Friday, December 30, 2011

Patience is a virtue...BUT I AM THIRSTY! My Kegerator!

So the hardest part about brewing is the waiting!!! I have the Kolsch sitting in the keg carbonating. The agave wheat I just transferred to secondary, smells AWESOME.  I let the wheat sit in primary a little longer than the kolsch, we shall see how that effects the taste of the beer! Most everything I have read tells you to be "patient" with your beer. That is easier said than done! Once I get my pipeline going it won't be a problem as I will have beer on tap and beer aging while I consume! Good times.

My wife was gracious enough years ago to green light a kegerator.  I had a kegerator in college that I made out of an old fridge, it was ugly, poured beer, and most likely saved us money. Her caveat for the new kegerator was that she didn't want it to be an eye sore. After many months of looking and deciding a True kegerator was the right fit, I found myself in Sam's Club, they had the Danby kegerator on SUPER sale $395! I couldn't pass up that deal! Plus it was Stainless Steel so the wife was happy how it looked.

I bought it!

I had this in my house: Danby Kegerator DKC645BLS

It served beer ok. My first poor was usually foamy, the temperature couldn't keep beer consistently below 39 degrees (coors light likes to be cold) and the drip tray was a joke! But we were poor and cheap and it still poured beer so I dealt with it!

I finally got tired of dealing with the foamy pours and irregular temperature, I started using the google machine to help me out.  I found this great link for Danby Kegerator help. I highly recommend these mods if you have a Danby kegerator.  I pretty much tried every mod.  The temp sensor relocation worked "ok" It got my beer a little cooler, 37 degrees but it was still inconsistent in the summer.  I then moved onto the keg resistor mod, basically you solder a resistor in the temp sensor line tricking the Danby into thinking it is warmer than it actually is and it will keep the compressor on longer. This worked well in keeping things cold...too well, I froze my first keg!  The problem with the resistor mod is that the temperature display on the Danby is incorrect, I had to set it at 44 degrees to get the beer to about 34 degrees, this wasn't a big deal for me, but at parties people would always turn it down and would end up freezing a keg!  Finally I said screw it and took control away from the Danby and added a Johnson Controller, it was fairly easy to hookup and program. Now my beer pours at a perfect temp AND the display reads the accurate temperature!

I was still having problems with the first pour being foamy, apparently this is because the beer will get warm in the tower and the temp difference will cause foam.  I first insulated the tower, and that didn't really help. Finally I went with a tower cooler, you can buy these on Ebay but you can make one for less than $10.00. Since I have added the tower cooler my beers have poured perfect every time!

Another item that bothered me about the Danby was the drip tray, it roughly held 2 oz of beer, and at parties the tray would always get full and runneth over, yes I know party foul, but it happens.  I wanted to add a drip tray that was functional and looked good. I found a great deal on Ebay and was soon drilling into the top of the Danby! YIKES! No worries, no wires or plumbing go through the top so it wasn't a big deal!  Here is the drip tray that routes to a bottle inside the kegerator.

So here is the final product..for now. I am planning on adding a three faucet tower as I can fit three ball-lock cornys in the Danby. Pipeline will be complete!

Happy Brewing!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Brew # 2.

Brew # 2 happened yesterday.  I would say it went pretty smooth.  I do have a tip, I just read that you are supposed to boil your wort UN-covered!  I had not read about this anywhere. Apparently this helps boil-off DMS(?) which can add a corn flavor to your beer. We shall see if I messed up the first batch. Onto the second batch...

I picked up an Agave Wheat from Austin Home Brew.  This place has an excellent supply of extract kits! I also picked up some parts for making my kegerator handle corny kegs. More on that later.

I also got to use the wort chiller this time, it was GREAT! I cooled my wort down in under 10 minutes!  Way better than dragging the pot through the snow.

The extract tasted great! I am really looking forward to this batch.  The hops weren't as pungent as the Kolsch, so the house didn't smell as bad! All in all a great brew day!

Here is a picture of the Kolsch:

After several "tastings" I have come to the conclusion that I don't love Kolsch, but it was a good beer to start with,  I will be kegging and carbing this week!

Next up...My kegerator.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Brewing recap...

After driving myself crazy for a week on which beer kit to get, I finally decided to go local.

They were great! The reason I recommend going local is because you can easily mix and match what you need in the kit.

I picked up a Brewers Best kit for my first beer, I figure baby steps is the way to go.  The Kolsch was the flavor I went with, one it was rated "easy" and two I think I like kolsch?

Brew day: Oddly enough the beer kit I bought didn't have much in the way of instructions.  But hey this isn't Rocket Surgery…right?

I think the biggest hurdle is laying everything out and trying to figure how and when to get the process started. I can make soup, I think I should be able to make beer!

The brew process went along fine.  The only issue was cooling the wort, it was below zero out, so I couldn't use my wort chiller to bring it down to temp. I ended up dragging the pot through the snow for about 20 mins, it worked great but was a pain!

I had nice bubbles going in the airlock within in a few hours.

Just an FYI, the brew process can be quite aromatic, so warn your wife. She came in right after I added hops and said "Eww what is that smell". Your kitchen will smell like Coors, be warned.

I let the beer sit in primary for a week and transferred to secondary. I will say that transferring to secondary really cleared up the beer.

If you research online, you will read all sorts of info about whether transferring to secondary is needed or not, the instructions say to, so I did. Your results may vary.

That is all I have for now.  Beer seems to happy in secondary and will stay there for two weeks before kegging.