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All The Small Things – Notch-Yo Lid

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.

More Beer Stainless Steel Sparge Arm

More Beer Stainless Steel Sparge Arm

The Kegerator Has Been Filled

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

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!

Dry Hopping My Hazy IPA

 

I added my first round of dry hops to my new Hazy – New England style IPA.  As opposed to adding the hops to the beer after the fermentation has completed which is typically for a West Coast style IPA, with a Hazy you add it early in the fermentation; in this case after 3 days.  I will do a second round of dry hopping at day 7 of the fermentation as well. At this point I added 2 ounces of Mosaic hops and 1 ounce of Citra hops.  The fermentation chamber is smelling incredible to say the least!

New WestCoastBrewer.com Website

New West Coast Brewer Website

New West Coast Brewer Website

Happy and Hoppy New Year!  With the arrival of 2018, WestCoastBrewer.com is going to get a new look and feel! It will be a bit of a work in progress, fixing all of the broken links as the website transitions to its new format, so please hang in there with us. Ultimately it should be a big improvement to the old website! We hope that 2018 brings you only the best and plenty of good homebrew!

How To Clean Beer Lines and Draft Beer Systems

 

Beer Line Cleaning Kit

Beer Line Cleaning Kit

 

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:

Keg line cleaning kit

 

Keg Line Cleaning Solution

 

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.

MoreBeer’s Hop Rhizome Sale Going On Now!

MoreBeer hop rhizome sale - Save 30% on Hop Plants

MoreBeer hop rhizome sale – Save 30% on Hop Plants

 

Limited time and quantity promo code from  MoreBeer.com
Promo Codes for the Month of February, 2017
Coupon Code Date:
2-6-2017 to 2-10-2017
Promotion Details:
 Save up to 30% on Hop Rhizomes
Promo Code:
HOP RHIZOME SALE
Coupon Description
:  Right now More Beer has a sale going on for their hop rhizomes.  If you act now, you can save 30% on a variety of hop rhizomes including sterling, columbus, cascade, centennial, chinook and many more!  These items also qualify for the MoreBeer free shipping offer!

MoreBeer.com Coupon Code Hop Rhizome Sale

 

 

How to Build a Kegerator

Guide on how to convert an old refrigerator in to a kegerator #kegerator #guide #howto #DIY

Guide on how to convert an old refrigerator in to a kegerator #kegerator #guide #howto #DIY

 

For the last several years, I have been using a boring old white refrigerator to store my kegs. Originally when it came time to purchase one, I was just looking for the best deal out there on a refrigerator that could keep my homebrew cold. I have been serving my beer from picnic \ cobra taps that sit lose on top of the kegs in my fridge. A couple of weeks ago I decided to take the keg fridge to the next level and convert it to a full fledged Kegerator with for taps to accommodate all of my kegs. After ordering the beer tap hardware at MoreBeer and taking a trip to the local hardware supply shop, I had everything that I needed to begin my work.

 

My goal for this homebrewing blog entry is to list out all of the basics of what you will need to conduct the process yourself but I am sure to miss something and if you need any specifics please feel free to ask; I am happy to help if I can.  Please keep in mind that I am not a carpenter, engineer or machinist; so there are probably 10 better ways of doing this, I am just trying to share my experience in case it helps someone else out.

 

Step 1 – Ordering your gear!
I figured that if I am going to take the time to do this project, I was going to do it right!  Recently MoreBeer started to carry Intertap stainless steel beer facuets – tap, which are basically the Holy Grail of beer taps and the best beer faucets currently available!

 

 

Intertap Stainless Steel Beer Faucets, Shanks and Beer Taps! #intertap #beer #taps #faucets #stainless #steel

Intertap Stainless Steel Beer Faucets, Shanks and Beer Taps! #intertap #beer #taps #faucets #stainless #steel

 

I chose these intertap beer faucets for a few different reasons.  For one, they offered an all stainless steel faucets which is important to me because I want it to last, I want my homebrew beer serving to be as sanitary as possbile and I do not want to be worrying about releasing strange metallic particulates in to my beer like I do when using an old chrome tap that erodes after time. Another great thing about  these Intertap beer faucets is that they are forward sealing and with forward-sealing faucets the faucet keeps beer in it so the inside doesn’t have a chance to get sticky. This makes cleaning your draft beer system far easier. It also reduces the chance of off flavors transferring to your beer while you are pouring. One of the things that sets Intertap beer taps apart from other forward sealing beer taps is that Intertap faucets use a sliding shuttle that guides the internal o-ring into the perfect position every time. The Intertap stainless steel faucets are also modularly designed  allowing you to add helpful items like a ball lock spout, stainless steel growler filling spout and an elongated stout beer spout! They have two varieties of beer faucets in all stainless and 1 features a flow control lever.  I ended up getting one of the stainless steel flow control beer faucet and three of the standard stainless steel beer faucets.

 

MoreBeer has the best price I have found for Intertap Faucets and they also offer free shipping on any home brewing equipment or supply orders over $59.  Here are links to them as well as links to the anti-microbial beer line which I also highly recommend. Do not forget to pick a shank for each beer faucet, I got the 4″ shanks and they have me plenty of extra room to run them into my refrigerator door.

 

Intertap Forward Sealing Stainless Steel Beer Faucet

 

Intertap Forward Sealing Stainless Steel Beer Faucet with Flow Control

 

Intertap Stainless Steel Beer Faucet and Beer Tap Shanks

 

Ultra Barrier  Antimicrobial and PVC Free Beer Tubing

 

 

West Coast Brewer Beer Tap Handles

West Coast Brewer Beer Tap Handles

 

For now, I am using chalkboard tap handles, which make it convenient to remind me which beer is on which which tap in case I consume a few too many and can no longer remember. At some point I would like to design a handle for each one of my home brewed beer that I make;  but for now, these look great and are very functional tap handles.  They come in both chalkboard style tap handles and white board dry erase tap handles:

 

Chalkboard Beer Tap Handles

 

Whiteboard Dry Erase Tap Handles

 

Depending on what draft beer equipment you are starting with or if you have anything at all for that matter, there may be a few other items that you want to pick up, such as a CO2 manifold (which permits you to dispence CO2 to multiple beer kegs from one tank or regulator), homebrewing beer kegs, a CO2 Tank and regulator. Here is a link to a great place to start if your are looking for an entire draft beer setup or just random draft beer and keg items:

 

Draft Beer and Keg Equipment

 

Those were the items that I picked up at MoreBeer, the remaining items I purchased at my local Lowes. I purchased 1 box of Stainmaster Vinyl flooring, which is great because it is resistant to liquid and stains; two things you need to consider when building your kegerator. Normal wood flooring does not do well with moisture so I would recommend avoiding it if possible.

I also picked up a small container of vinyl flooring adhesive, a plastic spreading knife, a razor blade cutting knife (to cut the vinyl flooring), a 1″ drill bill to cut the shank holes for the beer taps, chalkboard spray paint (for the refrigerator upper door), a 3″ wide plank of wood (to make a frame for the upper door), some wood stain to match the vinyl flooring, black duct tape for trim and a brushed aluminum kick plate to put on over the vinyl but under the beer faucets and tap handles.

 

Vinyl Fake Wood Flooring for my Kegerator Door

Vinyl Fake Wood Flooring for my Kegerator Door

 

Once you have all of your supplies in hand, it is time to get to work!  I started off my shutting off the refrigerator and giving it a good cleaning. Next I removed both of the refrigerator doors and all of the handles and hardware from the doors. I then sanded the refrigerator doors with a high grit sandpaper to make them more receptive to the vinyl adhesive and chalkboard spray paint. I did not remove all the paint but instead just roughed them up a bit. I then measured and cut the flooring so that it would fit my refrigerator door.  After making all of the needed cuts, I applied the adhesive to the lower refrigerator door. I waited approximately 10 minutes as per the instructions for my adhesive and began to put the vinyl planks in place. I tried my best to mix the planks up a bit so that it did not look to repetitive as can be the case with synthetic flooring.

 

Placing the vinyl flooring on the refrigerator door.

Placing the vinyl flooring on the refrigerator door.

 

These Stainmaster vinyl flooring planks were very easy to install. They locked in to place with one another crating a strong bond. After placing all of the vinyl wood planks, I put pressed down on each of the planks firmly and then set it to the side to allow it to dry.  Next I began work on painting the upper door, building the wood frame and preparing the mash paddle door handle for the kegerator.

After giving it a little thought, I figured that I would paint the upper door with a chalkboard spray paint. I was hoping it would add some contrast to the kegerator doors and would also give me the option of adding some notes about the beer being served or allow me to change the appearance of the fridge easily by modifying the drawing on the board. Painting the door was very easy and I gave it two coats of paint.

 

Chalkboard kegerator door

Chalkboard kegerator door

 

After the upper kegerator door was painted, I began my work on creating a simple frame to give it a border and add some cohesion with the rest of the kegerator. I searched for the cheapest 3″ wide plank I could find at Lowes and had them cut it to the appropriate sized lengths which they are always kind enough to do at no cost. I joined the pieces together with some wood glue and staples. I was going for a rustic look so was not too concerned with any rough edges or the staples showing. I sealed some of the gaps with putty, sanded it down a bit and then stained the wood. Lastly I applied a clear acrylic coat once the stain had dried.

 

Chalkboard upper door frame for the homebrewing kegerator

Chalkboard upper door frame for the homebrewing kegerator

 

Next up was crating a door handle for my homebrew kegerator.  I wanted a door handle that said beer and homebrewing when you looked at it! So I decided to use an old mash paddle that I had hanging around the garage. I am really pleased with how it worked out, it is very functional and has the look and feel that I desired for my kegerator. I started by staining the mash paddle to a color that would contrast the wood on the doors but compliment the beer tap handles. I then drilled the mounting holes and used a wine cork as a spacer so that the top of the handle would have about an inch of gap between the kegerator door to make it more easy to open. I used a heavy stainless steel bolt to mount the top of the handle so that it would not pull off the door if one of my buddies starts lifting weights and pull the door open too hard.

 

Home Brewing Mash Paddle for a refrigerator door handle

Home Brewing Mash Paddle for a refrigerator door handle

 

Once the kegerator door handle was completed I mounted the doors back on the kegerator after I had verified that the flooring had adhered well enough and the paint had dried. Next I installed the brushed aluminum kick plate to the lower door after measuring it and cutting the excess metal off with a pair of tin snips. I placed the kick plate in the center of the area where I was planning on installing my stainless steel beer taps. I simply drilled it in with screws that would be long enough length to make it into the door but not so long as to pass in to the interior of the kegerator.

 

Home Brewing Kegerator Stainless Steel Plate for Tap Handles and Faucets

Home Brewing Kegerator Stainless Steel Plate for Tap Handles and Faucets

 

Once the kick plate was installed, it was time to position and install the frame for the upper kegerator door. I drilled some pilot holes and affixed the frame to the upper door with 4 screws. I then mounted the mash paddle kegerator door handle and applied some vinyl squid decals that I picked up online to add a little something different to the kegerator. It was then time to install the beer tap shanks! I drilled pilot holes and used my 1″ drill bit to cut the 4 holes for the stainless steel Intertap tap shanks.  If I had this part of the process to do over again, I think I would have switched drill bits to a 1″ saw style drill bit as I think the holes would have been a little cleaner. On one of the holes that I drilled, some of the plastic splintered on the inside of the kegerator.  It was not a big deal, but could have been better.

 

How to cut a draft beer tap hole for your kegerator

How to cut a draft beer tap hole for your kegerator

 

If you are like me and do not have room to fit your CO2 tank in your kegerator and or do not want to store your CO2 tank in the kegerator then you will need to drill a hole in the door to pass the CO2 line.  I did so with a 1/4″ stainless steel pipe and brass fittings. It works well and makes it easy to disconnect from the kegerator door if needed. Eventually I am also going to drill 3 additional holes so that I can connect my SS BrewTech conical fermenter chilling system; but that is for a later homebrewing blog!

 

Install the CO2 hardware for your kegerator

Install the CO2 hardware for your kegerator

 

if you are reading this while you are building your own kegerator, at this point all of the hard work is behind you and you are probably ready for a beer! Next clean up the mess that you have certainly created from drilling in to vinyl and styrofoam. Then slide the shanks in to the holes and tighten down the bolts on the inside of the homebrew kegerator.  Once the stainless steel tap shanks are tightened in to place, you can install the beer taps – faucets on to the front of your kegerator. They make an actual wrench specifically for doing this but if you do not have one, you can simply hand tighten them. Next, attach your beer tap handles.  All that is left is to connect the kegs, test for leaks and you are ready to enjoy a nice cold beer!

I really enjoyed this project and my hope is that some of this information will help a fellow home brewer or beer lover. If you have any questions or suggestions about converting a beer fridge in to a kegerator, please feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment on the blog.

 

Building a kegerator!

Building a kegerator!

Save 20% On Wort Chillers During Day 1 of the MoreBeer.com 12 Days of Christmas Home Brewing Sale!

Save 20% on Counterflow and Plate Wort Chillers during the MoreBeer.com 12 days of Christmas Home Brewing Sale #homebrewing #christmas #gift #sale #promo #code #coupon

Save 20% on Counterflow and Plate Wort Chillers during the MoreBeer.com 12 days of Christmas Home Brewing Sale #homebrewing #christmas #gift #sale #promo #code #coupon

Limited time and quantity promo code from  More Beer
Promo Codes for the Month of December, 2016
Coupon Code Date: 12-1-2016
Promotion Details: Save 20% on Counterflow and Plate Wort Chillers
Promo Code: Counterflow20

 

Coupon Description:  During Day 1 of the MoreBeer 12 Days of Christmas homebrewing sale, you save 20% on More Beer counterflow and plate wort chillers plus get free shipping on any purchase over $59! Use More Beer promo Code Counterflow20.

 

Click Here for this MoreBeer.com Promo Code

 

 

Big home brewing keg sale going on now!

Homebrewing Keg Sale

Homebrewing Keg Sale

 

Adventures in Homebrewing Sale

 

Sale from Adventures In Home Brewing – October  2016
Sale Date: 10-28-2016 to 10-31-2016
Promotion Details: Ball Lock and Pin Lock 5 Gallon Home Brewing Kegs for $39
Homebrewing Sale Code: NO CODE

Sale Description: Adventures in homebrewing and homebrewing.org has a great homebrewing keg sale going on right now that will get you a 5 gallon homebrew keg for just $39.  You can select between either ball lock or pin lock for the same great price. Not too sure how long this sale will last and these kegs are going for an incredible price so you may want to pick them up while supplies last!

 

Adventures in Homebrewing Keg Sale

 

How to Dry Hop Beer and Homebrew

 

How to Dry Hop Beer

How to Dry Hop Beer

 

Dry hopping your beer is one of the easiest ways to make a good beer great and is supper simple to do!  At this point I dry hop any Pale Ale or IPA that I brew. It does not make the beer more bitter but instead gives the impression of hoppyness and freshness with fragrant hop aroma. To dry hop your beer, wait until fermenation has completed and CO2 is no longer being generated.  The reason for this is so that the escaping CO2 does not carry away the hop aroma with it because you want those odors to stay in contact with the recently fermented beer.  I use either whole hops or pellet hops for dry hopping but prefer to use whole hops if available.  Depending on the beer I will add between 2oz to 6oz per 5 gallon batch ( I typically go with 2oz, but my Pliny the Elder recipe calls for 5oz). I leave the hops in contact with the fermented beer for approximately 5-7 days and then either transfer to keg or cold crash for another 2 days.  The process is that simple and I encourage you to try it on your next hoppy beer batch.  When you pour your first pint focus on the aroma and if possible compare it to a batch of homebrew that you did not dry hop to see the difference!

 

 

Homebrewing Brewrig Sale at MoreBeer!

 

Save $500 on a More Beer Stainless Steel Brewing Rig

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:

Click Here For This More Beer Brewing System Promo Code

 

 

Best Deals on Home Brewing Quick Disconnects

Home Brewing Quick Disconnects

Home Brewing Quick Disconnects

 

 

 

Home Brewing stainless steel quick disconnects and quick connects can save you time and lower frustration levels on brew day. As the name suggests, quick disconnects allow a home brewer to quickly, safely and easily disconnect a home brewing pump or transfer tube and connect it to another item.  They are easy to install and can make clean up a snap as well. Here are the best deals that I have been able to track down on some of the most popular 1/2″ stainless steel home brewing quick connects and quick disconnects.

 

 

Stainless Homebrew Quick Disconnect Bundle

Stainless Homebrew Quick Disconnect Bundle

Stainless Steel Quick Disconnect Set for Homebrewers $14.99
Purchase Here

 

Home_Brewing_Quick_Disconnects

 

Stainless Steel 1/2″ Barbed Male Quick Disconnect $5.99
Purchase Here

 

Home Brew Quick Disconnect

Home Brew Quick Disconnect

Stainless Steel Female Quick Disconnect with 1/2″ Barb for Homebrewing $9.99
Purchase Here

 

Stainless Quick Disconnect for Homebrewing

Stainless Quick Disconnect for Homebrewing

 

Stainless Steel Male Quick Disconnect 1/2″ MPT for Home brewing $7.99
Purchase Here

 

Homebrew Quick Disconnects

Homebrew Quick Disconnects

 

Stainless Steel Female Quick Disconnect 1/2″ MPT for Home Beer Brewing $9.99
Purchase Here

 

 

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