Return of the brew

I have been on a three-year hiatus with brewing but I am just about ready to get back into the swing of things. It is summer which makes it a little more difficult, but I have a PLAN. I have gone through the shed and inventoried and am gathering the replacements and new items I need.

This week, actually today, I got a new peristaltic pump for moving brew around and a pond pump that will be part of my cooling PLAN. Right now I am trying to figure out how to wire the dang motor for the peristaltic pump…. Why a peristaltic pump, you ask? Well, there are two things that are appealing about this type of pump over the normal magnetic drive brew pumps. First, they are really easy to keep sterile because the only thing that touches the wort is the tubing. Sterilized tubing = sterilized pump. Tubing is cheap. The second advantage is that I don’t have to worry about the self-priming issue. These things pull rather than push, so I can have it anywhere in my flow (within reason). These are awesome reasons to use peristaltics but normally these suckers run into the hundreds of dollars and are really unrealistic for the average homebrewer. This is where the power of eBay and a little elbow grease come in. I got the pump head and motor for $24, including shipping. Of course, I don’t know how to wire this particular type of motor (a permanent split capacitor if you’re curious) but I can learn and that’s all I need. When I do figure it out and have a sweet, wort-pumping setup I’ll post a little step-by-step so others can be cool like me.

As for the PLAN, this is my cooling plan. The tap water in Maryland can get a bit high for wort chilling in the summer. I have always used an immersion chiller, but it takes forever in summer. I am biting the bullet and buying a convoluted counter-flow chiller (CFC). But Wait! There’s More! I took this idea from a post on the HBD forum to help conserve water because running a hose at full blast can use a bunch of water. I’m going to recirculate ice water through the CFC. Instead of hooking the CFC up to my hose I’ll hook it up to a pond pump sitting in a tub if ice water (basically several bags of ice with enough water to make it float). The output goes back into the tub and I can add more ice if the temperature gets too high. Buying several bags of ice is worth it to not waste huge amounts of water. I can then use the water from the tub for cleanup at the end of brew day. Anyway, that’s the PLAN, we’ll see how it goes in reality.

Comments

Hey, I had no idea you were a homebrewer too! And from the looks of it, longer than I have been. I've been researching since probably September ad finally took the dive about a 5 weeks ago. I have a nut brown ale in secondary and a Cider in primary (and another carboy for a 2nd secondary, and ingredients for an Irish Red on their way to me)

Anyway, sounds like you have a decent setup, let me know if you got back into it.

-Sam

I did get the pump wired up, though finding the right sized tubing for it has been a pain, and made a few batches but I haven't brewed in well over a year now. I am really excited to brew again this spring and I now have a nice big basement (with beer fridge and utility sink) to do my fermenting and storage.

I haven't brewed since I got the basement but I'm thinking I'll fire up the kettle outside, brew it up and then run the wort through the chiller, into an open window and directly into the fermenter in the basement so I don't have to lug anything around. I'm hoping that I'll be able to just use gravity and take the wort pump out altogether.

As a fledgling homebrewer and as a php/drupal programmer I've been debating a recipes module for some time now. I'm actually very surprised that there isn't one alredy.

On what you mean by "recipe" module. There is a cooking recipe module out there already but I dare say that CCK/Views would satisfy the needs of simply displaying recipes as nodes. Would be cool to be able to import a BeerXML file, fill out the node with it and have the BeerXML file be attached and available for download. I imagine existing XML/import/export modules could be used for that.

And welcome to the homebrewing obsession - almost as addictive as Drupal but with more shiny, expensive toys to buy. :-)

I didn't think people brewed from home anymore. That is so awesome. How hard is it to brew your own beer from home. Also how long does it take and what do you think the start up total cost is. I am highly interested in learning the ways of home brewing.

Do you have any significant suggestions as to the recipe of your beer? I wonder if you have to have a license in order to produce beer from your home, I mean I know you have to have a license to sell beer and a whole bunch more is involved with it being homebrewed but what about for personal consumption?