Category Archives: My Brewery

Homebrew Haul Part Duece

Other than my Flanders Red I brewed in mid June, I haven’t had a lot of time to do much on the homebrew front.  I can see now that summers living in Portland will be pretty busy, enjoying friends and family, and that is good.  Next year I’ll plan it out and do a bunch of brews leading up to summer, and then let them age a bit and bottle/keg when I can.
One thing I have done is buy some more brewing equipment.  My last post showed my first haul, a nice pickup from craigslist, see below:

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I got a new used propane burner, two glass 5 gallon carboys, two keggles with valves, a 5lb CO2 tank (full), and a local brew starter kit (I already brew of course, but I like having another fermenter and misc equipment).
That was great, but now even better, especially for the price of $15, a friend of my wifes and mine found a steal at a yard sale.  She called my wife to ask if she should get it, and neither of them knew exactly what they were or what to call them, but they knew it was homebrew related and likely a good bargain.  They were right.
I introduce to you my new, old banged up, pin lock corny kegs, along with the proper fittings and hoses, and a couple of cases of bottles, and even a Hoff Stevens coupler – that gives me some ideas:
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So now I am just short of a regulator to get back into kegging.  Of course, I do have a spare fridge I could use for the kegs, but we use that fridge for a lot of other things.  So my next item likely will be a used deep freezer that I can convert over.
My next brew day will be this Thursday, my son will be here from Houston, and my younger nephew (13 years old) is really excited to come over and learn about brewing.  We’ll be doing a light american wheat, something I can have ready for my brother-in-laws 50th birthday party in mid August.

Homebrew Haul

Always one to peruse craigslist for good deals, I finally came across one I couldn’t pass up.

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There were two keggles with drain valves, two 5 gallon glass carboys, one propane stove (not pictured), a five pound full CO2 bottle (not pictured), a long poorly bent but likely effective immersion chiller, and a “starter” kit from a local homebrew shop.
The starter kit had an auto siphon (which I need a new one for my sour beers), old school hydrometer, thermometer, 8 gallon bucket, and various other odds & ends.
I cannot stand glass carboys, so I’ll sell these and replace them with better bottles.

A New Brewery Toy

This is one of the essential items in a homebrewery.  At least one needs a analog scale, and really it is nice to have a digital one.  Mine is simple, 0-5000 grams (11 pounds) and shows values as low as 1g and 1/100th of an ounce.  I really don’t think it is accurate at 1/100th of an ounce, but should be fine for measuring the hops out in grams.  Of course it has one of the most important features, ‘tare’ which allows you to zero out the scale as you add your next weighed item on top of the scale, or to zero out the cup/dish that is holding your items.

My Cheap digital scale

I’ve been eyeballing my hops since I’ve started brewing again in Portland, and that is not a good way to go.

Next up for my brewery, as in what I ‘wish’ for:

Cheap corona grain mill

Storage devices for 8-10 specialty grains

Pack/case of mason/ball jars to store my washed yeast in (this will be a big money saver)

My next planned brew is an American Brown Ale, followed up by an American Wheat.  There is a competition locally for American Wheats, so I need to start brewing up some.

Converting A B/M/C Home Draft System

Well, after catching sight of a BIG bottle of Miller (6 liters actually, 1.5 gallons) at the local grocery, I immediately thought of the homebrew version, which is “tap a draft” (TAD).  I have been eyeballing TAD for a while as I know I will not lay down the fixed cost and space of korny kegs anytime soon.  I’ve used them before, before I went into semi-homebrew retirement and don’t see myself kegging in the next few years.

So, back to the story.

I went online to check some regular homebrew forums to see if anyone had tried using these things, or reusing these things for their homebrew.  I didn’t see much out there, and what little was being referenced had so little information.  I couldn’t tell if they could be re-used or not.

Well, I just had to try.  $20 later I was a proud owner of 1.5 gallons of Miller Light…and oh let me tell you.  I tasted it.

Ok, to use the ML home draft system, you simply pull a safety tab above the CO2 cartridge holder, twist it to puncture the cartridge, push down the ‘drunk proof’ safety latch and that lets you then pull down the tap.  Open it fully to prevent a glass of foam, and you have draft ML.

Tastes as dry and bland as I remember.  It is so lifeless and dry I get a ‘burn’ on my tongue from the carbonation.

Alright, thats not what this story is about.

I dumped the ML out in my sink as I don’t know the neighbors well, and they are likely not worthy of free beer..ha ha.  Seriously, I was starting a project and I had no time to round up a bunch of BMC drinkers, so I dumped.

After getting rid of the godforesaken “light American lager” I unscrewed the CO2 cartridge holder with a pair of pliers, breaking the plastic stops designed to prevent the drunk BMC drinker from doing this when there is still a half full CO2 cartridge.  No problem here though.  The first hurdle was made, as I was concerned this piece would not survive the pliers, but it easily did.  The cartridge holder will screw back into the tap handle.

Next it was ordering some 16Co2 cartridges online.  One of the pieces of information I did gather online was that these cartridges would work for my “cheap ass tap a draft” (CATAD) system.

I now plunked down another $13 for 10 16g cartridges from Midwest Supplies.  I also picked up 4, 38mm caps, as these are what go over the 6L, 3L and gallon jugs.  I would need these caps to condition my homebrew if this experiment worked.

Well, the cartridges made it in under 1 week.

Filling up the 6L bottle almost full with water for the test run, and success!!

Not only did the slightly smaller necked CO2 cartridge work, it didn’t leak and I had success pressing up the bottle.  I did get a slight leak it seemed from the over pressure port while filling, but it seems I still have CO2 pressure to fill the bottle.

Pictures below.  This project takes no talent, no brains, and about $33.  If you have access to any BMC drinkers who buy this thing, then you are home free!  I am now going to scrounge around and see if I can get some ‘used’ 6L bottles from the BMC crowd.  I’m sure they are plentiful, and will be cheap!

Update:  Having an issue with the CO2 leaking out of the relief valve when I first insert the CO2 cartridge.

Relief Valve I’m having some issues with…

Mash Tun Construction

Today I put together my 5 gallon ‘Home Depot’ water cooler mash tun.  Took a little bit of work but was done in a relatively short time.  I used the below video as my guide, and it worked well.

Once I got it together the leak cheak came out good, not a drop getting by!

Some pics:

Inside the new mashtun

No leaks at the 1/2 drain valve

Some of the parts used

Stainless Filter