Aaron's Blog

Tech, tinkering, and occasionally, a banjo tune

homebrew

How I Homebrew

I've met quite a few homebrewers over the years and have learned tons from them. One of the things I always like asking about it their setup and getting to know what they use on brew day.

I figured it's time for me to do a HIB (How I Homebrew) post and let you know what I started brewing on, and where I've progressed.

For Starters

When I first started brewing, I started on a hand-me-down Mr. Beer kit that had solidified LME with it. I went to Walmart and picked up a cheap 3 gallon aluminum kettle, and brewed my first beer (an ESB).

It wasn't long before I realized that I wantd to brew larger batches and to do that, I'd need to upgrade. I upgraded my fermentation vessel (the Mr. Beer LBK) first. This was great, but I was essentially making extract in my undersized brew kettle, which I upgraded next. This began a long process of creating the piecemeal setup that I currently have.

Currently Using...

This is the fun part for me. I'll skip over all the sequential upgrades, and get to the good stuff. Here's what I'm currently using, and am quite happy with:

  • 2 x 8gal Tamale Steamers (boil kettle & HLT)
  • Igloo mash tun
  • Some copper tubing from Home Depot (immersion chiller)
  • 2x PVC buckets (primary fermenters)
  • 2x 6gal glass carboys (secondary fermenters)
  • Bayou Classic w/ 6" burner

But wait! There's more!

I've got some incoming upgrades, namely a 10" burner for the Bayou Classic stand, and a Jaded Brewing Hydra! I'm hoping these will shorten my brew day. Not that I want them to be short, but I'm hoping for them to be a bit more efficient. Anywho, that's the current setup!

Moving to Kegging my Homebrew

I've posted previously about homebrewing and have been brewing for almost three years now. Back in April, I took to destroying a perfectly good mini fridge to turn it into a kegerator.

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As any homebrewer can tell you, bottling is a pain in the ass. The delabling (if you're reusing bottles), the santization, and the bottle carbonization makes for a rather long and laborious process. Because I'd finally had it with bottling, I decided that kegging would be a wiser choice since:

  1. Less time would be spent on bottling
  2. Carbonization would be better controlled
  3. For most ales, production time would be cut by a week

Thankfully, my assumptions have proven to be true. So let's walk through what it took to make the kegerator.

The Build

I started off with the following hardware:

I won't go through the whole process of assembling, since the post over at missionarybrewer (which my build was largely based on) covers the steps more than sufficiently. I will mention a few gotchas for the particular fridge I used:

  • There are coolant lines running over in the upper rear left corner. DON'T drill back there
  • The 4.3 cu ft size is just a hair too small for both kegs to fit comfortably. I ended up using a multitool to carve out the front of the door, as well as the molding for holding the shelves so that the kegs would fit.

Now, some pics of the kegerator:

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If you've got any questions, feel free to reach out and let me know!