This week a quick, but long overdue, video outlining the key fittings I used to plumb in the control valve on my brew stand. This video shows how the parts are connected together and I also outline exactly the part numbers for each part.
First thing first, I used teflon tape on every joint. This helps keep the fittings from binding together. It also helps seals the parts so no propane leaks out from all the connections. I used standard Watts fittings for most of my connections. These are common everyday brass parts available at the biggest home improvement stores, and certainly some smaller ones as well. Your local hardware store likely has the same thing or something similar to the Watts parts I used.
A couple things to remember about this parts list. First I used a standard 6inch across cast iron burner. These are available lots of places online. I found that Bayou Classic Depot had great prices, quick delivery and excellent customer service. When I first ordered the burner the orifice was included with the burner (BG12 burner). But now you have to order the orifice seperately, so I have included that part on theist below. I like these burners because the make a goo balance between power and gas efficiency. I have never had a problem controlling the flame with these burners. Hence why I chose to build three stations with this burner. You can certainly go to the larger banjo burner, but those burners really use a lot of gas. You can certainly heat things up faster, but I have never been sure if it can maintain a lower rolling boil once its going. Nor did I think that such a big burner would be good under my direct fired mash tun.
These parts are listed in order from the burner to the black pipe manifold in the back of the brew stand. All connected together in this order.
6″ Burner Bayou Classic BG12
Orifice Bayou Classic 5235
Coupling Watts LFA765 3/8″ FIP X 1/4″ FIP
Hex Nipple Watts LFA729 1/4″ MIP
Female Elbow Watts LFA727 1/4″ FIP
Hex Nipple Watts LFA729 1/4″ MIP
Control Valve Bayou Classic NV108P 1/4″ MIP X 1/4″ FIP
Bushing Watts LFA778 3/8″ MIP X 1/4″ FIP Brass Craft Gas Supply with safety cutoff
Its pretty straight forward. Or at least I hope it is. This list in conjunction with the video should give you the knowledge you need to head to your local parts store and piece it all together yourself.
As always let us know if you have questions.
Hops Hops Hops. We continue to talk about hops. Hop methods and hop varieties. We finally get down to tasting some hops. This week we quaff down some mighty fine double IPA loaded up with Australian and New Zealand Hops!
One of the best IIPAs we can get around here in the Northeast is Heady Topper out of Vermont. For kicks we tasted John’s double IPA along side Heady Topper. Why?!?! Because its good! Not intending to make a direct comparison recipe or flavor wise there are some technique and presentation lessons to be learned tasting your beer with a similar style side by side. It can help give you perspective in your beer. I find that if I have another fine example of the style I am working on it helps me see depth and difference more clearly than if I simply sampled my beer alone. For that matter, you should try purchasing two or three commercial examples of any style of beer. Tasting them side by side can be pretty eye opening.
Enough of that! John’s IPA was a a wonderful smooth bitterness to it up front. It wasn’t resinous or biting, just smooth and lent good balance to the malt bill. That bitterness was necessary to help support the caramel malt in the recipe as well. Certainly helped to balance the malt backbone of the beer.
John put most of is efforts late in the boil process and it shows. There is great hop aroma and flavor coming from the hops at this stage. The best way I could describe the down under hops was as dark or overipe fruit. The zing of the tart fresh fruit character was gone but the flavors are more deep almost enriched. These hops played nice together and work well as late kettle additions. Not over done, but strong enough to taste them and be drawn in after each sip.
In comparison to how Heady Topper comes across the technique yield some similar results. Heady is bright, crisp and clean. The hops are also present predominantly as flavor and aroma additions. Heady does have strong resin like quality that tends to long on the palate. Certainly characteristic of the American style and the American hops. Where in the Down Under IPA the hops down linger; they are not super resinous. An interesting aspect of these hops and maybe something play with if that’s how you like your IPAs.
Have you brewed with Down Under Hops? Tell us about it in the comment sections or on our YouTube channel along with the video.
Of all the stouts to brew, the Russian Imperial Stout (RIS) is the one that you have to brew at least once to see if you can. It’s one of the biggest beers you can brew. As I read, there are no limits – just minimums with the RIS.
Being a somewhat experienced brewer (I am celebrating 10 years of brewing in July), I didn’t think I would have any trouble brewing this style. Well, I was wrong. All the materials I read about how this style would put my equipment to the test and there would be trial and error involved in brewing it didn’t sink into my thick skull. I should have heeded some of the warnings. Watch this video to see the details of the Russian Imperial Stout brew session and what I am writing about in this post:
Let’s start here: a ten gallon cooler for a mash tun is not going to cut it for a mash with 24 pounds of grain. Thankfully, I had an extra cooler that allowed me to mash in two separate vessels at the same time.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t hit my starting gravity and I really should have been able to do that. I think one of the tricks I am going to try next time is brewing a smaller final batch volume version of this beer. What’s wrong with a 4 gallon or even a 3 gallon version of this beer? This style isn’t something you drink in a long session, more of a special occasion sipping beer to me. If I made a smaller batch size, the bottles would still last me three to five years after my brew session.
The second trick – which I want to try first – is to brew with enough grain for a five gallon batch and split the grain between two vessels like I did during this session. I plan to mash the same way as I did, using the mesh bag in the smaller cooler and the same false bottom set up in the larger cooler. After collecting the first runnings from the mash, I would rinse the grains of the smaller cooler and transfer the second runnings into the batch sparge of the larger cooler. If I combine them in the larger cooler, I think I would have a higher gravity at the beginning of the boil which in turn should give me a higher starting gravity.
Trial and error is the name of the game with the RIS so I learned something. Hey, I guess no matter how experienced you are as a homebrewer, you still have things to learn.
I know I know! Last week we talked about using old yeast from a dry packet. Well this week I share my experience and follies with old yeast and frozen yeast. I finally brewed my first batch for 2015, but things didn’t go as planned.
Flander’s Red and a new brewing area. I had the ingredient in the garage waiting for most of the winter; back when most of my stuff was still in the garage for brewing. I wanted to get both of my cars in the garage this winter so I was able to appropriate some space in my finished basement as a brew area. Complete with sink and more fridge space (stay tuned for a brew space tour soon).
I figured I’d use BIAB to put the Flander’s Red ingredients to good use. I had gotten the grains just about ready to mash. While I was waiting for the water to finally come to temp I started looking for my yeast pack. I had a WYeast Roselare blend pack somewhere but couldn’t find it. I looked in all three fridges in the house. With dread I finally looked in the freezer. I found my frozen Roselare underneath a couple packages of whole hops. I must have moved the whole lot of it as a unit when I transferred my brewing setup from the garage to the basement. The yeast was put away with the hops in the freezer.
Bummed I went to plan B. I had a mason jar of Saison yeast and Brett Clausennii slurry from last years big brew. That beer was brewed in May, the yeast harvested likely at the end of May maybe early June. I kept it because I had intended to brew another saison, but never did. Out of curiosity, I thawed the pack of frozen Roselare and poured it into the 1500mL starter I made for the saison blend.
The starter obviously worked because I could tell by visual inspect and color change in the starter that the yeast I put in there did indeed multiply and grow. Who knows if any of the microbes from the Roselare got started. The whole thing got pitched the next day into the Flander’s Wort (No chill brewing so I had time for a starter to go 24hrs). The next day the 5 gallon batch was bubbling alone nicely. I’ll be racking to glass carboy soon. That way I can visually monitor the presence of a pellicle which will tell me if the Roselare blend has come back to life.
Time will only tell. I might pitch a new Roselare pack and a some sour beer bottle dregs in there too. But it might be fun to let it go and see if the frozen stuff had any life in it. I read on the WYEAST website some information about frozen smack packs that makes me thing it just might make it.
John recently had a dilemma. He needed to rep itch some yeast into his braggot after a long a tiresome ferment. Worried that some fresh yeast was needed at bottling he looked to the fridge. All he had away an older package of white wine yeast. He rehydrated the yeast in some water and pitched it in hoping for the best. This week he asks the question: “How old is to old for yeast?”
The first thing going for John in these situation is that he had a dry yeast packet that had been stored in the fridge. Dry yeast tends to have a much longer shelf life than liquid yeast due to its nearly nonexistent metabolism while dry. You should always consult the side of the package for an expiry date or a packaged on date. In general these things will give you an idea of how old the yeast it.
Normally, under ideal conditions these things can be revived. Dehydrating the yeast and then putting old yeast into a mild starter (1.025OG) is a good idea. The little bit of sugar will encourage the yeast to start some activity. Within 30-60minutes properly rehydrated yeast should start to show some singes of CO2 production. This means there are some live cells in there. It doesn’t mean they are all alive or that you have a pitchable quantity but it does mean you have a shot at redemption.
The next step would be to let the yeast continue to make up in this sugar solution. Once it goes to completion, you can pitch it in a new volume (not more that double in size) with more sugar (this time not more than 1.040OG). When that once completes its process I’d recommend cold crashing it and seeing how much yeast volume there is. From there you might be ready to decant the spent liquid and go to a true 1-2L starter wort. Proceed as usual.
Ultimately there is no real good answer. Is the yeast too old? You have to put it in some sugar and see if its alive or not. No date on the package is going to tell you that. Like many things in home brewing you need to try them out and experience it yourself. Experience and gained knowledge will go a lot further than any “expert” source can give you.