Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kegerator Omnibus

With my keggerator 95% done I thought I'd create an omnibus kegerator post to produce more google search results because most of my google search results come from the kegerator.

In part one of my kegerator post I detailed what parts I bought from midwest supply, and best buy to convert my Fridged Air BFPH44M4LM mini fridge into a Kegerator. This stage was mostly about buying the large parts.

In part two I covered filling kegs while maintaining a CO2 pressurized environment. This didn't have as much to do with my kegerator and assembly so much as what goes into the kegerator.

In part three things began to take shape as I modified the inside of the fridge and secured my equiptment. I had proof that my fridge could hold two two kegs and when they cooled I had two beers on picnic tap for the first time. This went on for a while until I recieved a tap tower for christmas.

In part four the heavy work happened. The hole for the tower was drilled, things were attached, and everything was cleaned up. This wasn't the end of this project but was a milestone on the path to whatever this minifridge becomes.

Now that I am done I can do a final tallying of costs.

Refridgerator +   $169
Kegging Setup +    259
Tap Tower +        179
Drip Tray +         30
Misc Exp +          20
Total =           $657

Not a bad cost total over 9 months, encompasing a few gifts and a little indulgance. Having Beer in kegs was a hit at thanksgiving at Kyle's. His cousin asked me for a keg of my beer. Kegging saves a lot of time vs. bottling.

The fridge works great and functions just as well. It's the realization of a college era dream to have beer on tap in a little home bar type area within my home. Someday when I have my own home I am going to have a nice little setup in my basement.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finished Keggerator

This is part three of the series - the final part.
So when I last posted on my Keggerator I was waiting to get a tap tower, which I've gotten, and I was using my picnic taps as my primary taps.

I got a tap tower for Christmas from my mother. It's a nice chromed tower with two Perlick 575 Taps. the tower came with hoses and 'universal couplers'. These might be universal for commercial kegs but they're not universal for corny kegs.

(Read more after the break.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Wet Hopped DIPA

Wet Hop DIPA

Appearance: Dark Golden/Copper, but tilting towards brown.

Aroma: HUGE hops upfront, sweet and wet captured in the beer. Wet and Citrus at once; the flower essence of centennial plays a huge roll.

Flavor: Creamy and rich malt body, with hops laid over it. The hops are prefect in their combination cascade playing off centennial and vice versa. The alcohol is well restrained and hidden under a huge huge hop flavor.

Mouth: Perfectly carbonated. The corn sugar addition likely prevented this from being too thick by keeping the final gravity restrained. The beer is satisfyingly wet while not feeling heavy or sugary, spot on.

Overall: This is seriously my best beer to date. I am giving it an A-/A. If I could change anything I would change the color to be a more appetizing yellow, and not an unappetizing brown. The aroma, flavor, and mouth feel are all spot on. I could drink a few of these and be drunk and happy. I'll be re-brewing this beer or a beer like this if I can get fresh hops again next year. As fresh hops become more available to hop headed home brewers I'll be keeping an eye on the Internet trying to buy fresh hops, otherwise I hope Sicilianos can come through for me again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: Scottish Wee Heavy Stout

Scottish Wee Heavy Stout

Appearance: Brown tinged edges, a light foam dissipates rather quickly into the dark body, light permeates the edges but not through the body at all. When held to the light you can see that this beer is a dark brown not a true black.

Aroma: Sweet and malty, no yeast or hops, no deep roasts, because I didn't use any. It smelled like when I was caramelizing the pale malt.

Flavor: Smooth Caramel, A touch of toasted sugars sitting on a biscuity base. The beer isn't strongly flavored but has a haunting toasted sugar flavor the follows the nose.

Mouth: The silky mouthfeel is perfect and accents the smooth flavors perfectly. The carbonation is a bit higher than I would want a stout but after letting it decant in my glass it was just right. The yeast and the residual sugars were nearly perfect.

Overall: This was a good stout, I don't know that I'd want a keg of it because it just didn't have that it, that wow factor. I am going to rate this a B because there was nothing wrong with it, there just wasn't enough right with it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ginger Rye Munich Saison

One beer I absolutely adored from Shorts was Ginger in the Rye. The flavor was delightfully bready with grain highlights and the ginger aged 3 years really gave the beer that subtle note to take it over the top. Shorts is re-brewing and re-releasing this in 6 packs soon but I wanted to brew a home brew inspired by it. I'm looking for interesting delightfully outside of the box things to brew at home to explore more flavors and styles.

The original brew is a munich wheat beer brewed with rye and fermented with the Weihenstephan strain. An account of the original brewing as well as a few details about the beer can be found here. A few Items are contained their to describe the beer and get me started "Rye Munich Weizen Ale with approximately 2 oz of fresh ginger per gallon and an ABV of approximately 7.0%" Rye, check, Munich malt, check, Wheat, check, Fresh Ginger, check, target abv, check. "I used the Weihenstephan yeast strain" yeast strain and an idea of the flavors it creates, check. "Toward the end of fermentation lots and lots of ginger was shredded and added to the fermenter." timing of the ginger addition, check. The beer is described on the trading card as "effervescent" approximate carbonation volume, check. All of that information is far from a clone recipe but close to a rough idea.

Because I am not trying to clone the beer but rather make an inspired by interpretation I am going to make this more in the mold of a spicy saison; "Ginger in the Fields" if it were to have a name. I started with a good base of Munich and combine it 6:5 with Pilsner malt to build a good grain base to convert the wheat/rye/Cara-Munich. I included strong doses of flaked wheat and ground rye malt in a 4:3 ratio. I evened the recipe out with a touch of Cara-Munich I to added color and depth to the malts. I wanted to go with hops that wouldn't be out of place in a Weizen so I decided that Saaz would be appropriate. This beer is going onto my yeast cake from my citra red saison so it should ferment well

(Read more after the break.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Galactic Centennial Citra Imperial Red Ale

Galactic Centennial Citra Imperial Red Ale

Nice deep amber to red. Head was giant with the caramelly malts, and carried a slight reddish tint to it. The lacing is fantastic and as I drink the beer it looks wonderful in the glass.


Hop forward as intended. It really smelled of straight forward hops. Could have used the dry hopping I put in the wrong beer though.

Bitter, sweet, hoppy. The hops were really really stronger than intended I think because of the lower boil volume. It was quite bitter throughout. The sweetness from the beer was there but was just assaulted by the bitterness of the hops.


Silky and imperial. The bitterness is coating and the beer is sticky it hangs around on the tongue.

Not Bad for a comedy of errors as far as brewing goes. On the college grading scale I'd label this as incomplete, I don't know what my red will taste like so I have to reserve judgement until I can compare. I like this beer as an imperial though, it packs a punch.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: Pumpkin Beer

Pumpkin Beer

Clear brown body with visible light carbonation, the head is whispy, not enough head retention to make the beer beautiful.

Strong pie spices and sweetness. The malt is layered in with the spices. No one spice dominates the others.

The flavor was in the nose, the beer was sweet with spices.

The beer fell flat for me here, it needed more body to carry the flavors. It was too dry and didn't stand up to the great and substantial flavors.

It was a good first attempt at a pumpkin beer.  I was happy with the flavor but I wanted more body. I would have added flaked wheat, oats, or Cara-pils. In the spirit of the old college try I am going to give this be a C, a good try but fatally flawed by a lack of substance.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Blogging in 2011; Blogging for 2012

2012...Happy New-year!
Well it's a new year for me and for my blog. It's been a fun six month. I've posted a few recipes, some reviews, and other things. My kegerator will be done soon. My souring project is on it's way.

2012 New Years Resolutions:
Brew a beer with lager yeast;
Blend a sour ale from my stock of sour ales, attempt blending;
Manufacture Tap Handles doe Atlas Ale, Howard Roark Red, and Golden One Pale Ale.
Work out a recipe for my house pale ale based on feedback from Kyle, Derek & others;
Work out a recipe for the house red ale based on my two past failures;
Attempt to make a few more small sours & quick sours (post incoming);
Brew and Keg at least 2 more beers;
Finish out my small brewery with a malt mill;
and, Keep detailed notes and measurements about my brewing.

(read more after the break.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Making Hard Cider

I'll admit I didn't know the first thing about making hard cider when I started and this post is not designed to be the end all be all in cider making. This post will detail what I did (right or wrong) to make cider. I wanted to make 1.5 gallons of hard cider so I got a 2 gallon bucket. The bucket is much like the larger fermentation buckets just shrunken. I found that there are a variety of guides online as well as books to buy on the topic of cider making. I looked over the internet guides and shunned the books, this is an experiment after all.

My original intentions of making cider were to try to make some cider shandy type drinks with a continental hopped pale ale. This isn't in the cards because of work picking up and other things I just want to brew more than a continental pale ale. I can live with this because I have seven bombers of hard cider now and cider won't be back in season in Michigan until next fall.

(Read more after the break.)