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Darran Haynes

Adventures of a newbie - first visit to the brew shop; and Droid update

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Hit up a couple brew shops this weekend; one close by and the other "Brewmart" in Bayswater, WA.

The first place (which will remain nameless) was ok; limited kit selection and seemed more like a warehouse than a retail shop.  Unfortunately the guy working there was pretty general in his knowledge / advice.  (You know that feeling when you can tell someone is 'faking' it and answering you without really answering anything).  I asked him about Peanut Butter flavouring / essense and he said "You can probably just throw the peanut butter straight in there... the sugars in the peanut butter should work well".  Nice enough chap but at this point I decided I'd hold off buying anything until visiting Brewmart.

Glad I held off!  Amazing selection of kits as well as custom kits including hops / yeast / malts the lot.  Am going to try to do a Beez Neez style beer kit next; for $33 got the kit tin; malt tin; yeast and hop pellets - just need to source my own quality unprocessed Honey (250gm).  Also picked up my pre-ordered Star San along with a bottling tube and spray bottle.  Staff were very friendly and helpful and didn't make me feel stupid for asking the simple questions.  Question - do you guys add the hop pellets along with the malt and kit liquid extracts when boiling in water?  The instructions provided by the shop say to boil the pellets separately in water; then strain the water into the fermenter but I've noticed on other posts here that some are being added days in; assuming just dropping the pellets in as-is?

Droid UpdateAPA brewprint is at 5 days 15 hrs; hopefully get ready to Keg soon.  Then intend to apply my hops and leave for 24hrs before attempting the bottling process.  Will sanitise bottles and bottle tube with the Star San solution prior to commencing. 

I'm a little concerned about the heatwave at the moment; any tips on how to keep the bottles between that 18-25 degree sweet spot I've read about?  Was wondering whether sitting them in an esky or plastic box submerged in water would make a difference; just thinking out loud.  Bought a cheap digital thermostat off eBay to test some areas out but getting high 20's low 30's in most places at present.

SIDE NOTE - neither shop knew of any peanut butter flavourings available.  Brewmart staff mentioned that she'd never heard of one and that most of their flavourings are derived from alcohol or liquors and wasn't aware of any PB types of those either... I'll keep daring to dream on this one for now I think.

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Yes Brewmart are great. I purchased 12l ball lock kegs from them some years back. They pressure tested them before sending to Adelaide to ensure all ok.
If your not using the liquid hops from BrewArt but pellets instead don’t just drop them into the droid as you’ll have hop sludge in everything. You need to use a sanitised mesh hop bag. You can use white mesh curtain lace material, make a bag out of a square of it, placing the hops in the centre, bunch up and tie with white cotton or string like you would with a Xmas pudding. Make sure you soak material and string in starsan, wring out and use.

Like you, heat waves in Adelaide, just put your bottles in a cardboard box and cover with a blanket or jacket away from the external walls or put the boxes in the bottom of a wardrobe. Don’t get too concern with the temperature other than being too cold (below say 16C) as the yeast goes to sleep.

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Cheers for the heads up re: mesh hop bag.  Will look to pick one up during the week.  Timing wise I probably won't need it until next weekend anyway so that works well for me. 

I've read about the PB2 option but I haven't seen too many success stories.  Am more interested in "Brewers Best Natural Peanut Butter Flavoring" extract but can't find it for any reasonable price as yet.  Will keep searching and asking around; might get lucky who knows!

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Scratch that - am now reading less than stellar reports on the Brewers Best; and seems a bit misleading being "Natural" Peanut Butter Flavouring but having artificial ingredients.  Might hit the pause button on my PB flavouring journey until I have some more experience under my belt.

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13 minutes ago, Darran Haynes said:

Cheers for the heads up re: mesh hop bag.  Will look to pick one up during the week.  Timing wise I probably won't need it until next weekend anyway so that works well for me. 

I've read about the PB2 option but I haven't seen too many success stories.  Am more interested in "Brewers Best Natural Peanut Butter Flavoring" extract but can't find it for any reasonable price as yet.  Will keep searching and asking around; might get lucky who knows!

Found this for some info on the PB2 

https://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/experimenting-with-peanut-butter-flavoring.199865/

 

 

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Darran, I know this sounds counter productive ...but...can I recommend that you go out and buy 2 or 3 slabs of beer. They will be the last you will buy but I did this after my first few brews and it allowed me to brew a few prints and get some stock with 6+ weeks behind it. Now, I'm not saying don't go nuts on your first brew and drink it because god knows two weeks secondary seems forever but it improves.

My first brew was a Czech Pilsner and it was alright after 2 and a bit weeks, might have been 3 and I enjoyed having a few or more pints and was happy with it but my over riding thought was "yeah, not better than pub quality". I had a chat with Liam and he said 8 weeks was the sweet spot and I took no heed and drank my second brew, once again, nice but no banana. So, I went and bought some beer to allow some time for secondary and my next beer, an Aussie Pilsner was about 7 weeks and that was the first I thought..."yep, this purchase is worth it.

Until you start using something like an IKegger and are just bottling, see if you can stretch the brew to 6-8+ weeks secondary to really enjoy the results 

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Rob is right, maturity in a bottle makes quite a difference. As he says buy some beers to help bottle storage, once your at say 6 weeks you can drink those and you should have other stocks behind those. Or mix, as said somewhere else, have a couple at 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks etc to evaluate the improvements whilst stretching out your purchased slabs.

 

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Cheers gents - hearing you loud and clear that patience will be key here.

My plan was to have a sample at the keg/bottling stage (assuming it will taste like flat or low carbonated beer, almost Kombucha like? Just am assumption!) then store it in a dark cupboard or equiv for min 4 weeks, ideally longer. Will continue drinking my Colonial South West Sours and Porters in the meantime 😎

Have come to realise I need to be more concerned about maintaining 18 degrees as opposed to worrying about heatwaves so might wrap in a towel or blanket. 

I've ordered a devanti thermoelectric wine fridge for $100 that lets me set a fixed temp up to 18 degrees so was going to put a couple of Ale bottles in there to see how they compare to the cupboard bottles.  Probably OTT but for the price was willing to experiment.

Any other tips, as always, are greatly appreciated!

Edited by Darran Haynes

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May have slightly exaggerated the price; was $103.95 but forgot it cost me about $22 to ship so let's say $126 all up.

Temperature is digitally set between 8 and 18 degrees I believe.

https://market.myer.com.au/a/camping-fridges/devanti/vic/brooklyn/devanti-wine-cooler-25l-8-bottles-thermoelectric-fridge-uv-resistant-glass-door/100810485?gclid=Cj0KCQiAn8nuBRCzARIsAJcdIfM1UGq553-it7d0eVp_1lG3T32yB-cpgOa7mpneCyzPK_Wt0-wT65gaAgcTEALw_wcB

Can hold up to 8 bottles on their side; but I intend to pull out the racks and have them standing upright.  Using 750ml bottles so hoping I'll get at least 6-8 in there but would be happy with 4.  Mindset being if it works a treat Ill just buy a couple more as price-wise works out similar if you buy the larger size or just operate two small ones. 

Will keep you updated on my progress of course :).

Edited by Darran Haynes
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READY TO KEG! (Bottle)
----------

Got the update last night - woohoo!  Haven't opened the lid yet (to take a quick squiz & add liquid hops) as I am waiting for my bottling valve / kit from Brewart (Shipped 11/11; still waiting 😢 possibly due to the NSW fires?).  Delivery date was Wed 20/11 but has been revised to Thu 21/11 but no guarantee it will come then either. 
[EDIT - not complaining; bushfires are a much bigger issue than me having a parcel delayed]

I still have about 36 brand new 750ml glass swing top bottles so no shortage of bottles; was just holding out for the kit as the online videos made the process with it look easy using the connector.

Figuring out my next options and thought I'd run it past you gents... do I:

a)  Stuff the bottling connector kit and just fill the bottles directly (tap on/off); or
b)  Wait until Thursday (day 3 of ready to keg) in case the kit arrives and use the bottling connector; or
c)  Stop being so damn impatient and wait until the bottling kit arrives... even if it means the droid goes to storage mode and has to revert back to keg mode before commencing (i.e. 3-4 days in the droid post fermentation).

Side question... any difference adding the liquid hops 24 or 48 hours before bottling?  Online video said 24hrs but curious if anyone here has done different...

TIA!

Edited by Darran Haynes
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It’s frustrating waiting on needed goods to arrive and Aust Post are not that expedient in my experiences.

1) I wouldn’t fill directly from the tap, can be messy, foam etc. but if bottle on an angle it may work.

2) if you wait then fine, droid goes into storage mode after 2 days but you can change it back to keg. 

3) you could do the tap on and off filling if you have suitable tubing that will fit into the tap spigot or a tube that fits firmly over the top of it.

4) if you are near a brew shop you could get one of the normal fermenter bottle filling tubes as I believe they will fit up the spout.

5) don’t forget to sanitise any tubing, filling device.

6) I’d lift the lid carefully, and put your hop liquid in now, I believe it is better than just putting in prior to bottling as it has time to “infuse” with the brew.

Hope this helps, Mark


 

 

 

Edited by Barrelboy
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1 hour ago, Darran Haynes said:

READY TO KEG! (Bottle)
----------

Got the update last night - woohoo!  Haven't opened the lid yet (to take a quick squiz & add liquid hops) as I am waiting for my bottling valve / kit from Brewart (Shipped 11/11; still waiting 😢 possibly due to the NSW fires?).  Delivery date was Wed 20/11 but has been revised to Thu 21/11 but no guarantee it will come then either. 
[EDIT - not complaining; bushfires are a much bigger issue than me having a parcel delayed]

I still have about 36 brand new 750ml glass swing top bottles so no shortage of bottles; was just holding out for the kit as the online videos made the process with it look easy using the connector.

Figuring out my next options and thought I'd run it past you gents... do I:

a)  Stuff the bottling connector kit and just fill the bottles directly (tap on/off); or
b)  Wait until Thursday (day 3 of ready to keg) in case the kit arrives and use the bottling connector; or
c)  Stop being so damn impatient and wait until the bottling kit arrives... even if it means the droid goes to storage mode and has to revert back to keg mode before commencing (i.e. 3-4 days in the droid post fermentation).

Side question... any difference adding the liquid hops 24 or 48 hours before bottling?  Online video said 24hrs but curious if anyone here has done different...

TIA!

OK, don't need the kit, I have it, it is nice, works a treat but I just fill from the tap. It isn't that much of a difference that I bother with the connector. If you want to wait, by all means do.

To the side question, I have found with the hops pouches, you get a more pronounced hops flavour with 24 hours and it dissipates the longer it is in the droid. Pouches are different than dry hopping, which you would put in earlier (ask Mark, he dry hops, I won't pretend to know) 

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1 hour ago, Darran Haynes said:

OK - Hops are in!  Some quick snaps attached too - Thoughts from you more experienced brewers?  Does it look ok?

beer 1.JPG

beer0.JPG

Beer2.JPG

 

all good. Honestly, it is pretty hard to bugger up a brew in the droid, just sanitise the droid after cleaning and it is sweeeet

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8 minutes ago, Rob Courtney said:

OK, don't need the kit, I have it, it is nice, works a treat but I just fill from the tap. It isn't that much of a difference that I bother with the connector. If you want to wait, by all means do.

To the side question, I have found with the hops pouches, you get a more pronounced hops flavour with 24 hours and it dissipates the longer it is in the droid. Pouches are different than dry hopping, which you would put in earlier (ask Mark, he dry hops, I won't pretend to know) 

Good to know about filling the bottles. Do you think the liquid hops dissipate or not “evenly spread” thought out the brew so hop strength varies in intensity from bottle to bottle.

With dry hopping of pellets depending upon what I’m brewing I often have them in the brew for 3days prior to kegging.

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1 minute ago, Barrelboy said:

Good to know about filling the bottles. Do you think the liquid hops dissipate or not “evenly spread” thought out the brew so hop strength varies in intensity from bottle to bottle.

With dry hopping of pellets depending upon what I’m brewing I often have them in the brew for 3days prior to kegging.

I think dry and pouches is a lot different ( even though I haven't dry hopped :) ). I can only state from doing a hop tea, the difference is big and from other people I have talked too, they have all said to dry hop like you do. When I used to follow the advice of pouches at storage and wait four days, the beer was missing that...certain something and when I did it a day before bottling/kegging, I could taste what was missing.

Next step is dry hopping...

 

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UPDATE 20/11 - First Brew has been bottled!  Took Rob's advice and had a crack without a bottling tube and found no issues going direct from tap to bottle.  Other key takeaways...

 - Got (lucky) 13 bottles (@ 750ml ea) out of this batch; currently in a dark cupboard circa 23 degrees (Perth weather!)
 - Each bottle (& swing top) as well as the tap got a solid spray or 2 of Star San solution and given a few minutes
 - Beer was interesting.  Seemed almost cordial/syrup like (see pic); wasn't sure what to expect but wasn't that.  Tasted ok; just incredibly flat (duh!) 
 - Have given the droid a full flush out with warm water and wiped down with a tearaway cloth

For the Star San solution I added 0.75ml to a 500ml spray bottle.  Stopped by the chemist today and grabbed a 1ml syringe so got it pretty bang on I think.  Also used distilled water.

Question - What's your guys thoughts on Star San solution residue? do you guys have any concerns regarding any Star San residue that remains on / in the droid or bottles?  From what I've read it's supposedly safe (so was smoking once - ha!) but the slightly strange odour and the fact I can still see small pools of it... any issues or am I overreacting?

 

beerNEW.JPG

Edited by Darran Haynes

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2nd UPDATE 20/11 - looks like my rubber has taken some damage; even though I lubricated with olive oil when originally applying to droid.  A little bummed.  Think it's worth having a crack with a 2nd brew as-is or should I replace first?  TIA

damage.JPG

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7 hours ago, Darran Haynes said:

2nd UPDATE 20/11 - looks like my rubber has taken some damage; even though I lubricated with olive oil when originally applying to droid.  A little bummed.  Think it's worth having a crack with a 2nd brew as-is or should I replace first?  TIA

damage.JPG

That’s the old style tap that everyone has had problems with. Contact Liam at Brewart Tech and they’ll replace it with the new tap for free. (Ring or send him an email)

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7 hours ago, Darran Haynes said:

UPDATE 20/11 - First Brew has been bottled!  Took Rob's advice and had a crack without a bottling tube and found no issues going direct from tap to bottle.  Other key takeaways...

 - Got (lucky) 13 bottles (@ 750ml ea) out of this batch; currently in a dark cupboard circa 23 degrees (Perth weather!)
 - Each bottle (& swing top) as well as the tap got a solid spray or 2 of Star San solution and given a few minutes
 - Beer was interesting.  Seemed almost cordial/syrup like (see pic); wasn't sure what to expect but wasn't that.  Tasted ok; just incredibly flat (duh!) 
 - Have given the droid a full flush out with warm water and wiped down with a tearaway cloth

For the Star San solution I added 0.75ml to a 500ml spray bottle.  Stopped by the chemist today and grabbed a 1ml syringe so got it pretty bang on I think.  Also used distilled water.

Question - What's your guys thoughts on Star San solution residue? do you guys have any concerns regarding any Star San residue that remains on / in the droid or bottles?  From what I've read it's supposedly safe (so was smoking once - ha!) but the slightly strange odour and the fact I can still see small pools of it... any issues or am I overreacting?

 

beerNEW.JPG

Starsan residue is completely harmless, there is a common saying in the homebrew world “don’t fear the foam”. What you are doing is fine. Storage of beers is ok, 2 weeks ro go and you can try one 🤗.

All appears well, was the sample the first pour out the tap or the last? 

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That was the first pour before I started bottling 👍

Had a small drama last night; got a bit impatient given my Brewprints haven't arrived yet so after cleaning (and fully sanitising!) the droid I had a crack at using my Beez Neez kit (half a tin of Morgans Lager; Morgans Malt Extract; 1/2 pkt of Hop pellets; 250g Raw Honey & approx 12g Wheat Yeast).

 - I boiled 2L of water and put it into a sanitised pot with the extracts and honey and stirred until melted.
 - I boiled 1L water; added 1/2 pkt hop pellets and boiled for 1 min before removing from heat and standing for 15m before draining into a sanitised vessel via a sanitised strainer.
 - I then added both pots to an existing 4L of room temp water in the droid and topped up to 10L.

Turns out even though it had cooled and been added with the RT water; when I started the droid up it said temp was 33.6 (!).
Took about an hour and a half to get it down to 22 degrees but am concerned I may have stuffed it up.

Just going to hope for the best at this stage (see if fermentation is detected in a couple days) but has anyone else had similar issues or experience?

Everything I read on late night Google says that it should 'kill' the yeast but may very well have a less than desirable effect on taste etc.  D'oh!

Edited by Darran Haynes

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1 hour ago, Darran Haynes said:

That was the first pour before I started bottling 👍

Had a small drama last night; got a bit impatient given my Brewprints haven't arrived yet so after cleaning (and fully sanitising!) the droid I had a crack at using my Beez Neez kit (half a tin of Morgans Lager; Morgans Malt Extract; 1/2 pkt of Hop pellets; 250g Raw Honey & approx 12g Wheat Yeast).

 - I boiled 2L of water and put it into a sanitised pot with the extracts and honey and stirred until melted.
 - I boiled 1L water; added 1/2 pkt hop pellets and boiled for 1 min before removing from heat and standing for 15m before draining into a sanitised vessel via a sanitised strainer.
 - I then added both pots to an existing 4L of room temp water in the droid and topped up to 10L.

Turns out even though it had cooled and been added with the RT water; when I started the droid up it said temp was 33.6 (!).
Took about an hour and a half to get it down to 22 degrees but am concerned I may have stuffed it up.

Just going to hope for the best at this stage (see if fermentation is detected in a couple days) but has anyone else had similar issues or experience?

Everything I read on late night Google says that it should 'kill' the yeast but may very well have a less than desirable effect on taste etc.  D'oh!

1) the sample being the first pour is cloudy like that as initially ingredients settle to the bottom of the droid and into the tap. I would say it is not that cloudy in the bottles.

2) although not ideal the yeast being put in at 33.6C will not kill it and as it took only one and a half hours to get down to 22C all will be ok. The night or day before you plan to brew put around 4l of water in the fridge to chill. ( the yeast will give undesirable results if left at those higher temps, but you dropped it quickly so no real harm)

3) Your process in preparing this brew are great and tops in recognising that everything used in preparation is sanitised.

4) out of interest what water are you using?

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