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Topics - smkranz

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All Things Food / Hot (spicy) pickled quail eggs
« on: December 18, 2017, 10:11:10 PM »
The result of yesterday's efforts slaving over a hot stove.  The Recipe, scaled to different sized batches and with more recent modifications shown.

Kegging and Bottling / Beer tap signs from Michaels
« on: May 30, 2017, 10:34:38 PM »
Who knew that Michaels (the arts and crafts chain store) had a homebrewing department?  I recently added these small self-standing chalkboard signs to my new 2-faucet kegerator in lieu of chalkboard or other changeable faucet handles.  They were $.99 each, plus $8 for a pack of "chalk markers" in 5 colors.  They wipe absolutely clean with a damp paper towel for repeated use.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Homebrew Competitions / Maryland Microbrewery Fest. Homebrew Competition
« on: September 03, 2016, 02:11:58 AM »
Greetings, this is a plug for the 2016 Maryland Microbrewery Festival Homebrew Competition.  In its 9th year, the competition is an integral part of the annual festival by the same name.  The festival and competition will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016 on the beautiful grounds of Union Mills Homestead in Westminster, Maryland.

Entry registration will be open for one more week, and closes at the end of business on Saturday, Sept. 10.  As of this writing, there are about 25 entry openings left.

We also have room for additional Judges, including novice and Provisional judges.  Judges get breakfast and lunch, and free admission to the Festival.  It's an easy judging point, as we have one morning round of judging and then you are free to enjoy the afternoon at the festival.

The Maryland Microbrewery Festival Homebrew Competition is open for Judges/Stewards, and entry registrations..

The Festival and competition date is Saturday, September 26. Entries are due at drop-off and shipping locations by end of business on September 12.

Each entry is judged by at least one BJCP-ranked judge, tho sometimes one of the pro brewers at the festival steps up if we hear from a judge at the last minute who can't make it.

It's a relatively small comp (200 entry cap), so chances of placing and winning a prize are pretty decent. This year prizes are planned for 1st, 2nd, and (depending on prize availabity) 3rd place in each prize category.  Prize categories depend on the entries received.

Best of Show winner is brewed commercially by 2-time Maryland Governors Cup winner Dog Brewing Co. of Westminster, MD for draft sales at Buffalo Wild Wings' Maryland restaurants.  (Dog also brews for its own pubs and bottled sales, under its Pub Dog and its new Rexx Reserve brands, and contract brews for the likes of  Stillwater, and an Omnipollo Agamemnon Imperial Stout with Maple Syrup, among others.)

Entries are welcome from around the globe, but to be prize-eligible an entrant must either:

1. Be a Maryland resident;
2. Be a member of a Free State Homebrew Guild member club (easy & cheap to do...see the Rules); or
3. Register to Judge the comp, regardless of residency or club affiliation.

Entrants get great feedback and win cool prizes...check the site for prize Sponsors.  Judges get the best Judges' Breakfast anywhere, free festival admission, a free Buffalo Wild Wings lunch, and possible free overnight accommodations (based on availability...there are a few spots left).  Again, check the site for Volunteers info.

Kegging and Bottling / Rubber coated black tactical beer bottle project
« on: November 15, 2014, 05:19:47 AM »
I will be bottling a bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout this weekend.  There were 13 brewers involved in the project, so the final volume each of us wound up with was around 4 gallons.  I've been QA'ing the beer since kegging my share a couple weeks ago, but that has to stop or else it will be gone before I know it.

I decided that to make this beer last longer, at least some of it should be bottled in the smallest bottle commonly available to homebrewers, which are these 187 ml (6.3 oz.) clear bottles.

Since clear bottles are bad for beer, I set about to coat the bottles with something.  I couldn't find a suitable paint which would apply easily, adhere well, and resist cleaning and sanitizing.  So I came upon this liquid rubber stuff:

The tools for the job (to cover a case of 24 of these little bottles) include:

  • 2 cans of black Plasti Dip (found it in stock in my local Lowe's).  You can also buy white Plasti Dip and colorize it to whatever color you want, but you'll probably need to go online to find the colors.
  • VM&P Naphtha (thinner).
  • A clean and empty 4.2 oz. Pringles can.  Cheddar Cheese worked very well.  This can is not the real tall Pringles can, but is just the perfect height to let you dip the bottle up to the crown.  If you get a taller can, you'll probably want to cut it down a little.
  • Your favorite vinyl or rubber gloves.
  • Crown caps and capper.
  • Drill and a small drill bit.
  • Coffe cup hooks - [edit: get the plain brass version instead of the painted ones, to avoid flecks of paint getting into the bottles.  Probably no big deal, you have to rinse them out anyway, but why not avoid that if you can].
  • Laundry drying rack.

The Pringles can is used to dip the bottles, because it is just a little wider than the diameter of the bottles so you can dunk the whole bottle in there with a relatively small volume of liquid.

The Plasti Dip needs to be thinned so that it doesn't sag, and so that you don't use up all of the product on just a few bottles.  If you thin it too much, however, you'll have to dip the bottles twice...there is a sweet spot but I honestly didn't measure how much naphtha to add to one can to get there.  There is room in the product can to add the thinner (Naphtha).  Do it a little at a time, you probably won't want to fill to the top.

Fill the Pringles can a little more than half-way full with the thinned Plasti Dip.  Cap a bottle, drill a small hole in the middle of the cap and screw in a hook.  This will give you a handle to hold the bottle, and let you hang it up to dry. [Edit: if feasible, consider drilling the holes into the crown caps *before* you cap the bottles.  Otherwise small bits of the drilled cap can drop into the bottle.  No big deal, you'll rinse them out anyway, but why not avoid that altogether?]

Start dunking the bottle into the rubber, and go up the neck as far as you can up to the crown.  Then when you pull the bottle out, go as slowly as you can humanly go (like, take a whole minute to pull one bottle out).  This will keep as little product on the bottle as possible, and keep it from sagging (slumping?).  You'll get 3-4 bottles done before you have to add more product to the Pringles can.  Because I hadn't measured the Naphtha-to-product ratio, I had to just go by sight and feel of the mix when I added more Plasti Dip and naphtha to the can.

If you have the right consistency of Plasti Dip, and you pull the bottle out slowly, there will be minimal dripping from the bottom of the bottle.  I held each bottle up out of the can for about 20 seconds, then ran the rim of the Pringles can around the bottom of each bottle to smooth it out and catch any product that started to look like drip spots.  But at the right consistency, with Naphtha as a thinner, the Plasti Dip sets up fairly quickly and leaves the bottom of the bottle nice and flat with just a couple passes from the rim of the Pringles can.  There were no drips once each bottle was hung to dry on the drying rack.  The product can be re-coated in 30 minutes if you want a thicker coat (which I found unnecessary), and dries completely in 4 hours.  When dry, remove the hook and un-cap the bottle.  Rinse, sanitize, and fill.

The finished bottle is very cool looking.  The Spousal Unit calls them the Batman Bottle.  The rubber clings tight and dries flat and smooth.  (And if you ever want to remove it, it can be peeled off amazing product.)  Because I coated the bottles all the way up to the crown, I will need to cap these with a bench capper since a hand capper needs to grip the shoulder below the crown which would tear into the rubber.  If you use a hand capper, you'll want to dip the bottles just up to the shoulder of the crown instead of going all the way up to the crown.

p.s. I also tried the spray version of Plasti Dip on a couple bottles.  To get the right coverage requires two coats, because doing one coat with enough product leads very quickly to sagging.  The finished product from the dipping process looks better than spraying, and gives a more consistent result.


The 2014 Maryland Microbrewery Festival and Homebrew Competition will be held on Saturday, September 27.  The site of the event is the beautiful and historic Union Mills Homestead just north of Westminster, Maryland.

The 2014 Competition Registration site is now OPEN for Judge registration:  Please sign up early if you are interested in Judging.  We welcome Provisional Judges who have passed the online Entry Exam and are looking for judging experience prior to sitting for the BJCP Tasting Exam, as well as Novice Judges who are studying and practicing for the Entry Exam.

Last year's competition featured 200 entries.  Judging takes place indoors, in the historic Mill on the Union Mills Homestead grounds.  The competition is open to all beer categories with the exception of Sours.  We anticipate a full day of judging, with morning and afternoon sessions unless enough Judges sign up to do all entries in the morning.  The winning homebrewer's recipe is scaled up and brewed commercially (with the winner's help, of course!) by Dog Brewing Company of Westminster, MD for draft sales at Buffalo Wild Wings' restaurants throughout Maryland, and (at the option of Dog Brewing Co.) bottled sales in area liquor stores.  The winner will also qualify for the Pro-Am Competition at the GABF (also at the option of Dog Brewing Co.)

In addition to getting Judging Points and giving back to the homebrewing community, Judges will receive the following perks:

  • Judges receive free admission to the Festival, and a tasting mug.
  • The organizing club will host a complimentary Judges Thank-You Dinner the evening before the festival, on Friday, September 26 at Johansson's, our local brewpub.
  • Complimentary Friday night accommodations for out-of-area Judges may also be available on request from host club members...could be a spare room, or a fully-outfitted camper...please respond here or via PM if you are interested in taking advantage of this option.
  • Judges will receive what is widely considered to be the best Judges' Breakfast in the world (or at least in Maryland ;D), prepared by our club's fine cooks.  For those with more basic requirements, yes we'll also have bagels and cream cheese.
  • Judges' and Stewards' Lunch is sponsored and provided by Buffalo Wild Wings.

Cheers, please post back or PM with any questions.

Questions about the forum? / Forum Errors This Evening
« on: June 04, 2014, 12:51:21 AM »
Going to the Forum this evening, I found that I was already logged in (recently, I have had to log in each visit).

When I try to mark a board as Read, I get the following error:

Session verification failed. Please try logging out and back in again, and then try again.

If click the Logout link, I get the same error.

Edit:  Well, never mind.  After posting this message, these functions seem to work properly again.

The 6th annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival Homebrew Competition will be judged on the grounds of Union Mills Homestead (just north of Westminster, MD) during the 2013 Maryland Microbrewery Festival on Saturday, September 28.

All beer styles are welcome, except Sours.

Best of Show winner is scaled up and brewed for commercial sale (with the help of the winning homebrewer, of course) by Dog Brewing Company of Westminster, MD (the winner of the 2011 and 2012 Maryland Governor's Cup).  The winning beer is served state-wide on draft at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, and in past years has also been bottled for sales in area liquor stores.

Entries are welcome world-wide and will be BJCP-judged.  However, to be prize-eligible, entrants must either be Maryland residents, or a member of one of the Free State Homebrew Guild member clubs.  (Check out the Rules, another $4 will get you a local club membership if you're out of state ;D).

Rules and Registration here:


Classifieds / Club Night 2013 Commemorative T-Shirts Still Available
« on: July 01, 2013, 01:01:06 AM »
Our club produced a special edition commemorative t-shirt for Club Night 2013.  It features the original art work of our member artist Melinda Byrd on the front of the shirt, and the names of all Club Night clubs on the back, listed by State (at least, I think we got all clubs...just don't look too closely at the state alphabetization  :o ).  Our club's theme was Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.  We hope our booth and our beers were enjoyed by all.

If you didn't pick up a shirt from us at Club Night, this is your chance.  Upon request, the artist will also sign your shirt in permanent marker.

The front and back of the shirt are shown below.  The shirts are deep purple.  The front image below is the proof from our vendor, which is a little more blue than the actual shirt color.  Sizes available as of this writing are unisex Small thru 4XL.  Shirts are $25 each which includes shipping and PayPal fees (or $20 for local hand-off for cash).  100% cotton Gildan brand.

If you want a shirt, please send me a Private Message with the quantity and sizes you would like.  Include your email address, and we will send you a PayPal Invoice for whichever of your size and quantity selections are still available.  Shirts will ship promptly upon receipt of payment.

and this actual photo of the shirt back

Thanks, and Cheers!

Classifieds / 1 NHC Awards Banquet Ticket Available
« on: May 16, 2013, 06:11:43 PM »
We will not be using the two banquet tickets I purchased, so they are now available.  I wish to sell them at cost ($50 each).  I'll assume the PayPal fees.

Would prefer to sell both at once, but I'll also sell them individually.

Please send a Private Message if you're interested.


Wood/Casks / Barrel Stand
« on: January 09, 2013, 12:55:45 AM »
A good friend and club member built this nice stand for my Woodinville Whiskey Co. barrels, purchased through our club's recent group buy.  I have one more barrel coming from the next batch of barrels after the bourbon is dumped in another week or so.  The barrels on the bottom shelf still need wedges to cradle them.

Events / Clear plastic tasting cups - cheap!
« on: January 03, 2013, 04:37:07 AM »
Just received a carton of these clear plastic tasting cups, for use at an upcoming beer tasting class.  They are 5 oz. Dixie brand cups, crystal clear, no odor, perfect for tasting and competition-sized pours, and they cost only $45 for 1,000 cups.  I can only say, I'll be buying these for my competition and beer classes for as long as they sell them.

Here's the actual cup with a sample (contents are Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale)...


Pimp My System / Contained heating space for conical fermenter
« on: August 20, 2012, 10:15:58 PM »
Just threw this together to help keep the temperature up (85° and higher) for a new Saison with WLP565 yeast.  It's comprised of two collapsible "pop-up" trash/yard waste cans (found @ Target), a space heater, and a Ranco digital controller:

The bottom "can" is narrower (19" dia.) than the top one, but the legs of the conical just fit.  The top can lowers down over the whole thing.  It's 22" in diameter.  The space heater sits on the floor, plugged into a Ranco controller.  Thermowell for the Ranco sensor inserts in a hold drilled in the top of a Plexiglas lid I made for the conical.  Visit the photobucket Album to see a couple other shots:

Instead of an airlock, I have a blowoff hose that feeds through the gap between the top and bottom cans, and into a bucket.

Spousal Unit made some distressed noise about the risk of fire, which I countered with some Male Pattern Deafness.  I had thought about it, though.  The space heater is plastic, so how hot can it really get anyway?  Plus it doesn't touch anything.  Heat and fan are set to mid-range settings.  It has a shut-off if it tips over.  And if something went FUBAR and overheated, the excess heat can get out through the substantial gap between the top and bottom trash cans.  The top can still contains the heat around the conical, and increased the wort temp from pitching (82°) to 85 in about two hours.

Kegging and Bottling / User review: vinyl reuseable labels
« on: August 10, 2012, 03:39:13 AM »
We ran into GrogTag at the NHC in Seattle.  They had a nice display and gave out samples.  They produce custom designed vinyl peel-off beer & wine bottle and ngeck abels which are reuseable, and write-able on with eraseable crayons.  Their stock designs are a little limited, but the info is customizable and you can upload custom graphics on most of them.  Or upload your own complete label design.

My favorite label is the blank with spaces for beer name/batch, dates, gravities, and moving dates.  Because they are waterproof, reuseable, and eraseable with Crayola eraseable crayons, I use these to follow my beers from primary, to secondary, to kegs, updating the info with each move.  Then wipe clean and re-use.

I have ordered twice now.  Service is very prompt.  Production quality exceeds my expectations.  Depending on the label template and the graphic you want to upload, you might have to play with the size of the upload file to make it display the way you like.

They also have an affiliate program for clubs, 10% discount when purchased through your link, and 1o% rebate to your club.  Check out the link on our club's home page in my signature.

The 5th annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival Homebrew Competition will be conducted on Saturday, September 29, 2012 at Union Mills Homestead, just north of Westminster.  Registration is now open for entrants, judges and stewards.  Entries must be received in the 2-week window between Sept. 1 - Sept. 15.  Open to big beers 6-10 abv, all except Sour and Smoke-flavored beers.

BJCP sanctioned and judged.  Excellent prize Sponsors including local and online HBS, liquor stores, and beer-focused restaurants.  And Best of Show winner's beer gets brewed commercially by Dog Brewing  Co. for draft sales at Maryland Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, and bottled sales through local liquor stores.

Entrants, Judges, and Stewards should Register:


Steve Kranz

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