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Topics - estrauss

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Equipment and Software / Mash Tun Insulation Comparisons - Complete
« on: September 29, 2017, 12:00:28 AM »
With my purchase of the Brewer's Edge Mash and Boil in the Spring, I knew I'd want to create another insulation jacket, but I also decided to test various methods to see what was most effective. There are plenty of configurations I've seen here and elsewhere.

After my first post (Part I) there was some discussion online about my testing surrounding the lack of air gap between the outer layer of Reflectix and the kettle in my testing. Then to test those claims, I then ran variations of the Reflectix configuration only and posted them in (Part II).

The final post ( is a combination of (part I) and (part II) so that one can get all the information at once. If you wish to read them as well, go ahead, but ALL the information from both posts has been combined there. If future testing is taken on, the post will be updated and serve as the master record. There is also more discussion of all methods and then more discussion of differences in Reflectix methods.

These results are relevant to a mash as well, because the only thing that will change will be the specific heat of the mixture. So the best insulation with water will still be the best with grain in the mash. There could be some slight differences in results due to kettle geometry, but I feel pretty confident that the rankings will stay the same if constructed in a similar manner to my experiments.

Here are the numerical results:

Here is a graph of temps through a simulated mash range (water only):

I was surprised the sleeping bag was the best, but also equally surprised that there was no clear winner when using Reflectix.  It just worked.

If you want the full run down and more graphs and info, check out the post:

Pimp My System / Compact Fermentation Chamber Heater
« on: March 06, 2015, 02:10:00 AM »
I keep my smaller fermentation chambers (aka converted dorm fridges) in the basement and with the winter we've been having, it's a cool 60 degF. Needing warmer temps for my ale fermentations, I had to whip up a heater.

I used a green bean can, a tomato paste can, a candelabra bulb base, a lamp cord and some extra's.

Dorm fridge = not much space available, so here is what I came up with:

Here is the full DIY:

Pimp My System / 3D Printed Tap Handles
« on: November 14, 2014, 11:17:52 AM »
I bought a 3D printer for a few reasons, but I think my tap handle more than justifies the purchase.

This was the first attempt for our party in September:

Then I tweaked it a little:

If you want to read more about the build, I've got it all here:

I've since refined the hops a little to remove the voids in the print.

Pimp My System / Mein Bierwagen (Portable Keezer for party's)
« on: October 03, 2014, 02:07:50 AM »
Mein Bierwagen (Portable Keezer for party's)

My wife and I throw our annual Strausstoberfest party every year on the last Saturday in September. This occurs during the traditional Oktoberfest celebration. Oktoberfest is synonymous with beer, awesome food and a certain amount of over the top pomp and circumstance. For the last part, I decided that the beer I’ve spent the last 2+ months caring for MUST have a grand entrance.

I'll update this thread with each step of the build, but you'll get the gist with these pictures.

Here I am rolling out the Bierwagen. Notice the tap handles I made in the post Super Easy Tap Handles.

Here I am “tapping the keg” with my son looking on. o’zapft is!

The “rolling chassis”

The Bierwagen works in concert with my Keezer Dolly.

Nothing too novel here, just another keezer collar and my Ranco temperature controller mounted on back.

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Building of the frame
*Detail print download and cut list are in this post

Part 3: Bicycle wheel attachment

Part 4: Getting the keezer onto the Bierwagen

Part 5: Keezer collar

Part 6: Storage of the Bierwagen

Here is my method for Managing Your Brewing Schedule using a Gantt style chart in a spreadsheet

Full post on my blog:

I really love Gantt charts and how they can help you to be organized. Microsoft Project is either a really good or really bad tool to use (depending on who you ask). I actually like it for projects that I manage at work, but I don’t get into the fine details. I just use it for basic timelines, since it really helps me see the big picture. I started looking at using it for my fermentation schedules, but in brewing, your yeast are on a 24/7 schedule and I was finding all sorts of roadblocks in using 24 hour schedules in Project.

I ultimately decided to go back to my old trusted Excel spreadsheets for this task. This format has served me well for the last two years. I don’t claim that this is the ultimate way to do it, but it might at least serve as inspiration for someone else to create something grander.

Equipment and Software / Homer Hopper
« on: May 30, 2014, 01:43:27 AM »
I've been using a hopper made from a Home Depot "Homer" bucket for a while and have a full series of blog posts to introduce it.  There will also be CAD models and templates to use to make your own.

Here are the advantages of this hopper design:
  • Uses a commonly available bucket
  • When you are done, you can put a lid on the bucket and have it all self-contained
  • Low dust design while milling
  • Design utilizes the entire roller area, instead of just a small section like with funnel based hoppers
  • With the mill inside the bucket, it allows the bucket to sit flat and gives more stability
  • Allows for using a power drill to drive it
  • Holds an entire grain bill for most 5 gallon batches (19-20 lbs)
  • Mills that grain in just under 2 minutes*
  • Low cost
  • No shaking involved to get grain to rollers

It's worked out great for me, since it holds about 20 pounds of grain.  That's about the max my BIAB system can handle.

Now that I got the first post done, the subsequent posts should come easier.  Anyway, come check out my DIY.  I'll update this post with links to the additional info.

Homer Hopper Introduction

All printout templates are currently available in a zip file at the bottom of the introduction post.  Note that they all have a "calibration" square printed on them so that you can measure them once printed and you will know if your printer is printing at the correct aspect ratio.

Part 2: Homer Bucket Modifications

Part 3: Wooden Base

Part 4: Mill Box

Part 5: Hopper Panels

Part 6: Final Assembly

Classifieds / 2x Grand Banquet 2014 tickets for sale
« on: May 27, 2014, 05:52:29 PM »
We need to get head back home Saturday afternoon and can't make it to the banquet.  I've got 2 tickets for the Grand Banquet only.  I will not separate them.

Asking $115 for both.  If there are transfer fees, I'll cover them.

PM me for if interested.

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