Mash Tun Switch

After doing a couple of dozen batches on my new sculpture and fighting with drifting mash temperatures most of the time I finally decided to swap back over to an insulated Gott cooler for my mash tun.

What a difference. I no longer had to pay attention to the mash temp, mess with pumps for my HERMS, run the stir motor on the hot liquor tank, or worry about grainbed compaction. Despite cool evening air temps the mash held within a degree over the course of the hour.

I really haven’t found a downside of this approach other than it means I have a surplus Blichmann Boilermaker mash tun for now. I’m going to run this way for a while and see if I can notice a difference in consistency on my beers and simplification on my brew day.


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Not All Ale Has Alcohol

Once you’ve accumulated all the junk, err…, equipment required to brew beer, keg, and dispense, you start wondering if there’s anything else you can do with it all to justify the money you’ve spent. One easy and obvious choice is to make soda (or as some regions call it, pop.)

I started off with the decent and informative book Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop. It laid a good foundation and provided numerous tasty looking recipes.

Using that information as a starting point I created my own recipe for Ginger Ale. I’ll warn you in advance, this is not for soda lovers who don’t like the flavor of real ginger. This drink has a solid ginger base with an nice zing of pineapple juice and lemon. I’ve brewed it several times and have always gotten positive feedback. In fact I’ve helped some friends brew this themselves for Christmas presents just recently.

One note about safety when making a soda. Some recipes call for adding yeast and fermenting to carbonate in bottles. I strongly recommend against that because soda is filled with sugar for the yeast to consume. Even putting bottles in fridges will only slow down the carbonation. If you forget one or if you give one to a friend who leaves it out on the counter top it will explode. I always carbonate with a CO2 tank in kegs to avoid this. I sometimes will fill a carefully sanitized bottle from the keg, but only when I am sure I will drink it in the next couple of days. I did bottle one batch recently but for safety I added potassium sorbate at the correct dosing.

I’m going to assume you know how to make beer from extract and follow good sanitation practices. Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

2.5 Gallon Recipe for Dave’s Ginger Ale


  • 40 oz Desert Mesquite Honey (other honey will do but this is cheap at Trader Joe’s and has a nice flavor)
  • 6 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2.5 oz grated fresh ginger
  • 32 fl oz Pineapple Juice
  • water to top up to 2.5 gallons


  1. Grate the fresh ginger and juice the lemons.
  2. Put grated ginger into a straining bag and pour the pineapple juice and lemon juice through the bag. Tie the bag up so that you can easily separate the ginger from the ginger ale.
  3. Add all ingredients to a large (at least 3 gallon) pot and top off with water to 2.5 gallons.
  4. Stir well so that all of the honey is dissolved
  5. Heat to 180 F, let sit for five minutes.
  6. Transfer to a sanitized keg while hot, put in your keggerator, and carbonate like an American Pale Ale (15 psi at 40 F)

Enjoy! It is usually carbonated by the end of the first week or two but will be very strong. It mellows considerably over the following month and then the ginger fades almost completely.


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New BJCP Training Material

I’m happy to announce that a project that BJCP Grand Master judge David Teckam has finally become available to the public. We’ve recorded some of his BJCP training sessions and are releasing them as low cost DVDs to help people prepare for the exam or just improve their judging skills. Check out he new website at

BJS - Judging Cover


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Double Flip Top Score

So I was walking with my wife and dog tonight and I did a double take when I saw an old woman taking an empty flip top magnum of Stone Double Bastard to the curb for recycling. She was happy to give it to us and said she had a smaller one that the former college student tenant left. Turned out to be a 2 liter growler. Both are in excellent condition.

Stone Growler and Magnum

Unfortunately the Double Bastard bottle says “not refillable” so I’ll probably just look into ways to strip the paint so I can reuse it for some special future beer of mine (hmmm, maybe some of the barrel project?) Do any of you know how to clean it? If so shoot me an email at I’ve heard a good soak in muriatic acid (pool acid) can do the job.


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Keg/Carboy Washer HowTo

On my vacation I was faced with pile of kegs to clean up. While procrastinating and listening to the Brewing Network I remembered that Dr. Scott had come up with a homebrew scale keg washing station. Here are the full instructions (including videos of the washer in action):

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