Homebrew How-Tos

We love homebrewing on this site and you can find all of our guides on homebrewing right here. 

How to Cap Your Beer Without a Capper

Chris Jensen · November 15

Sometimes you gotta improvise.

I don't bottle frequently as, like most, I much prefer the convenience of kegging. But I do like to bottle my special beers or beers that do well with aging, which means I find myself bottling at least 2-3 batches a year.

Last weekend, I finally got around to bottling my holiday beer (a Trappist-style Belgian strong dark ale). I had a number of 29mm mouth bombers on hand that I'd been saving for a special brew such as ...

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How to Shave Time Off Your Brew Day

Chris Jensen · August 28

One of the challenges with brewing is the time commitment. For many, it's an all day adventure for which we must plan ahead and allocate time away from family, chores and other hobbies. My Pintwell partner, Jeremy, actually finds that the only way he can brew these days is to take a day off of work!

It is one of of the compelling reasons to go BIAB or back to extract brewing. Back when I did the latter I used to knock out a ...

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Insulate Your Mash Tun with Reflectix

Chris Jensen · July 25

Hitting and maintaining your mash temps is one of the most critical steps to producing a good beer. Unfortunately, metal mash tuns (including keggles) are not particularly good at maintaining temperatures with out an external heat source. So, many brewers choose to insulate their mash tuns to help maintain a consistent temperature throughout your mash schedule.

For the first few years of my current mash tun's life, I used a long sheet of foam rubber with bungee cords. It was cheap, easy, and maintained ...

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How to Use a Step Bit to Drill Stainless Steel

Chris Jensen · June 25

Drilling stainless steel with a hand drill is a hefty job, especially so with the robust stainless found in a keg. After drilling my first couple holes I dreaded having to drill more, until I figured out some tricks which made it 10 times easier. 

The two most important parts of drilling stainless are speed and pressure:

Speed:

You should, almost always, drill at a very low speed. Patience is extremely important to this process. Run your drill at low speed and high torque. If ...

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Sour Beer Shortcut: Brewing Sours the Easy Way

Chris Jensen · June 4

I love sour beer. It's one of my favorite styles and I can find a sour beer for any occasion. Clearly I'm not alone: according to a GuestMetrics report, sour beer is the second fastest growing segment of beer. But, I'd argue that my love of sour beer goes beyond that of most. Most people I know who say they love sours say it was an acquired taste: that the first time they tried a sour beer they didn't like it ...

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3 Tips for All Grain Brewing: What I Wish I Knew

Chris Jensen · May 14

It took me a long time to make the leap to all grain brewing, much longer than for most people. It was 13 years between my first brew and my first all grain brew, and 5 years from when I got serious until I went all grain. Frankly, I thought it sounded like a pain in the ass, and I was already producing award winning beer that, more importantly, I enjoyed drinking. I was reluctant to drop the expense associated with all that added equipment ...

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How to Clean and Sanitize Your Plate Chiller

Chris Jensen · April 2

As we discussed last week, I’m on the plate chiller/heat exchanger train and couldn’t be happier. One of my primary concerns about making the leap to a plate chiller was the sanitization and clean-up process. I definitely did not want to add more work to an already crowded brew day.

To my pleasant surprise, I have found that with a little planning both sanitizing and clean-up are as easy, if not easier, than they were on my immersion chiller set up.

To ...

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Why Does My Beer Smell Like Butter?

Jeremy Short · March 26

If you're here, you may have just cracked up in a bottle of homebrew and took a big whiff of butter from your pint glass. Yum, butter? Wait, this isn't supposed to smell like butter. What happened to my beer? And just maybe you took a swig of that beer and there is is again: butter. Not cool. You, my friend, have diacetyl. Adding a butter aroma and flavor, Diacetyl is one of the more common off-flavors found in beer. So what causes ...

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How to Wire a Pump to Your Brew Stand (and other simple applications)

Chris Jensen · March 21

Upon building the Bad Larry wood brew stand, I knew I wanted to include simple electrical to run a pump and my heatstick. I debated about the simplest (and safest) way to do this, looking for a solution that was functional but which also looked clean. I eventually landed on a solution that allowed me quick and easy access to control the pump and heatstick, while incorporating the primary safety elements I was concerned with.

Please note that I am not an electrician, so be ...

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How To Brew With Spruce Tips

Chris Jensen · March 6

It's almost spring, which means it's time to start brewing with spruce. Yes, spruce beers may seem like a holiday specialty, but the real trick to brewing a good spruce beer is to start in the spring.

This is because spring is when spruce trees get their new growth: the tiny yet luscious tips that make for a delightful brewing adjunct. You want to harvest the new tips when they are short (1/2 to 1" long) and light in color. They should ...

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Tubeless RIMS: How to Recirculate Your Mash with no Additional Equipment

Chris Jensen · February 19

As my homebrewery has expanded, one key component I've considered adding to my system is a RIMS tube or a HERMS. As with most things in my brewery, I like the elegance of the HERMS concept: specifically the fact that you leverage one process (heating your liquor) to benefit another (heating your mash). I'm also comfortable working with a heating element, having built a heatstick, and I like the efficiency of the RIMS. 

However, HERMS would be inneficient in my system and I ...

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How to Make Crystal Clear Beer

Jeremy Short · February 4

One of most satisfying things is pouring a pint of your own crystal clear homebrew and knowing that your beer looks and tastes as good as anything you could have bought at the liquor store. Another advantage of crystal clear beer is that the uninitiated homebrew guests that visit your house won't be totally freaked out by a cloudy muddled beer that screams: yo, bro! Check out this beer I made in my closet! Otherwise, you might get a polite smile and a request ...

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Homebrewing in the Winter: Tips for Brewing when it's freezing outside

Chris Jensen · January 28

The arctic-freezing-polar-vortex-winter-chillabone is here! It seems like the temps keep getting colder and colder and much of the country can't catch a break, so I thought we should talk about the thing on many brewers' minds this time of year: How the hell am I supposed to mash in when I can't feel my fingers?

Well, rest assured that it can be done, and those freezing temps can actually help you out.

 

A Few Frosty Pointers:

First, make sure you are well organized ...

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Wood Brew Stand Plans

Chris Jensen · January 17

I debated for years about what would make my ideal brew stand. There are a million variables including substrate, size, automation, etc. Ultimately, I decided to go with a fairly simple wood stand as I think they are sexy and, more importantly, I could build it myself (I find that those things I can do myself in the home brewery are more rewarding than those I outsource). I do not have strong woodworking skills, but patience and care will go a long ways.

I also ...

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How to Wax Your Homebrew Bottles

Chris Jensen · December 15

You've slaved for hours over this year's holiday brew.  You really went all out to show off your monster brewing skills and to tell your friends how special they are. So you did a triple decocted, 8 month lagered eisbock that is going to blow their minds. After all that effort, you want to give it that special touch to make sure it stands out. Handing them out in those old, crusty bombers with the labels still on is not going to do ...

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What to do when you have a stuck mash

Jeremy Short · December 11

You just spent $50 on ingredients and you've been mashing your grains for an hour then you go to separate out your wort and ... what the ... holy hell the wort isn't coming out. What do I do? Help! Oh, man, this was going to be the best pale ale ever! Don't worry, yet. I've been stranded with a stuck mash a few times. It's the worst damn thing to happen on a brew day. So far I've been able ...

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How to control mouthfeel in your homebrew

Jeremy Short · November 27

Have you recently received some feedback on your homebrew that said: needs more body, high astringency, or too hot? And now you are wondering hot to fix that? Well here you go. A whole post about the exciting world of mouthfeel. First, if you need a refresher on what mouth feel is check out this post. Got it? Cool. Let’s move on to how to manipulate the different aspect of mouthfeel in your beer.

Oh wait, there’s one other thing to consider before ...

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How to fucking clean your kettle or mash tun

Jeremy Short · September 26

You've been brewing up beer for a while and then one brew day you look down in your kettle and realize crap, this fucking thing is looking like shit. Well here's a quick guide on how to get that shit out of there.

Cleanliness is fucking important in brewing. That’s why I am going to say shit and fuck a lot in this post. Got it? Fucking good.  

Here's the shit you're going to have to fucking buy to get ...

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How to clean your homebrew kegs

Jeremy Short · March 27

You've upgraded. You have a fancy new (well probably used) keg for your homebrew and you’re ready to fill it with your precious creation. But wait! Your keg smells a little funky! Here are a few quick steps to get your kegs clean and pouring tasty delicious homebrew.

1 - Rinse. I like to give a thorough rinse to my kegs as soon as they kick. The longer the residual sugars sit around, the more of a pain they will be to clean off ...

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Cleaning out used beer bottles for your homebrew

Jeremy Short · December 28

I'll start out by saying this is probably one of the least exciting aspects of homebrewing. Bottling will never rank as exciting and the process of getting ready to bottle? Yeah, not a lot of fun here. Nonetheless this is a key part in sharing and enjoying homebrew and I guess it does have a kind of meditative quality. Meditative? Is that the word?

Anyway, let’s start with what bottles do you want: brown ones! Don’t even bother with clear or green ...

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Homebrewing with a recipe kit

Jeremy Short · April 30

I’ve been all-grain homebrewing for a while and have almost forgotten what it’s like to brew up an extract beer on the kitchen stove. And it’s awesome—the smell of malt and hops throughout the house. Who doesn’t love that? Oh yeah, my wife isn’t a fan. Anyway, one thing I’ve never tried: making a homebrew from a recipe kit, and I got a chance to do just that with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend—who have just entered ...

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