Category Archives: Level 2

Level 2 difficulty

Managing Your Brewing Schedule

In order to brew good beer, you need good preparation.  You’ve probably heard a coach, parent or teacher tell you the 5 P’s.
Prior
Preparation
Prevents
Poor
Performance
Or some variation on that theme…
I’ll show you how I plan out my brewing to make best use of my time, equipment and yeast.

Difficulty: level_2

This just requires a quick read and downloading of the Excel file or creating your own.  What you do from here is up to you.  You’ll be able to download my file at the end of this post.

Background:

I really love Gantt charts and how they can help you to be organized. Microsoft Project is either a really good or really bad tool to use (depending on who you ask). I actually like it for projects that I manage at work, but I don’t get into the fine details. I just use it for basic timelines, since it really helps me see the big picture. I started looking at using it for my fermentation schedules, but in brewing, your yeast are on a 24/7 schedule and I was finding all sorts of roadblocks in using 24 hour schedules in Project.

WarningSign

I ultimately decided to go back to my old trusted Excel spreadsheets for this task. This format has served me well for the last two years. I don’t claim that this is the ultimate way to do it, but it might at least serve as inspiration for someone else to create something grander.

Hover or click on each section to learn how I use this sheet.

Sorry, image map is currently out of order.  Please use the descriptions below to see how each section is used.

[imagemap id=”1206″]

Conclusions:

Like I said, I hope that this helps a fellow brewer out for mapping out their schedule or inspires another to build on this or create their own.  Happy Brewing!!

Download the spreadsheet by subscribing:

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All info below is a repeat for those whose browsers or mobile devices don’t like the image map format.

Beer Description and Basics:

014-Beer Descriptions and Basics

These columns simply denote the batch number, size, name and the yeast to use.  I just added yeast this year so I can manage my yeast more efficiently with re-use and/or racking onto yeast cakes.

Yeast Color Codes:

014-Yeast color codes

I heard on one of the brewing podcasts that you can actually go 8+ generations with really healthy yeast, but since I’m not in any kind of production capacity, I’m usually at the third generation before I’ve reached the end of my step ups.

Dates:

014-Dates

Since I typically brew on Saturdays, I just chose the Saturday date preceding the next week as my column headers.  I then highlight the weekends where we were either out of town, that weekend was off limits to brewing or maybe a weekend for a school break for the kids.

Very Top Row:

014-Top_Row

I didn’t enter any beers for NHC this year, but I did enter some in the Indiana Brewers Cup.  I had a week highlighted for the due date for entries and then the actual awards banquet.

Gantt Chart:

014-Schedule

014-Schedule_Key

This is really the core of my schedule, since it helps manage the timing of your brews along with your equipment capacity. As you can see in my schedule, I typically brew two batches at a time (as mentioned in the ABOUT MY BREWING).  When pairs of three are shown, I’ve started messing with maxing out my kettles with 1.5x the grain bill and reducing the water a little during the mash and boil, so that I get 3 batches (~15 gallons for me) out of one brew session.
Since most of my fermentations just follow a similarly timed schedule, all I do is just cut & paste (CNTL-X & CNTL-V for those like-minded keyboard shortcut preferring keyboard jockeys).  You may notice that I plan to try out the condensed lagering schedule later this year that is getting some attention lately.  Here is a link to Brulosophy’s Lager Method.

Conclusions:

Like I said, I hope that this helps a fellow brewer out for mapping out their schedule or inspires another to build on this or create their own.  Happy Brewing!!

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DIY Locker Shelf

Do you need a locker shelf, but can’t stomach paying $15 for a flimsy shelf?  Well it’s back to school time here and my daughter needed a locker shelf, so I did what any Tim Taylor type would do and build one myself.
As I stated in my About – This Blog page, I would have some posts that were non-beer related.  Well this is one of them.
I made one last year for my daughter and it screwed together once inside the locker.  I had assumed that they would take them out of their lockers on the last day of school, but they surprised me and did it the day before and I felt like a jerk, because the teacher didn’t have a screwdriver to take the thing apart.  This year, I decided to go with a design that was tool-less.

Difficulty: level_2

If you are even a novice woodworker, this should be a piece of cake.  Actual work time was probably about 15 minutes.  Gathering materials and your tools will add whatever time it generally takes you.

Supplies Needed:

  • 48″ section of shelving
    • 11″ to 12″ is a typical depth
    • I used a melamine board, because I had it on hand, but any shelving material should do
  • Scrap strip of wood for some supports
    • Again, I had a piece that was 3/4″ x 3/4″, but I’ll let you decide
    • something on the order of 40″-44″ should be close enough
  • Wood or drywall screws
    • They need to be shorter than the stackup of your shelf and wood strip (you’ll see later what I mean)

Tools Needed:

  • Drill
    • I’ve got a Makita drill and driver kit that is used in 95% of any of my projects.  If you don’t have a set, you need to.  Bosch, Makita and DeWalt all make good stuff.  A drill is, well, a drill.  But I love the impact drivers.  They make it effortless to run screws into anything.
  • Tape measure
  • Circular Saw
  • Clamps (for securing the wood to your work surface when cutting)

The Build:

Alright, lets get to it.  Measure twice, cut once.  Right??

You should have the interior dimensions of the locker in hand.  Many schools provide this information on their website.  Ours were 13-1/2″ wide, by 11″ deep.  I went just a bit under on width at 13-3/8″.  You don’t want too much free play however, because if there is too much movement, the shelf could collapse on itself.  You’ll know how sturdy it is when you install it in the locker.  The 11″ standard shelf depth worked out well, but I still had to trim a little off due to the frame of the door.

To help you visualize how this is going to go together, here is what each corner will look like.  You can see that the uprights support the weight of the shelf.  Then the stops that are screwed to the shelf basically prevent the uprights from leaning in.  The interior wall of the locker prevents the uprights from falling out.  Easy right?

locker shelf - shelf - how it works

Cut the top shelf piece to length.

locker shelf - Measurement - width

Then decide how tall you want it.  If you got a 48″ section, you should have enough wood to make something around 16″ tall at the most.  That should be sufficient for most books and notebooks.  Remember your total height will be the length of each upright, plus the thickness of the shelf.  And the underneath height will be the length of the uprights.

Now cut the uprights, just as you did for the top.

Next will be the strips that keep the uprights from moving.  These should be shorter than the depth of the shelf.  They will be fastened to the shelf top with screws.  You’ll need two strips per shelf.  I’m building two shelves here (one for each daughter needing one), hence a total of 4.

Mark out a line approximately 1″ from each end and then eyeballing the center should be good enough.

locker shelf - strips - marked for drilling

Pre-drill vs. Through Hole

You’ll want to drill “through holes” in the strips and “pre-drill” the shelf.

A through hole is just that, it allows the fastener to go through a material without actually gripping it and is larger than the major (or maximum) diameter of the fastener.

A pre-drill is used to reduce the risk of the wood splitting when you drive the screw in.  An appropriate pre-drill size for wood is right at the minor diameter or slightly under.  You can measure these dimensions if you have a pair of calipers, but I’m using my “eyechrometer” for these.

You can see below that the drill bit is slightly larger than the screw.  This is what I will use to drill the through holes in the wood support strips.

locker shelf - holes - predrill size

This next image shows selecting the pre-drill size for the shelf.  Notice that the drill diameter is approximately the same as the root diameter of the screw.

locker shelf - holes - through hole size

This next step is optional.  I used a counter-sink kit to allow the screws to sit flush with the top of the wood when fully secured.  Sometimes in harder woods, you’d end up splitting the wood if you ran the screws hard enough into the wood to make them flush.  They basically create a cone shape for the head of the fastener to sit in.

locker shelf - holes - countersink

See, nice pretty countersunk holes.

locker shelf - holes - countersinks completed

Now we need to pre-drill the shelf to attach the support strips.  You’ll need to measure the thickness of your upright.

locker shelf - measurement - shelf thickness

Then use that measurement to determine the spacing from the edge of the shelf to the location of the support strip.

locker shelf - measurement - stop offset

Mark a line so you know if anything moves when you are drilling the holes.

You’ll need screws that are shorter than the thickness of the shelf and the support strips.

locker shelf - holes - evaluating depth

You’ll also want to be careful to not drill all the way through the shelf.  Pointy screws poking out tend to rip books and cut hands!  I’ll sometimes use a short section of masking tape wrapped around the drill bit to mark the proper depth of the drill bit.

locker shelf - holes - drill depth marker

Now take your pre-drill size and use the holes in the support strips as a location guide.

locker shelf - holes - drilling

Once you have everything pre-drilled, it’s time to secure them to the shelf.  Nice and flush!

locker shelf - strips - attached and countersunk

locker shelf - top - with strips attached

Here is the completed shelf sitting up against the screwed together version 1 from last school year.

locker shelf - shelf - assembled and tested

Besides getting it to the locker, you’re DONE!

Getting it into the locker:

  • Set the uprights on the sides of the locker floor
  • Place the shelf on top, ensuring that the support strips fit in between the uprights

Not into brewing, but like to make stuff?  Check out these posts:

Making Belgian Candi Sugar
Rolling Deep Freezer Dolly

Are you curious about making your own beer and would like to learn more?   Try out a beginning brewing kit:

Choosing a Starting Brewing Kit

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Super Easy Tap Handles

Ok, so the big party is two days away and you realize that in your months of planning down to the last detail, you actually forgot one important detail.

Beer…Check

Keezer cart…Check

New faucet system…Check

Method to actuate said faucet system…DOH!!!!

A weekend of brewing followed by 9+ weeks of TLC and lagering of your Oktoberfest beer.  This needed some representation.  A couple pairs of vice-grips were not going to work in this situation.

Difficulty: level_2

Time Required:

Once you have collected all of the supplies, about an hour max.  More if you are also going to paint and design your own labels.

Cost:

Less than $10 for two tap handles

Required:

009-Brass Insert

3/8″-16 Brass threaded inserts

009-Spindle
1x wooden staircase spindle

Tools:

Chop saw or miter saw
Some sort of vice or clamping system
Hand drill and drill bits up to 1/2″

Insertion tool (optional if you plan ahead, not an option if only have days).  Make sure you get the 3/8″-16 version.  As of 5/31/14, the price was $10.99 at Rockler.

Insert_tool

 

Or there are T-handle designs

t-handle_insertion_tool

Alternately, you could use a 3/8″-16 threaded bolt and two corresponding nuts, which I also didn’t have on hand at the time of build.  If you are doing these often, I would get a tool.  If not, maybe make the call yourself on how MacGyver you want to get.

How it’s made:

Cut handles to length

First, you need to cut off the little nubbin on the end of your spindle (if applicable).

009-Spindle nubbin

Then, decide how long you want your tap handles to be and cut each of the fancy ends off of the spindle to your desired length.  Try to cut perpendicular to the spindles axis.  I used a quick clamp to hold it to my miter saw (basically because I had misplaced the super handy integrated clamp that went with the saw).

009-cutting spindle

Drill holes

Using your vice or whatever clamping system you fancy, get your tap handle secured for drilling.  If you are seriously cool and have a lathe or a drill press, go for it.  I tried a hole drilling jig, but the problem is that the spindles do not have nice constant diameter sections, which made squaring up the jig virtually impossible.

Drill progressively larger holes in the bottom end of the tap handle to work your way up to a 1/2″ hole.  If you have the means, I highly suggest you don’t drill off center as I have obviously done in these pictures.

009-drill bits

009-drill 1

009-drill 2

009-drill 3

Install the insert

009-install brass insert 1

009-install brass insert 2

November 2, 2014 update:  You’ll see further down alternate methods to install the insert.  This picture directly below shows my most recent “tool-less” method.  I use a standard 3/8-16 bolt along with a wing nut.  You thread the wing nut onto the bolt as shown, then also thread the brass insert almost fully onto the bolt.  Then tighten the wingnut to the brass insert.  You can then use this assembly to thread the insert into the tap handle.  When the brass insert is fully installed, just undo the wing nut and unthread the bolt.

009-alternate install method

Here is the “proper” method below:

Insert_tool

My initial MacGuyver method:

I don’t know how this worked out, but I needed something that would fit in the slot and help me screw the insert in.  I ended up using a cheapie wrench that came with some sort of put-it-together-yourself furniture.

These are hard to get started straight, so do your best. Usually they pull themselves straight after the first full thread or two. If not, you may want to back it out and start again.

009-install brass insert 3

NOTE: This is NOT the proper way to do this.  I just made do with what I had.  If you plan ahead, get an insertion tool or use the bolt method I mentioned above.

Getting the insert flush with the bottom takes a little extra “ingenuity”.

009-install brass insert 4

Finishing

Alright, so it’s functional at this point and you could go ahead and use it.  If you want to make it a little more presentable, you could sand and paint it and add labels.  For painting, I just used a 3/8″-16 bolt I had and used it as a handle while I spray painted.  You can also stain as I did on some other tap handles.  Before you apply your labels, I would suggest threading the tap handles onto the faucets and determine which orientation is best for not looking crooked.  If you drilled the holes by hand this is imperative.  If you drilled using a method that is guaranteed straight, proceed at will.

009-Ready to paint

The first year, I designed some labels and my crafty wife stained the handles, did the burned edge treatment on the labels and sealed them with some mod podge.

 

009-Stained tap handle

These are my painted versions for my Dunkel and Rye PA.

009-painted tap handles

There you have it folks.  Super easy tap handles.

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