Member Discussions

Brewing a Vienna Lager tomorrow to hopefully serve at Brew at the Bridge. Starting around 10 if anyone wants to stop by.

Plainfield, IL

Hailstorm is putting together a group buy for Buffalo Trace Barrels. Cost would be $165. These are full size barrels. If anyone is interested pm me and I can get you the details.

Marty Nachel shared a link.
The Business of Craft Beer program at College of DuPage is starting fall courses this month. Information for the upcoming term can be found at

The following courses are offered this term:
· Foundations of Craft Beer

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Craft beer is part of a profound shift in national beer culture, as small and independent brewers deepen their connection to craft beer enthusiasts, while…

Come join me next month for a 5-week Beer Evaluation course at College of DuPage:

Beer Evaluation
Learn how to judge beer competently and confidently. Gain a unique opportunity to explore beer evaluation with professional, experienced beer judge. Identify various beer styles from around the world and discern both common and uncommon aromas, flavors and textures in beer. Instruction also includes vocabulary specific to evaluating beer.
Wednesday, July 12 to August 9, 6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-581, $229
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 1119

Wondering if anyone has any info on automatic shut offs for beer taps.

We have two taps with commercial kegs, and the new CEO hates that we use standard tap locks (padlocks) for them. Her solution is to leave them open 24/7 (problematic). Our CFO convinced her to scale back to 8a-10p. So, we want to look into some kind of electronic/automatic/timer-based shutoff so that we can have better control of the timing. I’ve looked at kegbot, and I’m going to suggest that for the other analytics it has, but it doesn’t appear to have a shutoff system, which is the main impetus for the request.


Eric Wilhelm Cheap and simple solution:
Get a solenoid valve with a 110vac coil (like linked below) and get a timer that plugs into an outlet (like a Christmas tree one).See More

There will be a grain group buy scheduled in the next week or so. For those who are planning on brewing club beers for morel fest and aha this may be a good opportunity to pick up some bulk base grains. Check the Chicago homebrewers group or contact me if you are looking for more info.

Beer Evaluation
Learn how to judge beer competently and confidently from a professional and experienced beer judge.

Monday, March 6 to April 3, 6 to 9 p.m. (no class May 29)
PROED-0011-590, $229

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Anyone ever made a watermelon beer? wheat,ipa, or anything
If so please share a recipe. I would love to know what works and what doesn’t

Jason Surdey I made a watermelon wheat last year. It was an extract kit from brewers best. Basically it is a basic wheat beer base and then I added watermelon extract (4oz bottle) to the bottling bucket. It turned out really good! I am getting a lot of requests to make it again.

A friend of mine also did a watermelon wheat and he told me he used 6lbs of cubed watermelon in secondary. His was also good but they were two different beers. Mine ended up very watermelon forward while his was beer with a hint of watermelon. So it really depends on what you are looking for in the finished product. A watermelon beer or a beer with watermelon, if that makes sense. I want to do a split batch when i do brew it again, half with real watermelon and half with the extract at bottling/kegging to see what the taste difference is. But i would lean on the side of more real watermelon for more flavor. Like Brian said, it may water it down a bit tho!

Tony Daniels This is my wheat beer with watermelon added. It is always well received. I used the same recipe with blood orange puree that also turned out very nice. It’s a good base recipe for any fruit addition.

Wheatermelon American Wheat with watermelon
3 lbs Briess Bavarian Wheat DME
3 lbs Briess Golden Light DME
1 oz Willamette (US) pellets 60min
1 oz Cascade (US) pellets 15min
2 packets Fermentis Safale US-05 Ale Yeast
2 oz Amarillo (US) pellets 7 days add in muslin bag after first week of fermentation is complete
6 lbs watermelon chunks 7 days add in muslin bags after first week of fermentation is complete

Attention Home Brewers:

I am happy to announce that I have booked John Mallett to be our keynote speaker at the awards dinner immediately following the Charlie Orr Memorial Chicago Cup Challenge on March 25, 2017.

As you probably know, John Mallett is the head brewer at Bell’s Brewing and also the author of the book “Malt”, by Brewer’s Publications. I saw him speak at an advanced home brewers conference I attended in Milwaukee last January, and he is a rock star. This is going to be a great talk!

Speaking of the competition…don’t forget that registration for entries as well as judges and stewards begins tomorrow February 11th and continues to Saturday March 11th.

Register early to secure a spot for your entries and make plans to attend our awards banquet to hear our amazing speaker!

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Ok, here are the mockups for my system.
Please ask/critique away:

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John Marlovits Think that’s enough to boil with?
Eric Wilhelm It should be, with both running at full power it 3300watts (1650Watts x2) a few calculations I ran showed anywhere from 15-30 minutes to reach boil temps from mash out temps
Mike Dupre I was thinking the same thing.
Why not go 220?
Also, I’d consider lockout/interlock protection to prevent accidentally powering on the unit with the elements in the on position.
Good article on it here:…
Eric Wilhelm Was going dual 110’s for simplicity of wiring and setup/portability.
Yeah, I don’t have automatic interlocks, thought about that. If I do I’ll have to incorporate some sort of contactor/relay logic. That is why I opt for individual on/off switches on each powered leg with lights to show where the circuit is powered.
Mike Dupre But you’ll need 2-20 Amp 110 circuits within reach of the unit anyway. That would most likely require wiring.
With 220 you could get by with a single SSR and element.
Eric Wilhelm Yes, It does sound more simple, but I ran the numbers: 12 gauge wire for 20A circuit’s, is cheaper to run 2 circuits than 1 at 8 or 6 gauge wire. Plus the internal circuitry now requires substantially more costly electronic components to control the 220v power through the system.
Mike Dupre  Wire cost is nominal, you only need 10 gauge for a 30 amp circuit which is enough for all your components.
220v LED’s are available for about the same price as 110v (~$6 on amazon)
220v SSR’s are about $20 on Amazon or $40 at McMaster carr. (or this hybrid relay that doesn’t require heat sink is REALLY interesting!)
With 220 you also reduce the number of components and wire involved.
1 SSR instead of 2 and associated wiring, switches, receptacles etc.
Eric Wilhelm If I go that route, I was going to bring 6 or 8 gauge into a sub breakout box, I’m going to need 110 outlets for various other things too, plus my run is around 50ft, right at the edge of a step up in wire size due to transmission length.
Also, I’m only using one Ssr, but that point is mute, I have several lying around. It’s the switches and relays and power supply I will need to incorporate going to 220. Right now I have about $50 in mechanical switches is all I will need
John Marlovits I have 1 ~1600 watt heater, it takes forever to raise a few deg. on my RIMS. I suppose it’s going to matter how big your boiling/ hot liquor is and like Mike said you’re going to need at least 2 circuits for this, not including the pumps, lights, anything else using it. running a new 220 isn’t all that difficult assuming your box isn’t maxed out. If you haven’t purchased anything… You’re welcome to use my heater and I’m sure someone else has one so you can see how it works
Eric Wilhelm How much wort are you usually heating?
I can do either, I have the space. I just know going 220 increases the cost of wiring and electronics inside my control box.
That being said, I may take some time and run the full numbers for a 220v system and get a good comparison, especially if the smaller heaters will struggle to do what I need.
John Marlovits usually a 10gallon recipe, just using it for RIMs

I hesitate to post this as I do not want to cross the line of advertising, however, I think that this one sentence deserves consideration from all brewers. I’ll add that after tracking 150+ batches the AVERAGE kettle efficiency is 78.5%

I’ll let the moderators decide if the statement has the potential to change the processes we all accept as common and accepted knowledge.

“The use of a true filter – not the persnickety volatile grain bed – changes the dynamics of the brewing process and allows maximum conversion and extraction with a fixed pH and total capture of available wort.”

Need some advice here. Going to use the same yeast for 3 different brews. How long do I need to let the starter ferment before pulling the 500ml to start the next starter? I was thinking 48hrs, is that right or am I ok with only 24hrs?

John Marlovits instead of a normal starter, you can use the yeast normally, and start with a gallon or so of wort for a few days, then add the rest of your wort on top of it.

Homebrew Conference is in Minneapolis this June, below is some info from one of my favorite sources.
I plan on going and would like to see a PALE presence this year

Beer infusion question, when infusing beers with coffee in a bottle share, how should the coffee be? Or how does that process work?

Doing a bottle share coming up and we are going to try infusing the beers with stuff. I have a friend who lives by intelligentsia so I’m going to ask him to bring some coffee so can he just buy the beans and that’ll work?

Dan Sergeant  – Lots of ways. PALE has done French press nights before and we would infuse beer with all sorts of stuff using a French press. I guess a concentrated cold brew would work too.
Travis Beard  – Anger Beans. Hulk Smash Beans
John Marlovits  – MikeZuro is your guy for this
Justin Carrol shared Funk Factory Geuzeria‘s post.

Instructions on how to modify a barrel for primary fermentation or easier fruiting.

I want to be able to do some smaller batch fruitings. You can fruit right inside a barrel (which I have done), but you have to get all the …
Mike Dupre

Latest brew gadget.
Neighbor was tossing a reverse osmosis system. Oh yeah, a dual cartridge filter system for the cost of a couple of fittings a new filters. No more chlorine flavor!!!!


Jamnes Cameron August 14 at 7:25pm · Plainfield
Spontaneously fermented sour that is the base for a blueberry sour. Final acidity is 2.77. Bracing but delicious. Very puckering.
Jamnes Cameron August 9 at 8:51pm
Here’s what I love about brewing. The infinite possibilities of creativity. A few weeks ago (month ago?) I went blueberry picking with my sweetie (no, not Ian, Kari). I used some of those berries, about half a pound, to make a starter from the wild yeast on the skins. It took about 10 days to get going, but the final product was awesome. Nothing off or foul. Four days ago, I started a sour mash using Omega Yeast Labs Lactobacillius Blend, starting acidity 5.39. Today, the mash had a pH of 2.80. I mashed out with boiling water, boiled with a slight hop addition (15 IBUs using French Aramis), pre-boil pH was 3.10. Then pitched my wild starter. 10 hours later, we have bubbles in the airlock. Once primary is done, I’ll puree about 8 pounds of hand picked blueberries and add to the brew. Once that ferments, it’ll go in a french oak red wine barrel. This should be good.
Ian Webster June 30 at 8:57am
Brewers discovered the hops growing during a work day and are eager to see what kind of beer it makes.
Marty Nachel June 28 at 5:28pm

Beer Evaluation course
Learn how to judge beer competently and confidently. This course is a unique opportunity to explore how to evaluate beer with a professional, experienced beer judge. Students identify various beer styles from around the world, and discern both common and uncommon aromas, flavors and textures in beer. Instruction also includes vocabulary specific to beer evaluation.
Wednesday, July 13 to Aug. 10
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
PROED-0011-581, $229

See More

The craft beer industry has a thriving community in America, with more than 3,700 independent craft brewers. Craft beer is part of a profound shift in…

Been getting this email towards the end of the month for the last couple of months, but a discount is a discount. If you are not BASSET certified and would like to be, this discount is good until Thursday. Crucial part of email:

SAVE 20% with Promo Code: CUBS20
This Code Expires on June 30!

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I will be brewing a Double IPA in a week or so. What kind of yeast have you used for your Double IPAs? I plan to make a starter for this beer as well. I’m hoping for an O.G. at around 1.095. Thanks in advance for the input.

John Marlovits wyeast 1056

Michael J. Jacobs Have used US-05 and WLP028 both with good results.
Jamnes Cameron May 29 at 8:40pm · Plainfield

Proof of concept experiment. My lime saison randelled through my ManCan with mixed frozen berries and coconut. Works great. Thanks to Jacob and George at Chicago Brew Werks for helping me nuke this out.

John Lawlor April 29 at 9:25pm

For those interested .. here is what Ken McMullen is thinking for the wort for BigBrew next Sat

77% Canadian Malting Superior Pale Ale Malt
12% Thomas Fawcett Rye Malt
8% Great WesternCaramel Malt – C40
3% Canadian Malting White Wheat Malt

1.052 OG

 20Gal Pot on sale for ~$42Good for brewing and start-up food trucks!
Brian Phad 11 hrs

Congratulations to Rob Ruiz on becoming a BJCP National Judge.

Jason Sharp April 15 at 11:31am · Crystal Lake

Food for thought….3V Recirculating Systems need Larger crush and wider mill gaps, not smaller!!

I’ve been brewing a long time. 7 years now. I brew all-grain with an average # of batches a year of ~15, maybe more. I’ve been brewing 10 gallons for 4 years now. That’s a lot of beer a year!

I use a custom built HERMS systems, 3 vessel Keggles. (We can debate the brew bag later, but for now, I’m just concentrating on brewing 3v setup)

So, here is something that I’ve just recently figured out, which seems counter-intuitive to everything we learn as all-grain brewers…a smaller crush, tighter mill gap, will help expose more of the endosperm, allowing more conversion and better efficiency isn’t really true, not all ways. I’ve read people use gap sizes as small as .25″ at times, but most around .28 or .30. I was at .32″…

I’m going to tell you, based on my experience, this is wrong!

But, here are the conditions.

1) You brew all grain brewer
2) You adjust your mill gap, but either get no change, or WORSE
3) You notice that the smaller your crush, the worse your HERMS performs

This is what was happening to me.

Do I adjust pH, yes
Do I adjust water minerals for type, yes
Do I try to stay on top of all the variables of brewing as I can, yes

But Every time I brewed I was no where near what I thought I should be at for conversion.

Sparge with more water and boil longer…didn’t help

Lengthen the mash…didn’t help

On top of everything, my recirculation kept getting slower and slower, and sometimes would even get stuck. I don’t get it, what was I doing? Stir the mash to reduce dough balls. Add rice hulls for wheat beers, should I do it for normal beers too?? Don’t touch the grain bed once I mash in. But still. But still, Lower and Lower efficiency.

Then, I read the following 2 articles:…/follow-me-to-higher-efficienci…/

If you don’t want to read them, long (but interesting) story short…WIDEN your mill gap! It will help with flow, the recirculation is constantly rinsing the gain helping to convert the malt, and you leave less liquid in the Mash Tun dead space because its freer to flow.

Here are my results on my last 2 beers

Previous Vienna Lager:
1.046 ~ 70% efficiency
.30″ gap
Expected 1.050

Previous Czech Pils:
1.048 ~ 70% efficiency
.30″ gap
Expected 1.052

This years results
Vienna Lager
1.054 ~ 85% efficiency
.46″ gap
Expected 1.052

Czech Pils:

1.055 ~ 87% efficiency
.46″ gap
Expected 1.050
Ended up with 82% efficiency. Still above 80 and i’ll take it!

I still have 2 more beers to brew before the end of May to get ready for summer. I’m going to start estimating around 85% based on these last 2 beers.

If you bothered to read this, then you are probably thinking “Um, this seems wrong” or “I need more than 2 examples. You can get lucky” or “I’m sure you changed something, this seems a bit crazy”

So, before making your judgements, I’m going to be brewing a cream ale and belgian blonde over the new few weeks. I’ll update this post with results from those beers. But, If I get similar results, and then brew my IPA (high gravity, less sparge water) and still get the same encouraging efficiencies, I’ll be even happier.

Thoughts?? Anyone with similar experiences??

Eric Wilhelm

I like the idea.
I have a design laid out for an all in one RIMS and plan to spray the water over the grain bed as well as bubble water up through the bottom to agitate the mash and increase efficiency.

If you can’t move water past all the grain, then yeah, you will get localized spots where the water around the grain is saturated and will extract much less sugar.

Damn I really have to get this system of mine moving

Jesse Lee Howard

This helped a lot back when I was having trouble. Those articles are a good read.

Steve Thanos  April 19 at 8:17pm · Darien

Two final gravity readings of a Mosaic IPA. I brewed two separate 5 gallon batches. Final gravity was projected at 1.020. Beer is good. Brewing beer is awesome!

Brian Phad April 17 at 12:18pm · Lockport 

brew day with “The Brew Bag v2.0”
Moutueka / Citra Pale Ale

Ian Webster April 17 at 3:49pm 

Racking the New Year’s Eve stout to a Journeyman Rye barrel, with a little bit of Jack and Maker’s to supplement. Should be ready for consumption sometime around July.

Rick Bedell April 17 at 7:47am 

Yeastie boys charging!!

Darien Kruss April 16 at 11:00pm

For years I’ve allowed primary fermentation of mead to go for 45 days based on best practices and past experience. This is the first time I’ve used a Beer Bug in mead. WOW does it go slowly. This is 10 days of fermentation with wine yeast and staggered nutrient addition and de-gassing.

Mike Dupre April 10 at 1:58pm · Bolingbrook 

First batch in the fermentation chamber. Of course the wort was right at 68 when I put it in.