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zacster

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It's been a long while but I bought my first ingredients batch the other day after a 4 year hiatus from brewing. I planned on doing this almost a year ago when I retired but nevergotaroundtuit.

I had to check out my kegging setup and decided to replace everything except the keg itself as the keg, CO2 tank, regulator and hoses were all sitting outside in the weather, and I don't actually remember cleaning the keg when it last kicked. I expected all kinds of crap inside it but it wasn't too bad, just some stains at the bottom. A little Bar Keep's Friend, a long arm, and an OxyClean soak and it sparkles. I didn't do the dip tube or the poppets but I'll do that when I'm ready to keg. I bought a new regulator kit with hoses and ball locks and a gasket set. There's a local homebrew supply if I need anything else. One scare was that I realized we replaced our kitchen since my last batch and it doesn't have an old fashioned screw in faucet, it has a wand. I'll have to run the wort chiller off the garden hose through the window.

The brew will be my Bohemian Rhapsody Pilsner. It comes in at about 6.5% so it has a kick but tastes like a lighter beer. Saaz hops and Bohemian Pils yeast. "any way the wind blows...."

I've been going through all the steps I used to take in my head to make this as clean tasting and clear as possible. I think I started fermentation at 45 and ramped it up over a week or two, diacetyl rest, lager for a few weeks, then keg it and let it lager more but under pressure. "Pressure, pushing down on me..." (Too many Queen songs, that second reference wasn't on purpose, but the song just started playing in my head before my fingers stopped typing)
 

IslandLizard

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Welcome back to brewing!

You didn't throw out that CO2 tank, I hope, just swapped it for a full one?

Even the regulator can be saved, unless it's totally pitted or rusted out.

Definitely clean those poppets, posts, and dip tubes well. Use BKF inside the long dip tube and scour/polish out all the crud. If ou don't have a dip tube brush, use a piece of wet rag with a fishing line tied to each end. Pull it back and forth. Comes out as good as new.

Your Pilsner process sounds solid. Don't start ramping until it's close to done. Do your diacetyl rest for a few days, then down to lagering temps.

After lagering you may want to transfer the clear beer to a clean "serving" keg (using a "jumper" hose) to prevent accidentally shaking up the yeast again when moving it around.

Look into 100% liquid pre-purging kegs then filling them through the liquid post/QD under CO2 (closed or near closed transfer). The lid remains on the keg. This to prevent oxidation.
 
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zacster

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Oh no, I did not throw out the CO2 tank. I paid good money for that back in the day. In Brooklyn I can only do swaps so it isn't the shiny one anymore but it isn't the old type either. I'll swap it when closer to ready. I don't trust the regulator since it had a problem when I did my last batch. The gauges didn't read right and I was kind of blind in doing it, just increasing until it was the right level of carb. That plus it was sitting out in the weather for 3-4 years. I figure it isn't worth taking the chance or the aggravation of not having it work right when I've got a beautiful golden beer just waiting.

I have a brush for the dip tubes and always clean the poppets thoroughly before each use. After the first draw where it pulls up the settled yeast it always comes up clean. I don't usually move the keg once the tap goes on so it stays settled.

I had the whole process down pat when I was doing this, including the sanitation. I just threw everything I needed in the sanitizer bucket and pulled it out as needed and rinsed it when done and put it back in the bucket. Never had an infection. I use whirlfloc to clear it up, but I don't like the very fine sediment it creates. I'll let it settle out in a glass carboy before I transfer to my dual Better Bottles (Did they ever come back? They quit the business even before I stopped brewing but then a rumor went around that someone was going to pick it up.) The bottles fit squarely in my fridge. I pitch the yeast individually but keep it even. It all gets combined in the end. I'm not looking to buy any more equipment though, I think I've spent enough over the years. I still have parts I bought back in the 1990s that I use, like cappers, airlocks, bottle/carboy washer, hydrometer tube. I guess I can't use the carboy washer either in the kitchen for the same reason as my wort chiller.
 

IslandLizard

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Many with fancy faucets plumb a utility faucet in their cold water supply under the sink or elsewhere convenient.

I also brew in the kitchen. 3500W countertop induction plate and a box fan in the open window above.

We're lucky, I can unscrew the spray head and am left with a 1/2" NPT Female connection on the pull out hose! Alright!
I thread a 1/2" NPT barb into that and am set to connect anything I want to it.

Not sure you'd want to run a carboy washer in your kitchen...

I don't know who now makes square PET carboys anymore. Someone must.
There are also Fermonsters now, as well as Fermzillas and All Rounders.
I still use 6.5 gallon buckets. They're cheap, cheerful, work as promised, and come with a handle. 2 fit side by side in my upright freezer/ferm chamber. I modified the lids for adding dry hops, stirring under CO2, and doing (semi) closed transfers to kegs. A few things have improved for the better, while you were taking a break. Look around.
 
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zacster

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About 6 months ago I had another false start with this and I was looking at all the new stuff, in particular complete electronic brewing vessels. It has come a long way, but imagine how far along this is from 25 years ago! That's about when I started.

I just looked and MoreBeer has Better Bottles so they must be back in business. I had to go to Home Depot to get a new 5gal bucket as I used my old bucket for car washing. I only use it for the sanitizer and cleaning so it doesn't have to be anything special. It is still food grade.

My starter is happily spinning on my stir plate so I'm on my way. Monday or Tuesday will be brew day.
 

Brewmasher

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I took a 4 year hiatus as well awhile back. My overzealous nature when it comes to things I am interested in escalated into almost a small microbrewery set up. I scaled down to a reasonable all-in-one system, and remind myself that this is a hobby and should be fun 😀

Even the regulator can be saved, unless it's totally pitted or rusted out.
Is there a rebuild kit or something? I only use CO2 to force carb a couple of PET bottles to sample while bottle conditioning anymore. The reg is pretty rough. I have seen replacement gauges, simple enough, but how do I recondition the regulator?
 

IslandLizard

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Is there a rebuild kit or something? I only use CO2 to force carb a couple of PET bottles to sample while bottle conditioning anymore. The reg is pretty rough. I have seen replacement gauges, simple enough, but how do I recondition the regulator?
Taprite and other larger, renowned manufacturers sell rebuild kits, but they contain the inside parts, springs, diaphragm, sometimes the needle valve, but not the outside parts such as the screw or the bell (top housing).

Anything from China, I yet have to see parts or rebuild kits. Most don't even have a "manufacturer" name, making searches even harder.
 
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zacster

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I went through my equipment to make sure I didn't need anything else, and of course I found that I do. My BIAB bag is missing. I have no idea where it is nor does my wife. We just had our kitchen remodeled and everything that was in it was touched at some point and I don't remember seeing it there. Oh well, I just ordered another from Wilser. I hope he can get it out fast as the yeast starter is already made and in the fridge. It'll keep for a while.

And the other thing missing was my turkey baster. We took that to make a turkey last thanksgiving. I figured I could always get a new one at the local store when and if I needed it for brewing again. I guess I need it. The one I had had good suction, the old one I had did not. The new one sucked, the old one didn't ;)
 
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zacster

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I now have 5 gallons of lager in my fermentation fridge. None of the brew day went as planned, and it was frustrating. A lot of it was due to not using the equipment in such a long time, but a lot was also working in my remodeled kitchen. I had the old routine down pat. I worried about the new countertops, the lack of a medium height table that was replaced by more countertop, and the faucet no longer unscrews to a thread I can plug my chiller in, nor my bottle/carboy washer. I used the garden hose as source and that worked but since it is summer the water was barely cold and it took a long time. My sous vide would not work to keep the mash temps, I got an error code. Also my floors are unfinished at the moment so I had to worry about those, and then the boil took forever on my stove top even though it is the only part of the old kitchen we kept, a decent Bosch stove with high output burners. It also wouldn't keep to a boil, when I took the lid off I'd see the temp drop by a degree and it would stop.

A lot of frustrations but I'll be enjoying it soon enough. If there's a next time I'll revisit all these things well in advance.

And it came out crystal clear as always.
 
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