OT: Homebrewers

Submitted by ThorsHammer on July 21st, 2018 at 11:29 AM

Any home brewers on here? Let's read about your set up and what you currently have brewing. I currently have a partial mash Toasted Coconut Cream Ale in the primary fermenter. I would like to upgrade my setup for all grain brewing with a cooler mash/lauter tun with a liquor tank. My next brew is a spotted cow clone. I also would like to upgrade from bottling into bottles and growlers to kegging. I think kegging would work great for tailgating during football season. 

Comments

chunkums

July 21st, 2018 at 12:15 PM ^

I have an Anvil 5.5 gallon brew kettle for lautering and sparging, a turkey fryer and generic pot that came with it for boiling, a 30L Spiedel fermenter for primary, and a glass carboy for secondary. I use Beersmith to make my recipes and I can't say enough how great that's been. It lets you pick your recipe then make tweaks to specific features and it automatically adjusts your ingredients. Want something a tiny bit more bitter? Drag the slider and it will automatically adjust your ingredients. For example, last Christmas my brewing partner and I wanted a Great Lakes Christmas Ale clone with lower ABV so we could drink it while doing work and not be knocked on our asses. All we had to do was drag the ABV to the desired level and it automatically adjusted our ingredients. Unfortunately, I haven't made anything for a while because my friend had a baby and I'm getting ready for my doctoral candidacy exam. 

Brightside

July 21st, 2018 at 12:23 PM ^

I have been homebrewing for about 10 years now.  I had taken a break to get ready to move back to Michigan, and finally brewed on the 4th and again Thursday.  I have a Two Hearted kegged and cold, and a SMaSH called "Hulk SMaSH" that just started fermenting.

I would love to post full details on my setup with pics and everything, but don't have time right now.  Net is I moved from bottling to kegging and freed up a ton of space.  I switched from Extract to all grain about 3 years ago.  It takes longer, but I think I am making better beer in the end.  Process is more interesting as well.

Using a keg at a tailgate would work great, but you probably want to build or buy a jockey box (internet can help you)

I leveraged Adventures in Homebrewing early on, and now live close enough to Bells to get my ingredients there.  I'm in Saugatuck if anyone wants to trade beers or get together and brew...

jmich24

July 21st, 2018 at 12:57 PM ^

Homebrewing for ten years also. 10 gallon igloo mash tun, two 15 gallon stainless kettles. All grain, BIAB, and still do an occasional extract brew.

I exclusively keg my beer, three tap keezer in the basement.  So much easier to avoid oxidation and less cleaning overall.  I brew a lot of fruited sour beer, because they are delicious and very expensive to buy commercially.

This summer I’m brewing a ton of Saisons to keep my carbohydrates at a minimum. Down 70 pounds with a HFLC diet.  Be carful with the craft beer and home brew, you will pack on the LBs in a hurry. 

Currently on tap Citra and Mosiac hoppy saison, a funky, tart saison and a tart cherry Belgian dubbel soured with Roselare and Jolly Pumpkin Dregs.  

Currently in kegs or fermentors, dark funky saison, 3 year old BugCounty lambic, 20 gallons of various age and different fruited sours for blending. Also a Miller light clone lagering with a heavy dose of Citra hops. 

ThorsHammer

July 21st, 2018 at 1:06 PM ^

I live in Ypsi Township. I go to Adventures in Homebrewing for my supplies. Although, I am probably going to get my mash tun and HLT from Northern Brewer. They have a 20% off sitewide sale with free shipping promotion going on right now. My cream ale special grains were mashed in a bag and the wort was boiled (using a turkey fryer) in a 15 gal kettle with a temperature probe and a stainless steel ball valve assembly.I really want to go all grain to get better control of my wort. I also want to go keg to clean up space that is used for bottles which is annoying to fill. 

Brightside

July 21st, 2018 at 7:58 PM ^

We just moved here in October and are year around (not many here through the winter).  My job is a regional job, so being reasonably close to Chicago and GRR so I can fly were the only real requirements.

Depending on what you do I would think Holland and Grand Rapids would have reasonable options.  Traffic isn't really an issue around here if you have ever lived where there is actual traffic.

WindyCityBlue

July 21st, 2018 at 12:54 PM ^

I used to regularly home brew until I had a child.  In Chicago, there are several brew clubs that have all the equipment and storage you need, you just bring the ingredients and the hard work.  Its very convenient and well worth it.  With that said, I guess its technically not home brewing since I didn't brew it in my home, but it captures the essence at least.

Anyway, I prefer to brew lagers.  They require a little more finesse and care, and I prefer the taste.  Speaking of clones, we had a guy at my brew club attempt to brew a Steele Reserve clone.  These types of "adjunct lagers" are highly engineered and controlled.  The brewer was fascinated by the process of brewing the clone and strangely grew an appreciation for Steele Reserve.  It was kinda hilarious watching him through the brew.  And it tasted pretty darn close to the real thing!

Lastly, my first job in college was at Arbor Brewing Company.  They were open for only a year at this point, so Matt G (the owner) was still brewing.  The beer was much better then as the subsequent master brewers couldn't maintain the quality.

WindyCityBlue

July 21st, 2018 at 4:28 PM ^

Yep. I agree. I was there over Memorial Day. It’s a shame since the beer was so good. They put a particular emphasis on the quality of beer (over the quality of food), which was pretty much the opposite of grizzly peak at the time. The marketing positioning worked very well. 

Laser Wolf

July 21st, 2018 at 12:55 PM ^

Is there a nice Cliff’s Notes version of how to get going on homebrewing? I’ve been interested for years but every time I think about it I’m immediately overwhelmed by all the opinions on equipment and methods. 

Oregon Wolverine

July 21st, 2018 at 1:19 PM ^

I started brewing all grain out of the box during college and law school in A2.  Brewed for 25+ years, every style imaginable, brewed for friends weddings, soda, mead and hard cider too.

There are great books out there and great clubs, you can go either way or both.  I learned everything from a growing library of books which started w/the Comlete Joy of Homebrewing and Zymurgy, great magazine.

top tips:

1. Keep it clean, nothing ruins a beer like bacteria

2. Use good water and the best ingredients you can

3. All grain isn’t that hard, focus on the sparge, but stay away from coolers if you can.  Plastic really isn’t safe “food grade” at 155-160 F

4. Kegs greatly improve your experience, cleaning and maintaining bottles, except for gifts, is a pain

5.  Don’t worry, relax, have a home brew

Oregon Wolverine

July 21st, 2018 at 1:23 PM ^

I started brewing all grain out of the box during college and law school in A2.  Brewed for 25+ years, every style imaginable, brewed for friends weddings, soda, mead and hard cider too.

There are great books out there and great clubs, you can go either way or both.  I learned everything from a growing library of books which started w/the Comlete Joy of Homebrewing and Zymurgy, great magazine.

top tips:

1. Keep it clean, nothing ruins a beer like bacteria

2. Use good water and the best ingredients you can

3. All grain isn’t that hard, focus on the sparge, but stay away from coolers if you can.  Plastic really isn’t safe “food grade” at 155-160 F

4. Kegs greatly improve your experience, cleaning and maintaining bottles, except for gifts, is a pain

5. A decent counter flow wort chiller makes a big difference

6. Start with really healthy yeast in large quantities.  Chemical flasks and a magnetic stir plate (think HS chemistry class) reaps massive dividends, huge yeast returns

7.   Brew w/friends, especially ones who have a guitar or like to tell stories.  

8. Don’t worry, relax, have a home brew.  

 

gobluem

July 21st, 2018 at 6:03 PM ^

Just FYI, I brew with Lake Michigan water as well, and you still need to add a bit of acid (lactic, phosphoric, or acidulated malt) to hit ideal mash pH especially in light beers. Yes, you can make good beer with straight tap water out of Lake Michigan, but it will improve if you pay attention to mash pH

 

And you also may want to add chloride or sulfate, depending on the beer style you are brewing

Oregon Wolverine

July 21st, 2018 at 6:04 PM ^

Coolers are super convenient and I understand the appeal.  I did it for years too, w/PVC pipe for “sparge sprayer”... most plastic will leach chems (glass of BPA anyone?) especially when heated.  

Coolers are generally not good safe for direct contact w/HOT food.  

Cool tends to stabilize. Hot activates.  

You can get great results in plastic, but you’re getting an injection of plastic-related chemicals that are not good for you.

Better to stick to glass and stainless steel whenever possible.  

jamesjosephharbaugh

July 21st, 2018 at 1:15 PM ^

Right now I’m aging spiced hard cider and the wine from my excess garden raspberries just finished fermenting and is ready to transfer to the carboy. I stole a taste and it’s delicious. Haven’t gotten around to beer yet, 3 kids under 4 keeps me pretty well tied up. 

Teambizy

July 21st, 2018 at 1:34 PM ^

Ive got an extract batch in the primary right now.  It’s a double IPA that I’m going to add cherry extract when I keg it.  Always wanted to move towards all grain.  Would love to learn how. 

goblueram

July 21st, 2018 at 2:03 PM ^

I was lucky as my first 1 gallon kit was all grain so I just stuck with it.  I think I've got the "how to do all grain in a small space" thing pretty much down now.  Check out BIAB as it might be a great option instead of the "traditional" all grain which I feel just takes too much equipment/space.

Bombadil

July 21st, 2018 at 1:51 PM ^

I just moved so my all grain set up of Igloo coolers is still in storage. Hopefully I’ll get set up in the next few weeks. I had a lot of luck in the past few years with the no boil Berliner Weiss and standard pale ales.

goblueram

July 21st, 2018 at 2:01 PM ^

Great topic!!

I have an all grain setup using Brew In A Bag method for the last few years.  I've got my home/condo brewery in a pretty stable position now in Chicago despite relatively small space:

  • Brew day: all done in the kitchen; 10 gallon cooler mash tun with the grain bag inside; all heat using the gas range...no issues getting 6+ gallons to a boil; just finished a project yesterday to plumb in my wort chiller under the kitchen sink (though I will note - I did no chill for a few years and just left the kettle out overnight covered with lid with no issues...in case anyone is concerned about no chilling mechanism)
  • Fermentation: I have a 7.2 cu ft chest freezer in basement storage area, hooked up with a temp controller + heating pad inside to dial in temps; best investment I have made in brewing for sure as temp control was always an issue
  • Serving: kegerator handing down from a fellow MGoBlogger which I just converted from single tap commercial/sanke to dual tap ball lock for corny kegs

On Draft:  Ann Arbor Pale Ale
Fermenting:  Coffee Cream Ale

ThorsHammer

July 21st, 2018 at 2:17 PM ^

One question: I am new to kegging. What are the pro/cons of ball lock and pin lock kegging systems? Or is just a matter of preference or setup? 

Rambling Wolverine

July 21st, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

I have been brewing for 9 years and am still old school with my equipment.  Propane burner, 10 gallon stainless steel pot, plastic bucket fermenters. Today was a brew day and I have my Moose Drool clone fermenting, which I call Wolverine Slobber.  My brewery is named Maize and Blue Brewing.

I still bottle all my beers and have an Olde Ale, Irish Red, Scotch Ale, Porter, Oberon Clone, Cream Ale and Dragon's Milk Clone ready to drink. I like having a variety of beers on hand ready to drink so I have a choice.

I like malty beers and I like big ABV Beers.  I have made meads, ciders and make wine for my wife.

Cheers and Go Blue!

schizontastic

July 21st, 2018 at 3:42 PM ^

On a tangent, has anyone tried to age their own whisky? There are kits which supply white dog/moonshine and a barrel (or staves). Is this a gimmick on the order of a Father's Day gifts from the The Sharper Image? Or is the process/end result worth trying once? 

gobluem

July 21st, 2018 at 6:07 PM ^

I have been brewing for 14 years. Started out extract, now I do all grain. I do BIAB, although I mash in my cooler. Holds mash temps well and super easy to clean. 

 

I have a great Wild Rice ESB, a Two Hearted "Lite" clone, that's 4.5% instead of 7% like the real thing, and a maple brown ale going right now. And a porter that is ready to be bottled. 

 

I mostly brew hoppy session beers, but do a couple browns/porters for the winter months. And I am planning on doing my first kettle sours in the next month or two. A berliner weiss and a sour brown with some montmorency cherries

 

 

 

tsabesi

July 22nd, 2018 at 2:11 AM ^

It's definitely not ideal but I've had pretty good results with a brew in bag type setup for all grain brewing if you want to dabble before investing. My OG and conversion % have lined up consistently with expected targets for the recipe, so I'm getting appropriate recovery in the lauter phase.

MIGHTYMOJO91

July 22nd, 2018 at 5:59 AM ^

Brewed a few batches about 2 years ago. The last batch was Toasted Coconut Cream Ale also. Turned out pretty decent. Started out with a basic starter kit from a local homebrew store and added a few upgrades later, nothing real fancy. Pretty cool to brew and drink your own beer. Have since given my setup to a coworker and regret it. 

TU-UM-Owlverine

July 23rd, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

I've been brewing for about 3 years now, and if be up for switching to kegging, too - mainly the cost that's been keeping me from doing so. Still mainly doing extract, 5G per batch. Loved AiH when I was in Michigan, but moved to DC, and shipping would be insane. Would love to get a spectrometer for OG/FG readings. Maybe that's what I request for Chanukah?

Just made an Oberon clone, has a week left to go in bottles before I share with friends, co-workers, and homebrew club. Favorite brews so far are a wheatwine and a weizenbock. Missions are to perfect a chocolate stout and to make a sweet potato fall beer.