What’s that Flavor?! Bottle-Conditioned vs Force-Carbonated Part 4

I started this article series earlier. Read: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Bottling Day

Here’s where our paths diverge to see if there is a difference in kegging vs bottling. Unfortunately, I forgot to take some pictures of the process.

Andy and I met at his house on a Thursday evening after work. I was dreading the task of bottling because it always seems to take all available time plus, at least an hour. Someday, I’ll post a story about the relational dangers of homebrewing and thinking, “This will only take about an hour.” All I can say is, “Don’t. Just don’t go down that road of thinking.”

Anyway, I got to Andy’s about 6:15 and as I started unloading my bench capper, bottles, bottling bucket, sanitizer, etc(bottling big batches of beer takes a lot of equipment), Andy was running water for a batch of sanitizer. He had his keg prepped and we got everything in place. I carried the beer from his basement upstairs to his kitchen. After placing the fermenter on his serving freezer, we realized the critical error I just made: I placed 110 pounds on top of all the beer available to drink. Oh well, it ain’t moving till we’re done.

We sanitized Andy’s keg and started racking the beer into it. We were a little too frantic on brew day to truly appreciate the benefits of using half-inch siphoning equipment. It goes a lot faster than standard 5/16-inch. I swear, it took about 2 minutes to fill Andy’s keg.

Once we got the keg taken care of, we sanitized our bottles and boiled a batch of priming liquid. We wound up with about six gallons of beer, so we used a little extra DME for priming.

With two of us working, Andy filled the bottles and I capped. I’m not sure exactly how long the bottling took, but it didn’t take nearly as long as I expected. This probably took about a half hour.

Cleanup probably took about twenty minutes. We just rinsed stuff out and I finished my normal cleaning regiment when I got home. I probably spent another 20 minutes making sure all my equipment was cleaned and sanitized before putting it away.

I was expecting the process to take at least 3 hours, since that seems to be about how much time I spend bottling five gallons. 10 gallons usually takes me about 4 hours for cleaning & sanitizing, bottling and clean-up. As I said earlier, I got to Andy’s about 6:15 PM. at 7:45, I was calling my wife to let her know I was on my way home. I even got to tuck my kids in to bed.

If you have friends who like to help drink your homebrew, I highly recommend convincing one of them to help you bottle. It’s not a lot of fun, but it’s much more enjoyable and more efficient with a helper.

Now, we’re just waiting for the bottles and the keg to carbonate. I’ll post an update with our tasting notes when that happens. It might be a few weeks.


What’s that Flavor?! Bottle-Conditioned vs Force-Carbonated Part 3

Read Part 1 & Part 2 about what this experiment is all about.

Dry Hop Day

An essential part of the flavor of Janet’s Brown Ale is the dry hopping. Several ounces of hop pellets are added once the primary fermentation is completed, which adds a substantial hop flavor and aroma with minimal bitterness.

12-gallon batch of beer fermenting in a chest freezer
Here's our big batch of Janet's Brown bubbling away in the freezer. You can see the temperature control probe by the growler.

The beer fermented in Andy’s temperature-controlled chest freezer to maintain a steady temperature. This uses a standard chest freezer with an external thermostat to control the temperature maintained in the freezer.

After allowing the beer to ferment happily for a week and a half, Andy and I got together to add the dry hops. Following Andy’s normal technique, we sanitized a few hop bags, added the hops and dropped them into the fermenter.

Once the deed was done, several beers aided our recovery from the strenuous five minutes measuring, then carrying several ounces from the upstairs to the downstairs(there were two whole flights of stairs!). Arrangements were made for bottling day one week later.

Stay tuned for more updates!

What’s that Flavor?! Bottle-Conditioned vs Force-Carbonated Part 2

So, I outlined the experiment I am doing on carbonation flavors here.

The Brew Day

Menomonie Homebrewer's Big BrewSo, May 5th rolled around and the Big Brew for the Menomonie Homebrewers’ Club happened. Great fun was had, much beer was consumed and we won’t speak of the atrocities perpetrated on some grilled hot dogs which were still consumed.

Andy got his batch of Janet’s Brown Ale going as the first brew of the day while a local reporter was talking to us. We were still in the process of unloading some stuff and getting set up. No beer had been consumed by this point, so I think we were coherent. We may not have made sense, with all our talk of mashing, sparging, fermenting, carbonating, blah blah blah.

You can insert standard homebrew geek enthusiasm, excitement and babbling here.

Wrapping up in the rain
Never let a little rain ruin your brew day!

After Andy got his batch wrapped up, I realized I better get a fire going under my kettle. Just before reaching a boil, rain started falling. So we set up another burner under the shelter and spent the next hour watching my wort boil.

We got everything into the fermenter without incident, but by the time we got everything loaded we were soaked. The only remedy was visiting Das Bierhaus to warm up. Their Alt Bier was delicious.

Check back for our next installment!