Thursday, September 2, 2010

Keg of Links


I do not like it in
I do not like it in

I do not like them when they're wet
I do not like how slippery they get

I do not like it when they shatter
I hate to clean the mess that scatters

I do not like them in my wort
If one breaks there the wort is dirt.
Not to mention - you could get hurt!

Two things broke yesterday. The first was a standard, $6 floating thermometer. I set it in the sink to wash it, and the tip gently shattered. After a brief flash of happiness (when I realized that the nightmare that is cleaning broken glass wouldn't happen this time -- I could wash the few tiny pieces down the drain) I realized something else broke as well: my will to be cheap.

Now let me explain. I made my first homebrew when I was 19. I dabbled until going full-bore four or five years ago. My attitude towards equipment has always been dictated by the practicality of limited resources: get the cheapest equipment that gets the job done.

Over the last 5 years, I have owned 4 floating thermometers, 2 "lab" thermometers, and 2 hydrometers. All but one of the hydrometers have died tragic deaths, often ending in explosions of glass shards. And I'm sure that the surviving hydrometer's days are numbered.

So when the last glass thermometer I owned broke the other day, I decided it would be the last glass thermometer.

My new philosophy is simple: get the cheapest equipment that you can make work for the longest time possible. Wake up and realize nothing is going to last forever. And if it's essentially a tool that's made out of glass, it will break sooner rather than later. Do the math and figure out how long it must last to make it money well spent. And when choosing your brewing equipment, don't buy anything that will turn into shrapnel when its time is up.

My new instant-read digital thermometer should be here in a couple days.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oktoberfest Smack Packs: It's Alive!

So, yeah: all four yeast packages proofed.  There are all alive.  All four.  I was pretty surprised given the recent warm weather.  It looks like there will be Oktoberfest brewing this weekend.

For your clicking pleasure:
I'm off to find something to put a giant yeast starter in.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oktoberfest Smack Packs

Given the warm weather, the RocketScience brew team has had yeast shipping problems.  Lager yeast has proven itself more sensitive to the warm weather, which has consistently turned 100% of our live lager yeast into dead lager yeast despite any number of ice packs that get sent along for the ride.  Our excursion into lagering has been a learning experience for us, as we've never had problems with ale yeast even during the warmest weather.

We're trying a new tactic.  This weekend, we're planning to brew a bunch of uncrushed grain into ten gallons of Märzen/Oktoberfest wort.  To compensate for potentially dead yeast, we had five packs of Wyeast 2633 - Octoberfest Lager Blend rush shipped a few days ago.  I pulled the activator packs out of the fridge and have just broken the internal yeast nutrient pouches. I'm letting the yeast proof at room temperature for a few days to see which are still alive.

I figure: at least one of those suckers must have survived.   If they all prove viable, they'll be divided between two five-gallon fermenting buckets.  If only some of them are still kicking, they'll contribute to a yeast starter (lagers should be pitched with more yeast than ales.) If none of them survive, we're brewing a porter or a brown ale and holding out for lagers until it gets cooler.

Further news as events warrant.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Miller/Coors Light Home Draft Keg for Homebrew?

A friend is investigating the Home Draft Keg.
I purchased the Coors Light Home Draft Keg with the hopes of reusing it with home brew. First impression is that is not possible, they have completely incased the CO2 canister in plastic such that it is not replaceable. But I still have to empty the keg before I can do more testing.
It's good that he is taking one for the team.  Meanwhile, if you're a fan of that style of American lager, check out an Associated Content's review.  There is some discussion of these on the HomebrewTalk forums and a whole forum dealing with them otherwise.

Keg of Links

Several updates today from around the Fermento-nets:

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    The Jamil Show - Epic Pale Ale

    The Jamil Show updated today, with a new podcast where they take on the challenge of cloning Epic Brewing Company's Epic Pale Ale.  This is the first time they've tried cloning a beer from New Zealand.

    For brewers that don't know Jamil Zainasheff, first: where have you been?  Second, check out his website or his books. Each week, this podcasts discusses a good beer and attempts to clone it.  I've learned a lot from it.  Tune in and check it out.