Yesterday I brewed my 25th 5 gallon batch since January 10, 2013. My first few batches were extract but I quickly decided I’d jump in with both feet and go all grain.
I built a Denny inspired cooler mash tun but have only used it a few times on bigger beers since I found BIAB to be right up my alley. I make good beers with the BIAB process and I find it to be easy and efficient.
I bottled a few batches and quickly determined that I’d prefer kegging. So I converted an old standup freezer for a second life as a 4 keg keezer and recently added perlick taps installed in the door.
I lost 2 batches out of the 25, the first and the 22nd. Both due to break downs in sanitation. The first was understandable as it was well… the first. The 22nd…I guess I had become overconfident and used some star san that was old and had been overworked.
Every other batch has been beer, some of it pretty damn good beer IMHO. Others have also complimented my efforts.
For the past few months I’ve been trying hard to bring my brewing water up to snuff. Brunwater has been an invaluable resource and one that’s simpler to use than it might look at first glance.
I still have much to learn. I mostly brew from others’ recipes. I’ve made a few small alterations but have yet to design a recipe completely on my own. My favorite to date has been Denny’s Lake Waldo Amber Ale. I brewed it for the fourth time yesterday as my commemorative 25th batch.
I could never have learned so much so quickly without the generous and helpful people on this forum as a resource!
One thing I’ve learned over the past year. If you follow proper sanitation practices and get a process down for brew day, control fermentation temperatures, and just get out of the way and let the yeast do it’s thing…You’ll make beer! Sometimes it seems like you really have to make an effort to keep that wort from becoming drinkable beer!
FYI noobs(of whom I still consider myself one) here’s a list of the equipment I decided to splurge on in order:
NB deluxe brewing starter kit with glass carboys - I now have 1- 6gal, 2-6.5gal :!: , and 2-5gal glass carboys and 1 ale pail. I prefer 6.5g glass carboys for fermentation. I seldom use a secondary carboy.
Bayou Classic burner and 9 gal stainless kettle - I’d like a sight glass and a bit larger kettle but still love the pot and burner. :!:
Home made copper immersion chiller(25 ft copper coil from home depot) :!:
Cube cooler for swamp cooler setup to control ferm temps :!:
Double mesh strainer - to strain and aerate wort as I pour from kettle to fermenter
BIAB mesh bag, paint strainer bags for hops
Good digital scale
1 gallon glass ‘carboy’ for making starters
4 kegs split off 2 gages on a 5 lb CO cylinder - 2 kegs from kegconnection.com, 2 from craigslist
Johnson Controls temp controller to convert the keezer
Barley Crusher mill - love it.
Thermapen - great investment during their sale on ‘brown’ thermapens
4 Perlick SS taps to replace picnic taps in the fridge.
Blichman bottle gun for bottling from keg - for aging and gifts. In retrospect I could have lived without this but it sure looks cool.
:!: This indicates things that I feel are required ASAP to make the best beer possible.
I’ve really enjoyed this new hobby(obsession) and the opportunity to rub shoulders with all you beer geeks. Thanks to all who’ve advised me over the past year!
Have a Happy New Year and RDWHAHB! :cheers:
Here’s to even more awesome beer being brewed in 2014!