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Phantom Brewer

Cold Soaking Dark Grains To Adjust Your Beer Color

 It happens to all of us at some time. That beer that you wanted brown is copper instead or maybe your stout is just a shade more brown than black. What's a light in the color brewer to do? Do what the Germans do and make up a homemade batch of Sinamar, which is a Weyermann malt extract product used to adjust color.

    To produce your own, soak a pound of Carafa malt in a quart of cold water for 24 hours. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter. The resulting black inky mixture can be saved in a sanitized jar for over a month.

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Using a Cornelius Keg as an HLT

Many home brewers don’t have the room or desire to set up a three-tiered brewing system. Here is an easy way to eliminate the top tier—the hot liquor tank.

    When your brew is in the mash, just bring 5 or more gallons of water to a boil. You’re not using your burner anyway at this time. Once it reaches a boil, pour it into clean keg using a large funnel (for safety). I use 10 gallon kegs, but 5 gallons will work fine also. By the time you have finished re-circulating the wort in your mash tun, the water will have cooled to 175-180 degrees.

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Dissolving Sugar in the Boil Cleanly

This tip comes to the Phantom Brewer courtesy of Dave Mathis of BJ’s Brewhouse.

    Many of us use candi sugar in our Belgian style beers, but dissolving it in our boil kettles can be a pain. More often than not, the crystals end up sticking to the bottom of the kettle and require vigorous stirring to fully dissolve and incorporate into the brew.

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Getting Those Kegs Ready

Kegging is one of those great Hallelujah moments for brewers. Why would I ever go back to bottling now? But while there's only one container to clean and sanitize, its mission critical to get the job done right.

    Here's a simple method that allows you to be sure that your kegs are clean, santized and ready to go whenever you need them. It also has the advantage of using less cleaners and sanitizers and purging your kegs of all that staling oxygen.


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Forced Ferment Test

    We’ve all had that moment of panic and doubt. You brewed a beer that’s stuck up higher than you’d like. Was the beer just not as fermentable as you’d thought? Maybe you mashed warm, maybe your extract is poorly fermentable or maybe the yeast is in poor health. One important data point to obtain is the brew’s absolute terminal gravity. In professional breweries this information is known for their brews and the way to find it is the classic Forced Ferment Test.

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Yeast Recovery System

 Those of us who brew big beers and pitch a lot of yeast know all about blow off. That wonderful frothy head that grows way beyond the confines of the carboy and blows through the bubbler and gets all over the place.

     The remedy you say is simple, use a blow off tube: a large plastic tube, one end of which fits and seals directly into the top of the carboy while the other end is put in a jar with some sanitized water in the bottom. This will let all that extra foam and CO2 be released from the carboy and avoids the mess.

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Foil Diffuser for Sparging

 The Phantom Brewer has been quoted in the past saying that Aluminum Foil is duct tape for homebrewers.” This tip comes to us courtesy of Mike Dixon out of North Carolina.

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How to turn a Refrigerator into a Kegerator

  Thinking of turning an ordinary fridge into a kegerator? It is cheaper and easier than you think. First, find the refrigerator. Ask family and friends if they have an old one. If not, you can find them easily in the Recycler for about $50. The kind with a top freezer work best. Make sure the inside dimensions of the fridge are at least 16” deep and wide and 27” high in case you ever want to put a commercial keg inside.

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A Dry Counterflow Chiller

The Phantom Brewer has seen some brewers in the club use an older technique of keeping a counterflow chiller (CFC) clean by filling the line with sanitizer. TPB has always been deeply troubled by this practice. The copper tubing used in chillers is sensitive to long term acid exposure. Also, many sanitizer solutions become ideal bacterial and mold breeding grounds as they drift from their effective pH range during long storage times. Nope, TPB doesn’t like this one bit.

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Stove Top Stuffing - Modified Decoction Mashes for Weak Stoves

 Many of us out there are forced by fate to brew on the meager fire of an ordinary kitchen range. Far from the jet-wash inferno of a good Cajun Cooker propane burner, ordinary stoves take forever to boil 5 gallons of liquid, and forget about trying to step up a mash before it goes sour. There are ways around this though.

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