Archive for the ‘Home Brewing Gear’ Category

All-Grain Brew Review

Jul 14, 2009

My first two all-grain batches have turned out well and the verdict is still out on a third.  There are some things I will change, but all in all, I have enjoyed all-grain brewing.

The main things I wish I could change about the process are location and chilling the wort.  I don’t have a covered patio so I am at the mercy of the unpredictable KY weather.  I am tempted to move to the garage but I’ve been spooked by stories of carbon monoxide poisoning even with the garage door open, so I may not try this.  Maybe I’ll get a carbon monoxide detector.  Chilling the wort is another thing that I need to reevaluate.  Right now I am using a big metal wash tub and lots of ice.  In the fall or early spring it works okay, but in the heat of summer it takes a very long time… and a lot of ice.  I plan to get an immersion chiller before the next batch but I need to get new hoses.  My garden hoses are in poor shape and the connections leak.  The last thing I need is garden hose water spraying into my kettle as it cools.

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First All-Grain Batch

Mar 26, 2009

Yes, today was the day for the first all-grain batch of beer.  I was (and still am) very excited.  For Christmas I received an all-grain brewing equipment kit that you can read more about here.  And today, the weather behaved and I was able to use it.

For those that may not know, many homebrewers start brewing using malt extract.  That is, malted barley that has been mashed, boiled, dried to some extent, and then packaged.  In all-grain homebrewing, you the brewer mash the malted barley to convert the starches to sugar, lauter (drain off the sugary liquid), sparge to rinse the remaining sugars from the grain, and then proceed with the normal boil just as you would with an extract batch. (more…)

Brewing Software

Mar 9, 2009

Nearly the entire time I’ve been brewing I have used some sort of software to create, adjust, or just tinker with recipes. 

Sometimes the local shop I use for ingredients is out of a certain item or simply does not carry the brand I need or want, so using a piece of software to make adjustments has been invaluable. 

I started doing partial mashes and the software allowed me to enter information about my tiny mash tun and make up the rest of the fermentable sugars with extract.  Again, the software was invaluable. 

Then came the dreaded hop shortage.  Once more the software came to the rescue and allowed me to substitute hops and have it calculate the hop utilization for me. I’ve even been able to use the popular utilization formulas (Tinseth, Rager, Daniels, etc.) to see the different IBU levels they calculate.  Plus, no matter how much I studied the hop utilization formulas, laziness always took over and I let the program do the calculations for me.

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All-Grain Equipment

Dec 10, 2008

It appears that I will be receiving an all-grain equipment upgrade for the brewery this winter holiday. 

I circled an all-grain setup and a few various items from the Northern Brewer catalog and my wife said that it could be a nice gift from her and my mother-in-law for the upcoming winter holiday.  How cool is that?  My wife and my mother-in-law are buying me brewing gear!

I picked the 5 gallon system which includes two 5 gallon coolers, a stainless false bottom, ball valves, and various hoses.  I also picked out a sparge arm and a thermometer bulkhead to mount in the mash tun to monitor mash temperatures.

Yesterday, two big boxes from Northern Brewer showed up on the front porch.  Yay!

I can’t open the boxes, let alone use the equipment until after the holiday.  And it will be quite some time before I can get outside to brew on the big burner because it’s so cold anyway.  Boo!

But at least I can have fun adjusting my brew software in the meantime…

The Adequate Brewer

Big Mini Mash

Nov 11, 2008

I have figured out, I think that I can do partial or mini mashes in my bottling bucket.  Before this past weekend, I had been using a 2 gallon cooler with a giant mesh bag.  I have read that bottling buckets will work but that they lose heat quickly.  This turned out to not be the case for me.  My bucket/mash tun with six pounds of grain, only lost one degree in an hour.  I think my cooler/mash tun lost that as well. 

What this all means is I can now mash more grains and use less dry malt extract (DME).  This gives me more flexibility and less cost.  I can basically now brew all-grain beer and use no DME at all.  I am limited only by my means to heat mash water.  I typically heat 1.5 quarts of mash water per pound of grain and I have a 4 gallon pot (effectively able to heat 3.5 gallons) so I can mash in the 8-9 pounds of grain range.  This is all very exciting.

Now the bad news.  To brew like this I need to be able to brew outside using my big kettle and propane burner.  It’s now November and it’s getting cold.  I may have another weekend or two to brew outside, but that will be about it for this year.  Come on Springtime!

The Adequate Brewer