Archive for the ‘General Brew Stuff’ Category

Another Article About the Homebrew Club and Hop Dogma

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Your Half Moon Brewer takes up his usual spot at that bar

Thanks to the Half Moon Bay Patch for posting this great write-up of the club! We’ve already received lots of emails from new prospective members around the area! Should be a full house on the 14th! Check out the article here.

Homebrew Club and New Breweries in the News

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Just a couple of guys having a brew… no big whoop.

Homebrew club meeting next week! Hope to see you guys there! In other news, the HMB Review did a nice article about Dan and Ethan’s Hop Dogma and the newly opened Hwy 1 brewing company! Check it out!

New Events Calendar

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Calendar_Image_Jul_s640x427Since I’ve taken to helping out coordinate messaging and events for the club, I decided I’d put up an event calendar here on the site. The link to the calendar is located to the right side of the homepage as both a button and under the “Pages” navigation. Currently I have listed all the club meeting dates but also plan to buff it out out with other events going on around the area such as beer fests, special events at local pubs and breweries and anything extracurricular that the club might be hosting or going to. Cheers!

Yeah, So I’ve Been Busy…

Friday, January 18th, 2013

They have just a few beers on tap at Perrin Brewing

They have just a few beers on tap at Perrin Brewing

The last few months have been hectic to say the least and had not left much free time for brewing. However, the hullabaloo has calmed down and I’ve finally been able to get in there and brew up a backstock of beers! Not the least of which is an old favorite of mine based on the “Fire in the Hole” recipe from MoreBeer. This is an oak-aged Irish red ale that’s heavy on the hops, but due to the grain bill and oak, produces a very balanced brew. Brewing with oak and barrel aging has been the rage for a while now, I know. I’ve done several oak-aged brews in the past and didn’t think all that much about them, just considering it another flavor to play with along with the hops and grain. Now, you can score French oak, American Oak, light toast, dark toast, you name it. I hope to experiment further with this, but have been a bit wary, as adding oak to any beer really alters my idea of how and when to drink it. To me, it almost becomes an after-diner beverage, or something to have along with a fat steak.

I’ve been up to a few other things as well, including visiting Michigan and catching up on several new breweries there… again. These include, Perrin Brewing Company in Comstock and The rebirth of the Grand Rapids Brewing Company in downtown Grand Rapids. It’s actually kind of nuts how fast and often new breweries are popping up in this region. I was also able to visit several of the breweries already established there that I also love. This includes Hop Cat, Harmony Brewing, Brewery Vivant, Schmohz, and scored a tour of the brewing facility at New Holland Brewing Company, which I’ll hopefully have the time to write up later.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Hopefully have some more interesting things to say in the coming weeks including a new brewery here on the Coastside, Highway 1 Brewing Co, opening next month! Happy brewing everyone!

Who’s Up For a Presidential Brew?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Beer has long been at the nexus of politics and the common people. You could make a pretty good argument that the American Revolution wouldn’t have got off to the start that it did had a few of the founding fathers not been communing down at the pub all those years ago. It should, therefore, be no surprise that our modern presidents enjoy a beer or two from time to time. It’s another thing entirely for a president to set up a brewery in the White House. And now, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we now know what President Obama’s been brewing! In these polarizing times, perhaps we can agree on one thing – Beer is good for America!

Now that craft beer is showing up in cans, let us reexamine the role of the koozy.

Friday, September 14th, 2012

I dare say, these are some nice koozies. Now I know, I know… you really shouldn’t drink craft beer out of the can, you should pour it in a glass and let it open up, blah blah blah. I think we can all agree that when you’re tailgating in the parking lot before the Further concert, you may not have that kind of time, or for that matter, you may not be trustworthy with glass considering your… surroundings. Click on the Duff koozies for a list of pretty killer koozies for you to consider. Remember folks, your koozy says a lot about you. Choose wisely.

Final Thoughts on the New Rig

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Having now completed a whopping two brews on the Black Mamba, I have to say, I am thrilled at how well this turned out. There are a few tidbits that I need to still iron out. The false bottom still allows for some grain to get through when transferring. I plan to use a small piece of stainless braid around the dip tube to get rid of that issue. And while I figured out a clever way to keep my sight gauge from spewing boiling hot wort into the air, it’s not a terribly sexy solution (see below).

Turns out standard painters tape does the job

Other than that, I have no complaints. The heat exchanger turns out to be rather easy to clean and maintain by simply back flushing with Star San, then running a bit of boiling water through it before use. Getting the flow right on the sparge arm actually is pretty easy as well. The Loc Line was definitely the right coice for that job. It’s incredibly easy to pop on and off for cleaning and gets right out of the way when I’m stirring the mash in. After a few false starts with the pumps, I seem to have those figured out as well, though they still give me a fit every once in a while.

My brew day clocked in at just over 4 hours again, so I’m guessing that’s where it will stay. That alone makes the whole adventure of building this thing worth the effort. I’m still compiling my actual parts list, which differed a bit from what I thought I’d be doing originally, but once I get that together, I’ll publish it out. Until then, happy brewing everyone!

Sparge action!

This. Thing. ROCKS! -or- First Brew on the Black Mamba

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Game ON!

When I was putting this rig together, I figured I’d get a bit of time saving by not having to rely on gravity to move liquids around and I knew the plate chiller would be a big help as well. I checked my watch from the moment I turned on the water to fill the hot liquor tank and checked it again when I pumped the last bit out of my boil kettle. I thought I had got it wrong because It was coming in at just a fraction over 4 hours. Another brewer friend of mine was over and confirmed that it was indeed only a for hour brew day with about 20 minutes of cleanup before we started and about 15 or so after we finished (I had already cleaned up the mash tun during the boil phase). My BEST time for all that with my old ghetto rig was 5h 20m. And that’s when Mrs. Brewer and the kids were out of town. So between the pumps and my new plate chiller, I knocked a full hour off my brew day!

I went with with a few extras on this journey. One of the nicest conveniences are the two sight gauges on the HLT and Boil kettle. HOWEVER, I have discovered that I get boil over out of the BK gauge, so I’m going to have to buy a solid cap for that one. Basically, I’ll use it with the open cap while filling it from the Mash Tun, but then cap it off so it won’t be able to boil out after I start the burner.

I’m going to add a little bracket to hold the water filter. I just didn’t know quite where to put it on this first run-through. Note the high-tech hose holder I created for keeping the water line in the kettle!

When thinking how I wanted to maintain temperature in the mash tun, I knew the stainless kettles were notorious for loosing heat. The guy at the beer store tried to convince me that using a HERMS coil in the HLT, then doing a constant recirculation for the hour was the only way to do it right. I didn’t buy it. So I picked up a water heater blanket, cut it to size, then taped off the top and bottom to keep the loose fiberglass out of the brew. I took a measurement after dough-in and one after. I hit 154 at dough-in and below is the pic of that temp after an hour. I did use 3 piece of aluminum foil on the top, just to get that little extra insulation.


I forgot to take a pic of the sparge arm in action, so I snapped one of it after clean-up. The Loc-Line worked brilliantly! I love the adjustability of it, both for hight above the grain bed and the way I can direct each nozzle to widen the spray area.

I picked up a DudaDiesel 30 plate chiller from Amazon for $88 and I was surprised at how well it performed! I was able to chill all 10 gallons down to 70 degrees in just under 15 minutes. This was a MASIVE time savings. My old wort chiller took well over 30 minutes to get the wort down that low and then I still had to gravity feed it into my fermenters. No more of that nonsense!

Needless to say, I’m thrilled with how this turned out! I brewed a Black IPA, which is fermenting away in my fridge as we speak. I’ll publish a parts list and plans in my next post, but I think if I had started from nothing, this looks like about a $1500 build, give or take. You could get that under $1000 if you picked up some used kegs instead of the Winware kettles, But I wanted this just a bit more posh. 😉