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.
So I started doing some research and decided that I was going to start with the “HAZE CRAZE IPA” all grain hazy IPA beer kit from More Beer. The name did not sell me on the kit, but the recipe and hop additions certainly did. I made a couple of small tweaks to the recipe, but they were pretty insignificant. Here is what I ended up with:
Grain Bill: (Mash at 150F)
12 lb Pale Ale Malt
1 lb Flaked Oats
1 lb Flaked White Wheat
8 oz Flaked Barley
4 oz Honey Malt
60 min .5 oz Warrior
5 min 1oz Citra
0 min 2oz Mosaic
0 min 1oz Citra Bavaria (I love this hop)
Whirlpool 15 min
Whirlpool 15 min
Dry Hop Additions: I know this is not typical, but add the dry hops about 3 days after the start of fermentation. Begin fermenting at 65F and then boost the temp to 70F when adding the dry hops.
1oz Citra (Did I mention I love this hop?)
7 days after the start of fermentation
Yeast: London Ale III (This is important for fruity ester and haze production)
The beer came out fantastic! If you are considering brewing up a Hazy IPA, I highly recommend this recipe. Homebrew Supply also has a extract version of the recipe available for extract brewers. The beer kits can be found here:
Just about any good home brewer will tell you that one of the first rules of home brewing beer and making good home brewed beer is cleanliness. Unfortunately humans are not the only beer lovers on the planet. Beer is loved by everything from insects to bacteria and your home brewing and keg systems are highly susceptible to bacterial growth. Beer lines, keg fittings and taps are often times places where the like to hang out and they should be cleaned regularly. Thankfully there are several products out there to help you keep your systems sanitary and your beer tasting good!
The downside of having a home draft beer system means that you also have to care for it. So I purchased a draft beer line cleaning kit and some liquid beer line cleaner which is shown above. The kit was great, it came with instructions and everything that I needed in order to do the job. The beer keg line cleaning kit came with a 1 quart hand pump that pushes Beer Line Cleaner through the draft beer system. The faucet gets removed and cleaned with the included faucet wrench and brush. The process is relatively quick and easy and takes about 20 minutes to clean a couple beer taps out.
If you are interest in purchasing a draft beer line cleaning kit you can find it here:
Here are some instructions on how to clean your keg beer lines and draft beer system:
1) Remove the tap from the keg. Use a beer faucet wrench to remove the faucet (the piece that the beer actually flows though to your glass) from the draft beer shank. The beer faucet collar should have a few holes in it, insert the wrench end into a hole and spin the collar clockwise to remove.
2) Next, disassemble the faucet to the point that the shaft inside can slide out. Place these parts in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water and ¼ teaspoon of Beer Line Cleaner. Put one cap full of beer line cleaner into the beer line pump jar and fill with warm water. Attach the lid pump unit back on the jar. Get a bucket to collect the fluid running from the tap. Insert the cleaning brush small end into the bottom of the tap to allow the flow to go through if needed.
3) Pump the cleaning solution though line and tap allowing the solution to sit in the lines for 10–15 minutes, then pump through. Follow this with 1–2 jars of water to rinse. Remove the brush from the tap.
4) Use the brush and a towel to clean the draft beer faucet and then rinse with clean water. Reassemble the faucet, hand tighten parts, leave loose enough so that they move freely. Attach the faucet back onto the shank again, using the wrench, do not over tighten, just tighten enough so that it does not leak any precious beer!
Just let me know if you have any questions on how to clean your draft beer system and keg lines.
Retail Price: $299 Homebrewing Rig Style: All In One Homebrewing System Home Brewing Rig Details: The Brewer’s Edge Mash & Boil is probably the best deal going for an all in one all grain home brewing system. With the Brewer’s Edge, there is no need for an outdoor burner, complicated brewing system, or even a 220 volt special circuit. The Brewer’s Edge homebrew system plugs right in to any standard 110 volt GFI household outlet. The Brewer’s Edge Mash and Boil’s exclusive double wall stainless construction conserves heat to achieve a rolling boil with only 110 volts and 1600 watts, and its precise thermostat and internal sparging basket lets you mash and boil in the same vessel!
Prior to purchasing these home brew fermenters I tended to use glass carboys but would also use a plastic carboy on occasion. Often times I get asked if they are worth the money? For me I can quickly and honestly answer yes! The main reason is they are more durable and I do not have to worry about dropping one of my glass carboys anymore and having it send me to the hospital. I also got them for a great deal, or at least what I consider a great deal. I picked the stainless steel brew buckets up for $195 each, the 7 gallon for $395, and the 14 gallon for $495. There are a few more reasons why I like them so much.
They are constructed from 100% stainless steel, so if I care for them they will last a life time. Since these homebrew fermenters are built from metal, it also means that I do not need to worry about light oxidization while the wort or beer is in it. They are incredible easy to clean. If I want to I can transfer via CO2 pressure. My 14 gallon unit has a temperature control unit which makes fermenting an ale or a lager a breeze regardless of the time of year. My stainless brew buckets and 7 gallon conical fermenter all fit in my fermentation fridge and allow me to ferment about 18 gallons of beer as opposed to 10 gallons if I was still using my glass carboys! Dry hopping these are a snap since their lids come off, which make they a snap to clean as well. The conicals come with a thermowell built in and the stainless brewbuckets have a add-on kit for them as well; that makes monitoring temperature easy if you have a temp controller and fermentation chamber since it give you an actual temperature reading of the fermenting beer as opposed to the outside of the fermenter or ambient chamber temp which may be off by several degrees.
As you can see, filling the conical is as easy as it gets. It even has easy to read gallon markers etched into the inside wall of the fermenter. As you can see there are two ports on it. One for dumping large volumes from the base of the conical or harvesting yeast (which is simple and can save you some money) and a second transfer and tracking arm port for siphoning beer above the sediment and or yeast bed.
Transferring beer from the stainless steel home brewing brew bucket fermenter.
As you can see in the above photo, transferring beer from the stainless steel brew bucket is about as easy as it gets. It has a single port and rotating internal racking arm that makes transferring clear beer to the keg as easy as turning a valve. No more sanitizing siphons with these fermenters. Having less things to worry about or to clean is always a plus when it comes to home brewing.
Home Brewing Conical Fermenters
As I had mentioned earlier, cleaning these fermenters in very easy. I simply use some PBW, warm water and a nylon scrub sponge. The lid comes off so it is easy to reach everything and the conical fermenters come with sanitary clamps so they break down and reassemble effortlessly. I have used these fermenters for over 3 years now and still do not have one complaint about them!
If you are interested in picking one up, here are the links and best of all, they are shipped free!
HomebrewSupply.com Coupon Codes and Promotional Code
Labor Day Sale For HomebrewSupply – Homebrew Supply
Promo Code for the Month of September 2016 Homebrew Promo Code Date: 9-4-2016 to 9-5-2016 Coupon Details: Labor Day Homebrewing Sale – Save 15% Homebrew Supply Coupon Code: LABOR15
Coupon Description: Happy Labor Day! Right now you can save 15% on your home brewing orders and get flat rate shipping! Homebrew Supply is having a big sale right now to celebrate Labor Day and with coupon code LABOR15 you can save yourself 15%! These guys are great if you have not used them before for your homebrew equipment and supply needs. They have a good and growing inventory and ship fast!
Save $500 on a More Beer Stainless Steel Brewing Rig
Coupon Code Date: 9/2/2016 to Unknown Promotion Details: Save $500 on a More Beer Stainless Steel Home Brewing Rig Promo Code: BREWRIG SALE Product User Rating: 5/5 Availability: In Stock
Coupon Code Description: MoreBeer currently has a sale going on that will save you $500 on one of their famous stainless steel homebrewing sculptures. More Beer makes the very best home brewing systems available and they rarely go on sale. So if you have been looking to purchase one, this might be the time. This is truly the easiest to use all-grain system out there. With nothing electrical to go wrong, simple valves to control flow, easy to view mashtun, and no pumps its just plain easy. The frame of this homebrew rig is made from 304 stainless steel and welded in the MoreBeer metal shop in California. The low profile heavy duty stainless steel homebrew kettles are formed in a mold via the use a punch. This means they are made from a single piece of stainless with no welded seams. These beefy kettles then get an added aluminum layer that is capped with another layer of stainless. The added aluminum helps keep the kettle bottom from scorching and allows for easier cleaning.
304-Stainless Steel Frame made in USA
15 Gallon Heavy Duty Kettles
High-Quality Analog Thermometers on All Kettles
Piped Propane Gas System with single regulator to run off one propane tank
Perforated stainless steel screen in Mashtun
More Beer Stainless Steel Quick Disconnects
To take advantage of this home beer brewing promotion, use coupon code listed above if applicable and click on the following home beer brewing promotion link:
HomebrewSupply.com Coupon Codes and Promotional Code
Limited Time Sale Coupon For HomebrewSupply.com – Homebrew Supply
Promo Code for the Month of August 2016 Promo Code Date: 8-9-2016 Promotion Details: $35 Chalkboard Beer Tap Handle
Right now Homebrew Supply is having a big sale that can save you some money on homebrewing equipment and supplies. For instance they currently have a home brewing chalkboard beer tap handle for just $35! So if you are looking for a great way to let your guests know what beers are on tap without having to purchase a different tap handle for each beer you brew, this is the tap for you! This chalkboard tap handle is perfect for any kegerator or keezer. This makes a great gift for any home brewer! I am not too sure how long this sale will last so you may want to act fast!
MoreBeer.com & MoreBeer Home Brewing Coupons
Coupon Codes for MoreBeer.com Homebrewing
Limited time and quantity promo code from MoreBeer
Promo Codes for the Month of July 2016 Coupon Code Date: 7/28/2016 to 7/29/2016 Promotion Details: Save $5 On MoreBeer Home Brewing Beer Kits Promo Code: SAVEME5 Coupon Description: MoreBeer has a fantastic deal going on where you can save $5 on every MoreBeer home brewing kit. This includes all of their most popular kits like Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig by Russian River. So stock up and save big while supplies last!
Every now and then a new homebrewing product comes out that catches my eye and I say, I can not believe nobody had thought of that. The Trub Trapper is one of those home brewing equipment idea.
So what is the Trub Trapper and why is it so great? Well, lets start by talking a little about trub first. Trub is that thick sludge left at the bottom of your boil kettle after you have transferred your wort to the fermenter. It is a combination of hops, compounds, proteins and solids left over after the boil. The problem is that it is very difficult to stop the trub from passing in to your fermenter. Trub formed during the boil can adversely affect fermentation and produce undesirable flavors and haze in your finished beer. It is something that you want to avoid if at all possible and I will explain further in a couple of paragraphs. You worked to remove these unwanted compounds and byproducts during the boil so you do not want to allow them in your homebrewing fermenter.
How does the trub trapper work? Well, it is pretty simple really, you place the TrubTrapper in the bottom of your home brewing kettle so that your brew kettle dip tube is outside the tub trapper ring before you fill your boil kettle. You conduct your boil as you normally would and then whirlpool post boil. Let the wort settle for approximately 10 minutes and you are ready to go. It is that simple. The high temperature soft silicone gasket and overall weight of the TrubTrapper will keep it in place during the boil and whirlpool so there is no need to re-position, or try and unclog anything. A small amount of the overall trub will settle outside the trub trapper filter ring during the whirlpool process, and a portion of that will flow in to the fermenter but the grand majority of the trub will be trapped inside the trub trapper which is where you want it.
Why is trub transferring in to your fermenter such a bad thing? Well, excessive trub can coat yeast membranes impeding transport in and out of the cells which encourages metabolic by-products. Not to mention fine particulates in trub can lead to haze formation in your finished beer. Trub can also be responsible for head retention issues, impact aroma, flavor stability and off flavors such as sulfur, harsh bitterness and soapy notes. If you have been experiencing any of this in your home brew then the trub trapper may be exactly what you are looking for.
If you like to reuse your homebrewing yeast, the trub trapper can help with that too. Excessive trub affects your ability to harvest and re-use yeast effectively and efficiently. High trub levels make it more difficult to collect and clean the yeast and poor yeast health caused by excessive trub eliminates the ability for you to maintain the quality of your yeast which impacts the quality of your beer!
So how much is the trub trapper and where can I get it? It runs for about $50 and you can find the TrubTrapper here!
Sale Date: 7-9-2016 to 7-31-2016 Promotion Details: 8 Gallon Stainless Steel Kettle Just $49.99 Homebrewing.org Sale: 8 GALLON STAINLESS KETTLE
This is one of these deals that was worth a special post. If you are new to home brewing or currently using a 5 gallon kettle, this is a great upgrade for only $50. Adventures in Homebrewing currently has is offering an 8 gallon stainless steel home brewing pot for just $49.99. Best of all, this stainless steel home brewing kettle comes with 2, 1/2″ ports for things like a ball valve attachment or thermometer. This is an incredible budget kettle for 5 gallon home brew batches! These home brew kettles are 18 Gauge stainless steel home brewing pots with two welded 1/2″ female full couplings and lid. I am not certain how long this deal is actually going for, so you may want to act soon if you are looking for a new home brewing kettle.
It seems like I am always trying to make small improvements to the home brewing rig to make it as functional as I can. This weekend was no different. I ended up changing the propane lines out for flexible versions that are easier to adjust and adding some sanitary fittings and a sight glass to the RIMS heating bar to enable me to clean it more easily and have some visibility if I run into issues during recirculation.
I think my favorite of the additions was the site glass. In the photo above you can see it in the center of the RIMS heating element bar. I like that it allow me to inspect the condition of the heating bar so that I can tell if it needs to be scrubbed and also allows me to check on the fluid volume level of the bar to make sure I am not running dry.