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Topics - AmandaK

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Other Fermentables / Ey! Where you get your honey at?
« on: June 22, 2015, 09:54:40 AM »
It has been decided that we are getting into mead. (Thaaaaanks NHC 2015) After listening to Schramm, Piatz, Curt Stock, and Fairbrother... well we are just too excited to not try it out.

I've already burned through Piatz's book and I'm most of the way through Schramm's. I have all of the equipment, the supplies, and basically everything except for the honey. There are too many choices as to what to buy and where/who to buy it from.

We are doing two batches right off the bat - a riff on Curt & Kathy's triple berry melomel and an orange blossom traditional. I believe we are going to just get the honey for the melomel from Costco as they sell clover honey. The orange blossom is where I'm curious as to where other people find their honey. So far I've seen a wide variety from Dutch Gold (which I think is not raw) to Bee Folks (which is raw), with a $60+ difference in price for 5 gallon pails. I don't know enough to figure out if there really is a difference between the two.

So anyway - recommendations would be awesome. I trust you guys and your experience, so fire away.

General Homebrew Discussion / All this talk about COTY... :)
« on: June 15, 2015, 07:15:31 PM »
I started digging through my club's old Bier Notes and found a few of the issues around when they won Club of the Year in 2000.

Check out how nonchalantly they organize what beers people should brew:

And then the party after they won:

Anyway, I just get a kick out of these old newsletters. :) Thought I would share. We used to have some epic speakers for our annual competition too... Charlie P. came in 2003 and Ken Schramm came in 2009. Reading about the past is like a who's who of the homebrewing greats, pretty entertaining.

PS: KC Bier Meisters is my club for those on Tapatalk.

The Pub / Good NHC Plane Book?
« on: June 01, 2015, 07:00:59 AM »
What's a good NHC plane book? I plan on buying Modern Homebrew Recipes while I am at NHC, so that my plane ride back is covered.

I already have just about every book from Brewers Publications outside of Malt, but I do not intend to buy that. I was looking at Liquid Intelligence, but it looks a bit too outside of a home-cocktail drinker's realm. Was also looking at Salumi, but I haven't made it through the projects that I want to do from Charcuterie yet... so that seems a bit silly to buy now.

Any suggestions?

General Homebrew Discussion / The wonderful rainbow of German Lagers
« on: March 01, 2015, 07:25:04 PM »
Took gravity samples of three German lagers today before I cold crashed for lagering.

I gotta say, I'm pretty impressed with the clarity of these guys. Especially before lagering. Had to share.

Pilsner on the left, Maibock in the middle, Oktoberfest on the right. We are gonna have some tasty beers on tap in the next few weeks!  :D

General Homebrew Discussion / B. E. A. UTIFUL day for a brew day!
« on: February 08, 2015, 10:41:40 AM »
Just wanted to say that is it February 8th in KC and it is 65f out. Just mashed in a German Pilsner and nailed the temp.

Trying out the newer mill with a batch sparge and Avangard Pils. Let's see what kind of efficiency we get today!

The Kansas City Bier Meisters are hosting our 32nd Annual Competition. This year's theme is "Hot Summer Nights". There is a special category and a special prize for any "Summer Beer" - a beer that evokes the feeling of summer from the depths of a chilly February afternoon.

Like last year, we are partnering with Cinder Block Brewing to ramp up one lucky brewer's recipe. We are also capping the competition at 600 entries this year.

What does this mean to you? Well, we are a stop on the Midwest Homebrewer of the Year circuit and the High Plains circuit. So if you need to get in on these circuits, want a chance to have your beer brewed on a 15 BBL commercial scale or would like to come volunteer, then you should get in on this soon. Enter here:

Want to volunteer? We love taking care of our volunteers. Sub sandwiches and donuts? Not here. Smoked sausages, breakfast casserole and Waldo pizza just for taking time out of your life to help us pull this off.

Banquet will be yet another beer pairing dinner, featuring beers you can't even get yet, to the theme of "Midwest Winter Luau". Tickets are for sale here (, for $35. It is a 3 course meal.

There will be a huge raffle sponsored by Central States Beverage before our banquet, so $1 could get you a brand new neon sign! See? We really do take care of our volunteers. A portion of the proceeds will go to our local food bank, Harvesters.


Yes, I've been out for a while - brewing 90 gallons on a strict schedule for the wedding kinda burned me out for a bit. But I'm getting back into it with this...

So here's a hair-brained idea: what if I was able to reprogram the PLC on the Brew Magic to also control heating elements in the BK and HLT, as well as use the 2000W heater in the RIMS tube to actually raise the mash temp?

For those who aren't intimately familiar with the Brew Magic, it has a Unitronics V350 touch screen PLC in it, which is a 12 relay PLC. The Brew Magic is currently using 2(? - basically not many) of the relays.

Theoretically, the BK and HLT could be converted to electric fairly easily. Add element, add wiring, and use a simple controller like High Gravity has (with the turn knob) to control the heat output. Done, but not pretty.

If I wanted to go pretty, I could add programming into the PLC (with appropriately stepped relays) to control the BK and HLT elements.

BUT. What if I could reprogram the RIMS tube heater logic to work when I want to raise the mash, instead of just maintaining the mash? I know the element in place can do it, if you trick the program, but it's tedious. The Sabco software only operates the RIMS tube element if you are -4F to -0.01F from your set mash temperature. It will be off otherwise, and you are forced to use the propane burner to bring it up any farther than this. Here's my trick: If you have a steady mash temp at say, 152, and you want it to be 158... program the set point to be 154, then when it gets there, go to 156, then when it gets there, go to 158. And then you have a RIMS element works as a step masher! Ha.

So how crazy is this? I've searched the internet and no one has seemed to do this specific thing. There are plenty of conversions from super old BMs to electric (before they had the PLC), but none using the existing PLC with new custom software.

I already talked with our lead electrical engineer in the office and he seems to be quite excited about it. He also indicated that the reprogramming/wiring of the PLC would be the easiest part of this (from an EE perspective, of course). Rewiring the house for 30-50A and getting a condensate hood installed would be the difficult part, according to him. Ha.

Ingredients / How do you... cucumber?
« on: July 18, 2014, 06:27:15 AM »
I am wanting to 'cucumber' a saison, but would like a bit of direction before I screw this up.

How exactly would you cucumber a beer? Dry-cucumbering? Juice it and blend? Do I remove the skin? What about the seeds? I would imagine that one or both of those would be bitter/unpleasant.

I've come across several threads on this forum and others about cucumber saisons, but they just generally say "add cucumber" - which is unhelpful.

I have a bumper crop of cucumbers (3-8 a day) and need to do something with them - help!

Pimp My System / Redbird Brewhouse - There's Always a Project
« on: February 15, 2014, 03:53:06 PM »
I'm finally doing a Pimp My System thread, now that I've moved out of my long string of little apartments and into a house. Things really have come into their own here in the home brewery in the past few months, enough that I can post it even though there are constant projects and improvements.

So here goes!

The actual brewery is a 2009 Sabco Brew Magic VMS350 that we recently picked up from a friend. It has been quite a learning experience to go from a stovetop-batch-sparging-cooler-system!

Chiller is a MoreBeer 'Chillus Convolutus Counterflow Wort Chiller'. Shown here in cleaning mode.

In moving from brewing on the stovetop to brewing outdoors, water availability became a huge issue. Luckily, my mom knew this would eventually happen. She used to develop all of her own photographs as a professional photographer, so when she quit doing that, she saved her darkroom sink and temperature controlled water valve for me. :) So the sink below is a free sink. Approximately 5'-0" by 2'-0" by 5" deep. All stainless. Hot and cold water is plumbed to it and the valve can control water within 1*F. We've installed this in the garage so it makes clean up incredibly easy. It is amazing in cold weather.

The fermenter in the picture below is a 15 gallon plastic conical with stainless tri-clamp fittings. It is housed in a True Manufacturing commercial fridge that I picked up from craigslist. Dual stage temp controller controls the fridge and a little heater near the bottom. Don't mind the ridiculous amount of buckets laying around. It was cleaning day. ;)

Switching over to the basement, where we have storage and the rest of the fermenting happens. My main set of shelves are below. Picked them up from The Shelving Store a while back. I keep everything from finished beer (in bottles), to empty bottles, to Better Bottles, to a jockey box, to Beer Guns, to bottle trees, to a box of airlocks and more on these shelves. Empty bags of grain hang from the ceiling, you know, for decoration.

To the left of the shelving and below the stairs is a sour beer aging area. I am in the process of moving my sour beer aging from my parent's house to my own house, so there is nothing in here yet. Just a few trophies.  ;D

Obligatory medal/ribbon shot. The framed score sheet is from a Saison-Brett clone judged by Stan Hieronymus. To say that I'm proud of that beer would be an understatement.  8) And yes, that is the German flag on the ceiling. Ich bin 100% Deutsch.

Grain storage. Vittle Vault II. Sometimes found on amazon for $25 or so.

Lagering freezer, named Franz. He can hold four kegs. Empty Boulevard Smokestack bottles are for our wedding toast beer.

Newest freezer - 25CF, a replacement for my older keezer (Hanz - he lives with a friend now). No name yet for this one, but it's a work in progress. We are working on a collar for a through the wall tap system. I'll update with pics when we get around to doing it.

Should hold around 16-18 kegs when we finish building it out. Right now, it's all on Cobra taps.

The little wine coolers. These are tinted-glass front Vissani wine coolers that Home Depot used to sell a couple of years back. I have them hooked up to an assortment of temperature controllers. One is dual stage for the Belgians, the other two are single stage for normal beers. We use the top of the coolers as a sort of table.

A really poor shot of the inside of the wine cooler. These little guys can go down to 38*F if need be, and the one with a ferm wrap in it can go as high as I ask it to. The control is quite valuable.

And finally (for now), no home brewery is complete without a set of his and hers brewery boots.  ;D

Several clubs in Kansas are banding together to push for homebrew law changes in the State. Please, we need your help to contact your representative to gain their support for House Substitute for HB2223. We tried to push this bill through last year and will push harder this year.

This is the BA press release for the 2014 Bill:

Things we cannot do in Kansas:
  • We cannot bring homebrew outside of our homes. This means no club meetings, no tastings, etc.
  • We cannot serve our homebrew to people outside of our "immediate family".
  • We cannot host homebrew competitions.

We are aiming to get these things changed. Why? Because we love homebrew and want to share it!

A lot of you know that I am getting married at the end of this year. You know what's illegal for me? I cannot serve my fiance the beer that we brew together as we do not meet the legal definition of 'immediate family'. How ludicrous is that? We brew together, but I cannot serve it to him. Ridiculous.

We also cannot host competitions. This is not a huge issue for my club, as we reside on the State Line and can jump to Missouri, but it is a huge deal for all of the homebrewers in the middle of the state who just want a little feedback on their beers.

I urge those of you who are Kansas residents to contact your Representative and help change the laws!

Find your representatives here by your address:

The Kansas City Bier Meisters are hosting our 31st Annual Competition. This year's theme is "Where the Wild Beers Are". There is a special category and a special prize for any "Wild Ale". Guidelines here:

This year, we are partnering with Cinder Block Brewing to ramp up one lucky brewer's recipe. We are also capping the competition at 600 entries this year.

What does this mean to you? Well, we are a stop on the Midwest Homebrewer of the Year circuit, the High Plains circuit and the newly formed KC Homebrewer of the Year circuit. Also, we are filling up quickly. How quickly? The entry window opened up 5 hours ago and we are 20% full.

So if you need to get in on these circuits, want a chance to have your beer brewed on a 15 BBL commercial scale or just want these really cool BOS prizes (hopefully below), then you should get in on this soon. Enter here:

Want to volunteer? We love taking care of our volunteers. Sub sandwiches and donuts? Not here. Smoked brisket, breakfast casserole and Waldo pizza just for taking time out of your life to help us pull this off.


Ingredients / Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« on: December 19, 2013, 09:43:39 AM »
Moved into a new house across the state line and recently got my water report back. Ugh.

pH 9.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 354
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.59
Cations / Anions, me/L 5.8/6.7
Sodium, Na 65
Potassium, K 6
Calcium, Ca 25
Magnesium, Mg 18
Total Hardness, CaCO3 138
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.3 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 68 (*3 = 204ppm SO4)
Chloride, Cl 25
Carbonate, CO3 22
Bicarbonate, HCO3 60
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 86

Based on this, I have given up using it for brewing due to the ridiculous sulfate and hardness levels. I'm moving to RO water in the new place. (Or can it be salvaged?) But what can I do to save my faucets? I'm already having issues with build up on my shower heads and the kitchen sink sprayer quit working once so far due to caked on crap.  :(

From my initial research, it looks like some sort of ion exchange sulfate removal system coupled with a standard water softener is in order, but I can't seem to find one in the retail world. Help? Anyone else have this problem?

Other Fermentables / Calling Cider Apple Experts/Growers
« on: December 17, 2013, 01:36:46 PM »
So in buying a house, I've acquired a good size lot as well. There is a ton of room to plant a lot of things, so I'm investigating what I want to plant/grow over the winter.

Of interest now is cider apple trees.

Has anyone actually planted cider apple trees in their backyard and want to give me some advice? I'm looking at dwarf trees, probably around 8-10 of them. Maybe some Dabinett, Kingston Blacks and a Black Oxford or two?

I'm in USDA heartiness zone 6A.

All Grain Brewing / Sabco Brew Magic Owners - Thoughts, Processes & Mods
« on: November 11, 2013, 11:54:16 AM »
Hey guys,

I just picked up a Sabco Brew Magic V350MS from a friend in the homebrew club. I've brewed on it once (with the previous owner) but would like to see other people's systems. I know there was an old forum dedicated solely to the Brew Magic but since it is now defunct, I'm asking here.

What is your process? What modifications have you done? Got any pictures?

Cheers!  8)

Pimp My System / Re-purposed 'Gin Bucket', now 2-tap Jockey Box
« on: October 16, 2013, 06:13:34 PM »
Here's a look at my party tap set up that I built out of a few old parts and some new ones.

I have had this little 5 gallon round cooler since I was a sophomore in college. I used it mainly for float trips or yard drinking and usually filled it with some sort of gin-based lemon-lime concoction. But I digress. Here's some pictures in it's new life!  :D

I use the jockey box in conjunction with two velcro-laden Reflectix wraps I made. They wrap each keg thre times and velcro onto themselves. What is really nice about the wraps is that I can take a keg out of the keezer, wrap it and it stays under 40F for 20-24 hours. If it's going to be longer than that out of refrigeration, I usually scoot the wraps up and put the kegs in a cooler with ice as shown at my mom's surprise birthday party:

The inside is packed full with the cold plate, beer lines and shanks. Seen here right after drilling holes in the ol' gin bucket.

With ice and beer:

The beer line is all 1/4" ID, with 10' coiled up inside the cooler for each tap run. The lines from the cooler to the kegs are each 5' long. This is most likely overkill, but go big or go home yeah?

The system works really well in terms of keeping the beer cold and not having any foaming. It's been a hit at several parties over the summer in it's short lifespan as a jockey box. In the future, I plan to either vinyl wrap it in white with my brewery logo on it or something similar.

Cheers guys!

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