Picking up home fermentation/brewing

Rattus Suffocatus

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Jun 5, 2019
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Corona de Tucson, AZ
I actually picked up four gallons of apple juice myself this weekend. The local Wally only had two of the good Musselmans, so it's going to be 1/2 good have cheap. I generally do a gallon of water with enough sugar to raise the gravity a bit to dry it out... but I might pick up another gallon of the good stuff when they have it in stock again. I am awaiting the cider yeast, and I have to decide to take the keezer down for a week or two to do the 70F it needs to be to properly temperature control. So I have some time. But I am looking forward to it again... been along time.

And , yah, it looks pretty sexy. Not ghetto like mine. But I wanted to be able to eventually convert back to a chest freezer if I wanted, so that is why mine is built the way it is. I figure I'll be able to tolerate doing this physically only a couple of more years to maybe five... it's **** to get old...

But yeah, that looks very nice so far.
 

jseyfert3

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I forgot to mention my initial testing of the Kegco regulators was good. They start flowing with about 1 psi of drop (not 5), and although they do take a long time to fill, they fill to the exact setpoint pressure. So definitely much better operation than the CO2PO regulators.

I got the lid on the Kegerator this weekend and plugged it in with my (disconnected) keg of cider. I plan to get a tap mounted and some holes drilled either tonight or in the next day or two, making the Kreezer fully operational.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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I got my yeast, and a bunch of apple juice. Turned the keezer up to 64F on Friday night for fermenting (yeah on commercial brew for a couple of weeks) and it didn't get there until late last night! I suppose in a 87F garage that proves I have it fairly well insulated. Hopefully tonight I'll start a batch of cider too. I'll let you know how the New Zealand Mangrove Jack's cider yeast is. You can get it super quick and cheap in Wisconsin as I bought it from Rite-Brew and still had it in like 4 days. I do really want to brew a SMaSH to try out the Voss Kveik yeast I bought too... especially as I am going to try it as a no-chill and ferment warm here in Arizona. We have to use a pond pump and at least two big bags of ice to chill here (our tap water is like 90F in the summer), so if I can cut that out and a temperature chamber even for half of what I do, I might end up back in business....
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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And for the Kegco's. They do have a good reputation, and at the low PSI we run for beer (10 or less) what you are seeing is desirable. I suspect the Airgas regulators couldn't handle the low pressure... and the NB ones were just cheap Chinese. My original Chinese regulator works fine, too but it's several years old now. It seems that unlike the Japanese, the quality is going down on Chinese made stuff, not up over time...
 

Homebrewale

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Apr 21, 2020
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Apex, NC
After reading this thread and seeing a post on temperature control, I just came up with an idea that I never tried. I recently bought an Anova sous vide machine that you can stick on many types of pots. It's temperature range goes up to 210F which is just short of boiling. Temperature control is great. Has anyone attempted to use one?
 

jseyfert3

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So I woke up and heard a faint beeping. Went downstairs and my kreezer temp controller is alarming. It was at 50 °F (setpoint 38). The compressor was hot. Guess the old (free) freezer gave up. Lasted for a week in my test before I modified it, so I thought it was good.

Sigh. Guess I get to make a new collar for a new kreezer build, assuming I can locate a freezer for sale.

. I suspect the Airgas regulators couldn't handle the low pressure...
Nah, I think it was just old. Remember, full pressure on that model was 28 psi, which is LESS than the kegging regulators can do. It was designed for low pressure operation.

especially as I am going to try it as a no-chill and ferment warm here in Arizona. We have to use a pond pump and at least two big bags of ice to chill here (our tap water is like 90F in the summer), so if I can cut that out and a temperature chamber even for half of what I do, I might end up back in business....
By no chill you mean after the boil? Just let it cool naturally?

Temperature control is great. Has anyone attempted to use one?
Use it for temp control for what?
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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Jun 5, 2019
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Corona de Tucson, AZ
Bummer on the old freezer. I couldn't find one for less than 3/4 the cost of a new one from Sam's Club at the time so I just spent the extra $40 or so on new. Running it at such a low duty cycle, it should last a really long time. I am actually kind of surprised that yours went out so fast. Mine is about 4 years old now... maybe 5. I have a smaller second one in service as a freezer... it's happy too, and that is after being moved cross country.

By no-chill, I mean you cover it in a bucket and let it get down to less than 90F naturally overnight, put it in the keezer and get it near the ferment temperature and pitch. They do that in NZ and Australia since they are more of a desert and hotter than we are in AZ. If I can do that for even 1/2 the brews I'd do more. You have some time before the natural yeasts take over, especially when covered. They die down until about 130F so, you really are only worried about that down to 70F or so. Sanitized and covered gives you more time. You generally want to get the hop trub out as completely as possible because the IBU's will continue to creep up until the water is less than about 160F... but you can use bags, siphon from one container to another carefully, etc.

As for the Airgas being old. Since it is a LP regulator, Probably the rubber (or similar material) diaphragm is shot. Can you get a replacement on for it? If so it would probably be as good as new. Those regulators as you know are basically a diaphragm and a spring, and the PSI is set by the spring tension....
 

jseyfert3

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By no-chill, I mean you cover it in a bucket and let it get down to less than 90F naturally overnight, put it in the keezer and get it near the ferment temperature and pitch.
That's pretty much what I figured, just seemed odd from what (very little) I know so far, as everything I read talked about how critical it was to chill ASAP. Of course there's exceptions to every rule, right?

As for the Airgas being old. Since it is a LP regulator, Probably the rubber (or similar material) diaphragm is shot. Can you get a replacement on for it? If so it would probably be as good as new. Those regulators as you know are basically a diaphragm and a spring, and the PSI is set by the spring tension....
That is what I figure. Not sure if I can get a replacement, I couldn't find any info on this before I bought it, so I suspect it's old. I want to open it up and see what failed, but I've been busy. I was trying to get the Kreezer done and the pool up. Got one of those tasks done at least!

Bummer on the old freezer. I couldn't find one for less than 3/4 the cost of a new one from Sam's Club at the time so I just spent the extra $40 or so on new. Running it at such a low duty cycle, it should last a really long time. I am actually kind of surprised that yours went out so fast. Mine is about 4 years old now... maybe 5. I have a smaller second one in service as a freezer... it's happy too, and that is after being moved cross country.
This freezer is at least from the 80's, so it's not too surprising. Slightly annoying it did it after all that work, and not, you know, during the week I ran it to test before doing the mods...

I did a quick search this morning and new chest freezers are still pretty much sold out. Menard's had a house brand one for $300 some, 10 cubic feet (same size), but pretty much everything else at Menard's and Home Depot was sold out. COVID-19 freezer buying and factory shutdowns, yeah.

I think I'll buy new, but I'm not sure I want to get a house brand freezer for $300 vs say a whirlpool one for $400. In general when I buy new I like buying something that is quality and will last. So I may have to wait a bit to get a freezer that I want. In the mean time I suppose I could just put icewater in my dead kreezer on the weekends to cool the kegs or something.
 

Homebrewale

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Apr 21, 2020
428
Apex, NC
Use it for temp control for what?

Boiling the wort. If done on a stovetop, you have to watch the pot to make sure you don't heat too much and get boil over. If I could control the temperature to just below boiling, I can walk away and do something else. No concern of overheating the boil.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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Jun 5, 2019
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Corona de Tucson, AZ
The Menards house brand ones don't get great reviews. Yeah, I didn't even think of the crazy Covid stuff. Welcome to Venezula. Okay.. I won't get political. The two I have aren't great-- they are Chinese too-- Haiers but they, knock on wood, have been pretty good so far. At the small one I use for a freezer was $140, and the "big" one was $170, but the one you had was much bigger... I can only fit four kegs in mine with one sitting on the hump, which is why I told you about the "Coke" Cornelius Kegs... I can only use three Pepsi's and a Coke or Two Cokes and Two Pepsi's in there, or 3 or less... right now I have one in there and a bunch of cans. I do need to start the cider tonight...

Having said that, I really miss Menards :(.... try to only shop at Ace, Lowe's and Home Depot for a month and you will feel my pain. Maybe you can order one off of Amazon? :)

Having boil control is nice but not necessary. I like my electric keggle because I have both a PID on it and a phase control 240V industrial "dimmer" on it when I am in the boil phase. Being able to very it I can get the exact boiloff that I want if I monitor what is going on..... But it's not necessary to make successful brews, just nice. In an hour process, of doing the boil, I advise for safety not to walk away from it, even in a controlled unit like mine. If you want to do this with the mash on a system like mine that is fine. You really can't overdo a mash. I had an emergency once it it mashed for six hours. Slight increase in mash efficiency that is all... no other differences.
 

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jseyfert3

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Having said that, I really miss Menards :(.... try to only shop at Ace, Lowe's and Home Depot for a month and you will feel my pain. Maybe you can order one off of Amazon? :)
It really depends what I'm getting. The wood for my fence? Liquid chlorine? Muriatic acid? Misc hardware? Menards.

Power tools? Menard's sucks. Hardly any good name brands and house brand is <adjective> terrible. Home Depot for them. Ridgid and Ryobi are my go-to tool brands right now. I have a Ryobi electric 40 V lawn mower along with the 40 V power head with string trimmer and pole saw attachments, and recently added the 40 V, 14" chainsaw. All have 3-5 year warranties (even the batteries!) and work well.

I'm also ever so slowly starting to build up a Ryobi One 18 V hand tool collection as I need different tools, as some point I'll replace my corded circular saw and DeWalt 12 V drill and impact driver for a Ryobi One models.

I have a remarkably quiet Ridgid shop vac, props for their scroll noise reduction models or whatever they call it, and bought a Ridgid framing nailer to build our fence.

As to my kreezer I'm 80% sure it's the starting relay, so before I buy a new (and unavailable) chest freezer I'm taking a shot at a $16 starting relay. I'll update once I get the relay.
 
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jseyfert3

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I did some more reading, testing, and tore apart the old relay. In short, the compressor uses a split-phase motor, which has start and run coils. When turned on, both the start and run coils need to be energized, and after the motor speeds up most of the way the start coil needs to be shut off. Without the start coil engaged at start-up, the motor will draw full current and not spin.

After tearing apart the relay, I found a broken shaft which lifts the starting coil contacts into place, which means the starting coil could not energize, so the motor couldn't start. This explains how I found it, with the motor hot, as it would pull current till the overload tripped, and once the overload cooled down it would restart and pull current, and repeat...

I rigged up some wires such that the run coil was powered and a switch controlled the starting coil. I turned on power with the switch on, then shut the switch off when the compressor started to disengage the starting coil. It worked! The compressor started and ran as it should and the inside walls of the kreezer started getting cold.

TO ALL READING: DO NOT ATTEMPT STUFF LIKE THIS UNLESS YOU ARE VERY FAMILIAR WITH HOW ELECTRICITY WORKS AND HOW EASILY IT CAN KILL YOU!
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Obviously I can't run the kreezer like this, it's only good for a test. So I will still not have a kreezer until the replacement relay comes in, but good news is I can avoid buying a new freezer and I don't have to throw away all my work. It also means I can go ahead and start mounting a CO2 manifold and some faucets so I'm ready to go once the relay comes in.

Speaking of getting ready, I'm finally going to keg that beer I made a few weeks ago. It finished in about 4-5 days, but I just kept having other things or wanting to relax. But I finally cleaned out the second keg and after dinner I'll mix up a batch of Star San and get it kegged. My plan is to force carb at 25-30 psi at room temp, shaking the keg till the regulator stops hissing, then legging it sit at that pressure. By the time I have my relay it should be carbed. Once I cool the kreezer I'll set the pressure down to around 10 psi.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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Be careful with the force carbonation. It is extremely easy to over carbonate and if you do it takes days to fix.

Otherwise you are having too much fun with it..

I really need to get that Cider started tomorrow morning. It's like a twenty minute job. Horrible, horrible week at work this week tho...
 

jseyfert3

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It's Brewer's Best American Pale Wheat. It was quite cloudy, but being a wheat beer that's expected, right?

I did sample the hydrometer tube and it definitely wasn't bad, but it's hard to say if it was good because the sample is essentially room temp warm beer.

Suppose I should clarify the force carbing. 11 psi or so is 2.5 atm of CO2 at 38 °F, right? Well, 30 psi is also 2.5 atm of CO2 at 74 °F. So if my house is 74, setting the regulator to 30 psi is the same as setting it to 11 psi on a cold keg, and completely different than doing the 30 psi force carbing on a cold keg that some people do. So I shouldn't be able to overcarb it doing this.

In any case I'm definitely having fun with this. Can't wait till the kreezer is fully operational!
 

jseyfert3

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I thought "force carbing" just meant carbing with CO2 as opposed to priming sugar, not the speed at which it is done.

In any case, yes, the idea was that I would not over carb these. If I shake then drastically speed up what is otherwise a 2-3 week process of letting the keg sit at dispensing pressures.
 

jseyfert3

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Let the yeast wars begin!
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I spent $490 at the LHBS today, didn't even get any kegs like I planned, as they were out of the 5 gallon ones. I meant to get 3 faucets so I could install a total of 4, but they only had one in stock of the Intertap flow control I got last time. So I got one faucet, three shanks, air and beverage hose, clamps and fittings, CO2 manifold, two kit beers, a brewing bucket, the yeast and airlocks, PBW...

They now have an electric brewing setup, basically an electric kettle with a pump. I forget the brand but it's $350. He said it's all you need to do all grain except another kettle of some sort to heat sparge water. Appeared big enough for a 5 gallon batch. I passed on it for now, but at some point...I mean, I'm not going to be sitting on my deck in the middle of a Wisconsin winter brewing over a propane burner, that's for sure.
 

PoolBrews

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Oct 16, 2019
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There are generally two ways to force carbonate your beer.

The first method involves feeding your gas IN through the liquid in post. This pushes CO2 in at the bottom of the keg and forces the CO2 to rise through the beer and presents more surface area to the beer. It generally reduces normal carbonation times by about 1/3 (i.e. my normal carbonation time in a 33 degree environment is about 10 days - with force carbonation it drops to 6-7 days).

Remember to connect a black liquid connector to the gas line - you can't use the gas connector on the liquid side. You might get it on... but then getting it off is another story.

The 2nd method involves injecting gas at a higher psi than normal (usually around 30 psi) and then gently rolling/shaking the keg to again present more surface area to the CO2.

When doing method 2, you should immediately hear bubbling within the keg. Agitating the keg increases the contact area between CO2 and beer even further, promoting faster diffusion of CO2 into the beer. Continue to shake the keg for 20-30 minutes then lower the pressure to 20 PSI and allow the keg to carbonate for 2-3 days. Check the carbonation levels and enjoy!

As rattus-suffocatus stated, the issue with either of these methods is that it is very easy to over carbonate, and not so easy or quick to remedy.
 
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