Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friends and Family

My mother said, "I never liked beer...Never.  I never even take a sip of your Dad's.  I don't like it."  This was after a few days of feeding her our beer.  She drank our Scottish Ale (asked for more), Wit (loves it with an Orange), Oktoberfest, and Holiday Ale.  She especially loves the holiday ale in a wine glass (the closest thing I have to a curvy foo foo glass for big beers).  I may run out of it here during her visit.

I have been wondering if this love of craft beer is newly finding that beer doesn't have to be bland, light, and fizzy, or just an extreme love of a mother for the product produced by her sons.  If she ever buys herself craft beer at the store, I will be convinced of the former, but until then, I will believe the latter.

I also shared my current stock of beer with a good friend.  I think he enjoyed them as well, but was more subdued about the praise.  I can accept that.

Lastly, I bought some more homebrewing equipment from a person on craigslist.  I got a converted keg (hot liquor tank), a March Pump, two stainless steel valves, some other connectors and a hoses all for $200.  It was probably a $340 or $350 value if you included tax and/or shipping.  The guy even delivered it (from Longmont).  So, I even got free shipping.  He brought his roommate, who is a brewer at Oskar Blues Brewery.  They were much younger than I (perhaps in their twenties).  I had them show me how the pump worked, and fed the two the Wit.  (it was 95 degrees yesterday).  It was nice to share some beer with some fellow brewers and talk shop.  They both were very complimentary of our Belgian Wit (tastes way way better than Blue Moon, among other compliments).  This also makes me feel good.  

I do mostly enjoy the beers that I make (after all I make them to suit my tastes), but I am overly critical of the beers and my ability to craft them.  I like the validation of people wanting to try my beer, and after trying them, wanting to have another.  The proof is in their return for more beer.

Friday, May 21, 2010


FORT COLLINS - The Anheuser Busch brewery in Fort Collins has rejected a $1.1 million experimental energy grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to replace lead-acid batteries on its fleet of forklifts with cleaner fuel cell packs

The grant, announced a year ago, was part of $41.9 million in federal stimulus funds awarded to 13 companies to develop and deploy fuel cells.  Implementing the technology in A-B's forklifts would have provided a "real-world" look at how fuel cells perform with daily use.  Grant recipients were expected to match the DOE funds, and A-B indicated the additional costs were too high.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I have been waxing about getting my hands on a GE 7 cubic foot chest freezer for a temperature controlled fermentation chamber to live in my garage.  I found one on Craigslist for $50 .  The GE 7 footers sold at Home Depot do exactly that.  The GE 7 footer that I bought (albeit for $50) is slightly deeper and less wide, and don't fit two carboys.  So, I have a decision to make.  Cut a hole in the top of the freezer for one of the carboys, or add a collar between the lid and the freezer body to accommodate the 2nd carboy on the hump carved out for the compressor.  I have found pictures on-line of people who have made collars to create a kegerator, it would take some wood and a couple of door hinges (and some insulation, I figure).  The nice thing about this design is that it can be restored to original for future sale....but, why do I care it is old and was only $50.

I need to purchase a controller to convert the freezer to more of a sensitive fridge.  The big decision here is whether I go for a two stage controller (one that can accommodate heating and cooling for winter months) or a one stager for only cooling.  I am inclined to get the one stage as deep winter doesn't last long here in Colorado, and the insulation of the freezer and the garage will keep the fermenters above freezing certainly, and more likely in the ale range anyway.  I can always manually heat the chamber in those few instances, too (one stage controller is $50, two stage is $65).

I need to hear from other brewers opinions on the modification or which controller to purchase.  Please let me know.

My next purchases (after the controller) need to be at least a mashing vessel ($409) so I can take advantage of the rack in my garage, and possibly a hot liquor tank ($179 plus $60 for valve and thermometer)....and then a pump (approx $110-$150) so I can pump into and out of my carboys (not having to lift them into my chest freezer)....and hoses, parts, and fittings (probably another $100).  I also need a potable water hose to supply water to this project ($50)....I need to find benefactors (like a rich long lost relative that puts me in their will....fat chance).

In the meantime, I am taking donations.  (ha)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Only Two Hours

My worries about getting rid of my nearly free freezer were unfounded.  Two hours after I put it out for large item pick up and verified when pickup would be (not until May 24th), somebody took the freezer away from the alley.  Sometimes the alley is a good thing, sometimes not so much.  Living in the city, there are people who make a living cruising the alleys for treasures, scrap, and crap.  Most of it is scrap and crap.

So onward.  I am specifically looking for a GE 7 cubic foot chest freezer that is currently being sold at Home Depot for $189.  I am willing to pay $75-$100.  The 7 footer is wide enough for two carboys, but will still fit between the support beams of my rack.  I will explain why this is important later.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When Almost Just Isn't Good Enough

I have been preoccupied with obtaining a few brewery related items for cheap.  This means perusing craigslist.  I bought a small pallet rack with two shelves for $90 that serves as storage in my garage and will also serve as a sturdy platform to brew and gravity feed the wort through the brewery.  This was a great purchase, and much needed (for storage alone), but it wasn't an outstanding deal.  A similar but less industrial shelving unit new from Costco runs $175.

Today, I thought I hit the mother lode.  I have been looking for a freezer to convert into a precision temperature controlled fermentation chamber.  I found a small upright freezer that I traded for a six pack.  It wasn't perfect, as I would have preferred a medium sized chest freezer (the kind that you can store a body know what I am talking about), and I found out that the condenser coils served as the freezer shelves (which I wanted to remove to fit my fermenters or future kegs), but hell, it was free.  It also worked when I obtained possession of it.  I loaded it, drove it home, muscled it into position (by myself, no less), and opened the door to look to see if there was any possible way to reconfigure the shelves.  I moved the first shelf.  I heard a pop and then a slow hiss from a hole I created in the evaporation coil.

This was the free freezer's death knell.  Apparently, fixing the hole isn't a problem (nor is reconfiguring the coils now that they are empty), but recharging the refrigerant can only be done by a qualified technician.  I will not pay to fix a free freezer.  Now I need to figure out how to get rid of it.  I think I can just schedule a large item pick up with the City (my tax dollars at work...and try that in your unincorporated covenant controlled enclave).  Too bad it cost me six good beers.

Next time, I will get the chest freezer I need, even if I have to pay for it.  With a $50-$125 chest freezer off of Craig's List and a $50 controller I will have temperature controlled fermentation chamber/ (I feel like Dr. Frankenstein) beer fridge/future kegerator.

I could also just buy a kegerator for $150 and add the controller to that.  But a chest freezer will work better for the fermentation....and I am not ready to go with kegging.