My very first tap handle
I’m serving beer tonight at a college friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner. It’s sort of huge. I’m a wee bit nervous. Considering it’s the first “contract”, and the first time Mad Haven will be on the label, it’s a pretty momentous occasion.
So first, thanks, and Congratulations to Elizabeth and Raffaello.
Kegging the Blonde
I’m bringing three cornelius kegs with me tonight. I’ve got a batch of the blonde (Pam, for those who know her), a batch of the IPA, and a batch of a ginger saison. A little about each.
The blonde is tasty, as usual. I wanted to make a few batches and blend them, but I ran out of equipment and time. She’s good though. I think she weighs in around 6% today. Clean, crisp, slightly malty, a little on the darker side. Pam is ready to show her stuff.
The IPA is really fun this round. It didn’t quite finish fermenting. Again, time issue. It got down to about 1.022, from 1.086. I believe that’s an 8.6% beer. If I had time, it would have weighed in at a super hot 10%. It was also dry hopping until last night. So we have a super fresh, refreshingly malty, delicious double IPA. I think I’m going to call this one Ice Tray IPA. When I hop it 8 times during the boil, I separate the hops out in an ice tray. Simple story for a good beer.
Lastly is the ginger saison. It’s a recipe out of that Extreme Brewing book (My Library). It’s slightly sour, which wasn’t exactly intentional, but it tastes pretty good. It’s a backup beer. Not my own recipe, and made with extract. Gotta love the quick brews!
Typical problem this week
I have never had so much trouble with kegs as I did this week. Makes sense. I’m all nervous and rushing, and things get stuck. It started early in the week. I bought a new ball-lock cornelius keg, and couldn’t get the fittings off. You could smell the soda from the o-rings inside the posts. My wrench was just too big. Nothing was working. So I went to Ace and bought some tools. The fittings fell off on their own when I walked in with the big 7/8″ closed wrench.
Of course, in this process, I mixed up the posts. Last night, I put the gas disconnect on the liquid post, and the liquid disconnect on the gas post. Needless to say, that’s not how they’re supposed to work. Things got jammed, I sprayed myself with various chemicals, and started to freak out. Then I remembered my nice big 7/8″ closed wrench. Leverage is a super cool phenomenon. Popped those disconnects right off with some properly applied pressure.
Finally everything was in the right spot, and the liquids and gasses were flowing properly. I force carbonated the kegs, cleaned up, and went to bed. Added some more CO2 this morning, just to be safe. We’ll see what happens!
Serving cold beer at a park comes with a few challenges. I can’t bring my kegerator. I’d rather not rely on buckets of ice. The best option is the one breweries use at festivals: The Jockey Box (aka the Draft Box). I asked a few pros if I could borrow theirs, not expecting much. They’re expensive, and this is festival season. I found some great plans for building one, but with only a few days before the event, certain supplies would be hard to come by. My local homebrew shop came through on this one. I went in to gather supplies to build my own, and they offered theirs. Collateral? The promise that I bring it back. I love local.
It needed some cleaning. It needed some lovin. But it’s amazing. It has two lines, and uses a two-line plate chiller for the cooling element. I ran PBW through both lines for about 20 minutes, and then ran sani through as well. Worked beautifully. I didn’t have time to run beer through it, so fingers crossed!
The Tool Box
Sadly, I don’t have a picture of it. But I put together an “oh shit everything broke” tool box. It’s got various sizes and types of wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. It’s got gas and liquid disconnects for ball- and pin-lock kegs. It’s got random fittings, an extra tap handle, direct taps, and a CO2 canister, just in case. It’s pretty sweet. There’s an extra CO2 tank there too. I hope I don’t have to touch any of it.
That’s it. I’m showing up tonight around 5:45. Hopefully everything goes well, the beer is perfect, and someone signs a blank check to open the brewery. Congrats again to Elizabeth and Raffaello, and thank you so much for giving me this opportunity!
(in other news, have you seen http://steakhouseorgaybar.com?)
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