Category Archives: Technique

Homebrew “disasters” #1

This post is to help beginner brewers understand what to be worried about and why.

When you start brewing it seems like everything is impossible and your beer is guaranteed to be ruined. In reality yeast is a pretty resilient creature and it’s very easy to make drinkable beer. Making amazing, world-class beer can take a few more levels of concern but one needs to know what to let slide and what to stress out about. The list is questions I have seen frequently from beginners and answers with explanations.

My airlock dried up / popped off – is it ruined?

Probably not, and there is almost no way to know without waiting.  The risk of something bad getting in to your beer is probably about the same as if you were to open up the lid and look at it mid-ferment. People do that all the time (for whatever reason.) The best thing to do is to replace the airlock, fill it up, wait it out and see at bottling time. IF it tastes bad at that point – toss it.

Is this infected?

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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.





How to find homebrew deals on craigslist

Craigslist can be a great place for finding deals on brewing gear if you know how to look. It can also be a bottomless pit of time-wasting if you don’t.

Craigslist Closeup

Find it.

Refine your search(es) try looking for the specific model number as opposed to the generic name. It’ll be a lot easier to see that there are no results than to sort through 4 pages of bad results.

Include misspellings and alternate terms. People often post from cell phones and don’t put much effort into spell checking. Try some misspellings and see what you can get. Kegorator and cornie are two that come to mind. Get creative.

Expand your number of CL sites. Is there a city an hour away that has its own CL site? Try there. Depending on how big of a purchase an even longer drive may be warranted. Check out this mac app that I wrote to do multi site Craigslist searches.

Save your searches as bookmarks. That way you can open them up a slew of bookmarks as tabs in chrome easily.

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Why we love split batches.


I love the concept of a split batch.

There’s something so precise and grown up about having a control. I also love knowing that the differences between two beers is solely due to that one little thing that you changed. I really enjoy being able to set up an experiment and see if any random “fact” that I read on the internet is repeatable. It also allows you to iterate faster with any given boil size when you are tweaking recipes.


We brew 5 gallon batches, some BIAB and some extract. We end up with around 4.5 after trub loss, and we can put half into either carboys or the often raved about 3 gallon corny kegs. Carboys are easier for primary (like yeast splits), but cornies are easier for secondary or when we add fruit, oak, or other solids.

You’ll definitely see a lot of split batches on here. Here’s a list of things we’ve wanted to test or still want to test. I’ll put links to the brew logs when we end up making them.

Split batch ideas

Oxygenation (maybe just a few bottles at bottling time would be best)
Light struck to different degrees
Different yeasts Notty vs US-05 in a dry stout
Fresh fruit / frozen Lager with Raspberries vs NoBerries
Different oak char levels
High / low ferm temps
Consistent / inconsistent ferm temps
Different dry hops
Different length boils
Low vs High ABV (by adding vodka at bottling)