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Messages - smkranz

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Pimp My System / Re: Contained heating space for conical fermenter
« on: August 21, 2012, 08:27:36 PM »
Working perfectly after 3 days.  The probe is inside the wort in a thermowell.  Basement temp is about 70°.  Got fermenter at 89°, probably add another degree or two tomorrow, then hold a week. Yeast still putting out nicely.

Pimp My System / Contained heating space for conical fermenter
« on: August 20, 2012, 03:15:58 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.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: White Labs vials?
« on: August 18, 2012, 05:51:38 AM »
When the Spousal Unit packs me a salad for lunch, she uses an empty vial for salad dressing.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Getting started
« on: August 16, 2012, 10:06:27 PM »
About every third beer I brew seems to be a Saison.  Using WLP565 pitch it at about 80°, with lots of oxygen (and if it is a high gravity Saison, add more oxygen after about 15 hours).  Let it rise on its own to as high as it will go, probably 86-88.  When it starts to slow down after a couple days, I personally would keep the temp artificially elevated (space heater in the  bathroom?) for at least a few more days to encourage those yeasties to keep going and not stall.  You want it to dry out, and letting this yeast cool down early will pretty much shut it down.  It is a characterful yeast that likes it hot.  My nicest Saison topped out at about 92°.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: GABF Members Only Line
« on: August 16, 2012, 09:39:08 PM »
Received all my tickets in the mail last week.  They all have "Members Entrance" on them, as well as "Member" at the top under "Admission", except for the Saturday noon Members Only session tickets which have General Admission instead of Members Entrance because there's only one entrance for that session.

If the ticket does not have Members Entrance printed on it, then it is a General Admission ticket, and the word "Member" at the  top does not help. 

My guess is that if one is in the wrong line for your ticket, the staff will probably direct you to the [end of] the correct line.  I believe there also have in the past been staff outside with bullhorns directing peeps to the right lines.

Kegging and Bottling / User review: vinyl reuseable labels
« on: August 09, 2012, 08:39:13 PM »
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.

Wood/Casks / Re: Oak Chips in a Farmhouse?
« on: August 09, 2012, 06:32:34 PM »
I'd split the batch if I were you.  Oak half of it.  If you don't like how it turns out you can blend the non-oaked half back in.  If you do like it, then oak the other half and put them together. 

Wood/Casks / Re: Woodinville Whiskey Co. barrel
« on: August 05, 2012, 11:36:14 AM »
1.  Did you notice any oxidation flavors in the first two beers? O2 diffusion is my biggest fear.

Nope, not yet at least.  It might also be too soon to know.  I wouldn't worry about it.  I'd suggest you make a batch that will pretty much top off the barrel with 8 gallons of fermented beer.  Flush the barrel with CO2 if you can, before you fill it.  Commercial brewers are making barrel-aged beers to beat the band these days, and most of them are great.

2.  Have you funkified it yet?

Not yet, but I'm thinking the Cherry Wheat that's going in shortly will get funked w/brett.  I also have a few gallons that won't fit into the barrel, which I will keg and carb normally.

3.  Would you say its worth the investment?

I recognize that lots of what I spend on this hobby falls way outside of the realm of "worth the investment", but rather is spent because I want to, and I can.  In the case of this barrel:

 - I wanted more bourbon barrel beers of my own, on my schedule rather than brewing with others to fill a large barrel;
 - it was relatively affordable (compared with $300-$400 for a new oak barrel);
 - it fits on a shelf in my basement;
 - the Spousal Unit didn't beat me with a 2x4 because of the barrel;
 - the beers are coming out of it mighty good;
 - and I will definitely do it again.

So by all of those measures, I guess that's a long way to say yes  8).

Events / Re: GABF Tix problem...?
« on: July 31, 2012, 10:04:29 AM »
Made it through the regular site, finally.  Two tix for each session   ;D .  Fortunately, when the countdown timer for each transaction timed out, it let me "save for later".  Then once it started working, it actually just let me click through them one at a time.

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

Wood/Casks / Re: Woodinville Whiskey Co. barrel
« on: July 17, 2012, 10:06:30 PM »
The Biere de Garde was in the barrel exactly one month and the bourbon character is amazing.  Much stronger than the equivalent time in a 53-gallon Jack Daniels barrel.  I could gave gotten by with less time, but I didn't have the next beer ready to go in yet.  Woodinville is also a more intensely flavored bourbon (we visited Woodinville Whiskey Co. on our trip to NHC and brought back 5 bottles...yikes!).  Their Rye and Vodka are also excellent...I'm thinking my next barrel will be one of their Rye barrels.

I pulled the beer, and put beer #2 (a Wheat Wine) right into the barrel the same day.  After 3 weeks, the Wheat Wine is already getting oaky, with a faint hint of bourbon.  I figure to keep it in for another month or so.  By then, hopefully there will be another beer ready to go in.  No idea what yet, tho there won't likely be much if any bourbon character left in the barrel by then.

Maybe it's time for my first brett beer.

Equipment and Software / Re: Building a jockey box
« on: July 12, 2012, 05:41:22 PM »
Our club has a 4-circuit jockey box with a cold plate that looks exactly like the one you're looking at.  I bought it on eBay a bunch of years ago but I don't recall who the seller was.

I say go for it.

Our box serves beer nice and chilled, even if poured continuously.  We have used it for many a Club Night, camping trip, and Brew-Ha-Ha in the sweltering summer heat. It has never served warm beer no matter how quickly we poured.  We have the plate resting on a wire basket with ice packed underneath as well as on top and all sides.  It helps if the beer keg is pre-chilled and setting in a bucket of ice, but it's not necessary. We have been roundly impressed with how well it chills our beers.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: Delaware Battle of the Brews wants you!
« on: July 02, 2012, 08:25:23 PM »
Ron, it was good to meet and chat with you briefly on the floor of Club Night in Seattle, and I look forward to being at your competition in a few weeks.


Wood/Casks / Re: Woodinville Whiskey Co. barrel
« on: June 04, 2012, 08:22:53 PM »
I agree that a sulfur stick sounds like a bad idea - I'm surprised they would suggest that because the vapors can explode (see Gordon Strong's "Brewing Better Beer" for details on that).

If you are going to NHC this year, you'll get a chance to try Naked City's Opacity at Pro Night .  It is an imperial stout that was aged in a Woodinville Whiskey barrel that my club collaborated on.  It really turned out great (info here 

We'll also have a few other beers aged in smaller barrels that we'll be serving both at club night and at a couple of hospitality shifts as well.
I'll be there, and will try to look for it!

Wood/Casks / Re: Woodinville Whiskey Co. barrel
« on: June 04, 2012, 08:21:32 PM »
Nice!  I expect to try this beer on club night 2013 :)

No promises that there will be any of it left by then.   ;)

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