homebrew_kegerator_565x300

Create a Kegerator to Serve Homebrew

A kegerator to help dispense your kegged homebrew beer is a must.  Here is a step-by-step DIY on how to build a dual tap kegerator for homebrew. It is totally possible to have access to two separate cold brews at the same time by creating your very own kegerator for under $200.

Purchase Equipment

1.  Used Old Refrigerator (craigslist.com) — $60
2.  2 Perlick Perl SS Faucets (amazon.com) — $65 shipped
3.  2  Beer Shanks – Chrome Plated 4″ 3/16″ bore — $35.00
4.  2 Tail Piece 3/16″ — $1.80
5.  2 Black Neoprene Beer Shank Washer — $1.00
6.  2 Beer Shank Hex Nut — $1.60
7.  2 Long Faucet Tap Handle — $4.50
8.   10 ft 3/16″ ID Beverage Tubing  — $13.89
9. Ball lock Liquid Disconnects -or- pin-lock(depends on your kegs) — $12.00
10. 4 Hose Clamps — $.40

Choose the best Refrigerator

The kind of refrigerator you select doesn’t really matter. Kenmore, Whirlpool, Samsung it’s all the same in this case. Your only requirements are really just A) does it work and B) will my kegs fit inside. In fact, it doesn’t even really have to be a refrigerator, I have friends that have created their kegerator from an old chest freezer and that worked out just fine too.

For me, the most important feature of my soon to be kegerator was size. I wanted it to be larger enough to fit my kegs but small enough that it didn’t take over valuable square footage in my garage. If you plan to use 5 gallon kegs like I do, then a smaller “European” style refrigerator is all you really need.

European style convert to homebrew kegerator

European style convert to homebrew kegerator

Transform your Refrigerator into a Kegerator

Assuming you decide to use a refrigerator like I did, the first step in transformation process is the actual transportation of the fridge from it’s current home to yours. The best way to transport a refrigerator is upright; if you have to lay it on its side make sure you stand it upright for at least 24 hours before powering it on.  This will allow for any possible leaked oil to drain back into the compressor. If you don’t follow this rule you will likely ruin the refrigerator and be left with a large load to take to the dump.

Next, you must drill holes. Drilling holes in a refrigerator can be dangerous and may result in ruining the entire refrigerator so be careful.  Some refrigerator models have coolant lines that run throughout the walls of the fridge.   With most refrigerators the door is a safe bet.  However, if you really want to place the faucets elsewhere, drill a small hole first to check for the lines then work your way to a bigger hole once you are certain you won’t compromise the coolant lines.  Once you have located where you want the faucets to be located, mark the positions with a pen.

Mark locations to drill

Mark locations to drill

Take a smaller sized drill bit and drill straight through to create a pilot hole.  Then take a appropriately sized hole saw drill bit and drill out the hole for the shank.

Drill out holes with small bit first, then use a larger hole saw bit

Drill out holes with small bit first, then use a larger hole saw bit

Assemble Shank, Tailpiece and Faucet

The shank is the stainless steel tube like piece that has threads on either end that ultimately used as the anchor for your tap. The tailpiece is a critical piece in this project because it connects to the back of the shank and is essentially the adapter for the 3/16 beverage tubing. Gather up the shank, shank washer and nut along with the tailpiece and assemble them using the directions they came with. Insert this framework through the newly drilled hole.

Shank, tailpiece and tail nut all assembled.

Shank, tailpiece and tail nut all assembled.

Before you screw on the faucet you might want to consider making a riser. For those of you who concerned with aesthetics like me, if your surface is not flat, a riser gives the shank and tailpiece a flat object to mount to so they don’t just protrude awkwardly. I came up with a riser for my faucets made out of stainless steel since my fridge did not have a flat front.

Once you have the shank, tailpiece and riser in place simply screw on the faucet (purchasing a faucet wrench can really help here).

Riser with shank assembly and riser in place

Riser with shank assembly and riser in place

Connect Beer Lines and Serving Beer

Once the shanks and faucets have been installed correctly attach the beer lines.  Getting the beer lines to fit on the tailpiece and on the ball lock liquid disconnect can be tricky.  To help with this, boil some water in a pot, hold one end of the beer /beverage tube in the water for a few seconds, remove and slide on to the tailpiece immediately.  Make sure to have the hose clamps already on the tube.

Beer line connected to tail piece and to ball lock adapter

Beer line connected to tail piece and to ball lock adapter

Once the beer lines are connected to the tailpiece, connect the lines to the kegs and turn on the CO2.  If you need more details on how to keg homebrew beer, see our article Kegging hombrew beer.  If you are ready to go; choose your brew, pull your tap, hold the glass slightly tilted, then slowly straighten it out as the glass gets full. Drink. Enjoy.

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Do you have a spare bourbon barrel lying around your place waiting for you to make your next bourbon barrel aged (BBA) homebrew beer? Me neither. So you can either try to find one or you can just go to your local homebrew store and pick up some oak chips, cubes or staves like I did.

Even if I did have a barrel at my disposal I think I would still prefer to use oak chips anyway. Oak chips allow you to more easily control the amount of bourbon and oak flavors per batch. You can always add more chips but you can’t add more barrel.

So let’s get started, first you need to determine what kind of oak chips you want to use. Next what kind of bourbon you want to use. And finally exactly how much bourbon and “barrel” you want to taste in your batch.

Oak Chips vs Oak Cubes

Now we have already discussed the pitfalls to using actual barrels (less flavor control and of course limited availability) but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention in addition to chips there is yet another option – oak cubes. Oak cubes can also be found at the homebrew store but from a time perspective they are much less appealing when compared to chips. It takes much longer for the cube to absorb the bourbon and likewise much longer for the bourbon cubes’ flavor to permeate the beer.

So in my experience, oak chips work best. Be careful to select the purest chips, don’t source this key ingredient for your next batch from a home improvement store (they do carry chips for smoking meats, etc.) as they sometimes have additional flavors/chemicals you would not want in your beer.

There are two main types of chips to choose from, French and American. Oak chips in general have an undeniable vanilla flavor and sometimes you can also taste hints of coconut and/or aromatic wood. French chips offer well-rounded wood character, and sweet spice flavors including cinnamon and allspice. American chips have an intense oak flavor, with high vanilla and low tannin content.

Bourbon/Whiskey Selection

There really is no wrong choice when it comes to what bourbon or whiskey you want to use. I personally prefer bourbon and aim for something with a good bit of vanilla & caramel flavors (Makers Mark 46).

Flavors

You can very the time you let the chips soak in bourbon based on your preference.  The longer they soak, the stronger the bourbon flavors. The less, the more dry oak flavor.  The flavors of oak/bourbon will also depend on when you drink your beer. The bourbon and oak flavors will become less harsh and mellow out as the beer ages. You can expect to enjoy more rounded flavor from your batch months later.

Recipe

For a 5 gal homebrew batch I combined two ounces of French oak chips med toast with three shots of my favorite bourbon. I let that soak for three days then pitch all chips and remaining liquid into the secondary fermenter with the beer. Check out our article on using a secondary fermenter to age beer, I prefer to use a plastic larger mouth carboy which makes it easier to add/remove the chips.

(Note -if you plan to bottle, use a little less priming sugar because bourbon naturally adds additional sugar which can result in over carbonation)

Check out our homebrew Russian imperial stout recipe that can be bourbon barrel aged(coming soon).  Imperial stouts are the ideal beer style for a homebrew beer that will be barrel aged.  Soured beers are also great for barrel aging.  As mentioned previously, if you wait to drink your bourbon barrel aged beer the smooth rich flavors will be at their prime a few months or even years down the road.

 

kegging homebrewed beer
If you are  thinking about kegging homebrewed beer here is an article showing  how easy and helpful kegging can be.  Why keg?  Well to me coming up with empty bottles, cleaning them and having to wait two weeks before trying your beer was getting old quick.  Plus how cool is it to always have beer on tap at the house and cut bottle day to a 30 minute transfer session.  In the article below I will describe the equipment used in kegging homebrewed beer, how to sanitize the kegs, how to transfer your beer to kegs and how to serve your beer from kegs.

Purchase Equipment for Kegging Homebrewed Beer

I must say when I found and purchased the Brew Logic Dual Tap System from midwestsupplies.com I was a bit skeptical, considering other sites/stores were selling the same setup for $100 more.  But what a deal it was, I have been using the setup since Nov. 2009 and haven’t encountered a single problem, I have recommended it to a bunch of friends and everyone has been really happy with it.

dual keg setup

Here is what the kit for kegging homebrewed beer comes with, feel free to shop around:

1. Two reconditioned 5 gallon SS Cornelius kegs
2. 5 lb New Aluminum CO2 tank
3. Double dual gauge CO2 regulator
4. Two hand held taps (the keg party kind)
5. Gas lines with disconnects

Total: $200

Cleaning / Sanitizing the Kegs (15 minutes)

Once your beer has completed fermentation it is time to carbonate it and serve it.  To start things off the kegs will need to be cleaned and  sanitized. To clean the kegs first start out by removing the posts on both the gas and beer sides (it helps to use a deep socket).

remove keg posts

Soak all posts, tubes, poppets in a mixture of a teaspoon of beer brite and a gallon of water for 5 minutes.  Once 5 minutes has past,  assemble the keg and dump the beer brite/water solution into it.  Close the lid, shake it for 2-3 minutes and dump out the solution.  After cleaning is complete, fill the keg with about 1-2 gallons of water and a cap full of the star san (food grade sanitizer).

add water to keg

add star san to keg


Place the cap back on the keg, shake it for 2 minutes and hook up the beer and gas lines.  Keep in mind that the gas(IN) post and beer(OUT) post are completely different sizes, so make sure you connect to the correct post.  The gas(IN) post should have a line indention around the post.

gas side post

Open the valve to the CO2 tank and pressurize the keg, when it reaches 10 psi disconnect the gas line and open the beer line.  This will allow all the sanitizing solution to pass through the keg.  Once all of the sanitizing solution is out of the keg, pull the pressure release valve to release the rest of the CO2 and then open the lid completely.  The keg is now ready for beer.

Transferring Beer to the Kegs (15 minutes)

Transferring beer from a carboy, bucket or conical to the keg is relatively easy.  Just make sure all of the equipment used to transfer the beer is sanitized.  If using a carboy or bucket I prefer to put it on a kitchen counter and siphon it with a little help from gravity.  Notice the star san bubbles rising to the top, this is normal and will not affect the beer.

transfer the beer into the keg

Once you have completely transferred all the beer (~5 gallons),  apply a bit of keg lube.  Apply the keg lube to the outside of the rubber gasket that wraps around the lid, this will help prevent any minor air leaks. After applying the keg lube, close the lid and get ready to carbonate.

keg lube

Carbonating the Beer (3-4 days)

The first step in carbonation is getting all of the oxygen out of the keg, often called purging.  To do this, connect the gas line and hit the keg with around 20 psi.   When you hear the gas stop flowing, open the pressure release valve for a few seconds and let the oxygen out (oxygen is lighter then CO2 so it rises to the top).

pull pressure release valve

Repeating this process about 4-5 times should be enough to get all of the oxygen out of the keg.  Once all the oxygen has been removed, set the Co2 pressure to 12 psi and put the whole setup in the kegerator/fridge.  See our DIY kegerator for build here.

set regulator for carbonation

After 2-3 hours you will want to check/adjust the pressure, it may be off if you put the equipment into the kegerator/fridge at room temperature.  There are different methods used to force carbonate kegged beer, the one I use and is the easiest to perform is the fill it and wait method.  The keg will need to sit for at least 3-4 days at 38-40 degrees to get appropriate carbonation, be sure to keep the CO2 tank on.  To get exact carbonation, check out a force carbonation chart.

kegging setup in kegerator

Serving the Beer

After 3-4 days have past with the beer carbonating it should be ready to be served.  Drop the CO2 pressure down to 5-7 psi and connect the beer lines.  To get a good pour hold the glass slightly tilted at the beginning then slowly straighten it out as the glass gets full.

angle glass at the beginning of pour

hold glass upright at the end of the pour

Well that should cover the basics of kegging homebrewed beer, if you have any comments or questions please post them below.  Check out our DIY step by step kegerator build as well and go Brew More Beer !

Adding weldless fittings to a brew pot be it a boil kettle, hot liquor tank or a mash tun can make brew day much easier.  After I noticed how much the typical homebrew shop charged for a hole in a pot, I took particular interest in doing it on my own.   Here is a basic guide to drilling a hole in a brew pot.

Gather Necessary Equipment

1. Nail Punch Set
2. Drill (corded perferred)
3.  Small sized metal drill bit (3/16 inch)
4.  Step bits (harbor freight has the best deal on them)
5. Metal file

hole punch and step bit

Measure and Punch

First measure out where you want to put the hole, you can use the pot handles for reference if need be.  Once you find the location use a hole punch and a hammer to dent the pot to keep the drill bit from slipping.

line up hole punch and hit with hammer

hole punched and ready for drilling

Drilling the Pilot hole

Drill the pilot hole with a small sized metal drill bit.  This is used as a guide for the larger step bit, without it things could get dangerous.

drill pilot hole


Drilling the Hole

Using the step bit, drill the  hole to the appropriate size to fit the weldless fittings.  Drill slowly step by step and do not apply excessive force.

drill hole in pot for weldless fitting

Smoothing Things Out and Assemble

Use a metal file to smooth down the inside of the hole and remove any hanging burrs.

file off metal burrs

Assemble the weldless fitting and test for leaks.

attach fittings

It is easy to calculate percent alcohol in beer and it only requires two important measurements.  A beers alcohol level is measured in Alcohol by Volume (ABV), it is the calculated amount of the total volume of liquid that is alcohol.  The density of a liquid is often measured in unit of specific gravity, where water has an approximate density of 1.00 g/mL or a specific gravity of 1.000 at 60F.  The specific gravity of a liquid is a comparison of its density vs the density of water.

Gravity Readings

During the fermenting process, yeast is added and the yeast eat the sugars in the wort(sugar water) producing alcohol and CO2.  After fermentation, since alcohol is less dense then wort (sugar water) there will be a change in the specific gravity of the liquid.  ABV is calculated by taking a specific gravity reading of the wort, beer before fermentation, and beer after the fermentation.  The two measurements are referred to as the Original Gravity(wort) and Final Gravity(beer post fermentation).

Measuring Specific Gravity

Measuring the specific gravity is often either done by a hydrometer or a refractometer.   All measurements should be done at what the hydrometer or refractometer is calibrated to, usually 60 °F.

graduated cylinder with hydrometer

graduated cylinder with hydrometer


To measure the specific gravity using a hydrometer fill the cylinder until about 2-3 remain of head space, drop in the hydrometer slowly and spin it.  When reading the hydrometer make sure it is not clinging to the side of the cylinder, it should be completely floating.

fill cylinder with 2-3 inch head space

fill cylinder with 2-3 inch head space

read specific gravity on hydrometer

read specific gravity on hydrometer

Using a refractometer is much easier and requires only a drop of liquid.  A refractometer measures the density of a liquid in units of brix, amount of sugars present in a liquid.  There is a coversion equation below to go from brix to specific gravity.

refractometer

refractometer

Equations to Determine ABV

Here is a basic equation that can be used to determine ABV of a beer.  Two contants are used.

1.05 g — represents the amount of CO2 produced for every gram of ethanol produced
0.79 g/mL  — represents the density of ethanol alcohol, drop the g/mL to get the specific gravity.

 (  ( 1.05  x  ( OG – FG )  )  / FG  )  / 0.79  x  100 = % ABV

*For temperature correction use the following  ~50 °F subtract .001  /~ 70 ° F add .001 / ~ 80 ° F add .002

For example, lets say you are brewing up a dry irsh stout and your OG=1.052 with your FG=1.014.

 (  ( 1.05  x  ( 1.052 – 1.014 )  )  / 1.014  )  / 0.79  x  100 = 4.98% ABV

Here is an equation that can be used to convert units of brix to units of specific gravity.  This is an estimate equation, refer to the USDA Brix Measurements doc for the extact conversion numbers.

Specific Gravity = 1 +(0.004 x °Brix)

 

While calculating the overall water necessary to conduct a  full mash , batch sparge  and boil it is important to note how much water will be lost in the spent grains.  I use the basic equations below when calculating the amount of water necessary when brewing an all grain beer.


Amount of Water for Mash = (Pounds of Grain) x 1.25 quarts/pound (divide by 4 to get gallons)

Amount of Water to Batch Sparge with = (Final Boil Volume) + (Shrinkage/Evaporation) + (Equipment Losses) + (Spent Grains) – (Amount of Water for Mash)

From what I have experienced on my brewing rig spent grains absorb about 20% of there own weight in gallons, here is a chart that can be used for reference.  This estimate is based on my single infusion mash with batch sparge  in a 60 quart cooler with a grain crush around .039.

Total Grain Weight in Pounds x .20 = Approximate Gallons of Water Absorbed by the Grains

 

Pounds of Grains Gallons of Water Lost
5 1.00
6 1.20
7 1.40
8 1.60
9 1.80
10 2.00
11 2.20
12 2.40
13 2.60
14 2.80
15 3.00
16 3.20
17 3.40
18 3.60
19 3.80
20 4.00
21 4.20
22 4.40
23 4.60
24 4.80
25 5.00
mashing in a cooler

mashing in a cooler

 

Using a stir plate can help a yeast starter grow faster and healthier quicker.  Brewing 10 gallons batches can get expensive so I have looked at all kinds of different ways to cut down on ingredients cost.  Using a stir plate along with a yeast starter allows you to purchase one packet of yeast for a standard 10 gallon ale recipes or high gravity brews or even lagers.

Everything in this do it yourself can be purchased at RadioShack or taken from old electronics around the house.  This is a great project to show your wife that the old PC in your closet, shes been trying to throw away for years, was there for a reason.  The stir plate I built was taken from a bunch of different source online so I am not really sure who to credit, regardless here is a stir plate that can be used for brewing that is very cheap, easy to build, quiet and will save you money.

Gather Necessary Equipment

1. Project enclosure box($7 at RS)
2.  4 inch 12 volt DC PC fan (pull out of old PC or buy one online)
3. Rare Earth Magnets (pull off of old hard drive from old PC or buy at RS)
4. Power Supply 12V to 6V DC (old cell phone charger/keyboard/Nintendo or buy one at RS)
5.  Power Switch ($3 at RS)
6. Rheostat/potentiometer 25 Ohm, 3 Watt ($3 at RS)
7. Washer/Screws/Bolts ($2 at Lowes)
8. Strong Glue or Epoxy
9.  Rubber Feet (pull off of old PC or buy at RS)
10. Stir bar, 1-2 inch (order online $6-$8)

Listed below is the equipment I used to build the stir plate.

Project Enclosure Box for Stir Plate

project enclosure box for stir plate

PC Fan for Stir Plate

pc ban used to build stir plate

Hard drive magnets for Stir Plate

hard drive magnets for stir plate

power adapter used for stir plate

power adapter used for stir plate

power switch for stir plate

power switch for stir plate

potentiometer for stir plate


nuts and bolts for stir plate

nuts and bolts for stir plate

Attaching the Magnets

Use a large washer when attaching the magnets to the fan.  This gives the magnets something to hold on it and prevents too much interference on the fan motor.  I used both rare earth magnets out of one hard drive, one magnet was not enough.  If using two magnets stack them on top of each other, I could not get it to work with them separated.  To remove the magnets from the hard drive mount plate, simply wedge a flat head between them and tap it with a hammer.  Center the washer on the fan and use gorilla glue or epoxy to attach it.  I did not glue my magnets down, but it wouldn’t hurt to do so.

mount magnet on fan with washer

mount magnet on fan with washer

Testing the Fan with Magnets

Rather then just jumping in and soldering, I figured it would be a good idea to simply cable it all up and test it out.  To do this I used temporary wires with alligator clips to connect the power supply, power switch, potentiometer and fan.  Make sure the power supply is ALWAYS disconnected while working on the circuit, electronics can be very dangerous so be careful.    Remove the connector on the end of the fan and power supply then strip the wires.  The positive line out of the power supply should go directly to the supply contact on the switch, different switches have different contact layout.  The ground wire form the power supply should go to the fans ground wire, which is usually black.  Next connect the load contact on the  power switch to the center pin of the potentiometer.  Lastly connect the positive line out of the fan to the right most pin on the potentiometer.  Here is a wire diagram of how the circuit should be connected.

initial testing of stir plate

initial testing of stir plate

While testing make sure that the fan is supported by a clamp or something.  Do not hold the container with the stir bar above the fan, this will not work.  The container will need to sit on on the clamp, approximately 1/2 inch from the magnet.  Also make sure you are using a jar/flask/container with a flat bottom, if it is concave/convex it will not work.

Mounting the Fan with Magnets

Alright so the fan/magnets work and the stir bar spins, now lets package everything up so that it looks nice.  First you need to mount the fan to the top of the enclosure box.  To do this clamp the fan to the top of the enclosure and marked the holes to the exact location and drill bit size.

drilling holes to mount fan

drilling holes to mount fan

Mount the fan using 10-32 x 2 screws and bolts.

mount fan assembly on enclosure top

mount fan assembly on enclosure top

Wiring up the Switches

Drill a small hold in the back of the enclosure box and run the power supply cable through it.  Pull it with enough slack to work with then tie it off, so that it cannot be pulled out.  Drill holes in the front of the enclosure to seat the power switch and potentiometer.  Soldered the positive line from the power supply to the power switch.

solder power for a stirplate

solder power for a stir plate

 Next solder the middle pin of the potentiometer to the load contact on the power switch, I used the white wire here.

solder power and potentiometer for stirplate

solder power and potentiometer for stir plate

Wiring up the Fan

The fan has two wires, positive(usually red) and ground(usually black).   Solder the positive line out from the fan to the right most pin on the potentiometer.  Then attach the ground wire out of the fan to the ground wire from the power supply using a standard wire connector.


complete stirplate wiring

complete stir plate wiring

Mount Feet

Attach the new enclosure top with the fan to the enclosure box using the provided screws.  Flip the enclosure over and attach rubber feet, they will really help with vibration.

stirplate with added rubber feet

stir plate with added rubber feet

Flip the enclosure back over, plug it in and place the flask with the stir bar in the center, the magnets should line up.  Place the potentiometer on the lowest setting and power it on.  Gradually increase the speed to create more stir.

final testing of the stirplate

final testing of the stir plate

Here is a video of it in action.

That’s it, go brew more beer!  If you have any comments or questions please post them below.

building a brewing tower

Having a brew tower or brewing structure is really helpful in keeping your brew day consistent, organized and safe.  Unlike the usual step by step instructions on other projects on BrewMoreBeer, I will just explain what went into Black Betty and hopefully that will be enough to inspire you to build something similar.  Like Brutus, Wallace and others before her, a named brew tower is a great way to define a structure for easy reference, so we deemed our structure Black Betty.

black betty brewing tower

Black Betty the Brewing Tower

The brew tower project as a whole cost about $140 in materials and a few nights to put together.  Which is not too bad for a full blown gravity fed all grain brewing tower.   To put things in perspective just a pump alone usually cost around $140.   Black Betty’s components are positioned so that no pumps are necessary, the tower uses gravity to move the beer from one stage to the next.

Materials List with Cost

Steel/Wood Shelving Unit (black friday special at lowes)  $40
Nuts/Bolts/Screws  $25
2x4x8 x 12 of them  $25
Black Grill Paint  $15
Casters (wheels)  $25
PVC (water filter holder)  $2
Stainless Steel  $8

The Components

The left most component in the upper tier is a hot liquor tank burner which is mounted and framed with 2×4 for support and stability.

brew tower top tier

brew tower top tier

To the right of the burner is a heat shroud that was built to protect the mash tun (plastic cooler) from becoming too hot or even melting.  The left side of the heat shroud has a piece of sheet metal to deflect the heat coming off the burner, the right side (facing cooler) has a piece of particle board to act as an insulator.

brew tower heat shroud

brew tower heat shroud


To the far right on the upper tier sits the cooler mash tun.

brew tower mash tun to boil kettle

brew tower mash tun to boil kettle

The lower tier can be thought of in two pieces, the boil area and cool down area.  The left side, boil area, is a burner with stand that has been mounted and framed with 2×4 for support and stability.

brew tower lower tier boil area

brew tower lower tier boil area

The right side, cool down area, is where the carboys sit and wait to be filled with wort.  There is a plate chiller positioned in the middle of the lower tier.  This design allows the wort to flow out of the boil pot through the chiller and down to the carboys.

beer tower lower tier

beer tower lower tier

Other Features

A water filter mount was created to hold our water filter for brewing.  This helps to stablize the filter from falling over and keeps it mounted so that it can fill the hot liquor tank easily.

beer tower water filter mount

beer tower water filter mount

The entire tower is coated in a black grill paint which should have a heat tolerance up to 1200 degrees F.

The tower has wheels that lock on both the upper and lower tiers which allow for mobility and easy storage.

beer tower wheels

beer tower wheels

The upper tier has a shelf for propane tanks, this allows for easy access to the them.

Black Betty the brew tower

gravity fed all grain brewing tower

black betty on brew day

black betty on brew day

Thats about it, if you have any questions or comments about Black Betty or beer towers in general just comment below.

What is the difference between the two darkest beer styles?   Just by looking at them it is practically impossible to tell them apart.

Porter? Stout? Who came first?…

The history between the two names begins in the 18th century in England with the term Porter, a name that was given to dark brown beers by the local street workers(porters).  Another term also used around the same time period to distinguish the darker and stronger porters was stout.   As the years past and roasted barley broke onto the scene the stout/porter relationship began to separate.  Stouts began to take on their own style with the help of Arthur Guinness, continuing to use more roasted barley then dark malts.

Porter

Porters are basically described to be dark in color, have medium body and have a good balance of malty sweetness to hop bitterness.  Porters have three unique sub-styles; a brown porter, robust porter and a Baltic porter.  Porters are usually known for using crystal, black, and dark malts.  They generally are medium to high in hop bitterness.  Baltic porters are brewed imperial and are usually around 8% ABV, they are malty up front with characters of dark fruit, raisins, toffee coming through.  Check out the latest BJCP guidelines to grab more specific details on the different porter sub-styles.

Stout

Stouts are basically described to have a roasted barley character, to be dark in color and have medium to low hop bitterness.  Stouts come in six unique sub-styles; a dry stout, sweet/cream stout, oatmeal stout, foreign stout, American stout and imperial stout.  The most common being the dry Irish stout ( recipe), which was made famous by Guinness and is from Ireland.  Generally most stouts are brewed using  a pale malt to make up about 80-90% of the grist and a roasted barley to make up about 10% of the grist.  This roasted barley usually attributes to a coffee like taste.  There bitterness forms with the hop additions made mostly at the start of the boil.  Most stouts are full in body and flavor making them a great winter beer.  Check out the latest BJCP guidelines to grab more specific details on the different stout sub-styles.

a dry Irish stout beside a German hefe

Conclusions

Stout – Generally dark and full in body with a roasted barley taste.

Porter – Generally dark and medium in body with a good balance of malty sweetness to hop bitterness.

Having said that, the bad news is that both styles have examples of using characteristics of the others.  There are full bodied porters and medium bodied stouts out there.  Cross over between the two styles exist especially by the micro brewers of today.  Regardless these two dark beer styles do have distinct characteristics and I hope I helped alleviate any confusion you may have had.  Here is a direct comparison between two of the most popular dark beer styles.

  Dry Irish Stout Brown Porter
Aroma Coffee like roasted barley taste, slight chocolate, cocoa notes. Low to no hop aroma Malt aroma with mild roastiness, slight chocolate. May have aromas of caramel, grains, bread, nut or may be sweet. Moderate to no hop aroma
Appearance Dark brown to black in color with a thick creamy tan/brown head Light brown to dark brown in color.
Flavor Moderately roasted, dry at times with a coffee like finish. Some creaminess, medium to no hop flavor. Malt flavor with mild roastiness. May have secondary flavors of coffee, licorice or biscuits. Medium low to medium hop bitterness
OG 1.036 – 1.050 1.040 – 1.052
FG 1.007 – 1.011 1.008 – 1.014
IBU (Bitterness) 30-45 18-35
SRM (Color) 25-40+ 20-30
ABV (%) 4-5% 4.0-5.4%
Commercial Examples Guinness, Murphy’s Stout, Brooklyn Dry Stout, Goose Creek Dublin Stout Fuller’s London Porter, Samuel Smith Taddy Porter, Burton Bridge Burton Porter

Interested in comparing beer styles? Check out our article Wheat Beer Styles: Weiss vs Wit.  Feel free to comment on any thoughts regarding dark beer styles below.

Building a water filter for brewing is fun, useful and can be done in 4 easy steps.  Everything can be purchased at your local hardware store for a little under $40.

1. Purchase the Equipment
2. Connect the Fittings for the Water Hose
3. Connect the Barb and Exit Hose
4. Usage and Cleaning

brewing water filter

brewing water filter

Brewing requires the use of filtered water.  When I say filtered, I mean water that has been removed of bad odors along with most of its chlorine and chloramine.  Water is very important to the beer, think about it, beer is mostly water.  Many styles of beer, taste the way they do because of the water used to brew them. 

Pilsen, Czech Republic — Soft Water, mostly free of any bicarbonates

Burton, England — Hard Water, very high levels of bicarbonates

Rocky Mountains, USA — Spring Water

For the most part in America, your tap water will probably do just fine, after it has been ran through a charcoal filter of course. 

Purchase Equipment (30 minutes)

1. Whirlpool Whole House Filtration Package (WHKF-DWH)
2. Whole House Carbon Wrapped Filters (fit inside filtration system)
3. 1/2″ barb to 1/2″ MPT Adapter (brass)
4. 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 1/2″ Adapter (brass)
5. Poly Shut-Off Valve (outdoor water hose section)
6. 4 ft of Plastic Hose (1/2 inch) (Food Grade Quality)

whole house water filter package

whole house water filter package

Connect the Fittings for the Water Hose (5 minutes)

Connect the brass 3/4″ to 1/2″ adapter to the water filter using Teflon tape.  Then screw into it the poly shut-off valve(simply an adapter for water hoses and adds a shut feature). The poly shut-off valve will allow you to control the flow of the water before it reaches the filter.

valve and adapter for connecting water hose

valve and adapter for connecting water hose

Connect the Barb and Exit Hose (5 minutes)

Connect the brass barb to the water filter using Teflon tape. Then with a hose clamp attach the plastic hose and tighten it down. This hose will be the exit hose for the filtered water.

attach barb for filtered water hose

attach barb for filtered water hose

Usage and Cleaning

Note that this water filter system is best used outside. To use the water filter attach the water hose to the shut off valve. Slowly turn on the water while pressing down on the RED tab at the top of the filter. Once the water begins to flow, take your finger off the tab and began using the water. Cleaning is easy, simply unscrew the top to the filter tube and remove the filter, let the filter sit and dry before putting back inside filter tube for storage. Removing the filter after each brew session should help against mold buildup inside the tube.  Its also helpful to have a mount for the filter, check out the mount that was built onto Black Betty the brew tower.

brewing water filter in action

brewing water filter in action

Feel free to add comments below if you have any questions.  For another cool beer brewing building project check out our Building a Cooler Mash Tun article.