• Prohibition: Alabama’s Antiquated Articles

    You can buy a shirt at the department store, but you can’t make your own shirt.  You can buy a hamburger at the local fast food restaurant, but you can’t make your own hamburger.  You can buy beer at the local store, but you can’t make your own.  For those living in Alabama, one of those three statements is true.

    I’m really having trouble understanding the logic of why something that is available for sale would not be permissible to make in the comfort of your own home.  Under the new law homebrewing is punishable as a misdemeanor with significant fines and even jail time.

    Daniel J. Smith, an assistant professor of economics at the Manual H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University, makes some great points:

    If Alabama believes that “the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property,” as stated in Article 1, Section 35 of the Alabama Constitution, homebrewing ought to be legal.



    In fact, since President Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing at the national level in 1978, there has been a craft beer revolution with microbreweries and brewpubs popping up around the nation. This renaissance has not reached Alabama due to archaic remnants of the Prohibition era, including the ban on homebrewing.

    Those that have opposed the homebrewing process are under the impression that the ability to make beer and wine for a cheaper price in the home will increase the amount of drunks.  As someone who has been brewing beer for the short period of 6 months, I can tell you, it’s not the place to go to get your quick fix of alcohol.  I’m currently brewing once a week (5 gallons or about 2.2 cases of beer), but leaving the beer to ferment for 4 weeks.  Not the ideal situation for someone looking to get drunk on a daily basis.  Even then, my beers are cheaper in cost than good craft beer, but the crappy watered down beer like Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light are still cheaper than what I produce.

    The deeper issue at stake is the tendency of politicians — whether at the local, state or national level — to manage every aspect of their constituents’ economic and personal lives. This trend threatens the development of personal responsibility and undermines the foundations of a free society. French political observer Alexis de Tocqueville long ago warned this type of bureaucratic power turns people into “nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

    Sweet home Alabama?  Not for me, but then, a southern man don’t need me around anyhow.

    Source: http://blog.al.com/

  • Groupon and the home brewing kit deal


    If you’ve been following us lately, you know that I’ve been brewing my own beer theses days.  While generally cheaper than buying good craft beer, there are still lots of costs associated with brewing that are outside of the just the ingredients.  It because of this that anytime I can find a good deal on brewing supplies, I’m going to take it and save some cash.

    I was forwarded an email by a very loyal Indy Beers follower (my mother) that was a deal of the day from groupon.  If you were looking to start brewing your own beer, now might be the time to do so.  So here is the deal from “Midwest Supplies Home Beer and Wine Making”:

    $64 for Beer-Brewing Starter Kit and Ingredients (Up to $137.92 Value)


    In a Nutshell


    Home-brewing kit quick starts batches of ales, lagers & stouts with premium hops, yeasts & grains, as well as easy recipes

    So there you have it.  Check the link below if you interested, and get started brewing your own beer today!!!!



  • Home Brewing – The first batch

    Mathew and I brewed the first batch of beer together, and it was a lot of fun. Here are the pictures.

    Having never brewed beer before, I took the easy method of buying a kit.


    This was most of what was in the kit, after I washed and sanitized everything.


    I now have a water filter at the house, but the first few times I brewed I bought filtered water.


    We were using a Brewers Best recipe, the red ale.


    Looks red to me.


    After the 20 minute steep, we pulled out the grains.


    After coming up to boil we added the liquid malt extract (LME)...


    And the bittering hops...


    Check out that action shot!!


    Well, it was our first time and we left the lid on the pot. Too much heat resulted in a small boil over.


    With 5 minutes to go we added the aroma hops.


    My father had stopped by and gave my brother and me a hand adding the hops in.


    He also helped by taking this picture of Mathew and me cooling the wort with the wort chiller.


    We were able to go from boiling to 75 degrees in about 10 minutes.


    We recycled the water from a cooler filled with ice water.


    This did not work well and the newer setup is using a 10" stainless steel strainer and just dumping the pot into the bucket.


    Well, that is it for brewing, now it's time for other things.


    After a week, we needed to move from primary to secondary fermentation.


    Looks like we lost about a half gallon to evaporation.


    I no longer use the siphon and instead just put one bucket above the other and let gravity do the work.


    We, of course, had to taste the beer at this point in the process.


    It was flat and wasn't cold, but we both said, "It doesn't suck!"


    Much easier this way.


    I did a lot of reading, and everyone said bottling is a pain in the butt, so I bought a kegging setup.


    After two weeks we moved the beer to the keg.


    I needed to mount the taps on the fridge, which was really easy.


    And with the whole thing done, we were ready to drink beer!!!


    As of this writing, I'm now on batch six, and LOVING making my own beer.


    I no longer use the kits and have started experimenting with various styles.


    But I like having two beers on tap!!!!


  • Friday Beer Fun – DIY Edition

    With Spring coming soon it’s time to start your list of Spring projects to do.  Here are a few DIY beer related items that you might want to consider in the coming months.

    1. The first thing you’ll need is a beer mug, so why not make your own.
    2. You’ll need someplace to drink that beer, so why not build yourself a bar.

    3. You’ll need some beer to go with the mug and bar, so why not brew your own.
    4. When the beer is done you’ll need a place to store it, so it’s time to build a kegerator.
    5. Of course, maybe you’re looking for a non-conventional beer dispensing method, like a fire extinguisher.
    6. If you’re into bottling instead, you’ll need to make some labels.
    7. Or maybe you want more than just a label, how about a whole 4-6 pack setup?
    8.  If you’re like me, you have kids around a lot, so you should have some beer for them, too.
    9. You could also have fun treats for the adults.
    10. And lastly, while everyone is hanging out enjoying everything you’ve made they will surely be using your Wi-Fi.  Time to build a Wi-Fi booster.
  • Interview – WilliamsWarn – The World’s First Personal Brewery

    After posting our article about the WilliamsWarn personal brewer we received a few really good comments on reddit.com.  We took the questions that didn’t have answers in the FAQ section of the WilliamsWarn website and sent them over to Ian Williams and Anders Warn as a follow up.  Below are the answers we received back from Ian.  Thanks to those guys for taking the time to respond to us!!!  Also, a big thanks to DCnC, deangreenz, kyleisgod, aphex732, and praxela for their opening comments on reddit!!


    Several people have made comments about the cost.  How long do you think it will be until the cost of the brewer comes down in price to something more reasonable for the average beer lover?

    We are in negotiations with a US group about licensing production in the US. The price will likely be cheaper than here but I can’t confirm until we actually get the first made.  Hopefully it’s a pleasant surprise for all of us.


    Your site mentions a “special clarification agent”.  What is this product and does it need to be purchased exclusively from you, or can it be bought from your local homebrew store?

    This is one of our few secrets. Took me a while to figure this part of the process out so it’s our IP for the moment.


    There have been questions about creating a quality beer product in such a short period of time.  Due to the nature in which the brewer works are you limited to only certain types of beers?  What types of beers have been found to not work well with this system?

    The 7 day process is for ales. But it’s not short its quite normal and there’s nothing negative about it. Guinness is made in 5 days. Even Foster’s Lager is made in 7 days. Homebrewers have a tradition of long ageing due to the history when it was all bottled and aged for 7 weeks. The only reason they keep bottles for so long is to get them carbonated, it’s not for flavour. But it seems people think beer needs to be matured like wine. We’ve eliminated the extra carbonation step so don’t have the delay like in bottled or kegged homebrew. Beer is best fresh. It’s like bread. It stales. So the last thing you want to do is keep it lying around for some mythical ageing process to improve it. There are a few styles than can benefit in some cases from ageing but generally once you’ve got the flavour you want after fermentation its best to chill it, clear it and drink it. The main thing is to make sure you have no off-flavours before you put the cooling on.


    For lager it can take a bit longer but it depends on how much yeast you pitch and what temperature you ferment at and the taste profile of the yeast. If you chose a lager yeast that ferments fast and doesn’t produce too much diacetly or sulphurs then the 7 days can almost be met in those circumstances too. But for really cold fermentations around 10’C it’ll take a while as those types of beers do. Can be weeks. But once fermentation is over and the beer is cold, clarification still only takes a day or so and then you can consume.


    The only beers that may not work are those that may be made with a very non-flocculent yeast that our clarification agent can’t force out of the beer and the brewer wants clear beer. So we usually recommend to use yeast that will at least flocculate reasonably well.


    A lot of brewers like to tinker with beers through the brewing process.  How much flexibility is built into the system to allow this to happen or does the system work in a way that nothing can be changed after the process has started?

    You can adjust the carbonation level to any level during fermentation

    You can adjust the temperature during fermentation and maturation between 10-26’C

    You can manipulate the clarity to a certain extent but we normally are aiming for clear beers in general so don’t do that very often

    You can chose the dispense temperature

    You can change carbonation levels afterwards


    But the main tinkering you should be doing is with the ingredients at the start……


    While you offer a solution to bottle the beer, you state the oxidation will allow it to last only 1-2 months.  Is there any method to age the beer longer?

    It’s me just being paranoid about oxidation. The beer will last many months if bottled well. It’s actually a matter of opinion. Beer oxidation happens to be my subject wihin brewing so I’m a little over-the-top about it. The average beer drinker doesn’t really know what beer oxidation is, although they do drink less beer when its oxidised. If you want aged beer for some reason then you can leave it bottled for years if you want.

  • WilliamsWarn – The World’s First Personal Brewery

    Relatives of a friend of Chris’ came up with this great idea, a completely self contained brewing unit.  All you have to do is add the ingredients and then wait for the beer to be ready on tap.  Coming in at about $4500 US (they are based out of New Zealand) The WilliamsWarn isn’t for everyone, but if you have the cash, and want an easy method to home brew your own beer, this is for you.  I would love to get my hands on one and try it out.

    Here is some information from their website describing how it works.

    The WilliamsWarn Personal Brewery has six main technical features that, when combined together, create the world’s first all-in-one brewing appliance. This combination then allows you to make the freshest beer on the planet with minimum effort. The current design is for 23 litres of beer.


    1. A stainless steel pressure vessel with beer carbonation level control
    The current global homebrewing method of making beer involves making flat beer that then needs to be carbonated somehow in a secondary production step. This extra step can take up to 4 weeks in the case of bottled homebrew. We have solved this problem by fermenting the beer in a stainless steel pressure vessel that allows the beer to carbonate during the first day of fermentation and hold its carbonation level after that. So there’s no need to bottle or keg the beer and an enormous amount of work and weeks of waiting time is eliminated. It pours out of the brewery, fully carbonated, 7 days after you’ve added the ingredients.


    2. A temperature control system
    Poor temperature control in homebrewing is responsible for both long fermentation periods and poor beer flavour. It is also the reason why homebrew can give you a big headache. The WilliamsWarn Personal Brewery has perfect temperature control throughout the entire process, just like a modern brewery. By the turn of a dial on the control panel, temperature is controlled during fermentation, maturation, clarification and beer dispense. So there are no delays in the beer production and the flavour is commercial quality.


    3. A sediment removal system
    Transferring beer from one tank to another oxidises the beer. The No.1 beer brand in the world has a 3 1/2 month shelf-life because of this. They believe you can taste it. Breweries and good homebrewers minimise this transferring as much as possible but they can’t avoid it and the beer gets moved from tank to tank and into packaging and oxidised along the way. We on the other hand have developed a system that involves no transfers at all. We achieve this by having a bottle under the tank cone that allows us to collect all yeast and haze sediment during fermentation and after clarification, which then gets removed off the tank without the beer having to be moved. Therefore the clear beer coming out of the WilliamsWarn Personal Brewery has never been tranferred and is technically the freshest beer in the world.


    4. A clarification system
    After fermentation the beer is cold and carbonated but it’s still hazy and needs some extra clarification. But because we’ve developed a pressurised fermentation system that self-carbonates (so that we could eliminate the weeks long secondary carbonation step homebrewers have to do) we’ve needed to develop a beer clarification system that works under pressure. So the WilliamsWarn has a well-designed system that allows 50ml of a special clarification agent to be forced into the beer and mixed well for about 10 seconds, whilst the whole tank is still under pressure. The remaining yeast cells and beer haze then all fall into the sediment bottle under the tank, which then gets removed. This helps clear the beer without us having to move the beer, which has resulted in us being able to invent the first all-in-one brewing machine. Everything occurs in one tank instead of many tanks, kegs and bottles.


    5. A gas dispense system
    Once the beer is cold and clarified, it is ready to consume. However if we opened the beer tap and started pouring beer, as we emptied the tank over time, the tank pressure would start to decrease and the beer would become flat. This is because as the headspace becomes larger and the beer volume smaller, the CO2 in the beer moves into the headspace and the beer starts to lose its fizz. So what we need to do is maintain the pressure in the headspace as the level decreases, with an external source of CO2. Then the natural CO2 in the beer stays in the beer and it remains fully carbonated right until the last drop. So we use Soda Stream CO2 cylinder that is placed in the machine, to help push the beer out the beer tap and maintain the same pressure in the tank from first drop till last drop.


    6. A draft beer dispense mechanism with flow-control
    The final important part of the technology is the beer tap. Because the beer is under pressure and the tap is close to the tank, we need to be able to restrict the flow so that the beer doesn’t flow out of the tap too quickly and cause over-foaming in the glass. In addition, because we can make unlimited beer styles in the personal brewery, the beer in the tank can be a highly carbonated wheat beer or a low carbonated English ale, so be sitting at different tank pressures. We have therefore used a beer tap with a flow-control mechanism to account for these two issues. This enables the brewer to control the speed of the pour, so that he or she can always get the perfect pour into the glass. The mechanism is simply a small lever on the side of the tap that can be easily adjusted before or during a pour, to restrict or open-up the flow inside the tap as it is dispensed. In addition, by pulling the top of the tap backwards, you can add more foam to the top of your beer in your glass.


    Source: http://www.williamswarn.com/

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