Brad Probert

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Brewing Entrepreneurs – Kee Doery

When I first came across a Keg King product, it was a wort pump selling for 25-50% less than the mainstay pumps of the homebrewing world. I figured maybe it was just a one-off no-name product, but I gave it a try. The pump itself was great, and was a solid performer. When inquiring about their pump relative to their competition, Keg King talked about high temperature durability testing that outperformed its competition as well as a higher water protection IP rating (industry standard as a measure for how well electrical products keep stuff out of their insides- water, dust, etc.). Hearing them explain their pump with these sort of details, I realized there was more to it than just being the lowest-cost producer. Kee Doery says he doesn’t really have an official title, but figures the title of General Manager for Keg King is probably the most accurate. He likes to spend as much time as possible in product design and development, but says in reality he spends a lot of his time...

Taking Draft Homebrew on the Road: Your Options Compared

Some people bottle, some keg, and some do both. Sometimes there are styles that steer you towards one medium or the other. But sometimes you keg because you just can’t stand the bottling process. That’s all fine and good, and you feel quite content in your decision to avoid bottle cleaning and let's not forget messing around with the red bottle capper. But then you end up making something really great that you want to share, and you’re stuck. Unless you play host and have people over, that great beer stays exclusive to you. It’s like if Leonardo da Vinci kept the Mona Lisa as a bathroom wall decoration and the only people that ever saw it were his poker buddies. Not cool, right? Bottled beer obviously is easier to share, but it’s hard to pass up the ease of kegging and serving beer on draft. Luckily, in the homebrewing world, if you’ve thought about something, someone else has probably thought about it too, and maybe come up with some slick equipment to help you out. That is...

Wort Chiller Review and Comparison

Here is my comparison of a few wort chiller types and brands. Chilling your wort after you’ve finished the boil serves a number of purposes. There’s the scientific aspect of how chilling it quickly causes certain protein strains to form and precipitate out, and there’s corresponding studies of why that’s a good thing. Another key purpose is that once your wort gets below about 140F, it’s no longer hot enough to kill random stuff that floats into it. So the sooner you can get it down to pitching temperature and get it sealed up, the less exposure risk to wild yeast. The final reason, though, is important whether you are an organic chemistry nerd, a germaphobe, or anything in between- your time. The quicker you cool it, the sooner you’re brew day is done. As with most things in homebrewing, there are a number of equipment options to get the job done. I’ve tried to cover the key ones here, with some hands on trials to understand the differences. Basic Types of Wort Chillers The...

Brewing Entrepreneurs - Kenny Sabine

Kenny Sabine was always one to have a hobby or something going on in his spare time. In 2008, he found himself idling, and his daughter noticed. Since he was a lover of craft beer, and had been for many years, she thought a homebrew kit might be a good hobby. So she bought a 5 gallon starter kit for his birthday, and started him down a new path. After brewing with his 5 gallon set-up for a while, he migrated to a 10 gallon system. When he made that move, he found chilling in the snowbank no longer cut it, so he made an immersion chiller. As a retired HVAC contractor, he knew his way around bending tubing to his whims, so he was able to make a few concepts that worked well for him. Kenny Sabine In the Beginning: [/hide]

Fermentation Chiller Systems and Findings

Until recently, if you wanted to homebrew lagers, you either needed a giant cave under your house, or you had an additional fridge/freezer of some sort, with a controller to switch the power on/off based on the beer temperature. For those that were used to “Throw it in a bucket in your basement and let the yeast work their magic!” a dedicated refrigerator may have been excess floor space and money they weren’t willing to spend. There is a lot of info out there on how to make a fermentation chiller out of a fridge/freezer, but not much on the alternative systems. So I set out to evaluate them to see how they worked compared to each other. They come at different price points, have different capabilities/limitations, and require differing amounts of care-taking during fermentation. Ice Pack Fermentation Chiller Systems [/hide]

Single Vessel Brewing Systems Pt2 - Reviews

In part one, I gave an overview of all the brewing systems that are reviewed in this second part. Blichmann BrewEasy 5-Gallon 240V Blichmann BrewEasy The BrewEasy system follows the “some assembly required” concept. Arriving in multiple boxes, it took several hours as I jumped back and forth between multiple instruction booklets to get it all together. The system was their “5 gallon” set up, meaning it’s sized to make 5 gallon batches of beer. There’s a 7.5 gallon mash tun with false bottom, and a 10 gallon boil kettle. The 2 are stacked on top of each other, and with some custom-built equipment that it comes with, they fit together nicely with a gravity feed from the mash tun up top to the boil kettle below. There’s an electric pump that takes the output of the boil kettle and recirculates it through to come in on top of the grain bed up in the mash tun. Through a combination of adjustable restrictions in the system, you adjust the recirculation rate where your wort is getting...

Single Vessel Brewing Systems Pt1 - Overview

Homebrewing is a hobby that can be as complicated or as simple as you want it. And homebrewers are likewise varied in what aspects they enjoy most. There are those that are just out to do something different than the norm, those that love to build and create sophisticated custom brewing systems, and those that have a passion for trying to create a beer they’ve imagined in their heads. All-in-one all-grain brewing systems are starting to pop up everywhere. People have varied reactions to them based on the type of homebrewer they are, and what aspect of the hobby excites them most. For the extract brewers, the draw is obvious, as the marketing promotes them to be as easy and quick as extract brewing, but with the full creative control that comes from using malt grains rather than extract. For those that have already made the transition to all-grain, the appeal is not as obvious. While all-grain brewers already appreciate the full creative control of mashing their own grains, the...

Brewing Entrepreneurs - Darin Danelski

When you hear the expression ‘Mad Scientist’, specific images come to mind. For me, it’s images from Disney movies - either in cartoon form or black & white movies. Although this image doesn’t match Darin Danelski’s appearance, as I toured around his work at U Brew U in Ocotomowoc, Wisconsin, that’s the idea that kept coming into my head. I went there to review Darin’s Brew-Boss electric brewing system and controller. But while there, I got to see all kinds on inventions Darin had created, or was in the process of developing. Daren's First Pico-Brew System The origins of this system laid in a problem he was trying to tackle for his personal homebrewing projects. He wanted to create a system that was fully automated, would improve his brewing process repeat-ability, and reduce the time needed to brew his beer. He built a fully-automated 3-vessel HERMS electric brewing system. And by fully-automated, that meant all he had to do was crush the grain at the start, and add yeast at the...