Growing Hops at Home – Rigging Your Pole

Your Home Hop Yard – Step 1

When you plant your hop yard, one of the things to keep in mind is keeping it easy to harvest. One way to do this, since hop bines grow vertically, is to attache the strings they climb to a cord allowing your to raise and lower the strings like a flag.

This way, when harvest time comes, you can take the strings and go sit in the shade with a tasty beverage rather than standing where the hop plants are.

The components used:
http://amzn.to/1TN0Lro – Eye Screws
http://amzn.to/1WfuSvK – Quick Links – used to attach the pulley to the eye screw
http://amzn.to/1OhsxYV – Pulley
http://amzn.to/1VNiT81 – Clothesline Rope
http://amzn.to/1VNjs1B – Spring Snap – allows you to quickly snap the loops at the end of the twine to the rope to raise the strings.

 

 

Shorten Your Brew Day (Part 2)

Shorten Your Brew Day for More Fun

shorten your brew day to enjoy your beer moreAs I started in Part 1 of these tips to shorten your brew day, I don’t have enough time to do everything I want in my life. The main motivator for me to shorten my brew days is to make time for other activities I like, and in the long run, to be able to make more beer.

I know I’d love to have a couple extra hours on brew day. Even if it’s just time to sit and visit with my family and enjoy a brew from my last batch while relaxing, it would make brew day even more enjoyable.

Whatever the reason you have for wanting to shorten your brew day, I think it’s a great thing to pursue. Being more efficient doesn’t mean you have to move faster or enjoy the process less. It’s about finding ways to make brewing part of your life without it preventing you from having a life.

More tips for a shorter brew day(continued from part 1):

5. Split Your Brew Day

Overnight MashHonestly, this idea from Dan at the F It Lets Brew It! channel kind of blew my mind.

I had heard the recommendation to get everything in place previously. But for some reason, I had never really thought about splitting the brewing process across consecutive days.

Dan said by doing this, he can get up at a reasonable time and still be done by the time lunch rolls around. I’m definitely going to be adding this to my process.

Try a split brew day and see if it helps you make time for other activities.

6. Clean As You Go

Large Batch Brew Kettle

There are times in the brewing process where you’re waiting: mash rest (45-90 minutes), settling after adding your batch sparge (10-20 minutes), waiting for boil (15-30 minutes), waiting for the next hop addition, chilling, and there always seem to be times between steps that take a few minutes longer than you think.

Rather than sitting around during those times, I try to use them to keep things flowing smoothly. Some of the tasks that don’t always happen the day before:

  • Weighing Hop Additions (unless you read #3)
  • Mixing Sanitizing Solution
  • Rinsing & Preparing Chiller
  • Emptying & Cleaning Mash Tun
  • Sanitizing Fermenter
  • Assembling and Sanitizing Transfer Equipment (Auto Siphon, Racking Cane, Pump, Hoses)

I highly recommend cleaning out the mash tun while you’re waiting for boil to happen. When I wait until I’m done with the boil, it gets easier to make excuses to put it off. I’ve never let my mash tun sit for more than a few hours, but I’ve seen videos of home brewers struggling not to throw up while cleaning out their mash that sat for a few days. Don’t put it off.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

Brew More Often The advice any avid brewer wants to hear came from Josh: “Make more beer.”

OK, that’s not what he actually said, but it’s a good summary. If you want to get more efficient at making beer, you need to do it more often.

You not only become more comfortable with your process and equipment, but you start to notice where you should be keeping your stuff. It ties in with getting your equipment set up, but really keeping it all together so you know how to use it will keep your process efficient

Shorten Your Brew Day!

These are a few of the tips I was able to pull together to help you (and me) make our brew days more efficient and effective, so we can have more time for additional activities we enjoy. Even if that’s squeezing in one or two extra batches on a beautiful day, I hope these tips help you enjoy making beer at home even more!

If you have other tips, please post them in the comments below. Really, even though I’ve been brewing since 2009, I still love learning from my fellow brewers. Please, leave a comment below.

Brew up an adventure!

Shorten Your Brew Day (Part 1)

Why I Want to Shorten Your Brew Day

Having fun with family one reason to shorten your brew dayIf you’re like me, homebrewing beer is an activity you love. But you’re probably looking for ways to shorten your brew day. With a family, other hobbies, and a job, taking six to eight hours to brew a batch of beer can feel like you’re stealing time you should be using for other things.

Weekends are the two days when I have to squeeze in time with my wife and kids, since I don’t usually have to put in hours at the office on those days. The more time I can free up for fun and family, the easier it is to spend times on the things that are just for me.

Here are a few ways I found to shorten my brew day:

 

1. Shrink Your Batch Size

Lots o' BottlesOne of the common philosophies in homebrewing is that it doesn’t add that much time to brew a larger batch of beer. And this is true, to a point. The day you are brewing may only take 30 minutes to one hour longer to go from making five gallons of beer to making a ten gallons of beer, as long as you have the equipment. However, jumping from five to ten gallons doubles the length of your bottling or kegging day; it potentially gives you twice as many fermenters to clean; and if you’re bottling, that’s twice as many bottles to clean and sanitize.
I only made three five gallon batches when I started brewing and jumped straight to ten gallon batches. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. With two small kids, I got twice as much beer for about the same time investment on my brew days. But I found myself avoiding bottling day, and started brewing less frequently.

Also, a large batch is a much larger investment in ingredients. If you’re making a ten gallon batch, you need twice as much ingredients.

2. Decide on Your Recipe Ahead of Time

One of the things that can are really freeing about homebrewing is that you can adjust your recipe on the fly. I usually run into something unexpected on my brew days, but it doesn’t need to mean you are making things up the day of brewing. Decide on the recipe ahead of time, that way you can make sure all your ingredients are in place.

3. Measure and Prepare Your IngredientsGrind Your Grain to Shorten Your Brew Day

Speaking of ingredients: by planning your recipe ahead of time, you can make sure all your grains are weighed and crushed the day before. If you don’t have bulk grain on-hand, this allows you to visit your homebrew shop before your brew day. This is vital, at least for me. I love talking to Doug(the owner) at my local homebrew shop, so it is pretty much impossible for me to get out of the shop in less than an hour.

When I know what I need ahead of time, I can stop in and have a leisurely chat with Doug while I get my stuff. It makes for a more relaxed morning on brew day, plus I don’t feel guilty if it takes me longer than an hour because Doug and I strike an interesting topic.

But seriously, weigh and crush your grains. You could even weigh out your hop additions the night before.

4. Set Up Your Gear (and Get It Together)

Set up equipment to shorten your beer brewing dayI really appreciate this tip from Andrew from Not on Sundays Brewing:
Getting everything in place the day before, or even having dedicated storage so your gear can always be together would significantly shorten the setup time.

One of the things that takes a lot of time for me is just getting everything set up for brew day. Since I brew in the garage, I have to move the car, get my stands set up, get the burners and mash tun in place. This is lengthened by the fact some of my gear is stored in the basement at the other end of our house. So, each trip forces me to go through the kitchen, dining room, down two flights of stairs, and through the basement rec room to get my gear. Then I have to reverse the journey. And I always have to make more than one trip.

I make sure my fermenters are clean before my brew day starts. That way I don’t have to worry about how to get dried-on krausen off the inside of my fermenter when I should be focused on my brewing process.

I have a few more tips to shorten your brew day I’ll be sharing with you soon.

Brew up and adventure!

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