Category Archives: Buying Supplies

And then there were kegs.

Christmas came early to Taft Canyon this year.  For only a couple hundred bucks, we’re now the proud owners of a kegging system. Three 5-gallon kegs, converted fridge, taps, CO2 tank, gauges – it’s a beautiful thing.

We should be able to get four 5-gallon kegs in here...

We should be able to get four 5-gallon kegs in here…

So, last night when it came time to bottle the Redbeard Magee Oatmeal Stout – we opted for keg instead of bottles.

After reading as much as possible online on how the hell we use these things now that we have them, we took apart the kegs and soaked the bits in oxyclean overnight. The kegs I also filled to the brim with hot water and a scoop of oxyclean and let them soak for 12 hours. While we had been told the kegs were clean by the guy who sold them to us – this step turned out to be critical. There was a lot of old crap clinging to the inside of the kegs – now they sparkle beautifully. Next we sanitized them with StarSan and pressurized them to test them for leaks before filling two of them with delicious beer.

What a pleasure siphoning through a strainer straight into the keg instead of re-racking to get out the hops and then bottling. A quick taste of this stuff tell us that it’s one of the weaker beers we’ve made, but it also has good flavor. Hoping that carbonation helps.

Two taps - with room for more.

Two taps – with room for more. And yeah, we need better handles.

Looking forward to drinking draft homebrew this weekend…



P.S. We also dry-hopped the new IPA…looking strong.

Two ounces of Cascade hops in the secondary fermenter.

Two ounces of Cascade hops in the secondary fermenter.


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‘Tis the Saison. A night with the funky yeast beast.

Keith, aka Yukon Bungholeus, just got back from two weeks trekking around Canada and Alaska, so we decided to celebrate his return by brewing up a batch of High Plains Saison.  This will be our first Saison and our first time using Saison yeast. It was also our first time using oats in addition to Barley.  And it was quite fun.

James and Benjamin direct the final moments of grain steepage.

James (left, age 2) and Benjamin (4) direct the final moments of grain steepage.

Were impressed with how much lighter the wort was after we steeped the grains and could definitely pick up the oat aroma. That oat aroma carried through all the way to the point we added yeast – it’ll be ”
inneresting” to see if that carries through to the final product. We also used Mt. Hood Whole Hops – which just smelled so freakin’ good.

Our challenge here was getting the Wort to cool. We had 4.5 gallons of hot wort, added .5 gallons of cold water, but it took us forever to cool the wort down. I was a given $50  Gift Certificate from a friend last month and ended up spending it on a wort chiller. We’ll use that on the next batch and see how it goes. If anyone has advice on using a wort chiller, please send it our way.

Saison Original Gravity at 1.040

Saison Original Gravity at 1.040, provided I’m finally reading this thing right, that is.

So Saison yeast is pretty cool.  This batch of beer is batch #6 – and in our first five batches we only used dried yeast. This time, we used wet yeast and it came in a package that looked that like this:

Stanky delicious Belgian Saison Yeast

Stanky delicious Belgian Saison Yeast SmackPack

So inside this package are a BILLION yeast cells in liquid and a “nutrient packet: that helps activate them. You smack the pouch, let it sit for a few hours, and watch it inflate like a bag of microwave popcorn. Then, when the wort is at room temperature, you pitch the yeast. When we opened the package, however, the aroma that came out smelled like my oldest son’s sneakers in the middle of summer. Seriously rank. So, naturally, we put it in the beer.

As of today, we have three batches in fermenters (Last Flight Amber Holiday Brown, and the Saison) and the SumoCitrus2 is finishing up in the bottles. We snuck of a taste of SumoCitrus2 last night and, holy hops,  it’s already delicious. It might have to be our first repeat performer.




Filed under Buying Supplies, Making Beer

Giddyup. Brewing beer tonight.

Amarillo Hops

We’ll be using Amarillo Hops in our first batch of beer.

Psyched!  Just picked up all the gear we needed from Hops and Berries.  Man, those people are great – thank you, Alison.  They walked me through the whole process – I even got to mill my own grains (this involved weighing them, dumping them into a grinder, and flipping a switch).  The only thing I didn’t buy there was a huge boiling pot – picked up a 20-quart pot at Target instead – hoping that wasn’t a mistake.  We’re going to be brewing an American Pale Ale tonight with Amarillo hops (H&B’s Hop of  the Month).

All we need now are bottles…60 of them.  But we’ve got two weeks to come up with them and we’ve got a head start already. We’re planning on re-using bottles from beer we’ve purchased – I’d better get drinking. Stay tuned…



P.S. Special thanks to my wife, Gwen,  for letting me skip a birthday party to buy beer supplies on a Saturday. What a gal.

Current fridge situation

We need empty bottles – I’d better get started on some of these…

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“Making quality beer is EASY!”

Charlie Papazian, you are speaking my language, brother. By the third paragraph in the introduction to your book , I find my heart rate increasing by sentences like “[This book] is for you who want to jump right in a brew a batch of beer today” and “superb beer can be made just by following the fundamental principles of brewing in the beginner’s section” and then “Making quality beer is easy.” This is music to my ears. I’m hooked. Let’s get this thing started.

The next section of the book is entitled “Is it Legal.” I’ll skip that one.

Tomorrow I buy the “beginner’s” supplies. Here’s what my online research tells me it will cost: Homebrewing Equipment Kit: $97.99 + $25.49 in shipping (WTF?) Basic Equipment Starter Kit for Beermaking: $79.95 + $19.04 shipping (UPS to Colorado)

Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply: Basic Kit: $79.99 + $7.99 shipping

Williams Brewing $114.00 (includes ingredients for American IPA) +$6.90 shipping

Instead, I’m going to go to my local Homebrew shop (support local, people!) called Hops & Berries. I should be able to get started for 100 bucks, I figure.

I have not told Keith I’m doing this already.



P.S. My friend Michael just stopped by and asked where we were going to put all the home brew stuff. Uh….looks like it’ll be going in the utility room.

Utility room is proposed location for beer making.

Michael: “Where are you going to brew it?”
Me: “Uh.”
I guess we’ll brew it here.

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Filed under Buying Supplies, Getting Started, Making Beer