I just wanted to wish everyone a Hoppy Brew Year and a Happy New Year. 2015 ended up being a great brewing year for me and I was able to add some new home brewing equipment to my setup and brew some great beer batches with my friends and family.
I have a couple of beers in the works for 2016 right now and if they come out well, I hope to post the recipe for anyone who is interested. I hope you had a great 2015 and have an even better 2016.
Here are a couple of home brewing photos from November and December 2015
Recently I had purchase a 7 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter and was in heaven until I realized that it did not fit in my converted chest freezer / fermentation chamber! So you know what that means; time to grab the cut saw and go all A-Team on the conical fermenter.
Stainless Steel Conical Homebrewing Fermenters
In the above photo, the stainless steel conical fermenter on the right is the 7 gallon unit that I am converting to fit into the chest freezer. I am adding a temperature control unit to the stainless steel conical fermenter on the left and will cover that project in a future blog. So to start, I had to replace the lid on fermenter with the lid from one of my stainless steel brew buckets. Because the stainless steel brew bucket lid is flat, it saved me a few inches and let me connect a stainless steel elbow pipe fitting so that I can use a blow-off tube as opposed to an airlock which save me another couple of inches. With those simple modifications, I was just about there. Next I measured the clearance space from the lower valve to the floor and I had approximately 4 inches of clearance. So I trimmed each leg down approximately 3 inches as you can see in the photo at the top of the page.
The modifications to my stainless conical fermenter worked perfectly and now it easily fits in my chest freezer and I am once again a happy man. You can see the photo below. If all goes well, I will brew my first batch with this fermenter this weekend and will let you guys know how it goes, but so far I have been very happy with the quality. I gave it a good cleaning and there were no leaks, all of the welds are perfect and the valves and fittings are all very high quality.
If you are looking to purchase one, they are currently available for just $395!
Kilning is the process of drying malted grain in a kiln using an indirect heat source to halt germination and evaporate much of the moisture from the malted grains. Kilning grain started to become popular in the early 18th century and was the predominant method for drying malt by the 19th century. Prior to kilning, malt was often dried over open flame which would impart a smoke flavor in the finished beer, similar to what you may find today in a German rauchbier.
A hopback or hop back is a small hop-filled vessel, typically made of copper or stainless steel, that is placed between the brew kettle and wort chiller, or brew kettle and fermentation chamber. It is highly recommended that you place the hopback between the brew kettle and chiller if an external chiller is being used.
If the beer is chilled, then the wort flowing over the hops will be far less effective at extracting the resins and oils from the hops. If the temperature of the wort is under 170° F, the alpha acids will not isomerize, and no bitterness will be imparted on the wort. The aromas extracted from the hops will be diminished as well.
Whole hops are typically recommended or required for using most hopbacks, as pellet hops are more prone to clogging, and a good deal of the particulates from pellet hops will end up in your fermentation vessel. In addition to adding hop flavor and aroma to your wort, a hopback is also a valuable tool to filter the hot break and or cold break from your brew kettle to your fermenter. As the wort passes through the hopback, the hops will work as an organic screen, capturing many of the larger protein and particulate masses that enter it.
Below is the Blichmann Hop Rocket that I use when a hopback is needed for one of my beers.
Home brewing hopback/hop back, Blichmann hop rocket
Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on earth, and the primary content in a beer’s trub. Cellulose is unfermentable, tasteless, and odorless. It is a solid, and much of it will drop out of the beer during primary fermentation, where it sinks to the bottom of the fermenter and helps to form the trub bed. The primary contributors to a beer’s cellulose content are fibrous materials like grain husk and hop leaf.