Posts tagged ‘homebrew’

Olde Engrish |or| How I Made a Malt Liquor

OE 800So I just racked off my second try at a lager. Now the first was a guttural failure, an attempt at a Marzen. It was nasty. But, since it was the perfect temperature on the outside walls of the basement, I figured it was time to give it another try! but it couldn’t be just any lager this time. It had to be epic. Mike found a link to a recipe. It was perfect. The website said it best:

You may be asking yourself,  ”why is this so awesome?”.  For starters it…’s the fucking recipe for Olde English “800″.

I figured it would be a fun time either way, so I collected the ingredients at Larry’s (MyLHBS) for a 10 gallon batch:

Amount Item Type % or IBU
7 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 37.33 %
6 lbs 12.0 oz Pale Malt (6 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 36.00 %
5 lbs Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 26.67 %
0.25 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (105 min) Hops 2.8 IBU
0.25 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (105 min) Hops 2.8 IBU
1 Pkgs Pilsen Lager (Wyeast Labs #2007) Yeast-Lager


Whew! Over 25% Corn (and a total of 5 IBUs)! I used about half of what they had stashed at Larry’s. Brew day was uneventful, and I forgot/gotAllLazy on the ferment, so here it is about a month later and I just got to thowing it in a keg and sticking it in the kegerator for some lagering time at 40°. So in another month or so (maybe a couple weeks if I get antsy…) I’ll throw on the CO2 and pour the inaugural brew.


January 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm 3 comments

Stiff Cider Update

She’s in the primary now and looking mighty fine. I made a half recipe and measured an OG of 1.067 and it smells amazing. It should be drinkable in 2-3 weeks, so I’ll update in due time.

Cider in the fermenter

Also I got some kinks hammered out in the batch sparger, so the next (all-grain) batch should be coming in the next week or two. I’ll post some photos of the setup around brewing time, so stay tuned for more updates.


Added photo of the cider in the fermenter and will be bottling it tomorrow. The mash tun is sealing like a champ and now I just have to shorten the false bottom a bit since I didn’t account for the protruding of the drain outlet. Hopefully I’ll get to put it to use next weekend. I’m thinking it’ll be a hef, but only time will tell!

March 11, 2008 at 1:28 pm 1 comment

How To Convert a Retired Sanke (1/2 bbl) 15 Gallon Keg Into A Boil Kettle

So my buddy Mike wanted a boil kettle, and since New Belgium practically gives away old kegs, I hooked him up. I also converted it for him, since I had the experience of a couple I converted for myself. Without further ado, here is the process:

Mike’s Brew Kettle

First off, materials:

  • $10-$100….1 old keg
  • $24-37……..1 weldless brass or stainless steel spigot (depending on how you roll, honestly it doesn’t make much of a practical difference, but some would argue)
  • $6…………….a short section of 1/2″ copper tubing
  • $1…………….a female threaded copper coupling (1/2″ Copper to 1/2″ MIP – to match the threads on the spigot)
  • $1…………….a 90 degree elbow (1/2″ copper)

And tools:

  • a 7/8″ hole saw (better yet would be a step bit)
  • a propane torch along with flux and lead-free solder for welding the copper
  • an angle grinder and appropriate metal-cutting blades (plan on using at least two per keg)
  • a drill

If your keg is still sealed (you cannot see into the keg from the top looking down), there’s a great youtube video by Bobby M with instructions on popping out the stem at the end or by clicking here.

After the stem is removed, it’s time to cut the top off of the keg. First, I gave a good rinse to get any sloshing beer out and then just filled it up a bit with water (just to cover the bottom) to hopefully cool down any flying shards of metal that land inside and keep them from sticking to the bottom. I found the best way to do the actual cutting is to butt your angle grinder right up to the side of the keg and use that as your guide. Last time I drew a circle and tried to follow it, but I ended up with a bunch of straight limes (think hexagon) insted of a circle. Here’s a visual:

If you watch the video at the end (Brewing with Bobby M), he makes a fancy jig just for this function, and I would recommend that if you are a real neat freak, but I got a pretty solid circle just by tracing the outside.

After the top is off, you need to sand the edges until you get all of the sharp points nice and rounded so you don’t lose a finger in your beer. I started with just emery cloth but ended up getting a grinding stone attachment for my drill, that sped things up quite a bit. You could also just use the grinder to smooth it out, but I found I didn’t have the degree of accuracy I wanted doing it this way.  Sand until you are confident it is child safe – not a dumb test.

So the top is beautiful and you aren’t going to die when you touch it. Now you need the hole for the spigot on the inside. I measured up 4 1/4″ from the bottom, just to match the last one I did. I have yet to find a standard measurement.

SIDENOTE: I want you to stop at this point and think hard about exactly where you want the spigot. I centered it between the two handles on the top, which I think was a good call.  The other part of this is if you are going to install a temperature gauge on the keg as well, think about your setup and where you want it to be. Most people just install the temperature dial directly above the spigot, but I installed mine to the side just because I wanted it to be low enough to pick up a temperature on relatively small batches. I wish that I would have installed the dial on my sparge tank 90º from the spigot. That way, I would have the spigot to the side (aimed directly at the mash tun) and the dial straight ahead so I wouldn’t have to lean over the mash tun to see the temperature.

Here’s where I’m going to drill the hole:

Hole Drilled

EXPLODING KEGS: You’ll notice above that on the bottom collar there is a hole there for drainage. If your keg does not have those, make sure to drill some on the bottom, otherwise you risk gas buildup and the eventual exploding keg.

After drilling the hole, again you need to sand it down so that it is not sharp. This is important because you will be putting an o-ring against this hole, and you don’t want it getting torn up.

That’s about it for the hard parts. The only other thing to do is to make the copper ‘L’ piece to go inside that goes from the inside of the spigot to the bottom of the keg to drain all the way to the bottom. This is just simple copper soldering. Cut your tubing the length you want it and then sand the edges to clean them (inside and out). Then put some flux all around the outside of the tubing and stick it in the fitting. Finally, heat up the fitting until the solder melts on contact to the copper (not directly in the flame). Make sure the solder fills all the way around the tube.

That’s basically all there is to it, it only took about 1 1/2 or 2 hours start to finish. It’s really easy and the best way to get into a 5 gallon or even 10 gallon boil with the addition of a propane burner.

APPENDIX – Using Your Brewpot:


  • a copper dish scrubber (find it at the grocery store)
  • teflon tape (in the plumbing section of the hardware store for a buck)
  • a stainless steel spoon, around 2 feet. Find a cheap one here.

After making the brewpot, you want to prep all the threads by putting teflon tape on all male threads ($0.99 at hardware stores). This will keep the threads from leaking: then put it all together in this order:

The spigot goes handle-side outside the brewpot, the threaded end through the hole in the keg (if you can’t figure that much out, you’re in trouble). On the inside, you’ll put on the O-ring, then the stainless steel washer, and finally the female threaded coupler. Coming out from that you will want the copper fitting you have soldered together screwed on, ending up facing down toward the bottom of the keg. It will look like this:

weldless spigot Inside of brewpot

Weldless Spigot on outside of Keg

Next time you’re at the store, pick up a copper dish scrubber. This will act as a screen for all the hops and trub (sidenote: it is pronounced ‘troob’) at the end of the boil. put this around the bottom of the copper ‘L’ fitting. When you get the scrubber, it has a hole right in the middle that is not very conducive to this project. Simply unroll the mesh and you will get something that looks like this and can be folded up and used as an effective screen:

Copper Mesh Filter

I recommend using a hop bag as well, to make sure you don’t get any clogs. There’s a great video for that:

You may think it’s overkill having two filters, but let me tell you – there is NOTHING worse than brewing all day, drinking a few homebrews on the way, getting tired, finishing the boil and opening your spigot to…nothing. I have had a couple clogged screens and that was enough.

Next you’ll want to test the setup for leaks, and while doing it, mark gallons as follows. Add water 1 gallon at a time (or 1/2 gallon at a time if you want to be more precise). At each point, mark on your metal spoon (and on the brew pot if you like) at the water level. This allows you to measure how much liquid you have left, allowing you to know when you get to your 5.5 gallon mark or whatever you are aiming for.

Now you’re ready to boil the beer! After the beer has boiled it’s course (60-180 minutes), you need to drain it out and cool it down before you pitch the yeast. The easiest way to accomplish this is to put your immersion chiller in the wort for the last 15-20 minutes of the boil to sanitize it, then chill it right in the brewpot. But, if you can’t get a water source to your propane setup like me, you’ll have to drain it into a bucket, take the bucket to where you have water access and then cool it there. If you are going to cool it in the brewpot, do that. If not, just keep reading.

Now before you drain the beer, it is best to create a whirlpool to get all of the hops and trub to the middle of the brewpot. Simply stir the wort in a circular motion getting it going as fast as you can, then let it sit for 10-15 minutes. After that, drain it through your already installed copper screen, and you will minimize the sediment that gets to the primary. This is why you put the copper ‘L’ drain on the side, and not into the middle. You won’t need to siphon because all that’ll be left is sediment. You’ll lose a little liquid, but not enough to make a fuss over. Just make sure to boil a little extra to make up for it. After you drain it, if you have not done so, cool it to yeast temperatures and pitch your yeast. If you are draining the beer while it is still hot (without cooling to yeast temperatures), you will need to use special heat resistant tubing, not just the nylon stuff you use for syphoning. You’re local homebrew store should have it.

It’s even easier once you get a pump and a counterflow or plate chiller. Then you just attach a hose from the spigot to the pump to the chiller to the fermenter, turn on the water and watch the magic work!

There you are! Enjoy using your brew pot (or as the cool people say, your keggle).

Other Good Links:

March 10, 2008 at 11:11 am 16 comments

The Lost Batch

This was my first batch of beer and turned out ok. That is all you can expect from a purely extract beer though.

Date: 09/2007
Size: 5 Gallons


  • 7lbs Liquid Amber Malt Extract
  • 1/2 oz Cascade hops
  • Filtered water to make 5 gallons
  • Dried Ale Yeast


  • I boiled 2 1/2 gallons of wort in two separate pots (a two gallon and one gallon pot) for 30 minutes. I believe the hops were added at the beginning of the boil.
  • The wort was then added to the remaining water and cooled in an ice bath to 80° where yeast was pitched.
  • OG was measured at 1.052.
  • I did not take any other notes on this brew.

Tasting notes:

  • The brew did not ferment enough, or perhaps it was just not very good. Either way, it tasted too thick, too sugary.
  • It did mellow with age however and tasted better a month later.

January 7, 2008 at 12:13 am Leave a comment

My First Brewing Experience – Batch 001

My first batch of homebrew was supposed to be a medium sweet show mead. The recipe was adapted from THE essential book on making mead: the compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm. This book is clear enough for beginners and has all the information you need for years of creative meadmaking. The recipe I adapted was the Medium-Sweet Orange Blossom mead described on page 30. However, I decided to make only a 3 gallon batch, seeing as this was my first adventure, and honey is expensive.


Here is the recipe I used to create F I R E M E A D :

9 lbs. Gulimette’s Busy Bees Cascade Fireweed Honey (from a small stand in Lynden, WA)
2.4 Gallons of water (filtered with a Brita pitcher)
1.2 tsp nutrient
0.6 tsp energizer
WYEAST 4184 (Sweet Mead Yeast) (Smack Pack)

The method I used is simply as follows:

  • The yeast smackpack was brought to room temperature and prepared per the instructions on the package.
  • The water and honey were heated to 155° & left for 10 minutes to pasteurize.
  • The must (honey and water) was then cooled to 80 degrees and the yeast was pitched after oxidizing the must (stirring it up vigorously)
  • This mix was then siphoned into a 2.8 gallon carboy to ferment.
  • OG (original gravity) was measured to be 1.110

I did have trouble getting this brew to ferment, I’m not sure why, but on March 11, the specific gravity had only dropped to 1.094, and so I decided to pitch more yeast. I chose Rad Star Pasteur Champagne yeast because it is good at unsticking stuck fermentations. I pitched two packets that had been rehydrated in 105º water. This did the trick as it began bubbling shortly after.

June 6, 2007

Mead was racked off of yeast into secondary fermenter. SG (specific Gravity) was found to be 1.022 (and was largely completed at this point. I was surprised that it stopped here considering that I added champagne yeast capable of up to 20% tolerance. But I was very satisfied, because I wanted a sweet mead anyway.

October 1, 2007

Mead was bottled with a FG of 1.020.

Tasting notes:

  • As a first attempt, this stuff is good.
  • with a couple of months in the bottle, it interestingly developed an effervescence. I suppose there was some dormant yeast that got kicked up during bottling.
  • The mead has a strong yeasty taste, probably associated with the fact that I left it in the primary for way too long (almost 3 months).

So this was my first mead experience (and the only one to date that is in the bottle). I was very happy to have it be the least bit drinkable, and it is much more than just that!

Some day I will add pictures to the site, but currently I have no camera. Damn airports.

January 6, 2008 at 11:56 pm 1 comment

Hello world!

Welcome to Alex’s Brewing Adventures. I will include my methods and recipes for beer and Mead and whatever else I can whip up as well as give tips and hints of things I learn along the way. This blog is as much a reference to me as it is to you. Enjoy.

January 6, 2008 at 11:09 pm 1 comment

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