Thursday, December 24, 2009


Christmas came early for me this year.  Santa (Athena) got me ingredients for a Russian Imperial Stout, Stone Ruination Clone, Barley Wine, and another Honey Brown Ale.  Athena also picked up a couple 1/2 gallon growlers for yeast starters and a new 5 gallon glass carboy for secondary fermentation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Taste Test

Both beers came out great!  My chocolate oatmeal stout pours with a short, cream colored head that tends to settle a little early due to the cocoa powder added to the wort.  A brandy snifter is really the only way you can see the dark caramel color at the edges of the otherwise opaque brew.  It has a toasty, chocolatey aroma with very subtle hoppy undertones.  This beer taste just like it smells; slightly sweet at first from the roasted grains followed by a mild chocolate flavor.  The oats give a smooth mouthfeel making this high gravity stout almost too easy to drink. There is also a very satisfyingly bitter finish from the hops and cocoa that beckon you to take another sip.

Athena's honey brown ale has been the crowd favorite, and for good reason; I'll let her go into detail with her own review, but I'll still give a quick rundown.  It pours with a solid head typical of an English brown ale that keeps well throughout while drinking.  The roasted grains give it a slightly cloudy but deep caramel color through the center of a pint glass.  The aroma hops give it a citrusy bouquet and keep the bitterness to a minimum which lets the sweet malty taste of this beer shine through.  Athena used 2 cups of honey that really cut through the bitterness of the flavoring hops to make this beer my new favorite brown ale.  This one's a keeper and I'm sure we'll have a batch going year round.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Keezer Pics

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lots of updates

I've been really busy lately, so my chocolate oatmeal stout and Athena's honey brown ale have been sitting on secondary for three weeks or so.  In that time, I ordered the hardware/plumbing for the keezer and came up with a more conventional (cheaper) design and Athena even picked up her own Corny keg.

Keezer Hardware:
  • Perlick Stainless Faucets with handles (x3)
  • 4" Stainless Steel Shanks (x3)
  • CO2 and Beer Hoses (12' of each)
Lid Materials:
  • 3/4" Oak
  • 1/4" Furniture-grade Plywood
  • 2" Mold-resistant Styrofoam Insulation
  • Weather Stripping
I got to hang out with my dad for the better part of a Sunday afternoon building the lid and staining it.  Later that week I sealed it with a couple coats of polyurethane coating, installed the insulation, and got it mounted to the freezer.

Athena came home today with her keg and I got my drip tray and rubber shelf mats in the mail.  We siphoned both beers into their respective kegs, slowly brought the pressure up to 30PSI while aerating over the coarse of about 30 minutes, then let them chill while we went shopping for dinner.  We cooked up some rib eyes with mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies just in time for our beers to get cold and fizzy.

Nothing like a home cooked meal with a home brewed beer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Officially Obsessed

Last weekend Tom and I racked his Pliny of the Elder clone and my Fat Tire clone to secondary.  Then on Monday and Tuesday, Athena and I made a batch of Honey Brown Ale and a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout respectively.

  That means there are 20 gallons of beer fermenting in my garage as we speak (or type)

  Chocolate Oatmeal Stout on the left, Honey Brown Ale on the right

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Now it's a Keezer

Today I wired up my inline temperature controller and set it to 38F.  It was way easier than I thought and the whole thing only took about 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kegs are here

Woke up this morning with a big box from Midwest Brewers Supply on my doorstep:

I also got my inline temperature controller so I can turn my chest freezer into a refrigerator. Right now I have all the components to build phase one of the Keezer, so I think that will be my project this weekend.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Brew Day +1

Less than 24 hours after pitching my yeast I had an airlock full of foam!  It has since died down, but I still have a nice krausen...yeast starter ftw.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Brew Day!!

Today I bought the last of the equipment needed to start brewing:
  • 20qt Stainless Steel Stew Pot
  • Metal Brewer's Spoon
  • Wine Thief
  •  Rubbermaid Bin (to fill w/ ice to cool my wort)
The whole process took about 3 hours from the time I put the water on the stove to the end of cleanup.  The ice bath of saltwater (thanks MythBusters!!) really helped get the wort to a pitchable temperature in record time.  I ended up with a little over 3 gallons of boiling water that I was able to cool down to about 85 F in less than 20 minutes.  I had 2 gallons of sterilized mineral water in the freezer, so when I mixed the two the final temp going into the carboy was about 67 F.  The whole time I was cooling the wort, I had my aerator working its magic, and I left it in the carboy for another 20 minutes after pitching the yeast.  Instead of using a plastic airlock, I opted for a 3 foot section of 1" surgical tubing with the other end in a 48oz beer stein half-filled with vodka.

Now I'm just going to cover it up and let the yeast do their thing.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Aeration Perfection

I'm anxious to try my first batch so I'm giving my yeast a head start by aerating my wort as I rack it.  This is for a fish aquarium, but has an inline HEPA filter so I don't get any bacteria in my wort.  I'm going to start brewing right after Halloween...  =]

And as always, more pics on my Flickr page

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Turning Back

Went to my local homebrew store and picked up everything I will be needing for my first batch of beer:

More pics on my Flickr page

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Purchase

Actually put my money where my mouth is and bought a chest freezer.  Got this 7.2cu ft Frigidaire on craigslist for $40!  Cleaned it up and it looks brand new.

More Keezer pics on my Flickr page

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


After going over my finances for the past year, I realized that a very large portion of my disposable income was going towards nightlife related expenditures. A few months ago, I decided to invest some of that money into a pool table and entertainment center to motivate me to stay in rather than go out.  I'm now spending significantly less on entertainment, and with the money I save by not paying cover/parking/ridiculous drink prices, I have been able to step up the quality of spirits, wines and brews.

The next step was to start buying small kegs of beer and build a kegerator to complete my man-cave.  After about a week of research, I planned out my 5 tap keezer:

More Keezer pics on my Flickr page

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day Zero

Ok, so in a stroke of compulsiveness, I decided to start brewing and kegging my own beer.  For two weeks I lurked the homebrew forums, watched every howto on youtube, and read every post in the homebrewing sub-reddit....I know as much about brewing as anyone can without actually doing it, so I have decided to take the plunge, buy the equipment, and, in true 21st century fashion, blog about my experience.