Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Austin Homebrew Belgian White Beer

So the Fruli clone didn't turn out quite as well as I thought (I'll post an update about that later), but the silver lining was I found a great belgian white beer recipe. The recipe I was originally for 5.5 gallons, but I scaled it for 5 gallons.

Austin Homebrews Belgian White Beer (modified for 1 gallon batch and available ingredients)

4.32 lbs 2-row pilsner malt
2.73 lbs White Wheat Malt
2.27 lbs Flaked Wheat Malt (my supplier only had half this amount available, the other half we used torrified wheat)
0.45 oz Cascade (whole leaf @30min)
0.45 oz Cascade (whole leaf @5min)
0.5 oz Coriander Seed (@5min)
0.5 oz Bitter Orange Peel (@5min)
3944 Belgian Witbier Yeast

OG: 1.048
FG: 1.010
Boil: 60 min (75 min actual)
Primary Fermenter: 10 days
Secondary Fermenter: 14 days

We started by heating 3 gallons of water to ~145°F and added it and all our grain to the mash tun. The temperature was held at 135°F for 30min. ~5 quarts of boiling water was added to the mash tun to raise the temperature to 155°F for 45min. After that 5 quarts of wort was pull off, heated to boiling at added back to the mash tun for 5min (this raised the temperature to 167°F). It's worth noting, we would have added 5 quarts of boiling water, instead of pulling off wort, if we had a bigger mash tun. 

After the final rest, we pulled off the wort and sparged with 6 gallons of water at 165°F. This yielded just shy of 6 gallons of wort. We added the hops and other additions per the recipe. After the hour long boil the specific gravity wasn't as high as we wanted, and we still had a little more than 5 gallons in the kettle. So we pulled out the hops (using a hop sock makes this easy) and left it to boil for another 15 min. We ended up hitting our specific gravity spot on!

We cooling it, chucked it in the fermenter (wort was at 24°C) and added it yeast. It's currently bubbling away all happy like. 

Just as a note, the yeast takes 2-3 hours to proof, so be sure to do that right away so it's ready when you are. 

Hopefully, I'll get some time in the coming weeks to keep working on the fridge/keggerator conversion. 

Wort in the kettle

Grains after sparging

Bitter orange peel and coriander seed

Monday, May 13, 2013

Building a Keg Fridge (Part 1)

So Matt and I have started building Keg Fridges to house our finished brews and for possibile lagering.
We decided to build them on our own and compare notes along the way to see how things are going and how we'd each solve the challenges presented by our respective fridges.

I've decided to give you a blow-by-blow account of the building of my fridge before writing a nice and neat package of instructions. It seems the basics of building a keg fridge are the same regardless of what kind of fridge you start with, but as always the devil is in the details.

I started with a used Koolatron KBC-88 Kool Compact Fridge (3.1 cu. ft, big enough for one Corny keg and a 5lbs CO2 canister). I purchased it off a university student for $40.
Pro: It's cheap, refrigerant lines do not run through the housing, it's easy to take apart. Cons: Fridge is cooled by the metal plate that forms the freezer, so you can't remove it. Thermostat is programmed to work off of freezer temperatures not "ambient" fridge temperatures.

The price of this fridge was the biggest deciding factor for the purchase. I didn't discover the cons till I started working with it.

In order to get the keg and CO2 canister to fit, I had to remove the beverage container insert on the inside of the fridge door. It was a pretty simple matter of removed the door hinge bolts from the bottom, and removed the insert screws from under the door seal.

Bracket Assembly for Door Hinge

Door Insert screws under door seal

Once I got the door off, seal removed, and beverage container off, I had to deal with the insulation on the inside of the door. The insulation seemed to be the sparyfoam kind, since it took the shape of the inside of the beverage insert. To get the keg to fit, this would need to be cut down as well. I managed this using a combination of exacto knife, box cutters and a saw. It would have been a lot easier if I had a hot wire to slice through it. I was trying to get the foam flush with the edge of the door.

Door seal removed. You can see the foam is raised from the edge of the door

To cover up the hack job I did on the foam, and to make things look tidier in general, I created a facing for the inside of the door using a piece of 1/8" thick hard board. I used the beverage insert to trace an outline on the hardboard as well as mark locations for the mounting screws.

Hard board with door seal mounted, prior to mounting on the fridge door.
Completed fridge door mounted on fridge
I discovered the screws the orginally mounted the door inset weren't long enough to secure the door seal/hard board assembly to the door. I ended up buying some longer ones.

Next came moving the freezer. Again, to get the keg to fit, I needed to rotate the freezer 90 degrees and remove the door. With some models of fridge, your fridge and freezer cooling lines run separately, which allow you to removed the freezer altogether. Unfortunately that's not the case with my fridge. The freezer is what provides the cooling for the entire fridge, so I have to keep it. Also, I can't be too rough with it. If I damage any of the cooling lines that run through this, then it's game over. (It should now be clear why I chose to go with a $40 fridge for my first attempt at this). Now I haven't figured out how to securely mount the freezer like this. Right now double sided tape is the front runner. Moving the freezer wasn't that hard. It was just a few screws that came out and then it just floats there in space.

Freezer rotated 90 degrees
As a bit of an artistic touch, I decided to paint the front of the fridge door with chalkboard paint.
Go Leafs Go!
I'll keep you posted on what happens with Part 2 when I install the tower!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to Pressurize a Keg with a Paintball CO2 Tank

So, we're headed south for the May Two-Four weekend. Along the way we hope to fill up a keg at one of the brew pubs that we'll pass - and, if we have a keg, we need something to push that beer. A Paintball CO2 tanks seems like the best way to do this and still be practical in the beer fridge (vs. a smaller CO2 pressure system anyway). There are a number of different ways to do this, various adapters are available to do the same thing - however, HomeDepot is just down the street, so it seems easier than ordering something online.

Paintball CO2 tank for keg

Instructions for the fabrication of our Paintball CO2 system for pressurizing kegs are as follows:

Bill of Materials:

1 - 20oz CO2 Tanks
1 - Paintball Universal Fill Adapter
1 - 1/8" MIP x 1-1/2" Brass Pipe Nipple, HomeDepot
1 - 1/4" MIP x 1/8" FIP Pipe Adapter, HomeDepot
1 - CO2 Regulator (IMPORTANT: with right hand thread for gas in)
1 - 1/4" MIP Plug, HomeDepot (if you only want to use one gauge)
AR - Teflon Plumbing Tape, from the tool box

Putting this thing together is a simple as it gets. Use teflon tape on all of the connections. We didn't want the second gauge (tank pressure) to be in the way - mostly to improve portability and stability of the the whole thing system.

Paintball CO2 tank for Beer Keg

An important note about regulators. Some regulators will work with this setup, some (likely most) will not. For this setup to work you need a regulator with a free right hand thread on the input side. The lower cost regulator on the left, works. The higher end Tap-Rite regulator on the right doesn't work as the input thread is left hand. Just be careful, finding the appropriate threads for your components is sometimes tricky business.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fruli Clone Bottled

The Fruli clone was bottled today! And it tastes pretty good! It's really sweet, and a little fruity. It's not quite knock you in the face strawberry as Fruli, but it gets the point across.
I primed each bottle with a Coopers priming sugar tab then capped them.
I'll see what the final product is like in a weeks time.

F.G: 1.006
ABV 4.2%

Next up, I'm going to try this again, except I'll be using fresh strawberries instead of jam.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fruli Clone in the Secondary

So I racked the Fruli Clone today.
We added 200g of strawberry jam that was boiled with 100mL of water.
Once the jam/water concoction was cooled to 75F we added it to the secondary.
It's off to bottling next week!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fruli Clone Update

So I started off the mash with 1 gallon heated to 145F and added the grains and let the whole thing sit for 30min at 135F. While that was happening I had another gallon of water getting up to a boil. I used that to add to the mash to keep bringing the temperature up. We did a 45min rest at 155F, then 5min at 167F.
The after-boil gravity was 1.038.

Grains post-boil

Wyeat 3944 Belgian Wit yeast

Bitter Orange Peel (left) Coriander Seed (right)

First 30min of the boil nothing was added
30min into the boil Cascade hops added
Yeast is pitched and the magic is about to begin

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fruli Clone

So my better half isn't a huge fan of beer, but we've discovered she enjoys fruit flavoured beers (Fruli, St. Ambrose ect..) I've also been meaning to start experimenting with 1 gallon batches of beer. This seemed like the perfect time to brew a small batch of fruit flavoured beer.

I spent a few hours scouring the internet for a Fruli recipe, but there isn't a lot out there, so I've bodged together one from a couple of sources. The base is going to be a scaled down version of Austin Homebrew's Belgian White Beer. and the strawberry flavour is going to be added with 2/3lbs of strawberry jam added in the secondary.

Austin Homebrews Belgian White Beer (modified for 1 gallon batch and available ingredients)

0.86 lbs Pilsner Malt
0.55 lbs Wheat Malt
0.45 lbs Flake Wheat
.1oz Cascade (leaf) (30min boil)
.1oz Cascade (leaf) (5 min boil)
.1oz Bitter Orange Peel (15 min boil)
.1oz Coriander Seed (15 min boil)
3944 Belgian Witbier yeast
Target OG 1.048
Target FG 1.010

To help scale this I found these tools helpful:

Mash & Sparge water calculation @ brew635.com
Beer Recipe Calculation @ brewersfriend.com

I'll be brewing tomorrow, so I'll post an update soon with pictures.