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Showing posts from August, 2015

Review and Walkthrough: Adventures in Homebrewing Gingerbread Brown Recipe Kit

Adventures in Homebrewing (AIH) is a brewing supply store located in Southeast Michigan.  They offer a full range of homebrewing products, including equipment and ingredients.  I learned about them relatively recently through sales they were doing that the brewing bargain site Homebrew Finds shared.  I decided to check out their Gingerbread Brown Ale kit and their Peanut Butter Conspiracy Stout kit, as both were on sale at the time (priced around $27 each).

AIH shipped the kits very quickly.  I had them only a few days after I ordered them.  They were packaged well and made the trip without harm.  Since it's the summer, I opted for dry yeast with these as there was a good chance that standard yeast packets or tubes would get too warm in shipping.

Ingredient Kit Packaging
The kit arrives in a small box, imprinted with the AIH logo and slogan "I would walk the plank for a homebrew" in back.



The ingredients come sealed in plastic bags, along with the brewing instructions.  (…

How to Keep Your Wort from Boiling Over and Making a Mess

Some of my earliest attempts at home brewing would have made good viral YouTube videos.  I've transferred wort into a fermenter equipped with a spigot, only to find the spigot was open.  I've tried to get the last of a beer into the bottle from the bottling bucket, to see it overflow and end up on the floor.  I've nearly pulled a kettle of boiling-hot wort onto the floor trying to hook up the wort chiller.  Fortunately, I've not had any serious messes or a need to dial 911 yet...

One issue I struggled with a lot is boil-over.  When I made smaller batches, my kettle was just barely larger than the batch I was brewing.  More than a little foam meant that I ran a huge risk of boil-over.  A few times, when I stopped watching the boil to double-check a measurement or see what I needed to add next, foam crept over the sides of the kettle and made a mess.  Here are all the ways you can prevent boil-over in your next batch of homebrew:

Larger Kettles:  If your situation is like…

Belgian Abbey Single Recipe and Notes

I recently brewed a Belgian Dubbel and my third or fourth Belgian Tripel, so it seemed worthwhile to brew a Belgian table beer - sometimes referred to here in the States as a Belgian Single.  The Belgian "Single" style is a lighter, more sessionable style than the Tripel or Quadrupel, due to its lower alcohol content.  But like the other more-common Belgian styles, it's got plenty of flavor and complexity.

I found this recipe on the E.C. Kraus brewing supply site and decided to make it.  It was apparently supplied to them by David Ackley, a "beer writer, brewer, and self-described 'craft beer crusader'" who has a certificate in brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, so it ought to be a good recipe.

I altered the original recipe, which called for Light DME and Wyeast 1762, to this:

3 pounds of Extra Light DME (early addition)3 pounds of Extra Light DME (late addition)1 pound of Dingeman's biscuit malt0.5 pounds of Dingeman's aromat…

The Grainfather - Test Run

In the last post in this series, I showed you the unboxing and assembly of the Grainfather, an all-grain brewing system (pictured at left).  For the most part the assembly is pretty easy to figure out and follow from the instructions provided.
Today, I decided that I wanted to test the Grainfather out using nothing more than cleaning solution and ordinary water.  I didn't want to risk a batch of ingredients to a brewing device I'd never used before. This proved to be a wise move.
Initial Water Test and Cleaning
According to the instruction manual, the Grainfather should cleaned before its first real use.  I've read reviews online where people have tried to brew with it before doing this cleaning step, and their beers tasted terrible.  The manufacturer recommends their own CIP (Clean in Place) solution but says that PBW (Powdered Brewer's Wash) is a good substitute.
I filled the Grainfather with a full 8-gallon load of water and added four ounces of PBW to it.  I then a…

Homebrew Finds - Save Money While Brewing

Months ago, I encountered the Homebrew Finds blog.  It's become a site that I check daily.  The blog provides information about (and links to) low prices on brewing equipment, beer ingredients, books about brewing, and other related items.  Through the information it provides, I've been able to score big discounts on hops pellets, ingredient kits, and pieces of equipment I wanted.

Homebrew Finds is mostly a deal site, but it's more than that.  You'll find reviews of equipment, tutorials on brewing techniques (like rehydrating yeast), and DIY equipment like magnetic stirrers.  You'll see tips and tricks, too.
Check it out the next time you're surfing the web!



Lowering Gluten and Chill Haze with White Labs Clarity Ferm

Recently, I brewed a Belgian Tripel. I was very careful during the brewing process to chill the beer as quickly as possible using my stainless steel wort chiller and cold/ice water.  The chill process did take much longer than usual (approximately an hour) but was as fast as I could make it.  When I've taken samples of the beer to measure its gravity, the samples have been unusually cloudy.  This is decreasing over time, but slowly.

I read about White Labs Clarity Ferm and decided it was worth a shot.  I should note that this enzyme is supposed to be added at the same time yeast is pitched, not at the 3.5-week fermentation and conditioning mark where I'll be using it.  Still, there is evidence to suggest that it will help clarify the beer even when used in a less-than-optimal manner.

Chris Colby of the Beer and Wine Journal site did an experiment with Clarity Ferm in 2014, using the manufacturer's directions.  He brewed multiple 5-gallon batches of the same two beers, then…

The Grainfather - Initial Impressions

Today I received The Grainfather, a brewing system I backed on Kickstarter some time ago.  Tonight, I'm going to share my initial impressions based on unboxing and assembling the the unit.  When I've had time to clean it and actually use it, I'll share more.

The Grainfather arrives in a large box.  The box filled most of the passenger seat in my 2002 Mustang.  I had to slide the seat back as far as it would go and tilt the back of the seat down as far as it would go to hold it there.

The box took a little minor damage in shipping, but was otherwise intact.  Inside, I found another box.

Inside that, the good stuff was finally revealed...

Underneath the spacer was the Grainfather unit itself, wrapped in lots of plastic.


It was right here that I hit my first point of confusion with the Grainfather assembly process.  In the image above, you see a yellow plastic insert at the bottom of the kettle.  This is wedged into the kettle so firmly that at first I wondered if it was sup…

How to Properly Prime a Beer with Candi Syrup

I have a Belgian Dubbel in the fermenter that will need to be bottled soon.  I wondered if Belgian Candi Syrup could be used as the priming sugar.  As it turns out, you can do that.  A document on the Simplicity Candi Syrup web site explains now.

You need to know two things about your beer in order to do this properly.  First, what volume of CO2 do you want in the beer?  You can determine this from the style.  My Dubbel will want something in the range of 2.3 to 2.9 Volumes.  Next, what is the volume of beer you're carbonating?  In my case, this is a 2.5 gallon batch.

On the Simplicity Candi Syrup web site, they offer an instruction document for carbonating beer with Candi Syrup.  The information below is derived from that document.

CO2 (Volumes)Grams of Candi Syrup per Gallon222.472.124.662.226.842.329.032.431.212.533.42.635.582.737.772.839.952.942.14344.32
I want to carbonate my 2.5 gallon batch of Dubbel to approximately 2.5-2.6 volumes of CO2,  In the chart above, that means …