Cleaning liquid lines without CO2

I could easily clean the liquid lines in my keezer with a push of CO2 and a keg, but I didn’t want to waste even the slightest amount of CO2 pushing sanitizer through the lines, and I didn’t want to have an extra keg just for line cleaning.

Solution? I’ve heard of hand pumpers that can send sanitizer through the lines. While it sounded good, I found that most of the hand pumpers have a MFL tail piece and a beer shank wing nut attached to it, like the ones seen here and here. (click links).

Solution to the solution? I use daily at work these HDX 1 gallon hand pump sprayers. I went on a hunch that they would have 1/4″ tubing for the sprayer, and I was right. I spent about $10 on the sprayer itself, and a few extra dollars on the parts needed to covert it to attach to the liquid lines. The sprayer part was easier than I thought to unscrew and pull off the hose. I replaced it with a stainless 1/4″ barb to 1/4 MFL threaded piece.

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From here, I mixed up 4 liters of water to 2oz of BLC in my pumper, affixed the pumper portion back on. To attach the pumper line to the liquid line is as easy as screwing in the black beer connector. I made sure to tighten the hex nut to prevent leaks. See the picture below, I tried to get as much all in the shot as possible.

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After setting up the equipment, I placed a bucket under the tap, then opened the tap. It only takes a few pumps to get the pressure running. The pumper holds 4 liters of liquid, I pumped 1 liter of cleaner solution through each of my taps, and then pumped flushed each tap with the same amount of clean water. Clean lines! Easy to do, didn’t need a keg, didn’t need any CO2. Tah freaking dah.

 

Keezer build

I’m moving towards kegging, and quickly decided I didn’t want to fuck around with picnic taps. So I thought I’d go all out and convert a chest freezer into a 4 tap keezer. This process took some time, and was a serious labor to do. However, the end result is excellent, and it was 100% worth building.

I found a Magic Chef 6.9 cubic feet chest freezer at Home Depot over Labor Day. It was on sale for $160. Brought it home and gave it some measurements.

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I watched a number of tutorials online and found out it had to have the lid removed, and a wood collar attached to it, so that the lid could be screwed back into the collar. I chose 45º angle cuts on four pieces of 2x4s, and right angle braces with wood screws to attach them together. Here’s the rough blueprints on what I wanted the collar to look like.

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Back to Home Depot, picked up a 12 foot piece of 2×4 and brought it to a buddy’s house to help me cut it.

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With the angles cut, we set it together to see how it would look. My buddy did a kick ass job of slicing the wood down to the 32nd.

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Right angle brace placed in…

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Next we chose the front facing board, and measured out four 1 inch holes. They were then cut using a 1 inch spayed bit.

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I gave the wood a good sanding so that it would better accept some paint and took it home to see how it fit on the freezer.

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Like a glove.

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Next I needed to add some sealant paint on the wood. I chose white instead of wood stain, just to make it easy. And to make it even easier, I chose a timeless classic, Kilz spray paint.

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I painted all the boards and let them dry for a good 24 hours.

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The next step required another pair of hands, as we had to hold the boards together while adjoining them with the right angle joint.

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The boards fit together nicely, but still left a small gap. I knew this wasn’t going to be a huge issue because I was going to caulk and paint everything again.

I placed the newly formed collar on the freezer one more time to see how it fit… pretty good.

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I then caulked up all my edges and smoothed them out.

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After this it got another round of Kilz paint job.

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While the paint was drying I started assembling my parts, starting with the liquid side. I got some nice Krome passthroughs (as seen below) that had built in barbed nipples and faucet adapters, or whatever they’re called. This was more convenient than buying the passthrough, MFL tail piece, beer washer, and wing nut… and the faucet connector part. Whatever, this was convenient and worked super well. See picture below.

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I easily assembled the faucet to the passthrough, and the tap handle to the faucet. The faucet went on better with the help of a faucet wrench.

Next I assembled my beer line to the black beer connectors via swivel barbs and clamps. The beer line is a real bitch to get onto the barb, so soaking it in some hot water helped cram it onto the barb, where it was then clamped on.

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I put these aside for now to focus on my newly dried collar, and attaching it to the freezer. I used the same Gorilla Glue caulk that I used earlier to seal the collar to the freezer.

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I placed the lid on, adjusted it into place, and then added some full kegs, water jugs, and a full CO2 tank for weight.

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I patiently let this set up for about 24 hours. In the meantime, I gave the outside edges another round of caulking.

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Sloppy paint job, right?

After this had dried, I opened up the keezer again, removed the lid, and added a round of caulk to the inside edges, plus caulked my 6-way manifold onto the lip of the freezer.

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Now it’s time to assemble the keezer with all the parts. The passthroughs go through the 1 inch holes, and the brass nuts were tightened in with a wrench.

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IMG_2382Then I brought in my CO2 tank and hooked up the regulator to the manifold.

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No pictures, but I added my gas lines to the manifold, clamped them down, and added gray gas connectors on the other ends with swivel barbs and clamps.

I added my liquid lines onto the passthroughs, and hooked those up to swivel barbs and black beer connectors as well.

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Now it’s time to test the system. I filled a keg with star san and water to test for leaks and to sanitize the lines, serving this sanitizer keg with a small amount of CO2 pressure.

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Hooray! It works!

It’s time for the lid to be attached back to the unit, and I screwed it in to the keezer’s collar. It works perfectly.

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Tah-freaking-dah. I hooked it up to my Inkbird temperature controller and set it to cool. Here’s what the final build looks like.

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There are two things that still need to be added, but are minor cosmetic issues.

  1. I need some drip trays for the front. I’ve got some ideas on how to do it, but I’ll explore a bunch of options on how to get the right look and ease of use.
  2. I want some custom tap handles, so that I can slide in and out my own labels.

House Lannister Brew Day

Only 204 days until GoT comes back. This beer is the first of three GoT themed beers I’m going to brew. The other two are going to be Targaryan and Stark themed, respectively. All three being Belgian style ales; a Belgian Golden Strong seemed like a great choice for House Lannister’s golden lion. 

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Recipe

Information

Method Style Boil Size Batch Size Efficiency
Brew in a Bag Belgian Golden Strong 3 gal 2.5 gal 70% Target

Stats

OG FG ABV (alternate) IBU (tinseth) SRM
19.6º P 3.0º P 9.7% ABV 30.53 5.72

Target Water profile: Chimay (boiled)

Ca+2 Mg+2 Na+ Cl SO4-2
30 7 7 21 21

Once again, as I did in my last beer (Snooty Cooter), I’m going with the Chimay boiled profile. Actual numbers as follows:

DI Water additions

Gypsum 0.70g
Sodium Chloride 0.25g
Calcium Chloride 0.50g
Lactic Acid 3.5g
Ca+2 Mg+2 Na+ Cl SO4-2
22.6 0 7.4 29.7 29.5

Estimated mash pH: 5.25

Fermentables

5.5 lbs Château Pilsner
0.50 lb Weyermann Munich Type I (5L)
0.25 lb Torrified Wheat
1.0 lb Belgian Candi Syrup Golden (5L)
100 g DME Pilsen (starter)

Hop Schedule

1 oz Hallertau Mittelfruh (4% AA) First Wort 30.53 IBU

Yeast

WLP500 – Monastery Ale (Chimay). I pitched 1 fresh tube into a 1 liter starter the night before brew day, and let it stir for a full 24 hours.

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Brew Day

I made sure to double mill my grains today to ensure good efficiencies. 

I routinely sanitized and set up all my equipment, and then weighed out my minerals from the prescribed dosage above. I brought my strike water up to 152ºF, and poured in all the grains. I stirred the grains well for about 60 seconds, and placed the lid on. Initially the grain was resting at 147ºF for about 10 minutes. 

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However, over the next 10 minutes with the kettle lid on, the temperature drifted up to 150ºF. 

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The temperature was held there for the majority of the mash, until it dropped to about 147 again in the last 15 minutes or so.  

After the mash, I pulled the bag out, put it over my second runnings kettle, and gave it a few squeezes.

I added 1oz of Hallertau Mittelfruh to my first wort, and then proceeded to sparge and squeeze the grain bag.

I sparged 3 quarts of DI water through the grain bag, and with ample squeezing, I topped up to 3 gallons in the boil kettle. I added my 1 pound of Golden Candi Syrup, and gave the kettle a good stir. I checked the gravity with my refractometer and read about 16.2ºP.

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I turned the stove back on and brought the beer up to a boil… 

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90 minutes later, I cooled down the wort and strained it through a nylon bag into the fermenter. At this point I grabbed an ending kettle gravity reading of 20.8ºP.

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My 1 liter starter looks like it’s just about finished its fermentation…

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I pitched it and took a final gravity reading of 19.8ºP. I moved the fermenter into my chamber, and will let it sit for 7-10 days at ~68ºF. 

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Snooty Cooter Brew Day

I wanted to brew a beer inspired by the bar. So I chose a Belgian ale, something like a Belgian red ale or a Belgian Dubbel.

Snooty Cooter

Recipe

Information

Method Style Boil Size Batch Size Efficiency
Brew in a Bag Belgian Red 3 gal 2.5 gal 60% Target

Stats

OG FG ABV (alternate) IBU (tinseth) SRM
17.8º P 3.0º P 8.5% ABV 32.44 14.41

Target Water profile: Chimay (boiled)

Ca+2 Mg+2 Na+ Cl SO4-2
30 7 7 21 21

I’ve found that trying to recreate this water exactly wasn’t very easy. So, here’s my salt additions and the actual numbers I’m gonna go with:

Water additions

Gypsum 0.70g
Sodium Chloride 0.25g
Calcium Chloride 0.60g
Lactic Acid 2.0g
Ca+2 Mg+2 Na+ Cl SO4-2
26.5 0 8 35.9 31.8

Estimated mash pH: 5.40

It’s close enough to what I want I guess…ok. 

Fermentables

5.0 lbs Château Pilsner
0.25 lb Weyermann CaraRed
0.25 lb Weyermann CaraMunich I
1.0 lb Belgian Candi Syrup D-45
100 g DME Pilsen (starter)

Hop Schedule

1 oz Hallertau Mittelfruh (4% AA) First Wort 32.44 IBU

Yeast

WLP500 – Monastery Ale (Chimay). I pitched 1 fresh tube into a 1 liter starter in the morning of brew day, and let it stir all day. 

Brew Day

So, two things.

First, I forgot to make my starter last night, which I guess is fine as long as I get it stirring in the morning and pitch it on the beer later in the night. This beer could easily be getting up to or over 18ºP. So I’m hoping one pack of white labs on a starter will be sufficient…. And as I am typing this in the morning, I see Brulosophy has a brand new article on this very subject matter: http://brulosophy.com/2018/09/03/yeast-pitch-rate-pt-8-yeast-starter-vs-direct-pitch-in-high-og-belgian-ale-exbeeriment-results/ … with that in mind, I think I’ll be fine. 

Second, my Inkbird controller hasn’t been working, it’s been freezing my water bucket when set in the mid 60s (F). So I’m supposed to have a package arrive “by the end of the day,” and I’m hoping it’s enough time to cool my chamber down without any freezing issues…. 

My ink bird has arrived! …time to brew.


 

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I brought my strike water with the aforementioned mineral additions up to about 150, where I usually do to dough in. I set my timer for 90 minutes, and came back to see I was mashing a little low around 146, not going to be too big of an issue, but I covered the lid with some weights to tighten up the seal, and quickly approached something much closer to my usual mash temp of 150F.

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After the mash, I pulled the bag out, put it over my second runnings kettle, and gave it a few squeezes.

I added 1oz of Hallertau Mittelfruh plus 1 pound of Candi Syrup D-45 to my first wort, and compared it to my second runnings.

I sparged 3 quarts of DI water through the grain bag, and with ample squeezing, I topped up to 3 gallons in the boil kettle.

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I took a gravity reading, and wasn’t so pleased with what I saw. I’m looking at a preboil gravity of 12.8ºP… much much lower than the anticipated 15ºP…Looks like my efficiencies are going to be awful. Why such low gravities?? My suspicion is that I didn’t mill the grains enough, looking at the spent grains I can spot more than few whole kernels in there.

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After the boil I cooled down the wort, strained it through a nylon bag. A gravity reading in my refractometer read 16.4 with slightly over 9 quarts. I pitched my 1 liter starter in and presumed about 10.5 quarts, and grabbed a final gravity reading of about 15.8. I moved the fermenter into the chamber, and will let it sit for 7-10 days at ~68ºF. 

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Overall stats on the day read 64% efficiency, 6% away from my target. In the past, I’ve gotten at least 85% attenuation on this yeast every time I’ve used it. With that in mind, I think I could be looking at a 7.5% beer instead of 8.5%.

 


 

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Australian Hopped Juicebier 9.2.18

Stats

Actual OG Actual FG Actual ABV SRM
17.1º P  1.020 SG 7% ABV 4.68

I’ve been lazy, this is the second time I’m drinking this beer since it’s been ready to drink. However, the first time I drank this one it just was slappingly bitter hops lingering on the end of the tongue. Figured it needed a little time to mellow. I was right. 

Appearance:

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Looks like a big pour of juice, but not quite like orange juice. Very dense and hazy looking.

Frothy white head of foam that lingers around.

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and has wonderful lacing. 

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Aroma:

The hops come through the moment the bottle pops open. The fruits, the tropical, the intense hoppy aromas are there. More specifically? It’s hard to tell, there’s a combination of sweet tropical fruits, maybe a mango and pineapple, and some citrus bleeding through which is expected. They almost form an apple aroma? Whatever this combination of hops is giving off, it is very pleasant. 

Flavor:

The beer drinks with a snap of carbonation, and a medium to thick body on it. It’s not too thick and dense, but the beer lingers around the mouth afterwards. It isn’t a crisp drinking beer. It feels slightly heavy. It drinks with a large combination of booze, tropical fruit, and hoppy bitterness. I mostly sweet fruits on the tongue, it lingers with a sense of booziness, and finishes with a dry bitterness on the sides of the tongue. I mentioned before, this beer was REALLY bitter a week ago. It had the flavors I’m mentioning, but finished really bitter. Luckily that has calmed down to lay way for some pleasing flavors. 

Hyper Critical:

Would I brew this beer again? Absolutely. I think this is one of my better brews. I would change the schedule of hops, especially if the Vic Secret is going to be up at 21% again. I think the only flaw with the beer is that it has slightly too much bitter bite to it. Either using less hops or pushing them back to the whirlpool and dry hop would really help this beer stand out. 

Lemonade Juicebier 8.17.18

Stats

Actual OG Actual FG Actual ABV SRM
12.4º P  1.012 SG 5.12% ABV 3.6

Appearance:

Bright yellow haze but not super thick looking. 

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Aroma:

Combination of alcohol, citrus, and pine all coming through. Not exactly smelling lemons, doesn’t remind me of a bright lemon aroma. Smells like a citrusy hopped beer. 

Flavor:

Body is thinner than I’d imagine. Carbonation is good. Flavor is exceptionally light. The beer goes down really easy. It feels much much lighter than a typical juicebier. I do get hints of citrus and lemon on this one, almost some grapefruit flavors too. Pleasant flavors are there. I can’t detect anything “off” about this beer. 

Hyper Critical:

Overall I think this is a great drinking juicebier. I would have liked more lemon flavors coming through. Perhaps I could have pushed most of the hops back to the whirlpool and doubled up on the dry hop. And even dry hopped some lemon zest into this. Would I brew this again? Probably. If I did it again, next time i’d brew it either down at a true session strength of between 4 – 4.5%, or at something around 8%. I think I’d also pair this hop up with something juicy like Citra or Simcoe. 

South African Juice 8.1.18

Appearance:

Pale gold, hazy, not super thick. Good amount of head and foam around the top. The carbonation dissipates quickly, but laces nicely. 

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Aroma:

Nose is hard to pick out. I get hoppiness, but not nearly what I was expected at 4oz per gallon. It smells like a hoppy beer, but that’s about it… I don’t pick up a lot of sweet aromas as per this hop’s description. In fact the more I smell it, the more I’m picking up a noble spicy type aroma.  

Flavor:

Whoa, not fruit forward at all. They are quite lackluster in terms of the fruit flavors that were advertised. I do get a lot of spicy black pepper character on these. More wood and pine flavors, chewy wooden flavors coming through. I do get a bit of fruit lingering in the background. Some of that tart grapefruit type citrus is definitely there. 

I poured this beer for my boss, and I described what the hops are supposed to be before he tried it. He told me he wished I hadn’t told him koolaid, because he that’s all he can think of when tasting it. I didn’t get any of the koolaid flavor. If I did get any fruit flavors coming through it’s that of fermented citrus. Oh well.

Hyper Critical:

Would I brew this again? No chance. This pack of hops wasn’t good, I didn’t like it. I had very high hopes for South African hops, and I’m still slightly interested in the other varieties. But I can’t see myself spending the extra dollar for those any time soon. I’ve got other projects in mind.