Category Archives: Beer Brewing

My Homebrew Rig

Brewing Collage

One of my more recent DIY hobbies has been making my own beer.  My wife and I have grown to really enjoy good craft beer and I knew it was something I wanted to try doing myself.  I have to admit I was a little sceptical after hearing my mom say:

“my dad and my brothers used to brew their own beer [potato] and argue about whose beer tasted the best… the truth was that it was ALL awful”

Maybe this was going to be a little harder than I thought, but after a little bit of research, I found a thriving homebrew community with plenty of information and vendors.  I also learned that it could be very easy or extremely complicated to make your own beer.  You can make beer by simply boiling some water, pouring in the ingredients and throwing it all in a bucket with some yeast.  You can also make beer by analyzing your water, correcting water for mineral content, milling your own grain, doing a triple decoction mash, using an electronic temperature control methods during fermentation, calculate priming sugar amounts to achieve certain carbonation levels and kegging your beer.  You can spend thousands of dollars on equipment or you can spend 50 dollars on equipment.  The one constant I found in my research was that regardless of how much money you want to spend or how sophisticated your equipment and methods are… it all makes good beer!

I fall into the less money on equipment and moderate sophistication camp.  I have made most of my own equipment with cheap or free supplies and I use the “All Grain” method for making beer (it has some special equipment requirements over the other methods).  In the near future, I hope to do a post about a “brew day” where I will take you through my process of making beer, but in the meantime I thought I would share my “brew rig” that I mostly made myself (well… at least the parts that you can make yourself).

I started off by purchasing this middle of the road home brew kit from Midwest Supplies.  This kit contains the buckets, measuring equipment, cleaning and bottling supplies you will need.  It is pretty hard to DIY a food grade bucket, so I just bought this stuff.

Midwest Supplies Homebrew Kit

I happened to have a turkey fryer big enough to boil a full batch of beer (It just needed a very good cleaning), so there was no need to buy any boiling equipment.

I made my mash tun out of $10 worth of parts and a free cooler that someone gave me.  This allows me to steep my grains, and filter the grains out of the liquid as it drains out.

My DIY mash tun made from an old cooler, copper pipe and valve parts

My DIY mash tun made from an old cooler, copper pipe and valve parts

This is my “wort chiller” (heat exchanger) that I made out of flexible copper pipe and a few fittings.  This is optional, but makes cooling the wort much easier.

DIY Wort Chiller for cooling the wort after it is done boiling.  This needs to be done ASAP.

DIY Wort Chiller made out of flexible copper, hose fittings and some tubing for cooling the wort after it is done boiling. This needs to be done ASAP.

I even made a temperature controller for about $30 worth of equipment and parts, but need to acquire a used refrigerator or freezer to actually use it.  Once I am able to use it, there should be a small improvement in the quality of my beer.

MY DIY temperature controller.  It will sense if it gets too cold or hot and turn on heat or turn on cold.

My DIY temperature controller. It will sense if it gets too cold or hot and turn on heat (heater) or cold (refrigerator) to keep the fermenting beer at a constant set temperature.

Most of my ingredients I get from Midwest Supplies or Austin Homebrew and they are awesome about helping you if you have questions (no matter how basic).

Here is the full setup in action.

My whole "brew rig" set up and in the process of making some beer!

My whole “brew rig” set up and in the process of making some beer!

So far, I have been making 5 gallon batches of beer for a year and a half now and have had some pretty good reactions including:

“Honestly… this is the best beer I have ever had”

“This is actually… good?!”

“I liked it… and I don’t even like hoppy beers.”

“I didn’t get sick.” (there is a common mis-perception that you can get sick from homebrew, but nothing that can make you sick can live in beer)

“The person that made this beer must be the smartest, richest, best looking, smartest, funniest, best looking and smartest person on the entire planet.” (paraphrased from my sister-in-law)

I even have fun naming the beers.

Bottle cap label I made for my wife's favorite... Peach Hefewiezen.

Bottle cap label I made for my wife’s favorite… Peach Hefewiezen.

There you have it!  A little bit about my homebrew rig and my new hobby.

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