Friday, May 5, 2017

Blow off set up....

With the blow off valve open and the tubing inside a jar of Starsan
 it provides a 1/2" blow off during fermentation.

Thought I'd share this blow off set up a friend of mine made up for his SS Brewtech fermentors that I've made and used.  I've found it works great and figured some people may find it useful for their Brew Buckets.  This set up can be used as a blow off tube, a way to perform a pressure transfer, and purge with CO2 while cracking the lid.

Click on the pictures to get a bigger view.

To do as close to an O2 free transfer as possible I'll suspend my bagged hops in a keg and purge it several times with about 20psi of CO2 and then pressurize the keg after purging.   When I'm ready to transfer, I'll hook up my CO2 to the gas fitting on top of the "T" and get the gas flowing at under 5psi to slowly bubble the Starsan in the blow off jar.  The transfer tubing I use has nothing on one end and the other end has a liquid quick disconnect installed on it.  Right before connecting the open end of the transfer tubing to the racking valve on the fermentor, I'll connect it to the liquid out post on my keg.  This releases the CO2 from the keg and purges the tubing.  I then open the pressure relief valve on the lid of the the keg, connect the tubing to the racking valve, close the blue handled valve on the blow off set up and open the racking valve to start the transfer.

To purge the head space while adding hops or other additions first connect your CO2 to the gas fitting making sure the CO2 is off at this point.  Open the two front spring clamps and turn the gas on to about 5psi and close the blue handled valve on the blow off.  You can now lift the lid a bit and make an addition to the fermentor.  Once your done, lower the lid, open the blue valve again, and close the two spring clamps.  You can run a bit of gas though the head space afterwards for a few seconds to further assure you've purged as much O2 as possible.  While I don't open my Brew Bucket during fermentation, this is the method my friend uses to do so.

All the parts were purchased at Brew Hardware except one from SS Brewtech.  The stainless parts are listed from left to right as in the first picture above:

From the lid:
Hose Barb 1/2" 90° for Blow-Off
Left side of "T":
Hose Barb, 1/2" Male NPT x 5/8" Hose ID

And "T":
NPT Tee Fitting Female 1/2" NPT

Top of "T":
Hex Reducing Bushing 1/4" FNPT X 1/2" MNPT

NPT Male, 1/4" to Keg Post Adapter 19/32" -18 Thread

Gas Side Ball Lock Keg Post (19/32"-18) with Universal Poppet

Right side of "T":
Mini-Ball Valve 1/2" Male/Female

Hose Barb, 1/2" Male NPT x 5/8" Hose ID

And then enough tubing to make your top connection and then to reach the blow off jar:
UltraClear Silicone Tubing by the foot, 1/2" ID x 3/4" OD (1/8" Thick Walls)

The 1/2" tubing fits real snug over the 5/8" hose barbs and won't blow apart with the amount of pressure applied during a transfer.  Also, I used some Teflon tape on the threaded parts of the set up.  To clean the set up I remove the tubing and soak the assembly and tubing in PBW for at least 30-40 minutes.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Amarillo Again...

For this version I used a fresh re-pitch of 1318 which started showing signs of fermentation within a half hour.  Compared to the Vermont strain I used previously, this 1318 hasn't cleared up yet.  The Vermont stain cleared up much faster and I didn't use Whirfloc in that brew as I did in this one. 

I'm enjoying using just one dry hop versus two.  The transfer from the SS Brewtech Bucket is painless...cause I don't need to worry about hop debris clogging anything.  The harvested yeast is as clean as I can get it and seems to be happy when pitched.

Not sure what I would change for another batch of this beer.  It's a subtle beer and the flavors are not in your face like other IPA's or hops.  Do I go for a bigger dry hop?  I don't know.  Maybe I'll play with the water profile and use a heavier hand.  Either way it's a pleasant beer and the hops are nice.  Amarillo can stand on it's own.


2.5 Gallons
O.G. 1.060
F.G. 1.012

80% (5 lbs. 9.7 oz.) 2-Row
10% (11.2 oz.) Marris Otter
10% (11.2 oz.) White Wheat
Mash at 152 F for 60 min

Warrior @60 min for 60 IBUs

2.00 oz. Amarillo for 10 min.
.6 g. of Whirfloc added at 5 min.

120 ml. of Wyeast 1318

3.00 oz. Amarillo in serving keg

Tasting Notes:

Color: An orange color, white head with good lacing, and an opaque haze.

Aroma: A mandarin orange/tangerine thing going on.  Bready/nutty background.  A slight spicy/sweet aroma without being cloying.  Not a huge aroma but pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Soft.  Light bitterness right down the middle.  Finishes sweet but dry.  Adequate carbonation.

Flavor:  Like a strong orange/tangerine tea.  Earthy, sweet with that bready/nutty thing going on in the background.  A subtle beer.  Enjoyable.

Overall: This beer came out good. I like Amarillo and the flavor is interesting enough to keep me coming back...the alcohol comes through a little (which I like) and cuts through the sweetness of this hop and malt bill.  The 1318  was just as good as the Vermont strain I used last time.  My experience with GY054 is limited to one brew though.  1318 I've used many times and I'm comfortable with need to change for now.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nelson Pale Ale...

For this beer I went for the easy brew.  No ph testing and no gravity readings.  It was a joy to brew this way.  No chasing numbers and taking samples.  It was more like cooking...just hoping the quality of the ingredients shines through.  I trust my system enough since my acid addition and salts seem to always fall in place even when I do test.  I use The Mash Chemistry and Brewing Water Calculator from Brewer's Friend to calculate all my additions.

I did try a new process for this brew.  After whirlpool chilling and letting it sit for a while in the kettle I then transferred it to a sanitized glass carboy and set it to the side.  Then, I cleaned the kettle and the chiller and everything that I was done with.  By that time the trub in the glass carboy had really started to drop out.  After letting it sit for an hour or so I was able to rack the clear wort off the trub into another fermentor, add oxygen and pitch the yeast.  The picture below shows just how clean the yeast harvested from this beer really was.  My goal wasn't to reduce haze or eliminate storage issues but just to have as pure a yeast harvest as possible.  I think it worked good!  I used a pitch of this yeast the day I harvested it for an Amarillo pale ale and within 15-20 minutes the blow off tube was starting to slowly bubble.


2.5 Gallons
O.G. 1.045
F.G. 1.010

2-Row        80% (4 lbs. 3.3 oz.)
White Wheat  20% (1 lb .8 oz.)

Mash at 152 F for 60 min

Warrior @60 min for 30 IBUs
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin at 5 min

1.0 pkg. of Wyeast 1318           

DRY HOPS:     
3 oz. Nelson Sauvin in serving keg

Tasting Notes:

Color:  A slight pale yellow/orange color in the right light; pineapple juice looking.  It has a white head.  Not the most stunning of beers but not bad.

Aroma:  I get a nice whiff of dank initially....pineapple, grapefruit, peach, spice like pepper.  Very good.

Mouthfeel:   This beer is soft.  The body of the beer stands up good....maybe medium.  I went for 2.3 volumes and the head indicates that but it feels less.  This beer is delicate but assertive with a fading dry finish.

Flavor:   I've never had gooseberry's but if this hop is what they are like I'm sure I'd enjoy them.  It's got this unique drying bitterness...spicey but not strong like a Saison spiciness....just a finely ground pepper.  Earthy....grapefuit....very dry finish that fades quick.  Delicate.  Juice.

Overall:   This beer came out very good.  A fresh drinker for sure.  I'm gonna put this hop right there next to Galaxy on my favorites list.  Just fantastic!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mosaic Quick Sour...

My wife likes sours and so I make sure to brew a quick sour for her every so often.  But I have to put my own spin on it.  I like dry hopping them and she likes that works.

For the first few quick sours I made starters for the lacto and stressed over getting everything right: the temperature, the exposure to oxygen and the amount of cells.  Well, I'm a huge fan of simple.  So when I came across this post on where one of the members drgonzo2k2 talked about just throwing the Swanson's  L. Plantarum probiotic pills straight into the wort (1 per gallon) I was intrigued.  I followed a couple links and found he discussed his method on the Milk The Funk Facebook page and people were having success.  So I gave it a go for this one.  And it worked!  Worked great.

This beer came out good.  When the beer is still it gives off a fresh lemon lime scent.  With a good swirl it gives off that dank berry like aroma that Mosaic has.

It has a soft but assertive sourness and as it aged and cleared it smoothed out even more.  Real refreshing; subtle hop flavor with just a touch of that earthy dankness that Mosaic has.

Overall, I enjoyed brewing this and drinking it.  With the new lacto technique brew day was easy and I think Mosaic helps add some complexity to the aroma and flavor to such a basic beer.

Mosaic Quick Sour

2.50 gallons
O.G. 1.038
F.G.  1.009

Pilsner     50 % (2 lbs.)
White Wheat    50 % (2 lbs.)

Mash at 145 F for 60 min       

Bring to a boil and then stop.  Adjust ph to 4.5 and then chill down to around 100 degrees.    

Pitch the contents of 3 capsules of Swanson's  L. Plantarum probiotic pills into the 100-90 degree wort and hold for about 48 hours.
1.0 pkg. of Wyeast 1318 starter made on brew day and pitched around 48 hrs later.   

1oz Mosaic 4 days in primary
2oz Mosaic 1 day in keg, then left in keg while chilling and carbonating.


The picture to the left is from Doug Stallard's (drgonzo2k2 on HBT) post on the Milk the Funk Facebook page about his beer Three Question Marks which won an award for Best of Show in a brewing competition.  This is the post (great picture!) that really convinced me to try this souring method.  I've messaged with Doug on HBT and he encouraged me to share his post on the Milk the Funk Facebook page. If you're already a member click on the picture to take you to the post.  Or I believe the link will tell you it's a closed's a great group and worth joining if your into brewing sour beers of any kind.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Rather than sit and click away at Beersmith and Brewer's Friend for this recipe, I used a malt bill from another beer (Mosaic Once Again) and mixed up the yeast and hops.  This made for a relaxed brew day since I didn't take pH readings or toil over hitting the numbers because I knew what to expect from the malt bill.

Slightly carbonated.

This was the first beer I used my homemade spunding valve on.  I let it ferment out in primary for about 4 days and then transferred it onto the bagged hops in a purged keg.  With the spunding valve on I left it in the ferm chamber until the pressure stopped climbing.  At that point I put it in the keg fridge and let it crash for about 5 days.  Samples taken during that time were fine and I perceived no off flavors.


2.50 gallons
O.G. 1.062
F.G.  1.009


Rahr 2-Row     75.0 % (5 lbs. 4.9 oz.)
White Wheat    20.0 % (1 lb 6.6 oz.)
Crystal 20      5.0 % (5.7 oz.)

Mash at 152 F for 60 min       

Warrior @60 min for 60 IBUs     

1 oz. Mosaic
.5 oz. Citra
.5 oz Columbus
All for 10 mins. at 180f.    

1.0 pkg. of WLP007           

2 oz. Mosaic
.5 oz. Citra
.5 oz. Columbus
 Spunded for 5 days.

Tasting Notes:

Color:  A slight orange color and in the right light it's nice.  It has a white head that lasts an average amount of time with some lacing.

Aroma:   I get the fruit up front, and then a slight hint of dry grass.  That Citra sweetness is there and it's only a total of an ounce between the whirlpool and the dry hop.  After a week or two in the keg that melded into the background and the Mosaic took the forefront with a berry like aroma.  As it aged, a citrus/earthy like aroma got stronger.

Mouthfeel:   This beer is soft and easy and finishes dry.  The carbonation is good.  The spunding carbonated it a little and I had to play with the hydrometer sample to get rid of the carbonation.  As the beer got older the softness dissipated and it dried out more.

Flavor:   Berry fruits and a slight sweetness along with an earthy undertone.  The bitterness was nice at 60 IBU's of Warrior and I'm finding I like this for my tastes in hoppy beers.  Finishes dry with a citrus like flavor.  As it got older the citrus/earthy flavor seemed to get stronger along with the dry bitterness.  But in a good way.

Overall:   This beer came out good.  This one does well to put a little age on it.  Not as much as a fresh drinker as some of the other beers.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Tasting Notes:

Color:  Pretty much the same as the Mosaic beer.  Orange hue.  Hazy.  White head.

Aroma:  I thought this beer would be an aroma bomb but not really.  It had that sort of peach/apricot thing going on with some citrus in the background.  Good enough but not amazing.

Mouthfeel:  This malt bill felt a little thinner and the yeast brought it down to 1.009 so that must have had something to do with it.  Dry on the finish.  Good carbonation.

Flavor:  This is where this beer shined.  I really enjoyed it once it sat for a week on gas.  It WAS all citrus like; hints of oranges and tangerines.  The drying finish helped it to appear to taste like oranges with a slight bit of pithy finish.  Going to brew this again.

Overall:  The Conan yeast didn't seem to make a big impact on this beer.  The next time I brew it I'll just use 007 or 1318.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Ready for a swim.

There's so much talk about hops like Mosaic, Galaxy and Citra but Amarillo has this sort of quiet fervor about it.  It plays well with so many hops but there aren't as many single hopped pale ales made with Amarillo as the other hops mentioned above.  Not sure why.

For this batch I was able to try out my new Torpedo keg.  I'd have to say not the best quality.  The quick disconnects are tight and the gas poppet sticks sometimes when disconnecting the fitting.  I've seen reviews that the lid doesn't close properly unless putting it to high pressure.  This hasn't been a problem for me since I have made a habit of turning the pressure up when sealing keg lids.  Although the edge of the metal rim the lid sits against is pretty rough and has small bends or dents in's just not smooth and I could see someone having trouble getting it to seal.

Anyone have any crackers?

On brew day, man the Amarillo smelled good in the whirlpool!  The orange and grapefruit aroma just wafting up with the steam was amazing.  It will be interesting the see how the GY054 pairs with this hop.


2.5 Gallons
O.G. 1.060
F.G. 1.009

2-Row        80% (5 lbs. 9.7 oz.)
Marris Otter 10% (11.2 oz.)
White Wheat  10% (11.2 oz.)

Mash at 152 F for 60 min

Warrior @60 min for 60 IBUs     

2.00 oz. Amarillo for 10 min     

1.0 pkg. of GY054           

1.50 oz. Amarillo for 5.0 Days     
1.50 oz. Amarillo in serving keg