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Whirlpool creates a new homebrew machine

VessiEnviromentWhirlpool, the company behind all the appliances in your kitchen, has something new they would like to add to your lineup; an all-in-one beer fermenter, carbonator and server. The new appliance is called Vessi and is being launched in conjunction with crow-funding site Indiegogo.

“The traditional fermentation and carbonation stages for home-brewers can be tedious, cumbersome and require many steps in order to get the perfect brew,” Noel Dolan, senior manager, Open Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at Whirlpool Corporation said in a press release. “We knew there had to be a better way. At W Labs, we’ve been researching, testing, designing and rethinking the entire beer brewing process and what’s resulted from that is the Vessi system. With the Vessi fermentor, we’re taking the stresses out of the fermentation stage for homebrewers and allowing them to focus on what they love about beer making.”

While brewers still need to make wort using their current method, Vessi allows homebrewers to serve their beer much quicker than they would if they fermented using carboys, often in as little as seven days. The company bases this claim on a low-alcohol (3.3% ABV) blonde ale.

The fermentor includes a single tank system that is sealed, pressurized and temperature-controlled to create beer in a near perfect environment. Featuring a single tank design, the Vessi fermentor also allows users to reduce risks in the homebrewing process such as contamination, oxidation and imperfect temperatures. The system retains the beer’s carbonation throughout the fermentation process, rather than the complicated multi-step carbonation process typically used by other homebrewing systems.

The system is expected to ship by the end of the year and retail around $1,400. You can learn more about it at the official Indiegogo site: https://igg.me/at/VESSIFERMENTOR.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Homebrewing a rewarding labor of love

The May 2015 edition of BUZZ Magazine features an edited version of this article in my regular Brew Time column on Page 49. But, since that column was so space restricted, I decided to publish the article in its entirety here. I hope you enjoy both the abridged version in BUZZ and this full version. Be sure to pick up a copy of BUZZ monthly to read my columns that explore the historic aspects of the world’s third favorite beverage (behind tea and water).

Checking_WortHomebrewers are passionate about their hobby. Get in to a conversation with one of them and you will likely get an earful of terms like attenuation, specific gravity and Saccharomyces. Within the community of homebrewers it is not at all unlikely to hear that they spend entire weekends sweating over boiling pots of wort and adding hops to their latest attempt at cloning Pliney the Younger (a mythical and extremely rare beer that every serious beer lover aches to taste).

Until 1979 it was illegal to brew beer at home. President Jimmy Carter, whose infamous brother Billy lent his name to a short-lived beer brand, put an end to the Prohibition-era ban on homebrewing when he signed a bill in February of that year. The new law set limits on how much beer could be brewed at home (100 gallons per year) and how old one had to be to brew it (21-years-old). In the last 30 or so years, homebrewers have come a long way to advance the methods used to create tasty beers. Some have been so successful that they have gone on to found their own breweries and brew pubs. To those enterprising souls, the art of homebrewing was a labor of love that led to a new career in the ever-expanding craft beer industry.

Homebrewing is about two things: ingredients and process. Knowledge of both is critical to creating a drinkable and enjoyable brew.

Ingredients

Water – Tap water is fine, but if you live in an area that has distinctly hard water, you may want to opt to purchase bottled spring water. Since beer is more than 95-percent water, whatever your source, it will affect the finished product.

Malt – The most common malt used to brew beer is barley malt. Malt is any grain that has been allowed to germinate, but not sprout. Malting changes the chemical composition of the grain to convert its sugars and make them more palatable to yeast. This in turn facilitates brewing. Malts provide sweetness to beer that offsets the bitter flavors provided by hops.

Hops – These cones are the flowers of the hops vine. Hops are used to impart bitter flavors to beer and offset the rich sweetness provided by malt. Depending on the type of beer being brewed varying amounts of hops are used. IPAs are generously hopped for a bitter wallop of flavor while Belgian styles generally use a less substantial application.

Yeast – Before the mid-1800s, no one really knew how the alcohol in beer occurred. But, after Louis Pasteur studied the little beasties, it was understood that the single-celled organisms digest the sugars provided by malts and excrete alcohol and carbon-dioxide. In brewing there are two main types of yeast; lager yeast that ferments at cooler temperatures and ale yeast that ferments at warmer temperatures.

BoilTypes of Home Brewing

In homebrewing, there are three primary methods to create a batch of tasty suds: extract, partial mash and all-grain. The best place to start is with extract and then, as your skill grows move on to partial mash and all-grain.

Extract Brewing – This method, as the name implies, uses canned malt extract rather than the actual grains. Because the extract is simply added to boiling water and hops are added, this is generally considered the easiest way to homebrew.

Partial Mash Brewing – This method incorporates using malt extracts with some actual grain. Because of the addition of loose malt, this method requires more skill and is an excellent intermediary step to mastering the art of homebrewing.

All-Grain Brewing – This is the method that craft breweries use and requires the most skill to master. Grains are steeped in water at a specific temperature range and for a designated amount of time to achieve the desired results.

The Brewing Process

The brewing process itself consists of several distinct steps each building on the one before to reach the ultimate goal of a refreshing adult beverage.

Step 1: Sanitation – Beer is extremely susceptible to contamination therefore, to reduce the chance of rogue bacteria from imparting off flavors, all equipment must be sparkling clean. The best way to achieve this is with a commercial sanitizing agent, but a partial bleach solution will work, too.

Step 2: Mashing –During this process malt extract or actual malted grains are added to hot water to convert complex sugars to simple sugars. To achieve the best results, the water often must be held at a specific temperature range. The liquid that results from this stage is called wort.

Step 3: Boiling – In the boil, hops are added to impart bitterness and balance the maltiness of the wort. Depending on the style of beer you are making, you may need just one hop addition or, for hoppier styles, you may have a hops schedule that has hope additions occurring over a period of time.

Step 4: Cooling – One of the biggest mistakes made by new brewers is adding the yeast too soon. Yeast is very delicate and requires a certain environment to survive, if the wort is too warm the yeast will perish. Many brewers will put their wort in an ice bath to cool it rapidly. Ideally ale yeast should never be added to wort that is warmer than 75-degrees. Once cooled, the wort is transferred to a primary fermentation vessel.

Step 5: Pitching – When yeast is added to the cooled wort it is referred to as pitching the yeast. Yeast may come in either dry or liquid forms. Dry yeast should be rehydrated with warm water before pitching while liquid yeast can be added as is.

Step 6: Fermentation – Once the yeast and wort are combined, the process of fermentation begins. Most brewers use a device called an airlock to monitor fermentation; as long as bubbles continue to rise through the airlock, the beer is fermenting. After a week or two the bubbles begin to slow and secondary fermentation can begin if desrired. During this second process, additional sugars and flavorings may be added to create unique characteristics in the finished beer.

Step 7: Bottling – Finally, after all fermentation is complete, beer is transferred from fermentation vessels to bottles or kegs. Often a small amount of sugar is added at this stage so that when the bottles are capped fermentation will start again and carbonate the beer.

Step 8: Enjoy – After several weeks of bottle conditioning, your beer will be ready to drink. Put a few in your fridge, invite some friends over and reap the rewards of your labors!

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Beer Education

 

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Just Brew It to host National Learn to Homebrew Day

Logo of the American Homebrewers Association f...

Logo of the American Homebrewers Association featured in 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If beer is known as a social drink, then brewing beer should be known as a social activity as well. Interest in learning to homebrew beer has exploded along with the craft beer industry. Luckily for those who want to learn to brew, this Saturday, Nov. 3, has been designated National Learn to Homebrew Day by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), a division of the Brewers Association (BA). The event, which was established in 1999, will be observed in Jacksonville by Just Brew It at 2670 Rosselle Street.

Members of the Cowford Ale Sharing Klub (C.A.S.K.) – a local Jacksonville homebrewing club – will be setting up their rigs and putting on brewing demonstrations in the parking lot of Just Brew It for anyone interested in the craft. In addition, if you want to try your hand at brewing your own beer, you can purchase equipment and ingredients at Just Brew It and receive expert advice from the store staff and from the brewers outside. You can even set up and brew a batch with the rest of the brewers if you desire.

The AHA was founded in 1978 by Charlie Papazian in Boulder, Colo. Since its humble beginnings, the association has grown to more than 30,000 members and employs a full-time staff dedicated to assisting homebrewers through education and representation. The association produces its own magazine called Zymurgy that is devoted to informing advancing the skills of the homebrewer.

Homebrewing has a long and storied tradition in the United States. In colonial times, homebrewing was common and many of our founding fathers including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin were all homebrewers. Back in those times, water was not always safe to drink because it contained bacteria and microbes that could make people sick. Beer was brewed not only for flavor and enjoyment, but also to provide a safe alternative to hydration.

Today homebrewing is a fun activity that yields a final product the brewer can be proud of. Many who begin brewing enjoy it so much that it becomes a regular activity. Clubs, such as C.A.S.K. have sprung up around the hobby and sponsor frequent interclub competitions.

Walter Rasko of Just Brew It says that National Learn to Homebrew Day is, “Basically some guys doing both all-grain and partial-mash batches. It’s a watch and learn type day.” Rasko, a long-time brewer himself, went on to say that attendees can, “Expect 10 to 15 guys from C.A.S.K. to be brewing. We will probably brew a kit, as well to show how easy it can be.”

Those interested in learning more about homebrewing can visit the AHA’s website at: www.homebrewersassociation.org.

For information about meeting and how to join C.A.S.K. visit their website at:  www.thecask.org.

Brewing at Just Brew It begins at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.

Keep up to date on all the beer happenings and news going on in town at the ALL NEW www.JaxBeerGuy.com.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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