Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lager time!

So my last post here was about modifying my mini-fridge to serve as a fermentation chamber.

Today we begin our first lager. Hooray!

7lbs Belgian Pilsner
1lb Munich
.5lbs C60
.5lbs Carapils

1oz Hallertau FWH
1oz Hallertau @20

Whirlfloc @15

Yeast: W-34/70, rehydrated. Two 11.5g packs.

My little brew helper stirring it up! This was immediately after adding the sparge water.

I opted for a 4.5 gallon mash with 4 gallon batch sparge. Very straight forward on my setup, no issues. Mashed at 152F, sparged at ~175F. First runnings 1.073, forgot to take second runnings reading. But pre-boil at 7 gallons into the kettle at 1.040. With 5.25ish into the carboy, looking at 1.052 and ~80% (rough calculation in my head, not going to check because it's a good efficiency either way) brewhouse efficiency. Can't complain about that.

Overall the brew day was fairly straight forward. Aside from having to put new tubing on my immersion chiller, because the old tubing just wore out and a sprung a leak last time I used it. No big deal, but at least today I don't need to worry about the tubing bursting. I know I know, I can use silicone tubing that'll handle the heat much better, that's a problem for future me.

This worked out pretty well. There was an initial leak on the connection to the garden hose, but that was tightened up easily. Other two connections had no leaks at all.

Here it is all hooked up and in the chamber. Door closed perfectly and the compressor is working to get that temp down. Since it went in around 3:15pm I'm hoping to be able to pitch before bed. If not, tomorrow morning is fine too. I didn't want to waste water, so I chilled it down to ~80F before transferring to carboy. Figured might as well, since I've got this chamber now.

I'm going to be utilizing the Brulosophy Fast Lager method to ferment this baby. I'll probably end up cold crashing longer due to laziness/other things coming up towards the end of that fermentation schedule, but that won't hurt anything so not worried about that.

I know his method kegs. But since I can't see any logical reason to think it wouldn't work in bottles, I'm going to do it bottling. Also I don't have kegs. So easy choice to make, really.

Thanks for reading! Off to relax for a while with my family and perhaps go out for dinner. Hopefully I'll be able to pitch tonight, but if not then oh well. Always tomorrow to pitch the yeast! RDWHAHB, as the saying goes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Midea WHS-160RB1 Mini Fridge Fermentation Chamber.

Phew. I just finished this up. I'm typing this as pictures are uploading.

The love of my life picked up on some hints while we were at Costco a bit before Christmas regarding a mini fridge in the 4.4-5cu ft range. In the end she let me pick it out online because she doesn't know much about these things.

In the end I picked the Midea WHS-160RB1 4.4cu ft mini fridge, because the size is right and from what I was able to find online it would be a fairly straightforward DIY to modify. Fortunately I was right! Sorta. I mean, it was easy. But... well, here we go.

First up: Saw off the plastic covering on the hump! I wasn't sure what was behind it exactly, and figured since I only need about an inch to two inches if there was foam behind it I could dremel it down.

That was fairly straight forward. I used the spade bit to open up a little bit of room for the hacksaw to start going sideways. Just made sure to be very, very careful with that part. Fortunately, it is foam under there. Dremel time. Also busted out the vacuum because god damn thats a lot of foam dust.

Keep going! Until you see something that isn't foam. Oops. Probably went a tiny bit further than I needed to, but no harm done.

Once that was done, had to see about fitting a carboy in there. 

Looks good! Or so I thought until I closed the door. Now to remove this fucker:

I removed the rod there too because why not? Not going to be using that anyway.

So after that part was fixed, the PET carboy I use was fitting perfectly. Then I thought "oh shit, what about my buckets?" So I popped one of those in there.

Shit. Ok, more door modification!

Once I got that out, along with the little shelf to the right all was well with the world again. Next step: Bandage her up and make sure everything is still functional.

And now my carboy and buckets will fit perfectly inside this fridge. All told it was about 45 minutes of actual work. But I also went in semi-blind, not being 100% sure what to expect.

I am aware that I could have done the door mod and removed the freezer portion, but this allows me to use the freezer portion in the future if I want to. The door mods were fairly minor too, as I can still reinstall the rod on the bottom and make use of that shelf even though it's a little smaller now. So that was kind of my idea going in, leave the freezer alone.

All closed up and currently coolin down. Going to be brewing up a lager of some sort this weekend, haven't 100% decided yet but it should be an interesting one for me. First lager comin up!

So that's been my adventure in homebrew modifications so far. I thought about posting pictures of the STC-1000 wiring and whatnot but there are so many out there, it really doesn't matter. It works and was pretty straight forward. Followed this guide more or less. That guide is also why I have a mini hacksaw, which really came in handy for this job. Not sure how I would have done it without that little guy.

The picture is one my daughter (5 years old now) made at preschool. Once she realized this fridge was like the big one upstairs, many things being stuck to it.

Next post will be my lager adventure I'm guessing. Should be fun!