Homebrew

A Simple Mosquito Trap Using A 2-Liter Bottle, DME,…

It is summertime and that means spending time outside enjoying your favorite craft beer is a must.  However, there is nothing more frustrating than cracking open a beer and immediately realizing you are being eaten alive by mosquitoes or that damn fly will not stay out of your beer!  As a homebrewer I spend a lot of time brewing and drinking beer outside.  Did you know that studies have shown drinking beer increases your mosquito sexiness by 15%?  Did you know a mosquito can smell that CO2 being released from over 50 feet away?  The solution:  FERMENTATION.  This is how I keep those nasty insects away from my happy time.  I have noticed this works for many insects including mosquitoes and flies.

Supplies Needed:

  • Scissors or A Utility Knife
  • Empty 2-liter bottle
  • 1 Cup DME (Dry Malt Extract) or Brown Sugar
  • 2 Cups of water
  • Baking Yeast
  • Black cloth
  • Insects to kills
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1. Find an empty 2-liter bottle

 

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2. Cut the bottle into two parts. You will want the bottom portion to be slightly larger. 60/40 should do it.

 

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3. Put the two pieces together like this. You will want room at the bottom for some liquid.  The hole inside is where the insects make their way in.

 

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4. Add 1 cup of DME (brown sugar will work too) to 2 cups of really hot water
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5. Add some baking yeast to your concoction. Baking yeast works better in high heat and creates more carbon dioxide. Insects are attracted to the CO2 gases released when the yeast attacks the sugars. If you are in a pinch and the temperature isn’t too hot, you can use brewing yeast.

 

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6. Your mixture should look something like this and should contain the DME, yeast, and hot water.
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7. Add your Mosquito cocktail to the 2-liter trap like this.
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8. Wrap the trap in something black. Mosquitoes and most other insects are attracted to black. I used weed cloth which seems to work well.  You are done!  Now sit back and wait!
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If your trap looks like this one…move!

 

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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Homebrew

5 Important Tips When Brewing With Kids Around

 


If you are like me,  you are a parent who enjoys the pleasure of brewing your own beer.  It is your time to feel like you can still serve a purpose outside of changing diapers,  wiping butts, and wiping noses.  Finding time to brew a batch of beer is damn near impossible.  Therefore,  you have to make time while maintaining your duty as a parent.  Since you generally work Monday-Friday and are busy doing meaningless shit on Saturday,  you tend to brew on Sundays.  That is also a day when your kids are bored and need your undivided attention.  It is best explained as trying to brew beer in the bed of a truck while driving down a country road. Read more “5 Important Tips When Brewing With Kids Around”

Homebrew

Simple HomeBrew Mash Tun – Box Cooler Conversion

Stepping your brew game up from extract to grain is a smart choice.  Not only will you find it MUCH cheaper to brew a batch of beer, you will also find the beer tasting MUCH better too.  After all,  beer is a product from extracting grain.  Buying a commercial mashing system can prove expensive and is not within the budget of your average home brewer.  What is the solution?  Bust out that old 50 quart cooler and make it into an efficient mash tun!  Total investment $40 if you already have a cooler and $100 if you do not.  Savings?  How about $10-$20 per 5 gallon batch of beer.

 

Step 1:
Find a 45-55 quart box cooler that has a drain plug.

Step 2:
Buy a 1/2 inch ball valve and a 1/2 male/male extension piece from your local Home Depot or Lowes.  Measure the thickness of the cooler wall before buying this piece.  You want it just long enough to create a snug fit from both sides when its all said and done.  A little thread on each side is ideal.  Stainless steel would be ideal but brass works just fine.

Step 3:
Remove the drain plug and its components.  It should be a simple threaded piece.  Save the rings because you will need them.

Step 4:
Install the new ball valve and former fittings.  Your cooler should look like the one below.

Now that you have the exit piece in place you need to put together the inside of your mash tun OR as I call it…the balls of the mash tun.

Read more “Simple HomeBrew Mash Tun – Box Cooler Conversion”

Homebrew

HomeBrew Tip: Upgrade your boil pot with a kettle…

If you are looking for a nice upgrade to the boiling pot without spending beer money, install a weldless kettle valve and strainer. It will save you time when transferring that wort and give you cleaner beer in the fermentation by straining out the unwanted items.

Investment: $35.00
Time Saved: Enough for at least three beers

Make sure you have a step drill bit and you have a high speed drill.  Otherwise you will ruin that boiling pot and probably hate yourself for a long time.  If you do screw up drilling the hole,  remain calm!  Use a small bit to chip away at the stainless steel being careful not to make the hole larger than the kettle valve.  It will leak your precious beer and your local beer supply store will make a new boiling pot sale to you.  I would recommend a Session beer when doing this.