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This page will mainly serve to host the statement below at an expected location:

Disclaimer

Where does my information come from?

Though I don’t expect others to really see this blog, the fact that it’s on the internet means I need to try to not misrepresent myself.  Pretty much every bit of knowledge here was gained from someone else’s experiments and teachings.  I don’t do any technical experimentation of my own (though I expect through continued brewing, I’ll gain some intuitions).  To date, most of the more advanced knowledge is from Jamil Zainesheff and John Palmer’s Brew Strong show on The Brewing Network and the Jamil Show, while I got my feet wet and occasionally still refer to How to Brew (by Palmer).  Additionally, the Mr. Malty website (also Jamil’s) has accounted for some other information.  Last, but not least I’ve gained a significant amount of knowledge from miscellaneous posts on homebrewtalk.com.  So much so, that I created an account to try to pay back that community with some of my collected knowledge (look for smallbatch if you’re interested).

Why am I creating this blog?

This series of blogs is to create a central repository of my gathered knowledge and narratives of my experiences.  This isn’t expected to be useful for anyone else, but I think it will be helpful for me to have this knowledge easily available and if someone else gets use from it, is icing.  With my history of similar projects, we’ll see how long it lasts.  I saw mention of a couple people starting blogs on Homebrewtalk.com and it seems that they quickly died.

Why a blog instead of some brewing software?

I do use BeerSmith (and you’ll see my recipes are generated from it) but it’s just not conducive to long narratives or accumulation of random tidbits of knowledge.  Maybe I don’t know how to use it properly, but that’s been my experience.  Plus it’s been really flaky on my linux machine via Wine, which happens to be the machine that’s easily accessible on my brew days so I don’t want to be dealing with those issues when trying to organize my thoughts.

Rundown of my setup

Current Setup (from Summer 2011)

10 gallon circular cooler mash-lauter tun (MLT) (picture below shows the old 5-gallon), converted 1/2 bbl. keg for boil kettle, and 1/4 bbl. hot liquor tank (HLT).  The HLT and MLT sit on two tiers of a makeshift 3-tier stand that’s made from an old metal shelving system.  I added a top tier erector-set-style to accommodate the HLT.  One jet-type burner heats the HLT, while a banjo-style burner (this model) on the floor heats the boil kettle.  The burners are both connected to a black iron pipe manifold that is fed from the regulator of the banjo burner connected to a single 20 lb. propane tank.

Following the boil, I use a mixture of 5-gallon glass carboys, 5-gallon Better Bottles, and 1-gallon glass jugs.  Generally I’m using the Better Bottle for lagers, I plan on using the glass carboys for ales (because it’s easy to fit a 1″ blow off tube) and the 1-gallons for experimental stuff (though I honestly don’t have any plans for small brews at the moment).

Lager fermentation currently occurs in my keezer with a Ranco controller maintaining the whole keezer at the proper fermentation temperature (starting at ~45 F, raising to ~48 F over a couple of days), crashing to the low-30’s after fermentation.  In the future, I plan on adding a fermwrap (or other heater), controlled by the Ranco, with the keezer maintained by Mr. Temperature Controller.

Ale fermentation occurs in a 40-qt cooler with aquarium heater in the closet.  Left alone, temperature fluctuates between 63 and 65 (in the winter months), but the aquarium heater can control from 65 (which ends up in the 68-range) up to a temp that’s far too high (85+), but serves well to bump up the temperature for English strains near the end.  When fermenting cooler ales (alts, scotts) the intention is to use a T-shirt or towel with the bottom in a reservoir of water with a fan blowing over.

Previous Setup (3/9/2011)

5 gallon MLT creates the wort to run into a 20 qt stainless steel brew kettle from Target.  I threw up a makeshift HLT from a plastic bottling bucket on top of the refrigerator next to the stove, followed by the MLT on the back of the stove into the kettle on the stovetop (pictures below).

Older Setup

I do most of my batches as 1-2 gallon all-grains.  Using a slow cooker for a mash tun and a grain bag (that holds ~5 lbs. of grain) to “lauter” I’m able to create my wort.  Most of my inspiration for the setup comes from this post on Homebrewtalk.com:  http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/easy-partial-mash-brewing-pics-75231/

However, being a member of the Oregon Brew Crew, I have access to a pretty nice pilot system to do full-sized all-grain batches.  I’ve only done this once however for my first Dusseldorf Alt.  I’m pretty pleased with the results, but the hassle is just too much.  I have to drive ~20 minutes to pick it up and drop it off and I live in an apartment so cleaning all of that stuff off is a real PITA (I can’t just hose it off in the yard).

I have noticed that I’m unable to keep up on my consumption doing just these 1-2 gallon batches though, so I’ve now incorporated a partial mash setup using a 36 qt. cooler and my grain bag (witness my Evil Twin brew) with all other equipment being the same.

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