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Old 02-18-2012, 12:51 AM   #1
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Default Need input on DIY Goals for the next couple months

Okay, so i really want to step up my beer quality game over the next couple months. I can't afford to jump up to 5 gallon boils or all grain, but i've still got a couple things that i really feel are *needs* to get myself consistent and really see some beer improvement. I'd like input on whether there might be a better project that didn't make the list or if something on the list can really be cut. furthermore, i'd really like input on how to most economically approach the various projects while still getting really good results.

Project #1: Beer serving solution
Currently my beer sits at room temp right now because i'm too cheap to run the fridge i bought for making a kegorator with just a single keg in it... i I need to solve this. As mentioned, i've got a kenmore bottom freezer fridge combo. Fridge and freezer have seperate temp controls so it should be okay to use for beer serving up top and hop / grain / frozen food storage down bottom. I'll still need to sink about 180$ in new perlick taps (I hate my old tap sticking all the time. secondary regulators are expensive so i'll probably just overcarbonate my stouts for now and deal with it.

alternative: so i don't drill the door of a 500$ fridge, i could scope out a 75$ chest freezer on CL and do a typical keezer build.

Project #2: Fermentation temperature control
I think i can double dip on the fridge... if I utilize a reverse swamp cooler approach. I'll do a heated water bath within the kegorator. Im curious as to whether the fridge's cooling capacity will out-pace the heating capacity of the aquarium heaters. I would probably need a couple of heaters to keep the water bath at temp. I really don't know if this is the best approach or not.

Alternative: i have a nonfunctional dorm fridge which fits a carboy snugly. It has a ruptured cooling line so it doesnt work - maybe i could use the frozen bottles in front of a fan approach to provide cooling and a ceramic reptile heater or heated wire wrap to give heating. Would probably give acceptable temp control at a fair cost, but does take up additional footprint in the apartment.

Project 3: Starters
Got everything i need for a DIY stir plate already. just need a flask and a bar and i'll be set. Cheap and will have great returns on investment.


Anyone got any thoughts? I'm very tempted to start drilling the fridge door tomorrow if that's the route i'm going to do. lol.

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Old 02-18-2012, 01:01 AM   #2
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Move #3 to #1 on your list. Your beer will be better with proper yeast amounts.

#2 I wouldn't try to heat anything in a fridge that is cooling. Your alternative sounds better to me.

Put #1 to #3 on your list. I would save the fridge for ingredients and pop for the chest freezer as a keezer. I would also put this on the back burner and get into 5 gallon batches and maybe all grain (if you don't already) first.

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Old 02-18-2012, 01:07 AM   #3
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Get a dual body regulator and a manifold (or two) to feed the kegs you plan to have (max count). That way you can carbonate, and server, two different pressure sets. Such as 8-10psi for porters, stouts and brown ales, and then 12 (or higher) for pale ales and more carbonation hungry brews. I do this in my own brew fridge, feeding four kegs (dual body TapRite regulator, two manifolds, two bulkheads going into the fridge too).

A chest freezer could let you have more total kegs inside. Plus, if you make a collar, you'll be able to send the gas lines through that (I'd still use bulkheads though).

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Old 02-18-2012, 01:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
Get a dual body regulator and a manifold (or two) to feed the kegs you plan to have (max count). That way you can carbonate, and server, two different pressure sets. Such as 8-10psi for porters, stouts and brown ales, and then 12 (or higher) for pale ales and more carbonation hungry brews. I do this in my own brew fridge, feeding four kegs (dual body TapRite regulator, two manifolds, two bulkheads going into the fridge too).

A chest freezer could let you have more total kegs inside. Plus, if you make a collar, you'll be able to send the gas lines through that (I'd still use bulkheads though).
Extra regulators are definitely in the plan for down the line, but to get an immediate beer storage and serving solution i'll probably bypass them. I'll try and find a happy middle of the road carbonation... or i'll just brew beers that all require approximately the same carbonation level.

On the topic of kegs, as I mentioned my goal is just 3 + a carboy and my fridge will definitely fit that. I've measured teh fridge and could actually fit 6 cornies in it - more than i'll ever want in it really so i think it'd be totally functional to my expectations.
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Old 02-18-2012, 01:42 AM   #5
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i'm with kh54s10. Make better beer before trying to serve mediocre beer.

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Old 02-18-2012, 02:02 AM   #6
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Will you come buy all the brews that spoil because i don't drink them fast enough and they're having to keep at room temperature? Especially this summer it's going to be a problem when i let the house run up to 80 or so.

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Old 02-18-2012, 03:46 AM   #7
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I think you could run one of the fridges for a year and it would cost you about what you intend on spending for your perlicks. I would deal with sticky faucets if you are too cheap/poor to run your fridge.
-Jefe-

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Old 02-18-2012, 03:54 AM   #8
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Hahaha, you are correct about that jefe - it does cost abotu 45$ / year to run that fridge. It's not that i mind 45$ a year, it's that I can't justify that as a maintenance fee on a single keg of beer. If i had 2-3 kegs, or was using it for cold crashing carboys, and can also utilize the freezer space, it's no problem at all. I've got the money for these projects but that doesn't mean i don't want to be thrifty ;p

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Old 02-18-2012, 04:08 AM   #9
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The switch to All Grain and 5 gallon batches is actually very cheap. all you need is a 10 gallon igloo water keg and about 20 bucks worth of fittings and a 6.5 gallon fermentor bucket. If you have a turkey fryer with a 30 Qt pot your good to go on equipment. As time goes by you may want to add a 6.5 bottling bucket and a couple of PET 6.5 carboys, but that stuff is not required when you first start out. The beauty of this hobby is that you can buy equipment over time which lessens the budget shock and discover different brews along the way. Once you get to AG the raw materials are actually very cheap on the order of 20-25 bucks a batch. You can also lower that cost by buying bulk grain and mill it yourself and rewash used yeast and save the 5-8 bucks there too. So your savings over time will pay for the basic equipment pretty quickly. I just started down this road and have been doing my due diligence and studying the economics of producing my own versus buying already brewed high quality or bulk low quality brews like Busch and Bud. Hope this helps, and hope your still having fun because it is a hobby after all.
Bob

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Old 02-18-2012, 04:19 AM   #10
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It's not a cost issue to avoid AG, it's a time investment, space investment, and forthcoming moves that I want less crap that needs packing, kind of decision.

As I said, these aren't really endeavors at being dirt cheap, but being thrifty and i'm primarily looking for feedback helping ensure that i am taking good approaches that will provide very good solutions, and that i'm not spending un-necessarily.

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