BrewCon 2015

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Education in brewing is core to the National Homebrew Club.

This year we will be raising the bar higher again and holding our inaugural brewing conference BrewCon2015 on Saturday, May 9th 2015.

“The conference will have international & Irish speakers covering the four pillars of brewing ingredients, recipe formulation, and how to take your brewing to the next level.”

Who’s talking:

  • Chris White – Whitelabs Yeast
  • Chris O’Flynn – Malting Company of Ireland
  • Ben Adams – Charles Faram Hops
  • Eddie Bourke – Pro Brewer
  • Rory Shields – ex Pro Brewer
  • and many more

Meet the Brewers:

A casual open-forum style talk with some of the master & head brewers of some of the more exciting creations around today.

  • Brewdog
  • Metalman
  • Rascals
  • Wicklow Wolf
  • Blacks of Kinsale
  • Boundary Brewing
  • Kinnegar Brewing
  • & more …

Where: Smock Alley Theatre, 6/7 Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 8

There will be a Discounted Member Ticket pre-sale. This will go live via email on Monday 6th April, the numbers are limited to 150 attendees, they are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. The ticket covers attendence for the day and will include lunch & a drinks reception at the close of the event.

 Follow the thread on the forum

 

Review: The BeerBug

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The ‘BeerBug‘ is a device that attaches to the top of your fermentor that tracks the fermentation progress and temperature of your brew.

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Right … next, how much does it cost.

Well its 250 dollars for the main unit and 40 dollars for the temperature probe (which you really need), oh – and there is the shipping of about 25 dollars, So we are looking at 320 dollars and the duty you will probably get stung for.

Before you make up your mind … let’s skip the price for the moment, as I want to get to the product and tell you about that.

Fitting and installation

The BeerBug does easily fit as a replacement for the airlock, it has main computer unit and a torpedo that sinks into your wort.

This component is easily fitted onto most peoples current fermentors, however it does replace the airlock so you wont have the comforting sound bubbling as you sit down to watch your favourite episode of third rock from the sun. An Airlock can be fitted to the BeerBug but its not a snug as a normal airlock.

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The temperature probe, unfortunately, this required a hole in the top of my fermentor as some of the probe must be in the beer, that said I found the feedback from this component one of the best features – so this is a price worth paying.

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You sterilse the torpedo, then place it into the wort just after you have pitched your yeast, then press the button on the device and go to your computer.
You then calibrate the device ‘online’ to tell it the current SG, it does guess – but its more accurate to calibrate or Tare.
You can add ingredients and all sorts of details on here if you choose.
and hey presto – for the next week or two –
You can monitor the fermentation and temperature of your batch.

When it works – its ultra cool
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However – there are some downsides..

For a man who likes to brew HefeWeiss – it’s a disaster, for this style

I have dealt with a couple of blow outs and put simply, it’s like giving a two year old a spoon in a bowl of yogurt and leaving the room for 5 minutes – it’s carnage.

This pretty much holds true for Russian Imperial Stouts, as well as Dunkels, Weissbock .. look – any batch that risks a blow out – just don’t put this device near it!

That said – for most batches Pale Ales, IPAs, Irish Reds, Stouts – it’s perfect.

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The battery is good for 2 or 3 days, however – I found myself just powering it up the whole time, this wasn’t as much hassle as you think – I generally have a heat pad on, so it’s just an additional android phone charger.

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Once you are happy the fermentation is complete, simply click ‘finish brew’ and rack the beer, however, you have to be ultra careful removing the torpedo, people have managed to break the connecter by forgetting it’s there and yanking the top part away.

Now another thing I forgot to mention. The website – good grief – I have ‘assisted’ the development team and it has been a car crash at times, getting dodgy data-points and occasional wacky readings, and then sometimes – not being able to get onto the website at all.

So the web front-end is a far from finished product, but it has improved and stabilised recently.

All in all, I liked this product but I can’t deny, its hard to get over its price and the fact you aren’t going to use it on every batch.
That said the feedback and information returned is extremely valuable, and to be fair that’s one of the most important things
I was surprised to see how quick the SG dropped and it gave me confidence in the brew and its fermentation progress – which is always a good thing.
Oh – I forgot to mention the App, it runs on smartphones, android and iphone (not ipad) , it’s mega cool, especially when your buddy asks you in the pub, hows your IPA doing !!

In summary, if this unit cost 100 dollars – I’d give it five stars.
Still, I’m glad I bought it and I am very happy with the brews where it has worked correctly.

Price – One Star
Setup – Two stars
Brewing usefulness – Five stars
Hipster Rating – Four stars

Overall – three stars

As the Bank Radio Ads would say – I have received no gratuity or product for this review!

 

Discuss the BeerBug on the forum

 

Author: Partridge9

Review: Get’er Brewed Porter Extract Kit

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This is an extract kit from Get’er Brewed.

“A dark beer that perhaps doesn’t get the respect it deserves nowadays. A strong malty flavour with some roast characteristics and lovely chocolate malt notes.

Nutty slightly roasty and a hint of chocolate its hard to resist”

    The kit came with the following:

  • 2 cans of Muntons Maris Otter Light extract (Best Before June 2016)
  • 2 sealed hop bags for 10 and 60 minutes additions
  • A bag of various crushed steeping grains (1kg Weyermann Grains, according to the instructions)
  • 1 whirfloc tab
  • 1 muslin bag
  • 1 sachet of Gervin GV12 Ale yeast (Best Before March 2016)
  • A page with instructions

I brewed this kit on the 14th January and tried to keep to the instructions as best I could.  They said that the kit is based on a 26 litre boil with 23 litres of wort produced.

I had to use my own initiative as the instructions didn’t explain the amount of water in which I had to steep the speciality grains.  I put the grains in the muslin bag provided, into 5 litres of water at 71°C degrees and a half hour later I had my wort.  The temperature varied between 71°C degrees (strike temperature) and 65°C degrees over the 30 minutes.

I added the wort, two cans of extract and water to the boiler and brought to the boil.  I made the mistake here, in not having indications of the water levels in my boiler, so I believe that I entered less than the 26 litres on the instructions.   Even so, I brought the wort to the boil and added my first hops at 60 minutes.  I was surprised that the sealed hop bag actually had two tea hop bags of pellets – one 19 gram and one of 18 grams.  There was no indication of what hops these were although the website says Fuggles.

I put my wort chiller in the boil with 15 minutes left to go.

The next and last addition was at 10 minutes, so I added the hop tea bag and the whirlfoc tablet to the boil.

At the end of the hour boil, the elements were turned off and the tap was turned on to chill the wort to 20°C as per the instructions.  I overshot the 20°C and got the wort down to 18.4°C.  The cold night helped with getting the wort cooled quickly.  I made a mistake here by whirlpooling the wort against the chiller direction with my plastic paddle, forgetting about the hop teabags.  These disintegrated into nothing with my stupidity and the pellets were left to roam the wort.

I transferred 19.5 litres to my fermenter and took a gravity reading.  The instructions recommended an opening gravity of between 1.040 and 1.052.  I got an Original Gravity of 1.042 which is on the lower end.  I pitched the yeast and put the fermenter aside under a blanket and duvet.

The yeast took a bit to get going but fermented away nicely over two and a half weeks.  My Final Gravity ended up at 1.014, with the recommended range of between 1.008 to 1.014.  I bottled on the 2nd February (19 days later) and I batch primed with 105 grams of glucose.  I squeezed 41 bottles from the 19.5 litres I had.  I got the hop pellets out with a newly made hop stopper out of an Ikea splash guard rolled up, when batch priming.


I have to say this is a lovely porter that was easy to drink.  This came out at 3.7% and is a lovely dark brown colour, with a light chocolate and caramel taste, and subtle hops.  It went down a treat at the Louth Brewers meeting.


The kit is well worth the value, especially with the ingredients included.  The only problems I had with the kit were that the instructions could be better.

The instructions are very basic in comparison to the Northern Brewer one.  They explain about the ingredients, SIT (sterilisation, information and temperature) and there are seven points which describe the process.  They talk about making a starter for the yeast but don’t explain how to do it, which wouldn’t be great for somebody’s first extract kit.

There were vague areas that only for I knew from doing a kit before, I was able to get through the process.  Things like the initial water amount for steeping grains, length of the boil, when is the right time to bottle and carbonation of the beer.  If the instructions were better or maybe a video on the website that people can refer to, this kit would be suitable for the homebrewer who wanted to upgrade to extract kits.

Overall: I recommend this kit.

 

Credits: Thanks to Get’er Brewed for suppling the Get’er Brewed Extract Porter kit.

Follow this thread on the forum

 

Author: itsclinto