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Topics - darkmorford

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Kegging and Bottling / New CO2 tank; trying to fix a leak
« on: December 11, 2011, 09:37:49 PM »
I just exchanged my empty CO2 cylinder for a full one, and a leak has popped up where there wasn't one before. I disconnected my keg system at the regulator to give me the fewest variables possible—just the tank and regulator—and it still won't hold pressure. After subjecting the thing to the bathtub bubble test, it looks like the leak is at the connection between the cylinder and regulator.

I've tried everything I can think of: two different washers (one fiber, one nylon), fresh teflon tape on the threads, even throwing on extra layers of tape to get a tighter seal. I'm still losing pressure at the tank connection, though it's very slow at this point. What else can I do to stop this leak? (Or do I just assume the tank's threads are shot and deal with the loss?)

General Homebrew Discussion / Presidential Beer
« on: September 21, 2011, 01:36:26 AM »
I just came across this Daily Mail article.

US President Barack Obama has apparently been homebrewing at the White House for the better part of this year, even using honey from the White House garden beehives!

Kegging and Bottling / Dispensing Soda
« on: August 16, 2011, 09:25:59 AM »
I mixed up some "homebrew" soda (using one of the SodaStream syrups) in a corny, and I've got it under pressure to force-carbonate. I don't have a way to keep kegs cold yet, so it's at room temperature (74–78°F). I know that most sodas are carbed to 3.7 volumes or so, and according to all the tools I can find—BeerSmith's Carbonation Tool and a few online tables/calculators—that means putting it under about 55 psi of CO2. That much isn't a problem; my regulator goes up to 60 psi.

What's worrying me a bit now is getting it out of the keg. From what I understand, in order to balance out the 55 psi I'm going to need almost 20 feet of 3/16" vinyl hose! Not all that expensive, true, but that's a lot to have lying around. Of course, chilling the corny would reduce the pressure needed and, by extension, the length of the hose, but that's not really an option at this point due to space and budget. Is there anything else I can do to avoid such a long piece of tubing?

Equipment and Software / BeerSmith 2.0 - First Recipe
« on: July 23, 2011, 03:07:59 PM »
I just got the ingredient kit for my next extract brew (Midwest's Honey Bee Ale), and out of curiosity I decided to put it into BeerSmith to see how it matched up to the instruction sheet. After installing the Briess grain add-on so I could put in the LME, I added in all the ingredients I have. (I'm pretty sure I got everything right, but this being my first time really using the program, I'm not entirely sure.)

There are a few discrepancies, though, and I'm wondering whether to believe BeerSmith or Midwest's numbers (or maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place). The SG is in range; Midwest says it should be 1.044–1.048 and BeerSmith estimates 1.046. However, the program estimates FG to be 1.002, while the instruction sheet gives a range of 1.010–1.014. Also, according to the kit I should wind up with about 32.6 IBUs, but BeerSmith calculates only 17.4.

Mistakes on my part, or is one of these just plain wrong?

Code: [Select]
BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Midwest Supplies Honey Bee Ale (140)
Brewer: Shawn Morford
Asst Brewer:
Style: American Pale Ale
TYPE: Extract
Taste: (30.0)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 3.67 gal
Post Boil Volume: 3.38 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 4.60 gal
Estimated OG: 1.046 SG
Estimated Color: 3.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 17.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 0.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
3 lbs 4.8 oz          LME Golden Light (Briess) (4.0 SRM)      Extract       2        48.5 %       
3 lbs                 Honey [Boil for30 min](1.0 SRM)          Sugar         4        44.1 %       
8.0 oz                Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)             Grain         1        7.4 %         
1.00 oz               Glacier [5.60 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop           3        16.3 IBUs     
1.00 oz               Vanguard [4.80 %] - Boil 2.0 min         Hop           5        1.2 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 Yeast         6        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 6 lbs 12.8 oz

Sparge: Remove grains, and prepare to boil wort

Created with BeerSmith 2 -

Equipment and Software / Measuring resistance and carbonation?
« on: July 12, 2011, 05:43:49 PM »
(Two questions in one topic, but they're both involving test/measurement techniques)

Is there an inexpensive way to measure the volumes of CO2 in a particular beverage? One of the things I use my CO2 tank for is recharging sodas that have gone flat, and I'd like to bring the drinks back to their original carbonation level. I've turned up several places online citing 3.7 volumes for most sodas, but there have been a few claiming that the average is 5+! It also wouldn't hurt if I try to replicate a particular beer.

Secondly, I'm wondering how I could measure the flow resistance in my particular setup. Certainly the charts in sources like the Draft Beer Manual give good ballpark figures, but with so many variables involved there's something to be said for testing and getting the actual numbers. Whether it's beer or soda, getting the balance right is important.

Examples or ideas for DIY solutions are fine, too; I'm no engineer, but I'm plenty comfortable at the hardware store.

Kegging and Bottling / Uh-oh... Leaky Keg Blues
« on: July 06, 2011, 04:13:30 PM »
I went out over lunch today and bought a used Corny from my LHBS—my first one. I got it home, rinsed it out, and dumped a gallon of PBW into it. Even standing on its head to make sure the gas tube got cleaned, it didn't leak a drop. Then I emptied it out, disassembled it, and let the posts and O-rings soak in the PBW for about 10–15 minutes. I put everything back together, filled it with Star-San, and now the lid is leaking like crazy. I've tried re-seating it, flipping it the other way, turning the O-ring over, coating it with Vaseline as a sealant (I forgot to buy keg lube. :-\)... but no matter what I try, the lid starts bubbling as soon as I hook up the gas. Is PBW bad for O-rings? Do I need to replace them all now?

Beer Recipes / Suggestions for Batch #2?
« on: July 04, 2011, 01:13:01 PM »
(Mods, feel free to move this if it belongs somewhere else. "Recipes" seemed the most appropriate to me.)

I'm gearing up to brew my second-ever batch, but I'm not sure yet what exactly I want to brew. I can only do extract (w/steeping grains) since I'm in an apartment with an electric stove, and I don't have anything for fermentation temperature control other than an insulated plastic tub with frozen bottles of water.

My first batch was Midwest's Raspberry Wheat using White Labs WLP300, which turned out fairly decent. The raspberry flavor wasn't as pronounced as I expected, the carbonation came out a bit low, and there was almost no head retention at all. But it's still very drinkable.

The two kits that I'm considering the most right now are Midwest's Honey Bee Ale and Nothern Brewer's The Innkeeper. I'm leaning toward the Honey Bee since it seems like it'd be less bitter, but I'm wondering if anyone has brewed either of these and could give a review. Any tips for solving the problems I had with the first one are appreciated as well.

Kegging and Bottling / Just bought a CO2 tank...
« on: June 06, 2011, 02:47:41 PM »
I just got home with a 5 lb steel CO2 tank and dual-gauge regulator from the local welding supply shop. My plan is to use it with The Carbonater for now, and eventually I'll hook it up to a keg for my beer.

At this point I'm just wanting to make sure I have everything set up correctly. I used the yellow plastic washer that came with the cylinder and cranked the regulator on tight with a wrench. Then I opened up the valve on the tank and the high-pressure gauge read right around 800 psi. (Is this about normal for a 5 lb tank?) I didn't hear any gas escaping, so I think I've got it on right. I set the adjustment screw so that the low-pressure gauge read about 15 psi, then shut off the tank valve. As I understand it, if I leave it like that for a few hours and then check the gauges, they should read the same as they are now; any lower and I have a leak.

Am I on the right path here, or am I missing something?

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / First batch, looking for feedback
« on: May 10, 2011, 07:24:05 PM »
For my first batch, I brewed Midwest Supplies' 740 Raspberry Wheat extract kit using White Labs 300 Hefeweisen Ale yeast. It fermented for two weeks in primary, about 70–72 degrees the first week (while I was building a cooler) and 62–65 degrees for the second week. No secondary since I don't have a carboy yet. I bottled it and it's been carbonating right around 70 degrees for two weeks.

A couple nights ago I pulled the first bottle and placed it (along with a beer glass) in the fridge, so both the bottle and glass chilled to 35–40 degrees. I just pulled them out and poured, and the first thing I noticed was that there was very little head. (Or at least it seems small; I haven't had too many wheat beers, so I'm not sure how much head to expect.) And that head completely disappeared in just a couple of minutes. On top of that, the raspberry flavor is so faint I'm not even sure if it's actually there or if I'm imagining it. It tastes okay otherwise, but again I don't have much to compare against.

I realize that it's hard to offer feedback without being able to taste it yourself, but can anyone offer some tips as to the head retention issue at least?

Kegging and Bottling / Plastic bottles?
« on: May 02, 2011, 07:11:45 PM »
This past week, my local grocery store had 1-liter plastic bottles of root beer on sale. After drinking a couple, I noticed that the bottles were a nice dark brown plastic and would probably be pretty good at keeping light away from my brews. It'll probably be a couple of weeks before I'm ready to start my next batch, but I'm thinking about trying to pick up a few more of these.

Has anyone tried bottling into plastic soda bottles before? Any concerns with pressure or a reaction with the PETE?

Equipment and Software / Cheap Fermentation Temp Control?
« on: April 14, 2011, 05:57:19 PM »
I'm in the midst of fermenting my first-ever beer, and I've found that there isn't any place in my apartment that's cool enough to adequately ferment. The best place I've managed to find still hovers around 70F, and when you take the extra heat generated by fermentation into account, it's just barely cool enough to ferment an ale. I don't have air conditioning at my place, so in a month or two it's going to be too hot for me to realistically brew anything at all! Clearly, if I want to continue this hobby, I'm going to need some way to keep my fermenter(s) cool. The catch is that I'm on a very limited budget: ideally I want to do this for $50 or less, but I can go up to around $100 if I need to.

I've got some basic experience with most power tools, and I'd be willing to build something if it can be done better/cheaper than what I could buy. What do you guys recommend for a low-budget chiller?

Kegging and Bottling / Where to buy gas? (Seattle east side)
« on: April 14, 2011, 10:46:35 AM »
I'm looking for a shop that sells CO2 tanks/gas in the Redmond/Bellevue area. LHBS only sells 5-pound tanks and their "refill" program is a tank exchange. I'm looking for something larger—on the order of 10 or 20 pounds—and a place where I can take my tank that I've taken good care of and have it filled for me instead of swapping it for whatever they have on hand. If they also sell nitrogen for if/when I try doing a stout, so much the better.

Yeast and Fermentation / Is my fermentation stalling?
« on: April 13, 2011, 10:41:38 AM »
I just brewed my first batch on Sunday: Midwest Supplies' Raspberry Wheat extract kit with White Labs WLP300 yeast. While the brew process itself went well enough—at least, as far as I can tell being a first-timer—the coolest place I could find in my apartment still hovers around 70–72 degrees, which is a bit warmer than these yeast like, as I understand it. I'm using a 6.5-gallon plastic bucket as a fermenter with a 3-piece airlock.

Now, just three days after brewing, the airlock is bubbling only 2-4 times a second. Is this a sign of a stuck/sticking fermentation? Should I re-pitch?

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