Critical Brewing Equipment – Towels

, November 14, 2011

Now I know that most of you have a set of towels that you keep handy for Brew Day. You almost have to. Between boilovers, leaky sample jars, overfilled bottles, and spilled beers, a good table Zamboni is about the most important tool in your collection. As with so much of my equipment, I prefer to have a dedicated set just for brewing. That way I have full control over how they are treated, including selecting, cleaning, and stashing in convenient locations so there is always one close by when a spill occurs.

A nice neat stack of brewing towels next to a cold beer.

Over the years, I have built up an assortment of odd towels from a variety of sources. Check them out! As you can see, I prefer hand towels. Hopefully it doesn’t get to the point where you need a beach towel (what a mess!), and you can keep a small one in your pocket at all times for all sorts of minor things.

Mammoth Towels
I am a huge fan of the Colorado Mammoth, and you can see that I have picked up some towels from going to the games. As a season ticket holder, I get out there a lot, so these towels end up being the backbone of my towel fleet.

Denver Sports Team Towels
I also like to keep around any towels I pick up from my other local sports teams. In this case, the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rockies have made runs into the playoffs in recent years. The Nuggets towel I picked up at a home playoff game. As it happens, Rockies towels were much harder to come by, and that one was given to me by a friend who was lucky enough to get a ticket.

Green Bay Packer towel from Lambeau Field
Ahh, the Green Bay Packers. I am not a huge football fan, but I am not afraid to catch a game once in awhile. On a business trip to Chicago a year or so ago, I had the opportunity to move my flight to the Saturday before my meeting started. Of course, I took advantage of this and drove the rental car up to the Holiest Patch Of Grass On Earth, Lambeau Field. While I ended up there during breast cancer awareness month, which is why the towel is pink, instead of yellow, it’s still a pretty cool item to have around. I rather enjoy having it in the collection.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Towel
And finally, the flagship of the fleet. The Sierra Nevada Brewery towel. I picked this one up at, of all places, the Bonaroo music festival. I attended in 2011 to do a presentation at the “Broo’ers” Festival (read “Brewer’s” Festival) where I gave a talk about beer styles, process, and homebrewing. It was the first time I had done a beer talk on that scale, and turned out to be a fun experience, even though we were overrun by a bunch of Rooers who had been in the 100 degree heat for too long and just wanted some free beer. After the talk, the rep from Sierra Nevada gave me the towel.

Next time you brew, have some towels around. But even if you make a mess and don’t have a towel around to clean it up, the Nutty Brewer will never say “I told you so.”

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The right tool for the right job

, September 10, 2011

I spent a large portion of the last week and about 200 bucks installing a utility sink in my brewing area. Man, was it ever worth it. I finished the installation on Thursday night (after roughly 5 trips to area Home Depot stores (including nearly $100 of returns on the last visit)), 2 shutdowns of the water to my entire house, and roughly 24 hours of a drip that would have been totally unmanageable had it not fortuitously been dripping into the sink itself!

On Friday night, the day after wrapping up the installation, I got a hankering to get that India Black Ale in the keg. It’s been in carboys of various ilk for nigh on a month, and the dry hops have been in there for at least 2 weeks. After staring at everything for a few moments, I decided to at least clean out a keg. How amazing is this? I don’t have to carry the keg upstairs, then go back downstairs and get the drain tube that I always forget, then bring that up, move some dishes around so I have a place to work, then worry about which pieces and parts I end up leaving upstairs and have to get later. I don’t have to worry about making a mess in the kitchen and making sure everything is back in order there. No. Just grab the keg and throw it in the sink. Nothing’s going to hurt the sink, and nothing is going to damage the keg. I don’t have to worry about a bunch of kitchen germs, and best of all, there aren’t any stairs. Even if I forget something 🙂

As I sit here enjoying a pint of the aforementioned India Black Ale, I can’t help but think about how much easier the whole process becomes. 2 kegs cleaned, 1 beer kegged, that carboy cleaned, and everything done, ready, and put away in just over an hour. It’s that much easier, and this is just for kegging. I can’t wait for Brew Day!

If you’ve never done any plumbing before, it might be a bit of a stretch, but the reality is that I am pretty happy about the whole situation. It turns out that with these “sharkbite” fittings (closeup below), it really is easy enough that anybody could do it. All you do is cut the pipe to length and slide these connections on there. I was amazed at how easily these allow you do what you need, and they are compatible with copper, pvc, and pex at the very least.

Brewing is good.

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