February 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Brew Kettle Step 1

Okay, this is for everyone that ever did anything with the thought "this is going to go great because I am going to do it right!" and after a few beers and a little impatience looked at what he created and said "it'll work."

This is my first few steps on creating my brew kettle, if you looked at the previous post on my search for a new brew kettle and saw the link to this cool "how to" on turning a keg into a kettle, you would see that the steps seem easy. Drill three holes, cut the top off, drill another hole and you are done. Well this is my side of the story:

First off I thought I could get away without buying the step drill bit because those things are expensive and I ended up making some funky cuts in the top of the keg and getting no where.

So I went ahead and bought the step drill bit ($27), but things could be worse because it does seem pretty useful.

Once I had this new bit I could drill the three holes in the top of the keg and start to cut the top of the keg off. However, cutting between two holes cost me three blades. Now I had this coming because I am a very tight individual and I decided to go bargain on the blades. But nonetheless, there is a lesson, kegs are TOUGH stuff, be prepared if you are going to try and do this kid of cutting.

Now after two nights of going at this thing in my PJ's (because I am a strange person) in my basement with my wife and dog both hating me, I made it though!

I am going to do somethings this weekend to get this into better shape, but in the end, I made good progress on a project that is much harder than I would have EVER anticipated. The next steps are going to be to drill the holes for the ball valve and for the thermometer and to grind down the edges on the cut off top and the holes.

I am happy where this is going because this is one hell of a brew kettle and its going to be rough, but it's going to be capable of easily brewing 10 gallon batches when all is said and done.

More to come...


Friday, February 23, 2007

New tools in the mix

It's been a long lag for me on the brewing and the reason is that I have wanted to get a new brew kettle. I was at a bit of a crossroads with where to go. The way I was seeing it is that I could get a stock pot a little bigger than the one I have now (the one I have now is about 24qts or 23L) because I don't have the room to brew at the size I should be.

So I started looking and saw that I could get a 32-35qt (30-33L) stock pot for around $30-$40 on eBay with shipping. However, my concern was that I would get this stock pot at the 32qt and 6 months down the line I would want a bigger one to start with larger batches. So I also saw a 60qt and 80qt (57L and 76L) stock pot for just under $100 plus shipping on eBay as well and started to think if I should just put the money down and do it right.

Well last night my BYO came and like a sign from the beer gods there was an article about turning your pot into a brew kettle! This was great because after reading Grove's blog entry about his new brew pot a few months back I was totally inspired. I wanted the fancy temp gage and spout at the bottom. No more pouring my beer into the fermentor (I know it's bad but at that point I am always ready to get the process into the next stage).

So I just called Galeville Grocery and they will sell me a used keg for $10!!! I got a hold of my little brother and he is going to torch open the top for me and with the great writing in the BYO I should be all set to go! I am going to have to order the temp gage but I think I can get the ball valve from Home Depot and save myself a few bucks (I know I am a very cheap person).

This seems like a great compromise, I get the size of a big kettle with the money I spend going towards making the brew kettle everything I want it to be. I will be sure to make a detailed entry on how it goes!

Cool instructions on how to DIY this here...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Brew Podcasts

So since I have a little bit of lag time between brew batches and I usually spend that time reading about beer, checking brew blogs, listening to brew podcasts and oh yea, drinking beer, I figured I would start to make some posts about some of the sources of brewing information I find.

A while back I got a recommendation (Grove) to check out a great resource called Basic Brewing where you can get videos on beginning brewing and advanced all-grain brewing. They also have a podcast hosted by Basic Brewing called Basic Brewing Radio hosted by James Spencer.

I am a real podcast buff, so this is coming from an objective source, but this is a very good podcast. From the homebrewers perspective, the topics are interesting and good for anyone to follow with interest. It does not matter if the subject is slightly above or below your brewing level, because the interviews are done well and after all the subject is beer, it's fun for all.

From the prospective of a podcast listener, this is a great set up. James has a consistent format that allows the audience to know what to expect. Best yet, he responds to emails. I shot him an email out about my OG missing its target and I received a response later that day! To me, that's really cool.

Anyway, this is great stuff. If you are a iPod guy (like myself) just click on the iTunes link next to one of the episodes and subscribe.

Hope this was helpful, cheers!

Monday, February 05, 2007

My New Brew Lit

Last week I started looking at the whole "how do you create your own brew recipes?" introspection. After consulting my current brew literature I came to the conclusion that I had officially outgrown my current library of "The Joy of Home Brewing" (still a classic and a great reference) and "Homebrew for Dummies."

I posted something up on the Beer Advocate forums asking for some recommendation on reference material for the brewer looking to start making his/her own versions of classic styles. There were about 10 responses and all of them agreed on one thing; the Ray Daniels book "Designing Great Beers" was the way to go.

So I went ahead and ordered a used copy from Amazon (yes I am cheap, I am using blogger too) to see for myself. I just got started on it, but I was skimming around on it and this looks like a legit source for brew info. I will be referencing it in the future so I thought I would start with the endorsement of the book.

Happy brewing!