-inch wheel) took about three to four times as long to cut the same distance as the RotoZip (with a 3.5-inch wheel), but the resulting edge was smoother and required less grinding and filing to make it safe for human contact. Either tool did an adequate job, however. Expect to use two or three of the RotoZip wheels and six or more of the Dremel wheels to complete the cut. Buy double what you think you’ll need, just in case.

You can also use an angle or die grinder to cut out the keg top. This project is an excellent excuse to purchase more power tools. Experiment with different methods to find the best result.

Once you’ve got the top out (Figure 2), you should smooth out the rough edges around the opening. Take extra care during this step, as the steel will be very sharp. I used an angle grinder as a first step to wear down the edge (Figure 3). I followed this up with a finer grinding stone attachment on my Dremel and some manual sanding with very coarse sand paper on a sanding block. My resulting edge in these photos, while not the prettiest in the world, is smooth to the touch and safe for general brewing use. The opening doesn’t need to prove Pi to 20 decimal points in order to have a working brew kettle, but it does need to be safe for handling.

Adding the ball valve

Now we’re going to add a weldless bulkhead and ball valve to round out the keggle. If you plan to go with a welded connection, you can skip this section and consult with the welder. Most homebrewing gear uses 1⁄2-inch threaded fittings, so just make sure you standardize on that when welding.

Several homebrew suppliers offer weldless kits that include the bulkhead and the ball valve. I opted to use Norther Brewer’s bulkhead-only kit (catalog #7551) and a Blichmann 3-piece stainless steel ball valve (available from many suppliers). I chose this combination because all of the parts that touch the wort/beer are stainless steel, and the Blichmann valve can be broken down for cleaning. You can use any bulkhead setup or ball valve you like.

For a 1⁄2-inch bulkhead, you’ll generally need a 7⁄8-inch hole. However, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, so if their guidelines give a size other than 7⁄8 of an inch, go with what is stated in the instructions.

Mark the spot for drilling a couple inches up from the bottom seam of the keg. The inside bottom of a keg is sloped, so the closer to the bottom you drill, the more of an angle your valve will sit at when attached. Each type and shape of keg varies as to the degree of slope, so make sure you don’t drill the hole too low. In my experience, it’s better to go a little too high than too low, because you can make up for a high valve with a dip tube.

Drilling the keg

Drilling stainless steel can be frustrating sometimes, to say the least. The approach I take is to use a center punch to mark the initial hole, then use a 1⁄8-inch twist bit to make a pilot hole, and then widen the hole up to the proper diameter with a step bit (Figure 4). You can get inexpensive step bits from Harbor Freight and most big-box auto parts stores such as AutoZone.

The keys to drilling stainless steel are: use lubricant (3-in-1 oil works fine), drill at slow to medium speed, and use a lot of pressure. Lubricant is very important when drilling stainless steel, as it is critical not to get the metal too hot. If it gets too hot, the steel will harden and become virtually impossible to work with. Use the oil liberally, and reapply as necessary during the drilling process. You’ll know it’s time to apply more when you see the oil evaporate in a small puff of white smoke. At that point, stop drilling and apply more oil.

Instead of a step bit, you can use a hole saw. Some brewers have used hole saws with excellent results, but my experiences have been hit or miss.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the bulkhead fitting, (Figure 5) and then attach the ball valve (Figure 6). At this point, you could either add a hose barb fitting to the ball valve or connect more complex plumbing, depending on your brewery setup.

Clean that keggle!

Once you’ve done all the cutting, grinding, drilling, and filing, the inside of the keg is going to be nasty. Rinse it thoroughly with water to remove all of the drilling lubricant and metal filings. Follow up with an overnight soak in warm water and Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW). Rinse thoroughly, and you’re ready to brew.


Why I only homebrew all grain

Posted by on 3/5/2017
Why I only homebrew all grain

Why I became a homebrewer

Posted by Terry Denham on 2/19/2017 to Homebrewing Blogs

After being introduced to Brooklyn Brewing’s Chocolate Stout, I told my wife “I would like to try and make beer good beer like that”.  Well, that Christmas my wife bought me my first brewing bucket kit.

 

That was the start of what has been a very enjoyable hobby. 

Bottle or Keg

Posted by on 6/15/2016 to Homebrewing Blogs

 

 When you ask homebrewers “Do you bottle or keg your beer?” You will get the simple and the complex answers to such a question. I fall in the middle I keg most and bottle some here is a few reasons why. Barley wines or a brew that I want to age I bottle. You have labels right Click Here if you don't? Bottles are great for a competition hands down. Home brew kegs win no yeast sediment till the last glass, and it's a beer tap in your house kind of badass. Kegs can be easy to manage less work.

 

What's your opinion Bottles or Kegs?

How To Home Brew

Posted by on 2/29/2016

Beer Brewing for Beginners.  

Whether this is your first fermentation or a continuation of the quest to create the perfect glass of beer, here are the fundamentals of brewing.  Beer Beer brewing can be as complex or simple as you wish to make it. There are beer brewing kits available for purchase that simplify brewing--and then there is the art of brewing from scratch.
 

The Key Ingredients Before beginning the brewing process.

You must first understand the four key ingredients necessary to brew a batch of beer: water, fermentable sugar, hops and yeast. Each ingredient is integral to the recipe and must be cooked in a certain way to yield a successful batch of brew. Understanding their basic qualities and how each ingredient is meant to react with the others is an important aspect of beer brewing.

Water:

Water is the primary ingredient in beer, so it is very important that the water tastes good. If the tap water at your house tastes good to you, then it is fine to use for beer brewing. If you don't like the way your tap water tastes, then you can use bottled or distilled water instead. If you use tap water, boil it first to evaporate the chlorine and other chemicals that may interfere with the brewing process. Let the water cool before using.

Fermented Sugar:

Malted barley is the ingredient commonly used to fill the sugar quota in a home brew recipe. Some brewers will substitute a percentage of corn, rice, wheat or other grains to add a lighter flavor to the beer.Beginning brewers should purchase a ready-to-use form of malted barley called malt syrup or malt extract, rather than attempting to malt the grain from scratch, as it is a very complex and touchy process. Using a malt extract will guarantee that the fermented sugar is prepared in just the right manner and will act as it needs to throughout the beer brewing process.

Hops:

Hops are cone-like flowers found on a hop vine. They lend the bitter flavor to beer that balances out sweetness. Hops also inhibit spoilage and help keep the "head" (the frothy top when a beer is poured) around longer.

Yeast:

First things first: Do not use bread yeast for beer brewing! Beer yeast is cultivated especially for use in brewing. There are two broad categories of beer yeast: ale and lager. Ale yeasts are top-fermenting, which means they tend to hang out at the top of the carboy while fermenting and rest at the bottom after the majority of fermentation has occurred. Ale yeasts will not actively ferment below 50° degrees F (20° c ). Lager yeasts are bottom-fermenters and are best used at a temperature ranging from 55 degrees F (25° C) down to 32° degrees F (0° C). As their names suggest, the type of yeast used plays an important part in influencing the type of beer that will be made. Do not rely on the yeast to define the beer, however, as all of the ingredients play a part in the taste and type of beer you will create.

 

Ready to Brew? We've opted to use a simple ale recipe to guide you through the process. The first cooking step in brewing is to make the wort, a soupy mixture of malt and sugar that is boiled before fermentation. Malt and sugar form the perfect food for yeast to grown in--thus making the all-important process of fermentation possible.All of the ingredients for beer-making can be found at your local brew supply store, or at any number of beer outfitters. Once you've got all the necessary equipment and ingredients, you're ready to begin the beer-making process by properly sanitizing your equipment, making and cooling the wort, fermenting the wort and bottling your brew.
Downloadable PDF link recipe equipment list 
Ingredients:
1.5 gallons water
6 pounds canned pre-hopped light malt syrup
1 ounce hop pellets (choose your flavor)
Ice poured into a water bath (do not use store-bought ice)
3 gallons cool water
2 (7-gram) packets ale yeast
1 cup warm water (about 90 degrees F or 35 degrees C)
3/4 cup liquid corn syrup (or 4 ounces dry corn syrup)
1 (4-ounce) container iodine solution
1 tablespoon bleach
A bottle of household bleach or an iodine solution that can be bought at your local home brew shop to sanitize all of your materials or use will be necessary.
SANITIZING is an ingredient  
(Make a bleach disinfecting solution with 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon water.)
Be sure to rinse the equipment well with boiling water before using it.
Beer Brewing Equipment
List:
 
Part I:
Make and Cool the Wort Sanitize the pot, stirring spoon and fermenter with the sanitizing solution. Rinse everything in boiling water.
Boil 1.5 gallons of water to a boil. When the water begins to boil, remove it from the heat and stir in the malt syrup until it dissolves. Do not allow any syrup to stick to the bottom or sides of the pot, as it will burn and taste awful. Return the pot to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil for 50 minutes, stir frequently and watch constantly to prevent boil-overs. If the mixture threatens to boil over, reduce the heat. After 50 minutes have elapsed, stir in the hop pellets.
Hops will create a foam on the top of the liquid--so if the pot is very full, the hops may cause a boil-over. You want to avoid this at all costs by lowering the heat or spraying the foam down with a water bottle (sanitized, of course). Let the hops cook for 10 to 20 minutes.
YEAST :While the wort is being made, prep the yeast by placing 1 packet of yeast in 1 cup of warm water (90° degrees F or 35°C; stir and cover for 10 minutes. If the yeast does not react (form foam), discard the yeast solution and try again with the second yeast packet. At about the time hops are added to the wort, you should prepare an ice-cold water bath in either a large sink or tub to quick-cool the wort. Once the wort is finished cooking, float the pot in the water bath. Stir the wort while it is sitting in the bath so that the maximum amount of wort reaches the pot's sides where it can cool quickly. If the water bath heats up, add more ice to keep the water bath cold. It should take approximately 20 minutes to cool the wort to approximately 80° degrees F (27° degrees C).
 
Part II: Ferment Pour the 3 gallons cool water into your sanitized carboy . Funnel in the warm wort. Sprinkle the prepared yeast into the carboy. Cover the carboy's mouth with plastic wrap and cap it with a lid. Holding your hand tight over the lid, shake the bottle up and down to distribute the yeast. Remove the plastic wrap, wipe any wort around the carboy's mouth off and place the fermentation lock (with a little water added into its top) on. Store the carboy in a cool (60° to 75° F or 15° to 24° C) safe place without direct sunlight where you will be able to easily clean up or drain any foam that escapes. A bathtub is an excellent place to store your fermenter if there are no windows in the room. If the temperature in the storage room drops and bubbling in the carboy's airlock stops, move the carboy to a warmer room. The fermenting will resume. Fermentation should begin within 24 hours. A clear sign of fermentation is the production of foam and air bubbles in the fermentation lock. When fermentation begins, it produces a slow trickle of bubbles that will increase in amount for a few days, and then reduce to a slow trickle again. Let the beer ferment for approximately 14 days when the primary fermentation has taken place. If the fermenting process pops the fermentation lock out of the carboy, re-sanitize it and place it back into the carboy.
 
Part III: You are now ready to keg and serve your beer.
Enjoy .

♥ Every Home brewing wife knows SIZE matters.♥

Posted by on 2/16/2016 to Homebrewing Blogs

How many beers to a keg and what they are called?

Different kegs and the volumes

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