Archive for the ‘Alcohol’Category

July Beer Church

The opening round

The opening round

In this month’s edition of Beer Church, the bombers flowed smoothly as we started off with the beer tasting:

After several rounds of tasting, we headed to Brew & Grow to start on our Brown Ale.  If you’ve never gone to Brew & Grow, this brew shop will have everything you need to start your own batch of beer from start to finish.

Grains

Grains

Gathering our ingredients entailed grabbing a cart with a bucket and scale attached and digging through our recipe book to catch all of our various grains needed for the mash.  We also grabbed some yeast and hops pellets to finish up our collecting.  Of course when you go to Brew & Grow you can sample some of their brews while you shop.

Wort Prep

Wort Prep

While the wort was being prepared I then decided it was grilling time!

Roll burgers into balls

Roll burgers into balls

Using a 75% / 25% fat mix, the beef was rolled into giant meat balls for smashing.

Smash into patties

Smash into patties

Once the burgers are made into balls, it’s time to smash them down and evening out the edges to make solid patties that will not disintegrate or crumble on the flame.  Salt, pepper, cajun seasoning were added on both sides of the burger.

Grill, flip only once and add cheese

Grill, flip only once and add cheese

Once the charcoal (which was started before the burgers were started) turns white, the lighter fluid should have burnt off and the grill is ready for use.  Toss on the buns to toast them but pay attention or they can scorch to a crisp.  Toss on the burgers with a spatula and note that the center is the hottest area so burgers are susceptible to scorching if you’re not careful.

The payoff: CHEESEBURGER!

The payoff: CHEESEBURGER!

Medium Rare

Medium Rare

Add condiments if necessary, and avoid shrinkage by removing the burgers before they are charred to a crisp.  Grill flame can get up to 500 degrees, so watch out or you or your food may get burnt!

IMG_8772

Back in brewing land, while the mash was settling, the kettle was loaded with water and lit to reach 190 degrees.

IMG_8778

After letting the wort settle, it was time to separate the sugars from the grain.

IMG_8779

In sparging we rinse the grain with hot water that is about 170 degrees, using the wrong temp can result in unwanted consequences!

IMG_8786

After the wort is in the kettle we turn back on the turkey fryer in order to begin the sterilization process and killing off bacteria.  As we mix the wort with a giant paddle, the heat coming from the turkey fryer singes everyone’s shins.

Pumping wort to carboy

Once the wort is heated up, we then cool it down by pumping cold water through the copper coils to bring the temperature back down.  Once the temperature drops, we then pump the remainder  through a tube into the carboy.

Here our decision to use pellet hops cause a lot of blockages in the tubes.  Using a mesh or filter bag on the pellet hops may have prevented some blockage but we were able to get most of the wort out into the carboy and did not smash it.

The ring of shame

The ring of shame

From last Beer Church we got to this final end stage and this handle failed causing the carboy to fall and smash all over the shop floor.  We were not to be tricked again and employed a harness setup to prevent any dropping.

Overall another successful Beer Church, we now have beer in progress which will be ready to be tapped soon.  Next iteration will use Creeping Charlie as the bittering agent in lieu of hops so it will be interesting to see how these two beers compare when it’s time.

If you are interested in beer or brewing, make sure to stop by next month’s edition of Beer Church!

19

07 2016

CNC Beer Part 3 – Fusion 360 and Waterjet Overkill

Waterjet cut box and panel insert

Waterjet cut box and panel insert

[Go back to Part 2….]

I had a plan for how to blog about this project, but I’m going to step out of order and talk about the latest development since it pertains to the last Fusion 360 Meetup. So to catch up in a hurry: I’ve already constructed a control box containing an Arduino Mega 2560 and a Raspberry Pi, power supplies, relays, etc. all mounted on DIN rails. This is the “brains” of the system, and the Pi runs an open source control framework called EPICS. The control box sits on a separate stand on wheels that I welded. In keeping with the “Beer Church” theme, I suppose this is the “Beer Pulpit”.

Beer control box and stand

Beer control box and stand

I realized early on that the control box was out of room. I want this brewing system to be modular so that I can attach different equipment and reconfigure everything via software. To that end, each device needs to connect to the control box with its own sturdy, detachable connector. The original BrewTroller project (which isn’t online anymore) made use of XLR jacks. These are ideal. Nearly every device I’m interfacing with uses 3 or, in some cases, 2 wires. The OneWire serial bus, which is used for measuring temperatures, uses a 3 pin M12 connector; these are chained together using splitters. A few use cases need more than 3 wires: multiple pressure transducers on one board (used for fluid level sensors) and stepper motor drivers (used for controlling gas needle valves). For these, I’m using 8 pin mic connectors. But I don’t have enough panel space on the control box for all of these jacks, especially now that I’m considering adding a small touch screen. Nor do I have room inside the control box to mount a 120 V to 24 V transformer; 24 VAC is a HVAC standard, and the propane burner valves need it.

Read the rest of this entry →

21

02 2016

CNC Beer Part 2 – System Design

[Go back to Part 1….]

Ryan with Beer SystemDesign Sources

A number of commercially available and hobbyist-built computer controlled brewing systems already exist that solve many of the issues I mentioned in my previous post on this topic. They have a number of similarities, but address the problems in different ways. I’m going to describe a number of methods used for computer controlled beer brewing, which improve up0n repeatability by reducing deviations in the mash process. These systems range from simple thermostat / standalone PID controls to microcontroller-based devices. I’ll also list my own design decisions when building this system and my reasoning. Note that my design decisions aren’t necessarily best, there are plenty of valid arguments for and against many of the solutions presented here, and as I write this, I’m kicking myself for some of the mistakes I made along the way.

I’ve examined a number of systems. Our local homebrewing store operates one. I’ve paid particular attention to open source and published plans for hobbyists, given that these offer the most information. Two of my primary sources:

  • Brutus Ten – Website here. Build pages here and here. This is a popular brewing system due to plans published in Brew Your Own. It consists of a welded steel frame and propane burners driven by standalone industrial temperature control modules.
  • BrewTroller – The original website was oscsys.com which features an Arduino-based open software and control electronics framework for brewing. The website hosted the software, documentation, a web forum for users, and an online store where one could purchase electronics, actuated valves, switches, temperature probes, etc. It is not locked to any single brewing system design; rather, it is flexible enough to support a wide variety of brewing hardware configurations. While the original site shut down, a user took this over at this site.

Read the rest of this entry →

28

12 2015

CNC Beer Part 1 – Overview and Theory

CNC Beer Brewing System

Overview

A bit over a year ago, I began a project to build a computer-controlled beer brewing system that Beer Church (Pumping Station: One’s homebrew club) could use to brew all-grain beer. I had no idea when I started this project that it would lead to visiting people from multiple countries, two synchrotron radiation sources, and a nuclear research reactor, or that control systems engineers from international labs would provide assistance. While it still isn’t ready to brew beer yet, I’ve recently reached a milestone in integration testing, and I’m rapidly approaching the point where the first test batch will be possible. Unfortunately, I haven’t been blogging about it, so a lot of catching up is needed….

So, why would someone want to make what could be called a CNC machine for beer? First, it’s not about eliminating humans. The goal isn’t automation to the level of “push button, get beer.” Humans will still need to load the ingredients and monitor the process. We don’t want a hose breaking, resulting in 12 gallons of beer wort on the floor and a propane burner melting the bottom of the resulting empty stainless steel keg. Rather, the primary reasons are:

  1. Repeatability. I want to eliminate human error. Repeatability often is the domain of commercial brewers, but for hobbyists, repeatability still is critical. Transitioning from good beer to great beer means experimentation. And that requires having good control over all the variables. How do I know if that different yeast I used made my beer taste better, or if it could be explained by sloppy temperature control in the mash process?
  2. Predictability. Shareware and free beer design software exists that acts like CAD for beer. You can design your grain bill based on a library of ingredients, enter a mash and hop schedule, yeast, fermentation temperature, etc. and it will simulate the process, telling you what you can expect in terms of initial and final specific gravity, percent alcohol, color, bitterness, etc. You can tune the model based on the efficiency of your brewing system. But prediction works only as well as the repeatability of your process.
  3. Capacity. Right now, we are limited to 5 gallon batch sizes. While we certainly can buy larger hardware, it makes sense to upgrade to automation at the same time. With a system based on 15.5 gallon beer kegs, we can produce 10 gallon batches at a time.

And, well, there are plenty of secondary reasons that can best be described as “Because hackerspace!” I’ve wanted to learn more about industrial control electronics and the EPICS software environment. It was a great excuse to learn to weld. I had acquired authentic cold war indicator lights from actual nuclear missile systems that needed to be put to an awesome new use. And I could do all that while brewing beer!

To describe the CNC beer system, I first need to explain all-grain brewing and the issues inherent with our current brewing method. To be clear, these issues affect repeatability, not quality. We are already making really good beer. Nothing is wrong with what we’re doing. This new system likely will improve beer clarity (and that is important in homebrewing competitions) but otherwise it won’t do much on its own to make the beer better. Start with a bad recipe and you’ll end up with bad beer; the new hardware just makes it repeatably bad! Rather, it will provide state of the art tools to anyone who wants to experiment, and this could be very useful to brewers wishing to be competitive in homebrewing contests.

Read the rest of this entry →

25

12 2015

Beer Church: Sunday Oct 25th

We’ll meet in the lounge to have have our beer tasting: if you know an unusual or special beer that you’d love to taste but have been waiting for that moment, this is it. We’ll each sample what people (including you, if you want!) bring. While we’re tasting beers we’ll seek inspiration from them and each other and determine what recipe we’re looking to brew. Then we’ll head over to Brew & Grow and posibly Jewel to pick up some ingredients (they’re both right around the corner, how convenient). By 2:00 PM or so we’ll start boiling water and commencing the afternoon of brewing our own beer.

Around evening time after we finish up the brew and get everything cleaned, those who stayed ’til the end will get to taste the warm, sweet, and flavorful wort. Meanwhile, the yeast will be tasting it for the first time themselves. A few weeks after the brew, some of us will take the next steps of kegging the beer or putting it into a secondary fermenter.

This is a hands on class and collaborative project. If you have any questions we’ll do our best to answer them and any participant is totally welcome to take part in any of the steps of the brew: mashing, sparging, weighing ingredients, grinding grain, boiling, stirring, cleaning, racking, pitching yeast, setting up the bubble trap, and many other steps. If you’d rather just watch that’s fine too.

You must be 21 years of age to participate in Beer Church.
You can RSVP on Meetup

24

10 2015

Lark Dord Day

#include <stdbeerchurchannounce.h>

OK, so you probably didn’t get tickets to a certain event on Saturday in Munster, IN, and want to commiserate by drinking and brewing beer. Or, maybe you did, and you want a good excuse to drink a certain limited edition beer you just acquired with people who will immediately become your best friends! *hint hint* So come to Beer Church’s Lark Dord Day!

We will attempt a brave and daring feat for the first time in PS:One history – brewing a Russian Imperial Stout. And not just any Russian Imperial Stout. The goal: to brew a beer so alcoholic it poses a fire hazard, with a mouth feel comparable to 15w30 motor oil, that is darker than the CEO of Comcast’s soul!

Noon-ish, this Sunday. 21+ only. Etc. 12:30 PM.

In nomine Barley,
Ryan
Beer Pope (Eastern Orthodox)

25

04 2015

Let’s Drink and Learn About: Sangiovese

IMG_2993

Italian Chianti – Chianti wine always either mostly or entirely made of Sangiovese

IMG_2992

Italian Sangiovese from outside Chianti – Over 10% of Italy’s total wine production is Sangiovese

For the fourth installment of our monthly adult beverage appreciation event, “Let’s Drink and Learn About…”, we did a tasting of several different Sangiovese wines.  If you missed it, feel free to peruse our class notes!

Our next session will cover red Bordeaux, and its 5 constituent grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec).  This will be a joint event with South Side Hackerspace: Chicago, and will be hosted in their space (2233 S Throop St #214).  As per usual, it will be on the 3rd Friday (March 20th), and will begin at 7 PM.  There is no cost to attend the event, but please bring a bottle of wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, please) to contribute to the tasting.  You can find more info, or RSVP for the event, on our Meetup!

IMG_2991

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – A more subtle and complex expression of Sangiovese from a region just to the south of Chianti

IMG_2994

Super Tuscan – A Tuscan wine made without at least 70% Sangiovese. This was actually predominately Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, similar to what we’ll be drinking in March!

 

Tags: ,

25

02 2015

Really Late Wine Tasting Follow-Up

So last last Friday, the 16th, member Kyle Bieneman held a wine tasting class on Pinot Noir. I’ve been meaning to get this post up earlier, but enjoy the pictures and information from the handout:

photo 5

“It’s…thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s, you know, it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and…ancient on the planet.” –Miles Raymond, Sideways

photo 1 photo 2

Note: From Burgundy

The grape: Pinot Noir grows in tightly packed bunches (the “Pinot” in the name refers to the pinecone shape of the bunches). These tight bunches tend to be somewhat more susceptible to disease. Being thin-skinned, the grape is also at great risk from extremes in temperature. Fortunately, as it ripens early, it can be grown in cooler regions than heartier grapes (like Cabernet Sauvignon).

photo 3 photo 4

Color: For red wines, color comes from the skins (it is not naturally present in the juice) in a process called “extraction.” Grapes go through a machine called a “crusher-destemmer,” and rather than being juiced as with white wine, the pulpy mass is then fermented in giant vats. Note that the skins will naturally float to the top, forming a “cap,” requiring some kind of system to circulate the fermenting juice (whether a “punch-down,” a “pump-over,” or some sort of a mixer).

Sometime after fermentation has completed, the “free run” is drained off. The remaining “pomace” is then pressed to extract all the remaining liquid. The free liquid is generally light in flavor and color than the pressed liquid, and so will often be aged separately, being blended only at the end to fine-tune before bottling.

Pinot Noir is thin-skinned with less color (anthocyanin) in the skins, it tends to extract less color, and thus is paler than most red wines. Being lighter in flavor, some winemakers will even leave the stems in for fermentation to impart more “tannins.”

photo 5 photo 1

Tannins: Tannins are much more present in red wine than white wine, partly because they come from the skins during extraction (as well as seeds and stems, if present), and the oak barrels during aging. Tannins are traditionally used to turn hides into leather (“tanning”), hence the name. This is why bitter red wines often make your tongue feel dry and leathery. The “resolving” of tannins is a prime reason why many red wines get better with age.

Pinor Noir is notably low in tannins, and so some winemakers will leave the stems in for fermentation.

photo 1 photo 2

Note: Australian

Flavors in Pinot Noir: As a lighter, more delicate wine, flavors tend toward the redder fruits such as cherry, strawberry, and raspberry. Less prominent notes might include vegetal (beets, green tomatoes, olives) or earthy (truffles, barnyard) flavors. Pinot does not typically display the darker fruit (plum) or spicier notes (cigar box) of other red wines. As a result of its lighter flavors, it tends to pair well with pork and fowl, rather than beef.

photo 3 photo 4

Burgundy: Pinot Noir originates from Burgundy, a region in the east of France, between Champagne to the north, and Beaujolais to the south. Burgundy is divided into four major sub-regions (from north to south, and highest to lowest quality): Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, Cote Chalonnaise, and Maconnais.

However, Burgundies will generally be labeled by their village, of which there are too many to list. There are about 600 “Premier Cru” vineyards across Burgundy, and only 32 “Grand Crus,” which will be more expensive, and generally superior to, the villages. The Premier and Grand Crus are designated by the French government based on the reputation of past production.

The Grand Cru red Burgundies are some of the most expensive and sought-after wines in the world, costing nearly $1000 a bottle in good years.

photo 5 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

Thanks again to Kyle for these notes.

24

01 2015

Beer Church Follow Up

Final updates:

On Tuesday 1/20/15, Justin helped me keg the beer. The specific gravity was 1.034 at this point, making for an ABV of 8.4%. We tasted the beer and decided not to add any black cherry extract, since the cherry flavor/smell seemed strong enough. It still has a strong chocolate porter taste. The keg was moved into the fridge. On Saturday 1/24/15, Agocs and Justin went to get more CO2 since we were out, and the beer was finally put on tap. Enjoy!

photo 4photo 5

On Tuesday 1/13/15, Ryan helped me rack the beer into a 5 gallon carboy for a second fermentation. We also added the sweet cherry puree, about 16 oz of it. The specific gravity reading was 1.036, and the beer tasted very chocolate-y.

photo 2 photo 3

This past Sunday we started a brew for an Imperial Valentine Porter. We just checked on it tonight before the member meeting and it looks like the yeast has started fermenting.

photo 5

At the beginning of Beer Church on Sunday, we spent a while tasting the delicious beers that everyone brought. Selections included 2 coffee beers, a Superbier, a What the Pho porter, a stout, and a blueberry beer.

photo 1 photo 3 photo 1

After taking our time to enjoy the beer selection, we headed to Brew & Grow to obtain the ingredients listed on this page:

Grains:

  • 1 lb uk crystal malt (60L) (UK Paul’s Medium Crystal Malt 60L)
  • 8oz UK brown malt (UK TF & S Brown Malt)
  • 8oz UK chocolate malt (UK Paul’s Chocolate Malt #315)
  • 8lbs any UK brand dark malt extract (not sure if solid or syrup)

Yeast:

  • 1 pack Wyeast 1187 or White Labs WLP001 or Fermentis S-04

Malt Extract:

  • 8 lbs any brand UK dark

Hops:

  • 4 to 6 AAUs medium-alpha acid (such as Northern Brewer)

Later Additions:

  • 1 lb lactose
  • 1 lb Demerara sugar (we used Raw Cane Sugar from Jewel)
  • 8 oz high quality unsweetened cocoa powder (we used Nestle)
  • 1 tsp Irish moss
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 16 US fl oz black cherry concentrate (we used sweet cherry puree)
  • 4 fl oz cherry flavoring or extract (to taste at bottling)

(Disclaimer: My memory is imperfect and since this was my first time as brewmaster, I will probably get some of these steps wrong due to unfamiliarity. Consult the wiki page for more information.)
After cleaning some equipment and some mishaps with the propane regulator, the first step after getting water to the correct temperature in between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit, was to steep the grains. The grains steeped for half an hour. They smelled burnt afterwards, since they were dark grains.

pic1 pic2 pic3 pic4 pic5pic6

Three gallons of water were added to the mash for the next step, the boil (The goal was to end up with 5 gallons of wort). The wort was brought to a boil and 1 oz of hops was added. All of the malt extract was added as well. There was constant stirring for the duration of the boil, but a boilover still occurred once when we failed to turn down the heat quickly enough. After half an hour, another 1 oz of hops was added. The wort smelled like tea at this point. After another half an hour, we turned off the heat and added the lactose, sugar, cocoa powder, irish moss and yeast nutrient and stirred until they were dissolved. After the cocoa powder was dissolved, the wort turned a chocolate-brown color and smelled deliciously of chocolate.

pic7 pic8 pic9 pic10 pic11 pic12
In the meantime, the other equipment we needed was sanitized using StarSan. The copper cooling coil was rinsed and placed into the boiling kettle. After another 15 minutes of rolling boil, the heat was turned off and we started pumping cold water through the cooling coil until the wort reached a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

pic13 pic14 pic15

After some more sanitizing, the wort was pumped into a 6-gallon glass carboy. The yeast, after being activated, was poured into the carboy, and a cork with trap attached were inserted into the top of the carboy. The cork was sealed with wire and the carboy was placed into the fermenting area, for a first fermentation of an estimated 7-12 days. Before corking, we did take a sample for the hydrometer and obtained a specific gravity reading of 1.098, very close to the book’s suggested 1.084. The total brew time was about 6 hours (including trip to Brew & Grow).

pic16 pic17 pic18 pic19

And after cleanup, we all got to taste the brew!

600_433097096

 

Thanks to everyone for coming! Thanks to Eric and Justin for helping me out so much. Feel free to join us for the second fermentation and the bottling, to be announced.

24

01 2015

Beer Church Brew Day Sunday 1/4/2015

We’ll be brewing up a beer this Sunday the 4th of January at 12:00 Noon. As per usual, we’ll hold a beer tasting first. If you can, please bring something interesting, unusual, homemade – if not, you’re just as welcome, we have never not had enough beer for the tasting.

Once we’re done tasting we’ll select a brewmaster (the person in charge of the brew – as much as anyone is in charge of the brew), pick a recipe, and head around the corner to Brew & Grow to get the ingredients. By 1:30 or 2:00 we’ll be brewing and we will usually be done brewing by 7.

The event is very hands on – anyone who attends can help out at any stage. You will get to try the beer when it’s finished (this can take a few weeks), and help with the later steps if you like including transferring into secondary fermentation, kegging, and bottling.

Potential recipes for this Sunday:

* Winter lager
* Doppelbock
* … you tell me?

You must be 21 or older to attend Beer Church. We encourage you to RSVP on Meetup, but this isn’t required.

30

12 2014