Friday, July 12, 2013

The Beer Machine: Journey into the Unknown

My crazy Uncle Jimmy got me the Beer Machine for Christmas this year after I mentioned to him that I wanted to try homebrewing.  Upon opening the box I'll admit that I was more than skeptical about this thing's ability to brew beer.  Reviews on the internet did little to comfort me.  As I feared, it was not a product respected by many homebrewers and many people were unable to make a successful batch with it.  Still, this was a kingly gift and there was nothing to lose so I finally put it to the test.

First I assembled the contraption. 

Afterwards I filled it with water and tested for any leaks.  Then a thorough sanitizing process using water and bleach.

Unlike normal brewing there is no boiling involved.  The kit comes with a preboiled mix.  All you need to add water to the machine and then the mix.  Fill with more water up to the marker on the side and then add the yeast packet.  Screw the top back on and you're done.  It said to boil and then cool well water which would've taken a while so I just used spring water from gallon jugs.

There's a pressure gauge on the top and a PCV (pressure control valve) to release excess pressure.  Still the instruction manual warms you not to place the unit near "children or valuables."  Not exactly comforting so I stuck it in the unfinished basement in a big plastic tub.

Ten hours later and pressure is building.  Something is happening in there!

The basement is about as cool as it gets in this house but it's still not very cold with the furnace being nearby and all.  I read a useful tip on the internet - I froze a few water bottles and placed them in the tub with a lid.  This helped drop the temp from 79 to 75 degrees (it seems 75 is about the max you want anyway.)  Just have to switch out the bottles every so often.

As of noon on Day 2, the pressure's at 15 PSI and the fermentor smells like bread so the Beer Machine appears to be working as intended.

The kit came with a pilsner mix which is probably my least favorite style of beer but it's what I got so it's what I'm using.  The official Beer Machine mixes get pretty crummy reviews however I've learned that going forward I can just use the Beer Machine as a fermentor and use extract kits instead.  It would mean that I'd actual have to boil malts and add hops like a real homebrewer but the end result will be much better.  Sounds good to me!  First though we must see this initial batch through to the end.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Seth and the Beer Machine.

1 comment:

  1. I really need to get over to Craft Brew Supplies in Hope Valley and get going...