Blichmann Riptide next to a 12 V Solar Pump with 1/2″ and 3/8″ silicone tubing

my first big brewing upgrade of 2020 is a new pump. i bought a few pieces of hardware last year to set up a RIMS with a 10 gallon cooler mash tun and my 1500 W T500 kettle. the pump for that setup was this little 12 V solar pump from amazon. the pump worked fine for a few brew days, then it seized up. i think this was because i was pumping wort that was too hot through it. now i can get it to run for an hour or so, but it will inevitably seize up leading to a frustrating brew day. i was considering the anvil pump, but i decided to take a full leap into pumps.

the riptide is a crazy piece of gear. it is advertised as having a max pumping rate of 8 gallons per minute. from cleaning and testing, it appears that this is accurate. i plan on running it much slower than that which is possible with the built in valve. a typical march or chugger pump will move liquid at a similar rate to this, but to throttle the flow you’ll need to add on a ball valve.

Solar pump next to the valve of the riptide

priming the pump is also made easy with the riptide; a built in release valve lets you burp air out of the cavity leading to a super easy priming. with a different pump you’ll need to add on an additional T with some sort of valve for releasing this air. the riptide also includes a covered switch which the other pumps don’t include. if you plan on building/having a control panel, the switch may not be necessary as you may have a switch on the panel. for someone without a panel, though, the switch prevents needing to unplug/plug the pump in to turn it off/on.

with all of these included features, the high price tag of the riptide doesn’t seem so high. a common problem i have with brewing hardware is that the advertised price is usually for part of a kit. stainless ball valves vary between $15 and $40 and various stainless adaptors vary between $5 and $10. after you add a handful of these to your cart with a march or chugger, you’re blowing well past the pricetag of the riptide. this isn’t including the equipment and time to add a switch to the pump.

even with this pump with all these features you still need to provide some connections from NPT. i am currently using hose barbs, but i may upgrade to quick disconnects depending on how i want to use the pump in a 3 vessel configuration. adaptors are relatively cheap on their own, but when you need to buy several, the price adds up quickly. it makes sense that this product is shipped with NPT as there are many typical connectors used in brewing; offering a product with barbs or TC connections severely limits the number of possible customers.

so far i’ve cleaned the pump; that’s pretty boring, but this weekend i’ll be brewing up a cream ale. i’ll be able to get a good test of the pump then in the RIMS setup. the weather typically determines how i brew, so we’ll see how i end up setting up when the brew day comes.

RJB and Me

making a brown ale while sampling a cream ale

i turn water (and malts and hops and yeast) into beer, hence, i run the realistic jesus brewery. i make 5.5 gallon batches of homebrew, typically around 1.055 starting gravity. when i started making homebrew, i hadn’t yet acquired a taste for real hoppy beers, but NEIPA and some hoppy blonde styles shifted my lupulin threshold to the point where bitter beers aren’t so bitter anymore. i made my first homebrew in ~2012 with my (then) roommate Matt Downey and our friend Tom Genung. Tom had been brewing for some time; he was already making high quality all grain lager and cream ale when he taught Matt and I. our first brews were drinkable, but not quite what we wanted. i took a bit of a hiatus from brewing due to a lack of funds in my first few years of grad school, but in december of 2015 i started buying my own kit. i made a few batches from sorghum extract, and then i moved on to all grain biab in december of 2016.

my equipment setup is not yet finished (but really, who’s ever done building up their brewery?). i currently have a 10 gallon water cooler mash tun with false bottom and mesh filter bag, an 8 gallon T500 kettle with 1500 W element that i use for maintaining mash temperatures via RIMS, and an 8 gallon kettle with a single port for boiling. the RIMS temperature is controlled by turning the power on and off to the element via an inkbird ITC 608T. this has worked ok in the past, but the pump i had been using (a 12 V solar pump) was not working well. a blichmann riptide is currently on the way to replace it. i boil on a propane burner.

i like to brew at least once a month, preferably twice. i brewed this year on new years day; it was an ipa with el dorado and denali hops; i picked these because i wanted to try something beyond my typical simcoe and friends hops. both of these are hops i’ve not tried before. my next brew of the year will be a cream ale. besides beer, i’ve fermented a few batches of cider and a wine kit.

within the last few months i’ve started blending yeast, specifically us-05 and s-34/70. i did it the first time because the 05 i had was old, it had been sitting on my shelf for about a year, and i didn’t want to risk a bad ferment because the yeast was weak. i pitched the fresh pack of 34/70 with the old 05, and i was super happy with the result. the 05 seems to have worked to produce that typical neutral profile while the 34/70 produced some classic lager characteristics. the white labs cream ale yeast is, from what i understand, a blend of yeasts similar to this; normally i had done my cream ale with us-05, but i am super excited to try out a brew of cream ale with this blend. what i really like about this blend is that the total cost of the yeast comes out similar to high quality pitchable yeast, like imperial or omega, but with an insane yeast count. single packets of dry yeast are suggested to have approximately 200 billion cells per packet which is the same as imperial. this blend should then have approximately 400 billion cells.

i want to use this site to host recipes with tasting notes, updates on my hop plants, and discuss my hardware updates. my next brew will be my 50th all grain, so i think it’s a good place to start. my other hobbies include growing vegetables, smoking meats, and making hot sauce.