Monday, May 31, 2010

Chest Freezer Kegerator Conversion

I started off with purchasing a chest freezer from Lowe's, it was $169 I decided not to buy a used one off of craigslist because I really did not want to buy it, put in a bunch of work and then find out later that it was on its last legs and go out in a month. There was not a huge difference in price from craigslist either about the cheapest I could find was 100$ and it was worth the $70 extra to know it would not break as soon as I got it home. The first thing I did was take the old thermostat out and replaced it with a refrigerator thermostat that I bought from an appliance store for $20. I decided not to do the traditional Johnson Controls conversion because there would be no hole to drill or no wire to drape over the side of the freezer like the Johnson Controls method. I removed the existing thermostat taking the sensor out through a hole that was sealed with a silly putty like substance and kept the sensor portion thermally isolated (left). The thermostat can be seen on the right.
The next step was to build a collar for the tap handle to come out of. The freezer is just tall enough to fit a Cornelius keg in and I could have probably fit it in there but it would have been crowded and it would be difficult to get the kegs in and out. I measured the outside dimensions of the refrigerator and build a frame to match. After which I primered, painted, and drilled a 1-1/8" hole for the tap handle. I spaced it evenly so that eventually I can expand to a 5 tap system with as many kegs of delicious home brew stored inside.
The semi-finished product can be seen here with weight on top to hold the glue between the collar and the lid down while it dries.

A transfer of Wit

Today I transferred my wit to secondary in a keg. I added the zest of one orange and 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed coriander into the keg to "dry spice" the secondary. This is the first time I have used a Cornelius keg to brew beer. The process is very simple. Transfer to keg, using same method as if it was a 5 gallon glass carboy (seen left). After the transfer is made to the secondary put the lid on and pressurize to 30 psi. Close the supply line and bleed the air out of the top. Repeat this process 3 times to get all of the oxygen out of the keg. At this point there are two options. If you are going to refrigerate leave the keg pressurized on the bottle at 30 psi and put it all in the refrigerator. If you are not going to refrigerate immediately throw 30 psi on and disconnect from the bottle store in a calm location. I have not finished my kegerator so I will be doing the latter. I am in the process of doing a write up on my chest freezer to kegerator conversion. So check back soon for that write up.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kegging System

I bought my first kegging system yesterday. Not what you would call an inexpensive investment but in the long run it will save many hours of cleaning bottles and I will be able to drink my beer sooner. I think the first batch I will keg in this is Rapist's Wit

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Brewing TV

I found this great resource from the guys at the popular home brew supplier Northern Brewer. They travel around the country and visit home brewers and small professional breweries and view their setups. They have several videos and it looks like they will continue this vidcast. The videos are of high production value and very interesting and informative.

Hop Reference Chart

My friend Evan over at I Like Cold Beverages posted this useful chart that references Hops and their alpha acids and essential oils for a wide variety of strains from Zeke Shore.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rapist's Wit

The Beers name is from a line in Dumb and Dumber. Harry and Lloyd are about to talk to Mary explaining that they returned her suitcase. Lloyd wants Harry to go talk him up to her saying, "Wait a second, I have an idea. You go over and introduce yourself. That way you can build me up so when I come along I won't have to brag about myself. Tell her I'm good-looking and I'm rich and I have a rapist's wit."

  • 7 lbs Wheat Extract
  • 2 oz Mt. Hood hops (4.6% alpha-acid, whole leaf)
  • White Labs Belgian Wit Ale Yeast
  • 1 lb. Flaked Wheat
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander
  • Zests of 2 large oranges
On Friday May 21st I purchased the majority of the ingredients through Main Street Homebrew Supply Co. in Hillsboro, OR and began brewing when I got home.
Tap water in Hillsboro does not have a bad taste so I poured 3 gallons of water into the kettle and began to steep my grains (1 oz. Flaked Wheat).

I began heating the grains for the mash by pouring the grains in a nylon bag over the kettle so none was wasted. While the grain was heating I began preparing the orange zest and coriander stirring the oats around in the bag every few minutes.
The zest is colored part of a citrus fruit like an orange or lemon and has a very strong aroma which is desirable in brewing. Carefully removing the zest from the orange I was careful to minimize the amount of the white portion of the peel because it is bitter and will not give your beer a desirable taste. The image to the right shows the oranges after they have been zested and the resulting pulp. A before a before picture of the orange is shown for reference. Note: The zester is the pointed part of most cheese graters, the part you don't use for cheese.

I didn't have a sophisticated way to crush the coriander so I sanitized the cutting board and hammer and crushed it in a plastic bag(Shown Above)

Around the time I finished prepping the other ingredients the mash reached 180 degrees F. I removed the bag. When the mash began to boil I added 7 pounds of liquid wheat extract and stirred until dissolved. After it began to boil again I followed the following schedule:
Hops/Ingredients Schedule:

Quantity Ingredient Boiled for
1 oz. Mt. Hood Hops Entire 60 min. Boil
1 Tblsp. Crushed Coriander Last 20 min. of boil
1/2 oz. Mt. Hood Hops Last 15 min. of boil
2 (Large) Oranges Zests Last 10 min. of boil
1/2 oz. Mt. Hood Hops Last 5 min. of boil

After the completion of the hour boil the hops were strained (shown right) and sparged into a block of ice to drop the temperature to 80 degrees F. Once the wort reached 80 degrees
I pitched the White Labs Belgian Wit Ale Yeast and put the lid on the brewing bucket. I placed the bucket calm quiet closet and there is waits for transferring to secondary fermenter.