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Messages - smkranz

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Events / Re: Free State Homebrew Guild at Craft Beer Kickoff
« on: June 04, 2016, 08:16:27 AM »
The Guild is an un-official "umbrella" group of stand-alone homebrew clubs throughout Maryland.  I am not on the local committee, but the AHA asked if Guild member clubs would consider pouring on Thursday during the Kickoff party, because they ran out of available space for Club Night.  We were each given the option to switch nights.

I believe that all of the Guild member clubs except us (Midnight Homebrewers' League) are pouring on Thursday instead of Friday.  We opted to stay with Friday, because a few of our members who have beers being served at Club Night, will not be in attendance on Thursday.

Beer Travel / Re: Stillwater in Baltimore
« on: May 29, 2016, 08:31:11 PM »
There is s bottle shop at of Love & Regret.  Only been there once, and we weren't shopping for bottles.  But the web site says so, so it must be true.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Anyone used this keg volume indicator?
« on: May 27, 2016, 06:24:07 PM »
For the kegs that matter to me, I tare the empty weight (~8lbs) then weigh the keg and calculate the mass, and hence volume of beer via the FG. #sciencegeek

I love the convenience of eyeballing a keg with the little orange ball on the outside.  My two kegerators each have 4 kegs in them.  I can always feel how relatively heavy they are by trying to lift them (bad shoulder permitting), but pulling them out to weigh them would be a royal PITA, especially for the two kegs in the rear.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Anyone used this keg volume indicator?
« on: May 23, 2016, 10:54:38 AM »
The Ball and Keg level indicators work, I have them in 4 or 5 kegs.  As noted previously, they are probably most useful in a kegerator where you can view them from the front, rather than a keezer where you are looking down on them from the top.  If there is enough space in between kegs in a keezer where you could get a good look, I suppose they could be useful there too.

They included a bunch of extra colored steel indicator balls, and I haven't lost any of them yet.  It's a bit tricky to mate the indicator ball with the float inside the keg, but it's just a matter of practice.  The only other trick is to position the keg, once the balls are installed, so that your gas and beer lines inside the kegerator don't touch the indicator ball when you open or close the fridge door, which will most surely knock the ball off the side of the keg.

For use exclusively on a jockey box, I would go with the most basic inexpensive chrome faucets.  You'll be serving behind a table and guests walking up will see the back of the jockey box and won't even see whatever shiny hardware you are pouring from.  There won't be any sticking issues for the short term use of the conference, or a camping trip, group brewing event, etc. 

But if there's a chance you might go the kegging route at home, and you could deploy these faucets for every day use, it would be worth spending the extra $$ for stainless front-sealing faucets.

Events / Re: Skipping the banquet at HomebewCon
« on: May 16, 2016, 06:21:19 PM »
None of my NHC entries advanced, so we got a refund on our banquet tickets, and I also plan to cancel our Saturday night hotel room.  The Spousal Unit wants to just head home after the Saturday seminars are over, but I am lobbying to spend some of our savings on a great dinner at Woodberry Kitchen with another couple, then heading home.

Equipment and Software / Re: Configuring a wedding beer bar
« on: April 30, 2016, 04:32:33 PM »
You won't necessarily have foaming problems due to warming beer lines as long as the beer is flowing fairly frequently at your wedding.  Standard beer lines (3/16" I.D.) are thick-walled and will help keep the beer inside them cool between pours.  But obviously the longer the beer sits between pours, the warmer it will get, then you might get a couple ounces of foam.  So, just have a dump bucket ready.  For your purposes if you can't actively refrigerate the lines, you could help them by buying some small-diameter pipe insulation to wrap the beer lines in it.

Keeping the kegs in a tub or buckets with ice will be good.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: You might just be a homebrewer if...
« on: April 29, 2016, 07:49:24 PM »
You keep scent-free hand soap in at least the kitchen and powder room, if not the upstairs baths and the laundry room as well, so that the soap scent doesn't get in the way of being able to smell your beers.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« on: April 21, 2016, 07:26:52 PM »
My experience is that the longer the corks are in the bottle, the easier they are to get out, I suppose because they've been compressed longer, and there's less resistance if the cork isn't trying as hard to expand back to its original shape.

The bottles and corks can pretty much hold whatever carbonation level you want.  My typical rate for a Belgian style is pretty standard 5 oz. (142g) priming sugar per 5 gallons, sometimes a scootch more for Saisons.  I also re-pitch some fresh yeast.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Foaming problems.
« on: April 10, 2016, 05:40:21 PM »
I am surmising that maybe your kegs are too cold, and your pressure is a tad high.  My beer fridges are probably at 40-42° and I keep them at 8-10 lbs. max.  The colder the beer, the more CO2 it can hold in solution, and the more CO2 will come out of solution as foam when it hits a warmer surface.  I would try letting the freezer warm up a good 10 or more degrees if you have that ability, and lowering the pressure.

The hoses from my kegs dangle all over the place inside there, I've never experienced that to be a problem.

When you pour, make sure you open the faucet all the way.

The Pub / Re: I'll be in Baltimore in late June
« on: April 10, 2016, 10:32:23 AM »
I don't get into the city much, but when I do it's usually for early lunch or supper at Pratt Street Ale House (very good house-brewed beers and pub food) followed by a short walk to Camden Yards for an O's game.  The O's are in town that weekend.  It's a wonderful place to watch a game if you're a baseball fan...I recommend lower left field.

The Brewer's Art.  Of Love and Regret owned by Brian Strumke of Stillwater Ales fame.  Pub Dog for pizzas and beer (brewed right here in my town).

Many other beer venues, but as I said, I don't get into the city much so I haven't explored a lot of them.

Beer Travel / Re: Boston in May
« on: April 10, 2016, 05:17:33 AM »
... Bukowski's downtown.

We discovered Jack's Abbey Smoke and Dagger at Bukowski Tavern.  Their White Trash Poutine is among the best "goes well with beer" food I've ever had.

Beer Travel / Re: New Orleans
« on: April 10, 2016, 05:10:24 AM »
Visit Cooter Brown's, a pub that's Uptown at the Riverbend.  It's definitely on the dumpy side as far as venues go, but the beer list is killer and their raw ersters are great.

Get a one-day streetcar pass for $3.  Stop at the Columns Hotel and spend a lazy hour on the front porch with a snack plate watching the world go by (or, inside in their fabulous bar) with the help of a few Sazeracs.  Then go further uptown to Cooter Brown's for sumbeers and ersters; and mosey a couple of blocks over to Camellia Grill.

Two blocks off the St. Charles streetcar is Commander's Palace.  Go for lunch or brunch for the best bang for your buck.  Food and service are the best, and for lunch you can order $.25 Martinis (full martinis, not small or watered down).  But limit 3, "cause that's enough."

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« on: April 10, 2016, 04:08:02 AM »
I actually made a tool to tighten the cages with a larger "loop" than the common tool.

Bought a 3/8" ( IIRC) U bolt and hammered one end into a handle. Cut the threads off the other side so the loop slides off easily, and presto!

Phil, could we get a pic of your tool (oooh, that sounded a bit personal :P).To borrow a phrase from another forum I read...

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« on: April 01, 2016, 04:34:39 PM »
It seems to me that the "mushroom" effect would occur no matter what corker you use, as long as it's a Belgian cork going into a Belgian bottle.  The top portion of the cork will just naturally be wider than the neck of the bottle.

One thing that I have learned to work on for each batch, is to adjust the depth of the plunger to leave as much cork exposed as possible while still being able to pull the cage down over the rim of the bottle, then tightening the cage.

There are no good tools readily available to pull the cage down and tighten, and also leave you with a large enough wire loop to easily unwind the cage when you want to open it.  The ones with a wooden handle that are available at LHBS work great, but they leave you with a loop that is very thin and it hurts to open it.  My go-to tool for this purpose is a 1" hole boring drill bit with a long stem that is about 1/4" in diameter.  It has plenty of length to grip and pull down on the cage, twist it 5-6 times to tighten, and leaves a nice round loop in the wire which is easy to open. 

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