$20 false bottom

I use the very popular Winco 40qt aluminum kettle as my boil kettle, and I recently made an affordable false bottom.  It turns out that this pizza pan is a perfect fit inside of the kettle. Adding 3-4″ stainless steel bolts and 6 nuts for feet completes it! It’s honestly about a 5-minute project. There is about 1/16 of an inch of a gap between the false bottom and the kettle wall.

Even if you don’t have my specific pot, looking for a pizza pan can easily provide you with a simple base for a false bottom.

UPDATE

After I posted this it was pointed out that I was only looking at this as a false bottom for my personal brewing style – BIAB. This won’t work for people who want to mash solely with this as a filter (i.e mash tun / 3 vessel.) This is designed to keep the bag and grains off of my heating elements and allow me to adjust the mash temp easily mid-mash. I bet that there are actually pizza pans out there that have finer holes, or you could buy one with no holes and drill it yourself.

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Check your ball valve!

(^ gross, isn’t it?)

I’ve read a few things on reddit and homebrewtalk about brulosophers post. He had a friend who had a long series of bad batches and they ultimately pinned it down to a lot of gunk in his ball valve. There was even a few photos showing all of the gore.

Welp, it’s been a bit since I read that and I finally got around to checking my valve. Yep – mine was dirty.  I’ve removed it, boiled it, and it’s squeaky clean again. There are a lot of little bits and bobs that you need to sanitize in the brewing process. Finding and fixing process flaws like this are stuff that makes us all better, and ultimately makes our beer better.

In the future we need to recirc hot water more frequently, recirc some hot cleaner more frequently, and break down the valve and inspect it more often.

 

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DIY Black Iron Pipe Draft Tower

I saw this draught tower on pinterest and I knew I HAD to build one.

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It totally matches my style in almost every way. Black, industrial, rugged. Did I mention that BEER COMES OUT OF IT?!? They are selling them on etsy for $285 with faucets and glycol lines, but I’m the kind of guy who never wants to spend money buying something I could conceivably build it myself, so I started pricing out pieces from amazon. You can see on the tee that it’s a 2″ tee, so I designed everything else with 2″ black iron pipe.

I haven’t found prices to be significantly better at HD or Lowes vs amazon, and I like being able to get it all from one place as opposed to a bunch of different vendors so I spec’d out the first round at amazon
Continue reading DIY Black Iron Pipe Draft Tower

DIY Spunding Valve – one-stop parts shopping on amazon

Spunding valves are an interesting little tool for brewers that let you control the pressure in your fermenting vessel (almost always a keg for homebrewers) They are an adjustable blow off valve that will release at or above a certain pressure point. The benefits of using one  are primarily that you can end up with carbonated beer straight out of the fermenter, and that they can allow increased fermentation temps (specifically in lagers) with fewer off-flavors. I don’t know if I have seen any proof of the second point, but I have certainly read it often.

The auxilliary thing I like about having a pressurized keg that is still fermenting is that it is VERY easy to take a sanitary sample using a picnic faucet, and there is essentially zero chance of O2 entering the keg, as the gas pressure is far more reliable than an airlock (that may require topping off.)

One down side to spunding valves is that some yeasts put out off-flavors in their gas, especially early into fermentation. If you’ve ever smelled cabbage or eggs coming out of a vigorous ferment you can see how disconcerting that could be coming off of a pint glass.  Most commercial breweries vent off any natural carbonation so that they can inject the beer with pure co2 at bottling, and some people say that this gives a cleaner taste.

Continue reading DIY Spunding Valve – one-stop parts shopping on amazon

Batch #28 – ApfelWine

Batch# 28 – ApfelWine (AKA apfelwein)

Date Brew:12/04/2014 Rack:0/00/0000 Bottle:0/00/0000
Days 0 0 0

Recipe:

Here is EdWort’s recipe. It’s also mentioned here in popular mechanics?!

I don’t know much about how this recipe tastes, but I know that the forums seem to be going insane over it. The only way to find out is to brew some! It’s a pretty cheap and super easy recipe, so here goes nothing!

Goals:

Put something in the fermenter on a day that we were doing a double-batch bottle and some other housekeeping.

Continue reading Batch #28 – ApfelWine

Batch #27 – Beer, Wheat

Batch# 27 – American Wheat Beer

This is a mysterious brew.  Very little is known about its origins.  It appears to have been brewed at Chris’s home sometime in November.  It is now in bottles with yellow caps.  It contains wheat.

As far as we can remember, it was an extract kit Ross got online in some kind of sweet deal and contained about two ingredients.  I think we brewed it after a minor hiatus as an easy one to get back into the swing of things.

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Finally bottled it in early January and gave it a taste.  Wasn’t bad!  Funny that sometimes the brews for which you don’t plan, worry, strategize,  or expect great things can be the ones that turn out OK.  Of course, we know the inverse can also be true.

We’ll have to see how this matures a bit, but this could be a good one to sit on until spring arrives.