Homebrew

How To Build A Simple Homemade Stir Plate

If you are searching for a way to bring your homebrewing to the next level, it is time to build a stir plate. A stir plate has one simple purpose…stir like a boss. There are plenty of commercial grade stir plates out there for $40-$200. That is nonsense and keeps you from enjoying the second best thing about homebrewing, building stuff.

To maximize yeast, it is essential to make a starter.  This will help the yeast get a head start and ferment better and faster.  If you have no idea what a yeast starter is,  Google it and return to this page afterwards.

What do you need?

  • A cigar box or project box
  • A rare earth magnet from a hard drive
  • PC cooling fan (these are everywhere)
  • Universal AC/DC power adapter
  • Super glue
  • Craft beer to drink
  • Electrician tape or Solder
  • Rubber rings
  • On/Off switch
  • LED power light
  • Rheostat
  • Stir Bar
  • 1000ml or 2000ml Erlenmeyer Flask or A mason jar works as well

Here is a lame video that I made (after drinking three cans of Resin) showing the different parts and the wiring in my homemade stir plate.  I am NOT an electrician and there is probably a better way to do the wiring.  There are also way better stir plates out there you can buy or even make.  Well,  my plate works and it works damn good.  That is all that matters.

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You will need a rare earth magnet. These can be removed from an old hard drive. Just look for this piece and remove the magnet attached to it. Be careful, these will break and need to be removed using something flat with a large base. Pry them off.
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Glue the rare earth magnet to the top of the fan with the center that spins. Make sure it is centered very good. Test it out before applying the super glue.<br />Some people hang the fan from the inside of the box with screws. I attach rubbed feet to absorb some of the vibration and it allows the magnet to be close to the stir bar.<br />Glue This to the bottom of your box lid.
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Close up of rubber ring.
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On/Off switch and LED power light. You will want to solder these connections or use connectors.
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On/Off Switch and LED power light
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Run the positive from the AC/DC adapter to the On/Off switch and then to the middle of the Rheostat. You will also want to connect the positive wire of your LED to the On/Off switch too.<br />Hook up the negative of the AC/DC adapter, the LED light, and the Fan together and seal the connection. You are done with the negative wires.
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Hook up the positive wire of your fan to one of the outside connections of the Rheostat and solder. Wiring is done.

If you did everything correct, it should fire up and function properly. Make sure the rheostat is not hot when you touch it. I made the mistake of crossing one wire incorrectly and it got very hot to the touch.

Good luck on your build and I hope my half assed tutorial helped!

Homebrew

Unconventional Pre-Chiller To Cool Wort Quicker

Ok, so maybe the method isn’t unconventional since it is basically the same process used in a Whirlpool Immersion Chiller. However, the use of random supplies is.

One of the most important steps in homebrewing is chilling the wort to an optimal temperature for pitching yeast.  The primary objective is to chill as fast as possible.  There isn’t a magical chill pill available on the market so this step should be taken serious. Why?

1. The longer wort is exposed,  the greater chance infection can occur. Infected beer = FAIL

2. The possibility of oxidation increases the longer that precious brew is exposed to the elements.

3. Dimethyl Sulfide will continue its destructive course as long as the wort is not boiling.

4. Creating a quick “cold break” results in clearer beer. The cold break is essential to avoid the haze look to your finished product. Achieving a fast break is the only way to precipitate these proteins and impress your peers with a clean and clear beer.

I think you get the point!

We have all experienced the “stall spot” during the cool down wishing we could find a way to speed things up. What is the “stall spot”? The wort cools quickly from a boil down to around 85°-90°. At this point, the outside temperature and wort temperature are starting to run a parallel side by side race. This is even worse in the summer heat.

To pitch the yeast, wort temperature generally needs to fall below 80°. The last thing anyone wants to do is leave wort exposed to mother nature’s wrath. I have actually fallen victim to a bird shit bomb directly into my wort and infected batches. Yes, I still drank them ALL. However, it made me want to find a solution without spending any money. My wife tends to make me sleep on the couch when I get caught dropping dollars on brewing equipment.

My father-in-law came up with an unconventional work of art to chill the wort to pitching temperature once it hit a stall. He found the supplies sitting around the house and pieced together his odd yet awesome contraption.

Supplies:
– Standard wort chiller
– An under the bed storage bin
– Floor pump used to pump water from a basement floor.
– Bag of ice

Cut out a hole in the lid of the storage bin so the pump can sit flush against the bottom. Done! Nobody even got hurt with the saw.

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When the wort reaches around 100°, dump a bag of ice into the storage bin and add some water. You want an ice bath. You can also start this method from the end of boil as long as you have enough ice. The hot wort exchange melts the ice bath quickly. I personally found 100° to be an ideal target for two reasons.

1. The wort generally chills pretty quickly with a wort chiller for the first half of the the chill.

2. When I brew…I drink. I can remember 100° pretty well when I have had a few.

Hook up the wort chiller to the pump so an ice bath can be recirculated through the coiled copper and back into the storage bin. It works like the cooling system on a car. The objective is passing the ice cold water through the chiller. Add a solid whirlpool with a drill and sanitized paint stirrer (paint stir what?) and you are in business.

This will cool the wort within a few minutes. Be careful you do not over chill the wort. That would defeat the whole purpose.

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This concept can easily be applied using any cooler and submersible pump. Cheers to brewing beer and cheers to inventing odd ways to brew like a pro for half the dough.

Homebrew

An Inexpensive Homebrew Water Filter

The other day I was brewing a collaboration with The Brew Professor and he showed me a simple yet effective water filter that hooks up to any hose. It was an RV water filter! If it can filter water for an RV, why not beer?

This isn’t a fancy RO system but it is a great way to brew with better water for very little money. The 100 micron fiber filter helps reduce some of the bad tastes, chlorine, and odors that can come along with public or well water.  Treat your beer with love and pure water.

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You can buy these for under $20 through Amazon and it is well worth the small investment. I really liked the simplicity of the Camco 40043.  If you want to get even more fancy pants, add a Drinking Water Hose for less than $10.

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Beer News

My Sixpoint Beer Score

A few weeks ago I stopped in my neighborhood gas station to pick up a six pack of beer.  Sadly, the closest thing to craft beer was Third Shift.  I will not bash the beer but it is not what I consider craft by any means.  I made a comment to the owner that he should order some craft beer for guys like me. A few days later I walked into the cooler to see this beautiful display of Sixpoint beers in a round cooler. I bought three cans.

sixpoint cooler
Bucket-O-Sixpoint

The next day I stopped in again to buy some more Sixpoint singles and he made a comment that people were buying them thinking they were energy drinks.  He said the local residents only drink cheap light beers or malt liquor.

I offered to stop in and buy them a few times a week so he would not take a total loss.  He wanted to know if I was willing to buy all of them.  Well hell yeh for the right price!

Jokingly, I offered him $30 for all of the beers in the cooler.  He came back with $60 for everything in the cooler plus some 4-packs.  My final offer was $46 for the beers in the cooler,  the 4-packs, a bag of BBQ Grippos and the actual cooler they were sitting in. Supposedly, he got a deal on them in the first place and was happy with my offer. Deal was done! We were both happy!

Sixpoint truck
Precious Haul

I packed my truck up with every single can he had and happily drove away knowing I just scored some awesome craft beer for pennies to the dollar.  No matter what,  I was going to find a way to fit these in my refrigerator even if my wife made me sleep on the couch for a week.  It was well worth it!

Sixpoint beer fridge
Brew Fridge

After moving most of my wife’s food and drinks into the bottom and getting yelled at for 10 minutes,  I had a fridge full of awesomeness.  Close to $300 worth of beer love for $46.  After my wife saw the beautiful arrangement in our fridge, she immediately forgave me.

21 Crisp
19 Apollo
18 Resin
43 Bengali Tiger
1 Bag of BBQ Grippos
1 Sweet Cooler

Homebrew

15 “Other” Hops You Must Try In A Homebrew

If you brew beer, ideas and recipes often pop into your head. There are few things more rewarding than a hop bill that fits together perfectly. Everyone knows about the Centennial, Cascade, Columbus, Citra, Simcoe, and many other mainstream hop varieties. These are all wonderful and make any ale outstanding. However, why not try some of the lesser known hop varieties that are way underrated. Did you know about Nelson Sauvin and its grape profile? Have you ever dry hopped with Apollo? On your next batch, try a hop that you have never used before! Here are 15 hop varieties you may or may not know about. Try one…or more of them. Your beer will love your for it.

Waimea
Recently released in 2012, this is the grand baby of Pacific Jade.  It has a fresh squeezed citrus profile with hints of pine.  Waimea has high alpha acid levels and can be used as a bittering boss or an aroma phenom.

Buy Waimea Hops

Calypso
A cross blend by Hopsteiner.  This is a dual purpose hop that works for both aroma and can also be used for bitterness.  It has a floral profile with a kick that some describe as melon, pear, or apple with a squeeze of lemon.

Buy Calypso Hops

Zythos
This is a fairly new hop blend that most of us have heard about by now.  It was created to satisfy the West Coast Style aromas addicts like myself.  Citrus, tropical fruit, pine, and a little spice make this a serious player in the game.

Buy Zythos Hops

Falconer’s Flight
This is an amazing blend of Simcoe, Citra, Sorachi Ace, and a few other undisclosed hops.  HopUnion developed this blend to honor the legendary Glen Hay Falconer.  It is a perfect late addition packing a floral and tropical fruit profile.

Buy Falconer’s Flight Hops

Mosaic
This is a very unique creation by Washington’s hop breeding company.  If Nugget and Simcoe had a love child,  Mosaic would be her name.  It has an unexpected floral and fruity profile accompanied by the piney Simcoe DNA that shines through as an earthy addition.  Alchemy Hour Double IPA uses Mosaic to get those one of a kind aromas.

Buy Mosaic Hops

El Dorado
Developed by the CLS Farms and released in 2010, this masterpiece has mostly sat in the shadows with no excuse.  The blend is kept a guarded secret but I will tell you this one is blasted with citrus and tropical fruit.  I would best describe the flavor as a mouthful of Jolly Ranchers.

Buy El Dorado Hops

Nelson Sauvin
One of the most unique hops varieties available that can be used as a dual purpose.  It has an aroma and flavor similar to Sauvignon Blanc grapes and really balances out with most bittering hops.

Buy Nelson Sauvin Hops

Meridian
Developed by Indie Hops out of Oregon in an attempt to bring Columbia Hops back from the forgotten tomb.  Well they ended up creating a new variety.  Meridian packs lemon zest, sweetness, and some describe it as Hawaiian Punch.

Buy Meridian Hops

Galaxy
Most of us have heard of Galaxy.  Have you tried brewing with this beauty from down under?  It is a very nice aroma gifted dual purpose hop loaded with citrus and fruity notes.  The uniqueness comes from the grassy/earthy finish.  Find it and try it!

Buy Galaxy Hops

Motueka
This New Zealand creation that some refer to as B Saaz is a relative of the legendary Saaz hop that we all love in our pils and lagers.  It has a smooth citrus/fruity profile that adds a clean finish to any ale.  Motueka would fit well into the IPL fad that is currently working its way through the craft beer realm.

Buy Motueka Hops

Riwaka
Motueka has a little brother and his name is Riwaka.  This is also referred to as Saaz D.  If you have ever wondered what a west coast style Saaz would be like…here you go.  It is not an easy hop to locate.  However,  if you do find it,  buy it!

Buy Riwaka Hops

Palisade
Developed by the Yakima Chief Ranch, this is a solid dual purpose hop that is better used on the aroma end.  It packs a grassy yet fruity punch unlike most hops.  Looking for a unique IPA?  Try it as a late addition and you will be surprised!

Buy Palisade Hops

Stricklebract
Strickle what?  Another New Zealand hop developed by DSIR Research that can serve as a dual purpose hop.  Simcoe similarities of pine with a Sorachi Ace lemon zest.

Buy Stricklebract Hops

AU Summer
This is a seedless variety developed in Australia as an aroma hop.  Summer is one of only few hop varieties that pack a apricot and melon profile.  It would pair nicely with some of the popular west coast style American hops.

Buy AU Summer Hops

Apollo
First cultivated in 2000, this totally underrated hop packs an alpha acid bite and an orange citrus aroma.  This is a solid hop to use in a double or imperial IPA as a first addition and late addition.

Buy Apollo Hops

Of course there are plenty of other amazing hops that are often forgotten.  Please let me know if you have any ideas as to some that I should add to this list.  Cheers to brewing good beer and cheers to drinking that good beer!

Beer News

How To Plant Your Own Hops With Ease

So you have decided that it would be exciting to grow your own hops at home.  Growing hops can be a very fun and rewarding project as long as you have the time, space, and desire to lay out the effort required.  You cannot grow hops at home to replace those you are currently buying from your home brew store.  Why?  The alpha acid levels of those you grow at home will basically be unknown.  Hops grown as an amateur at home can be utilized for aroma and late hopping.  Fresh Hops!  It really does not get better in my opinion.

Before you begin the hop mission you need to consider a few things…

1.  Do I have room to grow hops?  They are not like growing a tomato plant.  Hops require room to grow.
2.  What kind of beers do I like to brew the most?  This is the driving factor as to what you should attempt to grow.
3.  How many hop varieties can I handle?  No reason to go overboard.

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1.  Make sure you pick a nice looking brood of rhizomes.  Look for a mid to high level of buds sprouting.  You do not want something with no bud sprouts.

 

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2.  Dig a hole about 8 inches deep and fill with nice soil.  I mixed in some spent grain with each hole just for good hop luck.  Put enough soil in the hole to create a nice mound about 6 inches above ground level.

 

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3.  Use your hand and make a divot in the mound about 4 inches deep.

 

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4. Make sure you face the buds up or the side of the rhizome with the most buds.

 

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5.  Lightly stomp the mound to compact the soil.  There is no need to level the mound with your Hulk strength.

 

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6.  Drive a growing pole into the ground.  I used a 10 foot pole to make sure I allowed enough vertical growth.

 

Now wait until you see about 1-2 feet of vine coming out and help start it on the growing pole.  Eventually,  you will want to create horizontal growing lines.  These are just pictures of what I did.  You can find an awesome instructional PDF here,  which I really recommend reading.

Homebrew

Family Beer Recipes from the early 1800s – America’s…

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We often forget about the importance beer played in the settlement of the country we love so much.  In the early 1800′s, beer was a huge component to the daily diet for the majority of most Americans including children.  Women even drank beer when they breast fed because it was believed to provide nutrients to the unborn child.  Kids also assisted in brewing beer and worked in breweries through the early 1900’s.  As a matter of fact, families kept sacred cookbooks that contained family beer recipes alongside food recipes that often dated back hundreds of years.  Until modern sanitation methods surfaced,  it was safer to drink beer than water.  If you were going boil water, why not make beer. People were a different kind poor back then.  When a family needed nutrition,  it was up to them to find a means to get by.  Beer played a crucial role in survival and social life.  If you didn’t have money to eat well…you drank well because it was cheap to brew items that could be fermented.

Beer consisted of locally acquired ingredients.   Hop pellets, specialty grains, lab controlled yeasts, and artificial flavorings did not exist.  An open fire with an iron pot is how you rolled.  If you wanted a cheap beer, items were collected and often mixed with molasses.  It was hard for families to acquire grains all the time.  Therefore,  other items were often used to grab sugars starches needed to make alcohol.

Anyways, I was recently given permission by the Cincinnati library and a few historical societies to view some of the rarest books in Cincinnati dating back to 1820.  Check out these awesome old time beer recipes.  Try one!  However, I promise they will not match our current selections.

Check these photos out:

Ohio Recipe Book of the 1820’s – 1820

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Family Receipts, or Practical Guide for the Husbandman and Housewife. Cincinnati – 1831

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White’s New Cook-Book – 1840

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Here are some bonus items found in this book from 1840.  Can chicken jelly can cure a hangover?  I am definitely not willing to give it a shot!

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Homebrew

Beer Recipes from 1840

We often forget about the importance beer played in the foundation of the country we love so much.  In the 1800’s, beer was a huge component to the daily diet for the majority of most Americans including children.  As a matter of fact, families kept sacred cookbooks that contained family beer recipes alongside food recipes that often date back hundreds of years.  Until modern sanitation methods surfaced,  it was safer to drink beer than water.  If you were going boil water, why not make beer.  People were a different poor back then.  When a family needed nutrition,  it was up to them to find a means to get by.  Beer played a crucial role in survival and social life.  If you didn’t have money to eat well…you drank well because it was cheap to brew items that could be fermented.

Beer consisted of locally acquired ingredients.   Hop pellets, specialty grains, lab controlled yeasts, and artificial flavorings did not exist.  An open fire with an iron pot is how you rolled.  If you wanted a cheap beer, items were collected and often mixed with molasses.

Anyways, I was recently given permission by the Cincinnati library to view one of the rarest books in Cincinnati dating back to 1840.  White’s New Cook Book is a collection of family remedies,  recipes,  and blueprints distributed to the residents of the growing Cincinnati area.  Check out these awesome old time beer recipes.  Try one!  However, I promise they will not match our current selections.

Check these photos out:

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Mumbo Reviews

Listermann is the OG of the Cincinnati Homebrew and…

Listermann Brewing Company
Sitting in Evanston across from Xavier is the original homebrew hotspot in Cincinnati.  As a matter of fact,  Listermann is still the place for your homebrewing needs.  There is now a little twist in case you didn’t know…they are making bad ass beer and have a taproom for you to get your drink on!  This is the only place in Cincinnati where you will find homebrew supplies, two breweries, and a taproom under one roof.

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The Listermann taproom may be the best spot in Cincinnati to sit down over delicious craft beer and talk about anything and everything that comes to mind.  They have a selection of ten (yes I said ten) craft beers from both Listermann and Triple Digit.  You will have plenty of beers to sample and talk about and then likely sample again and talk about again…repeat.  If you are lucky,  an experimental batch could be on tap for your experimenting pleasure.

Triple Digit Brewing Company

Aftermath, Decimation, Chickow!, Gravitator, Smoked Bock,  Enter the Beagle, and other Listermann/Triple Digit beers are available for your carryout needs.  You can also fill up your own growlers with whatever they currently have on tap.  Have you ever tried a Peanut Butter Porter?  You can here!

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Where else in Cincinnati can you go and have the head brewer Kevin Moreland, the pimptastic Jason Brewer, or even the legendary Dan Listermann pour you a draft beer?  Kevin and Jason are always up for a great conversation over a beer.  If you catch Dan in the taproom, you will realize why he literally knows everyone in Cincinnnati.  He is a great guy and it is always a treat to hear one of his stories.

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Are you looking to learn how to homebrew?  Do you need to build that epic recipe to brew on Saturday morning?  They have the best self serve grain buffet in Cincinnati.  Build your beer recipe and mill it right in the store.  You can even drink while you do it.  I know I always have one or four when I am building my beers.

The staff is always willing to lend some advice or a hand if you are a newbie to the brewing scene.  You can also find anything else that you may need to brew delicious beer.  Want to make wine?  They have what you need for wine making too!

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Facebook: Listermann and Triple Digit

1621 Dana Ave.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45207
Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm

Phone (513) 731-1130
Email jason@listermannbrewing.com
Website http://www.listermannbrewing.com/
Mumbo Reviews

Fifty West Brewing Company Has Brought Some Serious Game

Residing in one of Cincinnati’s most important historic landmarks is the future of Cincinnati craft breweries.  Fifty West is located in what most of us know as the former Heritage Restaurant building located on Wooster Pike.  The Fifty West team took this vacant building and flipped it into one of Cincinnati’s best brewery/tap room experiences.  While keeping the character, they blended some new age technology into the historical backbone of this awesome building.  You have to check it out!

I went on a Friday night with my wife and our 1 month old baby to see what all of the hype was about coming from my friend The Brew Professor.  Upon pulling into the parking lot we noticed it was nearly full.  I parked and walked inside to see how busy it really was.  This place was crazy busy with people, yet we were invited to come in with our baby (there were other babies in there too which is awesome) and we are so glad we did.

The crowd was great with a large diversity in people and ages.  Everyone was friendly.  It was like Cheers except they served good beer.  We quickly found a seat and immediately fell in love with the vibe and relaxing atmosphere.  The decor is clean yet keeps the historical feel of the building.  You would have no idea that a brewery is also located in this building.  Before coming in, we were expecting more of a warehouse with beer brewers sloshing around in rubber boots.  It is the complete opposite which makes Fifty West the most inviting place I have been in a while and by far the most inviting brewery I have ever been to.

The bar is full of Fifty West beers served by a kick ass bar staff.  They were pouring beers non stop without time to take a breath.  That is a clue as to how good the beer is. We tried most of the beers on draft and I will have to say,  they do not make a bad beer.  As a matter of fact,  they do not make a good beer.  They make amazing beers.  I am personally a hop head and I cannot say enough about their Forgot Stevie 2x IPA, Thirty-37 APA, and Coast to Coast IPA.  These are unbelievable beers and give any of the top hoppy beers a real run for their money.  Did I mention they have awesome pretzels with beer cheese?  Anyways, here is a list of their beers: http://fiftywestbrew.com/beers/

We will definitely be returning to this new Cincinnati hot spot.  Hell,  I would go everyday if my wife would allow me that option.  These guys know what they are doing and Fifty West has officially set the bar high.  Go check them out!

Location:
7668 Wooster Pike

Cincinnati, OH 45227

Monday:  Making Beer
Tuesday:
 Making Beer
Wednesday
:  Making Beer
Thursday:
  5pm – 12am
Friday:  
5pm – 2am
Saturday:  
12pm – 2am
Sunday:  
12pm – 12am

Additional Pictures of Fifty West Brewing Company:

Mumbo Reviews

Beer Advice: 10 Hoppy Beers And Their Estimated Calories

You love your hoppy beer and you drink a lot of it.  At the same time,  you cannot seem to figure out why that waistline continues to grow at a record speed.  Those 34 jeans were replaced with sweat pants.  Those size 4 jeans were replaced with pajama jeans. As a craft beer lover you have to remember Higher ABV = More Calories and Higher Hopped = Masked ABV taste = Easier to drink = you get what I am saying.

Hoppy beers are often easy to drink thanks to their wonderful aromas and unique flavors.  Citrus,  Pine, Grapefruit, Peach, Lemon.  YUM!  Give me another one…and another one.  Pay attention to what you are drinking.  As craft beer drinkers we drink because we enjoy the taste of our beers.  Stop drinking those Head Hunter IPAs like Bud Lights.  Take it easy Frank the Tank.  If you want to play beer pong with Hopslam,  count on your bank account shrinking and your ass growing.  It will happen.

Here are some of the most popular beers known for their hoppiness and their estimated calories:

Homebrew

Homebrew Tip: Inexpensive 15 Gallon Fermentation Vessel

So you are currently brewing 5 gallon batches and they keep turning out so damn good.  You start day dreaming about upgrading to a 15 gallon or larger system.  This is something that most homebrewers eventually go through.  The problem is, most of us lack the funds to upgrade to that larger system whenever we feel the initial urge.  Our extra cash is usually spent on craft beer mix packs that we refuse to give up.  There is no reason to max out your credit cards and drop 2-5k on some fancy stainless steel beer brewing system.  Upgrade layaway style!  Slowly buy the small things you need to upgrade to a larger system.  Doing this will also give you the opportunity to learn each component as you attain it.  Being creative is another great skill to unleash!

How about a CHEAP fermentation upgrade idea?

If you buy homebrew supplies from a local supply store,  you probably have a decent relationship with the employees.  These homebrew supply stores usually have Briess liquid extract barrels that eventually become empty.  Considering their priority is putting more extract out, these empty barrels get tossed in the garbage.  Ask them if you can have their next empty container.  They may have some sitting in the back waiting for you to ask.

The smaller Briess extract barrels look like this. Notice the handle!

The smaller extract barrels are what you are looking for.  They are food grade.  They have a liquid scale on them,  they have openings on the top, and they have a damn good handle! 15 gallons of beer is not easy to toss around. All you need to do is install a #13 rubber stopper with an elbow for your blow off and you are good to go.  These types of barrels are plastic so you will need to make sure you have optimal temperature control during the fermentation process.  If you can manage that,  your beer will ferment very good inside of one of these.

A handy scale on the side
Install a standard #13 rubber stopper and an elbow for your blow off hose.