I haven't really bought much brewing equipment lately, but that all changed today. Just what did I buy, you ask? Well, first of all I finally bought something I've been mulling over for well over a year, and that would be a Barley Crusher. Given the fact that I brew fairly often AND brew ten-gallon batches AND generally use Pilsner malt as my base malt, I figured it makes sense to invest in a mill so I can start buying my grain (or base grain, at least) in bulk. My research suggested the Barley Crusher was the best value for the dollar, so I finally took the plunge today.
My second purchase involves a brief back-story. First, I often brew German-style lagers and ales that should be brilliantly clear. I tend to get good clarity through using Irish moss and cold conditioning, but it sucks if you're planning on taking the keg elsewhere because you then have to rack to another keg or else the yeast that has settled to the bottom of the keg gets disturbed and you end up with a cloudy mess. Second, I realized last night that I forgot to add Irish moss to the Oktoberfest beer I brewed on Saturday. With these facts in mind, I decided to go ahead and do something I had first contemplated at least three years ago... invest in a filter. Using the instructions found here as a starting point (and the article's 13 years old so the prices are a bit outdated), I bought a housing unit and a 0.5-micron filter which I will hook up to a couple corny kegs so I can filter my Oktoberfest as well as anything else I brew that I want clear.
I still have a couple items on my brewing wish list that I've yet to pull the trigger on (mainly a housed, insulated pre-chiller that I hope to build using a 5-gallon cooler and 50 feet of copper tubing and a grant I'd like to build from a two-gallon cooler) but these items should tide me over for now. Stay tuned to find out whether my filter actually works.
Oh, quick Oktoberfest beer update... I proved that I am the world's most paranoid brewer when I panicked this morning after noticing little white dots on top of my carboys. If it had happened to anybody else, I would've said, "relax, it's just the beginning of fermentation," but because it was my beer I started to fear it was mold. Anyway, a few hours later a nice Kräusen has developed. It took close to 36 hours to start, which I guess is the price I have to pay for pitching at 55°F and immediately dropping the temp to 50°F. Hopefully a nice, smooth lager will be the reward for my patience!
P.S. If you read this, Señor Brew™, Project Porter may be on the backburner for now, but drop me a line if you're still looking to get rid of some of that malt you bought a few months ago.