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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Do You Hear Crickets?

Hi guys! I know it's been pretty quiet around here lately. That's because I'm finding it much more enjoyable to share my stories and interact with the awesome homebrewing community over on Instagram. Don't worry, I'm not shutting down this page, but until I figure out a way to integrate my IG posts into the website, it's going to stay quiet here. In the meantime, you can find me here: @drunkenborrachobrewing
If you have an Instagram account, give me a follow to stay in the loop. If you don't have an account, that's ok! You don't need one to see my pics and read posts. However, you won't be able to comment on or like anything. I promise I'll get my shit together soon and figure out something that works for all of us! Your patience is appreciated!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Homebrew Hacks to Get You Out of a Pinch

Article originally written for and posted on Brewd Magazine

I’m sure every homebrewer has had their share of frustrating moments, no matter their experience level. As much as we try to plan and prepare for everything on brew day, Murphy’s Law will eventually kick in.
However, homebrewers are nothing if not creative, so I’ve compiled this list of solutions to some common homebrew problems to help keep your brew days running as smooth as possible.

Dropped Something in the Wort?

Big pots, lots of steam, sweaty hands, slippery StarSan. You’re bound to drop something in the wort at least once during your homebrew journey. When it happens, don’t panic!
If it’s something that won’t dissolve immediately in the liquid (spoon, thermometer, measuring cup, cell phone), use a pair of tongs, a slotted spoon, or mesh strainer to fish it out. Where you are in the brewing process will also determine if you need to sanitize them first or not (though it wouldn’t hurt to do it anyway).
Worried that your beer is contaminated?
Unless whatever fell in was disgustingly filthy, you can stop worrying. If you dropped it in before or during the boil, the heat will kill off any nasties. If you dropped it after the boil, it’s likely that whatever fell in was already sanitized. If it wasn't, say a little prayer to the homebrew gods and hope for the best!

Still Using an Ice Bath to Cool Your Wort?

Hey, no judgement here, so do I! It’s not the most efficient way to cool wort, but sometimes we have to work with what we got.
I’ve learned a couple tricks to speed up the cooling process.
1. Add rock/kosher salt to the ice bath to keep the water colder for a longer period of time.
2. If you have an auto siphon and some extra tubing, use it to circulate the cold water into warmer spots by manually pumping the siphon.
3. Drain excess hot water from the vessel containing the ice bath as the ice melts.
4. Finally, use a sanitized spoon to stir the wort occasionally during the cooling process. This will help keep the temperature of the wort even.

Runaway Carboy Bung

If you have a stubborn bung that won’t stay in your carboy, there are a few things you can try.
First, make sure that the bung and the opening on the carboy are dry enough to get a good grip on each other. Wipe them with a clean, dry, paper towel after sanitizing or simply allow ample time to air dry.
If you’re having this issue during fermentation, make sure your airlock or blow-off tube isn’t clogged. It could just be that the CO2 has nowhere to escape.
If it still won’t stay, tape that mother down!
Two long strips (one on either side of the airlock/blow-off tube should do the trick). Make sure the strips are long enough to get a good grip on the sides of the carboy, or the tape will just pop off, too. The type of tape doesn’t matter, but to preserve your sanity during cleanup, use something that won’t leave behind any sticky residue.

Lost Carboy Bung

Aluminum foil is a great temporary solution.
Rip a big piece off the roll and sanitize it. Wrap one side tightly around the end of a blow-off tube, insert the tube into the carboy, then secure the remaining foil around the mouth of the carboy. It’s not the best, but it will buy you some time to track down your bung or go buy a new one.

Easy Temperature Control

An old t-shirt or towel is a cheap and easy way to keep fermentation temps down (and block out light).
Wet it down with ice cold water or pop it in the freezer for a little while, then put it on the carboy. If you’re using a towel, you’ll need clips or tape to keep it securely wrapped. As the shirt/towel warms and dries, spray it with ice water to keep it cold.
You can also tuck ice packs or heating pads in between the wrap and the carboy if the fit is snug enough.

Short on Priming Sugar?

 If you’re lacking a few ounces of priming sugar on bottling day, any other type of fermentable sugar you have in the kitchen should do the trick; regular white sugar, honey, brown sugar.
In small amounts, the flavor should not be affected.
If you’re concerned about it, though, stick to plain white sugar, or choose a substitute that will blend well with the flavor of the beer.  For example, brown sugar in a fruit beer.
Tip: Avoid using confectioners (powdered) sugar, as it may contain cornstarch.

Have any other tips or tricks you’d like to add? Share them below!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

4 Places to Buy Homebrew Equipment (Besides a LHBS)

Note: You'll notice that this is a little different than what I usually write. That's because I originally wrote it  for Brewd Magazine, a new website and homebrew resource that launched a few weeks ago. If you're a current homebrewer, or interested in starting up, check it out! There's a wealth of informational articles and recipes there, with much more to come. This is a new thing for me, so any feedback is also appreciated. Would you like to see more informational articles like this here, or are you happy with just reading my brew day adventures and ramblings? Let me know in the comments, and enjoy the article!

I’ve been brewing for a few years now, and a question I get asked pretty often by non-brewers is, “Where do you get all your supplies?” That answer used to be, “At my local homebrew supply store (LHBS).”
As of earlier this year though, the only LHBS within reasonable driving distance closed down, forcing me to get creative. Sure, I could just order stuff online, and I do just that for ingredients. For most of my equipment though, I prefer to shop in a physical store. This way I can inspect it, tinker with it, and feel the quality before I buy it. Especially if I’m going to be dropping a decent amount of cash on it.
I’m sure there are many others in my current situation, which inspired me to put together a list of places, other than a LHBS, where homebrew equipment can be found.

1. Yard Sales & Second Hand Stores

These places are a major jackpot for equipment if you’re willing to put in the time to look for it. Many people start homebrewing only to give it up, or are gifted kits that never get used. Good equipment is being sold on the cheap for no other reason than to get it out of the garage. Their loss is your gain! Sure, it may be dusty or cruddy and in need of a really good clean. However, cleaning is essential for all new equipment, regardless of where it’s bought.
If cruising around town looking for yard sales or browsing the local Salvation Army store isn’t your idea of a fun weekend, go online. Craigslist turns up a whole lot of results for homebrew supplies. Not to mention one of the many Facebook Yard Sale groups bound to have  what you’re looking for.

2. Sporting Goods Stores

When I decided to start using the Brew-In-A-Bag method, I went to the outdoor cooking section of my local sporting goods store and I did not regret it one bit!
Advertised as a setup for a crawfish/seafood boiler, this now became my wort kettle and propane burner. I needed a mash paddle, so I grabbed the giant metal paddle hanging on the shelf next to the pot. Round replacement grill grates or rectangular fish baskets are perfect for resting the grain bag over the pot while it’s draining. When I was ready to step it up and buy a mash tun, you guessed it! I went to the sporting goods store, bought a cooler and converted it into a mash tun.

3. Hardware Stores

If you’re a DIY type of person, the hardware store is probably already your favorite place to go. While you’re there, why not buy parts to build some of your equipment? A quick internet search will turn up plans to construct hop spiders, carboy/bottle washers, brew stands, wort chillers, and much more. You may also be able to find your tubing here. Just make sure whatever you use for your build is food safe and easy to clean and sanitize.

4. Grocery & General Retail Stores

These stores are good places to find the little odds and ends that might make your brew day easier. The kitchen gadget aisle is the perfect place to start. Digital scales for measuring hop additions, turkey basters for drawing samples, cheesecloth for hop additions and mason jars for storing harvested yeast. Not to mention the many odds and ends such as measuring cups, mesh strainers, thermometers and funnels. Pots and lids will also come in handy for brewing small batches or preparing your priming sugar and yeast starters.
Next up, the cleaning supply aisle. Bottle and small hose brushes, magic eraser sponges for removing those pesky labels from recycled bottles and Oxi-Clean for soaking your equipment.
Finally, go down to the storage aisle and grab some containers to keep everything you just bought organized.

This is not a comprehensive list, but I hope it’s enough to give you a jumping off point. Go shopping with brewing on your mind, and you’ll be surprised at what you can find. Granted, some of this stuff isn’t as nice as those beautiful Blichmann or SS Brewtech setups. It’s usually much cheaper, though, and the beer comes out just as good. Isn’t that what really matters?

Friday, July 28, 2017


So I stumbled across this cool little project while binging on Tasting Nitch's YouTube videos (If you don't know who she is, check her out! You won't regret it.). #FABQ stands for "Frequently Asked Beer Questions." It's a set of questions that *most* beer enthusiasts get asked at one point or another. The challenge is to make a video answering the questions, then tag 5 friends to do the same. It sounded like a fun way for all of you to get to know me a little better, so I decided to participate, but I'm bending the rules a little because videos just don't mix with my introverted self. So now that you know the game, here we go!

1. How did you get into beer geeking?/ Why beer?
When the hubby and I first moved to Galveston in 2009, we discovered a store called Spec's that carried more types of beer than I even knew existed. Hubby made it his mission to try a new beer every time we went shopping there. I was resistant to it at first, but finally came to realize that not all beer tastes like piss (thank you, Shiner!). A few years later, we moved to California, and the rest is history!

2. What's your favorite beer?
This is not an easy one to answer. It's like asking someone what their favorite book or movie is. It's like asking a mother which child is their favorite (OK, that might be a little extreme). When I get asked this question, I usually just say that I can't pick one, but I lean towards stouts and sours.

3. If you have one beer forever, what would it be?
Again, a hard one to answer, but if I absolutely had to pick one, I guess it would be Shiner Bock. Because it was the brew that opened my eyes to the beauty of craft beer, it holds a special place in my heart.

4. How can you drink so much? How do you stay healthy?
 I actually don't drink all that much? I don't drink every day, and usually don't have more than 2 beers at a time. I have gained some weight since I started this hobby, but I don't know if it's because of the beer or if it's because I've just crossed 30 and my metabolism is slowing down and hormones are weird. It's probably both, but mostly the beer. To keep it in check, I walk a lot, kayak occasionally, and have just started training to run my first 5k (pray for me!).

5. Are you an alcoholic? 
I actually wrote a small piece about this when I started my blog last year because I was getting some, ahem, "concerning looks" when I would express my passion with beer and brewing (read it here). I am definitely not an alcoholic. I'll give the answer I gave to a friend who is a recovering alcoholic and asked if I could stop drinking when I wanted: Yes, but I don't want to. I don't drink to get drunk, I drink to experience the flavors and appreciate the art of brewing. If I had to stop, I would be sad, but I wouldn't need help to do it. Besides, the great thing about being a homebrewer is that I could learn to make non-alcoholic beer! (Always looking for that silver lining)

6. What's your favorite ingredient? 
This is a question I don't think I've ever been asked, actually. I think I'd have to steal Nitch's answer and say yeast. Because without yeast, beer would not exist. We'd all just be drinking sweet wort. Yeast is the real hero here!

7. Do you brew? 
 Um, duh! Why else would I be here writing this?

8. What was your first beer?
 Ready to cringe? My 1st beer was Smirnoff Ice. Yeah, I know, it's not technically beer, it's a malt beverage, but did you think I knew that back then? No. A friend asked if I wanted a beer, I said if it tastes the way it smells, no (referencing Budweiser). He said, "You'll probably like this one." and handed me the Smirnoff.

9. Who in the beer world do you look up to?
I'd have to say Ashley Routson, aka The Beer Wench. I discovered her book, The Beer Wench's Guide To Beer, when I was working at B&N, and was immediately smitten. At a time when I was questioning whether or not I, as a woman, could actually make a name for myself in the beer industry, Ashley was the proof that I was looking for. She no longer works in beer, but I still admire her so much.

Well, that's it! I really enjoyed answering these, so I hope you enjoyed reading the responses. To see who I tagged, visit my Instagram page and check out the related post. And if you feel like participating, let me know so I can read your answers

Have a great weekend! 🍻