Monthly Archives: March 2013

temp controller full width

STC-1000 Temperature Controller Build

Well, I have read that when I bend down my freezer in my new small fridge as part of my kegerator conversion that the fridge will freeze everything up as all the cooling for the fridge is via the freezer bottom plate (that will get bent down).

This necessitated an external thermostat  so instead of buying a digital Johnson Controls A419 at $75 or $80  I went with a home made thermostat based on a $20 digital controller, a STC-1000.  This is sold off of ebay from China and a common homebrew DIY item.

The build was not too difficult, it required a ‘project box’ (from Radio Shack) for $7, and a 8ft power cord ($8).  I made mine slightly different than most people who do this, I only wanted cooling, so I did not install a plug in socket, and instead just used the female end of the extension cord that I used for the power plug-in.  Worked well!

temp controller face cutout

temp controller making up connections temp controller pulling cables finished temp controller Wire Layout Wiring Diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video with a similar setup, he uses a outlet and heating on his though – my setup was a bit easier.

Renewed Blog

I apparently blew up my blog trying to load a picture app at www.icrafthomebrew.com/pics/ and my latest backup didn’t restore properly… I guess I will manually backup myself weekly from now on.

I do have my backup from several weeks ago on my old website, so I stuck with that.  I think I might have only lost 1 or 2 posts, so not a HUGE mistake, something I’ll learn from.

 

Prost!

Homemade Hop Candy

finished hop candyAfter seeing a post in /r/homebrewing subreddit a few days ago about homemade hop candy, I thought it was a great way to use up some ‘lose’ hops and see if there is a difference between the varieties in the candy.
My first batch tonight was with cascade hops, a slight bitterness that follows once the sweetness wears off the candy.

Near Boil Over

Near Boil Over

2.5 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup hop tea

  • I steeped 1/2 oz of Cascade hop pellets with 1.5 cups near boiling water in a french press for about 15 minutes
  • Poured the remaining 1 cup of hop tea in a pot with the sugar and corn syrup
  • Stirred slightly just to mix everything up
  • Attached my candy thermometer
  • Brought up to 300F without stirring.
  • Removed pot from heat and poured onto parchment paper over cookie sheets
  • After a few minutes started to work the hardening candy with a buttered flat metal utensil.

hop candy piecesSome things to do differently next time:

  1. Take the candy off the heat JUST before 300F, the temp shot through 300F in a few seconds
  2. Use our large slab of marble
  3. Buy white cotton gloves to use to work the candy with
  4. cut into chunks and roll into balls by hand
  5. Commercial hop oil

Wine Fermentation Update March 2013

Today my wine partner and I sampled our Rose Hip Wine and Rhubarb wine that we put together back in November. Both should be ready to bottle, and are with the exception of the Rhubarb being somewhat cloudy still. I will rack that over and let it settle for a few weeks and if there is no improvement I may try something else (bentonite or sparkalloid maybe?) in the fining department.

The Rose Hip Wine was a slight yellow color, clear, and tasted very dry like a very tart dry white wine. It measured out at 10B (down from an estimated 24B) so about 13.1% ABV.
The Rhubarb wine was a cloudy pink, still with a sweet smell and a touch too sweet. The problem here is that it measured out at 14B, started at 29B and is now around 14.7% ABV I believe my 71B yeast crapped out. I added just a touch too much sugar. A good note for my future batches with 71B – get to around 27 – 28B for a good level.

So, we’ve decided to blend these two, instead of back sweetening one, and pitching champagne yeast into the other. We tried a sample blended and it wasn’t very bad at all. I’m not totally happy, but for my first foray into wine making, not too bad.

Stay tuned, I’ll take some pictures before / after my clearing attempts with the Rhubarb wine, and also of the blending and of course my first wine bottling experience. Hope to be at that point in about one month.

Cherry Mead

cherrymead_March_2013After seeing the 100% Cherry Juice being sold at Trader Joe’s I was intrigued about seeing if I could pull off a Cherry Mead without it tasting like cough syrup. So, I bought two 1 qt jars and picked up their 100% tart Cherry Juice (1 qt) as well. Looking back I would have just gone all tart cherry juice to reduce the chance of the cough syrup effect I think. But here I am anyways.
For my 1 gallon recipe I mixed the 3 one quart jars and added honey (from Costco) to get to 1.100 SG (25 Brix).  It was about 1 lbs of honey give or take.

Actually, let me work through the calculation:
The juice was 1.060 (15 B)
Honey is somewhere around 42 points / pound / gallon (ppg)
So to get 1.100 I needed 40 more points for my gallon
This means I used 40 points / 42 ppg to give me .95 pounds of honey used.

The rest of the ingredients:
1/8 tsp DAP
1/8 tsp Yeast Energizer
3 g of 71B-1122 Lavlin Narbonne
4.5g of Go-Ferm to rehydrate the yeast at 95F

I had visible fermentation in about 4 hours
After 1 day SG was 24B
After 2 days 21B
After 3 days 18B

Added 1/16 tsp Yeast Energizer & 1/16 tsp DAP at 3 days. Should have added after day 2 at 21B instead of 18B