Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Batch 211, Panama Red with modifications

I love my Panama Red, and I haven't tweaked the recipe in quite a while. This time I made a couple of changes just to see if I like it better. I added more hops at the beginning, so it should be a little more bitter, and I reduced the Crystal 60 so it shouldn't be quite as sweet.

10 gallon batch

23 lb 2-row (up from 22.25 to compensate for reducing the Crystal 60)
1.5 lb white wheat
1 lb Crystal 60 (down from 1.5 so it won't be quite as sweet)
4 oz chocolate malt

I mashed with 10 gallons at 165F, which hit 154F in the tun. Adjusted pH to 5.2.

4 oz Mt Hood, FWH (up from 2 oz)
3 oz Centennial, 60 min (up from 2 oz)
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min
2 oz Cascade, 5 min
2 oz Mt Hood, 5 min

90 minute boil.

Wyeast 1272 from Batch 209, pitched 2 quarts.

OG: 1.064, 1.056 actual, not sure what happened here...
FG: 1.017
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 98.6 (Tinseth)
SRM: 10.8

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Refrigerator Modification

I bought a couple of wine coolers from Home Depot a few years ago. They look nice, the inside is big enough to hold 2 of my kegs, and it was pretty easy to put a tap tower on top.

However, these are wine coolers. I'm actually using one for wine, so it's just fine, the other I'm using for beer. The problem with the wine cooler part is the temperature really only has two settings, one for red and one for white. The lowest the temp will go is 39F, which is just okay for beer. Personally (and this is definitely an area of personal preference), I like my beer served at 34F. It will warm soon enough in the glass all on its own, especially on hot summer days. So -- I modded it to run at a lower temperature. This was a pretty straightforward project after a little internet search.

My approach is to replace the built-in temperature controller with an Inkbird:

These go for about $35 on Amazon. I have one just like this that I use to run the freezer I use for fermentation. They are very easy to set up and work very well. There are 3 wires, the one on the left is for the temperature sensor, the middle turns on electricity to both a hot and a cold device, and the third is for the power. In this case, I don't need the hot, just the cold. In my fermentation freezer, I have the power cord for the freezer plugged into the cold and a terrarium heater for the hot.

Next, I found the circuit diagram for the wine cooler pasted to the back, it looks like this:

Wine cooler circuit diagram

If you look closely, the wires are labeled with colors, so all I have to do is cut the brown and red wires from the circuit board and connect them, which bypasses the built-in controller completely. This does mean that the internal light and temperature display won't work, but I don't care. The built-in controller is located on the inside ceiling of the wine cooler, and it's held in place by 2 screws. Inside is the circuit board, which looks like this:

Wine cooler circuit board

The brown and red wires are in the lower left corner of the picture. I just cut them and used a wire nut to connect them. The blue wire powers the compressor, so it's essential to leave it alone or the fridge won't cool at all.

There is a drain hole inside the fridge right above the compressor. I widened it a little with a drill and was able to push the Inkbird sensor inside with no problem, so no chance of hitting a cooling line. I ran the sensor up to the built-in controller and used some black gorilla tape to hold it in place.

That's it. I set the temp on the Inkbird and since there is plenty of room behind the rear access panel, I put all the wires and the Inkbird behind the panel, so it all looks like it was never modified.

April 24, 2020: Both of the coolers have crapped out.
The beer fridge needed 2 parts:
HQRP QP2-4R7 4.7 Ohm 3-Pin PTC Starter/Start Relay Replacement for Mini Fridges, Compact Refrigerators, Beverage & Wine/Beer coolers, Deep Freezers, Beer/Wine Refrigerators
These were both pretty easy to install.

The wine fridge is showing an EEF code. The beer fridge didn't show any code because I've done the modification above. Those parts look fine on the wine fridge, so I'm going to attempt the same modification as the beer fridge to see if it's the temperature controller that is out. Update -- that didn't work. It seems the best the fridge can do is about 53 or 54F, and it runs all day to keep it there.  A new fridge is on the way.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Batch 210, another cider, but with berries

I guess this counts as a double batch day, sort of. I made a cider to go along with the Arrogant Bastard wannabe clone that I made today. I had some trouble, and ended up with extra wort, which I wanted anyway to be able to feed the yeast for a cider. This is pretty much the same as the cider I've made before, but this time I'm planning to add berries.


1 gallon of wort from Batch 209
11 cans of Winco frozen apple cider juice

Put that into the fermenter, add 2 gallons of water, pitched 1 cup of thick slurry of Wyeast 1272.

The plan is to let this ferment out, then heat 4 lbs of berries (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry mix) in 1 gallon of water, and add it to the fermenter. The sugar from the berries should cause fermentation to restart, let it go for another week, then rack and keg. The idea here is by adding the fruit later on, the fermentation is less likely to drive off the fruit flavors.

As usual, I don't have an OG for this.

Update, May 15, 2018, racked into a keg today. The hydrometer sample tastes like fruit juice, no hot alcohol flavors at all. Lots of berries left behind:

And it looks really clear coming out of the bucket:

One more picture, this is one of the most useful pieces of equipment I have for brewing:

It's a solid brass nozzle, with a solid brass shutoff. It's easy to use this one-handed.

Batch 209, some sort of Arrogant Bastard clone

I still have a lot (a lot!) of those hops from Libby's wedding a year and a half ago. These are the hops that went into the Hoppily Ever After beer, which has an astoundingly strong flavor of peaches. I started with an Arrogant Bastard clone beer, since it's a strong beer with a single hop. Arrogant Bastard uses all Chinook, which is what I was originally told these hops were, but these are definitely NOT Chinook. Plus I didn't actually have exactly the right grains for an AB clone, so here it is...

10 gallon batch

28 lb 2 row
1.5 lb white wheat (see side note below)
2.25 oz Crystal 120
8 0z roasted barley
8 oz british brown
14 oz Crystal 60

Those last 4 are an attempt to substitute for 2 lb of Special B. I thought I could just use the Crystal 120, but I had nowhere close to 2 lb, hence the rest.

Adjusted pH to 5.3, mashed at 154F for 60 minutes, more or less, because bad things happened -- the SS braid in my mash tun disconnected. What a pain in the ass! I thought my pump had died on me, so I tore it apart, and cleaned and lubed it, but it turned out that it was just clogged by grain. I had to empty the mash tun into buckets, then get the braid reattached. Lots of vorlauf today to make sure things were good. That only added about 30 minutes to my brew day, so really not a big deal, just a pain.

I'm calling this hop "Peaches" since I don't know what it's real name is... (update, they are definitely Mosaic hops)

90 minute boil

3 oz Peaches, 90 min
2 oz Peaches, 45 min
2 oz Peaches, 15 min
2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min
2 oz Peaches, 5 min

As I'm writing this, I realized two things -- I forgot to filter the water, and I forgot to get an OG. I did remember to oxygenate and pitch the yeast, which was 2 cups of 1272 from the last batch of Panama Red.

Specs per Brewtarget:

OG: 1.068
FG: 1.018
SRM: 13.9
IBU: 110

Update, 21 May 2018: the hydrometer sample left me thinking this was not going to be a very good beer, but once it's on tap and carbonated, it is actually quite good. I would make this again, if I happen to have any of these hops again.