DIY Magnetic Stir Plate

I made a magnetic stir plate completely from spare parts I had just laying around.  Compare that to a $160 commercial stir plate from one of my favorite online homebrew stores and I saved a bundle!  I grabbed the idea from HomeBrewTalk, but mine is a bit simplified (no power switch or potentiometer).

WARNING: Do not work with electricity unless you follow proper safety precautions!

Stir plate equipment needed:

  • 1 case to mount fan / hold starter
  • 1 computer case fan
  • 1 AC/DC power adapter
  • 1 large rare earth magnet (computer hard drive magnet)
  • hot glue / hot glue gun (used for mounting fan against the roof of the casing)

Stir bar equipment needed:

  • 1 small gauge broken drill bit (or similarly small gauge cylindrical metal object)
  • slightly larger gauge insulated wire
  • hot glue / hot glue gun

Stir Plate Method:

  1. Drill air flow wholes into fan chasis so that the lack of airflow doesn’t burn out the fan
    Computer case fan Airflow holes
  2. Place magnet to the bottom of the fan motor (since it’s a magnet and it’s attaching to an electric motor you shouldn’t need any adhesive)
  3. Hot glue the fan to the top of the casing (making sure the fan is uninhibited from turning and the magnet side is against the case)
  4. Connect the AC/DC adapter to the fan
    Warning: Make sure you use DC output that is compatible for the fan (not too high or you could burn out the fan)
    Optional: If you want a variable speed you can put a potentiometer control inbetween the AC/DC adapter and the fan
    Wiring
  5. Close up your case and plug it in.
    Finished product

Stir Bar:

  1. Cut the wire to size just longer than your small gauge cylindrical metal rod (in my case a broken drill bit)
  2. Remove the conductive metal from the insulated wire
  3. slide cylindrical rod inside plastic insulation
  4. Inject hot glue into the ends to keep water from contacting the metal and causing rust

Video:

Tasting in Cincinnati

While on my trip to Cincinnati to visit my in-laws for the 3rd Annual Sell This House Extravaganza, it provided the opportunity to sample some homebrews between my brother-in-law, who taught me how to brew beer, and myself.  Who could ask for a better in-law than the kind that teaches you how to homebrew!?  Mainly I wanted to showcase how far I’ve come during my first year brewing and give him some thanks for getting me started.

He tried my:

  • Bah Humbug Holiday Ale (#3) – A modified Papazian recipe with ginger, cinnamon, and lots of orange peel.
  • Anything But Vanilla Stout (#4) – An Irish Stout flavored with Madagascar vanilla beans.
  • Meg’s Indubitably Dubbel (#5) – Belgian Dubbel with a fruity aroma that is easy going down.
  • Casper’s Extra Pale (#6) – American style Pale Ale with a floral bouquet and good mouthfeel.

I tried his:

  • Honey Kolsch – Soft on the palate sensation but still a great flavor that leaves you wanting more.  A great session beer, perfect for relaxing after a hard days work fixing up the house.
  • Extra Special Bitter – Good aroma, possibly some English overtones and a good hop flavor without being bitter.
  • Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – Damn good.  Dark and roasty with a wholesome oatmeal flavor.  More like this and it may win me over on Oatmeal Stouts.
  • Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – Not my cup of tea (-;).  It reminded me of a Milk Stout that I had recently.  It had a pungent aroma that wasn’t nearly as abrasive as the taste.

Enjoyed the rest of the weekend working on fixing up their house and brewing our third collaborative brew (a Barley Wine/Barley Little which I’ll post about soon).

Glass Etching or a Marked Yardstick

So I just got a second carboy to replace a bucket.  This got me to thinking about measuring the liquid in the carboy.  I’ve been marking my first carboy with a black sharpie to show the gallon levels, but every time I go to clean it the markings get pretty much rubbed off and I have to remark it again.  This got me to doing some research and it seems that a lot of people have been using glass acid etching to permanently mark their carboy (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/marking-your-carboy-63174/).  As an alternative many people seem to just take a yardstick and mark the gallon level on the stick.  Either seems reasonable to me, but etching seems to have a bit more style points going for it.

Spent Grain Topsoil Recipe

I just got back from a trip to Cincinnati where my brother-in-law and I set forth on a collaboration brewing venture into the world of barley wine which I’ll talk about another day.  In addition to brewing, we did a fair bit of gardening while I was there.  The result of gardening and producing a lot of spent grains got me to thinking about being more self sufficient and becoming a better eco-friendly brewer.  So I found this spent grain topsoil recipe from the blog of Stone Brewing Co.

Chili’s Spent Grain Topsoil Recipe

Ingredients:
– 2 shovels of spent grain from the Brewery
– 2 shovels of decomposed granite (Escondido’s natural topsoil)
– 2 shovels of vegetable compost from the Bistro kitchen
– A few handfuls of nicely aged mulch from the chipper

Directions:
Combine two shovels of spent grain and two shovels of decomposed granite in a large bucket. The spent grain should contain little green specks from the hops used in the brewing process, and be slightly damp from the remnant wort (notice the desirable beery fragrance). The decomposed granite should be brown in color and have a moist dirt-like consistency. Mix together thoroughly. Add two shovels of vegetable compost from the Bistro kitchen. Make sure there is plenty of insect and worm life in the compost, and that it has a fresh earthy smell. This indicates an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Mix thoroughly with the spent grain and decomposed granite until mixture is consistent. Add a few handfuls of aged mulch (the mulch consists of fallen branches, twigs and leaves from the Gardens that have been fed through the chipper and aged in large barrels), blend thoroughly and voila!

Once the topsoil is nicely mixed, it’s time to plant. Chili recommends filling the bottom of the chosen pot with gravel for drainage, and surrounding the fledgling plant with the fresh soil mix up to the first few branches. Then top it off with a bit of aged mulch, lightly water it, and watch it thrive. Once the roots have grown deep and strong, delicately transplant it to its final destination.

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