It was brought to my attention by a reader of Hoptomology that it would be wise to add a relay to my temperature controller build. The reason being it will render the contacts on the controller safer and extend their life. They are only rated for 10 amps and a refrigerator or freezer may draw more than that for a split second when it kicks on. Up until this point I haven’t had any issues, but it never hurts to go the extra mile when it comes to wiring and electricity. Safety should always be your first priority!
Another thing that should always be observed when using electricity with liquids nearby, is plugging the unit into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle instead of a normal one. This way you have added protection for yourself should you accidentally come into contact with your beer or sanitizer etc. and then touch the controls. Any short circuit due to the moisture will trip the GFCI and save you from a nasty shock. I tried installing a GFCI in the actual controller box, but found that it tripped the circuit quite often when it turned on, leaving my precious beer and yeast to warm up until I was able to notice. Instead, just plug the unit into a wall outlet with a GFCI, and you’re set. (Thanks for your input Henry!)
I bought the relay (Part # PB321-ND) and relay socket (Part # PB642-ND) from DIGIKEY. It cost me about $31 shipped to my door. I’m sure you could find somewhere else cheaper, like a local electronics store, but I’m guessing the connections may vary slightly. I thought I’d stick with what I know and get the parts that were suggested by Henry.
Here is the updated wiring diagram with the relay added into the circuit.
Standing over my temperature controlled chest freezer, looking down at my 2 kegs of fully carbonated Bohemian Pilsner, is a very pleasant sight indeed. I used the exact same recipe and maintained the same fermentation schedule for both a single infusion and a decoction version to see what differences could be had. (See original post: Pilsner Urquell: Decoction mash or Single Infusion?) It’s been a long time in the making. Two separate brew days, with the decoction taking me a whopping 11.5 hours (!), 14 days in primary, and another 40 days of lagering. The fact that it is ready to bottle this week, lines up perfectly with us being at the height of summer.
So was it worth it?
Posted in Brew Reviews, Breweries, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged all grain, beer, bohemia, bohemian pilsner, decoction, fermenting, homebrew, how to, lager, malt, pilsner, plzen, recipes, single infusion, temperature controller
It’s been scorching here in Toronto this summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 42°C/108°F in the shade one day! As a result, the Belgian Style Witbier I brewed a few weeks back is finding a very happy home in my pint glass. Don’t get me wrong, the heat is great, my garden is loving it and growing like crazy. Downside is, our central air conditioner is broken, and hot, uncomfortable nights don’t always make for restful sleeping. No A/C also means my Belgian Witbier was fermenting in the 73-75°F range, with it hitting 77°F one day!
Belgian yeast strains can usually handle, if not enjoy, higher fermentation temperatures. Stan Hieronymus describes many fermentation schedules for wheat beers in his book, “Brewing with Wheat” being in the 73°F range, so I was hopeful that things would still work out.
Man, did they really work out.
The White Labs – Belgian Wit (#WLP-400) yeast I used in this beer is rocking the classic fragrance that is such a signature in Belgian witbiers. Unlike some German wheat beers that can be heavy on the banana or clove, it’s very balanced. Primary fermentation was quite slow, taking a full 2 weeks for the krausen to finally drop. I did some research on White Labs’ site after noticing that it was taking its time, and many others noted the same thing. The consensus was to just sit tight and be patient, as it would be worth the wait. Worth the wait it was. Continue reading
Posted in Books, Brew Reviews, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged Adjunct mash, ale, all grain, beer, Blegian Beer, decoction, fermenting, homebrew, recipes, step mash, White Labs, Witbier
With the onset of summer and the occasional 40°C weather up here in Toronto, it’s about time I get a nice cold keg filled with a summertime favourite: a Belgian Witbier. There’s nothing like the refreshing taste of that orange infused bubbly goodness on a hot summer day.
Witbiers normally contain a large amount of unmalted wheat, either raw or flaked. When using such a large amount, it’s a good idea to give your mash a short protein rest around 122F to help loosen things up. I’ve just finished reading Randy Mosher’s book “Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass” in which he talks about “white beer” as being one of his favourite styles. He also talks about how it can be a difficult beer to brew well and offers some insight from his trials and errors. He suggests an American style “adjunct mash” (or a ‘double mash’ as it’s called in Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide) as the best way to get that real creamy, lubricious body that is a famous characteristic of good witbiers. After researching some historical brewing texts, he claims that this was similar to how some brewers would have made these greatly varied beers in the past in order to deal with the large amount of raw wheat in the grist.
The recipe I chose uses the following grains: Continue reading
Posted in Books, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged ale, beer, Belgian Beer, Belgium, fermenting, homebrew, how to, pilsner, recipes, Witbier
This coming weekend, April 20-22, Bar Volo will be hosting the 4th annual Cask Days IPA Challenge. The Challenge Spin Off is on Friday from 2:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. and features out of style IPA’s like Black IPA, Belgian IPA, Double IPA and other experimental IPA’s from breweries around the province.
One of these brews is called “Mangoverboard IPA”. My buddy Zack of Toronto Brewing teamed up with Mike Lackey of Great Lakes Brewery to brew a batch of this using freshly juiced and then frozen mangoes, topped up with my all time favourite hop: Citra. (check out the bag on my shoulder!)
Zack also teamed up with the Durham Homebrewers Club to enter “Sick Day IPA” into the challenge which will be facing off against Cameron’s Brewing “Rye PA” in the first round.
I had the pleasure of hanging out at Great Lakes Brewery for the afternoon and meeting Mike, Rob, Adrian & Harman. It was great to check out the setup. When I arrived, Mike & Harman were in the middle of brewing their second of three batches planned for the day of an “American Farmhouse Ale”. There’s nothing like the heavenly smell of a brew in action. Mike’s planning to try open fermentation for the first time to hopefully get some authentic farmhouse character. We obviously don’t have the same air quality as rural Belgium, but hopefully things will go well and bring something unique and tasty to the brew.
To prepare the Mangoverboard IPA for friday’s opening night, we added some more mango and dry hopped it with an addition of citra hops, half of them whole leaf and half in pellets. I’m sure this will be a killer IPA after a few days of stewing. I can’t wait to try this, along with the many great beers that will be at the IPA Challenge this weekend. If you’re in the Toronto area, come down and check it out!!
CASK DAYS IPA CHALLENGE at Bar Volo, 587 Yonge St.,Toronto, Ontario.
- Friday: 2:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
- Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Posted in Breweries, Brewing, Events
Tagged ale, Bar Volo, beer, cask, Cask Days IPA Challenge, fermenting, Great Lakes Brewery, I.P.A., India Pale Ale