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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Siciliano's Holiday Gift Guide, Homebrew Edition

HJ-1 Magnetism Mixer
By Greg 'Swig' Johnson

Last week we presented people with gift options for the aspiring homebrewer. This week we are giving gift ideas for the established homebrewer. Hopefully one or several of these items will strike the right note. But if you still can't decide what to get the discerning brewer on your list, Siciliano's gift cards are always an excellent option.

  • Blichmann HopRocket - A dual-purpose piece of equipment, the HopRocket can be used as a 'hopback' to infuse great hop aromatics into your hot wort at the last moment before chilling. The HopRocket can also be used as a Randall; patch it into your draft system between the keg and faucet to extract fresh hop flavors as you're pouring beer. Use it also to infuse spices, coffee, or anything else that will fit in it and that you want in your beer. $124.99
  • Blichmann ThruMometer - The ThruMometer is an in-line thermometer constructed from a solid piece of billet aluminum. Use it in conjunction with the Blichmann Therminator or any other plate/counterflow chiller to help determine the correct flow rates of hot wort and cold water in order to achieve optimal chilling performance. $24.99
  • Blichmann Therminator - The Therminator is constructed with 316 stainless-steel fittings and plates that were brazed together in an oxygen-free furnace with pure copper to ensure no leaks. It is also a low restriction design so that it can be used with gravity if you don't have a pump. $199.99
  • Blichmann TopTier Burner - The Cadillac of brewpot burners, the TopTier has a 72,000 BTU/hour output and is optimized for superior power and efficiency. It will provide lightning-fast boils without draining your propane tank. The burner is cast iron but the frame and windscreen are made from heavy duty stainless steel to support the heaviest boils. It can even be converted to run on natural gas and 36" leg extensions are available as well.  $139.99
  • Bayou Classic Banjo Burner - The standard burner that has been used by serious homebrewers for years, the Bayou Classic is more powerful and more efficient than typical turkey fryers, yielding quicker boil times and longer life from a tank of propane. $126.00
  • Siciliano's Stainless Steel Kettle-Valve Kit - We are now building our own kits for people who want stainless steel weldless valve kits on their kettles. The kit includes a 316 stainless ball valve, two 304 stainless washers, a 304 stainless 1/2”x1” nipple, and a high-temp gasket. $28.00
  • Siciliano's Stainless Steel Cooler-Valve Kit - Similar to our kettle-valve kit, the cooler-valve kit is intended to be used with the 10-gal Rubbermaid water coolers. The kit includes a 316 stianless ball valve, three 304 stainless washers, a 304 stainless 1/2”x1.5” nipple, and a high-temp gasket. Food grade (any 300 series) stainless steel is ideal for use in brewing for its durability, ease of cleaning and the inert nature of the metal in contact with most substances. $30.00
  • Stir-Starter Stir Plate - The Stir-Starter is a great economy stir plate that works well for making yeast starters in 1000ml and 2000ml Erlenmeyer Flasks. Made in Michigan, these stir plates will allow a homebrewer to grow healthier yeast for their brews, ultimately yielding a better beer. Magnetic stir bar is included. $52.50
  • HJ-1 Magnetism Mixer - A new addition to our inventory, this magnetic stir plate will perform well with larger flasks, including the 5000ml Erlenmeyer Flask we carry at the Siciliano's. When using the smaller 1000ml flask with this stir-plate, you can use the arm extension to mount a temperature probe in your starter. With a sturdy build and relatively inexpensive price, this stir plate is a great choice for homebrewers who do frequent high-gravity and/or double or triple batches. $70.00
  • Fermentap Inline Thermometer - Kind of like the bigger, more badass brother of the Blichmann Thumometer, this all stainless in-line thermometer includes a Fermentap large dial-face thermometer with a 2” temperature probe mounted to a stainless steel tee. Will accept the 1/2” stainless fittings used on most homebrew systems. Can be attached to the outflow on a plate or counterflow chiller or used with a recirculating mash system to monitor mash and sparge temperatures. A great addition to any advanced brew setup.  $63.00
  • SHURflo 2088 Self-Priming Diaphragm Pump - Finally, a product for both the prolific winemaker and industrious brewer. This diaphragm pump is self-priming to make transferring wine and beer from vessel to vessel easier and less cumbersome than using siphon equipment. Avoid moving heavy carboys with the SHURflo. $186.00
One can also give the gift of knowledge. Here are four books we often recommend to homebrewers and winemakers who want to take their hobby to the next level.

  • Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation, by Chris White & Jamil Zainasheff  - This book can be a world changer for those who are trying to dial in their beers and achieve those certain ethereal qualities that have been eluding them. Yeast is one of the most important contributors to beer flavor and knowing how to handle, manipulate, and please your yeast is an important part of advanced consistent brewing. $19.95
  • Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles, by Ray Daniels - This book holds a wealth of information regarding personal recipe construction. Beer recipes are all about balance, and how one balances his ingredients is how he achieves certain desired style characteristics. Ray Daniels provides the framework for a homebrewer to make sense out of the variety of brewing ingredients and determine the proper amount of what to put in their recipe. Anyone who has been brewing for some time, especially all-grain should have this book. $24.95
  • Techniques in Home Winemaking: The Comprehensive Guide to Making Chateau-Style Wines, by Daniel Pambianchi - This book is an essential for any winemaker who is serious about the hobby. If you want to make wine from fresh grapes straight out of a vineyard, then this book is going to help you along the way. Providing thorough information about various pieces of winemaking equipment, yeasts, other facets of winemaking, Pambianchi is more about teaching the paradigm of winemaking than giving people recipes. $21.95
  • The Compleat Meadmaker, by Ken Schramm - For anyone interested in how to make the world's oldest fermented beverage, Schramm's book is pretty much the only and best resource. This book is a comprehensive approach to the process of making the vast varieties of mead. He includes history, techniques, and recipes for making mead. $19.95

Pictured left to right: Blichmann HopRocket (back), Blichmann ThruMometer (front), Blichmann Therminator, Siciliano's Stainless Steel Kettle Valve Kit, Siciliano's Stainless Steel Cooler Valve Kit, HJ-1 Magnetism Mizer (back), Fermentap Inline Thermometer (front), SHURflo 2088 Self-Priming Diaphragm Pump

Happy Holidays!

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