Monthly Archives: May 2012

What $25 will get you.

I replied to a Kijiji ad last week for a bunch of wine making equipment that a woman was selling for $25. She had posted a few pics of what was being sold and it looked like a very good bargain for that amount of money.

I went to pick up the goods on Thursday and I was shocked at what I was getting. Here is everything unloaded in my driveway:

Obviously a ton of bottles for wine and beer. Things of much larger value? Floor corker, 10 carboys, bottle tree, filter, dual nozzle bottle/carboy washer, spray unit for sanitizing bottles. The two buckets hold a variety of miscellaneous smaller items like hydrometers, cappers, corkers, lines, tubes, etc.

I’m in the process of sorting through things and washing carboys as I go and figuring out what will be staying and what will be going. Some will be given away and some will be sold. Decisions, decisions…

Filling a Sanke keg (tutorial)

A relatively uninteresting post for most but I’ve corresponded with a few people about how to fill a sanke keg and I figured it was about time I took some pics and posted a how-to for those who are interested.

The basic process is really no different from a transfer to secondary, for example. The only difference is in the connection to the keg where you need the modified coupling head. I have a spare sanke coupling head from which I have removed all the check valves:


Once the keg is cleaned and sanitized I set up just like a regular transfer. One important note is that the beer in the carboy is already cold. It’s been chilled overnight at least and sometimes longer. I have found that with all the transfers I have done that it works best for the beer to go in cold and it also carbonates faster that way.


Note that the coupling head is in place (although it should already be engaged/open), there is a bucket or something for the sanitizer to start the siphon to go into, and the sample glass at the ready.

At this point I prepare the siphon line and racking tube by filling with sanitizer and double kinking the end. Note that the end of the siphon line has the tail piece and beer nut attached. I have two separate lines for transfers, one with a tail piece and one without. Just makes my set up easier.


We now have everything in place to start the transfer and filling the keg.

I start the siphon by putting the racking cane in the carboy and letting the sanitizer flow into the bucket. Once the beer only is flowing through I take a small sample into the glass then re-kink the line and immediately connect the line to the coupling head. Note (once again): the coupling head should be engaged and open on the top of the keg.(I think my directions weren’t clear when I was taking the photos but I do always do this with the coupling head engaged. Bizarre…)


Once the line is threaded onto the coupling head I un-kink the line to let the beer flow into the sanke. I usually give a quick tighten just to ensure that it doesn’t leak.



It may be obvious by now but this is what my final set up looks like as the keg is filling.


Once the keg is full you’re ready to carbonate and serve or bottle depending on how your system is set up. For me, my keg goes straight to the fridge for carbonating and tapping. I bottle very little and only a bit at a time as the need arises.

My carbonating set up is pretty straight forward. I use one of my dispense coupling heads but with the lines reversed so that the CO2 is going in through the spear of the keg. I also have the ball check valve removed and I cap the other line using a dime between the gasket and the tailpiece.


To be honest, I’m not sure if this is totally necessary as I do have the check valve in place on the gas-in port but I like the little bit of assurance that this simple addition provides.

This is what everything looks like when I’m ready to carb:


Before engaging the coupling head I set my regulator to about 20psi. That’s what hits the beer initially and then I purge the keg just to remove any remaining oxygen. Once the keg is pressurized I let it sit for a half hour or so and then shake it.


Let it settle for another hour or so still at 20psi. I then shut off the gas, purge the keg, reset the regulator to serving pressure (11psi for me) and turn the gas back on. I still have the lines reversed and the gas is still going in through the spear. Over the next several hours I shake the keg frequently in order to maximize the distribution of the CO2 and after about 6 hours or so I have carbonated beer ready to drink.

Kicking and Screaming

If you can’t laugh at yourself, where are you?

My brew partner Scott is chock full of ideas and he came up with the idea of a Neopolitan (ice cream) Stout: Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. We bounced the idea back and forth and I amended it to Chocolate, Vanilla and Raspberry thinking that the Strawberry flavour would likely get lost in all the other big flavours.We both decided this would be the next brew.

I like to keep things simple both in process and flavour. Scott recognizes this and he came up with the name of Kicking and Screaming Stout. That is, dragging me kicking and screaming into making this beer!

We brewed it a while ago and it’s been fermenting away nicely. Primary is basically done and it’s ready to transfer to secondary for the addition of vanilla and raspberry. I dealt with the vanilla portion a while ago by splitting the vanilla beans and scraping the paste out of them. I then cut up the beans themselves and soaked everything in a few ounces of The Balvenie Scotch.

Any addition to secondary needs to be sanitized and whether you do that through heat or through alcohol, the choice is yours. It seemed much more enjoyable and flavourful to soak the vanilla in the alcohol and then add it to secondary.

I’ll be adding the raspberries this week as well but will be pasteurizing them by heating them to around 180ºF for 10 minutes or so. I don’t like to transfer things more than once, if at all, but even though the vanilla is ready to go I’ll have to wait to get some raspberries before I do the transfer.


Click the link for our recipe for the Kicking and Screaming Neopolitan Stout:

K&S stout

On tap now is the Kleine Schwarz (second runnings from our LISP) and Three Seas IPA.