Brew 016 – Citra Sipper Pale Ale

It’s always nice to have a go-to sipping ale on tap.  This one is a very simple American Pale Ale with some respectable hop bitterness, aroma, and flavor at 5.9% ABV.


Below is my assessment of this brew.

UPDATE – May 27, 2017: This morning I put 2 ounces of Citra hop pellets in a stainless steel mesh tube and suspended it in the keg.  Oh my – the intense flavor and aroma from this hop addition takes this already tasty pale ale to a new level.  I will be doing this to many future brews!

Testosterator (5 Tap Fridge)

One of the steps in the brewing process is packaging your beer after
fermentation.  Most home brewers start out by bottling and often maintain that practice.  There are advantages to bottling such as portability.  (I’m trying to think of another.)  I hear about the prolonged labor of cleaning and sanitizing 48 bottles for a 5 gallon batch, then the tedium of filling the same bottles. I also hear about the bottle bombs.  In fact a friend at work bears several scars from being at ground zero of a bottle bomb.

As noted on my home page – jumping into the home brewing world at my age led me to several decisions.  One was to skip over stove-top extract brewing and go all-grain.  Another was to invest in a semi-automated, all-electric brewing system.  Yet another decision was to precisely control fermentation temperature with a fermentation chamber I custom built (that’s a post for another day) Today’s post is a result of the decision to skip bottling altogether and go straight to kegging. NOTE: All these decisions have resulted in very drinkable and enjoyable brews without exception. Several have been downright awesome and one is my favorite beer of all-time forever. My BBF.  Best beer forever. (See Brew 009.)

Watch the video below for a tour of the mighty Testosterator.  It is quite an experience to have 5 taps at the ready serving up personally created beers.


Sous Vide

I have never been accused of being a chef. My wife is the culinary whiz and I balance the load with my exquisite dish washing.  That being said, I enjoy grilling with my kamado grill and have turned in some notable offerings praised by a number of carnivores (mostly the aforementioned husband and wife).

A few weeks ago I was reflecting on a claim set before me by a friend, Mary, that sous vide is the method for cooking the unquestionably perfect

steak. I finally summoned the gumption to ask Uncle Google about it.  When I realized the simplicity of the process, and the fact I already possessed the few items necessary to create the required environment, I was suddenly energized to act.

Sous vide literally means “under vacuum”.  There is plenty of information, including instructions and equipment options out there on cooking sous vide (see for example) and it’s easy and inexpensive to get started.

Watch my 9 1/2 minute video below as I take a very inexpensive, less than tender cut of meat through the process.  Predictably it came out amazing.

Motorized Grain Mill

One of the four official ingredients in beer is malted barley. For an all-grain brewer like myself, you can either buy pre-crushed grain or buy it whole and crush it yourself.  Best is crushing it yourself for the sake of freshness and not exposing the inside of the grain to oxygen too soon.

So I use a Barley Crusher brand grain mill with a drill attached to the shaft (this guy isn’t gonna sit there and hand crank the thing).  It is very effective and quick, but I know I am exceeding the 200 RPM that I justmotorized-grain-mill learned is the top speed to be used. As we were “hunkered down” for Hurricane Matthew yesterday (without power), I sipped on my All Amarillo Pale Ale and continued reading a homebrew book by the light of a window. The author, Randy Mosher, was discussing milling grain and offered an option to the drill method: a gear motor.  Eureka!  I have a 30 RPM gear motor that was once part of a BBQ grill coffee roaster I built over 10 years ago.

I dug around and found the motor along with the coupling “spider” and switch.  I tested it and it still worked so I built a stand for the motor and…well…it all works!  Here is a very brief video:

UPDATE – 10/16/2016: Today was brew day # 004 and I used this new motorized mill setup for the first time.  The good news is that it worked great and left me free to do other things.  The bad news is it is MUCH slower and took a lot more time that usual.  Note made for future: allow 30 minutes for the grain to be ground and put this step in the brew day schedule accordingly.

Imminent Launch of S5B

S5Blogo-full (800x487)

I have been reading and studying and preparing and now it’s time to pull the trigger.

It’s been 8 months in the making.  Accumulation of equipment, preparation of the space, and construction of key items has brought me to this day.  I have been testing my systems (brewing equipment, fermentation chamber, stir plate, wort chiller, etc.).  A few more tests and calibrations (recirculation cooling of wort, pH meter, refractometer) and I will be ready for the first brew!

Over time I will be posting details on the brewery, including some of the construction projects:

  • Stir plate
  • Fermentation chamber
  • Hoist
  • Wort chiller
  • Testosterator (kegerator)

I will also post details on some of the recipes and brew days as well as fermentation experiences.

This site and these blog posts serve mainly for myself as documentation of this adventure.  If any of this information benefits any other current or would be home brewers, it will be my pleasure to have served as a resource.