How To Build A Randal – The Ultimate Brewing Hardware
The Randal is an interesting piece of equipment that was created at the dogfish brewery in Maryland. It helps enhance certain flavors with kegged beer.
So what is a Randal?
A Randal is pretty much a water filter that your kegged beer passes in and out of to pick up aromas of what ever you chose to put inside of it.
Most commonly it is used for IPA’s and the brewer will put hops in the randal to pick up hoppy aroma’s. Honestly though, you can put other things inside: bourbon soaked oak chips, fruit, vanilla beans, pretty much if you can think of. Any way you choose to use it, it adds a new dimension to the beer.
(Vanilla beans in a Randal would be so good paired with a vanilla porter)
Are they affordable?
If you wanted to buy the dogfish type of Randal I think they are kinda expensive from what I’ve been told. For that reason, I don’t own one. I recently have been searching the internet for directions on how to build one because I just knew that they couldn’t be that expensive to build. After some research I found that my hunch was in fact correct.
I finally found a great blog post on how to do. Since, I haven’t made it yet I can’t really put my own directions on how to do it because I will be following the ones I found. The directions as well as the original blog post are found below. All in all it is about $20 in parts. Not that shabby!
- A whole-house water sediment filter
- 3/4 to 1/2 inch reduction fittings, then 1/2 inch to 1/4 flare fittings
- A tube for the middle to act as a filter (it’s widely suggested to use a stainless steel tube, but I used a 10.5″ length of 1″ blowoff tube). I drilled about 20 holes in the bottom 1/4 of it to force the beer down through the hops.
- About 10 feet of beverage line and some clamps, and a picnic tap (I used 1/4 inch beer line) a few ounces of hops.
Here are the parts laid out (sorry for the dark background). I’ve already assembled the brass fittings to the filter inlet and outlet. I chose a picnic tap, because while I am testing it out, I’ll have it set up on its own, not hooked up to the kegerator (this will also make comparison easier, hopped vs. unhopped).
Here’s the Randall cleaned, sanitized and assembled.
I threw a couple of ounces of Centennial in for testing. I could have fit another ounce or two at least.
So far, so good! Now I need to introduce pressure and beer! I had a small leak at first that was easily fixed. I assumed the beer would foam up pretty good, and it did. The filter did a pretty good job of keeping particles out, although there were a few in the glass, mainly from hop leaves that dropped into the tube while filling it. I did notice a nice kick in aroma and flavor, but I decided that I am going to use a different hop.
Here’s a shot of the glass!
All in all, it was a success! It only took about an hour to build, and was around $20 in parts. I think keeping it separate from the kegerator was a nice idea, since now it’s kind of portable. I don’t know how often I’ll use this, but it’s here, and I think it’s kind of cool! Now I just need to read up on keeping the foam down so I can fill a growler with it!
Why I might not use this for every beer, I think it would be pretty nice to have on one hand for those gourmet beers or summer IPA’s. For the price, a better question is why not.