Some Brewery Updates In Planning

Some Brewery Updates In Planning

Like any homebrewer worth his weight in hops, I find I always have a mile-long list of new gear to buy, things to build, and experiments to test out. Since I haven’t done much in the way of brewing or kegging lately, I thought I’d write up a quick list of what I’m hoping to acquire in the next several months, a much-belated list of brew-year resolutions, if you will.

Mash Tun Fittings

When I started all-grain brewing in mid-2010, I snagged a 52 quart Coleman Extreme on closeout for $28. Since we did a ton of work on the house just as we moved in, I was a bit strapped for cash, so I went with a brass valve and  fittings to craft a bulkhead and connect to my copper manifold. Despite obsessive cleaning, the fittings are starting to tarnish a bit, and I think it’s high-time to move to an all-stainless setup. I’m eyeing the cooler kit from, but I haven’t decided if I want to splurge on the 3-piece valve set, or save a bit of cash for an…

Oxygenation Kit

I’ve been reading through the Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation, I’ve become more and more convinced that pure oxygen, along with a more strict control of fermentation temps, is the next tool I need to help my beers excel. If shaking a carboy for 5 straight minutes only gets about half the oxygen concentration into the wort that the yeast require for ideal conditions, then I’d rather forgo that exercise regiment and give my wort a shot of direct oxygen. While there are some disputes to be had, there also seems to be plenty of anecdotal evidence from brewers who’ve experienced great leaps in the quality of their beers after moving to an oxygenation setup. Enough, at least, to convince me to try it. This is begging for a side-by-side experiment with a split-batch.

Accurate Fermentation Temperature Control

I’ve been getting by fermenting modest-gravity beers in a closet under my stairwell, and I usually toss higher-gravity beers in a water bath to keep them from running wild. Neither is ideal, however, and the latter is a bit too demanding of my attention. Since I’m also hoping to do an Oktoberfest this fall, I’ve been scouring Craigslist in search of a cheap, full-sized fridge I can toss in my garage and use as a fermentation chamber. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on temperature controllers, thermowells, and the like. I’m leaning toward a Love TSS2 since I’ll probably need a heating circuit as well (garages get cold during Fargo winters). If anyone has any recommendations or ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Of course, the latter two items have something in common: they’re upgrades I’d live to have in place before attempting any giant beers. I’ve been itching to do an American Barleywine late-summer that I can age and start drinking in the winter, and I want to do a few double IPAs to drink this fall, so I’d like to do everything I can to make sure those hops aren’t squandered on a less than ideal fermentation.

If you’ve been using any of these items, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, the differences they’ve made in your beer, where you bought them, etc. Drop me a comment below!



  • Brett on Mar 26, 2012

    I am a big fan of the aquarium temp controller build as outlined over on homebrewtalk here:

    It is a dual-stage controller. The only real downside is that it only reads in Celsius. But that isn’t a big deal to me. I enjoyed putting it together and saving a few dollars doing it.

    • Brandon Hornseth on Mar 27, 2012

      Thanks, Brett! I will definitely check those out. The Celsius/Fahrenheit conversion doesn’t bother me, and those look quite a bit cheaper than a Love controller.