Monday, July 30, 2012

Brewday: Double IPA

Yesterday I was finally able to break in all the new equipment I've been collecting, building, and blogging about the past few weeks. This was my first true 'all-grain' beer, since I have been using the BIAB (brew in a bag) method up until now for all of my beers (not counting collaborations on other peoples equipment, of course). I wanted something I could put on tap without having to wait months for oaking, aging, or souring, so I decided I'd brew an IPA to fill up my last keg. I drew a lot of inspiration for the recipe from some clone recipes (Pliny the Elder, Knuckle Sandwich, and Stone Ruination to be specific) and some sage advice from fellow homebrewers.

My friend Rick showed up for the brewday, he brought a few IPAs for "inspiration" and I cracked open a couple beers from the cellar as well. I had a great time but next time I definitely need to get an EZ-up because I almost fried in the near-100 degree heat without any shade.
I was expecting a few hiccups along the road, but nothing major really happened. I will need to upgrade to a larger HLT (that one only holds 6 gallons) for my next batch though; I didn't add enough water to the mash tun so I did an accidental cereal mash for 15 minutes while I hurriedly heated up a second batch of strike water. Other than that, this was probably the smoothest brewday yet, and it almost seemed easier than doing BIAB. Best of all, my efficiency for this batch was ~76%, which is way better than I was expecting. All in all it took about 7 hours from heating up the strike water to putting the carboy into the fermchamber.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Garden Update: To the heavens!

Well, it's been nearly a month since the last garden update. Since then my Cascade plant has reached the top of the roofline (about 20') and the Centennial is about 4 feet tall!

Unfortunately, the Pinot Gris grape vine seems to be the only plant that survived the spring frost and intense heat waves, but is bearing fruit. There are 4-5 decently sized bunches on there, so I'm hoping to get enough must for a small batch of grape lambic.

Maturing nicely. I will probably need to net these within the next 3-4 weeks.

No more growth for the year. But plenty of grapes!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Chill Haze is quieter than usual this month, but I hope to chew through the backlog of reviews and updates soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DIY Temperature Controller

Last month, I bought a 7 cubic foot chest freezer on sale at Home Depot. I live in Reno, a place where it tops 100 degrees in the summer and can dip down into the 20's in the winter, so I knew that I would need a fermentation chamber eventually, and that when I did build one, a dual-stage controller that would allow me to control both a chest freezer and a heating element would be essential.

Rather than spend $150+ for a dual-stage controller, I opted to go for the DIY route, which is far cheaper, and gives me a fun weekend project to satisfy my inner tinkerer. I used this guide from HomeBrewTalk, and bought most of the parts at Home Depot and RadioShack; the controller was from eBay, and took a little over two weeks to get here from mainland China.

The parts, ready for assembly.
Parts List:
  • STC-1000 Dual-Stage Temperature controller    $23.99
  • RadioShack Large Project Box    $5.99
  • 14-gauge electrical cord    $11.99
  • Black "Decora style" outlet    $1.99
  • Strain-relief connector    $1.74
  • Grommet variety pack    $2.39
  • Wire nut variety pack    $1.88
  • Electrical tape    $0.59
Total cost:    $50.56

And now for the build:


It only took me about 3 hours to build the whole thing, and most of it was spent cutting holes in the project box - my first time using a dremel tool! - and stripping the insulation from the wiring. Right now it is sitting in the closet, I plan on hooking it up to the chest freezer this weekend and getting everything ready for use.