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Beer Week In Sac – #1 Hoppa Holic

A 4x IPA. Nice look, great head, and smells so strong of hoops thati think it burbs some noise hairs off

Brew Buckets, 5 gallons or bigger?

I’m often asked, "Can I just use one of those 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot to brew in".

Yes, no and probably not. They get these buckets from different suppliers and depending on the batch in your store I’ve seen some that were marked Food Safe (#2 on the bottom) and some that were not.

Even if it is marked safe there are other issues. A. The lids do not have a gasket and usually are not air tight. B. The lids often break after one or two uses.

C. 5 gallons is not big enough to ferment a 5 gallon batch in. 6.5 gallons is the smallest I would recommend. 7 or 8 is even better. Why? Head space. If you have a 5 gallon bucket and you fill it with 5 gallons of beer then where is the head/foam going to go? Out the air lock is where.

Don’t get me wrong I use those buckets for almost everything. I must have like 50 of them. I store grains in them (in a plastic bag). I use them to keep my tools handy. I even sit on them. I just don’t ferment with ‘em.

BeerBug Update!

Remember when I said that you could sign up to be notified about preorders? Well I got my email today and placed my order!

Per their email…"Quantities are still limited so we will only be able to accept the first 250 pre-orders over the next 2 weeks. These Bugs will be created and shipped starting in the end of March. After this pre-order period closes, we will reopen for another in a few weeks to a month."

The cost? Yeah you won’t like this one. $250 plus shipping. Plus $35 if you want the thermal probe and shipping for me was another $15. For a total of $300. Note that you do not "need" the thermal probe. It already has an on-board thermometer but that takes temps at the air lock and if you are a control freak like some people I know, then the probe goes into the heart of your beer and gives you a slightly more accurate reading.

Honestly at $300 it’s pretty hard to justify the cost for most brewers/distillers. I see this as being good for people with money to burn, techies who love cool toys and writers who cover all the brewing arts and will spare no expense to keep you up to date on the latest techniques who can also then write all of this off on their taxes ;-)

That being said if my wife sees this all I can say is that has been nice knowing y’all and Shine On!


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And the Mad Scientist of the week award goes to….


Wifi Bug will monitor your Mash while it ferments!

Sadly we missed the Kickstarter on this but I’ve already submitted my email to get put on the preorder list. It sits in your hole on your fermenter and monitors S.G. Temps and Alcohol levels and tells you, via wifi, when your brew is done.



Uncle Lemon’s basic fruit wine recipe

I know of no one who does more with fruit based shine and this is his master recipe. Follow this and you just can’t go wrong.

Works for all fruits! (With watermelon, it’s a 1:1 juice to water ratio)

•One part fruit juice to two parts water and 2.5- 3 pounds of cane sugar per gallon of mash.
•Select only good, ripe fruit. Cut out any soft spots, and don’t use any with mold on it. The more ripe and better tasting the fruit, the better the wine, the better the brandy.
•Cut your fruit up into chunks and puree it in a blender. Some fruits that are more pulpy, like apples, need some water added to loosen it up. You only need to add a cup or so. With your berries, just fill the blender and go.
•Strain the puree into the fermenter through a strainer or a jelly bag. You can find them on Amazon.
•Add your sugar to the juice and stir it in until it’s mostly dissolved.
•Put all of the pulp into a stock pot, then add enough water to cover the pulp, about an inch above the pulp.
•Boil the pulp for about 30 minutes, then strain the liquid into the fermenter.
•Top it up with the remainder of your water and let it cool to 80°F.
•If you’re using distiller’s yeast, pitch it now.
•If you’re using wine yeast, get your starter ready according to the directions on the sachet. When the time is up, stir it up real good and pitch it.
•Thoroughly stir in the yeast, then cover and airlock it.
•If you’re using distiller’s yeast, it should go 5- 8 days.
•If you’re using wine yeast, it should go 10- 14 days.
•Once it stops bubbling, check on it a few times a day for three days to be sure it’s stopped. Thump on it with the heel of your fist a few times to help work out the CO2.
•Now set it up on a counter or workbench and don’t touch it for 7 or 8 days. Let it settle.
•Siphon it off into a clean, sanitized fermenter, being very careful not to disturb the sediment on the bottom. Leave a half inch of liquid in the bottom to be sure you don’t suck up any sediment.
•Reserve some of the wine to blend back with the distillate. (For example: I usually reserve a gallon and a half and run about 8.5 or 9 gallons. I get a gallon and a half of 120 proof booze out of it. I’ll blend a gallon with the booze and have 2.5 gallons of fruit brandy.)

•Pour your wine into the still and slowly bring it up to heat. It should take about an hour to start dripping.
•Collect one fluid ounce per gallon of wash in the still, then make your head cut. For example: If you have five gallons of wash, collect the first five fluid ounces that drip out. Use it to light your grill.
•As you collect the hearts of your run, pour all of the booze in one big container to blend the whole run. This balances the flavor and proof.
•Run it down to 80 proof and make your tail cut. The final proof of the whole run blended should be around 120- 125. Usually about 122.
•Now run it down to 40 proof and shut it down. Save the tails to re-distill later.
•I do not carbon filter brandy. It takes out some flavor elements.

•Sweeten the wine with cane sugar just enough to bring out the fruit flavor, not enough to make into Kool-Aid.
•Blend the wine into the booze until it tastes right to you. Cut it almost in half.

•After you siphon it off the first time, let it settle for a month and siphon it off, then another month and siphon again. The clear wine will have a cleaner flavor when you distill it without all of that yeast.
•Reserve some wine and run the rest.
•Age the distillate for two or three months with un-charred white oak chips.
•Once the booze is nicely aged, siphon off the wine again and sweeten it to taste, then blend it.

The short process only takes a month, and makes fantastic brandy.
The optional process takes a total of 5- 6 months, but makes a phenomenal brandy

Shared kindly from: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uncle-Lemons-House-Of-Homemade-Hooch/141809752523949?fref=ts

5 Gallon Pot Still for $185 on Etsy

Nice little setup for those who don’t want to bother with building their own.


Question of the Day: How long can my mash sit before I distill it?

I thought we had covered this before but I seem to get this question all the time. It’s a fair question though. One weekend you have a bunch of time and work up a batch or two and let it ferment for the week planning to run it the next weekend except life laughs at your feeble plans and it’s now been three or more weeks. What do you do.

Well first things first, Mash is what you ferment, when you rack off the liquid (leaving behind any solids) it becomes a Wash.

Another term for this is Distiller’s Beer. Why? Because it is just that, Beer. We don’t add hops but it certainly is a alcoholic beverage right? And just like any other alcoholic beverage, it can keep for a long time as long as you take into account three things.

1. Is it airtight? Got an airlock on it? Good but if this sits for a long time guess what can happen? The water in your air lock will evaporate!
2. Temp, the cooler the better. Can you freeze it? Sure thing!
3. Light, darkness is your friend.

So cold, dark and airtight and it can keep just like a fine wine. But how long. I don’t have any actual scientific data on this but here are my thoughts*

– Sugar mashes, I’ve kept them racked for months. I’ve heard of them sitting for two years.
– Grain mash, almost as long. But I try not to go past 6 months.
– Fruit based. For me, these are the ones I worry about but as I tell you all I don’t do a lot of fruit based mashes. So personally I don’t like to let them sit for longer then a couple of weeks.

What it really comes down to is how does it look and smell when you open it? Are there things growing on it and it smells horrible? Does it smell like vinegar? Toss it. Is it clear and good smelling like say a brewery? Run it!

*The opinions expressed here are my own, not yours! You are all big boys and girls, do your own homework, don’t just go based on what I say. Unless, of course, I tell you to send money or pictures of your girlfriend, in that case do EXACTLY as I say)