Open-air Fermentation and a Recipe

Open-air fermentation?  You mean fermentation with no lid?  NO AIRLOCK!?  Yes.  Its time to take the top off.  I know what you’re thinking: the beer will get infected.  You’re also thinking: that’s crazy, why would you even bother with such non-sense?  This is the 21st century, not the dark ages; we use lids in century 21, sir! Read more of this post

Yuletide Photo Contest

Off-week bonus post!  This year I entered the Yuletide beer photo contest over at A Good Beer Blog.  These are my entries (click to enlarge the photos)- wish me luck! Read more of this post

Beer Recipe: “Lawn Dart” Saison

This spring I decided I wanted a nice summer beer.  I have a bit of a fascination with Belgian styles, so a moderate gravity saison seemed like the perfect choice.  I named this one after a game I used to love playing as a kid in the back yard: lawn darts.  And no, I’m not that old- there was a set in my grandparent’s shed from back before they were outlawed.  Something about giving kids and drunk people weighted objects with a 4 inch spike on the end to hurl high into the air apparently struck someone (no pun intended) as a bad idea after a couple of years on the market.  There’s just no having fun anymore I suppose. Read more of this post

Water Treatment for Brewing 2: Water Report

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

In part one of this mini-series, I went into why you might be interested in making water adjustments, what various important ions do to your brew, and what sort of water is good for what beers.  That’s all fine and dandy, but completely academic unless you can actually treat the water.  So, the first thing you’ll want to get is a water report to find your water’s baseline.  Otherwise, you’ll be adding some well measured and well controlled amount of brewing salts to god-knows-what.  And that adds up to god-knows-what. Read more of this post

Brew Tips: Small Batch Brewing

A few posts about bread in the bag, and now back to beer in a big way.  Err… small way.

There are some parts of brewing that are, well… kind of a pain.  And there is very little change in all of this based on batch size; you still need to clean everything, drag all of your buckets out, and so on.  So, it seems awfully counter-intuitive to make less beer for nearly the same effort.  You might be interested if you are in a small apartment.  But you should really be interested if you like to walk on the wild side with your brewing. Read more of this post

Water Treatment for Brewing 1: The Basics

[Miniseries Part One, Two, Three, Three-point-Five, Three-point-Six, Four]

This is the first post I am doing on water treatment, and not the last.  By water treatment, I mean adding various salts or acids to the water to make it more suitable for various styles.  These salts dissociate into ions (charged particles) in the water which can affect yeast health, flavor perception, mash efficiency, boil protein coagulation, etc.  But, beer has been brewed for thousands of years without anyone knowing what an ion is, and I am sure most of you are already making great beer, so why should you care?  Water treatment will allow you to bring your beer from “I’d definitely buy some of that” to award winning.  Think about a meal that you have had that didn’t have nearly enough salt in it.  Chances are it was dull and lifeless- the flavors there, but muted and muddled.  Add a little salt, and suddenly the flavors come alive and pop, making the rest of the effort to prepare the meal suddenly much more worthwhile. Read more of this post

DIY Mash Tun

This will be a pretty short post compared to the immersion chiller, as there is already so much out there on making mash tuns from coolers.  However, I’ve never been particularly happy with the usual explanations of building a mash tun.  They are always too complicated, use bizarre parts, or use seals that are prone to leaking with the quick changes in temperature experienced when the strike water is dumped in.  I’ve designed this to work with a braid (like from a water heater hose), but I suspect it could easily be modified to work with notched tubes, etc. Read more of this post

DIY Immersion Chiller: The Hydra

In my first blog post , I’ll go into how I constructed my own immersion chiller, which I have nicknamed the Hydra.  It requires no soldering and only basic tools.

The Hydra is different from other chillers in that it uses much thinner copper tubing, only 1/4 inch/ 0.64 cm diameter.  A thinner tube allows a much greater surface area to volume ratio of the coolant fluid, meaning the coolant will pull heat out much more efficiently.  The downside is that the resistance to flow is much higher in a thinner tube, and you simply can’t run as much coolant through.  I got around this my splitting my 50 ft (actually, 48 ft) of copper tubing into 3 separate parallel 16 ft/ 4.88 m sections. Read more of this post

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