Brew Dudes

Homebrewing Blog and Resource

Failed Pilsners Infected By Dirty Beer Lines

Dirty Tap Line Lessons & One Failed Pilsner

Even with years of experience, some beers don’t turn out the way you want them to turn out. If you become complacent or lazy, you can have homebrew fails. We share this post to provide the lessons we learned from this unfortunate experience so that you may not repeat them in the future. Watch this video to get an understanding of why cleaning all of your beer equipment is crucial for homebrewing beer success.

The Pilsner Plan

From the recipe that Mike provided, this beer had major potential. Some of that potential did make it through to the end product. I thought the hopping of the beer was great. His use of Warrior hops for bittering provided a nice bittering that I envied. Mike talked about how he adjusted our tap water for a better hop presentation, which was a good reminder for me.

The grain bill was simple and suitable for a pilsner. It would have provided the proper beer color for the style. Tasting this beer, my brain was anticipating the soft, malty flavor that is a key element of Pilsners. Unfortunately, there was another flavor aspect present – an unwelcome one.

The Dirty Beer Line Culprit

As we explored in our last video, Mike needed to clean his beer lines. Even though he detected the problem, it was too late. The infection that was in his lines took hold in his keg. Once it took hold, it ruined the full volume of the Pilsner. The main off-flavor component makes this beer taste like a Hefeweizen. There’s a clove note that is out of place and it’s disappointing.

Mike’s going to give this beer a few weeks as he discussed on the video. He felt that this unwanted flavor note had waned but if it’s still there after this time period, he’s dumping this beer. The lesson is to make sure that you clean everything that touches your beer, even after fermentation. You never know what may ruin a beer so be diligent.

BREW ON.

Beer Line Cleaning Kit

5 Star North Beer Line Cleaning Kit Review

What happens when you pour a homebrewed beer out of your tap that should taste clean and crisp and but it comes across more like a funky style? After you check to make sure if you’re pouring from the correct keg, you may come to the realization that your beer lines need to be cleaned. In this video, Mike reviews 5 Star North’s Beer Line Cleaning Kit to fix this homebrewed problem.

Dirty Beer Line Blues

So, to let you in behind the scenes a bit, this dirty beer line issue was an actual problem that affected our video production. These Brew Dudes were supposed to review Mike’s latest Pilsner last week but he told me that it wasn’t ready. Because of some unclean beer lines, his Pilsner was tasting more like a Saison or a Hefeweizen.

Coincidentally, our friends at 5 Star North sent a message to us stating that they have a beer line cleaning kit for us to try. It was like all the stars in the sky aligned and everything in the universe was in sync at one moment in time. Yes, I think that’s what happened. Anyway, the kit was sent to us right at Mike’s time of need so he used it right away.

You can see in the video that the kit comes in the nice package. The contents of the kit are well constructed. Even though there is an instruction manual, Mike understands how this kit is going to work from looking over all the parts. One piece, the ball lock adapter is 3-D printed, which he thought was cool.

Clearly, a benefit of this kit is that it eliminates the need to have a free keg to hold cleaning solution. With this kit, you can use it whenever you want and it’s small enough for easy storage. This convenience is a big plus for us.

Beer Line Cleaning Conclusion

As he demonstrates in the video, the kit is easy to put together and easy to use. The cleaning solution that comes with the kit dissolves easily in water and is effective in cleaning beer lines after soaking for 15 minutes. After using the kit, it appears his Pilsner tasted more like what he was expecting. I look forward to reviewing that beer next week!

Brew ON!

Mike holding up a glass of Sabro Hops White Ale Fermented With Hoegaarden Yeast

Another Year of Using Hoegaarden Yeast

So last year, as a part of my homebrewing activities while in lockdown, I determined that one can harvest the yeast from bottles of Hoegaarden and brew a pretty great clone with that harvested yeast. So again, for the record:

Question: Can you harvest the yeast from the dregs of Hoegaarden bottles?
Answer: Yes, you can.

Question: Is it the same yeast they ferment the beer with?
Answer: Yes, it is.

Question: Can you capture some of the yeast after you ferment with it, save it in your fridge for a year, and then use it again after resuscitating with a proper starter?
Answer: Yes, I’ve done it.

Check out this video where I brew a new “Belgian” white ale using the Hoegaarden yeast I harvested a year ago and with a mighty late addition charge of Sabro hops.

Wide Open Wheat Recipe

I called this beer my Wide Open Wheat. I have no idea why. It’s what I wrote down in my li’l notebook at the top of the page. Maybe I was thinking about lockdown restrictions being lifted and being able to share this beer with many people. Who knows (and frankly, who cares). Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
50% German Pilsner Malt (I used 5 pounds/2.3 kg)
50% Flaked Wheat (I used 5 pounds/2.3 kg)
Rice Hulls (1 pound/.45 kg) – just to ensure I didn’t have a stuck sparge
1 ounces (28 grams) of Hallertau hops 4.0% AA – added with 60 minutes left to go in the boil
2 ounces (56 grams) of LupoMax Sabro hops 19.0% AA – added at flameout
2 liter starter of Hoegaarden yeast harvested from last year’s clone beer

Instructions:
Mashed grains for 60 minutes at 150°F or 66°C with tap water treated with Campden tablet. Collected 6.5 gallons of wort for boil. Added Hallertau hops and boiled for 60 minutes. Turned off burner and added Sabro hops. Chilled to 68°F or 20°C. Fermented at that temperature for 10 days. Kegged and carbonated.

Sabro Hops In a Belgian White Ale?

So how did it taste? I thought it came out great. The beer has an extremely light, soft body and a sense of creaminess from the yeast strain. The flavor is everything you expect from Sabro hops – lime, coconut, tropical fruit. It’s like a beach vacation in a beer pint glass. Mike thought the hops played well in this format too.

So give it a try – it’s a great beer for summer!

BREW ON!

Beer tap installation of the iTap on a fridge door

Beer Tap Installation – iTap From Boel Technologies

I have had my own beer fridge for years. It was a gift from my wonderful wife – a tangible show of support for my silly hobby. For a while, I have wanted to add a tap to the fridge’s door. When Boel Technologies sent their iTap beer faucet and counter pressure bottle filler to us, it was the perfect opportunity for a beer tap installation in my basement. Check out this video as we set up the iTap on my beer fridge.

Steps for Tap Installation

There are a few things you should know before you set up your own tap. If you’re installing the tap right into the appliance door like we did, here are the steps and details to know before you get started.

  1. You’ll need to drill a hole through the door. Mike brought over his electric drill with a metal hole saw bit. The diameter of the bit matched the shank that sits in the door and connects the beer keg line to the tap. He used a smaller bit just to mark the position of where the tap would be placed and then used the larger saw bit to drill through the door. Refrigerator doors have a thin layer of sheet metal that you need to cut through, along with some insulation, and finally, plastic on the interior side of the door. It didn’t take too much effort to cut the hole into the door.
  2. Use the fasteners that come with the shank to secure tightly to the door. I know this step sounds like common sense, but we really had to tighten the collars to the point where they were indenting the plastic on the inside of the door to ensure a good seal. Just keep that in mind.
  3. Buy tubing, a beverage out connector, and fasteners. The iTap didn’t come with any of the supplies that you need to get beer from the keg to the tap. When you’re prepping for your tap installation, remember to get all the things you need to connect the keg to the tap.
  4. Get a drip tray. After you’re done pouring your beer, the tap will drip. Having a tray to catch those drip is essential so you don’t have to clean up beer every time you open the tap. I got one and used some magnetic tape to place it on the door. Of course, you can secure yours permanently in place with screws but in my case, I wanted the flexibility to move it up or down based on what I was filling.

Installing the tap was pretty easy once the hole cutting was done. If you have been kegging for a while, the connections from keg to tap should be familiar to you.

Hope you liked this video. Thanks for watching and Brew ON!

Raw Ale – No Boil Brewing Experiment

We have received requests to brew a raw ale over the years. In essence, this type of beer is mashed but not boiled. After the mash is over, the wort is chilled to the proper temperature and then fermented. After getting a No-Boil Beer kit, I wanted to see if I could follow the process to experience the resulting beer. After brewing one Mistral SMaSH beer, I decided to do another one in raw ale form. Check out this video that shows them off side by side to get a good sense of the no boil process effect on a beer.

Our Raw Ale Thoughts

As beer fans, this style of beer is intriguing. Mike was taken aback by the lack of contamination in the beer. Without boiling the wort, there is a high risk for other microbes to join the fermentation fun. From what he could perceive, the beer was free phenol or medicinal flavors. He also noted that the beer was not acidic at this point either; which would have been another sign of contamination.

In the aroma, there was a significant amount of cut grass/hay. The hop aroma that is present in the boiled version of this beer was not apparent.

For the flavor, it was a combination of grass, herbs, and mint, which was detected in the aroma. The mouthfeel felt about the same as the boiled beer. Again, none of the fruity hop flavors were present in the raw ale. Strangely, none of the fruity oils from the dry hopping were present in the no-boil version. Mike suspects that all the extra protein in the beer from the no-boil process may have bound up some of those oils and they settled our after fermentation was completed.

To wrap up, I think raw ale is an interesting concept and will take more experimentation to get right. I drank a few sips and said, “Interesting.” After that, I didn’t want any more. Mike found it to be more appealing. He found it had saison-like qualities and wanted to see if this beer would change over time. Well, if you have the time, I have the beer.

Let us know about your Raw Ale thoughts. It was a worthy experiment but for my money, I am going to still with the boiling.

BREW ON!

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