My name is Bean and this is my blog. Hence the name. If you have comments or questions, just leave them in the comments area.
I spent a good portion of the evening in the basement trying to catch up on various brewing chores that have fallen by the wayside. The key word in that first sentence is "chores". Until recently, I looked at my time spent maintaining my brewing gear and fermentables as part of the hobby.. preparation if you will. But with increased responsibilities (and stress) at work and a mobile one-year-old roaming the rooms at home, I'm finding it harder and harder to put a lot of effort into my brewing - let alone the tedious maintenance tasks that go along with it.
My kegs sit empty (or full) for months on end. There's mold forming in a few spots inside my cold room. IBADS is a fond memory. My AC is about to go out... and I'll have a heck of a time replacing it in the fall and winter. The beer lines are all crusty with the dregs of beers long drank. There's a leak in my CO2 line that I can't seem to track down. I no longer have the drinking capacity (or friend capacity) to keep 4 taps in regular service, so my faucets get crusty with disuse. I've had entire batches of beer (30+ gallons!) go bad simply because I didn't have time to nurture them along the path to drinkability.
It's with a heavy heart that I admit it, but I have to make a major change - I have to scale back. If I don't, I risk ruining this hobby for myself once an for all. No more 30 gallon batches... no more lineup of taps... no more Schy's Tavern in the basement. As much as I love brewing beer, I just can't drink enough to support my current brewing habit. I'm tearing out the cold room, taking down the bar, and selling off my large batch equipment. Until I'm able to take the big leap into real deal commercial brewing (when I retire), I'm turning my attention to the things that really matter to me... now.
Since I'm not really a fan of watching any organized sport, I decided to take this past Sunday as an opportunity to break my brewing fast and try out some of my new brewing gadgets - all while avoiding watching Super Bowl 45. I decided to brew 10 gallons of Sprout (extract with specialty grain) and 15 gallons of St. Chucks Porter (all-grain).
I started prepping Saturday night by filling up my HLT with about 30 gallons of strike/sparge water and dialing the heater in to 175F. This is a huge time saver when the actual brew days comes. I also measured out 3 pounds of pale malt and used Brian Richards' method to create my own home-roasted brown malt (part of the Sprout recipe). It took a few hours, but it was really very easy and filled the house with a delicious aroma.
I woke up Sunday morning and put 12 gallons of water in my boil kettle. I crushed the brown malt, put it in a grain bag, and dropped it into the water to steep as I turned on the flame. While that was coming up to temperature, I crushed the grain for the porter and dumped it into my mash tun. I mashed in used my handy dandy pre-heated water and setup my recirculation loop at a set point of 152F. About that time, the water in my kettle hit 170F, so I removed the brown malt and cranked the heat to high. It didn't take long for the water to come to a boil, so I added in my extracts and first set of hops and stirred it all up with one of my Christmas Gifts: a giant stainless steel paddle. Once all of the sugars were dissolved, I used my refractometer (another gift) to take a gravity reading. 1.039, with some room to grow as volume boils off - perfect!
Then I took a break and drank a beer. At 9:15 in the morning... but it's okay, it's Super Bowl Sunday so I am sure I'm not the only one.
45 minutes later, it was time for the second and last hop addition to the Sprout, so I chucked them in and started prepping my chiller/pump by running sanitizer through it. I also got 2 sanitized carboys out and turned the temp of my porter mash up to 170F to prepare for mash-out.
At 10:15, I drained the boil kettle through my counterflow chiller and filled up 2 carboys. The cold weather makes this process go very fast, since I can run my pump wide open. Another refractometer reading put the starting gravity of Sprout at 1.043. I pitched some dry yeast and turned my attention back to the porter.
The mash had made it up to about 170F, so I began to run some of the sweet wort off and slowly add hot sparge water to the top. For the next 45 minutes or so, I rinsed the grain and filled the boil kettle once again with the runoff. I accumulated about 17 gallons with a specific gravity of 1.057 and then fired the burner up again.
A few hop additions and another beer break later, I filled 3 carboys with 5 gallons each of jet-black porter wort with a specific gravity of 1.064. I pitched some yeast from a Wyeast smack-pack and called it a day! Well... not quite. There was still an hour of cleanup, but I wont go into details on that.
I was completely finished by 2:00pm. Heck, I even had time to take a shower, take a nap, and wake up to watch SuperBowl commercials.
For those interested in specifics, here are the ingredient bills for both recipes since they varied slightly from the online recipes:
3# home-roasted brown malt (steeped)
6# Northern Brewer pilsen LME
3# extra light DME
1# rice syrup solids
60 minute boil
1oz Hallertau hops (60 min)
1oz Willamette hops (60 min)
1oz Tettnanger hops (15 min)
Danstar Nottingham dry ale yeast
St. Chucks Porter:
22.5# 2-row pale malt
2.25# chocolate malt
2.25# 60L crystal malt
2.25# flaked barley
1.5# biscuit malt
1.5# special B malt
90 minute mash at 152F
60 minute boil
2.25oz Centennial hops (60 min)
4oz Willamette hops (10 min)
Wyeast 1728 - Scottish Ale yeast in 2 carboys
Safbrew S-33 dry ale yeast in 1 carboy
This summer, several of us in IBADS will me driving all over the state and brewing beer with as many folks as we can. Our schedule lists out dates/events that are locked in, but we have plenty of openings late this summer. Interested in learning to brew beer? Host us!
Brewed 10 gallons of Marty's Ultralight Ale this evening. Skipped the mash and did an extract brew... 2 hours start to finish.
It's been a good day so far. I decided to keg some beer that m1 and I brewed back on June 23.
I racked the fermented and chilled beer into the kegs and put them on tap immediately. Normally, I'd force-carbonate the beer for a few days before tapping, but both of these beers tasts so good straight from the fermenter that I don't even want to carbonate them... yet.
First off, there's the OHP. I've got the last of an old batch on tap, carbonated and slightly aged, along side the fresh batch. I tasted them side by side and although I thought they were both delicious, the carbonation in the old (and keep in mind.... old means 2 months instead of 2 weeks) just gets in the way. The fresh stuff, in my opinion, is so good... silky, roasty, smooth, that the sharpness that comes with carbonation just doesn't fit. Straight to the tap from now on.
Stoked with my new revelation, I moved onto the fresh Wit that we brewed the same day as the OHP. It poured so cloudy and light that it reminded me of the many Upland Wheats I drank at Vinnie's wedding last weekend. And holy carp it was fantastic! My "fresh" beers approximate cask ale until the serving pressure begins to carbonate the beer. I'm planning to keep it low to keep these beers as still as possible for as long as possible.
And now my taps are fully loaded. Beerpong, anyone?
Brew 30 gallons of delicious beer on Saturday, April 11, 2009, in my basement.
We will be brewing all day... that is to say, from about 10am to about 10pm. We will also be drinking all day... that is to say from about 10am to 10pm. Lunch and dinner will be the traditional IBADS fare - Domino's. I'll provide homebrew and Miller Lite on tap until it's gone... then we can improvise.
Lineup (recipes pending):
Amber - for Geoff and Jessica's upcoming wedding
St. Chuck's or OHP - for in house replenishment
Saison - to use up some of the fancy Belgian yeasts I acquired.
I can't do it alone. I will need other brewers... people interested in helping, watching, or learning... and people to drink with me while I wait out the mash. I've talked to many of you who have expressed interest in brewing beer, so this is for you. Everyone is invited - just let me know you are coming beforehand. Come on down, stay a while. We've got spare bedrooms.
After my long recess from blogging which has been brought to my attention many times, I've decided to return with a single blog that features three of my favorite things: Strassenfest, homebrewing, and beards, and I'm going to do it using only one sentence (not counting this highly punctuated, run-on, intro sentence)... wait for it... wait for it... GO:
I won two first places in the Strassenfest homebrewing contest while sporting a sweet beard.
I spent Wednesday evening cleaning carboys, sanitizing kegs, and generally straightening up my brewing equipment and area. Needless to say, a few pints of beer were required to get the job done. In the end, my final keg blew foam opening a spot for a new keg of commercial beer. After a trip to Liquor Barn last night, I am happy to say that I now have a half barrel of Bells delicious Two Hearted Ale on tap. Tasty!
5 gallons of Sunnybrook Kolsch is on deck. IBADS brewed it 2 weeks ago and m1 documented the process. It should be ready to drink in a few days.
Stef and I have filled our last two weekend with beer festivals. Here's the run down:
Fest of Ale
This was the second annual Fest of Ale and it was put on by The Keg Liquors in Clarksville, IN. 10 local breweries and 2 major distributors were there doing one of my favorite things: serving free beer. Okay, so it cost $30 to get in... but still. We got hit by some rain, but that didn't stop the fun. The rain brought cooler weather with it and forced us to mingle and meet new people under the tents. My favorite beer from the event was Barley Island's Sheet Metal Blonde. It just seemed to hit the spot for me that day - I love Wits in the summer. Good times!
Stef, m1, and I all represented IBADS at the first annual gathering of Indiana homebrewing clubs. We got to meet people from all over the state, talk brewing, enjoy an unending variety of craft and homebrewed beer, and eat free smoked meat. I took a random sampling of bottles and 5 gallons of a simple, tea-infused ale (6-row and 2-row grain bill, Danstar Windsor yeast [read: fruity], single infusion @ 150F and light on the hops). I took it in a 5-gallon cooler (same cooler as the margarita pump, different lid) with a picnic tap on it and bought a little CO2 charging system when we got there. I was able to get rid of about 4 of the 5 gallons. not too bad considering the amount of beer available!
Here's a pic of me drooling over a sweet stainless conical fermentor brought by Blichmann Engineering. Also, check out IndianaBeer.com for some m1/bean/stef cameo's, and this pic taken during a big toast. Special thanks to Anita at Great Fermentations for allowing the event to happen in her parking lot, and to Ron Smith and the FBI for taking the initiative and getting this event going. I'm looking forward to next year already! Also, a wide wide world of web shout-out to the Bloomington HopJockeys, of whom I met 3, and who's website posting allowed us to find out about this event!
About 18 months ago, I built a bench to use for brewing. A BrewBench! I built it with 3 things in mind
Anyway, The HLT up on top is a 35 gallon cooler fitted with 3 things. The spigot and 1500W heating element on the bottom, and a homemade copper dip tube for my temp sensor. I fill this thing with 30 gallons of water the night before I brew and dial it in to 175F. No more heating up sparge water!
The small grey vessel under the HLT spigot is a mini heat exchanger. It's a 1-gallon enamle pot fitted with, you guessed it, a 1500W heating element. I pump liquids through a copper coil immersed in the pot when I need to heat them. This is usually during recirculation, but sometimes during sparge or even mash in if the water from the HLT needs a boost. I usually turn the HLT off once I start brewing and leave more volts for my mini heat exchanger and pump which are used throughout the brewing process.
The blue cooler is of the "Ice Cube" variety, and is used as my mash/lauter tun. It hold enough grain for heavy 10 gallon batches, and can pull off 15 gallons of a lighter beer. The bottom is fitted with my homemade slotted copper manifold to hold the grain back from the drain. I keep my adjustable return manifold and temp controller in the mlt as well. The manifold had interchangable arms, one for recirculation (large, slow pour) and one for sparge (small, fast pour, more evenly distributed).
Then there's the pump. It's a magnetically coupled, high-temp, food grade summbitch that I got from morebeer.com. It's great. You'll notice that it, along with all other vessels in my system, is fitted with quick-connects (or quick-disconnects, whatever they are called). These fittings, along with the hoses you see hanging along the side of bench, allow me to move liquids around very easily. The quick-connects are great for gradual equipment upgrades. There's room for other stuff too. And the bottom shelf holds all of the big things (propane, burner, kettle, pots). I store my grain and grain processing equipment in these Rubbermaid totes, which fit conveniently under the right hand overhang of the bench.
The bench provides a very convenient brewing environment. Every vessel has it's place, and there brewing process flows very nicely. I'll document that process in a little more detail in a later blog. When brewing is done and the equipment is clean, it goes right back into position for storage, and the whole things can either be wheeled off behind a curtian (litterlay), or left on display. It's easy to describe the brewing process to visitors when they ask questions like "So, how exactly do you MAKE the beer?".
I plan to document different parts in more detail, and as I do, I put them in the Beer category. Also, a note to you rss fans, you can now subscribe to category feeds like this: Beer (rss).
Last night, I kegged 10 gallons of homebrew. As I went to hook up the CO2 lines to begin force carbing it, I realized that one of my fittings was the wrong type. I went ahead and hooked up the one keg (chocolate stout) and went to get parts to replace the bad fitting. So far, so good. My plan was to simply cut the bad fitting off, replace it with the new one, and zip tie it in place. Unfortunately, my hoses and valves were set up in the one configutaion that would not allow this to happen smoothly. I've got a 3-way block with shuttoffs on the "out" side of the CO2 tank, and one of the three lines has a T in it so I can have 4 gas lines. The T does not contain a check valve. Also, the chocolate stout keg was filled extra full, meaning that the gas-in dip tube was actually below the surface of the beer. Are you following this?
Bottom line: When I went to snip the bad fitting, teh existing pressure in the stout keg forced beer out the submerged gas line, through the T, up to the cut line that I was holding, and out the cut - resulting in approximately 1 quart of sweet, sweet nectar being sprayed all over the following things:
This Saturday, IBADS met to break some of our own brewing records. We gathered at Jim Hicks's house up in northern Indiana and brewed and brewed and brewed. The following notable records were set.
Saturday, Stef and I were at a loss for things to do. The backyard project was rolling into completion and we were just plain bored. So we made a trip to run some errands that didn't really even need to be run. We set out to find a few simple items (twine, tree stakes, Rubbermaid bins) but ended up finding a lot more. We went to the Dollar Store, Big Lots, The Home Depot, CiCi's Pizza, and then Bridge Liquor. At Bridge Liquor, we bough a variety pack of new (and newly packaged) beers to try out, and BAM: we finally had something to do.
The first thing I tried was a Bud Select in the cool new aluminum "bottle". It was overpriced and tasted the same as every other Bud Select I've ever had. The saving grace was that it was kinda neat to hold - very heavy duty (3x the aluminum of a can). I received a nice surprise when I discovered (after drinking it) that it was actually a pint, not a measly 12 ounces. Bonus!
The next "beer" was Tilt. It's basically the exact same thing as Sparks, but a little cheaper and with 6.6% ABV instead of 6.0%. What's not to like?
And then, there was the Weidemann. Stef had never actually tasted one, so we grabbed a sixer. She said it tasted like water. Personally, I like it just as much as any other low-cost domestic.
The star attraction for beer night was a new malt liquor called Four-O. I've never seen it before, but when I saw a guy grab a few and checkout, I was intrigued. It comes in 40's, but they were out, so I opted for a 24 ounce can. The labeling is reminiscent of graffiti, and it's obvious that they are marketing towards the... um... low end. It's 10% ABV (what the?) and the 24 ounce can only cost 99 cents. HOLY BANG! 99 cents for the approximate equivalent of 5 normal beers. Ready for the down side: it tasted like ass piss. Not only that, I woke up at 6am the next morning cold, clammy, and on the verge of vomiting. Close call.
There's quite an exciting lineup on deck for this weekend.
Richo's Public House, Sportstime Pizza, and The New Albanian Brewery are starting Gravity Head '06. It's a month-long event during which they bring in kegs upon kegs (and casks upon casks) of high-gravity microbrews and imports. The lineup is impressive - the ABV ranges from 7.2% all the way up to about 15%. I'll be spending a few evening there in the upcoming week as it's importent to get in on the selections early, before they blow foam.
Saturday, Stef and I will be taking the plunge for the third consecutive year. This will be the coldest yet. Not too much else to say about that, really.
Sunday, I'm planning on heading to Perfect North for some ski and/or snowboard action with a few ducks. This will be my last ski trip this season - so I expect atleast a few injuries.
Yes, you are correct, my last 2 blogs have been about beer. And this one is too.
Last weekend, Stef and I went to Richmond for Stacie's birthday, and while there, I talked to her dad about an event that he helped host the weekend before. It was called "Best of the Midwest" and it was a beer tasting.
From what he told me, this is how it worked:
Some dude rented out the Shriners's club house for an evening for $150. He then sent a Shriner to pick up $75 worth of beer - 10 sixpacks of microbrews. 30 people or so attended the event, each shelling out $20 for the night ($600). The guy running the operation talked about each beer as they were passed out (each bottle was split among 4 people I think) and walked the tasters through a wide range of beers. There was also a raffle for some beer paraphanelia which brought in an additional $140 (for about $20 worth of crap) which was donated to the Shrine club as a "tip." The Shrine bar was also open (run by a Shriner volunteer) - they took in about $40. I think the whole thing lasted 2 hours, and from what Steve said, everyone had a pretty good time. The Shriners made $320 and from what I surmise, the guy running the deal made $375.
Now, I'm not sure how it all worked, legally. I assume that the whole thing operated uner the Shrine Club's liquor liscense. Steve told me that whenever the club is rented, the Shrine always provides the alcohol (marked up, of course) but that they didnt have a problem with buying specific items so long as a list and ample funds were provided.
As you can probably guess, I would love to put on one of these. I really want to get started planning and gauging intrest in my area, but I want to make sure it's all legal first. I'm going to contact a few local lodges (Elk's, Moose, etc.) and see if they can help me sort through the legalities.
Here's how I'd run mine:
Nick sent out a link to The Outdoorsmen - Blood, Sweat & Beers a few days ago, and I've been thinking about it on and off ever since. Check it out. Watch the trailer, then come back.
Are you as fascinated as I am? I hope so. I'd really like to put something like this together for all of us aging twenty-somethigns. I'm thinking late Spring or early Summer, find a nice big spot in the woods, near either a large stream or a lake, and make a weekend of it. Leave the wife and kid(s) at home, and come gather with your brethern to celebrate sheer manliness - Outdoorsmen style.
Nothing planned yet, just kicking around the idea. Holla back if you want in or if you have any suggestions on how to plan this shindig.
Last weekend, Stef dropped me and a carload of brewing equipment off at Andy Barkley's house in Indy on her way to Richmond. It was 9am when I unloaded the car, and there was only one thing on my mind: beer.
Hicks had driven down the previous night and his brother was on his way. The four of us planned to brew up 20 gallons of premium homebrew beer while "freeing up space" in Barkley's beer cooler and fridge by drinking as much as possible. I'll go ahead and aleviate the suspense and let you know that our plan panned out well.
The way it usually work is as follows: Whomever hosts the brewing event pledges as much homebrew to the day as is required. On top of that, the visiting brewers are supposed to bring samples of their own homebrew and/or a sampling of "good" beer from the liquor store. As it turned out, I physically did not have room in the car for extra beer or a cooler (I brought a lot of equipment and whatnot). Good thing Hicks (the elder) brough some. We ended up with plenty. Coffee Stout, IBADS Red, Barkley's Wit, Chimay, CHIPA, and a splattering of domestic and import styles kept us chock full of beer. Of course, we ordered Domino's pizza ($5 pizza deal) for lunch.
We brewed two beers - the first of which was an old standby: St. Chuck's Porter. It's probably my favorite IBADS hombrew and I am pretty sure we've brewed it 4-5 times. At the beginning of the mash, we realized that our thermometer broke when we were heating up the water. It looked like all of the lead pellets sank to the bottom, and there was no break in the mercury tube (or whatever is in there) so we brushed it off and had Hicks (the younger) stop by the homebrew shop and grab a replacement. Other than that, the first beer went off without a hitch - starting gravity was 1.052. Next up was a new one - a Classic American Pilsner (CAP) that Andy formulated and titled "My Father's Goate". I have no idea. Anyway, it's a simple light lager and it, too, was brewed without any major problems and also ended up at 1.052. We finished with plenty of daylight left, cleaned up, and got ready for dinner.
I heart Buffalo Wild Wings. A good beer selection + lots of wingie sauces + trivia = hard to beat. Jen drove the four of us into town and we grabbed a big table. Bad Andy (not to be confused with Andy Barkley) and Sarah met us there for trivia, grub, and a few drinks. We also went to Coldstone Creamery for desert (BANG). Around... 11 maybe (?) we headed back home where Stef was waiting. Then it was inside for some polite chit-chat and straight to bed.
Here's the pics I took throughout the day. Don't miss the picture of the Hicks Brothers and the subsequent movie of them shotgunning beers.
Back in 2004, I built a walk-in cold room in my basement. I documented it pretty well. Here are all of the entries:
Well, It's been done since July, and it's been in a few pictures from SDP and Hallobean, but I still haven't blogged a solid blog about it, so, now I am.
Beanblog followers may recall that I (with the help of some friends) built a cold room back in early 2004 to keep the beer I brew and keg cold. I put some taps through the wall and mounted them on plywood. It worked, but it looks Spriglered (People that live in my neighborhood will know what that means). 3 taps were installed initially, with room for expansion, and 3+ taps pretty much means you need a bar! Luck for me, my dad (quite the handy fella) was onboard with not only helping me build it, but even buying some of the materials.
But slow down! First I'd need the basement to look halfway decent. A nice bar is a shitty basement isn't worth much, so I started putting up drywall. My basement is a walk-out, so anywhere there were studs, I slapped drywall up and anywhere there was foundation I painted it with polyurethane concrete sealer/paint. I left half of the basement unfinished and partitioned it off with adjustable curtains. It's not quite a fully-finished basement but it's close enough for me!
Then came the bar. I wish I'd have kept detailed construction notes and taken lots of pictures like I did with the cold room, but I was in such a rush to get it done I just forgot. My dad and I put the whole thing together over the course of 3 evenings. It's basically a cabinet with a short-studded wall built out from it and a couple solid-core doors laid on top. There were a lot of other details involved (wiring, plumbing the sink, the under-bar shelf, trim, handrail, paint, stain), but it was not really what I would call "hard." In fact, it was pretty easy, and fun to boot! A few pics of the finished product can be seen in this gallery or live and in person the next time you come to visit me. As you can probably tell, I've added an additional tap for a total of 4 - more than a lot of restaurants in my area.
My dad made the tap backer and shelves out of some oak planks he had left over from his old barn. I put in some stools, brewed some beer, and stocked the cabinet and under-bar shelf with bar-related items. End result: a nice bar with good beer and seating for 6 - all just 16 steps away!
After a long hiatus from brewing, IBADS is back.
This Saturday, Barkley, Hicks, and I are brewing twin 10-gallon batches of sweet sweet nectar of the gods - St. Chucks Porter and Third Round ESB. Special guest for the first part of the session is tee to tha mother effin pee. Should be good tims.
Look for the ESB to be served at HalloBean.
I've decided to start finishing my basement. Step 1: Make a list of shit I need to buy. My dad came over to my house yesterday and we knocked that one out. Step 2: frame out a few openings and throw some studs in where the builder strayed from his 16"-on-center spacing. I plan on doing this over the weekned. Stay tuned.
Also - I fixed my banjo. I predict that I will play it every night for the next month, then realize that I am not getting any better and put it back in the closet for 6-12 more months.
Also - I'll be brewing beer with Barkley and Hicks again this Saturday in Indy. We are making 10 gallons each of a Red Ale and a Helles. Tonight, Stef and I are heading up there to attend this years opening of the Rathskellar's Biergarten. Polkaboy is playing. Doubly good tims on deck for this weekend in Indy!
I need help.
I have so much beer in my basement that I fear some of it is going to go bad if someone doesn't help me drink it. I like brewing, but I may have to cut back on it, or else step up the drinking. I have a new neighbor... maybe he's a beer drinker. I'll ask when I meet him.
In brewing-related news: Barkley, Hicks, and I will be brewing 20 more gallons this weekend. I will probably take 10 of those. The beers are NBA and CHIPA. I finally kegged and sampled the St. Chunk's Porter from a month or so ago. It's bangtastic. Stef even likes it. The Nessie Wee is coming along nicely - I'll probably throw it in cold storage in a few more weeks and let it age there for a month or two.
In beer-related news: Rich O's, Sportstime Pizza, and the New Albanian Brewery are starting "Gravity Head 2005" today. For the next month, they'll have a large selection of high-gravity beers on tap and on cask. High gravity refers to the specific gravity of the beer before it has fermented. A highy gravity beer has a high specific gravity because of the large amount of sugars present. This large amount of sugar gets converted into large amounts of alcohol. High gravity beers range from 6 or 7 percent ABV all the way up to the 20's. Check out this link (search the page for "samichlaus") for a list of the beers they'll have.
And I'm OAT.
It's been a while since I've put out a real cold room entry. The main reason for that is that I haven't done much on it. It HAD been working fine, chilling my kegs and an occasion sanky of Miller Lite to 42 degrees or so. Key word in that last sentence: HAD.
As I mentioned in my last entry, the AC mysteriously stopped working. After about 10 minutes of cutting through the Great Stuff I put down to hold everythign in place, I took it out of the wall. I attempted to tweak the internal thermostat and it seemd to make it work again, but time would show that the thermostat was not functioning properly. Regardless of what it was set on, it would turn on around 50F and off around freezing. I guess it just wore out.
So I thought about it, then thought about it some more. I took the whole AC unit apart so I could take out the faulty thermostat. In it's place, I spliced in a household extension cord. I thin plugged the ends of the extension cord into my trusty old analong Johnsons Controls external HVAC thermostat. Thos of you keeping up with the cold room saga will recall that the Johnsons Control thermostat was set up as the secondary thermostat in the previous configuration. That is, it would shut off all power to the AC unit when the target temp was hit. The internal thermostat just cycled the compressor to keep the unit from freezing up. Well now, the Johnsons Control is the only thermostat in the loop, and it only cycles the compressor on or off to maintain (within about 5 degrees) whatever temperature I dial it to. So the AC fan is always on, but the compressor (the real power sucker) only comes on when it need to.
So far this scheme seems to be working better than I could have hoped. I am now keeping the beers between 36 and 40 degrees, or so.
I've had two drywall people come in to give me estimates on finishing my basement walls (including the area around the cold room). They quoted $1190 and $1445. Trach. I think I'll just wait for my dad to get back from Florida (April) and do it myself. He's also going to help me build a bar to accessorize the cold room taps :).
PS - Coffee Bean Stout, Badunkadunk, and the last few glasses of Winter IPA are on tap, and Another Round ESB is on deck.
One of the new brewing gadgets that I have been working on is a 3-wire temperature probe that could be hooked up to my laptop. (An aside: For those of you not in the know, my laptop is a $4000 486dx4-100MHz monster. That's right... pre-Pentium. It was the laptop I was required to buy for my 4 years at RHIT. It serverd it's purpose... and really wasn't THAT bad of a little laptop at the beginning. Anyway, since graduation, it has been used mainly as a controller for lights (via relay board) for HalloBean). Anyway... in my preliminary testing, I had a little C program that would talk to the chip and display the temperature. It worked well enough to convince me to hard wire the chip and build a waterproof probe out of it. Andy B. created a nice GUI for it and everything... it was gonna be so sveet. But, long story short - next time I hooked it up, not only did it not work, but it killed my laptop. RIP. Decided to abort that project and use an off-the-shelf temp controller instead.
Got a running training-schedule/calender from Irwin. We are both running in the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in April and the Indy Mini in May. Hopefully I can stick to it. Ran 4 miles at about 8 minutes per mile. As a treat afterwards, I went down to my basement to grab a pint of Winter IPA. On my first sip, I noticed it was a bit warm. 51F to be exact. It should be 38-41F. After a little investigating, I realized that the air conditioner that maintains the temperature in my cold room had gone kaput. Son of a bitch. Why is everything breaking? Now I have to either come up with a new way to chill the cold room (Chest freezer? Dorm fridge?) or find somewhere that sells ACs in the middle of winter.
Just ordered a grain mill this morning. It should be here by Monday.
A week from this Saturday, Irwin, Barkley, and I are getting together in Indy to brew again. This time, Hicks will be joining us too. We will be making 10 gallons of Sunnybrook Kolsch and 10 gallons of St. Chuck's Porter. We'll also be sampling the last 4 beers we've brewed (here and here) along with various others. We are going to attempt a few new things this time 'round:
Here is a list of things I want to do/build/buy with regards to homebrewing:
Saturday was, in every atendee's opinion, a success. We ended up with just a little less than 20 gallons of beer. Irwin got screwed and only took home 4. Barkley got his 5, and I have the rest. It's all bubbling away. Brewing with 3 people is much mo betta than brewing with 1 people.
Irwin took notes and pictures. Once he gets them (he left them at my house and Barkley too em) to me, I will blog a blog all about it.
Here is a blog I wrote just for you:
Posted September 17, 2004 at 10:19:00 PM by Bean in the Beer category
Well, it's been a busy week. Busy at work, not busy in the blogs, that is. Been adding a lot of functionality to our online auditing/management system and it's really starting to develop into a pretty powerful tool. Kinda like me.
Anyway, I did brew another batch of beer... no link to the recipe since brewery.org is down right now, but here's the jist of it: 3 pounds of wheat DME, 1 pound of light DME, and .75 ounces of Tettnanger hops went into a 60 minute boil. At flameout, I dumped in a big can of Oregon Cherry Puree, cooled the wort, and put it on top of the yeast cake left from S3. It began fermentation by the next day. In a few weeks, I'll have Kirschweizen (Cherry Wheat).
Also, Top Secret Experiment #1 (TSE#1) was officially a success. I just finished TSE#2, and it is looking even better than the first! TSE#2b will take place Sunday night - details to follow next week.
And I'm spent, that's all I got, are you happy? I'm turning in early tonight so I can get up bright and early to head to the Nasty to visit M1 and friends. Itinerary for tomorrow: drive, eat, drink, pong, baseball game, Hofbrauhaus, shenanigans, hilarity. Habba enjoy weekend!
Brewed it last night. 5 hours, 60% effeciency, not too bad overall. I did have a lot of cavitization or air-seepage during recirculation, and it's fermenting a bit hot, but every brew session has to have it's problems.
The last two times I brewed, I did almost everything inside the basement. The only thing I set up outside was my kettle - for heating water and of course for the boil. Seems to work out pretty good, except when I spill stuff. I should buy a mop.
In unrelated news: going to try out ultra-top-secret project #1 tonight and see if it works.
Here is the next beer I'll be brewing. It's an IPA (India Pale Ale) made with a few pounds of rye malt. Lot's of people on the Brews and Views forum have posted rave reviews of it, so I thought I'd try it out for myself. It will be agressively hopped and pretty heavy on the alcohol content. I am brewing Wednesday or Thursday (anyone wanna help?) and it should be ready for samplin' in about 3 weeks.
In related news: Sunnybrook Kolsch was kegged 2 nights ago (FG was dead-on) and will be sampled tonight.
In more related news: My dad spun me a tap handle on his lathe. Pictures to come soon.
All you may very well know - I brew beer. I generally brew 5-gallon batches and use the all-grain method. That is, I start with malted barley, hops, yeast, and water - as opposed to starting out with canned/prehopped malt extract. I liken it to making a cake from scratch instead of making it from a box. Now, I am definately no knocking extract brewing (or partial mashing, for that matter), as that's how I started. Good beer can be made in many ways, but I like the level on control I get when brewing all-grain. And building the system is half the fun!
Major System Components:
Minor System Components:
Went to the BrewFest in Indianapolis last weekend. Good times overall. Lots of tasty, tasty beers. As usual, there was a long line. Once we were inside, Stef got her first sample. It was crowded. We hung out with the happy famiry for a while, and I looked up Koji's nose. His friend checked out my shoulder and assured me it was indeed effed up. Bilal showed up about 30 minutes before the shindig was over and posed for a few pictures.
Things to note about BrewFest 2004:
Went to Wet Willy's Saturday night with Stef, John & Terri, Terri's friend Jamie, and Jamie's cousin. Wet Willy's is a new bar in Louisville that's on one of the main "happenin" drags of the city. It's a pretty weird little hangout... lot's of cool ideas scrunched into one place. For instance, they have some of those wacky vertical ceiling fans. Man, I love those things. They also have a whole section of the bar that is all wicker furniture - and another section of stone furniture. Their bartop is all hand-hammered copper and used to have a long fishtank built into it (it has been converted to a terrarium) One of the weirdest things is the room that you go through right when you come in the place... it has a glass floor with an aligator habitat underneath, and yes, there is an aligator in it.
Now all that cool stuff is fine for "ohhs" and "ahhs" but the real beauty of this bar is the drink selection. Besides having a standard full bar, they have 30 frozen drink machines churning out every flavor of daquari (or rita, or colada, or whatever) you can think of lining the top of the bar. They also have 68 beer taps mounted behind the bar - undoubtably the biggest selection of drafts in the area. BUT WAIT, THERES MORE! The bartendresses are more than happy to dole out "tastes" of any frozen drink or beer you want. This led to me getting to taste a wide range of beers that I'd never had before. A definate BANG in my book.
After the bar, we went back to Jamie's to play some poker. I almost won the $30 pot but lost to Jamie (I had pocket Kings, and went all in. She called, and flopped Aces). Around 2:30, it was time to head home. It had been a while since my "beer tasting" adventure at Willy's so I decided to drive. On the way, I got pulled over.
I had to sit for about 10 minutes while the cop who pulled me over waited for backup. The backup administered the full barrage of drunk tests on me (all of which I passed) and then gave me a breathalizer. After I blew in the tube, the cop discarded the tube on the ground (nice role modle, litterbug) and we watched the number count up. It stoped at 0.070. "You are free to go" he said, "Here's a warning for speeding - no ticket, no fine, no points on your liscense." I then bent down and picked up the blow tube and said "Can I take this?" "Sure" he said. So I did. In the morning, I examined the contents of my pocket and decided to take a picture and BABAI.
I ended up using two thermostats to control the AC unit for the cold room. An external Johnsons Control thermostat cuts power to the whole thing when the target temperature has been reached. I set it at 38F, and it has about a 4 degree range, so it shouldn't be flipping on and off too much once I get some thermal mass in there. The second thermostat is used to power the compressor on and off and act as a defrost control. Originally, I thought I could get by just using the external control, but when my AC turned into an ice maker, I realized how cold those coils can get. So I removed the internal thermostat from the AC and looked up the part number on the internet (sorry, didn't write it down). I discovered that the adjustable range on the dial could be moved, so I twisted the set screw until the range was centered around 32F and reinstalled it into the AC. I moved the sensor bulb from the internal thermostat as close to cooling coils as I could and set it for about 31F. My defrost cycle was born. Any time an ice block begins to grow on the coils, the compressor kicks off and the fan stays on. The slightly warmer air in the room circulates and melts the ice. Works like a charm so far.
Now back to construction. I finished caulking the seams with silicon and pulled out all of the temporary screws I had holding the foamboard in place and filled the holes with caulk. The liquid nails should hold everything on it's own. Once I was satisfied with the placement of the AC (making sure it is tilted towards the back of teh unit to help condensation runnof), I sprayed Great Stuff expanding foam around all sides. The foam should help insulate and seal the room as well as keep the AC unit stable. I made sure not to block any of the air intake vents.
I stuffed the electrical outlet with some spare insulation (nothign flamable), put an insulated cover on it, then a face plate. I installed a faux doorknow on the door and two sliding latches to hold the door shut. I used the two latches to prevent the door from bowing out at the top and bottom. I put in various sizes of weather stripping and foam rubber around the door and when the latches are latched, a good seal is formed.
The inside of the cold room is done. All thats left to do is finish the warm side, mount my taps, and drywall the exterior.
Time for the door. I decided to go with a standard interior door and tackle the insulating challenge after it was installed. After half-ass installing some new studs, M1, Steve and I mounted the door and got it plum, square, and level. Next, we cut a slab of 2" foamboard (r-10) and liquid nailed it to the inside of the door. We left 3/8" gaps all the way around to account for the hinge radius and inner lip that the door closes to. As a test, we put some cheap weather stripping along the lip to gauge the seal. It seemed to work, but I think I am going to get some more heavy-duty stripping to make sure. M1 then sealed some of the gaps with silicone caulk.
We finished off this short construction day by adding a chunk of 2" fomaboard to the top of the cold room. It is liquid nailed along all of the seams and held in place with a long woodscrew so the adhesive could set up. Once dry, I'll fill the top cavity with whatever insulation scraps I have left.
Even though we hadnt finished sealing all of the seams or insulating the area around the AC unit, we decided to flip the switch and try this thing out. The room got down to 40 degrees and stayed there. I put a six pack in and drank the first beer chilled by my cold room about 2 hours later. BANG!
Still yet to come: Thermostat rework, AC insulation, and finishing touches.
After Steve headed home Friday night, I went ahead and began to insulate the front wall. First, I hung more r-13 fiberglass in the stud cavities and stapled everything in place. At this point, I realized that the room was only 1 wall short of being completely enclosed, so I decided to test it out. I stood a sheet of foamboard up at the entrance and cranked on the AC. It got down to 50 in a hurry, but then I decided to move on... no need to freeze up my AC just yet. Next, I put up plywood on the indide of the front wall and glued 2" rigid foamboard to it, again securing it with a few screws. I filled all of the joints with spray foam and snapped a pic of the inside. Approximate r-value of the front wall: 26.
Now for some wiring. My basement didn't come wired very thoroughly, so while Stef's dad (an electritian by trade) was in town Saturday, I had him rum me two new circuits: a dedicated line for the AC and some general purpose outlets for in and around the cold and warm rooms. The AC outlet faces the warm room interior and two GP outlets are outside. I also put an outlet inside the cold room so that I can have some lighting if I need it. Flipped the breakers on and everything looked fine, so I covered the front wall with vapor barrier and called it complete, until the drywalling begins.
For the floor, I laid down some vapor barrier and then stacked two layers of 2" foamboard on top. I Liquid Nail'd the foam together and then filled around the sides with Great Stuff. I later cut the Great Stuff flush, caulked the seams with silicon, and dropped a peice of plywood on top to prevent the foam from getting dammaged. Approximate r-value of the floor: 20.
Took a half day Friday and headed to Home Depot at noon. I would have preferred Lowes, but HD is on the way home. My buddy Steve met me there to help me round up materials:
The total, after my 10% off coupon, was about $240. I think they forgot to charge me for the plywood, though. Steve and I loaded up my truck and headed home. We took everything into the basement and set up a few saw horses. I gathered the tools we'd need:
I snapped a few pictures (here, here, and here) of the empty canvas. We decided to split the warm and cold sides of the closet along the 4th stud from the right. We'd need easy access to the small warm room, so we removed a stud and put a temporary header in place (I later added a 2x10).
Now, the insulation.
We ripped down the drywall that ran along the stairwell ceiling and filled the space with rolls of r-13 fiberglass insulation. We stapled them in place and then covered them with vapor barrier and 1/4" plywood. We then glued 1/2" foamboard to the plywood and secured it with a few screws. I'll remove the screws in a day or so to reduce the heat-leak along the highly conductive metal. Approximate r-value of the ceiling: 15.
The back wall that butts up to the exterior wall of the house was next. It already had some rigid foam board outside the house studs and r-13 rolls in between. We ripped down the existing vapor barrier and put up a new one. We ran the new one back along the studs to allow for more fiberglass rolls in the cavity since there were a second set of studs framed for th estairs. I wanted the vapor barrier as close to the "hot" side of the wall as possible, to reduce the chance of condensation getting into all of the fiberglass and degrading/roting it. Material on the inside of the vapor barrier will stay dry via the dehumidifier that will be inside the cold room (more on this later). Before we hung anything nrigid, we wanted to go ahead and frame the divider.
We took measurements and created a simple wall with a hole cut out to fit my air conditioner. We made the hole about 1" bigger in each dimention to allow us to move things around easily, run cords, pull out the AC, etc. We also put a small ledge on the back to help support the weight of the AC unit. After putting the wall in place, we secured it to the existing studs and set the AC unit in to make sure everything looked right.
It looked fine, so we began to insulate the dividing wall and back wall. Inside the cavity left by the vapor barrier on the back wall, we hung more r-13 fiberglass insulation. We also stuffed the divider wall with fiberglass and some 2" rigid foam board along the top. We then covered both walls with 1/4" plywood to provide something to mount the upcoming foamboard to. Here's a shot of the back plywood up and Steve making some measurements for the next cut.
We glued 2" fomaboard to the divider wall cold side. I'll be puting a vapor barrier on the hot side once that room is finished. On the back wall, we only used 1/2" foam, since there was alread quite a bit of insulation in place. In both cases, we used a few screws to hold the foam in place wile the Liquid Nails set up. In the end, th eapproximated r-value of the back wall (from cold room to house exterior) was 30 and the divider wall was r-20.
Coming soon - Part 3: wiring (and more insulation, of course).
I want to build a cold room or walk-in fridge in my basement. Primary purpose: storing and dispensing beer (homebrew and store-bought). Secondary purpose: Wine storage, fermentation, grain storage, etc. Other homebrewers have undertaken such tasks before, and have thankfully published detail online. The followin 3 sites, in particular, have help out quite a bit:
First major decision: where to put it. This was an easy one since seeing the closet space under my basement steps was what got me thinking about this in the first place. It's about 3'6" wide, 9' tall, and 10' deep, with a slanted ceiling and one side on the house exterior wall. Pretty standard.
Next: How to cool it. I figured I had 2 basic choices: an AC or a chest freezer. I have used a chest freezer in the past to cool a fermentation box using vented air, but cooling a whole room may be quite another story. M2 sent me a spreadsheet that helped me calculate the approximate heat load of the room to be 500-600 BTU/hr assuming 40F inside and 65F outside. Since chest freezers are around 1000 BTU, that means the sucker would have to run over 50% of the time just to keep up, let alone chill anything down. An AC on the otherhand, is quite a bit more powerfull. AC it is.
Next: Which AC Unit? Well, I went to Home Depot and bought the cheapest one they had. It was $78 and can do 5050 BTU/hr. Unfortunately, even on it's coldest setting, the air coming out was only 65F. After some discussions on the duck, I opened it up, bypassed the internal thermostat, and hard wired the compressor "on". Bingo. Worked like a charm. I put the "cold side" of the AC inside a big box and let it run for a few minutes... internal temperature got down to 19F before I shut it off. BANG!
Next: Where do I mount the AC? I figured I could either mount it inside the basement, where it would bleed heat and condensation into the house, or through the wall where it would exhause outside. Outside, I would be off the hook as far as water runoff, but I'd have to knock a hole in my exterior wall. Also, I'm not sure how well that setup would work in the winter. If I mount it inside, the condensation and noise are down sides, but the heat is probably a good thing atleast 9 months out of the year, since the basement stays pretty cool.
Inside seems like the best bet, but how do I minimize noise and handle the runoff? Well, here's what I came up with:
If I put an insulated divider in my closet and split it into cold and warm sections, I shoudl be able to hide the AC unit in the corner and cover it with an access panel. I plan on putting a drain tube to remove excess condensation from the AC drip tray and a pair of vents and a fan to exhaust the heat from the hot side of the AC.
So there ya go... the basic design is not too bad. Next up, I'll need to figure out how to insulate the room and what kind of doors and access panels I need. Look for "Cold Room, Part 2" next week. Also, any comments or suggestions would be great.
More specifically, brewing. Brewed a batch of beer last night for the first time in almost a year. It was supposed to be a 10 gallon batch, but I effed a few things up along the way and only ended up with enough sugar exctraction to muster up about 7-8. Ben Gregory bought the ingredients, and we used my equipment... we are splitting the end product. Not a bad deal for either of us.
It took us 6 hours. Along the way, I managed top melt a spot into my dad's plastic/wood compound deck material. I swear, less than 48 hours after they leave for Florida and entrust their house to me, I go and break it. I guess I've got about 3 months to figure out what to do about it.
When all was said and done, we ended up with two big jugs of nasty slop. Hopefully, the slop will start fermenting today and be ready to keg in a few weeks. It should be an ESB - a somewhat light and malty english beer. Of course, we took a few liberties with the type and amounts of ingredients, so hard telling what we'll actually have. I'll keep ya posted.
On This Page
And So It Goes..
Superbowl Brew Day
IBADS Brewtour 2010
Marty's Ultralight Ale
Bean's Big Brew 2009
Two Hearted Ale
Fest of Ale and Brew-B-Q!
Blood, Sweat, and Beers
Beer, Brewing, and B-Dubs
Basement Finishing 1
Cold Room, Part 6
20 Gallon Brew Day!
Here is a blog I wrote just for you:
Next Up: Schy Rye
Brewing, Brewing, and Brewing
Cold Room, Part 5
Cold Room, Part 4
Cold Room, Part 3
Cold Room, Part 2
Cold Room, Part 1