Monday, July 26, 2010

Flanders Brown Ale, July 25 2010

I'm not really into sour beer but this style, BJCP Category 17C. Flanders Brown Ale/Oud Bruin, seems to be a good compromise for this fall's club-only competition.  An Oud Bruin has a sour component but doesn't necessarily overpower the rest of the beer.  Balance between sweet malt and sour is the goal.  Based on readings, brettanomyces and other souring critters take time to sour a beer.  The Flanders that I brewed today is highly likely not going to be ready for the club-only sour competition this fall (I'll submit it anyway) but may have potential during AFC and NHC next year.  Many sours can take a year to develop.  As a first, there's lots to be learned about funky beer.
After harvesting at our hop farm yesterday, we stopped at Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido to pick up some "research" for some upcoming brew sessions.  While there were a number of sours in stock, I couldn't find an exact match for an Oud Bruin or Flanders Brown Ale.  I think I picked up something close however, Ichtegem's Grand Cru, Flemish Red Ale, matured in oak barrels, Oud Bruin gerijpt in eiken vaten, 6.5% ABV.  The BeerAdvocate lists the style of Ichtegem's Grand Cru to be a Flanders Red Ale.  We'll sample this Monday.  Most likely, I'll give it a try and pass the rest over to Kara who loves sours.
Ichtegem's Grand Cru - an Oud Bruin matured in oak
Flanders Brown Ale, July 25 2010
5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

9 lbs. German Pilsener
1.5 lbs. Vienna
1.5 lbs. Munich
1 lb. Red Wheat
0.75 lb. Crystal 20
0.5 lb. Caravienne
2 oz. Chocolate
2 oz. Black Roasted Barely

Single Infusion Mash 152°F

1 oz. Tettnanger 60 min.
0.3 oz. Spalt 60 min.
1 Whirlfloc tab 20 min.

White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast (vial to quick starter) Thanks, Kara!
White Labs WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix 1 added to secondary
WLP655 Includes Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, and the bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Pediococcus.

OG: 1.072 @ 73°F

With a grain bill this size, I thought I'd be nearing capacity.  Looks like room for a couple more L.B.s!
Update 8/6: Racked to secondary, current gravity is 1.0125.  Pitched the vial of WLP655 in the secondary.  I'm worried that WLP001 chewed away much of the sugar, not leaving a whole lot for the Belgian Sour Mix to chew on.
After brewing a barley wine today with 15 lbs. of grain and truly trying to keep the grain bed light and fluffy, it looks like this grain bed at 14.5 lbs. was a bit compressed.  I suppose it really depends on the type of malt and the thickness of the mash to determine how much grain a 5 gallon Rubbermaid Cooler can effectively hold.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hop Harvest, First Pickings

Me harvesting the Chinook Hops.  This trio of vines always has a high yield with multiple harvests.
At last, fresh homegrown hops are here!  Today we pulled a few weeds, trimmed back rogue hop vines, and harvested our first batch of Chinook and Centennial hops.  I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.
Michelle, posing at our hop farm in Escondido, CA.
During the summer, there's typically little to do at the hop farm besides harvesting.  There are 30 mounds yet we had a number of them that didn't do well this year.  This is mainly my fault for not visiting the farm more often early in the season.  This year, I need to tag or map mounds that never climbed or didn't even sprout so that I can give them attention next late winter.
Our bottom row of hops has finally produced.  We planted Centennial (near) and Chinook (far) last year.
Third time's a charm and our added bottom row is finally taking off.  I tried planting Cascade and Tettnanger when we first added this row a few years ago.  They failed maybe due to soil conditions, too dry, or the killer rabbits.  During the second year, we mirrored our successful top row by splitting rhizomes and planting Chinook and Centennial on the bottom row.  That year, mounds were brutally attacked by killer gnawing rabbits and while a handful were able to make the climb, yield was nearly negligible.  This year, we've increased the water flow rate, heavily mulched and fertilized, and ensured to allow plants to grow as full as possible at the base to deter those wascal wabbits from the main vines.
Many of the Chinook cones are papery and light, ready for picking.  Many others will be ready in 2 weeks.
Today was just the first harvest and you can tell when the hop cones are ready to pick.  They get drier or papery and become much lighter in weight.  You may also see some light browning on some cones beginning to develop.  This is when they are ready to pick.  In the early days, we used clippers and cut each one carefully off the vine.  Now, we just pull.  We try to eliminate the stem by pinching at the base.  After picking, my hands are sticky with a yellowish dirt color from all of the lupulin.  The smell, however, is hoptastic!
Chinook hops do very well here, lush full leaves with hop flowers growing at every opportunity.
Healthy, happy, and full, the Chinook trio of vines on our top row never fails to just go crazy!
The Chinook trio is loaded with hops.  Some are ready now yet we'll be be able to pick cones for many weeks.
As you can see from the above picture, the cones are in different stages.  I know the big hop growers choose an optimal timing for their vines and cut them down for a single harvest.  What do they do with underdeveloped hops or ones that have turned all brown.  My guess is that they make pellets!
Big ones!  Most Chinook hops that are ready to pick are fairly large cones.
Cone sizes and shapes vary with variety.  Hopefully, my hand gives you an idea about the size of the chinook hop cones.
Centennial hops at the top of the wire.  A terminating cone at the right.
When hops reach the top of the guide line, they often continue growing horizontally.  When a branch or vine ends, it always terminates with a cone.  When it does this, it will grow no further.  Also, if a climbing vine tip gets cut or damaged, it will no longer continue to grow.
A couple of our Centennial hop mounds don't always grow as thick and lush as the Chinook trio.  
Many hop plants are not successful until the second season.  I think the above vine was a mound that needed to be replanted.  Regardless, some mounds only have one or two vines that climb and yield is fairly low.
These cones are moist and heavy and will likely be ready in 2 weeks.
Time to fire up the dehydrator!  I need to build the box fan dehydrator I've sketched out in my mind a few years back.  If anyone wants to see how I have been dehydrating and storing my homegrown hops, click here for dehydrating hops or storing hops.  Cheers!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Recirculation Immersion Chilller

...and now, for some chilling.  Literally.
I got this idea from Jamil Zainasheff on his website  Jamil shows his Whilpool/Immersion Chiller in great detail on his site.  He's also discussed this modification to his homebrewing system on his internet radio show, The Jamil Show.  While many others go to fancy counterflow chillers or plate chillers, there's actually some good benefits to using an immersion chiller (see Jamil's website for a good discussion on the pros and cons).  The biggest downsides, however, is that it takes longer and uses lots more water.  Adding a recirculation element or whirlpool allows the wort to constantly be moving inside the kettle while the chiller is in the process of heat exchanging.  This increases the surface contact of wort to the chiller, effectively improving chilling time and water efficiency.  Adding a recirculation element to an immersion chiller can bank on the benefits while strongly chiseling away the downers.  Today, I improved upon my wort chilling system to increase water efficiency and to decrease the time needed to take wort from 212°F to less than 80°F.

I made a bigger wort chiller about 2 years ago with 50 feet of 3/8" OD copper.  While it looks like a job well done, I've had some minor issues.  First, 50 feet is a long distance and you need to have decent pressure to push water through that much restriction (maybe 50 feet of 1/2" OD would have made this better?).   I've attempted to use a pump to recirculate ice water through the chiller with limited success (works for several minutes at a time but stalls often).  The pump simply experienced too much back pressure.  Second, while I attempted to make good bends in the copper using a spring bender, I ended up making a few kinks which drastically increased restriction on an already overly distant length of 3/8" copper.  Here's a couple of pictures when I had just finished building a larger chiller.  Notice the kinks from too sharp of bends on the upper image.
Immersion Chiller built 2 years ago.
The new chiller keeps hop trub in the center while cooling much of the column of wort.
So the first order of business before adopting Jamil's whirlpool idea is to remove those kinks!  With a pipe cutter, I was able to remove the kinked locations and ended up taking off about 3-4 feet of copper.  Even though only a few feet, every little bit of restriction helps.
Several of my previous bends caused kinks in the copper pipe that limited the flow of water.
After a couple of chops, all kinks were eliminated.
After cutting out the kinks, the next challenge was to carefully bend the pipe to meet the kettle lid's notch without creating too sharp of angles or additional pipe.
Spring pipe benders are really useful for creating the curves on your wort chiller.
I found using a spring pipe bender (available at hardware stores near the copper tubing) useful to avoid making kinks.  You simply need to be patient and have enough pipe for leverage when bending.  Over bend each time and bend back to desired position.  Bends close to one another can be very challenging.  Just know that its tough to make different curves in a close sequence.
Refurbished and kink-free immersion wort chiller.
After trying this out with today's Kölsch, it works so much better.  At the end of chilling, I usually blow out the excess water and it was drastically easier to blow it out this time.  Also, the back-pressure on the tubing usually causes a leak on the IN-tube.  This didn't occur!  I suppose I can try pumping ice water again with my March Pump.

Onward to adding the recirculator/whirlpool:
I took about a foot section of the removed copper pipe and worked some angles so that beer can be pumped from the kettle spigot, through the kettle lid notch, and directed to flow alongside the immersion wort chiller.
This length was cut from my wort chiller and reshaped to direct circulating wort flow.
Using the spring pipe bender makes bending easier on the most part.  At least, it help you avoid kinking.  I would suggest working with pipe sections several inches longer than you anticipate.  Otherwise, its nearly impossible to bend near the end of the pipe.  You can always cut off excess later using a pipe cutter (about $10 at the hardware store).  Also, you should keep some sand paper on hand (220 grit sandpaper and a 400 sanding sponge seemed to do the job well) for sanding down those rough edges after cutting.  Don't forget to wash and rinse well before using! 
Immersion wort chiller with recirculation arm to move hot wort circular around the immersion chiller.
Here's how I do my wort chilling.  At the end of my brewing session, I stir the wort with a large spoon and get the wort moving fairly quickly in a circular fashion.  While stirring, I slowly move the stirrer towards the center of the kettle to create a whirlpool.  After waiting several minutes to allow the whirlpool to come to a halt whilst center settling the hop and trub, I slowly add the clean wort chiller to the center of the pot (most of the hop trub will remain in the center of the chiller's coils).  I allow the chiller to "bake" for several minutes for sanitation purposes.  At the same time, I arrange the pump to draw from the spigot and return to the kettle via the recirculation arm.  You can see this crafty shaped piece in the picture above.  As soon as possible, I begin recirculation prior to chilling to also "bake" the high-temp lines, pump (this pump handles high-temps), and copper pipe.  After sanitation is complete, I turn on the chiller using hose water.  Today, I think I cut my chilling time and water usage in half.  Not bad considering that summer temperatures have increased the temps of tap water and my black hose soaking up the summer heat isn't helping either.
Here, you can see the pump setup.  The bucket collects heated water from the immersion chiller.
During the summer months around here, the process of chilling the wort can take longer than the rest of the year and a better solution is needed.  I bought this pump towards the end of last season so that I can recirculate ice water through my immersion chiller.  It seems that the recirculator arm is more useful.  If I had two pumps, I could do both recirculation of wort and utilizing ice water.
Jamil's setup has two exit points for the wort though I'm not sure its necessary for a 5 gallon setup.  Click Here to see Jamil's Whirlpool/Immersion Chiller for some more info.
Only one potential issue to address.  I did notice that some hop fragments managed to collect at the incoming pump connection.  I have a QD here (quick disconnect) that has a plastic + going through the center of where the wort flows.  This cross hair of plastic picked up some hop matter and likely slowed the flow at some point.  I might need to add a filter element in the kettle or along the line to deal with this.
The pump was very easy to clean.  While the pump was running, I slowly closed the kettle valve and slid off the tubing.  The pump returned the remains to the kettle and then the pump was shut off.  I removed the recirculator arm.  I put the incoming tubing in the water bucket and pumped fresh water through the system.  I took off the QDs and dipped them in water to remove the hop matter that collected.  Last, I put the incoming tubing in a bucket of sanitizer (StarSan) and pumped that through for just a bit.  Finally, I removed the tubing for air drying.  Very minimal effort for a huge increase in chillindamos!

Kölsch, July 23 2010

After feeling the guilt of breaking the Reinheitsgebot last week, I decided to brew a proper Kölsch.

Change in Focus - Follow Those Guidelines!
After a written pep talk by Harold Gulbransen, I've decided to focus on BJCP style guidelines.  My fantastic homebrew club, QUAFF, has started a monthly beer evaluation opportunity.  The goal being to provide ample analysis and feedback to brewers in time to re-brew a better beer for the upcoming competition season.  This is actually a very generous offer since its immediate feedback from experienced beer judges.  Unfortunately, I missed out the opportunity this month since my kegs were licked dry a couple of weeks ago.  Next month, I'm taking advantage of the offer.
Many of us QUAFFers want the club to do very well this coming homebrew competition season especially considering that NHC is in our hometown, San Diego.  Not long ago, QUAFF was the AHA National Champion or Homebrew Club of the Year.  They earned this title 6 years in a row!  I believe this was accomplished by just a few dedicated brewers that consistently submitted numerous outstanding beers.  Since 2006, no one really stepped up to the plate.
I would hear the competition announcements at every club meeting but never really considered entering in any of my homebrews.  Its time to give this competition thing a try.  I know I'll learn lots, maybe get a certificate or two, it can only help my brewing get better, and hopefully, I can help my club.

Kölsch, July 23 2010
BJCP Category 6C. Kölsch
5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

9 lbs. German Pilsener
0.75 lb. Vienna
0.25 lb. Red Wheat malt
Single Infusion Mash 148°F

1.25 oz. Hallertauer 60 min.
0.25 oz. Saaz 1 min.
1 Whirlfloc tab 20 min.

White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kölsch Yeast (racked to yeast bed of Honey Kölsch)
Fermented at 66°F

OG: 1.056 @ 72°F
FG: 1.012 @ 56°F
ABV: 6.1% (temp corrected)

Update 7/29: Racked to secondary, current gravity is 1.0115
Update 8/16: Kegged after 2 weeks of lagering at 45°F.  Has a bit of residual sulfur aroma which is acceptable in the aroma BJCP guidelines.  I went a little far on ABV, style guidelines range from 4.4-5.2%.  

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Seconds, Please Saison July 17 2010

After a successful release of my first Belgian Saison last weekend, I had to have another go.  The recipe formulation is different this time.  I'm out of pilsener malt, added Vienna malt to the grain bill,  added honey to the sugar adjuncts, and finished the hopping schedule with an addition of Saaz.  Ah, Saaz!  The last change will be fermentation temperature.  The previous Saison fermented around 70°F and this one will experience temps around 80°F.  Kara was here to help today :-)  Its always nice to have my apprentice here!
A pour of Saison Dupont (source below)
My experience with drinking Saison is still fairly limited.  I've had Saison Dupont on one occasion and have had a few homebrewed by QUAFFers and other brew buddies.  Probably the most notable of all Saisons in San Diego is Brother Levonian, a Saison brewed in honor of Dave Levonian, a great homebrewer and friend to all in our homebrew club, QUAFF.

Seconds, Please Saison July 17 2010
BJCP Category 16C. Saison
5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 75 Minute Boil

8.5 lbs. Domestic 2-Row
1 lb. Red Wheat
1 lb. Vienna
0.5 lb. Munich
Single Infusion Mash 148°F

0.5 lb. Cane Sugar (Trader Joe's Organic)
1/2 Cup of Sage Blossom Honey added at KO

1.5 oz. Hallertauer 60 min.
0.25 oz. Hallertauer 15 min.
0.25 oz. Hallertauer 5 min.
0.25 oz. Saaz 1 min.
1 Whirlfloc tab 20 min.

White Labs WLP566 Belgian Saison II (2 Vials), thanks Kara!
Fermented at 70°F

OG: 1.065 @ 76°F
FG: 1.0045 @ 68°F
ABV: 8.2% (temp corrected)

Image Source: User: Jmcstrav. Saison Dupont. Image. Dupont Brewery. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 1 Oct. 2007. Web. 17 July 2010.

Update 8/6: Racked to secondary, current gravity is 1.006 and its tasting mighty fine!
Update 8/16: Kegged!  Michelle commented that it tastes very Belgian-y.  Excellent!  A week ago, I had Avec les bons Vœux de la brasserie Dupont. Damn it was good!  So much better than their standard Saison Dupont.

Avec les bons Vœux de la brasserie Dupont
Update 8/25: Now on tap!  This is a great beer.  I took this to our club's beer evaluation committee last week headed up by Harold Gulbransen.  While all seemed to feel this beer would do very well (Harold said he could drink this all day), they suggested to dry it up a bit more.  I explained that by measurements of final gravity at 1.0045, its very dry.  There's certainly a perceived sweetness that makes the value of the final gravity hard to believe.  Harold suggested to check my hydrometers for accuracy.
So I tested my hydrometers when I got home.  Turns out I had four hydrometers at home, two triple scales and two Brewer's Edge (one standard, one bottling).  The triple scales both read 1.000 and the Brewer's Edge hydrometers both at 0.999.  They checked out for acceptable accuracy.
Kara decided to take this beer and two others in to White Labs for analysis.  The results: 8.21% with a Specific Gravity 1.00624.  I think that's pretty damn close to my measurements. 
Harold suggested to change out the honey and use sugar such as turbinado to really dry it out.  I'm thinking the honey really left behind the sweetness.  When it comes to using honey, it really doesn't take much to sweeten up a beer.  I think I learned my lesson when it comes to using honey in beer.  From now on, I'll stick with saving the honey for meads.

Coming Soon: The Lager Cave

Utilizing space in my kegerator for lager fermentation and lagering has long been detrimental to the necessary activity of dispensing and consuming homebrew.  The kegerator simply does not have room for both activities.  Even if you combine both fermentation/lagering and dispensing of kegs, the kegerator spends a large portion of time at about 52°F.  That's not ideal dispensing temperature, very unchillindamos.
My brother-in-law, Ed, recently purchased a condo in the neighborhood.  He's a few blocks from Toronado to boot!  As a fellow homebrewer, he shares the like desires for making lagers.  We went halfzies on a new 24.9 cu. ft. chest freezer that will thrive in his garage.  I purchased this Kenmore Elite Chest Freezer online with Sears through a partner link; timing a sale for a great deal.  We should be picking this up within a week and will Christen it, The Lager Cave. Very chillindamos!
Coming Soon: The Lager Cave
Update 7/21/10: We picked up The Lager Cave and delivered to its new home yesterday evening. We need to wire a new electrical box and better seal Ed's garage, planned for this weekend. A Temperature Controller II is on its way.  The Honey Kolsch is nearly ready and I have a fury of lagers planned.

Honey Kölsch, July 16 2010

The weather is here and I'm about to switch into high gear for brewing this summer.  Kara suggested that we brew a Kölsch and here's the first of two.  When this finishes primary, I'll brew another to rack on to the yeast cake.  Adding honey was a bit more of a stretch from style but that's what happens around here.  If I remember correctly, Kölsch is defined by the Kölsch-Konvention and can't be brewed outside the German city of Cologne.   Also, this brew violates the Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law which states that you can only produce beer with water, barley, and hops.
Jonathan stopped by today during the boil and brought a bottle to share from the Hook Norton BreweryHooky Gold is listed as a Traditional English Ale at 4.2% ABV.  We noted it to be bready, nutty, and fairly well balanced.  The hop flavor was reminiscent of East Kent Goldings but after viewing their website, apparently this English Ale uses American hops.  Overall, it was a pleasant beer.  Thanks for sharing, Jonathan!
Jonathan talked me into upping my honey addition from 1/2 cup to a full cup.  We debated how many gravity points this would equate to but I agreed that a full cup will impart more of a honey note.  In it went!
A smirk of Breaking the Law!

Honey Kölsch, July 16 2010
5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 75 Minute Boil

9.5 lbs. Domestic 2-Row
0.5 lb. Vienna
Single Infusion Mash 150°F

1 cup of Sage Blossom Honey added at KO

1.25 oz. Hallertauer 60 min.
0.25 oz. Saaz 1 min.
1 Whirlfloc tab 20 min.

White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kölsch Yeast (vial to quick starter), thanks Kara!

OG: 1.062 @ 78°F
FG: 1.012 @ 56°F
ABV: 7% (temp corrected)

Update 7/23: Racked to secondary.  Current gravity is 1.013.
Update 8/16: Kegged after 2 weeks of lagering at 45°F.  Great flavor profile so far.
Update 8/25: Now on tap!  Last week, I took this beer to an evaluation committee headed up by Harold Gulbransen.  We decided that this beer would best be categorized as a Belgian Blonde.  Its great with lots of malt character, easy drinking with a very hidden alcohol content, there's a hint of sweetness imparted by the honey, and overall a pleasant drinker.  Kara tested this beer for me over at White Labs this past weekend for gravity and ABV.  The results: 7.03% with a Specific Gravity 1.01195.  Looks like my measurements were spot on.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kegerator Chest Freezer Rust Repair, Round 3

Sadly, I didn't take any images of Dylan's birthday party this past Saturday.  We wheeled over the kegerator to his back yard and had on tap the Belgian Tripel (turned out really awesome), the Belgian Saison (turned out to be just right and excellent), the Belgian Golden Strong (despite being sweet, many enjoyed it), and a commercial keg of Ballast Point's Wahoo Wheat.  The Saison tapped out into the night and the Tripel soon followed.  I then put on tap the last of the Smoked Porter and ESB.  Needless to say, they tapped out as well.  The next day, all that remained was a small amount of the Golden Strong and about 1/3 of the Wahoo Wheat.  Alas, I am dry (mostly).

This is a typically a good opportunity to do some kegerator deep cleaning and maintenance.  It seems that even with preventative measures, I need to do this rust repair about every 2 years.  I believe I've had this kegerator since 2002 or 2003 and this is the 3rd time I've refinished the interior of the chest freezer.  We moved the kegerator to my back yard and I started with some general cleaning using a slightly soapy towel.
Above, you can see the pitting and rust that has built up over the past 2 years (when I last did this task).  Amazingly, I recall the first bit of rust to start showing through in a matter of about 6 months after the repair.  It always occurs in the same location of this Kenmore Chest Freezer.  The front panel seems to be where most of the heat exchanging occurs.  When the compressor is running, that panel is where the frost builds up and on the outside, it feels warm.  All this heating and cooling over time, coupled with moisture creates the perfect conditions for oxidation.
After a good cleaning, I sanded all of the rust areas.  This round, I had a palm sander and that made for a speedy sanding!  I used 60 grit and that seemed to do the job very well.  I finished with 220 to smooth out the surface before washing again to remove all of the debris.
I forgot to take a snapshot of the sanding (too excited about all the time I was saving) so the image above is right after a few sweeps of the appliance paint.  I sanded the rusty areas with the 60 grit and the 220 to smooth it out and all other areas in the interior.  I spot sanded a few areas outside too that just had cosmetic knicks.
I tapped off the plastics on the upper lip of the chest freezer so I can spray (as much as possible) under the plastic without painting all over the plastic.  The first time I did this repair, some paint on the plastic peeled off so I wanted to avoid that happening this time.
Here's the paint.  This is the same can I used during the refinishing in 2008.  I finished the can this time.  I can't recall the cost but they carry this in most paint and hardware stores.  You need LOTS of ventilation when spraying this appliance epoxy.  It seems to be very heavy and a huge cloud builds inside the chest freezer. Luckily, I had a nice breeze today that kept the cloud moving.  It dries to the touch in 2-4 hours, can be handled in 5-8 hours, and dries in 24 hours.  The color matching is identical to all appliances that have that textured glossy white.
After spraying the rusted areas, I lightly coated the other surfaces and a couple of areas on the outside.  I had just enough paint to do the job.
Everything looks clean again, looks practically new inside!  I will let it dry outside until tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I noticed something interesting about the hinges:
There's a bolt that allows you to adjust the preload of the spring.  While there are only a handful of threads available, I spun that bolt down as far as I could.  This applies more tension or preload on the spring allowing the hinges to have more support.  The lid to my chest freezer is reinforced with a composite board (resists moisture and mold) and with the two tap towers, it add significant weight.  While I do not believe extra preload on these springs will allow my lid to easily open and close, it certainly will help.  To keep the lid open, I generally need a bungee cord.  I'll be stoked if that's no longer needed!

How do I prevent rust from building up inside my chest freezer?

Moisture in the liquid form is mainly why this happens.  Keeping your kegerator dry inside is challenging but using a dessicator in the form of silica gel seems to work well.  I use Hydrosorbent Dehumidifiers and I'm considering upgrading to one with a larger capacity.  Using a dehumidifier along with making sure your chest freezers stays closed and sealed seems to be the only preventative measures from pitting and rusting.

 Reposted from 3/20/08:
A while ago, I started using desiccators to reduce the moisture in the kegerator. This has really helped slow the process and keeps the kegerator relatively dry. The greatest collection of moisture happens when I warm the kegerator up to lager fermentation temperature (50-56 degrees F). When I first started lagering, this is when I noticed a huge increase in oxidation. Last year, I sealed the drain hole for the drip tray to reduce incoming moisture and added a second desiccator.

Though the desiccators are really effective, I need to remember to recharge them frequently. This is easily done by removing the bag of silica gel and placing it in the oven at 240'F for 3 hours. On the bottom of the box is an indicator that will turn pink when the bag is saturated. After recharging the silica gel bag, the indicator gradually turns back to blue. Below is the two silica gel bags in the oven. 24 hours after placing the recharged desiccators back in the kegerator, the interior is bone dry.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2011 AHA NHC in San Diego

Finally, I'll have no excuse to attend next year's American Homebrewers Association's National Homebrew Competition and conference.  The dates are June 16th - June 18th, 2011.  I look forward to seeing many of you here!

The video "Some Like It Hoppy", below, is the introductory video for the 2011 NHC in San Diego.  Enjoy.