West Coast Brewer – Homebrewing #homebrew #homebrewing
Most people don’t realize this, but it was not Federally legal to brew your own beer in the United States until 1978! Well that is not completely true. Homebrewing was actually legal prior prohibition. In fact, George Washington was even a home brewer. Home beer brewing was federally legalized in 1978 for the first time since Prohibition made homebrew illegal in 1919. It was Jimmy Carter who legalized home beer brewing in 1978.
What is even harder to believe, is that on the state level, home brewing was illegal in both Alabama and Mississippi until 2013! Thankfully we can all rest a little easier now. Homebrewing is currently legal in all 50 states!
It feels like it has been way too long but, I’m brewing up a new batch of homebrew tomorrow! For this batch I’m converting one of my old session IPAs into a hazy. I’m excited to see how it turns out.
One of the modifications is using Wyeast London Ale III for the yeast. I’m also adding a pound of flaked oats, and making modifications to the hop additions, especially during fermentation.
I will be sure to post the recipe if it comes out well!
For the yeast starter I also used Fast Pitch canned wort. It certainly speeds up the yeast starter process since I do not need to spend the time boiling and chilling the wort. I open the can, place the wort in a sanitized flask, add the same quantity of water, pitch the yeast, placed the sanitized stir rod, place it on the stir plate and that is all she wrote!
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Robo Brew Home Brewery
ROBOBREW 3 HOME BREWERY
Stainless steel construction
Large 9 gallon total capacity with a finished beer output of 5-6 gallons
Digital temperature controller
Standard 110 v power
Dual heating elements for total control (1000 watts and 500 watts)
Stainless steel 1/2 inch ball valve
FREE Immersion wort chiller included
Stainless steel malt basket
Magnetic drive pump for recirculation
Temperature reads in °F or °C
The Robo Brew 3 All Electric Home Beer Brewing System is the ultimate portable all grain home brewery! The RoboBrew uses standard 110 v power so you can brew beer anywhere. The built in magnetic drive pump easily recirculates the wort during the mash. Dual heating elements run off of a single 110 volt plug and have individual switches allowing for more control over the heating process. One element is 1000 watts and the other is 500 for a combined 1500 watts! Use both when you need to ramp up the temperature quickly either at the start to get to your mash temp or to go from your mash temp to boiling.
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I initially purchased my March home brewing pumps about 7 years ago, well before stainless steel homebrew pumps were really a thing. Once stainless pumps became more popular, I considered upgrading, but my existing pumps worked fine and I could not justify the cost. Then Blichmann released their RipTide home brewing pumps which feature a tri-clamp attached head!!! In my opinion that is a big deal because it allows you to easily gain access to the pump cavity for easy cleaning. As it stood, I had to rely on hot water and PBW to do all of the cleaning unless I wanted to spend an extra 30 minutes breaking down, clean and then reassembling each of my March pumps; which is really not something I wanted to do after a long day of beer brewing. The one down side was that a new Blichmann Rip Tide home brewing pump will run you $199+. So I waited…..
Then, Blichmann release the RipTide Upgrade Kit! The Rip Tide Upgrade Kit allows you to upgrade some of the most common existing home brewing pumps to a Blichmann Rip Tide, for just $99. With this RipTide Kit, you can upgrade your March or Chugger pump with the Riptide’s Tri-Clamp housing. The RipTide’s head is made from stainless steel and can rotate 365 degrees to fit almost any home brewing setup. The kit also comes with Blichmann’s integral linear flow valve, which provides superior control and eliminates the need for an upper ball valve in must situations.
Blichmann Rip Tide Home Brewing Pump Upgrade Kit
Here is a list of home brewing pumps that the Blichmann Riptide upgrade kit is compatible with.
After verifying that the Blichmann RipTide Upgrade Kit would work with my current March homebrew pumps, I place my order for two of them. After placing my order, it took about 8 days for them to arrive. I purchased them from More Beer, but the pumps were shipped directly from Blichmann.
Next step was to read the instructions (which were relatively simple), make sure I had everything needed (which was just a screwdriver, a couple of wrenches and some PTFE thread seal tape. The instructions from Blichmann came in black and white and unfortunately the contrast made it so that it was difficult to see where the washer was supposed to go, so I included some color photos here to help you out if needed. I began by breaking down my existing march pump per the instructions and removing my existing fittings. It is important that you just remove the pump head and NOT the magnet collar! The pump head was held on by 4 stainless steel screws in my case. Here is an image to help:
Blacihmann Rip Tide Upgrade Instructions
Next I mounted my home brewing pump on to the included stainless steel pump riser. This was not required in my situation but I like the idea of it because it raised my pump up a couple of inches, bringing it close to my kettles, reducing the amount of tubing that I needed and giving me a little more space to empty the pumps when I had to clear wort from them. Everyone’s situation is a little different, but it works well on my home brewing rig. After that you will want to mount the Tri-Clamp adapter bracket on to your pump. Blichmann includes two sets of screws to use, so make sure that you select the appropriate screws for your pump. Be careful not to over tighten the screws; doing so could crack the bracket or damage the pump. Next, place the impeller housing and the impeller into the pump magnet as shown in the following images:
Blichmann Rip Tide Home Brewing Pump Upgrade Instructions
Next is where I nearly had a problem. Install the pump head o-ring and washer to the stainless steel RipTide pump head. My first kit was missing the washer and the photo quality on the instructions that came with the kit were so bad, I could not tell if I was suppose to use one of the mounting washers. Something did not seem right and I would have then been missing a mounting washer, so I checked my second pump kit and could see that there was a smaller washer that was intended for the pump head. It thankfully had two in that box, so all was good. Here is an image to help you see where to place the o-ring and washer into the Blichmann RipTide pump head:
RipTide Upgrade Kit Installation Photos
Lastly mount the Blichmann RipTide pump head on to your pump using the include stainless steel 3″ Tri-Clamp and attach any fittings that you may have. The entire process took me approximately 30 minutes per pump to upgrade an re-install onto my home brewing stand. Except for the issue with the washer, it was very painless. Here are a couple of photos of the Blichmann RipTide homebrewing pumps after they were installed on to my homebrewing rig.
Finished Images Of The Blichmann RipTide Pump Upgrade Kit
Blichmann RipTide Home brewing Pumps On My Homebrewing Rig
Close up Image of the Blichmann RipTide Home Brewing Pump
After that I tested the RipTide home brewing pumps for leaks and checked to make sure all of the ball valve connections were free from leaks as well. All was good and I also took a short video in case anyone was curious about the type of pressure or flow rate that you could expect from the RipTide upgrade kit.
Like with many hobbies, home brewing has a learning curve. Initially there is a lot of information to take in and many processes to keep track of. In time, you gather knowledge and experience and you master the fundamentals of brewing. Where home brewing differs from many hobbies is that once you have done so, there are a variety of tangents that you can pursue. For instance you can explore water chemistry and the impacts on different styles of beer, design your own beer recipes and figure out which hops best compliment a specific yeast strain, try different mashing techniques and focus on boosting your brew house efficiency or even build and customize your own brewing hardware. At some point along the way, if you home-brew long enough; what makes your beer unique is all of the small things that you learn, apply in your process and customize along the way.
On the topic of all of the small things, one of the things that I should have done long ago was place a notch in my mash tun lid to accommodate my sparge arm. Prior do doing so I had to leave my lid ajar, allowing heat to escape from my mash tun, requiring my RIMS system to use more energy to compensate. I am not going to lie, any upgrade or project that requires me to drill into or cut in to one of my stainless steel Blichmann kettles make me a little nervous. After all, the last thing that I want to do is ruin one of my vital pieces of home brewing hardware. The good news is that I almost never use a lid on my Boil Kettle, so if I jacked up the mash tun lid bad enough, I had a backup!
I used three tools for this project, an angle grinder (costs about $30 if you do not already have one), a file to clean up the rough edges and sharp spots and a dremel (or drill) with a fine grinding bit to shape the groves more precisely so that the lid would fit snugly against the sparge arm. Although initially intimidating, it really was not so challenging. My best advice is to measure conservatively for your initial grinder cut and use the dremel to remove any excess metal. The vertical cuts are easy with the grinder, but the horizontal cut can be challenging if you are not careful. As a final touch I may add a silicone stopper and trim it to fill some of the small gaps that still exist; but even with out that I am very happy with how it turned out! Also, if you are looking for an incredible stainless steel sparge arm, I can not recommend the More Beer Ultimate Sparge Arm highly enough. I have used it for around 3 years now and it had performed flawlessly.
I just finished up my latest batch of NEIPA, North East IPA, Vermont Style IPA, New England Style IPA, Juicy IPA or Hazy IPA; however you chose to label it and it turned out incredible so I wanted to share the recipe in case anyone else out there was interested in brewing one. The basis for this recipe is MoreBeer’s Haze Craze IPA which can be purchased in either an Hazy IPA Extract Beer Recipe Kit or Hazy IPA All Grain Beer Recipe Kit. I just made a couple of small tweaks to mine. Although the West Coast was slow to latch on to the NEIPA trend, we have sunk our teeth in and they are currently all the rage. The haze of the yeast, hops and yeast esters pushes the boundaries of what an IPA is and can be. In order to fully enjoy them you need to discard your expectations of what an IPA is and embrace the haziness and sometimes juicy and tropical flavors that are created by new varieties of hops and unconventional yeast strains.
Hazy NEIPA All Grain Beer Recipe
Hoptic Thunder Hazy IPA / More Beer Haze Craze IPA
11 LBS Pale 2 Row US
1 LBS Flaked Oats
2 LBS Flaked Wheat
8 oz Carapils Malt
8 oz Wheat Malt
4 oz Honey Malt
.5 oz Warrior – 60 minutes
1 oz Citra – 10 Minutes
2 oz Mosaic – 0 Minutes
1 oz Citra – 0 Minutes
DO NOT USE A CLARIFIER
London Ale III Wyeast #1318
2 Week Primary @ 70F
– I ferment this at a slightly higher that usual temperature to increased ester production
and to create a more active fermentation)
On day 3 of active fermentation make the following hop additions
2 oz Mosaic
1 oz Citra
On day 7 of fermentation make the following hop additions
1 oz Mosaic
2 oz Citra
Once fermentation has completed or on day 10, cold crash and transfer to keg or bottle.
The More Beer Haze Craze IPA Beer Kit can be purchased here:
Hey, I thought that West Coast Brewer was a home beer brewing site, why are you making cider?
Yes, it is a homebrewing blog; but I figure that cider making is in the same wheelhouse and that I would share what I learned on the topic in case anyone else was interested in making a batch. The idea of making a batch of cider came to me when I was considering what I wanted to fill my next batch of kegs with. My goal was to having something for everybody. That got me thinking. We all know one of those people who is “Not a beer person”. Whenever I hear someone mutter those words I immediately think that they just have not found the right beer or had a bad beer experience where instead of someone easing them in to beer, they pushed a double IPA on them or gave them a poorly made sour. Although Hard Cider is not beer, many people consider them to be somewhat synonymous with one another and it has to be one of the most approachable alcohols on the planet. It has a low ABV, it is relatively sweet, can be bubbly and has next to no bitterness; it is the gateway drug to beer!
Making cider is easy! Making good cider is a bit more difficult but not too hard if you have the right equipment and a little bit of patience. The good news is that if you are a home beer brewer, you probably have just about everything that you will need in order to make a batch of cider. If not, do not worry, I will go over all of that with you. So you have a few options. If you are happy with mediocrity, I highly recommend you purchase a cider making kit! For approximately $45, you can purchase a Mangrove Jack apple cider kit and create a 5 gallon batch of hard cider that will produce somewhere between a bad and mediocre cider. These kits come with all of the ingredients that you will need, include instructions and make the process very simple. It may not be the best cider you have ever tasted, but it you have never made cider before and have no home brewing experience, this may be a great way to go. You can purchase a Mangrove Jack Apple Cider kit here. You can also find some helpful information on making cider from a kit at HomebrewingDeal.com.
If you have higher aspirations and want to try and create a good to great cider then keep reading and I will do my best to help you reach that goal. The batch of cider that I ended up making was a hard apple cider aged on oak and Oregon Sour Cherries. To make a good cider it is critical to start with the best ingredients possible. Your base ingredient will be apple cider. If you have it available to you from a local apple orchard, pick up fresh pressed cider! If like most people you do not, a great alternative is Musselman’s 100% Apple Cider. It can be purchased at Walmart for approximately $4.50 a gallon. It is pasturized, so there are no additives that will negatively impact your cider and is a great compromise between cost and quality. You need minimal equipment to make cider and the most important item is a fermenter that can hold approximately 7 gallons. If you can swing the price, I highly recommend a Stainless Steel fermenter that will last you a life time. You can purchase a 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Brew Bucket Fermenter here for $199 with free shipping. You will also need to bottle or ideally keg your cider when fermentation has completed. Items for kegging and bottling cider can be found here at MoreBeer for a reasonable price and ship free on orders of $59+. If you need any specific suggestions or help with this, please leave a comment or shoot me an email and I would be happy yo help you. Okay, so here is the recipe that I used to make my cider:
How to guide to making hard cider
Step 1: Prepare for fermentation
Clean and sanitize your fermenter and anything that will come in contact with you cider. If you need a food grade sanitizer, I highly recommend Star San Sanitizer.
Add 5 Gallons of Musselman’s 100% Apple Cider to your fermenter
Add 1 (12oz) container of 100% frozen apple juice concentrate (make sure that there are no preservatives aside from Ascorbic Acid(Vitamin C))
Add 2 Tablespoons of Pectic Enzyme (for clarity)
Add 1 Tablespoon of Yeast Nutrient (for yeast health and a strong fermentation)
Make sure that your cider is at an ideal fermentation temperature for your yeast strain (typically 68 F)
Add your yeast, I like Wyeast 4766 or Cote Des Blancs dry wine yeast; both are great choices for cider yeast.
If possible, take a specific gravity reading. Make sure that your gravity is above 1.045 or else you may have stability issues with your finished cider. You can add additional apple juice concentrate if needed to boost your gravity.
Next seal your fermenter, place it in a temperature controlled location and let it fermenter for 2-3 weeks until your fermentation has completed.
Step 2: Post Fermentation
Once your fermentation has completed there are just a few more tweaks.
Add 1 Teaspoon of Malic Acid (gives the cider a little zip) You may want to add a little more or less depending on your taste
Step 3: Back Sweeten Your Cider or Add Fruit (Optional)
At this point your cider will probably be somewhat dry. I suggest that you back sweeten it to help highly some of the apple flavor it in. In order to do so, you will need to render the yeast unable to ferment the new sugars that you will be adding to the cider. To do so conduct the following steps:
Crush 5 campden tablets and mix it with 1 teaspoon of potassium sorbate and it to your cider. If possible, drop your fermentation temperature down to 45F. Wait 24-48 hours. At this point your fermentation should be completely halted.
A 1 (12oz) container of 100% frozen apple juice concentrate (make sure that there are no preservatives aside from Ascorbic Acid(Vitamin C)) for sweetness and flavor
Add fruit if desired. I added 2 can of Oregon Sour Cherries
Let the cider age at 45 F for an additional 7 Days
Step 4: Transfer Your Cider To The Keg
I use a keg partially because I am lazy and partially because it is the best choice. If you want your cider to be carbonated and you chose to back sweeten or add fruit to it, kegging is your only reasonable choice. Otherwise you will need to add yeast to it once again to force carbonate it in the bottle and risk both over carbonating and undoing all of the effort you placed in to back sweetening the cider in the first place. If you keg, you are able to bottle once the carbonation level that you desire is reached and the cider will come out much cleaner!
Clean and sanitize your keg and anything that will come in contact with the cider.
Transfer your cider from the fermenter to the keg, doing your best to avoid drawing in any of the particulates that have settled to the bottom of your fermenter.
Add oak sticks or oak cubes to the keg for additional complexity if desired. I think it adds a nice touch to the cider. Oak takes time to impact the flavor of your cider, so as it ages in the keg its flavor will become more noticeable.
Let the cider carbonate and condition in the keg for approximately 2 weeks. Your first few pours from the tap will be a little cloudy but after that it should begin to clarify rapidly.
That is it. If all goes well, you should now have a delicious glass of cider in front of you! Please let me know how yours turns out or if you have any comments, questions or suggestion.
The Kegerator has been filled to capacity once again thanks to lots of holiday home brewing. I am carbonating a hazy New England IPA and MoreBeer’s Hop Gatherer IPA. I plan on reviewing them in a week or two once they are fully carbonated and have some time to condition.
I dry hopped both of these batches, but what was unique about the Hop Gatherer IPA beer kit is that it came with something I had not previously used, Chinook distilled Hop oil. It comes in a tiny vial but smells incredibly potent! It is used as an alternative to dry hopping but I decided to use it in conjunction to help really develope the aroma in this West Coast IPA!
Distilled Hop Oil
As you can see from the photo above, the vial is tiny and only holds about 10 drops or so of the distilled Hop oil. I dumped it right in to the keg immediately prior to putting the hatch on the keg to carbonate. The oil smelled strong to say the least. I put the empty vial on a shelf and my garage still smells like hops, which makes me happy; talk about aromatherapy!
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I was fortunate enough to get a little time off of work before New Year’s and decided to try and make the best of it! I was able to dedicated a good deal of time to some home brewing projects and all in all I was able to brew 4 batches. I made a 5 gallon batch of hard cider that I am aging on Oregon tart cherries, I brewed an Irish Stout that I am again on Irish Whiskey oak cubes, coffee and Irish Cream flavoring which I am calling car bomb, MoreBeer’s Hop Gatherer IPA which uses distilled hop oil and a slightly modified version of More Beer New England Style IPA called Haze Craze, their Hazy IPA. In the coming weeks I will post recipes and reviews on all of them. For now, here are some photos from my most recent home beer brewing sessions.
Home Brewing Mash of an Irish Stout on a Blichmann 20 Gallon Mash Tun
Recirculating the mash using my stainless steel RIMS temperature controller and More Beer Stainless Steel Ultimate Sparge Arm
Transferring my stout to my stainless steel SS BrewTech 7 Gallon Conical Fermenter
How to make hard cider at home #cider #brew #brewing #hard #howto
I have been an avid home brewer for over 8 years now and In that time I have probably brewed more than 70 batches of home made beer. I will always love beer and brewing it, but sometimes it is fun to trying something different. Not to mention, sometimes the different seasons of the year impact what my taste buds desire. With fall is upon us, I figured I would try brewing up a batch of hard apple cider and add a little diversity to my kegerator selection!
So I started to do a little research on home cider making, and just like home brewing, there are a few ways to go about making cider at home. Some methods are simple and others are a little more complicated and require more equipment. Since this is my first time trying my hand at home apple cider making, I figured I would keep it simple and use one of the home apple cider making kits that are available on the market. One of the great things about these home cider making kits is that they include almost everything you need to get started making your first batch of cider! One thing to be aware of is that most of the cider making kits that I checked out do require you to supply dextrose / corn sugar; so if that is the case with the kit you purchase, make sure you purchase some. You can also pick up optional items to personalize your home cider making recipe. For instance, I also decided to add some medium toast American oak cubes to my batch of home made hard apple cider to add a little additional complexity to my cider; it is not required to make a great hard cider but I think it will be a nice touch.
Here is a list of the items that I purchased for my batch of home made hard apple cider. You can click any of the links for more information or if you need to purchase any of the items:
I know it is boring and you just want to get started, but…. it is always wise to read all of your instructions and home cider making recipe first. Sometimes your kit may not include all of the ingredients you need or you may be missing an import piece of hardware that you will need to make your cider and this is your chance to determine that before it is too late! You will probably also enjoy the process more if you understand what it is that you are doing before you begin. Now that we have have that out of the way, we can get down to business and make some hard apple cider!
STEP 2 – Boiling Water & Sugar
After reading all of the directions that were included with my home cider making kit, I was pleased to learn how simple the process was. Step #1 was to boil 1 gallon of water with the dextrose that I purchased. The dextrose that I used was actually initially purchased for carbonating beer, but since I almost always keg now, I decided it to put it to good use for my batch of home made hard cider!
Corn Sugar – Dextrose for making cider at home
I used a large stainless steel kettle to heat 1 gallon of water. Once the water was hot, I began to add the dextrose and slowly stir it.
How to make hard cider #cider
Make sure that you use a large enough pot to boil the water and dextrose. If the boil becomes to rapid, you can have a boil over and those are no fun to clean up! I let my water and sugar boil for approximately 10 minutes and then turned the burner off. At that point your should let your water and dextrose solution cool down. You can either let it sit in an ice bath with a lid covering the kettle, use an immersion chiller or add some ice to the kettle; just be careful to keep everything sanitary.
Animated Cider Making Gif
STEP 3 – Clean, Sanitize & Prepare Your Fermentor
Just like home beer and wine making, cleanliness and sanitization are critical to making great cider! At this point you will want to make sure that you clean and then sanitize anything that will come in contact with your cider or water dextrose solution! Both the water and apple cider concentrate are loaded with sugars and any bacteria or wild yeast strains lurking about would just love to get hold of it! So make sure you sanitize your fermentor and any implements that will come in contact with your home made cider. I recommend Star San, but you can use any odorless and tasteless food grade sanitizer.
The cider fermentor that I use is a 7 gallon stainless steel fermenter which I first cleaned with PBW and then sanitized with Star San. If you are looking for an incredible cider fermenter, I highly recommend this one and you can get it for a great price and with free shipping. You can also use plastic fermentation buckets, or glass carboys as cider fermentors. If using a glass carboy, just be very careful not to add boiling hot liquids as the fermentors can shatter making for an incredibly dangerous situation! There are also stainless steel 7 gallon brew bucket fermenters for just $229.
STEP 4 – Add Your Apple Cider Ingredients To The Fermentor
The next step is to add your different home cider ingredients to the sanitized fermenter. I first added in my boiled water and dextrose solution. Be careful as this still may be very hot! Next I added in the package of apple cider concentrate that came with my kit. Make sure that you sanitize the outside of the package and even the scissors that you use to open the kit, just to be safe! After pouring in the mixture, rinse the pouch with filtered and dechlorinated water (I use a carbon filter and seen in the photo, which highly reduces chlorine levels); and add the water to the fermentor. I then tossed in my oak cubes and filled the fermentor to the 5.5 Gallon level. The home made cider directions recommend filling it to the 6 gallon mark, but as I mentioned earlier, I like to live on the edge! You will want to make sure that your fermentor can support at least 7 gallons if not more! Keep in mind, the more sugar you add and the less water you add, the stronger your cider will be! So use caution!
Animated Gif On Making Hard Cider At Home #hard #cider #home #brewer #making #how #to
STEP 5 – Check Your Cider Temperature
Yeast is a delicate and will parish if the temperature of your cider is too high! The ideal fermentation temperature for cider is between 65F – 70F. So, cool your cider down to no more than 70F before you add your yeast to the cider mixture. You also do not want your temperature too low or else the yeast will not activate, so try to get it above 65F. I use a converted chest freezer with a digital temperature controller as a fermentation chamber so that I can keep a stable fermentation temperature. If you do not have access to one, do your best to keep your cider fermentor in an area that has a stable temperature of approximately 67F. Keep in mind that the fermentation process generates heat and your cider will be warmer than the ambient temperature of the room that the fermentor is residing in.
STEP 6 – Add Your Yeast To The Cider
Next add your yeast to the fermentor! The fermentation process for you cider will take about a week to complete, but may take more or less time depending on a variety of factors including temperature, quantity of yeast, health of yeast, quantity of available sugar and type of yeast.
Brewing Hard Cider #cider #brewing
You should begin to see fermentation activity within 24-48 hours of pitching your yeast. If bubbles are not forming in your air lock, your yeast may not have been healthy enough for fermentation and you will need to add new healthy yeast as soon as possible. It is always wise to keep some dry cider yeast on hand, just in case this occurs. Dry cider yeast is far more durable than liquid cider yeast.
Fermenting My Hard Cider #cider #fermenting #fermenter #fermentation
After the fermentation is complete almost all of the sugars will have been converted over to alcohol and the cider will be very dry. So at that point I will add a sweetener to the cider that the yeast in unable to convert. This will help to intensity the apple flavors in the cider. At that point I will also keg and carbonate my cider and it will be ready to server approximately 7 days after that. Once completed I will post the results!
You can purchase everything that you need to make cider at home at MoreBeer.com. Here are links to some of the items I use! MoreBeer is great because you get free shipping on any order over $59, they have some of the lowest prices available on home cider making ingredients and cider making equipment and incredible customer service!