Category Archives: Beer

Labor Day Barn Projects Part 2…

Ok, here is the second reason for the and work party…there were a few minor details to finish up on the actual barn itself. The final inspection was scheduled for the next day, and we had a couple minor details from the inspectors punch list left.

Here’s a picture of some of the last bits of trim up under the front edge of the eaves of the barn:

And here is the proverbial last nail, well ok, actually I think there was one more nail in the corner here that I didn’t catch a photo of, but hey, second to last nail:

And, last, but not least, the all important paper…and a well deserved drink…

Ok, I’ll explain what this is. This paper is the official final inspection sign off from the building inspector. Meaning that for all legal purposes, the Barn is complete! But as anyone with a major project and a tinkering attitude knows, it’s never really complete…


Here’s a basic run down of the process I follow for brewing a batch of beer using LME(liquid malt extract)

This is a yeast smack pack, prior to smacking:

Here is the yeast pack after it has been smacked, and allowed time for the yeast to propagate:

Here’s the “mash” boiling:

And here is the cooled wort in my conical fermenter, with the yeast added:

And here is the yeast I’ve collected for use in a future “proof of concept” brew:

Alright, part 2.  Now we move on to the fermentation process taking place in the lovely new conical fermenter.

Here’s an exciting video of the airlock bubbling from the fermentation.  It may seem silly, but this was nice proof that our process had worked up to this point.

Trub Leve

My finger is pointing to the level of the trub in the collection ball.  I know this may seem silly to non brewers, but this is a really cool system.

Trub Removal

Removing the collection ball and pouring off the trub between primary and secondary fermentation.

Kegging Goodies

Above are some of the supplies used to put the beer into the keg, and the keg itself.  A nice little 5-gallon ball lock keg I bought new from Williams Brewing.  Probably should have double checked the size, more on this later.


Final Gravity

Here’s our final gravity reading.  With temperature correction, were were essentially right on, I think only 1pt off.


Fermenter to Keg

This is another cool part of the system.  You can remove the collection ball, and when you are ready to transfer to your keg or bottle, you can attach a treaded nipple to the valve and then a silicone tube straight into the consumption vessel.



Beer in Keg

Mmm, almost beer.





And here it is to sit and wait while I force carbonate.  Force carbonation is when you use an external CO2 tank to force the CO2 into solution in your beer.  Many home brewer who bottle use priming sugar and rely on residual yeast to carbonate.  But I really like the simplicity of kegging, and therefore force carbonation.  If you’ve ever washed enough bottles for a 5-gallon batch, about 50 or so depending on exact yield, you know my pain.  It’s a bit of investment to keg, but what hobby doesn’t require a certain level of investment.  Anyway, that part about I should’ve double checked the size of the keg, yeah.  It doesn’t fit in my converted mini fridge, the cooling apparatus is in the way.  Fixing that issue will be another post, once I get there. But, yay! Beer!

So for a couple years before my wife and I decided to uproot our family and move almost halfway across the country, I was brewing with a couple of my friends on a regular basis.  We were up to a 5-gallon batch every month, which we split between households, but I always had some home-brew on-tap in my beer fridge.  Fast forward a while longer after the great move, and I was itching to brew again.  My main impetus was a new reasonably priced plastic conical fermenter. Then I just needed an excuse to get the fine fellows at to come out for a visit.  That happened, and after a few days of watching my daughters, we got to brewing.  This a basic overview of our process, with a few of the pictures I remembered to take.

New Conical

This is the new fermenter, made by FastFerment.  Saw it advertised through the AHA newsletters, and it was as good an excuse as any to get back to brewing and simplify the process.  Simple primer on conicals, they allow all the yeast and other trub from hops and such, to settle out to the bottom.  This system has a removable collection ball, and they advertise you can easily harvest the yeast for reuse.  Cool system, ended up buying it direct from their website, but its available from Amazon as well as many home-brew shops.

Paige in Snow on Brew Day

Did I mention it was snowing when we were brewing?  A couple inches, at around 28ºF, but we were working in my garage and ensured we had adequate ventilation.

Prepping Grain Sock

Here we are adding the grains to a grain sock for the boil.  Basically, we put the milled grains into a muslin sock to contain the solids and reduce trub in the fermenter later.

Adding Grains

Putting the grain sock in the brew kettle.

Introducing Liquid Extract

I don’t have all the equipment for an all grain batch, so we used a liquid malt extract to get our fermentables and flavor profile we wanted.  We stuck with a  fairly basic recipe from the local home brewshop in Boulder, Boulder Fermentation Supply.  Some of our other supplies were picked up at Lafayette Homebrew Supply.

Basic Set Up

Here’s a picture of the setup mid-boil.  The water jugs in the background were our water source, I didn’t have a good way to get filtered water to my garage another way. Silly cold climate!  We bought the water from the local supermarket, but it was bottle only a few miles uphill at Eldorado Springs.

Well, that it for the brewing process, really.  Well, except for the hops and Irish moss.  But I don’t have picture of those. We used a copper chiller and ran some nice cold ground water through it, we chilled an entire 5-gallon batch down to yeast pitching temperature in around 8 minutes.  I’m gonna make a second post with the fermentation steps and kegging process.

Lawn Beer Holder

Here’s a flashback to my childhood, and visiting my grandmother in Wisconsin.  A really cool drink holder for you yard, that you stick into your lawn next to wherever you’ve plopped down your chair.  Found it at my favorite hardware store in Boulder, McGuckin’s Hardware.  Their website isn’t the best, but their store can’t be beat.  An old fashioned hardware store where they’re happy to sell you a couple 7¢ screw, staple them in a paper bag, and send you on your way with advice.  Plus, my daughters love going with me, as they usually get a small treat.  I love exposing them to what a real hardware store is, and I want them to be able to shop there for their lifetimes as well.  Here’s a four-pack from Amazon, I was able to buy singles at McGuckin’s, but I couldn’t find an option to purchase singles online.

Always Replace In Pairs…

Tail Light Bulb


Yeah, you should always replace tail light lamps in pairs.  I mean sure, it would be nice to save a couple bucks, but there’s a good reason they come in a two-pack.  If one goes, the other will without fail, burn out within a short time.  A little back story; a coworker told me pulling into work one day that one of my tail lights was out.  Cool, thanks for letting me know.  I stop at the auto parts store on the way home to get new ones.  I forget that my car is the second half of the model year and has several parts variation, so of course I get the bulbs for the earlier version.  I get new ones the next day, but it takes a Torx screwdriver, so I have to wait til I get home.  I forget to do it.  Next night I get pulled over just after I leave work, for the tail light being out.  Officer is very professional, and after verifying all my info is up to date sends me on my way with a verbal warning and admonishment to fix it ASAP.  I do it the next morning, as I have the day off work and need to drive my kids to school.  Except I only do the one. Fast forward a couple weeks.  I go to a Homebrew Association meet-up, a ways from home.  On the way home, you guessed it, pulled over again.  Another officer, who turns out to be a home brewer also, is very professional, and sends me on my way with a verbal warning and a please fix this soon.  So, the moral of the story is, always replace them in pairs.  Unless you like being pulled over twice in a couple of weeks…



GABF 2014…

It’s kinda sad, I only took one picture at GABF this year, but really how many pictures of a giant convention center will really look any different.  Had a couple of friends in town for it this year, a good time was had by all.  Kinda funny that what has turned into a yearly event in my life happened totally by accident.  The cast of characters grew by one this year to three total, as my brother in law joined our small crew.

GABF 2014

This was a brewery I liked, and I can’t even really see who it was.  And it was fairly early in the session…

New Belgium Brewing…

It’s take me until now, well actually two months ago, to get a  reservation for a tour at the New Belgium Brewing brewery.  And I totally lucked out and got two spaces on the thursday of GABF 2014 weekend, and I didn’t remember til like a day or two after they went up for reservations.  I still remember the first Fat Tire beer I had, at Microbrews for the Environment at the Boulder Theatre either my junior or senior year.  Very cool, and very happy to see how their ethics have directly contributed to their success.


This was the first beer we got to sample on the New Belgium Brewing tour I took this past weekend with while he was in town for GABF 2014.  It was a barrel aged beer brewed with bret yeast.  I’ll look up the name and update this with details if I remember, there’s a bottle in my fridge upstairs.  Oh yeah, did I mention our tour guide Dave was awesome?  He took our more knowledgeable questions right in stride with the novice questions from the rest of the guests on the tour.  Clearly loves where he works.


Very humble beginnings, cool to see.  Almost like something I’d cluge together when brewing with friends.


Artsy shot of the final of 5 different beers we sampled on the tour, overlooking their back parking lot from the tour area at the bottling line.


I forget which the beer on the left was, I had had several by that point, and some deliciousness from the taco truck at the brewery.  The beer on the right was a free sample of Fat Tire they gave out to everyone at the tap room to commemorate their 50,000th batch brewed of Fat Tire.  Pretty cool.  Loved their tap room, too bad it’s over an hour drive from home.  Oh well, for special occasions with friends.


This is what happens at the end of a fun afternoon when you find a nickel on the table and are unsuccessful at trying to play quarters with it…

“Last” BBQ of Summer…

Last BBQ

Well, this may have been it for the year.  You’re looking at the likely last BBQ of the summer, and possibly the year.  I know the post shows a date of the 22nd which is all but Fall, but this was last week on my Monday off.  Generally I cook dinner on my day off during the week due to my 4/10 schedule, and this was one of only a few non-thunderstormy afternoons I had off all summer.  At least we got a ton of rain this year, knock on wood, and not to torment CA or