Archive | December, 2012

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