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Posts Tagged ‘equipment’

I have a lot of brewing gear. Relative to other brewers, I have no idea how it compares. But for my laundry room – aka beer gear storage room – it’s a lot. And I just bought another bucket today. I figured I’d regale you all with pictures and numbers. Figure out exactly what it is I have in stock right now. This also helps me when I have 5 batches going at once, and I need to do resource management graphs to figure out how to maneuver them properly for maximum efficiency. Yes, I have done that before. Yes, it was awesome.

Mash

ayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit

Bayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit

We start out the day by boiling a lot of water. I used to do this on my electric stove, but that took too long. So, I present to you the Bayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit. This thing is sweet. It can boil 8 gallons of water in about 20 minutes. Huge fan. Definitely a keeper.

Mash Tun

Mash Tun

Next is my mash tun. This is a recent creation. I took a 70qt cooler, put a spigot on it, and grabbed a braided washing machine hose as the filter. Simple, cheap, and amazingly effective.

Mash Paddle

Mash Paddle

A piece of equipment that is used from this point through the boil is the mash paddle. It’s essentially a big ass slotted spoon. I used to use a smaller, normal 12″ plastic spoon. Turns out that sticking your hand into boiling wort really hurts. So I bought the paddle. I thought about using my paddle from college, but.. never mind.

Pitcher

Pitcher

Lastly, we have a pitcher. It took me a lot of batches before I bought this. Which is stupid. I should have bought a pitcher from the start. Live and learn. Anyway, this is pitcher 2.0, because my old roommate put it on a red-hot burner. Old roommate. Not current roommate.

Boil

BFP

BFP

Once the mash is all done, we move on to the boil. I technically have 4 kettles. I use 3 of them. Wort goes in 1. One kettle is my 15 gallon aluminum big boy. I bought it off craigslist last year. I left PBW soaking in it for too long. It’s all pitted now. I’m nervous to use to. So, I don’t use it. Next is this little 5 gallon kettle. My wort chiller lives in there. Then we have the big ol’ fryer that came with the Bayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit. I use that one for water. Finally, we have my BFP. Big. Something. Pot. She’s my favorite. And is the one pictured here, bringing an American Pale Ale to boil. Weighing in at 32 quarts, she has been a part of my system for a long while, and has helped in pretty much every batch over the past year and a half.

Thermometer and Hydrometer

Thermometer and Hydrometer. What a happy couple!

Cylindrical Testing Tube

Cylindrical Testing Tube, chilling in the freezer

At some point in this process, we have to see how much sugar there is in the wort. That’s where super fancy scientific devices come in to play. Like a thermometer. Or a hydrometer. Or another late purchase that should have been made earlier, a cylindrical testing jar. I know, big fancy words. It’s ok, they ensure the beer tastes great! Actually, if I never tested anything, the beer would probably still be just as good. I rarely actually change anything based on these measurements. I only wait longer or don’t wait longer to do certain things.

 

Wort Chiller

Wort Chiller - My picture wasn't as pretty as this one.


After the boil is done, um, boiling, I have an awesome wort chiller to chill the, um, wort. This thing saves hours in the process. Rather than letting 5 gallons of boiling wort come down to 72˚, a wort chiller uses heat transfer and running water to chill the wort in 20-30 minutes, on a slow day.

Fermenting

Carboy

Carboy, looking like the champ he is.

The wort gets turned into beer now. It goes through a few stages. First, it’s in the primary. This is called a carboy. I have 3 or 4 of them. I’ve owned probably 7 or 8, but I lend them out or they break or something else happens. Anyway, the wort sits in these for about 7-10 days. Or a month, if I forget it’s in there. Oops.

Ale Pail

Ale Pail, with ale inside.

Next we transfer to a secondary fermenter. I like the Ale Pails, with a spigot toward the bottom. Some are nervous about the spigot, as it’s potentially a breeding ground for contamination. However, I like them. They allow me to test the gravity of a beer really really easily, which is a huge bonus. I have 4 with a spigot, and 2 without. They also have lids with airlocks, like the one seen in the carboy shot.

Serving

As of a few months ago, I can now serve beer via bottle or keg. Kegging is one of the best things to happen to me in my life. It’s amazing. I love it. Except for the fact that the beer goes so damn fast. So I still bottle the beers I want to save.

Capper

Capper. Again, Northern Brewer takes prettier pictures.

A capper is the only permanent device used in the bottling process. There are also bottles, caps, etc., but those go with the beer out the door, so no pictures of those. Just the capper.

The Kegerator

The Kegerator

CO2 tank, regular, splitter, and a keg of Great Divide Hibernation

CO2 tank, regular, splitter, and a keg of Great Divide Hibernation

Kegs

A few of the kegs

For kegging, I have a bunch of stuff. Four kegs, 3 pin lock and 1 ball lock. I feel like I’m missing one in that count, so let’s call it 5 kegs. Also, CO2, a kegerator, and other fun stuff.

Other

There are a ton of other random stuff that ends up being super important. Turkey Baster? Ya, super important. Tubing? I have 4 or 5 different lengths and diameters. Chemicals? Ya, Oxy Clean, PBW, and Sani. All ensure a tasty beer. I use Duct Tape for every batch. Mostly to keep information on the vessel, but sometimes for other stuff. It’s keeping the cardboard in the kegerator on the door. Why is there cardboard on the door? To hold the insulation in, obviously. I also have about 6 ways to get beer out of a keg, one of which is a rubber mallet and a screwdriver. This can all be seen in my sweet sweet toolbox:

Toolbox

Sweet sweet toolbox

Of course, the most important things in the brewing process aren’t the gear, but the people who use it. As I write this, Kell is cleaning out a carboy. That sort of help is so important to the whole process, and I’m going to wrap this up so I can go help him.

A good brewer can make a good beer with much less than this. And a bad brewer can make bad beer with much more than this. See my post on books for some good information, or just ask your local homebrewer.

That’s about it. I’m sure I have other stuff that I’m not even thinking of. If you want to know about something here, or something that should be here, or something that shouldn’t be here, leave me a note.

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My Library

What my desk at home generally looks like

What my desk at home generally looks like

I like to read. I also like to buy books. I actually just bought a book on woodworking, so I could learn how to build a bookshelf to hold more books. That being said, I have a few brewing books. Some have left my house, destined for the shelves of others. A few of my basic brewing books are no longer here, as friends getting into brewing needed them more than I did. So here is a partial list of what I’ve got on my shelves. (If you click the images, they’ll take you to Amazon. I get a little kickback if you buy from that link.) The first few are brewing books, then some equipment stuff, followed by some brewing business books. There are of course magazines and websites. I subscribe to Brew Your Own, Zymurgy, and Beer Advocate. I also regularly check out byo.com, probrewer.com, beeradvocate.com, and the recipes on beertools.com. There are many more websites, one off calculators, random articles, blogs, etc. Check out the sidebar for some, or go to the google.

Designing Great Beers

Once you’ve moved past the basic “How do I brew” books, this is the Bible. It is written like a text book, which in this case is a good thing. There is very detailed information on every little step of the brewing process, from choosing your malt to water calculations. Definitely a go to book.

Extreme Brewing

I bought this one because it had some clone recipes of some breweries I really like, such as Dogfish Head, Avery, Allagash, and Russian River. They are mainly partial mash recipes, but they’re pretty cool. There are some interesting recipes, like a Chamomile Honey Wheat, Blood Orange Hefeweizen, etc. And some information on what it means to brew “extreme”. It’s a fun book for sure.

The Brew Master’s Bible

I honestly haven’t read too much of this one. My roommate bought it when he was starting to get into brewing. I think it’s supposed to be a pretty good getting-started style of book, but I haven’t had time to peruse it too thoroughly.

The Home Brewer’s Answer Book

This is a great resource book. Every once in a while, something weird happens. This book either has the answer, or enough of a base of an answer to let you ask a better question. It’s got “Oh no something went wrong” answers, as well as “Why the heck do they do things this way” answers. And a few things in between.

Brew Ware

Great “How to” book on making your own equipment. It has detailed instructions on making everything from a mash tun to a wort chiller, a full brewing system to a grain mill. Definitely a good purchase.

Brewing up a Business

This is my personal brewery business bible. If you want some warm fuzzy feelings about starting a brewery, read this book a few times. Sam is the poster boy of our industry, and this book is his “How to start with nothing and be awesome” book. It has lots of blank pages at the back for note taking. Most of mine are filled up now.

Starting Your Own Brewery

This is the Brewers Association’s guide. It’s got all the goods. Floor construction, marketing plans, stories from those who have been there, and a sample business plan. Sadly, there are a huge number of proofreading errors, which can get distracting. But overall, it’s a good book. I’m almost finished with it. There are some essays by some pretty heavy hitters, like Ray Daniels, John Hickenlooper (founder of Wynkoop and current mayor of Denver), and Sam Calagione, to name a few.

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