Lubberwort Brewing : A Review

Lubberwort Brewing Homebrew Application

UPDATE:

After using the site and writing the review most of the issues have been addressed. Most importantly, the ability to modify the Mash timer, and the ability to add notes.

 

THE REVIEW:

About a month ago I was cruising around the homebrew forums and I came across a thread for Lubberwort Brewing, a new brewing program, or more importantly, a web-based app for brewing.   I am always looking for something new, and enjoy testing out new offerings, so over the past few weeks I have been testing, trying, and offering feedback. As a final test, I will be using the site to brew up my American Wheat to see how it performs real world application.

Brew-Day with Lubberwort

Initial impressions

As I spent a few weeks playing with the interface, building brews, and comparing it to my standard site, I noticed that the streamlined straightforward interface was an awesome touch. Every time I thought “Damn, it would be nice if….” low and behold, a new update would be pushed out and I got to be amazed all over again. For a while, it was being updated almost every day it seemed, if not, at least every other day.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 08.12.58

Feature details

For such a new site, it is pretty packed with useful features. First and foremost, many of the features are available, even if you do not want to create an account, or log in if you already have an account. The ability to create recipes, and know if they fall within the accepted style guidelines is nice. The shared database and “Brew this Batch” make getting from grain to glass pretty fast. The number of shared beers is pretty small right now, but as member base grows, so will the recipes to choose from. Lubberwort also has the full complement of standard features, saving and loading saved beers and batches, custom profiles, and the ability to choose system units help to round out a pretty intuitive and straight forward creation process.

Screen Shot 1

Bio / Q&A

I had a chance to ask James, the mastermind behind Lubberwort a few questions; here is what he had to say:

  • TXB: TxBrewing
  • LWB: Lubberwort Brewing
  • TXB: Where does your Brewery call home?
  • LWB:     My “brewery” (if one would even call it that) is located in my home in Northwest Arkansas. It’s nothing more than your typical homebrew setup. What makes it special is that it’s made with my own two hands!
  • TXB: How long have you been brewing?
  • LWB:     I’ve been brewing for about 3 years, so not a real long time. But when I take up a hobby I always try to learn as much about it as I can. I’m still new to all grain and am looking for ways to improve that part of the site.
  • TXB: What is it about brewing that keeps you coming back?
  • LWB:     What keeps me brewing is the simple fact that I love to create things. Along with home brewing, another hobby of mine is the Arduino. I’ve actually built a temperature control module for my homebrew setup that automatically adjusts my burner up or down depending on the current and desired temperature. Another reason would be the pleasure I get out of pouring that first glass of beer out of the tap and enjoying the fruits… well… brews of my labor.
  • TXB: What is your favorite style to brew?
  • LWB:     I have a favorite style to drink, but I actually haven’t brewed one yet, and that’s an American IPA. I love the complex flavors and aromas and hope to make a good one someday. But at this time I’m getting ready to brew a new version of a Lager I did a couple of years ago. Want to get it ready for summer.
  • TXB: Why did you create this platform and app for the community?
  • LWB:     I created this application for several reasons. The first being that I wanted a place for brewers to be able to create recipes, brew them, and keep all their recordings and sessions in one place… for free. I realize there are other apps out there that do the same thing as mine, but they’re not all free, web-based applications. Another thing I hope to accomplish with this site is to give new home brewers a single place to learn and create. Home brewing can get complicated and finding good resources can be a challenge. My plan is to provide a site where these new brewers can learn while exploring their own creative avenues.

 

Now, as I move into a short list of Pros/Cons; understand that I am still learning my way around the app. Also, I can almost guarantee that James will start working on ways to address and improve his product before this actually makes it to print.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 08.15.25

 

 

PROS:

  • Web-based
  • Super easy to new brewers to use and understand
  • Free
  • Clean and attractive layout and design
  • Helpful hints and tips
  • Straight forward and easy to navigate

CONS:

  • Cannot edit timers
  • I could not get it to calculate strike temp

 

 

So there it is, please take a few minutes and stop Lubberwort Brewing and give it a chance to become a new tool for your brewing tool box.

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Brew Day: American Wheat

Brew-Day

Date: March 3, 2015

Gallons to date: 10

Style: American Wheat <— (link to recipe)

 

I am still learning my system, heck I am still learning how to brew period.

This was a lot of first for me; my first wheat beer, my first time using Lubberwort Brewing, a new brewing application ( review to be posted soon), first time using more RO water than tap water, and maybe the first time I was able to get someone to take a few “action” shots for me while brewing.

A quick shot of the brew space, and the snow on the ground.  If nothing else Colorado is beautiful…but I can not wait to get back to TEXAS

Brew Space

The brew day, grain bill, and procedure were pretty straight forward, and for once, I didn’t have many issues. The main issue I , my own fault, for not paying attention to the mash like I usually do, but it was easy to recover from.

I conditioned and milled all my grains the day prior, as well as made the trip to purchase the 10 gallons of RO water I was going to use for this batch.  After the normal pre-clean cycle I heated my strike water and mashed in to hit a temp of 150 and set the timer of 75 min.

Mash-in 1

 

So about the one and only issue was that because I got side tracked, I forgot to stir the mash at the normal 20 min intervals. I know it should not be needed with a HERMS system, but I am still trying to get my efficiency  up, and I think this helps.  At the time the Lubberwort Brewing App did not have a way to modify the mash timer once started, so I just adjusted on the fly, and turned my 75 min mash to a 90 min mash and stirred as needed.

The mash went off without any other issues and I spared and transferred to the boil kettle where my new hop filter was waiting with he FWH additions of Sorachi Ace.

FWH

Looks kinda small in such a larger filter, but next brew will have about 9 oz and I should get a good test of the filter’s capabilities.

Set the PID at 85% duty cycle and away the boil went. After the boil I transferred into the primary and pitched the 2 one litre starters of 1056.

transfer

SAM_1177

Primary fermentation went smooth, after 15 days, I dry hopped with 3 oz of Galaxy, for 10 days….(forgot about needed to keg) then transferred to the kegs where it is waiting for a tap to open up of the Keezer.  All the samples along the way smelled and tasted great, and the aroma of the Galaxy hop has earned it a place in my next brew…A hop burst American IPA.

Recovery !!!

Short post this week, with more to follow in the next few days.

I have spent the last week and a half trying to recover my password….

lesson learned? Yes! Make sure your secondary Email is on a different server than your primary, for recovery purpose

TxB

Irish Red Brew Day Follow-up

The weather was good enough today for me to get caught up on some brewing matters.  Got the Irish Red in the keg today, and remembered to pull a sample to check color and how clarity.  Also made some adjustments to my milling station, and put together a dolly to move full fermenters around.  All in all, a pretty good day.

A shot of the kegging operation.

Ghetto, but it works!
Ghetto, but it works!

Here she is in all her glory, small sample pulled when I switched from the 1st keg to the 2nd.

Keg Day Sample
Keg Day Sample

Brew Day: Irish Red Ale

Brew-Day

Date: February 8, 2015

Gallons to date: 0 (first brew of the year)

Style: Irish Red Ale <— (link to recipe)

 

So, let me start with the fact that I have been brewing off and on for over 8 years, and I have never had a brew day go as planned. This would be no different.

Each brew day starts with running 5 gallons of boiling water through my system, I like the confidence it gives me, and today, it seemed it was a good thing…like always, I back flushed the plate chiller, today I was appalled by the crap that came out of it, I guess I failed to clean it after the last brew day…time to sanitize, while mashing. Misstep #1

After the hot water flush, I moved to heating my strike water and the water in the HLT. I add the dough-in water to my mash tun, 9.75 gallons, and fill up my HLT and let them run until I hit strike temp, 165F. Then I close down my pump, and dough in. Along with stopping the pump, I am supposed to tun of the heating element in the HLT as well..see how I said supposed to. I measure mash temp at the sparge arm in the mash tun, this temp drives the PID and element in the HLT, well with the pump off, there was no flow past the temp probe, so the HLT temp just kept climbing. After mashing in and stirring like a mad man, I cracked the valve on the pump and started the wort circulation. Mash temp 171F…not good. It took a few min, and a few gallons of cold water to get the temp down. Misstep #2.

The rest of the mash went well, and smelled amazing.

Now for the sparge. I was working off a 30% dilution of tap/RO water, and had no issues adding the water additions to the mash water. The sparge water ended up getting about 3 times as much gypsum as it needed, because I added the lactic acid amount as grams. Misstep #3.

The mash-out and sparge went as expected, with no major incidents, as a matter of fact, the rest of the brew day was pretty uneventful. Boiled, chilled, transferred and pitched as needed.

No pictures. Misstep #4

Currently cold crashing, FG of 1.012, sample taste good, and will get packaged this weekend.

 

TxB

Brewing = Cleaning 2

Brewing = Cleaning

Pt. 2

 

So in the first part of this mini series, we got all the “stuff” cleaned, this week we will focus on the actual brewery. That is the kettles, coolers, and such that you brew in.

For me, cleaning the brew-house is not as hard as cleaning all the other stuff, but it does take longer. Most of that time is spent waiting for water to heat up, and then letting it run through all the pots, pumps, valves, chiller, and hoses.

Once again, I will be using my DIY PBW to do the heavy lifting.

BIAB brewers will have a much simpler brew-house cleaning, as they only have 1 pot to clean, and maybe a false bottom. Brewers that use a cooler and manifold will need to ensure that they disassemble the manifold if possible. It will be up to brewers to adapt and adopt a cleaning system that fits their personal needs.

So this is how I clean my brewery, it starts with 5 gallons of hot water and DIY PBW in each of the 3 kettles. Next, I set the control panel to heat the water in the Mash tun to 165F. I then run my system just like a brew day; the cleaner in the mash tun runs through the HERMS coil in the HLT until it hits the set temp, and then I let it run for 5-10 minutes at that temp. While this is going on, I use a brush to clean the insides of the HLT and Mash tun.

10g eHERMS
10g eHERMS

After I run the cleaning cycle, I drain the kettles, using the hot PBW to clean any kegs or fermenters that may need attention. Then I add 5 gallons of hot fresh water to the HLT and MT and let the heat and run process run as described above. Once again, I drain the 2 pots, using the water to rinse anything I washed earlier, then I do it one more time. 1 wash, 2 rinse cycles, or until you feel everything is completely free of PBW.

After those two pots are cleaned, I set up the BK to do the same cycle, this time making sure I run the clean and rinse steps through my plate chiller. While this is going on, I unhook the 1st two pots, and do any touch up cleaning they may need, and store them in such a way that they can drain and dry.

When the BK is done, I make sure to back flush the chiller, do my final touch up cleaning, and store them away as well.

A note on the HERMS coil and the chiller: getting all the liquid out of each of these is important, the chiller is easy, just set on it’s side and it will drain. The coil is much harder, currently I am building an attachment that will let my hook my small air compressor to it so I can pressure it up and blow it out, until that is complete, I am forced to treat it like a balloon and just blow through it as best I can…..low tech for sure.

In part 3 I will cover sanitizing.

TxB