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Topics - tomsawyer

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General Homebrew Discussion / Details on Tapping a Firkin
« on: December 18, 2013, 11:59:57 AM »
Our local distributor's craft beer specialist is bringing a couple of firkins to a local bar over the next two weeks, and I've been asked to do the honors of tapping them.  I proceeded to watch a few videos and sometimes they explode with foam and other times there is no spillage.  I guess my question is, how does one go about this?  I am wondering if placing the spile in the shive first won't prevent the blast of foam when hammering in the spigot?  I'm also wondering whether it isn't more fun to do it the other way and make a splash, literally?

The one this Saturday night is Tallgrass Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat, and on Dec. 28th we have Abita  Thomas Handy barrel-aged Winter ale.

And yes this is a bit of a brag.  This guy with the distributor is new and he's really twisting arms to get some new stuff in the local places.  I think its working too, exciting to see craft beer finally hit this little berg.

General Homebrew Discussion / Brewhemoth Sale
« on: November 25, 2013, 02:33:11 PM »
Just got an email about a Black Friday sale on these fermentors, 25% off.  These are the cadillac of conicals, I have the triclover version with the pressurizer and a spunding valve.  My beer never sees air after its fermented.  I think they are the only conical that you can completely carbonate your beer in if you want.  I typically run my spunding valve to 15psi towards the end of fermentation, and push the beer to kegs with pressure then finish carbonating.

Not affiliated, just a big fan of the technology.

General Homebrew Discussion / Ferm Chamber, What Size Fridge?
« on: October 30, 2013, 09:17:29 AM »
I have a Brewhemoth conical and I made a modest fermentation chamber for it out of 2" blue foam.  The inside dimensions are 2'x2'x6', so 24cubic feet.  I bought a Johnson controller and originally was thinking I'd put a small window AC unit in it, but I've seen some chambers that were cooled by a dorm fridge and that would let me site this thing wherever I want instead of at a window.  So my question now is, how big of a dorm fridge do I need to get the chamber to 50F?  Would one of the really small ones be enough?  How might I go about figuring this out?  I may not need to cool until spring since this unit is in a basement garage that is relatively cool in the winter.

I am setting up a winter brewing area in the basement, and for chilling water I am going to use/recirculate from a plastic 55gal drum filled nearly full with water.  I think I can get a 5gal brew chilled to a stable temp and I will let it finish dropping in the cool basement before pitching.  I have a 12V DC centrifugal pump I bought to run a CIP unit, it didn't work for this so it is extra right now.  It pumps to 50psi and 300gpm.  I power it with a battery charger.

My question is, can I put a valve inline with this pump and slow the pumping rate?  300gpm seems to be too fast to run chilling water through a 3/8' copper IC.  I don't want to be blowing hoses off the chiller and shooting water everywhere.  I don't know what rate I need, if I can't slow this pump I guess I can buy some other kind of pump.  I have a March pump but I want to use it to transfer wort and mash water, and this cooling water is going to be a little dirty.

General Homebrew Discussion / Good Time At FWIW Homebrew Contest
« on: August 26, 2013, 07:41:19 AM »
Judged at For What Its Wort, a homebrew contest in Bloomington/Normal IL sponsored by the ABNormal Brewers.  I got Belgian and French in the morning, and Smoke/Wood in the afternoon.  Judged with National ranked judges both sessions which is always a privilege.  MY wife stewarded and did her usual excellent job.  I understand they had about 200 entries and 20 judges so we weren't swamped with samples.  Lunch was a fantastic smoked brisket with a mustard BBQ sauce.  Didn't stay for the BOS so I don't know what won, I can say that the level of beers I tasted was very high.  This is why I judge, to see what can be done in a homebrew setting.

We were also given free tickets to a beer festival that evening, called Bruegala.  Live music, BBQ and nachos, and over 200 different bottled beers for tasting.  The tasting bldg was a madhouse but we managed to taste 15 beers before my liver gave out.  Had an Alesmith Strong Scotch and the Best By from Stone, offerings from Two Brothers and Five Rabbits out of Chicago, as well as Bretagne that I had not heard of before.  There were others of course and I didn't hit all I thought would be worthwhile, maybe if I hadn't judged the same day I would have gone longer.

Anyway, just thought I'd describe a little about judging a homebrew contest so it would inspire people to get out and judge.

General Homebrew Discussion / Quick Beer?
« on: August 18, 2013, 05:22:58 AM »
My friend asked me if I had 5-10gal of beer he could have to serve at a fundraiser.  The kicker (aside from the issues surrounding homebrew at a fundraiser) is that the event is Sept 7 and he asked me last Friday!  So I have exactly 3wks to go from grain to glass.  I told him not likely, but then decided to take it as a challenge.  So Saturday I brewed 18gal of cream ale, 75% Belgian pils 25% flaked corn with just a touch of light crystal and a little wheat malt.  Bittered to just under 20IBU with a 30min addition of Perle.  Watered the wort down to 1.042 to keep it light and reduce ferm time.  Fermenting with a generous charge of San Fran yeast cake from the 10gal batch of Cali Common we kegged just the day before.  I'm fermenting at 68F under pressure in the Brewhemoth so I'll have a leg up on carbonation when kegging time comes.  My biggest concern is clarity, and I might add some finings towards the end of fermentation.

Think theres a snowball's chance this will work?  If not I'll donate a case of wine.  I probably should've used a different yeast but this cake is the freshest and most plentiful thing I have, plus I'm assuming this is a BMC crowd so the recipe is sort of a light beer substitute.

General Homebrew Discussion / Happy Big Brew Day!
« on: May 04, 2013, 04:38:16 AM »
Headed up to the LHBS to do a brew demo.  The owner is brewing an extract batch, then an AG.  Both Two Hearted Ale clones.  I'm going to brew a small batch of roughly the same beer using BIAB and no-chill.  I did a no-chill Southern brown recently and it camr out really good.  I'm curious how a hoppy beer will turn out.  I think I'll add some hops right at knockout, or possibly even after the beer cools to 180F.

General Homebrew Discussion / Brett in Berlinner?
« on: April 02, 2013, 09:12:57 AM »
I had a Berlinner weisse that was just not getting very tart so I added some dregs from a really tart lambic I had on the shelf.  After several months I am now getting a nice tartness but also some Brett character.  Is this out of style for this beer?

I also intend to make some woodruff syraup from the Zymurgy recipe.

General Homebrew Discussion / Suggestions for Beer for Cinco de Mayo
« on: February 18, 2013, 05:03:41 AM »
I suppose I should make a Vienna lager?

General Homebrew Discussion / Brewing In Sunlight
« on: February 04, 2013, 01:22:24 PM »
I've been brewing on my deck, and I was wondering if I could skunk a light-colored beer if it is in full sun.

General Homebrew Discussion / Fun at FOAM Cup
« on: November 19, 2012, 07:21:22 AM »
Made my first journey to Tulsa to judge at this event.  I've seen lots of FOAM members medal at other comps, wanted to get a sense of what their club was like and meet a few of the members.  Judged with some very experienced people and learned a lot.  They had about 750 entries but thanks to some weekday flights things weren't chaotic on Friday and Saturday.  In fact it was a very well-run comp.  My compliments to Dave and Desiree.

I didn't enter anything this time, just thought I'd see how that felt.  I think I'll go back to entering a few beers, it gives you a little more to look forward to.

General Homebrew Discussion / German Beer Brand ID Help!
« on: October 05, 2012, 10:56:26 AM »
I have a friend who is fond of telling a story about a German friend of his who had a favorite beer whose name, loosely translated, meant "fart a$$ bang". I've attempted to figure out what brand/style of beer this is to no avail. Word of advice, don't simply google the three words unless you want addys for porn sites. I tried translating each word and searching that way and haven't come up with anything.

Any help?

Yeast and Fermentation / Pitch Lagers Warm and Chill?
« on: August 16, 2012, 05:35:20 AM »
I was reading this last issue of Zymurgy and saw the recpe for Ofest that was BOS of the Boneyard Brewoff.  The guy said he pitched at 60F and then chilled to 50F after a day.  That struck me as being a little unconventional, but its hard to argue when his beer won BOS at an established contest like the Boneyard.  anyone else doing this successfully?

I was bummed not to be able to judge last year's Boneyard, they moved it to January and I had already made plans.  Good bunch of people in the BUZZ club and they bring some excellent judges.

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