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Bru'n Water Primer

Posted by vinpaysdoc on 1/27/2015 at 06:52:09 AM

 
Bru'n Water is an Excel Spreadsheet created Martin Brungard, a homebrewer and Environmental Engineer. You can read his bio at the bottom of the Bru'n Water website. This spreadsheet is a great tool to help brewers adjust their water and grain bill in order to reach an optimum conversion pH for the style of beer they are brewing. The download is FREE! If you do download it and find is useful, send the man a donation and he'll send you a personalized (your name on the sheet) version that has a few improvements.

STEP ONE:

Read the Instructions (sheet 0) and Water Knowledge (last sheet) Pages

The pages are not long and you'll learn a lot. Much of the information presented in these pages is also available in the program, but, read it here first. It will help you as you start working with the program.

STEP TWO: 

Enter your Water Report Input (sheet 1) from your municipal water report or other water report. Even if you plan on using Distilled or Reverse Osmosis water, go ahead and input your municipal water report. The program will still allow you to use Distilled or Reverse Osmosis water, it's just nice to have your municipal water inputted in case you need to use it in the future.

If you have questions as you input the numbers, hover your cursor over the cell of the value you are putting in. For example, when you hover over the cell "Calcium" a pop-up box with information about how calcium is reported comes up. If you read all the pop-ups it becomes pretty easy to put in all the values.




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Tags for this post: Water chemistry, Water Adjustments, Mash pH, Bru'n Water

How to Brew a Better IPA

Posted by rdc4687 on 1/24/2015 at 11:54:31 AM

 

After posting this on reddit.com/r/homebrewing, it was suggested to post this here.  I hope you enjoy! Feedback is always appreciated.


IPA's and pale ales are my favorite styles of beer. In 3 years of brewing, over half of my brews have been in these categories. Luckily, my wife feels the same about the style and actually demands either a pale ale or IPA be on tap at all time. I know, it's a rough life. We frequent local breweries and festivals to sample a variety of beers, but I am constantly comparing my IPA's to the ones I purchase. I am usually disappointed that mine tend to fall just short of majority of these. Perhaps I am too critical of my own work, but nothing I made seemed to be on par.

To further describe what I mean by my beers falling short of "the mark", think of your favorite "commercial" IPA. Personally, I love West coast IPA's. Even though I am on the East coast, they are readily available. Foothill's Hoppyium and Jade IPA, Olde Hickory's Death by Hops, Wicked Weed's Freak of Nature, and Triple C's 3C IPA are some of my favorite. When...
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Tags for this post: IPA, pale ale, FWH, hop burst, hop stand, west coast

Blood, Sweat, and Beers: Introduction

Posted by Beerographer on 1/22/2015 at 10:09:52 PM

 
On a lazy, winter Saturday I sat in my living room feeling empty. I had just finished the final episode of the millennials take on Friends and ever popular television show, How I Met Your Mother. I had recently moved 1,000 miles from home and fiancée, and had failed at one of my lifelong dreams (more on that later). I was spending every second outside of work on my couch watching Netflix and drinking beer. A very boring lifestyle for a man of such adventurous nature as myself. Then I saw it, as I searched for a documentary on beer, a youtube video by a man with a red beard donning a Virginia Tech shirt going through a tutorial on making beer with an igloo cooler. I watched it and thought to myself, I must do this. Ten days later my first extract kit arrived and I was hooked.

This blog is not just some dude's personal diary of brewing. I will preface this by telling you that I am no pro, at the time of this entry I have been brewing for exactly one year (don't close this window just yet). At the risk of sounding arrogant, self appreciating, or overzealous, I am here to tell you that I have come a long way, and this blog is meant to be a guide for those traveling through the first leg of their trip. Regardless of your destination or what level of brewing you are currently at I invite you...
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Tags for this post: blog, homebrewing, introduction, how to

Grand Opening of the Homebrew Dad Community!

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/21/2015 at 11:14:34 AM

 
In the summer of 2014, I found myself annoyed with the online homebrewing scene. A very large homebrewing community that I had spent many hours involved with had become more and more unfriendly, and had managed to drive away a lot of their knowledgeable, helpful posters. I found myself really enjoying the reddit homebrewing sub (and still enjoy it to this day), but reddit is such a temporary medium; after a handful of days (often, hours), even the best material slips into the void, becoming extremely difficult to find again. A brewing friend linked me to a large "invitation only" Facebook group... and I found that I hated it, as Facebook's unknowable algorithm made it so that content disappeared quicker than on reddit, with no rhyme or reason as to what was prominently displayed and what melted away. There had to be a better way!

On an evening drive home, the wheels got to spinning in my head, and I wondered... why not convert this site from a personal blog into a real community? After all, I had already started somewhat down that path, what with the various calculators and such. I had planned to add other major areas to the site. Why not go all the way? Why not try to make the single best homebrewing site on the internet?

That night, I composed a long message and sent it to a select group of brewers that I knew were not only knowledgeable about brewing, but also, legitimately good...
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Tags for this post: homebrew, homebrewing, community, forum, blog, utilities, Wheaton's law

Assembling a Truly International IPA Recipe

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/16/2015 at 12:04:05 PM

 
Back in July, a friend of mine in Vermont dropped me an email to see if I would be interested in some yeast he had picked up - ECY29, aka the sometimes hard to find "Conan" strain, which is used in the famous Heady Topper IPA. He had picked it up on a whim while at his LHBS, and really did not intend to use it. I enthusiastically accepted, and ended up giving away three vials of it in a contest here on the site.

One of my contest winners (Ryan) was kind enough to ship me two bottles of beer he had brewed - the same recipe in both beers, save one used WLP004 (Irish ale), and the other used the ECY29 he had won. The difference was striking, with the Conan version indeed manifesting a big, delicious, juicy peach aroma.

All along, I had also planned to brew my own beer with the yeast (and send a couple of bottles to the guy who was great enough to hook me up in the first place). Conan is supposed to really accent hop character, and that unique peach aroma was very interesting. So, I started thinking about brewing an IPA with huge aroma, but I wanted to do something a bit different than the typical beers I had sampled.

Having had great success with my Oakenbranch IPA (an English beer with spicy hops), I wanted to use that as a template, but to...
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Tags for this post: international, beer, brewing, homebrewing, IPA, Conan, ECY29, recipe

Revisiting the Hydra Wort Chiller

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/08/2015 at 11:00:46 AM

 
In late November, I got the chance to review a Hydra immersion wort chiller from JaDeD Brewing. Due to some issues with my setup (faucet located very far away, four distinct leaks in my hoses, issues connecting the chiller properly), I had less than optimal results - though, to be fair, the Hydra still easily outperformed my old chiller.

I had planned to revisit chilling with the Hydra, but the holidays grabbed hold, and I wasn't able to brew again until this past weekend.

Now, one might think that an intelligent person would do their best to rectify any known issues prior to using their chiller again. You would, of course, be correct... but I'm not claiming to be an intelligent person.

Indeed, I only thought about my past problems on the very morning of my brewday. Fortunately, my wife was getting ready to do the weekly grocery store/Target run, so I penciled in "duct tape" on the grocery list.

Go on, laugh. Call me names. My bright idea was to apply a bit of redneck engineering to the problem; as they say, if duct tape can't fix it, it's not worth fixing. Right?

Well, I got involved in my brew day, and had ambitiously planned also to grill (steaks, burgers, hot dogs, brats, polish sausage, corn) after brewing. Somewhere along the way, I forgot about my hose repairs in the midst of everything else going on, and only remembered close to dusk (near...
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Tags for this post: Hydra, wort, chiller, brewing, beer, homebrewing, JaDeD, immersion

Disaster, Thy Name is Stirplate

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/06/2015 at 11:29:46 AM

 
A few nights ago, I thought I'd put together a starter of ECY-29 (Conan) yeast. I figured that I'd grow enough for my IPA, my 2 gallons of cider, and some to save for future batches (via the Brulosophy yeast harvesting method). All told, I'd be making a ~3.5 liter starter.

Hah. Hah hah. Hah hah hah.


I had foolishly asked my 16 year old son to take my DIY stirplate down to the basement at Christmas time. Shockingly, he wasn't overly careful with it, and placed it somewhere that it ended up falling a couple of feet to the ground (where I found it lying on its side).

After twenty something tries to get the starter going (which usually takes one, maybe two tries to do) - all resulting in a thrown bar - I put the flask on the ground, grabbed a spare stirbar, and placed it directly on the powered down plate. BAM, the bar instantly relocated several inches off center.

So, I opened the sitrplate case, and discovered that yes, the magnet was detached from the fan. Crap.

First off, I tried gluing the washer/magnet combo back onto the fan with Gorilla super glue... no dice, it simply would not stick. I spent a good half hour digging around the basement in search of a hot glue gun, found one, applied the combo using it. This worked for all of about five seconds before throwing the magnet again.

Next, I reverted back...
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Tags for this post: stirplate, diy, yeast, starter, troubleshooting

How to Pasteurize Your Bottles for Sweet Carbonated Cider

Posted by homebrewdad on 12/18/2014 at 12:28:18 AM

 
The following article comes courtesy of /u/Fizz11 from reddit. 

Sweet carbonated cider is easy to make... if you have a keg setup. Sadly, not all of us have one available (myself included). Fortunately, there is a way to get sweet carbonated cider through natural bottle carbonation.

So, what makes that so hard to do?

When you back sweeten a cider, it introduces far more sugar than is needed for carbonation. Left to their own devices, these delicious drinks would soon transform into dangerous bottle bombs. Without special steps, you must either allow your cider to ferment fully, then prime and bottle condition - which yields a carbonated (but very dry) cider - or you must kill off the yeast when you sweeten, which yields a still cider.

Which leaves us back at square one. How then, is it possible to have a sweet, bottle carbonated cider? Here are the steps you can take to accomplish that.

Step 0: Make sure the sugar used for back sweetening is thoroughly mixed at bottling time. If using a solid sugar (and not, say, apple juice), you'll boil your sugar in a cup or two of water, then add it and give a gentle stir to ensure full mixing. The safety of this entire process is reliant on the idea that all bottles carbonate at mostly the same pace... which requires an even distribution of your sugar.

Step 1: At bottling time, I fill one plastic water bottle with my cider...
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Tags for this post: pasteurize, cider, sweet, pasteurization

How To Wax Dip Your Homebrewed Beer Bottles

Posted by homebrewdad on 12/16/2014 at 09:26:18 AM

 

This year, on the suggestion of my wife, I brewed a spiced Christmas beer with the intention of giving it away as gifts. I had an idea for a nice, dark, malty warmer that would feature traditional holiday spices; something that would hopefully be an appreciated celebratory brew. I sent my artist friend an idea for the label art, but to really make this beer special, I wanted to wax dip the bottles for that extra bit of "wow".

To tell the truth, I've wanted to wax dip a set of beer bottles for a solid year now, ever since I first read Scott's excellent post on the subject over at Bertus Brewery. Be sure to give him a click and check out his top notch content; he deserves full credit for me being able to do this myself.

I wanted my bottles to feature a bit of the Maker's Mark look - that effect where you get some run down of the wax from the bottle cap down onto the surface of the bottle itself. I don't know why, but that style of waxing really appeals to me; it just feels raw, authentic, for whatever reason.

The secret to this effect is very simple to achieve; you simply melt crayons (which, of course, is...
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Tags for this post: wax, waxing, bottles, bottle caps, gifts, homebrew, beer

Experimental Brewing with my Son - A Science Project!

Posted by homebrewdad on 12/09/2014 at 02:00:40 PM

 
This past weekend, I helped my sixteen year old son brew his very first batch of beer. Okay, the beer itself wasn't truly the focal point; to be fair, he is doing a science experiment on fermentation. Specifically, he's looking at how various yeasts from around the world perform in terms of attenuation and final pH. It's funny; he's had yeast starters going here and there, and my wife knew what his project was... but for some reason, it never occurred to her that he would actually be brewing. I pointed out to her that, after all, the yeast had to have something to ferment!

I'll confess an unsurprising fact here - I am of the hope that I can hand down brewing as a tradition to my children. I think that it would be great fun to share brewdays with them, and to swap beers with them once they are grown. My kids are all very cool people, and I hope to remain relevant in their lives long after they have moved out and started families of their own. My little boys (currently ages seven, five, and three) all enjoy helping out to various degrees, but the older kids (ages eighteen and sixteen) have not been particularly interested.

But I digress. This would be Caleb's first batch of beer to brew; sadly, he would have me overseeing the process, which regular readers of this blog know means that things would almost certainly go less than smoothly.

Early on, I...
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Tags for this post: experimental, brewing, science, project, yeast, fermentation, wort, beer, son, teenager

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