December Meeting Recap

There were lots of new faces at tonight’s meeting. Thanks
to Todd the plumber for the information about ventilating a basement area for brewing indoors. Check the link under resources at left.

Kristen showed us the difference between a kegged and bottle conditioned Belgium style beer. If you are bottle conditioning use Danstar Nottingham yeast, “it drops like a rock” (quote from Eric).  So now we know that heather in a beer does not make it a Scottish ale!

There was no heather in Kris’s Scottish beers; it was an example of a
making three beers from one mash, a method called gyling or
parti-gyling.   60/-, 70/-, 80/- or 90/- are not styles of beer, the shilling ” /-” value was a reference to the wholesale price of a 54 gallon hogshead of beer. There more information about Shilling beers and recipes from Kristen at Ron Pattinson’s blog.

Joe Gerteis’s Brewing System

The pictures show my garage brewery, which is still and always a work in progress.  For me, the brewing system had to be in the garage, and easy to move, disassemble, and store.  I only recently put in the heat resistant tile backer so that I can just keep it under the window (it opens up and I just hold it up there with a bungee cord — poor man’s ventilation!).  Maybe sometime I’ll be able to move everything into my basement and pipe it into natural gas, but that will require more major work than I can put in right now.  So it’s the garage for the near future at least.  The first picture is the burners/stands and kettles.  I got the burners and stands from a company in Louisiana that sells them as crawfish cookers.  The tanks are new — I used converted kegs with bazooka screens before.  You can see one of those kegs on the side.  The kegs work great but they are HEAVY and a bit of a pain to disassemble for cleaning.  So far these “Italian kettles” are great — heavier bottoms would be ideal, but I like the dimensions on these.
The other picture shows my pumps and chiller.  Since all my kettles are at the same height, one pump is a necessity.  Two just makes life a little easier.  (The heavy-duty one is a March model AC-3C-MD, the other is a March MDX model with a threaded head unit that I swapped on, so sort of custom.)  I screwed the pumps onto some bits of pine board and put little rubber pads under the boards to help keep them stable and dampen the vibration while they are running.  The chiller is the normal Shirron plate chiller with an added coupler and disconnect for the wort-in side.  I’ve upgraded elements over time as cash flow allowed.  Stainless valves from Northern Brewer on the kettles replaced cheapie brass ones.  I bought stainless reducers and valves for the pumps on sale online.  The other big upgrade besides the kettles themselves was the polysulfone disconnects.  For a couple of years I used a set of brass ones that I bought from McMaster-Carr.  They are really affordable and work fine but they get pretty hot.  The Polysulfone ones are great but I’ve managed to break a few, and they’re a bit pricey.  I have a secondary system (Rubbermaid cooler mashtun, smaller 8 gallon boiler) for kitchen brewing when it gets too cold for using the water supply hoses in the winter, but my stove is only just barely up to the task.  So I’m trying to figure a new way of running water lines out and back into my basement for the cold weather.

If I get ambitious I might try to use the extra welded coupler on the boil kettle to rig some kind of port for whirlpool…we’ll see.That’s it!

Joe GerteisPresident, St. Paul Homebrewers Club


This year, 2009 we held on to our claim of being the AHA Homebrew Club of the Year.The Ninkasi Award was won by Gordon Strong, our Ohio-based member for a second year running.  Meadmaker of the Year honors also remained with SPHBC for the third year in a row, with Thomas Eibner taking the award this year for his cherry tupelo melomel.Congrats to all club members for their help, participation, and beer entries!

Gas Hood

I thought I would share my notes on my talk about what I did to put an exaust hood on my basement brewery.

I wanted to go AG, but really needed to do it indoors since my work day never seems to end when I would like. I started this little project about 6 months ago, maybe more. I collected a couple of natural gas wok burners from a customer. My good friend Tom found a discarded but NEW hood on a job site. I had a blower from my furnace and AC change out.

I have put in a few hoods over the years, but they were ENGINEERED and very expensive. I found the MN Kitchen Hood Guidelines and made some calls to my friends. First things first SAFETY! If your going to attempt to do this, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to make sure ALL the gases and undesirables get taken out of the house without back drafting the other appliances.
Everyone has gone into a restaurant with doors are hard to open, and slam shut. This is an unbalanced system, and dangerous, because the system is most likely starved for air. I call it make up air, and if you don’t have the right amount it will come down your chimney or from another vent and into your living space.
Now to the fun I thought. I have every thing right? Wrong, I looked in the guidelines and the blower was not the right size. Dang it! So, me being the cheap skate I get another from a buddy. Oh still too big, so I called a friend at the city of Minneapolis, a true expert on kitchen hoods. The numbers we talk about told me; I need a make up air heater to use this thing in the winter.
I spend more time reading the commercial hood guidelines and MN mechanical code book. This is where I discover duty rating and how I should size it for the what I call my system. I installed a boil pot in my basement for making pasta!
So I finally find a inline draft inducer that gave me 250 cfm on a 7 inch pipe. Why is this important? Well a few years ago when the state of MN adopted the housing energy code they came up with 300 cfm and the free air before I would have to start using make up air.
Based on the type of system mine is light duty, this comes from MN mechanical code and MN kitchen hood which states in need 50 cfm per foot of hood. My hood is 5 feet long and it comes to 250 cfm.
Smoke test, a necessity when doing a hood. This is basically a smoke bomb I have used to check weather a furnace heat exchanger has a hole in it. I turned on the blower set the bomb by where the burners and make sure the neighbor knows I’m not on fire and test the draft. While this is going on I checked the draft on my water heater to make sure it wasn’t back drafting. You may have more than one Natural Draft Appliances – they ALL need to be checked.
Hood size the needs to be larger than the area you are collecting from. The guidelines do a very good job of explaining this. I designed my burner and pot locations based on the the free hood I got from Tom. I would not design my system from the beginning the way it has ended up (another topic for the future).
Safety! I have given you information to help you understand what I did. My system is safe, I have gone the extra mile to make sure. With knowledge comes responsibility, you have been given the knowledge to build and test a system. Don’t use this information and not test your system. Test your system often to make sure it is preforming.

Cheers Todd