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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

RoboBrew for $479.99 Pre-Sale

BrewerDude is offering the 9.25-gallon RoboBrew for an introductory price of $479.99 with flat-rate shipping for a limited time. This thing is killing the GrainFather from what I am seeing all over the hombrew forums.

All in one brewing systems with recirculating pumps are where it's at. They make brewing simple and easy and get homebrewers doing all-grain earlier, many starting with their very first batch.  The Robobrew is going to lead the charge with its amazing price point.  

The new version 3 of the Robobrew on Presale! If you order now it will ship in late May.It now lets you set up to 6 different times and temperatures so you can do a fully automated step mash! Again, please note this is a pre-order opportunity to place your order now for delivery in May.
The Robobrew is an all-in-one electric brewing system that has built in elements for heating and boiling, a built in pump for recirculation, an onboard water resistant control panel for setting and monitoring temperatures, a removable grain basket, and a built in spigot for transfering. It is extremely portable and uses 110v power so it can be used nearly anywhere. 
Built in magnetic drive pump to easily recirculate the wort during the mash. We recommend getting some silicone tubing to go with the recirculation arm. This allows you more control over the recirculation and you can then use the pump to transfer your wort to your fermenter.
Dual heating elements run off of a single 110 volt plug and have individual switches allowing for more control over the heating process. One element is 1000 watts and the other is 500 for a combined 1500 watts! Use both when you need to ramp up the temperature quickly either at the start to get to your mash temp or to go from your mash temp to boiling. Use only one of the elements when you want to hold a temperature.
The digital control panel makes it easy to see the current temperature and set the temperature you want. You can also set a delayed start of up to 23 hours in advance so that you can have your water hot and ready to go when you get home from work or get up in the morning. The digital controller is also water resistant so don't worry about spills or some water dripping down the side. This controller is built for brewing!
The brewery also includes a stainless steel malt pipe with false bottom allowing you to easily shift from mash tun to boil kettle during your brew day. The malt pipe includes a handle to lift it from the RoboBrew and tabs at the base so you can set the malt pipe over the RoboBrew to let the wort drain out. It also has feet at its base to raise the malt pipe slightly off the base and help prevent clogging.
The included stainless wort chillers is shipped with bare ends so you can set it up for your situation. We list below the most common tubing and fittings sold to help connect to a hose, hose bib, or faucet.  
Note: The manual references an element for a different market.  This unit comes with a two heating elements for a total of 1,500 watts.
  • Features:
    • Stainless steel construction
    • 9 gallon total capacity with a finished beer output of 5-6 gallons
    • Digital temperature controller
    • 110v power and plug
    • Dual heating elements for total control (1000 watts and 500 watts)
    • Stainless steel 1/2 in ball valve for draining (don't have to use the pump)
    • Immersion wort chiller included
    • Stainless steel malt pipe/basket
    • Stamped volume markers
    • Glass lid
    • Magnetic drive pump for recirculation
    • Recirculation arm
    • Temperature reads in °F or °C (press and hold temp button for several seconds to adjust)
    • 32.75 in H (with recirculation arm) x 12.5 in D
    • Recommended max. grain bill - 18 lbs
    • Recommended min. grain bill - 8 lbs

      You might also want:
    • 2' of 1/2" ID Silicone tubing for sparging and draining.
    • To connect includedchiller: 20' of 1/2" ID tubing, 3 small hose clamps and 1 brass Garden Hose Thread by 1/2" barb adaptor.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

World of WortCraft 2018

At the dawn of time, HopHead Hardware set out to create an active community of homebrewers. We like to bring like-minded people together all in the name of making better beer. We recently discovered Discord. a chat system that is not unlike Skype or Slack. Discord was originally built for gamers but was later opened up for other communities. It is, without a doubt, the best chat client available right now. (Coders head over to Slack. It was built for you.) We at Hophead Hardware created a Discord server a few weeks ago and it quickly became a success. Rumblings of a homebrew competition started catching some fire so the mods and I went to work. Today we announced the inaugural World of WortCraft Homebrew Competition.

World of WortCraft 2018 will be held on May 20, 2018. Sigler's Craft Beer & Cigars has graciously allowed us to use their facility for the judging event. If you would like to enter this competition you should know that it is a requirement to be a member of the Discord server. Membership is absolutely free and you can join using this link: https://discord.gg/bAa4bHt.

To go to the competition page for details and rules click HERE. This is a national competition and open to any member of the group that lives in the United States.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

White Labs Customer Service Is Awesome

Since this site has affiliate links that can make money let me say that HopHeadHardware.com is not affiliated with White Labs.

White Labs recently added WLP066 London Fog Ale yeast to their Yeast Vault. This particular strain is supposed to be really good for making hazy beers and hazy IPAs in particular. I couldn't pass on this yeast so I pre-ordered a vial. If you are not familiar with the White Labs Yeast Vault here is the description directly from their website:

"We've collected strains from around the world for over 20 years and kept them locked away. Until now. Through The Vault for homebrewers, we're giving you the opportunity to open The Vault, release the yeast and get your hands on various specialty, creative, and unique strains. Most have rarely been used in commercial products, some have names you can barely pronounce, yet all are uniquely White Labs in quality and performance.
HOW IT WORKS: Place a preorder on one of specialty strains listed below. When 150 orders are received, you’ll receive an email notifying you the strain will be released along with its estimated ship date. At that time, your credit card will be charged. Don’t wait. Place an order now and get your strain delivered right to your doorstep. Keep checking back...We’ll continually add NEW strains into The Vault for homebrewers."

The original release was so successful that White Labs put WLP066 back up for another round of pre-orders quickly after the first campaign reached its goal. My pre-order was placed during the first campaign. My vial of yeast arrived in a nice insulated mailer with an ice pack to keep the yeast cold. The ice pack was still cold when it arrived in Tennessee from California. Upon opening the package I immediately smelled old beer. Think of the smell of the dregs left in the bottom of a bottle conditioned homebrew if the bottle was forgotten for a few days (we have all done it). I had never mail-ordered a White Labs vial before since my local homebrew shop carries White Labs so I wasn't sure that this was a problem although I figured that it was. The next morning after I opened the package I sent a message to White Labs on Facebook Messager and within the hour they apologized for the inconvenience. They asked me for the email that I used to place the order and promptly sent a replacement at no charge whatsoever.
Screenshot of the conversation. I don't know why I blurred my name...
White Labs did all that they could do to make this problem right. That is all that I can ask for. Things happen. White Labs provides an awesome product and they back it up with stellar customer service. I can't wait to let White Labs and all of the fine readers of HopHeadHardware.com know how WLP066 performs. I have a good feeling about this strain.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The BA Is At It Again With #TakeCraftBack

It's no secret that big beer, primarily AB-InBev, is gobbling up craft breweries and controlling shelf space in doing so. The Brewers Association have been actively fighting for independent craft breweries in some very creative ways lately. I love the seal that they recently launched to help distinguish independent breweries products from cleverly disguised beer pretending to be independent. The BA took another swing at AB-InBev with their latest campaign, Take Craft Back.

Click HERE to see the video at TakeCraftBack.com. It is essentially a crowdsourcing campaign to buy Ab-InBev with a goal of $213 billion (yeah....with a B). The staggering number along with the goofy, but good, video makes me believe that the BA has no real goal of buying the evil mega-conglomerate and that this is merely a creative marketing campaign to raise awareness of their Independent Craft Brewer movement.

Although I don't think that the BA has any real goal of buying AB-InBev the campaign does make me wonder how we craft beer lovers could infiltrate the enemy and influence their tactics from within. It is possible. I'm not an expert of stock exchanges by any means but it seems to me that the BA would not even need a controlling interest in AB-InBev. Craft beer would only need to hold enough stock to create some noise. Let them push their swill; plenty of people like Bud Light Lime and that is ok. Let them keep Goose Island, Wicked Weed, Boulevard, and the others. Raise hell when they try to buy another craft brewery, but do so from behind enemy lines.

Another option is to not care at all and just brew your own beer.

Join us on Facebook to discuss realistic options and ways to truly #TakeBackCraft.

EDIT: The campaign is "Take Craft Back," we noticed our error after publishing.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A New Year For Better Beer: 2018 Edition

It is hard to believe that 2017 is almost over but here we are, staring at 2018 coming at us like a freight train. Last year we set some homebrew goals; you can read about them HERE. Before I set goals to improve my beer in 2018 it would be wise to take a look at how 2017 went for the No Ragrets Brewatorium and HopHead Hardware. Allow me to grade myself on how well I did to achieve those goals. It may be only mid-October but I don't see much more getting accomplished towards meeting my goals in 2017.

2017 Goal #1: Control Fermentation Temperatures
I obtained and used a fermentation fridge and did some lagering. I can check that goal off of the list.

2017 Goal #2: Start Kegging
I didn't make any progress towards kegging my homebrew.

2017 Goal #3: Begin Using Yeast Starters
I dabbled in yeast starters using a small amount of rinsed yeast and growing it into a pitchable amount for a lager. I did not make or use a yeast starter from a first generation pouch or vial of new yeast. I build a stir plate. At the time of this writing, a 2L Erlenmeyer flask is on-order but hasn't arrived yet but a yeat starter will definitely be used in the next batch

2017 Goal #4: Use Bulk Ingredients
I use hops bought in bulk almost exclusively and get most of my grain in 10lb bags. I hoped to be using 55lb sacks of base malts by the end of 2017 but that did not happen and won't by the end of the year.

2017 Goal #5: Get Water Usage and Chemistry Under Control
I got chlorine and chloramine under control but that is all. I'm giving my self a 30% completion grade only because those two factors are so important.

2017 Bonus Goal: Enter a Homebrew Competition
Why an extra 10%? I entered one beer into my first homebrew competition and it was a lager. Lagers a typically judged harshly in competition and mine scored a 40 out of 50 in the International Pale Lager category (2A). Diggin' Up A Date Beer 2017 won a silver medal.

My grade for completing my 2017 homebrew goals is a meek 67.5%. 

In order to ensure constant improvement, I have to set some goals for 2018.

This is a carry-over from 2017 but I want to complete this goal more than ever. Not only do I want the convenience of kegged beer but I also need to eliminate exposure to oxygen. Huntress 1.1 was an expensive beer to brew and many of the bottles suffered from oxidization and inconsistent carbonation.

Using bulk grains will greatly reduce the cost of brewing each batch. By the end of 2018, I will be measuring my grains from 55lb sacks of base malts and 5lb or 10lb bags of specialty malts. The occasional malt may still be purchased in smaller quantities if it is rarely used in my brewing.

Sooner, rather than later, I will start building a frozen yeast bank. I plan to have a bank of my core yeasts that I use in my homebrewed beers. This will greatly reduce the cost of brewing and allow e to brew more.

It is time to upgrade to stainless steel fermenters. Glass carboys are too fragile so I won't spend money on them. Stainless steel fermenters allow for complete sanitization, they have higher quality fittings and last a lifetime.

There is a silver medal in the collection but now it is time to shoot for gold. I'm entering more competitions in 2018 and hoping to help my club in the MidSouth Series of homebrewing competitions.

I skipped carrying over water chemistry goals from 2017. Frankly, my tap water is good and it makes good beer when I remove the chlorine and chloramine. Who was it that said, "good water makes good beer?"

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Recipe: Diggin' Up A Date Beer 2017

It's August in the South. The humidity is unbearable and it is close to 90F even at night but you still need a date. When you walk your self down to the grave yard with a shovel in your hand you know you have alot of digging to do. You might need to dig a few holes before you find a date you like. The rigors of the task are exhausting and you need to stay hydrated. A nice crisp lager that won't put you in a hole too is what you really need.
Diggin' Up A Date Beer 2017 is an International Pale Lager that is classified as category 2B by the BJCP. The style is similar to an American lager but slightly more robust and flavorful. Here is our version of the classic style:

10 lbs Brewers Malt 2-Row
8.0 oz Vienna Malt
8.0 oz Wheat - Red Malt
0.50 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Boil 45.0 min
1.00 oz Huell Melon [7.20 %] - Boil 10.0 min
0.50 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min
1.00 oz Huell Melon [7.20 %] - Whirlpool for 30 minutes at 170F
1.00 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] - Whirlpool for 30 minutes at 170F
1.0 pkg SafLager West European Lager (DCL/Fermentis #S-23)
This is the basic recipe. If you would like the full recipe that includes water treatment, yeast nutrient, etc message HopHead Hardware on Facebook or Twitter.

Mash: Single Infusion, Light Body with a step temperature of 148F
This photo does not do the clarity justice.
You could read a book through this beer.

Batch Size: 6 gallons
Target OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated FG: 1.009 SG
IBU: 27.5
Color: 3.5 SRM

Ferment using Saflager S-23 at 62F and ramp up to 70 for a diacetyl rest and then cold crash before bottling.

Estimated Bottling Volume: 5.5 gallons
Carbonate to 2.5 Volumes of CO2

So What Does It Taste Like?
The body on this beer is very light but not so light that a craft beer drinker will feel like they are drinking water. It is very clean on the palate with slight notes of citrus and melon. It is incredibly balanced with a noticeable but faint breadiness. This is a beer that you drink while mowing the grass in the hottest part of the year. This is a beer that craft beer drinkers can enjoy and macro crap drinkers will like and not be intimidated by. Just think of a run-of-the-mill American lager that is actually tasty.

UPDATE: This beer placed silver in its category in competition. We are very happy about that as this was our first competition beer.

For The Sake of Transparency: Affiliate Links Explained

I recently stumbled upon a discussion about affiliate, sites, links, and "self-promotion" on Reddit at r/homebrewing. Some Reddit users appreciate content that sites like this one provided and some users see us as being sneaky and just after your money. For the sake of transparency, allow me to explain how affiliate links work on HopHead Hardware.com and all of our social media pages.

I often link to Adventures in Homebrewing. Their starndard url is http://www.homebrewing.org/. I simply add ?AffId=500 to any page on the AIH site to create http://www.homebrewing.org/?AffId=500 and when someone clicks the link a cookie is placed in their browser. Any purchase made over a certain period of time (i think it is 30 days with AIH) will give me a commission on the sale.

More examples:
Here is a 1lb bag of Briess 2-row from AIH
-Not an affiliate link: http://www.homebrewing.org/2-Row--Pale-Ale-Malt-1-lb_p_3724.html
-Affiliate link: http://www.homebrewing.org/2-Row--Pale-Ale-Malt-1-lb_p_3724.html?AffId=500

MoreBeer is another site that I use:
-https://www.morebeer.com/ vs https://www.morebeer.com/index?a_aid=HopHeadHardware

When someone clicks on one of the affiliate links a harmless cookie is placed in their browser that triggers the site to say "hey, this person came to our site via HopHeadHarware." We get a small commission from the sale and it doesn't affect the price of an order in any way. It could be argued that affiliate commissions are calculated into prices but it can also be argued that affiliates are a good way to boost sales numbers while keeping overhead low. That results in a more profitable business that can provide better service, pricing, and selection to their customers.

Some Reddit users that participated in the discussion were concerned about biased reviews and their concern is valid. I think the majority of the homebrewing community is above that. I know that HopHead Hardware never recommends products for the sake of sales via our affiliate links. Getting caught doing that would tarnish our reputation that we are just starting to build. Naming names would not be cool but we recently dropped two affiliates due to reports of them screwing their customers by inflating shipping charges to outrageous amounts at the same time that they were running a big sale.