Scrap Cardboard Bottle Carrier Project

Monday, January 14, 2019

I’ve been looking for inspiration for a folded cardboard bottle carrier. I have lots of saved six pack carriers, but the 500ml (16.9oz) bottles I love so much are a larger diameter and don’t fit.

WELL. Peep this.

I’ve got a lotsa boxes. Here’s a rough draft. Works great already.

Bottling Day – Gingerbread Brown Christmas Spice Ale

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bottled the gingerbread ale. I forgot to take the FG reading. Because I knew that Dan’s brew was really overpowering on the spice, I strained all the spice off the top, hoping it would mellow in the fermentor.

I used more 12 oz bottles than usual, first because I had them available, and second because I’m worried about the spice and wonder if I will want more than 12 oz at a time.

Also, prepared water for the next brew day, with Brita filter and campden tablet.

Fight for the rights of every man…

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Ordered Classic American Pilsner kit from Adventures in Homebrewing with SafAle US-05 yeast on a free shipping sale.

Bottling Day – Franziskaner Clone

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Two days of productivity. Back to back.

The Bottles are all washed up and ready for Franz.

This beer is really sediment heavy. Not just in a wheat beer way. It’s got the clay.

Final Gravity: 1.013 – 4.6% ABV (recipe called for 1.012)

I am well pleased with this beer. It is a good clone of the original. The only thing it is missing is the banana off-flavor, which comes from fermenting at a higher temperature. Since it’s winter, it’s only around 66° up in here. If I brewed in the summer time, it would likely be more true to the original.

Brew Day – Gingerbread Brown Christmas Spice Ale

Saturday, December 15, 2018

There was going to be a big snow storm coming last weekend, so I was planning on being trapped in the house. I prepared five gallons of filtered water and added a campden tablet, but then never got around to brewing. The power flickered a few times every few hours, so I didn’t want to risk it. I was lucky, some people were without power for days.

In any case, that water waited for a full week for me to get around to brewing.

Clear… Blue… Water…

The tiny, little bag of gingerbread spice that came in the recipe kit smells fabulous. From a long way away. That’s some pretty potent stuff.

Dan has already brewed this beer and sampled it and said the spice is strong at first, but settled down over time. The spice is only added in the last five minutes of the boil, which may be why it tasted so “raw”.

You may have noticed in this and previous pictures the plastic tubs laying around the brew pot. Those are liquid malt extract (LME) and they are full of thick, caramelized malt extract. “Liquid” in the name is a bit of a stretch. The cook-top gets very hot, like ouchy hot, during this process, and the heat makes them pour more cleanly.

Original Gravity: 1.050 (Recipe calls for 1.045)

Brew Day – Franziskaner Clone

Friday, November 23, 2018

Now that I have the campden tablets to treat the chlorinated water, I’m ready to start the next brew. I prepared five gallons of filtered water yesterday in preparation. I used a whole tablet in five gallons, though that seems to be overkill from what I’ve found online.

I got this brew day started pretty early, because I have to travel to my parents’ for a late Thanksgiving holiday this afternoon.

Yer yella.
whoa, boy.

By the end of the boil, I was afraid this five gallon brew pot was going to boil over.

I found that these Adventures in Homebrewing/Austin Homebrew Supply recipe kits will sometimes call for a partial ounce of hops, but the package will include a full ounce. I hadn’t ever noticed it before, but caught this one in time.

The recipe calls for 1/4oz of Perle and 1/4oz of Spalt, but the package included a full ounce of each.

Original Gravity: 1.050

Bottling Day – Oatmeal/Mocha/Coffee Stout

Sunday, November 18, 2018

I bottled this beer, apparently. According to my notes and the fact that I have drank it all since, yeah, it was bottled.

The separated chocolate sludge never did dissolve or settle, though it did leech the color out.

Final Gravity: 1.013 – 5.38% ABV

It tastes good, but there is still a bit of ye olde band-aid.

In drinking the beer, there is a ton of the used-to-be-chocolate sludge in each bottle. I bought a couple of reusable micro-mesh coffee filters and poured the beer through it.

After a couple of glasses, this is what made it through the fine mesh

That picture is taken from below the glass with the ceiling light fixture directly overhead, by the way. It can be confusing.

Yes, I drink beer out of a stemless wine glass.

Like a fancy, fancy lady.

Because I deserve it.

I originally tried using paper filters, but less than one beer fully clogged the paper to where the last bit wouldn’t even flow through.

Next time, use chocolate malt instead of actual chocolate.

S&M Carboy Rig

Monday, November 12, 2018

I ordered a Brew Hauler nylon carboy harness from Amazon. I don’t have an immediate need for it, but I have been hesitant to use the glass carboy when I’ve got two fermenter buckets around.

It’s heavy when it’s full, glass, and clear. That means it has to be covered to keep the light out when fermenting.

So, now I’ve got this nylon strap carrying system for the carboy if and when I need it.

Bottling Day – Apple Jack

Saturday, November 10, 2018

FINALLY. The apple stuff is done bubbling and has been inactive for a few days.

I don’t really like apple juice.
I don’t really like apple cider.
I really don’t like wine.
I don’t really drink liquor.

Why did I do this again?

Final Gravity: 1.021 – 8.27% ABV

This bottling was the cleanest I’ve ever had. The yeast cake was just like a solid pancake in the bottom of the bucket. No cloudiness, no mess. Perfect! It turns out, the Safale S-04 yeast tops out at 10% ABV, which is not nearly enough to eat up all the sugar I added to the apple juice. More on that later…

I initially split into two batches – three gallons as is, which was very weak apple wine, and two gallons bottled as apple champagne.

I used the Priming Sugar Calculator on the Northern Brewer website to calculate .45 cups of honey to carbonate 2 gallons of apple wine up to 5 volumes of carbonation. Champagne has roughly 6.3 vols, but I was afraid, again, of bottle bombs.

The apple wine added to a Fine Pilsner Beer makes a lovely Snakebite (without the blackcurrant cordial of course. What even is that). If it’s good enough for Bill Clinton and is outlawed in the UK (thx fer nuthin, Wikipedia) then it’s good enough for me. In any case, I have been buying cider to mix in my beer ever since.

The apple wine smelled very boozy but was very sweet, which made it more tasty than you would think to drink.

Later, I filled several quart Mason jars with apple wine and stuck it in the freezer. Over the next few days, I came up with a technique to drain off the unfrozen alcohol.

At the end of the process, there would be a mostly white block of ice. I have a little cup size strainer that I used to strain out the remaining amount of color out of the ice. Then I put the “next generation” jar back in the freezer and repeated the process.

After three to five rounds (I kinda lost track along the way) of freeze-condensing, the apple jack would stop freezing.

That’s a fingerprint…

Then it’s time for the strainer.

At the end of this process, you’ve got yourself apple jack. I never measured the ABV of the finished product, but I’m estimating somewhere around 20% ABV.

The “champagne” never actually kicked off, more than a pssst anyway, because the yeast was already tits up.

As mentioned previously, the Safale S-04 yeast is only good up to 10% ABV. So that left it even more sweet (extra) with the addition of the honey for bottle conditioning.

The apple wine and “champagne” syrup got rave reviews from everyone that tried it, so for a huge fail, it was apparently a respectable size win.

I Need To Get Organizized

Sunday, November 4, 2018

As previously mentioned, my add-on flat pack kitchen cabinet is getting overrun with brewing supplies. Here’s additional proof…

I went into arts and crafts mode today and cut up a bunch of cardboard boxes as dividers inside other cardboard boxes to organize (most) of the bottles I have.

Notice, no more frying pan and paper plates…

I went ahead and ordered a second one of these cabinets from Amazon today.

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