This regulator adjustment guide will help you with those final steps in assuring that your kegerator provides you with the highest quality tasting beer by walking you step by step through the regulator adjustment process.
What is a Hydrometer?
A hydrometer is a basic tool that is used to measure the ratio of a sample liquid’s density to the density of water. In home brewing, it is a necessary tool that will show you the degree to which the yeast is converting sugar into ethanol, ultimately helping you gauge the health and success of your beer’s fermentation.
Why do I need a Hydrometer to make beer?
Homebrewing isn’t a cakewalk. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into it and there are many opportunities for things to go wrong. Perhaps the most important (and delicate) stage within beer making is fermentation. That is exactly why a hydrometer is so important, as it is the device that will tell you how the fermentation process is going. A hydrometer can be the single tool that alerts you of issues during fermentation, allowing you to make adjustments as needed.
Cleaning your draft components is crucial. Failure to do so can lead to buildups of yeast, mold, and beer deposits in your lines and ultimately result in funky tasting beer. Although your first cleaning may seem tedious, it gets easier. As long as you know what to clean and what tools to use to clean it, equipment cleaning will become a quick and easy routine you hardly think twice about.
What Components Do I Need to Clean?
- Keg Coupler(s)
- Beer Line(s)
Converting an old refrigerator into kegerator isn’t a new concept. But generally, when people undergo this DIY project, they choose an old and ugly fridge that has decommissioned for the dump. But, that’s not our style. And it may not be yours either. This is why we chose to convert a Smeg refrigerator into a kegerator… or as I like to call it, a “Smegerator”.
Before we get started, here’s a quick video reviewing the process. I also wrote out detailed, step-by-step instructions below.
This is how we did it.
Please note: These step-by-step instructions will loosely work with that old, ugly refrigerator you bought off of Craigslist or have sitting around in your garage.
But for this specific DIY project, however, we will be specifically referring to the Smeg refrigerator featured in this article.
The only difference that may pose a problem for you is the amount of insulation that your refrigerator has. And yes, that did cause a minor, and unexpected, headache for us.
Additionally, when you buy a refrigerator-to-kegerator conversion kit, similar instructions will be included.
Gathering Your Tools & Components
The first thing you need to do is buy a Smeg refrigerator, as well as collect all the components you need. You can go about this a couple of ways. Either order all of the pieces separately, or order our “Smegerator conversion kit.” I’d recommend the conversion kit, as everything you need is right there and you won’t have any surprises in store for you (like we did… but more on that later).
The three-piece airlock features a very simple yet ingenious design. It was created as a one-way airflow system that allows CO2 to exit the fermentation vessel without allowing outside air to enter. It’s always done a more-than-satisfactory job at what it was designed to do but things have changed. You’re brewing more seriously now and the three-piece airlock is no longer suited for your needs.
Like many, you found this out the hard way. It all started when you realized the importance of yeast health and made the move to yeast starters. You did everything right, except what you weren’t prepared for was an extremely aggressive fermentation.
In fact, this was the most active fermentation you had ever witnessed. It wasn’t just CO2 gradually finding its way out of the fermenter. No, this was something different where the cradle within the airlock looked like it was about to explode.
Before you knew it kraeusen started to flow up into the airlock and because you didn’t want to risk contamination of your batch by removing the airlock you were left to sit back and watch it all unfold. The headspace within the fermenter simply did not provide enough room for the mass amount of kraeusen that was forming.
As the kraeusen worked its way out over the next day or so you noticed that it had not only completely filled the airlock but had also run out through the holes of the cap out onto the fermenter lid and even onto the floor. Then, you were left with a huge sticky mess that was rather difficult to clean up.
So, you reconsider your use of yeast starters altogether knowing that it may end up like this every time. Well, don’t do that because going back to life without a yeast starter is just plain silly. Instead, there’s a much better solution that happens to be very simple — changing your blowoff system.
Alcohol is a byproduct of the fermentation process, which takes place when the yeast converts the sugars derived from the grain. Knowing that, you can increase the alcohol by volume (ABV) by increasing the size of the grain bill or increasing the amount of malt extract used.
Though, this method can completely change a recipe if all other factors remain the same, so a popular method for increasing the ABV of an existing recipe without bringing much change is to simply add more sugar into the mix.
However, it’s important to understand what type of sugar you should use and the effects that it can have.
What Type of Sugar Should Be Used?
Different types of sugar can be used when the purpose is to introduce different flavors and add complexity to a beer but when the purpose is to increase the alcohol content the most commonly used type of sugar is corn sugar.
This is a simple sugar derived from corn that can be easily consumed by yeast. It is in a ready-to-use form that is 100% fermentable by yeast. Because of this, it is a popular choice amongst homebrewers and can be employed in powder form as well as liquid form, such as corn syrup.
In beermaking it is critical that you limit the beer’s exposure to oxygen. Oxygen can react with compounds in the beer to degrade the overall quality of the brew but perhaps most noticeably it can create undesirable flavors. However, exposing wort to oxygen is a whole different story. In fact, prior to pitching the yeast, you’ll actually want to make sure that there’s a certain amount of oxygen in the wort. Having oxygen in the wort will make for healthier yeast, better attenuation and an overall more complete fermentation.
It is important to note that you’ll only want to introduce oxygen to wort that has been properly cooled. Bringing oxygen into the mix with wort that is hot or warm will inhibit bacterial growth ultimately increasing the likelihood of infecting your beer. You should always make sure that you are cooling the wort to pitching temperature immediately after the boil is complete and before aeration.
There are a number of ways to introduce oxygen to wort but they all fall under two main approaches: aeration and oxygenation. Aeration is the process of adding air to the mix while oxygenation is the process of infusing pure oxygen.
The difference here is that air is only about 20% oxygen. Because of the difference in composition, using pure oxygen will be the quicker approach though aeration can get the job done just as effectively.
The brew day seems like forever ago and fermentation is finally complete. After all the waiting, your thirst has hit an all-time high. Unfortunately, you’ve got to properly package your product first. When bottling, there are a number of options to consider, you just have to think about what’s right for you and your beer.
There are two main sizes of bottles to choose from when storing your homebrew. You know both of them well, the 12 oz. longneck and 22 oz. bomber. Both are equally great options and it really comes down to a matter of personal preference.
While 12 oz. bottles are great for personal servings, bombers are really handy when sharing with friends. You can even go with a combination of both to bottle your batch. You’ll also want to pay attention to the bottle’s collar which is just below the lip. American breweries typically use a bottle that has a flat collar that works well with cappers but watch out for imported bottles which may have a recessed or rounded collar which can cause the capper to slip.
Twist-off Style Bottles:
Whatever you do, do not use twist-off style bottles. These are the bottles commonly used by the massive breweries that we all know, and feature a threaded lip to allow the bottle cap to screw on. While it may be easy to find these in large quantities in your neighbor’s recycling bin these are not designed for reuse.
Water: Essential Not Only to Life, But Also to Great Beer
Water is perhaps the most overlooked ingredient when homebrewers start out and certainly should not be. After all, more than 95% of beer’s composition is, you guessed it, water. It must be viewed in the same way as any other core ingredients in beer — those being malt, hops, yeast, and of course, water.
In fact, water is the first ingredient that you should consider when making beer, whether you’re brewing with a prepared ingredient kit or designing your own recipe.
When a brewer chooses the malt for a particular recipe it seems like something one could spend days or even weeks contemplating. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that water merits just as much thought. It serves as the base for your brew, and will have a big impact on how the final product turns out, regardless of whether you did everything else right and used other choice ingredients.
So, what are the main types of water readily available to you for brewing? Chances are you can get your hands on distilled, purified drinking, tap and maybe even rainwater if you have a barrel for a home garden or other purposes. Let’s go through the different types and how they relate to brewing.
Brewing your own beer can be a fun and delicious hobby. If you’ve already made a few batches of homebrew, you might be wondering how you can step up your game and create even more distinctive brews. If this is the phase you find yourself in, I would suggest looking into using an immersion wort chiller. This powerful tool will help you effectively manage one of the most critical steps in the brewing process – the cool down. When you learn how to properly use an immersion wort chiller, you will be well on your way to making beer that is consistently crystal clear and flavorful.
Here’s my tips on how you can use an immersion wort chiller during the homebrewing process.
Why Is Wort Chilling Important?
Before getting into the immersion chiller itself, it’s important to understand why it is needed. The beer making process begins by mashing malted grain and then boiling hops within that mixture to create a flavorful extract. This is known as wort.
Once the wort has been prepared, it needs to be brought quickly from boiling temperature (212°F) down to approximately 60–75°F. The danger zone is between these two temperature points.
While the wort is still hot or warm, it can harbor dangerous bacteria and yeasts that may infect the beer or give it an unpleasant aroma and/or flavor. A chilling device helps quickly reduce the temperature of the wort to create the appropriate environment for fermentation to take place.