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January 2007 Archives

January 6, 2007

Still no root beer hardware...

This really shouldn't surprise me, but no one has PayPal'd me money for my kegging system! :)

So, yeah. I've still got $185 set aside for the hobby, once I can justify the rest, I shall start making root beers again.

I think the Hub still has a few bottles of batch 4.5 that I really should get back; I've been craving some again. :)

January 12, 2007

Birthday money!

I got a call from my folks tonight. Among other things, my mother put in a request for a batch of sugar free root beer for the next time they come down to visit their grand-daughter. I explained to her my situation with the carbonating hardware, namely that what I have is broken and didn't do such a good job to begin with, and that I'm saving up money to get the real thing.

She then mentioned that I have a birthday coming up and that I was to add $100 to my budget and that, if possible, I was to have the hardware by then to make her requested batch. :)

So, now, I've got a $285 budget.

I've done a bit of research and have an updated cost list:
- This Fridge converter kit is $150 shipped. Purchased.
- These 3 gallon kegs will work with the above kit, and fit in almost any mini fridge. Purchased. (Although, my friend Dave is probably going to buy one of the two from me.) Also available are the far more common, and therefore cheaper, 5 gallon kegs that are much taller and harder to fit in a fridge. I'm going to stick with the 3 gallon kegs for now.
- Speaking of fridges, I own, but do not currently have posession of, a mini fridge that is big enough to fit the 3 gallon kegs, but not the far cheaper 5 gallon kegs. If I want a fridge that will fit the 5 gallon kegs, Costco has them for $150 but they can be had used for probably less than $100.

Going with the 3 gallon kegs, and the fridge I already own, the total cost is now $270! $210, if I sell one of the kegs to Dave! This is in my budget! Yeah! If I sell the second keg to Dave, I'll have enough money to purchase a second faucet... for the second keg I just sold.. Hmm..

Later, if I decide to, I can get a bigger fridge and move the keggerator parts to it and start using larger kegs without having wasted anything, except a mini fridge that I haven't been otherwise using anyway.

So, yeah. More root beer recipes are coming. This makes me happy. :)

January 13, 2007

free fridge.

I just talked with Gary, my friend who has posession of my fridge. He measured the inside of the fridge, and it's going to be close to fit one of the 3 gallon kegs in there. Hmm. It will probably involve removing some of the "bits" on the inside of the door. So, yeah.. There will be some fridge surgery going on in a week or two. This should be fun.

The cool thing about this fridge is that it has a separate freezer section on top, perfect for keeping mugs and pint glasses frosty cold. :)

January 19, 2007

Kegerator is being built.

I got the parts for the kegerator conversion, and the fridge to be converted, earlier this week, and tonight, Cindy was on the phone with her mother while nursing the baby for long enough for me to get started.

I started by giving the fridge a quick cleaning, and removed all the easily removed bits (read: the shelves.)

The shelves in the doors make the space inside too small for the keg I got, so I removed the inner door bit. This involved removing some screws under the "weather stripping" (for lack of a better term) around the edge of the door, cutting out just the rim of the inner door plastic bits, and putting the rim with the "weather stripping" back on. This gives me plenty of space in the fridge for both, a 3 gallon keg and the 5lb CO2 canister...

...well, almost "plenty" of room. I spent all kinds of time and effort measuring to make sure that the keg would fit that I totally ignored the CO2 canister. As it turns out, I have to turn it so the regulators point backwards and sort of wedge it into the fridge. It's almost upright this way. *sigh*

Anyway. The next step was to drill a hole through the door to mount the faucet. The kit assumes that you haven't removed the inner part of the door and can still use it as a structural part to mount the shank for the faucet. Well, I just removed that structural part. So, I ended up drilling the same sized hole through a roughly square piece of nail plate (about 3" square, 1/16" steel) and used that on the inside of the door to distribute the pressure of the nut holding the shank, and therefore faucet, onto the door. Effectively, I made my own really large, square fender washer. It works great.

So, now I have a fridge, with bits removed on the side to make space for a 3 gallon keg, and a faucet mounted to the front door. Now all I need is a keg, and to do some hose work, and I've got a kegerator.

...where are those kegs? I haven't heard from the eBay seller from whom I bought them. I just emailed him today asking about them; hopefully, I'll know more soon.

January 22, 2007

Kegerator is being built - Part 2: Almost Done!

My kegs showed up today! I've got almost everything I need to put this bad boy together. The only problem at this point is that the hose they shipped with the kit is a) too small a diameter for the fittings involved, and b) shorter than I would prefer. A longer hose means more time for the beverage to drop in pressure before being exposed to the air, which means less chance for it fizz up all over the place, which means more CO2 left in suspension at the end, meaning a fizzier, less flat drink. A very good thing indeed.

Oh yeah, I've gotta charge the CO2 tank too. That's easy.

So, I'll be stopping by the welding shop and the brew store on my way to work tomorrow. Also the hippy store where I get my roots. Oh yes, batch 5 shall be soon in coming.

January 27, 2007

Batch 5

I made batch 5 today:

2.5oz sassafras root bark (wanted 3oz, only had 2.5)
1oz sasparilla root bark
1oz wintergreen leaf
1 tbsp anise seeds (not star anise)
3 vanilla beans, guts scraped of course.
3 lbs (6 cups) organic buckwheat honey (almost)
1 gal boiling water
1 gal ice
1 gal water

Boil 1 gal water. Add roots, leaves, seads and vanilla guts and husks. All, straight into the water. I sometimes use a grain bag, but I wanted this amount of stuff to have room to move around. Boil for 10 minutes, stiring about half the time. (It takes the barks a bit of time to saturate with water; they float to the surface until then. Keep stiring them into the water.) Start adding honey. 6 cups is a lot of honey, and it doesn't disolve instantly, so add it slowly. I just poured it from the jars I bought it in, in a slow ribbon. The whole process took about five minutes. Total boil time so far: 15 minutes. Boil for another 2 or 3 minutes just to make sure everything is disolved. Pour into a sanitized bowl that has a similarly shaped and sized fine mesh collinder (also sanitized) in it. Pull the collinder out, taking the vast majority of the roots, leaves, seads and vanilla husks with it. (My bowl wasn't big enough for the whole batch, so I had to do this twice.) Pour filtered mixture into sanitized keg. This is where you would do additional filtering if you don't want little bits of stuff in your root beer. I tried filtering through cheese cloth, but it just fell in the keg, so I gave up. Start adding ice to the keg until it stops melting quickly when stirred (with a sanitized utensil of your choice, natch.) Fill the rest of the keg with water. Cap, shake to mix, and carbonate.

- Standard disclaimers apply: Use water and ice from a good, clean source. If you don't have a filter in your house, get bottled "drinking water" and "party ice" from the store. I just used water from my under-sink mounted filter. We've since hooked up the ice maker in our freezer to this filter too, so in prep of this day, I bagged all the ice that was made at the time and got the freezer cranking out more ice. It took about 1.5 "ice maker drawer" loads.

- The windergreen leaf I got from the hippy food store near me smelled NOTHING like wintergreen mints or anything. We'll see what it does to the taste of the root beer. I've considered crushing up a few wintergreen Altoids and adding that to a batch. :)

- This is a heck of a lot more anise than in any previous batch. I hope I don't regret this. I was planning on putting only .5 tsp in the batch, but it just didn't look like enough, so I added more. ...and more... Hmm..

- The full 6 cups of honey didn't quite make it into the batch. There's maybe 1/3 cup left over. It just sticks to the walls of the jar. I didn't work very hard to get it out.

- I know that with the brewing of tea, the longer you brew, the more nasty chemicals you get out of the tea leaves that make your drink taste very bitter. In an effort to remove some of the bitter or astringent taste of the root beer, I tried brewing for less time. I only did 10 minutes before adding the honey. I suspect this is not enough of a difference to notice, but we'll see. Next time, I'll try brewing for 5 minutes before starting to add the honey for a total brew time of about 10 minutes.

I didn't taste the final mixture before sticking it in the kegerator, and I haven't finished hooking up the beer line yet, so I can't even get any out of it now. I'll post again when I have a chance to taste it.

About January 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Mark's Blog in January 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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