Hearts Home Brew

heart's home brew store

hearts home brew store

Hearts Home Brew is off the charts amazing.

The first brew store I went to in Orlando and still my favorite. You walk through the door down an aisle made of stacks of different types of bottles. Ribbons for best wine or beer hand above your head, some dating so far back they are sun faded.

They have everything you could need from caps to bulk ingredients. They even have a refrigeration section that holds fruit and other ingredients.

My first trip in I noticed the PC screen behind the counter monitoring different batches in the cue. Dutifully taking readings of temperature, pH, etc. I only mention this because it shows the level of experience and expertise in the shop.

I always have great conversations and get meaningful advice from both Luke and Dave. Well worth a trip to take a look around, grab that hose you have been meaning to replace or to stock up on corks, caps and bottles.

If you don’t have much time to spare you can call an order in and they will pull it together before you arrive. However, if you can’t seem to get away from your batches they have a great online store.

I can’t say enough this is the Disney World of brew supply stores in the Orlando area.

Hope you enjoy!

The Carboy Dryer

This piece of equipment is highly useful! Though it isn’t necessary life is much easier with a carboy dryer.

carboy dryer

carboy dryer

The carboy dryer is made of a high quality food grade plastic. There are strategically placed holes and risers to allow airflow around and inside the carboy. The carboy is washed and sanitized as you normally would and then placed upside down on the dryer to air dry.

carboy dryer top view

carboy dryer top view

As I said, the dryer is not necessary but I highly recommend it. When I first started using carboys, I would clean the container and leave it upside down in the sink until it dried. This works well but takes up a lot of space in the sink.

Your sink is useless until the carboy finishes drying.

Using the dryer allows you to move the carboy to some other location while drying, a counter, a table or back into the brew closet.

I usually put handles on our carboys; I mentioned these in an earlier post. You can review the post here. I leave these handles on the carboy and that can make it difficult to balance on the dryer. This is why I use the dryer in my brew closet; I can lean the carboy in the corner to help stabilize it.

The Carboy Handle

This piece falls into the optional category; however it is a life saver.

carboy handle

carboy handle

We typically like to make wine in a three gallon carboy. The carboys get heavy and difficult to move around once they are filled with ingredients, not to mention they are made from thick glass and heavy to begin with. Having a solid handle attached makes moving the carboys around a ton easier. Lifting the carboy to the counter for racking was a two man lift before we began using these.

I have seen a number of ways to ease the load…from sling like totes to dollies on casters. The carboy handle is by far my favorite. The handles are made from a simple design and are coated in rubber/plastic for extra grip.

They fall under the wish I would have thought of that category.

To install loosen the wing nut until you are able to slip the mouth of the handle over the lip of the carboy. I like to slip the ring as far down the neck as I can. Then tighten the wing nut back up and voila! You have an easier way to lift and move the carboy.

The manufacturer cautions against over tightening the handle, I assume this is to prevent cracking the glass. If you are using quality carboys this shouldn’t be to much of a concern as the glass should be thick enough to avoid it being cracked.

TIP: Make sure you buy the correct size for your carboy. Believe it or not there are two sizes I have run across. One for a three gallon carboy and one that fits either a five or six gallon carboy and they are not interchangeable. In fact, I have bought the wrong size and the vendor I use was gracious enough to swap it out for the correct size. Another reason to talkk with the clerks in the shops you frequent.

I typically buy a handle for every carboy I buy. Once installed I leave them on.

Hope you enjoy!

Outfitting a Carboy

Our wine making became more of a hobby when we bought our first carboy. Since then we have tinkered with how we like to set them up, we first started putting chalk stickers on them and later we found some thermometer stickers. My wife and I are sort of a freaks about organization and tracking information. We like to mark our bottles with flavor, date started and date it should move on to the next step. This is how we do it now.

Enter chalkboard paint…

chalkboard paint

chalkboard paint

This stuff is great. We use it for a lot of different projects, so I usually have some on hand. Start by gathering the following items:

  • 3 or 5 gallon carboy
  • masking tape (preferably wide tape)
  • computer/copy paper (newspaper will work too)
  • thermometer sticker (available at most brew stores)
  • chalkboard paint
  • exacto blade
  • emery/sand paper.
thermometer sticker

thermometer sticker

I love these thermometer stickers! We put them on carboys and bottles. I even have one on the inside of one of the house windows to monitor the outside temperature.

It is important to monitor the temperature of your wine during fermentation and racking. I place the thermometer sticker sideways on the carboy because it fits better on the carboy I use…you can put it where you like. I just find putting it with the label makes it easy to see.

placed thermometer sticker

placed thermometer sticker

Next, I use the masking tape and computer paper to protect the carboy during spaying. I like to try and keep the edges as straight as possible and evenly spaced. That is OCD talking.

TIP: Using the wide masking tape makes it easier to tape to the carboy while leaving room for the paper. I usually secure only one side of the tape, put the paper on and then make sure the tape is secure on the paint side.

taping off the square

taping off the square

After securing the tape, you will want to lightly sand the glass where you are going to paint it. This helps the paint stick. I used emery paper. Emery paper is a special type of sand paper for glass. Sand paper will work, I only have the emery stuff because I have a glass bottle cutter it came with. We use the bottle cutter to make candles (a topic for another day!). Be careful to rub the paper in small circles and try not to “sand” the masking tape.

sanding the glass

sanding the glass

Once you are satisfied with this, it is time to paint!

Patience is a virtue at this point. Take your time and put several light coats on and follow the directions on the can. I used Krylon and their instructions state you have to put two coats on to get a good chalkboard surface. Each coat can be applied in 15 minute increments (I put on four to five coats at minimum). The paint is dry in the first three hours but needs at least 24 hours to cure before applying any chalk. It is also recommended to do this outdoors.

spraying the surface

spraying the surface

After waiting three hours you can remove the paper and masking tape. I like to lightly score the line between the tape and paint with an exacto blade to help keep the edge clean. If you have some over spray or paint spots outside your line, you can carefully scrape it off with a razor blade.

cleaning the edge

cleaning the edge

After 24 hours your carboy is ready for a batch! Now you can stay organized and write on the surface to keep track of flavors and batches.

TIP: The chalkboard paint surface will work best if you prepare the surface before using it. To do this color the entire surface with chalk and wipe clean with a damp rag. You can use this trick for any chalkboard paint project.

finished carboy and gallon bottle

finished carboy and gallon bottle

Hope you enjoy!

 

Urban Sunshine Organic and Hydroponic Gardening

urban sunshine organic and hydroponic gardening altamonte springs,fl

urban sunshine organic and hydroponic gardening altamonte springs,fl

This place is amazing and close to home. It is easily one of my top three places to buy equipment. I know, you are wondering why would you go to Urban Sunshine to buy brewing equipment. They sell organic and hydroponic gardening gear!

It is a long story but here is the short version.

I had just started brewing wine and was ready to graduate from a gallon glass bottle to a larger carboy. My wife and I had found another favorite store that is a little further from home (more on this store later). I was lamenting the fact I didn’t have enough time to go across town when suddenly I saw a large sign in front of the their store, I swear it had an aura around it like a bright spot light! It said “We now carry home brew supplies.”

We were on a run to get some juice concentrate so we immediately pulled in to check it out.

These guys are really good guys. Will and Daniel are usually there when I visit and it seems like every time I go there I end up having conversations about other things. They are easy to talk to and when the conversation is about brewing they are both very knowledgeable.

I have to disclaim Urban Sunshine carries beer supplies. That being said there is plenty of cross over for us wine people. They have carboys, bungs, airlocks, thermometers, siphon hoses, etc…the whole nine yards.

I always go to the store Will and Daniel work at but they have several locations in the Orlando area. Check out their locations page.

These guys are great and with our hippie tendencies, my wife and I will definitely be stopping by for some organic gardening supplies this spring. Seriously, if you have an opportunity to stop by do. It is worth the trip!

Hope you enjoy!