I Can See My Brew From Here!

14 Dec

One cool thing about brewing your own, is the control you have over the recipe. I found it very interesting to take hydrometer readings as my brew developed. It’s almost like getting to see how tall you got over the years. Here its more like how potent the wort is after a month or so, mmm. Something that may seem confusing though, is the actual calculations going on. I found a great resource recently called RooftopBrew.Net.

It has a vast array of information regarding homebrew, gear, culture, and tons of pages links. My favorite little features of this place are its calculators. As long as you have your accurate readins from a hydrometer, this little app will calculate your final gravity. So get on the rooftop and check out how you can improve you homebrew and homebrew knowledge.

-Zach Attack

Fruit: Secondary’s Best Friend

14 Dec

Dying to brew a batch of blueberry Heferweizen? How does it get all that blueberry flavor? Of course from blueberries! The addition of fruit to your secondary fermenter can drastically change the flavor of your brew, and possible the alcohol content too. Though not by much, the sugars from the fruit could possibly increase your brews strength through fermentation. An amazing forum discussing fruit in secondary here at BeerAdvocate.Com. There are helpful replies all around, and great links to sources outside the forum. One includes a discussion on how to find out how much more percentage of alcohol your really getting from fruit in the secondary. Cheers, and good luck with that secondary!

-Zach Attack

Siphon’s “Suck”

14 Dec

Just kidding, or am I? Auto siphons are very useful tools for homebrewers. They do “suck”, fortunately, not in a bad way. The coolest thing about the auto siphon is its simplicity, and convenience.

By giving it a few pumps, the siphon creates a vacuum. This “sucks” the fluid (your delicious brew) from your vessel and starts the flow. Like I mentioned in earlier post, using a mouth to start a siphon should be a hombrew no no. With an auto siphon, you can skip the whole sanitizer solution/ steril water tube fill to start the pull. A few easy pumps or so and its on its way, minus the whole balancing act.

Another beautiful thing about the auto siphon is its price. Running by your local homebrew store  can get you one of these for around 15 bucks. Online retailers have been known to sell them cheaper if you have patience for shipping. You might have acquired a racking cane with your kit, but with the added easy and simplicity, its well worth the upgrade.

My first batch was done with a racking cane. I used the sanitizer solution to get the flow started. It worked just dandily, but I do feel like I siphoned way more sediment than I wanted. I attribute some of this to my balancing act between getting flow started and supporting cane inside fermenter. It fell too deep and disturbed some trub. Using the auto would have helped filter initial sediment and allowed greater control over the racking process.

So go pick up an auto siphon and make your brewing process a bit more cleaned up for cheap. Your clear beers and smooth siphon will be the reward, and for cheap. Your auto siphon will pay for itself, no matter how much it “sucks.”

-Zach Attack

Glass and Plastic, Fantastic

14 Dec

Homebrewers usually only have a choice of fermenting in food grade plastic carboys or buckets, or glass carboys in their kits. 

 

Glass is much easier to clean and wont stain or smell. The downside glass is that it can chip and break. This can be an issue, because full five gallon gallon glass carboys can be hefty. Often, homebrewers employ the use of a brew hauler, a harness or handle made for easier carboy handling. Creative as brewers are, many are keep to build their own carrier for carboys.

 

The dilemma here is that plastic has the opposite ups and downs. Plastic is much harder to clean, any gouges in plastic make great hiding places for contaminants. Also, plastic tends to absorb smells and discolor after use. The positives are that they wont chip or shatter, easier to handle, and some even come ready for spigot installation. Spigots make racking and bottling an ease.

 

They are both excellent mediums for fermentation, and many homebrewers will use a combination of the two. The point here is to consider budget, and environment, not sales pitch. If you are prone to glass breaks, stick with the plastic. If you want easy maintenance, ride with glass. 

 

Don’t forget to critique those who say one is better than the other. Plastic does all the things class cant and vice versa. Only you know what will work best for your brew situation.

-Zach Attack

Yeast Beast

3 Dec

Are you one of those people who hates disposing of yeast? I don’t mean in a “that’s kinda gross” way. More like an “I feel kinda bad” or “wasteful” kind of way. If this is the case, I have a treat in store for you.

This is an entire process called yeast washing, and there are many great reasons to do it, not just for recycling. This brings me to an extremely thorough resource I though was a treat. The yeast washing bit at BillyBrew.Com is fantastic. One of the unique features here is the video. The blogger not only types you out materials needed and easy step-by-step instructions, but makes an entire video demonstrating the process. Very helpful and thorough Billy. I strongly suggest a peek at his blog, there is plenty more to be had than “washing” yeast cakes.

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-Zach Attack

Community is Wine? I’ll have some.

25 Nov

So I recently stumbled across another great resource for homebrewers. I talk plenty about how valuable resources like HomeBrewTalk or the American Homebrew Association and such, so I was surprised I missed this one. The aptly named TastyBrew.com has indeed been hiding from me, and, possibly you. This site is on par with the others, boasting a huge forum (find yourself some more Partial Mash talk), a section for recipes, a journal section to log your brew experiences, calculators for measurements and gravity and more. Go explore, as there is plenty of content waiting to enlighten you at Tasty Brew.

-Zach Attack

Monsters Partially Mash..or All Grain

25 Nov

The coolest thing about being a beginner at homebrew, are all the surprises. One of those for me, was the discovery of Partial Mash and All Grain brewing. For my first batch I got the kit and did my steep and boil liquid extract. It was quite a fairly simple process from boil to ferment.

Utilizing the kit, and my 6 pounds liquid extract, I have made quite a tasty brew. In fact, I’ve got some bottles carbonating as I type. I am extremely satisfied with my yield, and it tastes delicious. There is nothing wrong with using primarily Dry Malt Extract or Liquid Malt Extract.

This can lead one feeling a little like “that’s is!?” Don’t get me wrong, keep it simple stupid is my motto. I just couldn’t help but feel there must be “more”. Enter my surprise, PM and AG brewing.

Here I am going to highlight PM because I feel it still lies in novice/amateur domain. PM and AG brewing is different in that you are doing your own extraction process. This means you will spend less money on extract ingredients, as grains will cost less than DME or LME. 

The process of PM is considerably less intensive and holds less risk of complication than AG brewing. The key here, is that it adds a more intimate aspect to your brewing without making it too overwhelming for less seasoned participants. It normally doesn’t require you to obtain extra equipment (less maybe an extra container), and greatly adds to the involvement of the craft. I imagine once I take on PM, no longer will I fill my primary without a sweat band. Half the fun of homebrew is the act of brewing, do what you can to drag it out.

This hasn’t even mentioned the added control PM or AG brewing gives the brewer. Much tighter flavor profile, or custom gravity control is a definite bonus to the process. Starting with a PM compared with AG is probably the best way to go for the beginners and first time extractors. Also, PM brewing tends to be more convenient for the college brewer or brewers in apartments because stoves can greatly impact how a boil goes down.

There are many benefits to PM versus DME or LME brewing. And once again HomeBrewTalk.Com has a great forum read on the benefits here. Also, there is a great read on the process of Partial Mashing and how to at BeerSmith.Com. This article is relevant to the Partial Masher looking to mash without having to obtain a bunch of new fangled equipment. Good luck brewing, and remember RDWHAHB.

 

-Zach Attack