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Equipment and Software / Stout Conical Review
« on: September 16, 2013, 03:08:13 AM »
I brewed up my last wheat beer for the season for my conical's maiden voyage. The conical was actually easier to sanitize than my buckets much to my surprise. I dumped 2 1/2 gallons of starsan in, made sure it made contact with entire interior using a paper towel, then let it out the spigot ball valve until it was done running, dumped the rest through the dump valve. I then wiped the lid down and was good to go.

There were no leaks. I can see now why all the people on various forums said get the tri clamps if you get a conical. They make putting the thing together so easy, leave no threads to try to clean, and give a sure seal.

I attached a blow off tube to the top barb and ran it through the grommet on an ale pail lid into a bucket half filled with star san. I don't plan to ever use an air lock as this looks much cooler and I will never need to be concerned about over flows.

(I wrote the following after bottling)

Yesterday I bottled from my conical. I bought the thing to eliminate lifting a bucket with 5 gallons of liquid up onto a stool. The conical delivered on that. I used my 20 oz paintball gun CO2 bottle to pressurize the conical. This was where I ran into my first hitch. I had used a pinch on clamp to secure the hose to my gas quick connect. It took some time to work that dang thing off. I am going to replace that with a regular hose clamp. Then I proceeded to push the beer from the conical into the bucket which was already sitting on the stool. CO2 pushes the beer out much slower than a auto siphon. When I tried giving it just a tad more pressure it growled at me. So that part took a while but it was worth it not to have to lift that bucket. Bottling went as usual from there.

Then came clean up. Cleaning the vessel itself was easier and faster than cleaning a bucket. For some odd reason there was some black stuff in the krauson ring left in the conical. The beer tasted fine. I have no idea what that was. I didn't take a picture of it. I took the conical and it's stand outside separately. Removed the valves and sprayed it down with the garden hose. When I was done, just for the heck of it, I sprinkled it with barkeepers friend and scrubbed it down with a blue scrubby. This whole process took less time than cleaning my bucket. And it was nice having an absolutely clean fermenter with no stains or hoppy or beery smell to it.

Now came the second hitch. The instructions say to take the ball valves apart after every use. I didn't have any wrenches to fit them so I had to make a run to harbor freight and pick up a couple of cheap crappy Chinese adjustable wrenches. I tossed all of my parts into a bucket of one step and off I went. I got back and sat down to the table and disassembled the ball valves. I am really glad I did. I found chunks of trub in each of them. I was unable to get the gaskets out of them. When I have some time I may sit down and take them apart again and see if I can pry the gaskets out with a small screw driver.

All in all cleaning was not the nightmare I had anticipated. The triclamps really make the job a snap. I can see why so many people on the various forums swear by them. Knowing what I know now I would not even consider buying a conical that uses threaded connections instead of these.

Now that I have done a test run here are my nits and picks
Made in China
I wasn't able to dump the trub out like I thought I would. Although I think this would work with a different yeast that doesn't compact as much. And I think it would work if I dumped it right after primary fermentation finishes instead of waiting until just before bottling.
It does take a bit longer to rack to my bucket. But it is worth it.

I don't have to lift anymore bottling buckets
The stainless steel is nice. I like being able to clean absolutely everything, including odors, out of it
Tri clamps make disassembly and reassembly a piece of cake
I do like having a thermometer that probes into the liquid as opposed to just measuring the surface
I love the 10 gallon capacity. The beer I just made had one of the most active fermentations I have ever seen. It would have been coming out the blow off tube in my bucket. But with all the head space this thing affords the stuff never reached the top of it.
This thing looks extremely cool in my pub.

Overall impression. When I was shopping I was only aware of Blichmann, then learned about Stout. I chose the Stout because of the price difference between to similar products. I never heard of Brewhamoth until after I had purchased this thing. A brewhometh is only $200 more, it holds 22 gallons, and you can pressurize it. Pressurizing makes it possible to ferment in very warm conditions without getting any off flavors from the yeast at all. That is how the big breweries do it. And the Brewhamoth comes with triclamp connections for only $10 more than the standard model. Beyond that, this is just a fermentation vessel with bells and whistles. It can be totally cleaned, but you can buy a totally clean bucket for $14. At that price it would take a long time to add up to the $500 I spent. If it is any kind of struggle at all for you to afford one of these I suggest you don't buy one. However I am very happy with mine and I am glad I bought it.

The Pub / Anybody into watching movies at home?
« on: September 11, 2013, 05:39:51 PM »
Some time ago I bought a Rokyu box and cancelled my cable. I generally watch Netflix or Hulu when watching TV. Yesterday I was playing around with it and I read some good reviews on Amazon prime. They offer almost all networks you get on cable plus an incredible database of HD movies. It had a 30 day free trial. So I signed up. I must say I am AMAZED! Once I signed up the movies they usually charge rent for I can stream for free. And they have REALLY up to date movies. Including Iron Man 3 which is not scheduled for release onto DVD until Sept 24. Then if you want to buy movies, you can get them dirt cheap and they are stored on your amazon cloud. In addition to all of this I get free 2 day shipping on almost everything I buy from Amazon as long as I am a member. All for $79 per year. That comes out to $6.59 a month. If you are a movie freak like I am. And you have a blu ray, smart tv, or other means of connecting your tv to the internet, I highly recommend this.

General Homebrew Discussion / Heat and beer questions
« on: September 09, 2013, 03:01:56 PM »
If bottled beer sits in a car trunk on a hot day for a few hours does it ruin it? What happens to beer being shipped to contests and stuff during hot summer days? Just how much heat does it take to ruin bottled beer?

The Pub / Just emailed discover
« on: September 05, 2013, 05:59:39 PM »
They do offer virtual online numbers. You can generate one anytime you want. So anytime you purchase something you can log onto discover and generate a different number. That way it doesn't matter if someone even gets ahold of your virtual number. By the time they do you have a different one. And nobody ever has your real credit card number.

Equipment and Software / Conical test run
« on: September 04, 2013, 02:42:52 PM »
I am doing the maiden run of my new conical with a Wheat beer.
Recipe as follows
BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout -
Recipe: White Wheat Hoppimania II
Brewer: Roger
Asst Brewer: Ralph the Wonderdog
Style: American Wheat or Rye Beer
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 5.70 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.20 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 3.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 44.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
6 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        66.7 %       
3 lbs                 White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)               Grain         2        33.3 %       
0.50 oz               Amarillo [9.20 %] - First Wort 60.0 min  Hop           3        20.2 IBUs     
1.00 oz               Citra [12.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min          Hop           4        17.3 IBUs     
0.50 oz               Amarillo [9.20 %] - Boil 10.0 min        Hop           5        6.6 IBUs     

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 12.25 qt of water at 164.7 F        150.0 F       75 min       

I used Nottingham yeast.

I found the conical to be extremely easy to sanitize. I put 2.5 gallons of star san in it, made sure it contacted entire interior with a paper towel. I drained all I could through the "spigot" ball valve, then let the rest out the bottom. No need to lift the conical at all. I checked for any leaks while I was at it. I must say I really do like the tri clamps.

Once I had my beer in the thing I sealed it up. Instead of using a #7 stopper with an air lock I put the 90 degree barb in the top that I bought for pressurizing the thing to push the beer out instead of siphoning.

I then put a hose on that leading to the bucket of star san, I ran that through and air lock grommet, and left the lid loose and slightly off for pressure to escape.

The next morning bubbles were being blown into the star san at about the speed of an automatic weapon you hear on the movies. Ambient temperature in that room is 67 degrees. My beer was at 68. Before work that day I checked on it and it was blowing like an aquarium pump and the temperature of the wort was 74. When I got home from work last night it was still blowing and wort was 75. That's 8 degrees over ambient temperature of the room. I am not fond of Hefs but it looks like I am making one.

My overall impression with this thing is it is a bit less work than my buckets when making beer. But I haven't had to clean it yet. I suspect that is going to be a trade off. I will be able to dump the yeast cake out the bottom so I won't have to clean much of that out, but I will have ball valves to disassemble and clean. Also I never watched the fermenting temperatures in my buckets. So I don't know if this is holding more heat or not. I might need to look into a way to control it. I will wait and see what happens next time I use it. I have rarely had fermentations this active so this might be a unique situation.

General Homebrew Discussion / Security Breach at Midwest Supplies
« on: September 03, 2013, 05:46:45 PM »
This is from another forum where it was reposted from HBT.

This was posted on HBT over the weekend by Midwest Supplies:

    Recently we learned that despite our best efforts the security of our website was breached by an outside party. For certain types of transactions, this breach may have resulted in the outside party being able to capture and use customer credit card information entered at the time of the transaction. When we identified the breach, we immediately secured our servers, hired a technical team to investigate and help resolve the situation, notified the credit card companies and law enforcement, and obtained legal counsel specializing in computer hacking to help us navigate the very specific legal notification requirements for all 50 states. At this time, all of the notifications have been made, and letters have been sent to all customers that may have been impacted. We regret not providing an update sooner, but we did not want to comment publicly until our investigation was complete and we were able to identify and notify those potentially affected.

    Our investigation has now been completed and we are satisfied that the situation has been resolved and that all affected customers have been identified. We have also implemented extensive steps to prevent this kind of incident from happening again. In addition, we sent a letter to each customer who may have been impacted, notifying them of the incident and providing our sincere apology and a credit for $25 worth of homebrewing or winemaking supplies. If you have any questions or concerns please contact our customer service department by phone at 888-449-2739. Rest assured that if you were not contacted you were not among the customers impacted.

    We have spent many years working to earn your trust and loyalty. And we recognize an attack like this can undermine that trust. As one brewer to another, you can rest assured that we won’t rest until you’ve brewed your best.

    David Kidd

    Beer and Wine Making Supplies since 1995

One of the reasons I have always liked them better than Northern Brewer is that they accept paypal. I really feel a lot safer using paypal over credit cards online.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Free State Octoberfest
« on: September 02, 2013, 12:45:18 AM »
Free State Brewery is the oldest brewery in Kansas. It is a small brewpub who recently started bottling and selling kegs. Thier Octoberfest is rather different then the ones I am accustomed to. I had it on tap at Old Chicago.It was lighter in color than Octoberfests usually are. The munich malt was there but not as prevelant as I would expect. The beer was on the sweet side but not in an unpleasant way at all. It had a very subtle chocolate flavor accompanied by a really nice toastiness. This is an extremely pleasant beer that I would highly recommend. Very malt forward with no hop presence at all. Which is what an octoberfest is supposed to be.

Equipment and Software / Can you beat this deal?
« on: August 31, 2013, 04:56:55 PM »
A friend of mine was given a refrigerator and wants to convert it to a kegerator. This is the best deal I have been able to find on the equipment to do it.
I have tried Midwestsupplies, Northern Brewer, Morebeer, ebay, and none have had a conversion kit as complete as this one and none have matched this price even without the kegs. Am I missing any sources?

General Homebrew Discussion / cleaning and passifying question
« on: August 28, 2013, 03:28:38 PM »
My new conical came with first time cleaning instructions. They say to clean inside and out with a grease cutting soap. Would dish soap work for that? I don't think oxyclean cuts grease. Then it says to use Bar Keepers Friend as my cleaner. This has Oxalic Acid which passifies my kettle. Again would oxyclean or PBW passify my Conical?

Equipment and Software / opinions on which conical is better solicited
« on: August 15, 2013, 02:56:30 PM »
Stout charges an arm and a leg for shipping so both of these are very close to the same price. I am looking at the 14.5 on each. On the stout I would want the one with the thermometer.

Would it be better to buy this one?

Or this one?

Equipment and Software / Has anybody used one of these?
« on: August 14, 2013, 05:58:11 AM »

It looks to me like it would be too low to the ground to rack from it to a keg or to bottle from it.

General Homebrew Discussion / What's up with this?
« on: August 06, 2013, 06:06:16 AM »
Northern Brewer sends me an email saying it has been a long time since I have done business with them and they want me back. I always did like Northern Brewer but I deal with midwestsupplies because they use paypal. NB gives me 20% off my next order. It just so happens I need a sack of 2 row. So I order one. With my 20% discount plus shipping I am getting my 50lb sack of 2 row for $45. Now here is what I find confusing. They send me my UPS tracking number. I ordered yesterday scheduled delivery is tomorrow...very impressive..BUT the UPS tracking thing says it is 41.2lbs shipping weight???? Isn't a 50lb sack supposed to weigh 50lbs? Or did they take out my 20% savings in grain?  :o
Mind you I am not in anyway trying to slight NB. They are a great company to do business with. I am sure I am getting a 50lb sack. This is just a mystery and I am wondering if anybody has an explanation?

Beer Recipes / A couple tweaks to my Red Ale recipe
« on: August 04, 2013, 09:57:21 PM »
I dropped the 2 oz of black roasted barley for color and used 2 oz of chocolate malt instead. Usually I FWH with an ounce of cascade then flavor and dry hop with UK Fuggles. But this time I used Goldings for everything instead. Also I don't think I am going to dry hop this batch.

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Ralph's Knucklehead Red with goldings
Brewer: Roger
Asst Brewer: Ralph the Wonderdog
Style: Irish Red Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 6.20 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.20 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 15.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 29.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
9 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        88.9 %       
12.0 oz               Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)    Grain         2        7.4 %         
4.0 oz                Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)               Grain         3        2.5 %         
2.0 oz                Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM)               Grain         4        1.2 %         
0.80 oz               Goldings, East Kent [6.40 %] - First Wor Hop           5        22.9 IBUs     
1.20 oz               Goldings, East Kent [6.40 %] - Boil 5.0  Hop           6        6.2 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04) Yeast         7        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 10 lbs 2.0 oz

Beer Recipes / Amarillo Witbier hybrid
« on: July 31, 2013, 04:14:14 PM »
A friend of mine is giving me some coriander that grew in his cilantro bed. I never cared for fruit in beer so I thought I would use Amarillo hops in lieu of the orange peel. Anyway this is what I have come up with. All suggestions will be taken into consideration whether I end up using them or not.

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Amarillo Witbier
Brewer: Roger
Asst Brewer: Ralph the Wonderdog
Style: Witbier
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 6.52 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.98 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 4.60 gal
Estimated OG: 1.053 SG
Estimated Color: 3.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 20.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 83.8 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
6 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        63.2 %       
3 lbs                 White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)               Grain         2        31.6 %       
0.38 oz               Cascade [5.50 %] - First Wort 60.0 min   Hop           3        7.8 IBUs     
8.0 oz                Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM)          Sugar         4        5.3 %         
0.76 oz               Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min   Hop           5        7.9 IBUs     
0.76 oz               Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min    Hop           6        4.4 IBUs     
0.75 oz               Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 mins)           Spice         7        -             
0.50 oz               Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Aroma Steep 0.0 Hop           8        0.0 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               Nottingham (Danstar #-) [23.66 ml]       Yeast         9        -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
I plan on mashing at 148 to 150 for around 75 minutes.

Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs 8.0 oz

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