Fall Back

Fall Back

As fall rolls thru the prairie and winter starts to creep onto the plains, I’ve hit another brewing hiatus.

While my summer weekends are split between quiet days on the patio drinking a beer and attending friends weddings, most weekends in the fall and early winter I can be found in South Dakota on my parent’s farm chasing birds with my 18 month golden retriever.

Time that wasn’t spent brewing hasn’t been a complete waste, however. I’ve spent a bit of time and money adding some welded fittings to my keggle, and I bought a March Pump, which I finally had a chance to use a couple weeks ago on a 5 gallon batch of Irish Red. Overall, I’m really happy with how things are working so far. I still have a few small changes to make, but here’s a rundown of what I’ve added:

Welded Keggle Fittings

Prior to acquiring said pump, I started with a 3-piece ball valve & barb, thinking I’d just put plugs in the other two welded ports, but after seeing March pumps on sale, I sprung for one and put some of the saved money into a second ball valve for a recirculation port, and a combo thermometer/sight glass from BrewHardware.com.

I splurged on some stainless camlocks from Bargain Fittings, as well. I thought of everything except knock-out: I need one more camlock without any fittings on the other end that I can use when it’s time to transfer into my fermenter.

Bargain Fittings Camlock

The combination of the sightglass, thermometer, and march pump is a welcome luxury. Being able to recirculate (not stir by hand) while chilling and not having to dangle a thermometer in the wort is well worth the extra cleanup time. I had some issues with cavitation while reciculating boiling wort, but that’s expected, and simply throttling back the pump solves the issue while still accomplishing the end goal of killing bugs. Here’s a shot of the recirculation and dip tubes I rigged up:

Keggle Recirculation Port

At first glance, the recirc port probably seems low, and this picture exaggerates it, but since I primarily do 5 gallon batches, it actually worked really well in a water-run, and the resulting whirlpool seems to be plenty fast to make a nice trub cone. I shot a quick video of the recirculation in action with about 6 gallons of water in the kettle:

Rest assured, I’ll be back to brewing shortly. Winter in North Dakota is great for brewing lagers thanks to low groundwater temps, and I have plans to start some sour beers after January. Prost!