Posts Tagged ‘marzen’

keg gasket replacement/refurbishing

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

after a successful weekend pouring the marzen as a “movemberfest” at ML’s movember fundraiser party, I was motivated to keg the small beer from my last brew session, which I had dry hopped with a couple ounces of willamette for about a week.  since my only remaining kegs were uncleaned and not rebuilt, a gasket replacement and general cleaning was in order.

  • simply put, buying “reconditioned” kegs with the gaskets replaced is a rip-off.  morebeer sells refurbished kegs for $17 more than their unrefurbished counterparts.  also, stores like northern brewer don’t even carry refurbished kegs, and their new ones run over three times the price of used.  rebuilding a standard cornelius keg only takes a couple bucks and a few minutes of your time:
  • after giving your keg a general external washing (I blast mine with a garden hose jet setting) and quick scrub to remove dirt, syrup, and any other external debris, grab a socket wrench and unscrew the beer OUT post on the keg.  you will need either a 7/8″ or 11/16″ ‘deep’ socket, depending on what style posts you have.  I recommend picking up both sockets at a place like harbor freight, especially if you keg with any frequency.







  • once you remove the post (you might have to wrestle with it a little after unscrewing), pull the dip tube out of the keg and and roll the o-ring at the top of the tube down and off of the tube.  sometimes the o-ring is fused onto the top of the dip tube from years of abuse, in which case a razor blade or thumbnail may come in handy to pry 0-ring loose.  if you see any mineral deposits or other gunk on the dip tube, scrub them off.







  • take your replacement o-ring and slide it back up the tube, then replace the dip tube.  note that the gasket replacement kit contains five items – two dip tube o-rings, two post o-rings, and one lid gasket.  major retailers sell these for $3-4 online, but I have found some for as little as $1.50 a set.


  • do the same with the gas IN post of the keg.  a few things to note here – (1)the gas in dip tube is much smaller than the beer out post, and may be either metal or plastic; (2) the gas in dip tube can be a pain in the ass to pull out of the gas in post.  be sure to clean the dip tube thoroughly, as these things are usually filthy – a q-tip soaked in PBW works well.  while replacing the o-rings on the dip tubes, I also like to punch the poppets out of both posts (using a pen tip or chopstick) and soak the poppets, posts, gas in dip tube, and lid pressure relief valve (the valve that screws into the lid of the keg) in a hot PBW solution for a few minutes and rinse with hot water.  a word of warning, however – the gas IN and beer OUT posts are NOT interchangeable, so make note of which is which (one usually has a different shape or is notched).
  • after the posts, poppets, and dip tubes are clean, reassemble and hand tighten the posts.  next, remove and replace the post o-rings.  a razor blade or knife makes this job a lot easier.  then replace the lid gasket and you’re all set!



  • after replacing the gaskets, I like to shake up a good amount of PBW and hot water in the keg.






  • while the hot PBW sits in the keg, I then clean the beer out dip tube by running hot PBW through the beer out post via my homemade line cleaner.  I then rinse the keg a couple of times with hot water and shake up some star-san in the keg, which I also run through my beer out line.


  • after dumping out the sanitizer, the keg is ready to fill with your beverage of choice.   my small beer finished at 1.004 for an ABV of 4.22%, and a sample tasted promising, as the earthy hops blended nicely with the toned-down roast profile.  I primed the keg with 4.7oz. of wildflower honey and will give it about a month to carb up.
  • despite the rising cost of stainless steel, by buying inexpensive gasket kits and keeping an eye out for the occasional bargain, I can pick up kegs for $20-25, which is about half of what they go for in “refurbished” condition.  good luck!

simplified parti-gyle brewing: imperial american stout, small beer

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

over the past few months, I have noticed a gradual increase in my collection of leftover specialty grains.

  • last-minute recipe alterations, quarter-pound grain additions, and preliminary miscalculations have results over time in a sealed bucket full of malted odds and ends.  the majority of my leftovers are of the high-roast/variety used sparingly in stouts, quads, black lagers, etc.
  • knowing firsthand that long-gone leftovers just end up in the compost, I decided to clean house and make an imperial american-style stout with all of my dark grains and a liberal application of 2-row:
    • 30.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 88.11 %
      0.75 lb Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 2.20 %
      0.75 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 2.20 %
      0.75 lb Carafa II (412.0 SRM) Grain 2.20 %
      0.50 lb Black Barley (Stout) (500.0 SRM) Grain 1.47 %
      0.40 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 1.17 %
      0.30 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 0.88 %
      0.30 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 0.88 %
      0.30 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 0.88 %
      2.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 42.5 IBU
      2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (60 min) Hops 14.4 IBU
      2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (15 min) Hops 7.1 IBU
  • for the hop additions, I used a large chunk of my homegrown hop stash (specifically, all my chinooks and cascades).  although in an ideal world a totally homegrown saison would have had dibs on those hops, making a homebrew shop run for a couple commercial ounces of varieties that I already had didn’t make sense.  I also whipped up a healthy two-liter starter of venerable WLP001 for fermentation duties.
  • after mashing in 34 lbs of grain, my mash tun was almost at capacity (I’ve heard of people adding as much as 40 lbs, but I wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous).  I hit my mash temp of 151F and ended up with ten gallons with an O.G. of 1.09.
  • with all that grain in the mash tun, it seemed like a shame to waste any leftover sugars, so I decided to make a small beer using a parti-gyle procedure, which sounds complex but is in fact dead simple.  instead of using a first/second runnings “batch sparge” approach, I further simplified the process by adding 6 gallons of sparge water to my HLT and collecting an additional 6 gallons of wort in a separate kettle after my initial sparge was complete.
  • after hopping the small beer with 1.5 oz of willamette pellets at 60 and 15 min, I ended up with 4.5 gallons with an O.G. of 1.037, and will dry-hop with another couple of ounces in an attempt at a hoppy, low abv brew.
  • during the boil I also managed to keg my pseudo marzen, which ended up at 1.016 for a devilish abv of 6.66%.  after about a week at 65 to carb up, I’m planning on cold crashing the kegs in the mid 30s until some space frees up in the kegerator.



pseudo märzen, braggot, spent grain bars

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

over the past couple of months I have found myself consistently buying a single beer style – marzen (aka “oktoberfest”).

  • every time I cruised by the local trader joe’s or bevmo I would stop in for a few bottles of the clean, malty, perfectly hopped ayinger oktober fest-marzen (the fact that their bulletproof 500mL bottles are ideal for reuse was just the icing on the cake).
  • I had always shied away from brewing lagers, not because of their strict temperature requirements, but because of their elongated fermentation and lagering times.  however, I had recently done some research on substituting kolsch ale yeast for lager yeast and fermenting at a lower temperature to achieve a similar result.  stumbling upon edwort’s kolsch-based oktoberfest recipe, reading a recent zymurgy article on cold ale fermentations, and trying NM’s tasty “steam” marzen clinched it, and I formulated the following pseudo marzen recipe (12 gal batch, 90 min boil, 80% efficiency):
    • 10.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 38.46 %
      10.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 38.46 %
      4.00 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 15.38 %
      1.00 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 3.85 %
      1.00 lb Caravienne Malt (22.0 SRM) Grain 3.85 %
      2.50 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] (90 min) Hops 16.7 IBU
      1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] (60 min) Hops 6.3 IBU
      1.00 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (30 min) Hops 5.1 IBU
      1.00 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (15 min) Hops 3.3 IBU
  • I mashed at 154F and ended up with 1.067 wort, which I cooled down to the low 50s.  I pitched a 2L starter of kolsch yeast, and fermentation kicked off within 12 hrs.  I kept the ambient temperature at 50F in my fermentation freezer, which will hopefully yield low/no fruitiness.  I’m also planning on lagering for at least 2 months in the mid-30sF after kegging.
  • during the mash, I bottled my experimental small braggot, which finished at 0.99 for an abv of 5.15%.  not bad for a beer that started at 1.035!
  • during the boil, I ran an additional sparge over the grain bed and collected 2.5 gallons of second runnings, which I added .5oz of tettnanger hops to at the start of a 60 minute boil.  at flame out I added around 2 lbs of local honey, ending up with a gallon of wort with an OG of 1.071.  I pitched a small portion of the kolsch starter at ambient temperature (~70F) and the wort was active by the end of the day.  there is some debate as to what specifically constitutes a “braggot,” but I figured that with close to 50% of the fermentables being provided by honey, the style was appropriate.
  • additionally, while cleaning out my mash tun, I started thinking about spent grain reuse.  I ended up sprinkling a few pounds onto one of my planters as compost and bringing four cups of grain inside for some dog treats.  after checking the fridge and realizing that I only had almond butter (which may be toxic to dogs), I decided to make spent grain bars for humans instead.  the recipe is as follows:
    • 2 cups grain
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup almond butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate
    • 1/3 cup dried cherries
    • 1/3 cup honey
    • cinnamon to taste
  •  I ended up doubling the above recipe and baking 3/4″ thick bars in a baking pan.  after hitting the bars at 350F for 30 minutes, I cut them into squares and finished them for another 45 minutes at 225F.  the bars are chewy, not too sweet, and make a great morning snack.  to say they are “high in fiber” is a gross understatement, so don’t go eating the whole batch in one sitting.  for the dog treat version, I would swap peanut butter for almond butter, leave out the chocolate, cherries, and cinnamon, and bake at 1/4″ thickness at 225F until completely dry to avoid having to refrigerate.  enjoy!



naja’s place

Monday, October 5th, 2009

sculpin and the view at naja's

if you don’t know, now you know.

  • naja’s place in redondo beach is my favorite bar on the planet, and is one of the most overlooked spots to grab a brew in california.
  • it’s located right on the water, and has 88 beers on tap (tap list doesn’t look current), a great bottle selection, good food and live music.
  • best of all, the staff is always friendly, laid back, and knowledgeable about their brews.
  • AP and I went there multiple times over the weekend, and over the course of our visits we sampled numerous brews.  one of my favorites was sculpin IPA from ballast point.  it had an intense, fresh hop aroma and was surprisingly sessionable.
  • I also got a chance to try  sierra nevada’s estate harvest ale, a good APA with a great story behind it.
  • next in line was port brewing’s old viscosity – a blended strong ale that tastes like a smooth, strong imperial stout.
  • I also managed to grab an old blarney barleywine from moylan’s – it was malty and smooth, a good example of the style.
  • I even managed a taster of the bruery’s autumn maple, but I don’t think I could finish a whole glass of the stuff – toss me a punkin ale instead.
  • AP was feeling the spirit of the season and stuck with spaten’s oktoberfest.
  • note: LA beer week is coming up in a couple weeks, and naja’s is going all out for it.  martin was talling me about a stone brewing night, a new belgium specialty night, a belgian import night, and other events.
  • thanks again to martin, darren, and the rest of the crew over at naja’s!  we’ll be back soon!

part of the tap lineup at naja's

old viscosity and spaten oktoberfest

bottle fridges at naja's

the grill at naja's

sculpin IPA at naja's

the band at naja's

two happy customers at naja's