Lubricating a Sticky Perlick

I’ve had the same Perlick 525SS faucets on my kegerator for years and have done absolutely nothing to them except for the occasional soak ‘n scrub.  Over the last few kegs though I’ve noticed that the handles moved with some stiffness, and they had to be pushed closed a bit.  In fact I lost a few gallons of porter on the floor one night because the faucet didn’t completely seal.

Before tapping my newest beer I took a harder look at the faucet hoping to be able to figure out how to fix it.  It’s a very simple device with only one moving part so I was able to sense that the ball & socket joint made by the valve and body was sticky.  On my faucets the valve does not come out of the body so I could just barely see the o-ring that makes that seal.  Using a toothpick I shoved some keg lube down in to that joint, and after working it around the valve had that brand-new feeling.  It slaps closed now with far fewer drips than before.

For reference here is a link to Perlick’s parts diagram.  I lubricated between the o-ring and the upper ball in the valve.  The lower ball makes up the actual beer flow valve.  Here is an annotated image from that page in case the URL changes.

Perlick 525SS lubrication point
Perlick 525SS lubrication point

Toasted Coconut Porter

The original recipe, from the December 2003 issue of Zymurgy.
The original recipe, from the December 2003 issue of Zymurgy.

A few weeks back I brewed the Toasted Coconut Porter that Zymurgy has had around for the last million years.  The original was for 2.6 gallons so I simply doubled everything to hit my usual batch target of 5.3 gallons.

There’s really nothing interesting about the recipe until you dump in almost a pound of toasted coconut.  I found a 14oz bag at my local supermarket which was the perfect size.  For better or for worse It is sweetened, but it smelled really good while toasting.

The bag had some toasting instructions on back, 350F for 7-10 minutes.  I would up toasting for about 20 in order to get a nice golden color.  The coconut got dumped right into the primary bucket, no bags or anything.   This is two weeks after brew day, I’ll likely check in on it after a week to see how it’s tasting.   I’ll update this post once it’s kegged and carbonated.

12/7/2013 update: The beer has been nicely carbed for a couple of weeks now and it turned out very well.  Up front it’s a straightforward porter with a subtle coconut backing.  It’s not like you’re eating a coconut candy bar, the coconut is only detectable if you really think about it.

The coconut
Look a bag of coconut!
Before
Before
After
After

Hard Piped MLT False Bottom

I recently had a really bad stuck mash on a pumpkin beer, 10 pounds of pumpkin meat jammed up my MLT something fierce.  Eventually I figured out that the soft vinyl hose between the false bottom and outlet collapsed due to the heat, weight of grain, and the vacuum induced by the hose end being below the surface level of the wort.  That was the same piece of nasty hose that had been in there since 2006 (6 years) so decided to re-do the whole thing.

Using stainless compression fittings I ran a short length of copper tube between the false bottom and outlet.  Keeping the compression fittings finger-tight lets me remove the false bottom for cleaning.

Nasty old vinyl hose
New shiny connection!
False bottom with piping

J.B. Welded Heatstick

I just built this heatstick which uses a thinned-out J.B. Weld to seal the space around the element connections.  1 teaspoon of acetone per both tubes of epoxy worked well to make it pourable, although if I did it again I might up it to 1.5t to make the pouring go a bit faster.  An item for consideration though is that the acetone seems to increase the cure time.

I had my stick drying upright for about 15 hours when I picked it up to check out the curing process.  The epoxy was down at the bottom as expected and did not appear to be liquid so I assumed it was solid enough to dry placed on its side.  Well it really wasn’t, and it flowed a bit down the side of the tube.  This wasn’t a big deal because the wire connections and sides of the element still have a thick coating but if I do this again I will definitely wait a full two days before moving it around.

Before I sealed up the rest of the stick I took it for a test run and it worked as expected.  I plan to use it to fix low mash temperatures, and if it’s strong enough to do step mashes.  It’s only a 1500W element so that may be a tough challenge for it.

Nitrogen Kit

Inspired by the Stout episode of Brewing TV, I’ve taken my kegerator to the next level by getting a stout faucet and nitro keg.

It’s pretty great but did require some minor reconfiguration of my kegerator. Previously I had a single gas line coming into the fridge with it being split inside to the kegs.  Because I now need to switch a gas disconnect between two gas tanks I drilled a second 1/2″ hole in the back of the fridge and ran both disconnect lines out through there.    Then I moved the gas splitter outside the fridge so that with two CO2 kegs I’ll simply split the CO2 through there.  When I have a stout on tap I’ll simply move that disconnect off of the CO2 splitter over to the Nitrogen keg.  I used extra-long lengths of gas hose with swivel flare fittings to make moving them around easy.

I got the tank, faucet, and spare parts from Keg Connection and I got it filled at Weld Specialty’s Milwaukee location.  Using Northern Brewer’s Nitro Keg Guide I set the N2 regulator to 25 psi and got a nice pour on the first attempt.

CO2 Split Between Disconnects for Two Normal Kegs
CO2 Split Between Disconnects for Two Normal Kegs

 

Stout Keg Disconnect Routed to Nitro Keg
Stout Keg Disconnect Routed to Nitro Keg
Nitro Keg Hooked Up
Nitro Keg Hooked Up

 

Nice Pour on the First Attempt
Nice Pour on the First Attempt
New Faucet
New Faucet

Carbonator Caps & Hole Punch

I just invested in a starter keg setup, and I made a batch of carbonator caps for beer transportation.   Using this article as a starting point I drilled the requisite hole using standard twist drill bits.  The problem with large bits and soft material is that they tend to suddenly “grab” and make large radial cuts.   A 7/16″ hole punch works much better, and the valves have no problem fitting into the hole.  I got my punches from Amazon for cheap.

Cooling Wort to Lager Temps

I brewed a vienna lager today and with it being late summer I knew our tap water wouldn’t cool the wort far enough.  Here in Milwaukee we’re fortunate to have cool tap water all year but it does get up to 55-60 in the summer which doesn’t work well for getting the wort down to 50 or 55.

Using my cleaned-out mash tun as a ice water tub and a pond pump I was able to chill the wort down to 59.  It was moving really slowly at this point so I figured I’d let the freezer take it the rest of the way to 50.  The temperature of the ice water was about 42 so there was cooling potential left but I got impatient.  I used a ton of ice; 5 half-gallon milk jugs, 6 ice cube trays, and a 4-5 cold packs.  I cut off the plastic from the milk jugs and chunked up the ice blocks with an awl in order to get more cooling surface area.   Tap water was used to cool the wort down to 80 and then I switched over to ice water.  I recirculated the “warm” water right away but I suppose refilling the tun w/ tap water would have kept the ice water cooler because it’s at 55 instead of 60-80 degrees.

Got it down to 60

Root Beer

I made my first batch of root beer today. For 7L I used:

  • 3cups cane sugar
  • 2oz sarsaparilla
  • 0.8oz wintergreen leaves
  • 0.25oz licorice root
  • 0.5cups honey (added at end of boil)
  • 2T molasses
  • 0.25t nutmeg

The recipe is a simplified version of this person’s. I boiled for about 45 minutes, cooled, and pitched a little less than a quarter teaspoon of champagne yeast. It tastes pretty good, but perhaps too sweet. Next time I might tone down the cane sugar and bump up the licorice. The sarsaparilla tastes and smells absolutely wonderful! I sourced the licorice, wintergreen & sarsaparilla from Northern Brewer.