Monday, March 18, 2013

Building my Randell

Tangerines and Grapefruit for the testing


The idea of the Randell the Animal came out of Sam Calagione head, the mastermind behind DogFish Head Brewery.  The concept was beautifully simple.  Stuff a chamber full of hops, fruit or bacon (oh damn, I did write bacon) on the liquid side of the keg via tap the line.  This will pack the beer with flavors before hitting your awaiting pint glass.  Now I have to interject a little here about Russian Rivers famous tagline, "No Randell Required" Printed on shirts, pint glasses and bottle labels, a direct stab at Sam's Randell the Animal creation.  Basically stating that Russian River can create beers so floral, that hop back isn't needed.  The best part of this ongoing debate is the fact that Russian River bought Dogfish Head's old brewhouse before the Randell conceptualized.  Whether you actually need a Randell is still up for debate, which is not what this point is about.  I'll just say you can't make a bad beer good no mater what you do to it.

A couple of years ago I bought a Blichmann HopRocket,  (You can read my thoughts here) I really wanted to love the product but I just couldn't recommend it as a Randell.  Mostly due to the sub par design Blichmann did while trying to make the HopRocket a jack of all trades.  (Torpedo and Randell) Disconnecting the device is a mess to say the least.  Once it was hooked, up I loved the concept and flavor additions this gave to almost any beer.  Having the Blichmann as a multipurpose vessel wasn't cutting it, I wanted to create a Randell that I could have available at all times to plug and play on my draft system for under 20 bucks. 





I'm going to reuse my water filter housing and some other parts I have around the brewhouse.  I only ordered one part online.  Taking my used (or new) standard house water filter that some Home Brew shops sell as beer filters.




Here is a breakdown of the parts:

  • (1) 12" Long 1" OD Stainless Pipe   (Online,$12.00)
  • (1) 3/8th fine threaded liquid ball lock.  (Extra laying around) 
  • (1) 3/8 Male Flare to 1/2 Male MPT Lead Free (Lowes, $6.00)
  • (1) Food Grade 1/2 MPT to 1/4 Barbed, (Lowes, $.50) 
  • (1) Water Filter Housing, (Free, old homebrew filter) 
In addition, you need a couple box end wrenches, teflon tape, sandpaper (wet), sawsall and a dremmel.  


Step by Step Directions:

1.  Start with a Water Filter Housing taken apart and soaking in PBW, with all the parts removed.

2.  Locate the Stainless pipe.  With it in hand, I realized that the "Out" of the filter was a hair to large on the O.D. of the lid, since it was plastic, I dremmeled that vs the Stainless pipe.   


Once I found the correct grinding wheel the plastic connection easily grind-ed down quickly.  Keeping the melting plastic clean and off the housing was a slow and steady process.

3.  Now for the bottom side of the housing.  I couldn't get the dremmel down there, or my hand.  So I had to grind the stainless pipe.  Which sucked.  With the bit I had, it took about 2 hours grinding and then wet sanding.

4.  Measuring the pipe, I was a little freaked out.  The way the lip attaches its not easy to get inside and measure it correctly.  So I grabbed a piece of extra copper pipe I had and used it as a test piece.  I guessed to 9" 1/4 long, and it fit great.


5.  Cutting the pipe was surprisingly easy.  I used my Saws-all with a new metal blade.  After cutting the un-sanded side off, I sanded it down smooth to the touch.

6.  Next it was time to drill the holes for the liquid to travel through.  I used a clamp and a small metal bit to score the hole locations.  Then using a larger step bit I drilled the holes.  3 rows of 6 around for a total of 18 holes. 



Drilling the holes really sucked.  This stainless pipe is thick, really thick.  Luckily I have a lot of metal bits laying around to drill and toss when they are dull.



7.  Sanding the pipe was long and slow.  I had some metal spurs inside the pipe that I had to sand down smooth.  Along with the holes that I drilled.  Above you can see the unsanded pipe on the left and the sanded brushed pipe on the right.



8.  Test fitting time.  The stainless pipe fits great into the housing.

9.  The "In" side of the filter I wanted to use my 1/4 barb into a 5' liquid beer line.  Connected to a threaded liquid post.  That way I could connect to a keg quickly. 






10.  For the "Out" I wanted to connect a liquid ball lock post into the filter housing.  So that I could walk into any keg set-up and connect into the existing tower or picnic tap's liquid post.  This was the most difficult part.  Finding the correct adapter that would allow this. With the liquid beer post in my hand I stopped at Home Depot and then Lowes.  Finding this lead free flared adapter.  It was a little loose, so a double wrap of teflong tape would fix that.


11.  Next I installed the flared fitting with the ball lock liquid post into the filter housing.   (I used tape, the picture on the left is just for "Show")

12.  Clean-up.  With the posts installed I was done and ready to load the Randell!




I happened to have a "Citra Blast" DIPA on tap that I haven't written about yet but its an awesome beer.  Since the Citra is so tropically forward, I chose to use Grapefruit and Honey Tangerines for its maiden voyage.  I roughly chopped them up and loaded them into the Randell.  After tightening the lid I connected it to the keg and tap #4.  I was ready to go.


I think I'll have some side by side "Tasting Notes" coming up in the future.  I also have some big plans for the future with some unusual ingredients.  I drank on the Randell all night long with no foaming issues.  The taste didn't blend to well with the Citra hops, but it was a great 1st testing of the device.  I took it off the next morning, its going to wait for my "3 Brewers" Pale Ale that is on draft next.  I might look for some harder to find fruit, but we will see how that works out.



Cheers!









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