Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Brew Thru #4 - Sink Video, BJCP Comp, Articles on Other Sites

Well, I haven't been doing too well in the blog frequency department have I? But quality over quantity right?

Brewery Updates

I installed the sink and ordered some of the parts for the ventilation.  I went with the Tjernlund M-6 6" fan which can pull a whopping 530 CFM of air and a variable speed control to go with it.  Hoping to get to installing this in the next couple of weeks and ideally brew my first batch on the new system by Memorial day at the latest. 

Video of the sink:

BJCP Judging and Test

I judged at the Spirit of Free Beer competition on April 17, and April 18, 2015.  I participated in both the Friday and Saturday judging sessions and there were some really great beers!  I got to judge Belgian Specialty, and American Ale (all American browns) categories on Friday night and the Specialty, and Pilsner categories on Saturday. 

I have said it before, but it needs to be repeated: When entering the specialty category only state "special" ingredients that are noticeable.  Often times I will get a beer in the specialty category that has the "kitchen sink" added to it and only one of those ingredients was noticeable compared to the base style.

Judging 40+ beers in two days is a lot of writing, but it is good preparation for the written BJCP Exam I am taking next month!  I am trying to study my butt off to and from work on the commuter train so I can hopefully get a high enough score to become a National judge.

Shegogue Brew Around the Web

I recently had a new article posted over at Homebrewtalk in regards to Recipe Development.  Be sure to let me know if  you develop and brew any "3-2-1" recipes.  Additionally, I wrote a textbook article on beer math which is good for beginning brewers looking to understand how to derive ABV, attenuation and gravities. 

Lastly, I had an article about dialing in your system posted over on Homebrew Academy

Monday, April 13, 2015

Basement Induction Brewery Build - Utility Sink

Yesterday I FINALLY got time to tackle installing the utility sink in my basement. I had multiple hours here and there, but yesterday was the first full day I could allocate to this project.  It was a good thing because I needed the whole day!

As part of the brewery build you can check out the other projects:

Utility Sink and Plumbing

My existing plumbing in my basement only had a laundry standpipe and hot/cold water feeds. The laundry standpipe also wasn't up to code as the standpipe was 2" but the p-trap and other piping was 1 1/2". I redid the standpipe and added a new vent connection to meet code - and more importantly not have the laundry siphon out of my the p-trap on the sink

First, I turned off the water. Public Service Announcement - make sure to exercise (turn off and on) your gate stop valves on your water lines a few times a year. A few were REALLY hard to loosen. I then started to cut into the top pipe and my pipe cutter was walking all around on me and almost "threading" the pipe. Not sure if it was just a dull cutting blade or if its done. Regardless, trip 1 to the hardware store was made to get a new pipe cutter. I then got back and cut the pipe, cleaned and soldered in my fittings. I used tin foil held up by a metal thumb tack to prevent from burning my walls and/or house down - worked really well. I could have had some really nice solder joints, but I was scared the little bit of solder didn't make a good seal so I melted on more than I should have (probably totally unnecessary).

new pipe soldered
(Soldered a "T" in the cold and a "T" and 90 in the hot water line)
It is important to have clean pipe when soldering to ensure everything goes smoothly.  Here is a picture of some of my cleaned pipe sections.

cleaned copper pipe
(Cleaned Copper Pipe - Shiny)

Then I added two 45 degree fittings in alternating directions to extend me away from the wall and over the basements cement foundation. 

At this point I added on the compression shutoff fittings.

I then began the vent and drain/waste piping. I started with a normal hand saw, moved to a hack saw and then remembered I had a little multi-tool. That thing is a life saver! Towards the end I was getting pretty good at making even cuts. You can barely see the laundry standpipe behind the laundry machine, but its there. I actually had to make trip number 2 to the hardware store (right before Home Depot closed on a Sunday night) to get a slip joint and more 2" pipe for an extender for the standpipe since I had only purchased 2' sections #smallCarProblems.

laundry standpipe venting
(2" Laundry standpipe and 1 1/2" venting installed)
I then measured everything for the sink and glued it up. I had to be more precise here to make sure everything fit.  No pressure right?  It is only 9pm and the hardware store is closed, failure is not an option.

I ended up gluing the stub out and one part of the p-trap, then the sink tub and the other part of the p-trap. Everything fit perfect so I was able to slip the sink and p trap underneath and tighten it down. Phew...did something right.

Laundry sink drain
(Front View of the laundry sink drain piping)
side view laundry sink drain pipe
(Side view of the laundry sink drain piping)
Its like 9:30pm on a Sunday night and I'm thinking to myself, "Awesome I'm done.  Jjust need to connect the supply hoses to the shut-off valves...Oh crap! I didn't buy 2 of the same faucet supply hoses like I thought I did. Hardware store is closed, oh well." 

wrong supply hose
(wrong faucet supply hose)

I plan on going to get the correct hose tonight*. I did check it with the one hose and worked and no leaks and the tub drains quickly! Mrs. Shegogue Brew also did some laundry this morning and reported back with no issues. I call this a success!

full view of sink and drain
(full view)

Now I just need to install my venting solution for the boil and I can make some beer!

* Update - Went back to Home Depot on 4/13 and got the correct hose.  No wonder I picked up the wrong one!  These hoses were a mess and they only had 1 left and it was interspersed with the wrong one that I returned.

finished utility sink
(Done! Action Shot)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Brew Thru #3 - Beer Style Finder and Guest Post Link

Wow, we are in March already!  We just got hit with hopefully our LAST Snow of the winter...

In this Brew Thru I will discuss:

  • Basement induction brewery updates 
  • A cool new beer style finder tool
  • Posts made on other sites and YouTube

Brewery Updates 

Currently over-analyzing what type of faucet for my utility sink will be the best "bang for my buck."  Also need to decide on what type of fan I want for venting the steam.  I really need to get moving on this though so I can start make some beer.  This winter has seemed like forever, and not having the indoor brewery setup is a constant slap in my face

Beer Styles Finder

Most of the homebrewing community is already aware of the imminent style updates coming to the BCJP Style Guidelines.  But what about just the beer lovers?  With the craft brew expanding to the masses the Craft Brewers Association as come up with a cool new tool on their web site to discuss beer styles!

(Beer Styles)

It is pretty nice tool which will help potential beer lovers find a beer that meets their palate needs.  In the picture below I selected 'Malty' and 'Hoppy' and was present with the following applicable styles: American Brown, American Imperial Red, American Stout, and Specialty.

Give it a try and see what you think!

Shegogue Brew around the Web

If you didn't see I had a guest post over on The Homebrew Academy where I talked about induction brewing.  I seem to mention it a lot here on my blog, but if you want to learn more about how it works I recommend check out the post.

I also just uploaded my second Homebrew Wednesday video where I give a visual walk-through of what I would do on a brew day and give an organization quick tip.

Other Thoughts

Really need to get back to updating/creating labels.  I am trying to do some GIMP tutorials to figure out how to make a new logo.  Any thoughts or tips in this area would be much appreciated!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Basement Induction Brewery Build - Brew Stand

As I mentioned at the beginning of 2015, I am finally putting the wheels into motion here with my indoor home brewery. To transform my basement into the induction run brewery I need to completely the following projects:

This past weekend, I tackled the brew stand.


Brew stand plans
(Brew stand plans)


I don't seem to ever follow directions or plans 100%.  This project was no different.  I decided to dado out a 1/2" of the 2x3 dimensional lumber to hopefully increase the rigidity of the stand.  If I didn't do this the square frame, and later all my wort and mash weight, would be solely relying on #9 deck screws to hold everything up.  I, like most other homebrewers and DIY'ers, love to over build things so the screws alone may have been fine, but I felt comfort knowing some of the weight would be resting on the vertical 2x3.

2x3 verticals
(2x3 verticals with 1/2" dado)

I failed to account for the 1" decrease caused by my impromptu dadoes so the side-view of the plans above is actually 22" inches overall, and 19" between the verticals. RDWHAHB!  Everything fits in the end.

Brew stand frame
(Stand Frame)

After pre-drilling and screwing in the horizontal pieces for the burner-level of the stand.  I cut a plywood shelf, with notched corners, and fastened it down to the 2x3s with a few 1 5/8" drywall screws.

I then cut the 3 pieces for the open-ended top square and fastened them with the deck screws.  I did my best to try to keep everything in square, but the 2x3s had warped a bit since purchase.  This probably didnt' matter as I later found out the area of the basement I planned to put the brew stand is not even close to being level.  Oh well!  I placed a tiny shim under that front right leg and all is well.

Hypothetical Brew Day Pictures

Here are some pics with things in place and testing out different hypothetical brew day procedures.

Hypothetical mash mode
(Brew stand - hypothetical mash mode)

Hypothetical sparge mode
(Brew stand - hypothetical sparge)
Hypothetical boil mode
(Hypothetical boil)
Kettler to fermenter
(Hypothetical draining wort to fermenter)

(Brew stand next to the bench - storage mode)

Future tweaks

I think I may cut the top of the front two vertical pieces shorter in the future.  I would have done it, but I had already swept up the basement of all the sawdust and didn't feel like repeating process.  They are at the height they currently are just cause I had had the guy at home depot cut them in half for transportation purposes.  I can image it will be easier to move the mash tun with grains for cleaning if I shorten those pieces.

I am probably going to stain or apply some sort of finish to the wood mainly to protect it from moisture and spills.  Being made out of wood, I will be able to easily adapt the stand in the future if I ever go with a pump or RIMS setup, but I think this will work fine for now.

Stay tuned as I hope to tackle plumbing a new utility sink and water lines next.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Brew Thru #2 - Workbench

Time flies, doesn't it?  Already in February of 2015 and things are plodding along nicely.  In the second Brew Thru I will be talking about some Social Media Updates, my first Homebrew Wednesday, recapping the Superbowl, and my workbench.

Social Media and Homebrew Wednesday

So I have recently learned of this Homebrew Wednesday (HBW) thing going on over on YouTube.  It is pretty cool and equally dorky at the same time = right up my alley.  Homebrewers record updates for their brews, brewdays, or just anything related to their homebrewing and post it up on Wednesdays.  I just launched my first HBW video as the debut of the Shegogue Brew YouTube channel.  Be sure to subscribed to stay on top of all things Shegogue Brew.

I also have launched a Facebook Page for you to 'Like.'  If you are an avid FB'er you can stay in touch that way.  Considering twitter...but I am not a huge fan...we will see.

Super Bowl Recap - The Welker's first Homebrew

Most of us gather to watch the Superbowl.  It is the time of year I  look forward to as another reason to continue - my birthday usual falls the week before the superbowl - eating good-tasting, but bad-for-me foods like these ham and cheese sliders, and seven layer dip.  My wife and I had our friends, whose namesake claims the Witty Welker, over to enjoy the game.

The Welker's have caught the brew bug and brought over their first batch of homebrew!  Its always interesting being on the receiving end of other brewers first batch.  They are usually worried I won't like, and watch my first sip with bated breath.  No worries necessary though as the beer was excellent!  They made a Brewer's Best Weizen and it was delightful.  They didn't remember which yeast was used (I'm letting the lack of note-taking slide this time you two!) but it favored my weizen preferences of a stronger clove phenol, over banana esters.  The only real things I could knock the beer for was its clarity and that it was a little thin in the mouthfeel.  We will ignore the clarity by claiming this a kristal weizen.  The thinner body made for a very easy drinking beer.  Once again, well done!

Then there was the infamous Budweiser commercial.  I am not going to link to it since I don't want to promote AB-InBev.  I think they are horrible stewards of the beer industry, but not because of the commercial.  If anything I was more disappointed that they didn't come up with something funny - though I guess that is saved for Bud Light commercials - remember the one about ten years ago where the guy only had enough money for the 6-pack of bud light or toilet paper?  He ends up choosing the Bud Light and when asked by the cashier if wants paper or plastic, he promptly states paper.  Now, that is a good commercial!  This year's defensive stance against craft beer and its drinkers just goes to show they are really starting to feel the pain of continued declining U.S. sales OR they are marketing genius's and trying to drum up sales for their newly bought-out Elysian Brewing's pumpkin beers!


Until recently I didn't have a workbench.  I had a set of plastic sawhorses (real cheap) which broke, so I made a sturdy 2x4 set which I utilized for the deck project and they work great, but they are rather bulky and remain outside for use on bigger projects.  I was in need of a multipurpose workbench.  It will be used for anything and everything.  Here are the build pics:

lumber in corolla
Just barely fit in my toyota corolla.  2'x6' is plywood cuts is about all that would fit

dimensional lumber laid out
All the lumber laid out, changing my saw blade

cuts to lengt
Cuts made - I found one really nice knotted piece of 2x6

Can never have too many clamps - using this setup to keep the cross piece flush

close-up of joinery
Used one screw to hold together so I could drill a 5/8" hole for the oak dowels

bench legs
The legs

precise cuts
Pretty precise and accurate cuts there

another dowel joinery pick
Another view of the dowel joinery. Oak dowel glued with Titebond II

Cutting Dadoes
Cutting the dadoes on the apron to prevent racking on the legs

Dadoes finished
Dadoes cut and chisseled out (I need better chisels if I get into woodworking)

One side attached to legs
One side together

Second side added to legs
Second side added

Table without top
Bench frame all set to go!

Bench almost complete
Almost Complete!  Two sheets of 3/4" BC grade plywood screwed ever foot
Unfortunately, even though the plywood was grade BC, it was providing quite a few splinters.  I decided to pick up a few sheets of tempered hardboard.  I got 1/8", but probably should have gotten 1/4" time will tell.  I drilled a tiny hole so I could counter sink the thin tack nails.
Nails in masonite hardboard
Tack nails holding tempered hardboard down

Finished Workbench
I based the bench build off of the quick workbench from, but used 2x6 for the legs and the top cross-piece. This was secured with two 5/8" dowels and glue on each side. I used a 2x4 on the bottom of the legs and two 1/2" dowels glued.  The apron rails are 2x6s with six 2" screws on each leg connection.  I also finally installed the 48" powerstrip above the bench for quick-access.  As Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor would say, "More Power!"

Now to build the brewstand!

Friday, January 30, 2015

How fast is fast? Optimizing Your Existing Immersion Wort Chiller

I built my wort chiller four years ago.  I purchased a 50' roll of soft 1/2" copper tubing and four 90 degree elbows for about $69.80 + $13.63 shipping.  I then had to purchase soldering equipment (lead free solder and flux) and brass garden hose fittings.  So I was probably in about $100 or so for my wort chiller build.  When I got around to constructing it I only used about 40' of the tubing due to a height restriction on the vessel I was using to form the circular structure.  I still need to figure out what to do with the rest of that copper tubing!

Fast forward to 2015, and I am kind of surprised to see that the prices of copper today are actually less than they were in 2010.  In fact, the site I purchased my materials from even carries packages specifically for immersion chillers!

For a while I thought my immersion chiller was just not as good as some of the commercial products out there.  I would see products advertising 5 minutes to get to pitching temps… 5 minutes!  I was immediately filled with envy as I recalled that last brutal brewday of the summer.  You know, those 90 degree days where incessant stirring for 20+ minutes only gets you down to 78 F.  I thought it was just my crummy chiller, but as with all things in my life I began to thoroughly research the issue at hand.

I Googled for any information and product reviews I could find on wort chillers.  I saw a lot of people with a similar dilemma give up on their immersion chiller and go with a counter-flow or plate chiller.  I was also aware of Jamil Zainasheff's recirculating whirlpool system.  All of these seemed like wonderful options.  Unfortunately, they too, all seemed to have flaws.  The biggest of these flaws to me was that a pump was required (I don’t own a pump).  I kept researching and was really intrigued by the JaDeD Brewing chillers.  Their chillers post some crazy fast chill times with the Hydra boasting a 3 min chill to 68*.  Okay, this is some sort of brewing magic, right? Do you need to sprinkle special chilling dust at flameout to achieve these results? The answer: Nope!  JaDeD provides insight to this sorcery by explaining the science behind fast cooling.  To paraphrase, it is essentially the input chilling water flow rate and wort movement which dictates how fast you can chill.  Yes, the temperature of your source water can make a big difference, but that wasn't the component I was lacking.

I have always had good wort movement - I stir the heck out of it as I am chilling.  However, I, for some silly reason thought if I turned my spigot on only halfway or even a trickle, that I would somehow be extracting the most heat possible from the liquid?  Not sure how I came up with that inaccurate idea.  Maybe, I figured running the water through too fast wouldn’t fully utilize that volume of water's potential? Or maybe I was just drunk.  Either way, I now feel like such a bonehead.  Keeping cool water flowing through your immersion chiller
REAL fast and keeping the wort moving (to avoid hot and cold spaces) is what results in fast chilling.

The next brewday when it came time to chill, I opened up that spigot full bore and “let 'er rip.”  Boy was I surprised to  be within 10* of my groundwater temperature within 5.5 minutes.  Now I don’t feel so insecure about my immersion chiller, and I can get back to brewing some great beer.  I invite you to learn from my mistakes and make the most of your wort chiller - if it aint broke don’t fix it!

How do YOU chill your wort and why?  Let me know in the comments below!

After writing I remembered reading a post on Brulosophy a while back where Marshall tested using a pump to recirculate vs his (and my method) of moving the chiller all around.  Spoiler alert, manual beats mechanical.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Brew Thru #1 - Other Blogs, Small Batch Bottling Tips, and Equipment upgrades

So in the past I had written some blog posts that I just simply titled "Brewery Update [insert date]" and while that was appropriate, because it was an update, I want to try and better categorize any and all update-type posts in the future.  I also want to try and label posts with appropriate tags to be able to search my growing list of posts better.  I am deeming these smorgasbord posts as Brew Thru's.  I liken this much to the growing youtube tag Homebrew Wednesday (HBW).  If you aren't aware, HBW is the acronym people use when they make short videos every Wednesday and post the video on youtube.  These videos usually feature a guy tasting a beer and giving any updates related to their homebrew gear or gadgetry.  They can be very entertaining, however, only 5% - 10% of the video provides informative information.  I hope to outline these updates in a way which allows readers to quickly skim and extract any informative content they may find useful.

Without further ado, lets brew thru!

Other Blogs

I have a lengthy commute, sure I have mentioned that before, and I utilize my time on the commuter train to to read other homebrewing blogs.  I cam across a few recently which I am really enjoying and want to highlight them.  As usual, you can view all my blogs over in the right sidebar:

  • Sui Generis Brewing - Homebrew blog with a focus on yeast.  The author has developed a great series of youtube videos for the beginner in yeast culturing and working in an aseptic environment.  If you are interested in start a small homebrew yeast lab, definitely check out this site.
  • Eric Brews - This is somewhat of a new blog created back in November to document the brewing of a ton of beer for the authors coming nuptials which are this weekend, I think?  I stumpled upon Eric's blog doing my semi-weekly google searching for "induction" or basement brewing setups.  Eric is using the avantco burner, too.  I am hoping his blog stays frequently updated once his marital status changes.
  • Shegogue Brew on HomebrewTalk - I have written a few articles and plan to write some more for the popular online homebrew community.  I have also provide a link to the right specifically for my posts.  I will try to plug them through future brew thrus.

Cool New Ideas - Small Batch Bottling Tips

Has your significant other every told you that you brew to often?  If not, you may not be brewing enough!  If so, I may have found some rationale for you to justify how infrequently you do brew, in comparison... thanks to Matthew Murray.  Matthew is a homebrewer from NC who has probably been brewing more often than a lot of commercial breweries.  He started a website to document his journey of brewing a beer everyday for an ENTIRE YEAR.  Matthew is a little over a year into this and posted a new idea which I haven't seen before.  If you are a small batch (1-2 gallon) brewer, his tips on bottling are must see will definitely speed up your process.  

Equipment Upgrades

I have been using a new 9 gallon Bayou classic (1036) pot for my last 5 or so brews.  I made this kettle change in my anticipation of going electric.  The 15 gallon aluminum pot I used to use was not induction capable.  The new pot came with a ball valve, and although the pain of cleaning and sanitizing my autosiphon is now relegated only to packaging day, I learned the hard way how messy it can be to try and get wort from the kettle to the fermenter with just a ball valve.  I decided to solve this issue and future-proof my kettle by ordering a set of camlcok quick disconnects and silicone tubing from  I used the setup to drain from my kettle to a Better Bottle on Monday when I brewed and it worked like a charm!  Yet another small step in my constant goal of brewday time optimization.