Hi Everyone. Haven't heard from me in a while have ya? I've been trying to come up with low cost ideas to keep me busy and have been turning to another water craft that I love, Homebrewing. I had done a couple dozen batches of extract/grain beers which is fun and the beer is wonderful, but it's not really like brewing the real thing, I had the equipement laying around since the day I had originally gotten into it. I bought it off someone named Al several years ago, but never used the mash or lauter tuns. It's actually cheaper to do all grain beer than the extract beer so I decided to finally dive in! I'd started a brew club (lucky13brewclub.ning.com) at the Grey Lodge Pub with the support of the owner Mike Scoats and have been learning lots from all the members and have been getting lots of support from them and decided it was time! I don't have the money to build my next board and need ideas to plan that one out anyway since it is a new idea for a wood surfboard, so I deicided to devote some time into my love of beer. Life has dealt me some ups and downs lately and what is best to do when you are down, relax, sit back and have a homebrew, then make some homebrew! I used to go downtown to buy me beer supplies to Homesweet Homebrew, but haven't been able to make it there as I drive a very LARGE truck and it is a mega pain in the azz to park there. So I have been to Barry's Homebrew just off Girard and Second. Nick is a cool dude, but I am usually just in and out. I miss sitting and chatting with George and Nancy at Homesweet. It's just a product of my life. Even though I am out of work, I am too busy to sit and chat for very long. I'm impatient as well. But so here I am, blogging about something. It needed to be done. I miss my hobby. Who knows, blogging can go on my CV!
Blogspot has changed their format so please bear with me as I figure it out. I wanna talk about this last batch of beer that I brewed. I brewed to previous ones that are just starting to ripen in the bottles. Those batches I just threw together not even researching yeasts or anything. I went to Nick's and he was out of the yeast I wanted and didn't have the Demerara sugar I needed, so I supplemented with Sugar In the Raw which is very much like demerara and just used generic safeale 4 for my yeast. I bottled them and remembered how much bottling sux. Its not that bad, but in the cold shop, it sort of sux. I do all my work out in the cold shop which was a pain getting water and all that so I started projects out there to make it more convenient. While the beers are getting better in the bottles I took on my first project. A sink.
I went and got a cheap utility sink and supplies with the financial backing of my father. Thanks DAD!!! While pondering location, etc... I opened a "My Uncles Left Nut" nut brown one week old. BLAH! Tasted like priming sugar! I drank it anyway and found my spot! I had to uproot the flooring because the subfloor is rotted from leaking roof. I found an old sink drain and my uncle (left nut-less) soldered the metal drain to it and we built the sink! I ran a length of hose to it and voila! Utility Sink! It's perfect! It's only a pain in the azz when it freezes at night and I gotta get my cousin to shut the water off! But thanks to climate change, there hasn't been many freezing nights!
In the top left corner of the first pic there is my second project. Well, actually, it is the second half of my second project. The first half of that project was seeing if a cornelius keg (tall slim 5 gallon soda keg that they no longer use in restaurants) would fit into that wee fridge. With a little finagling of the upper freezer section, the kegs fit! I just folded down the aluminum freezer in the top of it so it was flush with the back of the fridge. I tested the fridge (It's my college fridge which just so happened to use to fit 3 cases of pounder cans in it) and it works fine (after 25 years)! The next step was to clean and tune up the corny kegs which came with the original purchase of all that equipement that I bought off of Al several years ago. They had moldy beer in them for like 5 years so they needed a cleaning AND they needed new o-rings. So I was off to visit Nick at Barry's Homebrew for supplies while I was there I checked out his CO2 regulators. 75 bucks! I thought I had one in the shop, so icks-nae on the egulator-rae! Turns out, all the ones in the shop were either broken or for other gases so when the time came I went off to Welco welding gas supply on Church Street at the bequest of my uncle who shall remain left nut-less. Ha Ha Ha. We had a bottle of CO2 for a welder and I took it with me and got a regulator and a new bottle from Jim at Welco for 60 bucks. DEAL! The right nutted wonder saved me some cash there! After much cleaning and hole drilling in the fridge, I place some cool stickers on her and I now have a kegerator waiting for my current fermenting beer to enter it happily and leave it cold to enter my belly and those of some friends that I intend to invite over for one.
This here is my third beer project. During some reorganization and cleaning of the shop I found some of my Uncle's refrigerator copper coil. So at the financial backing of my father, Thanks DAD!!!, I got some more parts and made this immersion chiller. I was using a huge ice bath to cool my keggle (keg/kettle that you see in the background) which proved to be expensive for the ice and and the splashing was too close to contaminating my sterilized beer. There were a couple of designs to choose from to chill the boiling sterile beer (wort) and all would have been easy enough to build, but this one fit my needs better than the others and may even be easier to clean than the other designs.
|Fourth Project. Mash tun manifold.|
|This is called Sparging the grain.|
I, for the life of me, do not know why they made this so difficult to post on here. Do they not want people to use this blog arena? Need it be so challenging? I feel like a gladiator in a duel to the death with the digital underworld of ones and twos! So anyway, above you are seeing what I did today. If you look up to the top picture you will see a red cooler. That is my mash tun. Hey, it is also pictured beside me here with warm sparge water and steam rising from it. The mash tun is used to convert the starches in the grain (in this case, barley) by way of activating the enzymes on the cracked (milled at the store) barley husks themselves by steeping the grain in 160 degree water for an hour. This activates the many enzymes on the barley husks to change the starch into sugar. In nature the starches and proteins are broken down for food for the germinating seeds. In our case, they will be broken down for food for the yeasts later on to ferment and create the alcohol in which is so beloved to all. Well, the old mash tun had a stainless steel braided hose in the bottom for a drain. I found it cumbersome as it always got caught around my mixing paddle. It also seemed to collapse. But it really worked fine to tell you the truth, and it was really easy to clean. The manifold that I made out of copper to replace it is supposed to work better, but I can forsee some issues with cleaning, etc... that may indeed prove to be a step sideways. But, alas, I had fun making it. It only cost my father, Thanks DAD!!!, a couple bucks for a few copper elbows and tees. The rest of the copper I had laying around. Next time I will use new copper though as cleaning up old copper tubing that has rust laying in it is a huge pain in the arse!
So pictured in the mashtun there is Wiss Brau ESB. It is actually Nick's recipe from Barry's Homebrew. He gave it to me out of the kindness of his heart! Of course I modified the brewing times for the hops he had in it a little here and there. It has more hops than I ever used in a beer so I tended to shorten brewing times and amounts here and there just to mix it up and try and keep it a little more mild. It's his take on an old English styled bitter, which are, to me, more mild and enjoyable than a lot of the IPA's out there. Don't shoot me, but I'm not a fan of the cascade hops in so many American style IPA's. And I like malty too. Hey, dare to be different, right?
Alright, well, these are some things that I have been doing while I get my head together. Diversions of sorts. I need to build something for this next Mystic Boat Show though. I was hoping to develope a Stand Up Paddleboard for the show. It's proving difficult as I deal with the excessive weight issues the board will have to it's cheap lightweight Chinese counterparts. Not many of these puppies that you see are made in the USA. Most all are from China and they weigh like 15 pounds. It's good that they are light so one person can carry them, they are cumbersome. When you have them made of wood, the weight skyrockets and so does the cost to the buyer. Two major issues if I want to ever sell them. I gotta put on my thinking took! If you have ideas, shoot me an email!!
Thanks for reading and have an excellent day!