December 2017
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Currently On Tap

Three Posts for the Price of One

It’s been a crazy few weeks here and, as you can tell, time to sit at the computer and try to string together coherent thoughts has been in short supply.  So, here’s a condensed recap of what’s been going on…

Terrapin Side Project 13 - Big Daddy Vladdy's

Terrapin Side Project 13 - Big Daddy Vladdy's

Now I know I tend to write a lot about Terrapin’s beers, but I also tend to write about their more off-the-wall offerings.  I also tend to wait until about three days after it’s all gone before posting about it.  Then I go on and on about how wonderful it is and how you should get your hands on some if you’re lucky enough to still be able to find it on the shelves.  Not so today, my friends!  (Although I suppose fewer people will disagree with me that way…)

I present to you Terrapin’s Side Project 13 – Big Daddy Vladdy’s Russian Imperial Stout.  Go get some.  Seriously.  Now.  It just recently hit the shelves and I’ve seen it in various stores in great quantities.  Buy more than one and stash some for next winter…or this winter…or both as this is a beer that (stored properly) will probably just get better with age.

Do yourself a favor though and do not, by any means, drink this extremely cold.  Pull it out of the fridge and let it rest for a bit.  Cold it’s slightly bitter with a serious alcohol bite.  As it warms, though, the rough edges really smooth out into a silky, heavy stout with hints of chocolate and coffee.  At 10+% ABV, this is the perfect stout for this time of year; heavy, roasty, and smooth, yet oddly not overly filling.  Sit by the fire and spend the evening enjoying a bit of warmth.  For sake of brevity, I’ll spare you the rest of my ramblings about this beer, but if you enjoy a good RIS, definitely seek this out if it’s available where you live.

Face of the control panel

Face of the control panel

Now that I’ve got the obligatory beer review, such as it was, out of the way, lets move on to the control panel build.  As you see, I’ve actually made progress.  And as you can also judge by the view of my desk, progress comes at the cost of absolute disorganization.  My desk looks like a, well, I probably shouldn’t make the analogy I wanted to lest Homeland Security pay me a visit.

At any rate, I’ve painted the enclosure and patched up my previous “Oops”.  I’ve even managed to get about 90% of the wiring completed.  The outlets and inlets are installed and wired, the pump switches are connected and the ports, for lack of a better word, for the temperature probes and solenoid valves are good to go.  Really all that’s left is to finish wiring up the alarm lights and switches and neaten up the rat’s nest inside.  I suppose I need to also start to consider how I’m going to mount the control panel to the brewstand sooner or later, but let’s not get bogged down in the details just yet.

Inside the control panel

Inside the control panel

Neaten up inside?  How bad can it be with only a handful of things to connect?  Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then there should be about a million electricians out there feeling all sorts of squeamish right about now.  Well, OK, two electricians and they’re only looking at this post right now because the word “electrician” is used multiple times and Google liked it…or something.  Rest assured, I have several bags of zip ties standing by to clear things up and make things a bit less clustered (yes, clustered!), but I discovered early in the job that trying to neaten things up as I went only led to cursing and wasted zip ties.  I’m sure it won’t be picture perfect but I’m also sure that there won’t be many people sticking their noses inside the enclosure once it’s all done.  Maybe the fire inspector, but if that’s the case, I’m sure I won’t be around to be too embarrassed.

All I know is that I’m itching to get this thing finished and tested so that I can get back to brewing and get out of the wiring/fabricating/painting business.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss my recent trip to Green Bay, WI.  I recently took on a position with a new group at work, which is a good thing for reasons that really don’t matter much in this context.  The guys I work with, though, are all based in Green Bay, so I flew up last week to meet everyone I hadn’t already met and to do some training.

Now, I was born in Buffalo and spent quite a few winters where it got pretty damned cold, but I’ve been living in the South for more years than I care to admit to here and let me tell you, they don’t call Lambeau Field “The Frozen Tundra” for nothing.  Fourteen inches of snow fell before I arrived and the temps were on the negative side of 0°F on most mornings.

Titletown Brewing Company

Titletown Brewing Company

With my evenings pretty much to myself, what better to do than sample the local beers?  I was finally able to get my paws on a couple pints of New Glarus Spotted Cow and Fat Squirrel and could have happily drank them every night.  Had I not been worried that I’d have beersicles by the time I got home, I would have tracked down a few bottles to bring home as New Glarus only distributes inside the state of Wisconsin.

The main attraction for me, however, was a brewpub in town called Titletown Brewing Company.  It’s a really neat brewpub built into a historic train station in Green Bay.  Excellent atmosphere, and some really wonderful beers, including a couple of cask-conditioned offerings which were absolutely sublime.  As we walked to the front door, I could smell the brewhouse in action.  Anyone who homebrews (or brews professionally, for that matter), will know of the scents that I am referring to.  Sweet wort and hops on the boil…but I digress.

I tried to get more pictures, but I figured that everyone knows what beer looks like and, well, a picture of a beer isn’t overly exciting.  Couple that with the fact that if the lighting isn’t exactly perfect, I pretty much suck at taking pictures.  I would have loved to get a couple shots of the brewhouse but none of them came out worth a damn.  Clearly I must drag Amy to Green Bay with me so that we can further document the establishment.  But if you happen to find yourself beer hunting in Green Bay, this is the place you want to check out.  I only sampled five of their beers, but every one of them was excellent.  The food was pretty damn good as well…try the Elk burger.

Outside Lambeau Field

Outside Lambeau Field

Finally, what would a trip to Green Bay be without a gratuitous shot of Lambeau Field?  I’m fairly certain that if you visit Green Bay and don’t at least drive by those hallowed grounds then they’ll stop you at the airport and make you get back on your plane.  So, to prove that I’m not a total heathen, I’ll leave you with this…

5 comments to Three Posts for the Price of One

  • Hey,

    I am the marketing manager for Titletown. I would love to send you some exterior shots of our building. Thanks for the great review.

  • Mike

    I highly recommend Big Daddy Vlady’s as well. Excellent brew to enjoy after a good meal.

  • Josh

    what are the dimensions of your control panel used and where did you get it from?

    • Rob

      Josh – the control panel is 12″x12″x8″ (300mm x 300 mm x 200 mm). I bought it from an outfit called “electrical_parts” on eBay…just do a search for his store then search for “enclosure” and you can pick your size. If I had to do it over again, I’d get a bigger one…it’s sort of a tight fit at 12×12.

  • Brian

    I was wondering if I might be able to connect with you via email – I’m in the middle of a Brutus build, and found the electric brewery control panel to be closer to what I wanted to do, but just like you, I am using burners and not electric heating elements. The previous comment answered my first question. So if you thought bigger… I’ve been noticing a 16x16x6 – wondering if the 6″ deep is enough. My next couple of question might get a little long-winded, but in a nutshell I’m curious if you needed to use any SSR’s, and if you have any auto control over the pumps – I kind of want to route it so that when my MT gas valve gets fired, the pump turns on as well… but maybe its better left manual since I’d have to be turning the ball valve on and off. And just like you said in your post… I’m looking forward to getting past this build and to actual brewing again. Cheers.

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