Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Partial Mash Brewing Guide


The image above of the cooling down of a partial mash boil in the kitchen sink full of ice likely brings back fond (or frustrating) memories for brewers of when they first got started.

Why Partial Mash?

Most brewers are introduced to the hobby by wandering into a local home brew shop and getting a starter equipment kit (normally under $100 USD depending on what's included), and an extract recipe kit to use with that equipment.  The most basic of the kits are cans of pre-hopped liquid malt extract with an extra bit of fermentables in the form of dry malt extract.  These are very easy to use (basically sanitize everything and mix with warm water then pitch the yeast) and generally produce a drinkable product for very little effort.

On the other end of the spectrum are the all grain brewers that perform a mash on malted barley and convert their own sugars to a fermentable state. Boil the full volume of wort, design recipes in software to style guidelines, and all sort of other things that require an incredible amount of effort compared to the extract kits.

Somewhere in the middle of these two is the partial mash brew.  Originally I viewed it as a step between the simple extract kits and the full commitment to all grain that was simply another step in the process.  I personally only did around six partial mash brews (and only two extract brews before that) before jumping to all grain.

Recently however several friends have shown interest in the hobby but don't quite want the full commitment of purchasing the equipment and keeping up with the details for an all-grain brew day (around 7-8 hours for my setup).  So they would try a simple extract kit from the local shop with the plastic bucket economy equipment kit.  Sure enough they loved having their own beer to drink at home but wanted more control over the process/beer that wasn't offered in extract kit form factor.

This is where the partial mash shines, great control over the process (relative to extract), wider selection of styles, low equipment costs, and a much shorter time commitment for each batch.  With the addition of a small amount of specialty grain to the extracts that contain many of the fermentable sugars you can achieve the body and depth that's often missing from extract only brews.I am actually a very big fan of the partial mash process now for the casual brewer. Not everyone needs a miniature commercial brewery in their basement, and truth be told you can make incredibly good beer with the process.  The guide below lays out the general process of completing a partial mash kit I purchased for this post.

More after the Jump

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Late Mash Additions

Wait a minute did I mean late hop additions?  Nope, some grains can put off a bit of a sharp flavor when going through a mash that can really show up in the finished beer.  My tastes in particular pick something up I can only describe as acrid when using black patent malt to ad a bit of roast/color.  Looking for ways to counteract this I thought about steeping the black patent separately but thought that my be a bit of a hassle to execute on brew day.  Wait, how about adding it right before the end of the mash so it's just in for the sparge?  It works out pretty well although I'm not 100% committed to doing this all the time (sometimes roast with a little bite is just what you need) it can help you get the flavor/color you want without going overboard.

This is during the brew process for the  Cascadian Dark Ale that was posted the other day.

Process:



1.  Mill the Black Patent Separately, Obviously you Can't Add Later if You Don't

2.  Sprinkle on the Top of the Mash Before the Vorlauf

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Frozen Yeast Bank - Part 2



Link to Part 1

In part one we covered preparing the vials for the frozen yeast bank with glycerine and a pressure cooker standing in for an autoclave.  Part two will cover getting the yeast into the tube and the freezing process.  The better your procedure here the better the chance that you get a good culture into storage that will survive for a long time.

In this example we'll be using some washed yeast from a fermentation.  Ideally you would want to pull yeast from your starter since it hasn't gone through a fermentation of an actual beer with hops, trub, and greater chances to have infection present.  This is just what happened to be on hand for the example.  If you haven't washed yeast before look it up, it's way easy and will give you options for reusing yeast a few times in shorter windows. 

Washed Yeast from a Cake

More after the jump

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cascadian Dark Ale

Cascadian Dark Ale
Cascadian Dark Ale
American IPA
Type: All Grain Date: 3/10/2012
Batch Size (fermenter): 10.00 gal Brewer: Chris Vaught
Boil Size: 12.44 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Keggle and Cooler
End of Boil Volume 11.44 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 10.00 gal Est Mash Efficiency 75.2 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 45.0
Taste Notes:

Ingredients

Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
25 lbs Golden Promise (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 86.2 %
2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2 6.9 %
1.00 oz Magnum [12.00 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 3 20.8 IBUs
1.50 oz Magnum [12.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 28.4 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [4.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 7.7 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [4.90 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 6 5.9 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [4.90 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 7 3.8 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [4.90 %] - Aroma Steep 5.0 min Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35.49 ml] Yeast 9 -
2 lbs Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 10 6.9 %
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.071 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.046 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.9 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.7 %
Bitterness: 66.6 IBUs Calories: 151.6 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 39.2 SRM

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 29 lbs
Sparge Water: 7.24 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.20

Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 33.75 qt of water at 159.1 F 148.0 F 75 min
Sparge Step: Batch sparge with 3 steps (Drain mash tun, , 3.62gal, 3.62gal) of 168.0 F water
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).

Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Bottle Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 12.08 oz Carbonation Used: Bottle with 12.08 oz Dry Malt Extract
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 70.0 F Age for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F

Notes

Created with BeerSmith

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Frozen Yeast Bank - Part 1

To go along with the last post on yeast starters I thought it would be a good idea to introduce the frozen yeast bank.  This is not only a good way to always have plenty of yeast strains on hand but is also a very good way to save money if you brew quite often.  A standard liquid yeast strain is around $8.00 USD and even then those should normally be grown up in a starter anyway.  This method allows you to purchase one of those liquid cultures and use it many times.  As a side benefit you can keep limited edition strains that are sometimes released on hand when they are no longer commercially available.  Lets start with the equipment required. Flyguy's Homebrew Talk Frozen Yeast Bank Thread thread is where I got a ton of information on how to do this and it's a great read.


Equipment:
-Small glass vials with a good sealing top that can be frozen and stand up to the heat of a pressure cooker (cynmar lab product 115-27910 is what I selected)
-Some pipettes (I got mine on amazon.com), the ones I purchased were graduated plastic 4ml
-Some food grade glycerine (also amazon.com)

Glass Vials from cynmar and the glycerine from amazon
-Something to hold the vials when they are in the pressure cooker, I used a beaker for most of these but you can also use several glass mason (canning) jars.

Vials staged in a beaker


-A pressure cooker, 15psi so that you can get up to 250°F is recommended. Read the instructions and follow them as these things can be very dangerous if used incorrectly.

-A small cooler and ice packs to go in your freezer.  A soft side small lunchbox sized cooler is a great option. This is to keep the yeast temperature stable during the auto defrost cycles most freezers have. (covered in part 2)

Optional (i.e. cheaper) Version - During each step in the process I'll  highlight a cheaper alternative if possible.  It likely won't be as clean (relatively speaking it will be the difference between sanitized and sterilized) but should work with the caveat that you will have a slightly higher chances of something going wrong due to an infection.

Procedure after the jump:


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yeast Starters

Good pitch rates with healthy yeast is one of the biggest steps anyone can take to making better beer.  The Mr. Malty site has a pitch rate calculator and tons of information on using yeast well.  This post will  cover making a starter for a batch done a few weeks ago from an old smack pack of yeast.


1.  Prepare some wort, I use dried malt extract (DME) in a concentration that will come pretty close to matching the design of the beer, 1.040 in this case.  Simply measure (by weight if you can, and you should be) your DME for the volume of the starter you plan on making and bring it to a boil  on the stove for a few minutes.  Hops are not needed here.

2.  Cool your wort down to pitching temperatures, I aim for below 70 °F for ales.  Just like your actual batch of beer make sure everything that touches the wort or yeast from here on out is sanitized.

Cooling the Wort in a Small Ice Bath
Flask Full of Start-San


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Huge Barley Wine The Begining

We've got a problem, some of the grain stock is getting a little up there in age due to a busy portion of last year.  That coupled with a recent order to spruce up the options has left quite a surplus that needs a use sooner than later.  The logical option? Create a huge barley wine.  I'm hoping to detail the process here as it's developed over the next month or two with periodic updates during the aging process that's expected to take nearly a year.

This first step (although completely out of sequence) was mainly to get the process kicked off and make me commit to the idea.  Yesterday I crafted 4 lbs of Belgian candy sugar to add in steps during the fermentation.  Belgian candy sugar is commonly used in dubbles and triples to help get that lighter body in a high gravity beer while adding some great unique flavors.  It's available at most home brew shops and usually costs a pretty penny.  You can however  make your own at home since it's simply invert sugar.

Step 1 - Gather Ingredients/Equipment

Table sugar - use how ever many pounds of candy sugar you want to produce
Creme of Tartar - 1/8 tsp per pound of sugar
Water - just enough to cover the sugar, I used 1/2 a cup per pound
Candy Thermometer (got mine at a grocery store for <$6)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First Year Grape Vines

Earlier this year we was able to plant muscadine and scuppernong grape vines. Both species are native to the southeastern United States and do very well warm and humid climates. The plan is to brew both grapes separately and to have a small blend. Usually first year grapes have a very small berry yield but all the vines are doing well and have lots of clusters of grapes already growing. They look like they are doing so well, that we've already planned another row to go in for next year.
Muscadine and Scuppernong Row

Muscadine Cluster

Scuppernong Cluster

Vine Trellis

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Homebruin Cup II Update





Rye Ale - Bronze Metal Winner for the American Beers Category

You may remember that we posted that a few beers would be entered in the the Homebruin Cup II club competition.  Judging took place yesterday and we are thrilled to have placed with one of the two entries that we supplied.  A simple American Rye Ale that we put together took the bronze metal in the American Beers category. I'll post an abbreviated version of the recipe below if anyone wants to give it a go. 

This was a tough competition with tons of great beers for every category.  I had the privilege to serve as a steward for the Amber Beers category that the eventual best of show came out of and can tell you that while I did not get the opportunity to sample all of the gold metal winners the Scottish 80 that won the flight was truly spectacular.


Ryevalry - Named for the combination of English and American Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
11 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 52.4 %
8 lbs Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 2 38.1 %
2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 3 9.5 %
1.25 oz Magnum [12.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 29.1 IBUs
1.25 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 5 2.1 IBUs
1.0 pkg East Coast Ale (White Labs #WLP008) [35.49 ml] Yeast 6 -
Est Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.3 %
Bitterness: 31.2 IBUs
Est Color: 15.2 SRM
Single infusion Mash @150°F for 60 minutes
Edit - The Yeast listed above was grown up in a 2 liter starter from the original tube for the 10 gallon batch



Many more posts to come!


Making Pinot Noir

We recently purchased Selection Estate Series Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir. This will be the second time we've brewed this and am excited to brew this again. This kit comes from Winexpert, the largest manufacturer of award winning wine making products. Brewing these kits are about the easiest brewing I've experienced. But they produce some of the best tasting wine I've had. Here is the setp by step process.

Pinot Noir Kit

Contents of the kit include...

Huge Bag 'O Grape Juice

  • Instuctions
  • Juice
  • Bentonite
  • Metabisulfate
  • Sorbate
  • Isinglass
  • Yeast
  • Oak Powder - I do not use this ingredient. I filter my wine and it clogs up the filter and makes it nearly impossible for the wine to flow through because the powder is too fine. I use my own oak stick or shavings.
Kit Contents


First Step is to clean and sanitize all all of your equipment. StarSan is my preferred sanitizer because it's no-rinse. I don't have to sanitized then rinse all of it out thoroughly be for I brew.

I added a half gallon of spring water to my fermenter to stir in the bentonite. I'm using a oak stick to stir. I also let the oak stick stay in the wine throughout the entire fermentation process.

Note: Wood harbors bacteria and other microbes that you don't want in your wine. Steam any  wood for 15 minutes before  using it in your brews. I also soak it in sanitizer before but that's totally unnecessary if you steam it.

After this I pour in the grape juice. Then I will top off the fermenter with spring water to get the desired volume or initial gravity. Stir Thoroughly to mix all liquid.



When I have my desired volume, I get a wine thief and hydrometer to get the original gravity reading. This wine in particular had a reading of 1.092 OG. A full fermentation should get this wine to around 12% ABV.

Hydrometer In Wine Thief

Now we pitch the yeast. These kits include a packet of dry yeast or you could substitue with liduid wine yeast. The dry yeast suits me just fine for now. This means I don't have to make starters or aerate more than shaking because dry yeast is designed for oxygen deprived musts. Your juice should be around 70 to 75 degrees fahrenheit for fermentation. Temperature is one of the most important factors for good fermentation.

Note: Yeast manufacturers suggest that you re-hydrate the yeast before pitching. I have never done this and still had excellent results. Also, the instructions of these kits to sprinkle contents in and it will activate itself.

Now I'm ready to place the lid and airlock on and wait for primary fermentation to end. I will periodically check it for signs of fermentation and get sample readings with the hydrometer after the next five days. The hydrometer should read around 1.002. 


Fermenting Wine

I will update this post in the next several days to finish the entire process. Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

First Year Hops

Well it's been nearly a month since I planted hop rhizomes and they are looking pretty good. I've had almost two feet of growth on the Nugget and a foot on the Cascade. I was concerned about the Cascade when I received them in the mail. The rhizome had been broken in the mail and looked pretty rough. I went ahead and planted them and I'm glad I did. They are a little behind the Nugget but they still look nice and healthy. Can't wait to see the yield in the fall. I know they won't produce mush being first year plants, but things are looking good. I'll keep posting updates on their progress throughout the year.

Cascade - 4 weeks
Nugget - 4 weeks

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beer Citadel Update

Beer Citadel is planning on expanding this blog to more topics than just brewing beer. Don't worry, this site will be mostly about the brewing of beer. But, I will be posting some updates on my first year hop vines very soon. And my grape vines for wine. What's that? Wine making? Yes! I will be brewing two batches of wine this weekend and will document the entire process. We also have some more brewery builds and even some beer based recipes on the way. Thank you for following.

Home Brew Talk

HomeBrewTalk.com is one of my favorite website for homebrewing. It is one of the best forums I've ever been a part of and continues to give beer makers a wealth of knowledge and resources. If you are a beginner or and old hat at the hobby and you haven't been to HBT, you are missing out. They have topics on beginning brewing all the way up to advanced all-grain electric brewing. Many home brewers there have been brewing mead, wine, and beer for many years even some have been professional brewers. If you are just joining or are a veteran member, please don't hesitate to say hello to HelperMonkey, that's me.




The have also launched a new website to where you can talk about everything beer. Whether it's your favorite pub or the best commercial brew you've ever put to your lips. Check out Beer Forum.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Brew Day Data

We usually try to take as much data as possible on brew days.  Some items are for repeatability when we want to recreate a real winner.  Even if you don't really brew the same beer that often  (we rarely do) it can still help future brews of similar styles or even your brewing process as a whole.  Other data just help keep the day on track.  I thought it would be of some value to go through some of the items we try to record and why.

Ingredient Measurements - This one is pretty obvious, you need to know what you put into the beer first and foremost.  You can go a little further than pounds of grain and ounces of hops though.  What brand of each grain and even the age of the grain (if you buy in bulk and store grains for a period of time) can help isolate what went wrong later if there is an issue.  Same goes for hops, alpha acid percentage and age are useful items to keep up with.

Water Volumes - We have calibrated all of our kettles with a sight glass and try to use accurate water measurements for the mash.  This is important because you should be doing a temperature calculation that takes into account the amount/temperature of the water and the pounds/temperature of the grain to hit your mash temperature after you combine the two.   You also want to target a good mash thickness for optimal conversion, 1.25 qts/pound (2.6 L/kg) is the standard number most people stay around.

Gravity Readings - Yes readings in the plural.  You can get away with just a starting gravity at the end of the brew day but we've usually taken gravity readings at several spots during the day.  If you have an efficiency/conversion problem early on in the day you have a shot to fix it before the boil, after the boil, or just scrap the day and move on.  We use a refractometer so it's quick and easy to take a reading, there is no way we would do this many with a hydrometer.  As a general rule we look at: 
  1. First Running out of the mash
  2. Each Sparge (if you get too low you are extracting tannins)
  3. The Pre-Boil gravity of the combined runnings
  4. Post Boil Gravity (this is the starting gravity)

Mash Ph - We check the Ph of the mash somewhat infrequently, grab some test strips and see what your local water and grain come out to and adjust if needed.  Once you learn what you usually get you should be fine.  5.2 to 5.4 is the normal desired range.

Mash/Boil/Hop Times - Just recording the mash and boil times for the record, it can be quite hard to remember if you did a 60 or 90 minute boil three weeks later.  The hop schedule is crucial as the length of time in the boil affects bitterness in very different ways.

Volume of Wort Collected -  This will help you identify losses in your brew house due to dead space in equipment, evaporation due to boiling, and any other losses.  Use this to dial in your equipment profile in your brewing software or in your water calculations.  You don't want to end up way short or way over on how much beer you make.

Yeast - What strain was it.  What lot # if it was purchased or what generation was it if you're keeping your own supply in the freezer.  Did you build a starter and if so how big was it and how long did you let it go.  Yeast really is one of the mysteries of brewing that can have the greatest effect on flavor and quality of your finished beer.  Know everything you can about it.  We once had a bad batch that we couldn't figure out, turned out the package we used had been recalled by the manufacturer for poor performance.  We were only able to confirm that this was the issue by checking the recorded lot#.

Fermentation Temperature - Going back to yeast again, a second batch that had an off flavor was likely caused by a higher than desirable temperature range during fermentation.  Know where you're going to ferment and what temperature you expect it to be.  Add a few degrees to that (yeast produces a little heat when active) and select a yeast that performs well in that range.  Even better build a controlled fermentation space.

Final Gravity - If you want to know how much alcohol is in your beer (or if it's finished) you need a starting and finial gravity reading.

Bottles Bottled - If you're bottling it lets you get a good idea of how much fermenter volume you're losing to the yeast cake and any trub left in the wort before fermentation.

Priming Sugar - Type and amount.  See our post on natural carbonation here

Does anyone else record other information about their brewday?  I'm always interested in improving the process.  If you have anything we should lookout for or if there's an error in anything above let us know in the comments.  I'm also trying to decide on the next post does anyone have an opinion on which post they would like to see first, making a yeast starter or a discussion on fermenters (buckets/better bottles/glass carboys)?


Friday, May 4, 2012

Natural Carbonation


BACKGROUND

We have almost always bottle conditioned every batch we’ve turned out (even most of the kegged batches).  My personal opinion is that bottle conditioned and carbonated beer adds to the flavor depth and creates a better product.  Many of the Trappist Ales that consistently rank among the top beers in the world are bottle conditioned.  In a commercial setting this usually accomplished using wort from the newest batch currently being produced with a small pitch of viable yeast with very specific cell counts introduced.  It’s a finely tuned system that has evolved over a number of years (or generations) at the brewery where they know exactly what level of carbonation they will get.

On the home brewer scale we usually don’t have a fresh batch just finishing up around the time we bottle.  Even if we have brewed the same day it usually a different style and you wouldn’t want to mix beers would you?  To approximate this we can prime the batch with equivalent amounts of sugar to what would have been in that fresh wort.  What kind of sugar we use can affect the end result in different ways but nearly any sugar that yeast can eat will result in carbonation. 

PROCESS

Find a table online for the type of sugar you want to use, they’re available all over the place for all kinds of sugars, Google is your friend.  Common sugars are Dried Malt Extract (DME), Corn Sugar (sometimes called priming sugar), and even plain white table sugar (I think this is how the Mr. Beer system recommends you carbonate). 

Simply measure out the amount of sugar needed and boil it with 1-2 cups of water for a few minutes.  Always do this by weight if you have an accurate scale, one half cup is not always the same as another half cup.  What you see can vary by viewing angle and the compaction of the sugar can vary by scoop.  The point is to be as repeatable in your process as your equipment allows.  Place this in the bottom of your just sanitized bottling bucket (we usually sanitize right after cutting the heat to the priming sugar). 

Place the outlet of your hose in the very bottom of the bottling bucket to avoid aeration. I like to position it in a nearly tangential position to the wall of the bucket to create a good mixing effect (not too good as that will aerate).  From there start your siphon (sanitized of course), a racking cane and a tube full of clean water work but an auto siphon is very easy and quite inexpensive. Rack all of the beer from your fermenter into the bottling bucket being careful not to pick up too much of the yeast cake (some won’t hurt but keep it to a minimum). 

Cover the top of the bottling bucket to keep out free floating nasties that could cause an infection, saran wrap works fine here (sanitize it too).  Bottle and cap away, store the finished bottles at a good temperature for the yeast to work because if it’s too cold they will never carbonate the beer.

After you’re familiar with the common sugars you can experiment with anything you want.  There may be a little research to do to figure out the fermentable levels in special sugars but it shouldn’t be too difficult, and you can always just try it in a similar level to one of the common sugars.  Brown sugar, maple syrup, fruit juice, beet sugar, and probably anything else you can think of have been tried before with varying results. 

THINGS TO AVOID

1.  Amount of sugar to get the proper volume of CO2 - too little and your under carbonated, too much and you get bottle bombs

2.  Infection (Bacteria or Some other microbe) - Clean everything like you have OCD.  See the picture below of the broken bottle?  It was the only one in the batch that broke; all the other ones were carbonated at the correct level.



3.  Structural weakness in bottle likely due to damage or a manufacturing defect - This is the other possible cause of the broken bottle above.  Look them over for the obvious and discard ones with defects.

4.  Incomplete fermentation before bottling - Check out this video of a Saison we brewed.  It was great after 3 weeks, good for a few more weeks after that, and then it just became impossible to drink at all.  There was no way we added enough priming sugar to get to these levels it just wasn’t done when we put it in the bottles.

video

 
PROS

Insanely cheap start up equipment costs compared to kegging..  You need a bottling bucket, a racking cane, some hose, a bottle capper, caps, and bottles.  A capper comes with most starter kits and is pretty cheap to pick up on its own.  Bottles don’t cost much to purchase or come free with commercial beer (no twist off’s).

The method works for all styles.  As a bonus Abbey Ales, Russian Imperial Stouts, Barley Wines and other beers that take a much longer time to condition won’t be keeping a keg or tap tied up. 


CONS

Bottle Bombs
Inconsistent Results - depends entirely on your process and equipment
Additional Infection Exposure - If you aren’t careful
Additional Oxygen Exposure - If you aren’t careful
Higher Level of Effort Compared to Kegging


CONSIDERATIONS
May add some residual sweetness if using DME, can beneficial and sometimes it completely changes your beers flavor profile (especially in lighter and drier beers).  Think about trying corn sugar or dextrose if you want to avoid this. 



CONCLUSIONS

Try it a few different ways.  Set up an experiment where you brew a super simple 5 gallon extract batch and bottle each gallon with a different approach try out.  Remember to check the volumes of CO2 for the style and try to keep the same volumes using:

            -DME
            -Corn Sugar
            -White Table Sugar
           
Then grab some of those carbonation tabs for a gallon and maybe use too little of one of the three above for the last gallon (don’t overdo it as bottle bombs are dangerous and an absolute mess to clean up).  Figure out what you like the best and make your beer that way, there is no right answer just personal preference.

Additional Notes on natural carbonation and conditioning in kegs:
We have done this several times and really can’t form an opinion on it yet.  Good thing is it doesn’t require a dedicated line off your CO2 tank for carbonation.  This is quite useful if your tank is in the fridge with the kegs on tap like mine is.  It is a bit slower than force carbonation.  You can’t just put in the same amount of sugar that you would for bottling, your beer will be way over carbonated (strike this one up to personal experience).  Take all that for what it’s worth.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Homebruin Cup 2

It's that time again for the 2nd annual Homebruin Cup. This post is a little late but there is still time. It is closed to Tennessee Valley Homebrewers club members only. We will be entering some home brews of our own in this competition so wish us luck. We will follow up with a post of results and hopefully some award winning recipes. The winner of Best of Show will have a chance to go on to the national homebrew competition and brew on a commercial brewing system at Calhoun's Brewery with their brewmaster. Good luck to all that enter the competition.