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
For my most recent home brewing project I converted an old decommissioned 5 gallon keg that my buddy hooked me up with in to some seating for brew day! For me, half of the enjoyment of home beer brewing is being creative, either in designing beer recipes or making things such as homebrew tap handles, home brewing equipment or accessories like this brewery bar stool, beer brewing throne!
The design process for this brewery bar stool, keg stool was pretty hap hazard. Basically I went online, search for an inexpensive bar stool that had the aesthetics that I was looking for for the base materials and cut it up to be used for parts. As expected, the homebrew bar stool did not fit together perfectly so there was a good deal of cutting, grinding, welding and finishing involved to get the keg stool to fit together as desired. All in the project took about 3 hours but I am happy with the results. Having the ability to adjust the height on the seat comes in pretty handy depending on what project I am working on. The additional legs around the base of the keg adds some stability to the stool in case one of my friends or I has had a few too many!
Home Brewing Keg Chair
The tools that I used to make my brewery stool were a old crappy mig welder, grinder, hack saw / cut saw, wire brush, hammer and a little sand paper for finishing. If you would like to make your own brewing throne, brewery stool, keg stool or keg seat and have any questions, please feel free to ask or leave a comment. I am always happy to help a fellow home brewer out!
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Home Brewing Grain Mill Motor Kit
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Recently I had the pleasure of brewing up a batch of home brew on one of my friends home brewing system. I always look forward to the opportunity to get another home brewers perspective on home brewing. I find that I learn a lot about the home brewing craft from examining other home brewers methods and practices. Even better, both of us use similar home brewing hardware and like similar styles of beer so we can share home brew recipe tips as well.
Home Brewing Rig
One of the biggest differences in our home brewing systems and our beer brewing practices is when it comes to the mash. Where I have made my mashing process complicated (possibly over complicated) over time, doing my best to make sure my mash is at a specific temperature for the entire 60 minutes, he sets his mash temp, closes the lid and does not attempt to correct for any temperature loss over time. By the time his mash has completed, the temperature in his tun has only dropped by approximately 6F.
My concern with a drop in mash temp would be that perhaps the finished beer would come out too dry or thin due to the lower average mash temp, the starches would only be converted to very simple sugars. Yet after sampling several of his beers, that did not turn out to be the case. I sampled 4 of his beers that day, varying from stouts to IPA’s and all of them were fantastic. I would not describe any of his beers as too thin or too dry.
Home Brewing Mash Conversion Temperatures
The image above is of my Blichmann BrewMomerter. I hi-lighted the segment that pertains to the mash conversion. As all grain home brewers, for the most part we mash at between 150-152 F to get a well rounded mash conversion. When I asked my friend if he was concerned with the temp dropping, he said that he felt that most of the starch conversion was occurring early in the mash process while his temperature was on target and that he had never noticed a degradation in the quality of his finished beer since he started conducting his mash in this manner. I am inclined to agree with him based on the high quality beer that he produces.
I think that sometimes as home brewers, out of our desire to brew “perfect” beer, sometime we go too far and over complicate things (or at least I do). I am not saying to ignore your mash temperature or to only mash for 10 minutes. My point is more that modern varieties of beer have been produced for over 600 years, well before yeast was even discovered in 1857. Considering that our ancestors created beer with out having the benefit of such instruments as a Blichmann BrewMometer, perhaps there can be some flexibility when it comes to brewing.
One of the home brewing items that he possess that I am pretty envious of is a large sized stainless steel hop spider. When I say large sized, I mean large sized, this thing is giant as you can see from the animated image. The photos were taken during the whirlpool process after the boil had completed. I have been trying to get a hop filtering system to work out on my home brew system for the last few batches with out a great deal of success. I have been trying to overcome some challenges with clogging issues in my hop filter and he shared some great advice with me. He said that in order for a hop filter to work properly and to get similar hop utilization compared to not using one, you need to have a hop filter that is at least half the diameter of your home brewing kettle. The size of the filter made a dramatic difference. I could see the wort moving around inside of his filter and he had hardly any clogging issues.
Home Brewing With A Hop Spider
I look forward to brewing with him again to see what else I can pick up from him. He has mastered the art of the Hazy IPA so I hope to pick his brain on that next.
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Digital home brewing is the way of the future and Blichmann is making their way in to the marketplace with yet another fantastic home brewing item. Introducing the Blichmann BrewVison! The Blichmann BrewVision wireless home brewing monitoring system is the new brewing assistant from Blichmann Engineering. The BrewVision allows you to track up to 7 sensors in your home brewing setup right from your iphone or ipad. Brew Vision lets you can set alarms and timers based on temperatures and the BrewVision app records all of your data so you can review to see how well you really hit those mash temps. The BrewVision homebrew monitoring system even integrates with BeerSmith home brewing software which allows you to download your recipes straight from the cloud. The intuitive BrewVision Home Brewing Monitoring app helps you focus on your brewing! Some of the functions of BrewVision include monitoring thermometers on a kettle, running timers, viewing recipe information. Blichmann’s BrewVision puts temperature information, timers, and recipe information into the palm of your hand and provides a fully interactive digital home brew session. The Blichmann Brew Vision home brewing monitoring systems uses bluetooth technology to help you do more and and put the power of BrewVision in the palms of your hands!
The BrewVison has an indoor range of about 25 feet and up to 100 feet line of sight range. It is also super accurate with a +/- 0.5F accuracy range, so you cab be confident your mash and sparge are on target! Blichmann has thought about everything with the BrewVision digital home brewing system. The battery life on this device is 100+ hours using 2 AAA batteries. That means that you can brew about 20 all grain home brewing batches and about 40 extract batches on just one set of batteries.
Blichmann’s patent pending BrewVision transmitter and sensor features an exclusive sanitary nut that is easy to clean without removal. Installation is simple and secure. for brew day status to ensure you’re at your target temps. With the Brew Vision app based monitoring system, you will never miss target temps or hop additions again! The BrewVison Home Brewing App lets you monitor current temperatures and adjust targets. The in app alarm notifies you before reaching target, when out of range, and for boil additions. You even have all your recipe information at your fingertips with the BrewVision App! You can download recipes directly from BeerSmith cloud or manually enter them to sync with your brew day. Here are some of the features on Blichmann’s Brew Vision digital home brewing system.
Beersmith recipe integration
Record your results
Can pair up to 7 Brewing Sensors
120 hour battery life
25 foot indoor range and 100 foot outdoor range
Reads both Fahrenheit and Celsius
Made in the USA
Click the link for additional information or to purchase a Blichmann BrewVision! This item ships free!
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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!
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.
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:
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:
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.