Poll: to bottle or not to bottle

How do you cap your bottles?

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I’ve found I want to replace my aging wing capper with bench capper, I’m wondering what you use to cap, and if you like it. Please comment with type of capper if you are a big fan of it, or hate what you have.

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Summer 15 updates –

Quite a few brew days have passed since my last update, 10 brew sessions to be precise. I’ve not had a ton of time to blog and brew, I chose brewing. I’ve brewed 4 Berliner weisses and one Gose, 2 IPAs (one smoked english, one hoppy american North east style), 2 milds, and a saison. I’m up to batch 49, and thinking about what should be batch 50. I’ve made good progress on Berliners, with 1/2 of my batch 6 being almost exactly what I have wanted. Batch 7 is effectively a rebrew, if it’s where I want it, I’ll consider that beer conquered. I’m waiting a few more days for to taste the beer, to ensure it’s where it should be sour wise. IMG 4368 f it is, I’ll write it up, and finally include the results of my Berliner survey. My Gose, Down Gose Frazier, is also in a similar situation. It’s waiting on final souring / fruit before I can write that up. They are really that different from each other, I’m hoping the recipe changes are sufficient to distinguish them more than just a salty Berliner. Continue reading

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Clone again. Bitter American 4

I brewed this a while back, kicked the keg tonight while bottling for homebrewing club night. I said I’d share my notes / recipe. The Recipe is based on the BYO Clones from cans recipes. https://byo.com/stories/issue/itemlist/category/52-mar-apr-2012 (no recipe here). I’ve been making different versions of this beer since I started, this might be the best version so far.

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This versions brew day was interesting I made some successful audibles that helped keep the beer on track, but I still had one issue which I think prevented the beer from fully attenuating. I corrected a preboil gravity issue, by boiling to the correct preboil gravity / volume. I also made a last minute hop substitution. This was huge for me. Making the correct adjustments in time was confidence inspiring. I feel like if I can do this, I can really turn a corner in my brewing. The one issue was with underpitching my yeast, which lead to a very slow ferment with the us05, and likely the under attenuation. With the Keg kicked, it’s time to brew another hoppy Pale, to keep the hoppy beers fresh and coming. The question is, another Bitter American, or something new.

When I do brew this again, these are my thoughts. The aroma is good, the bitterness is a little over the top, so I’ll want to lower the bittering charge, and move the 15m to 10m. I don’t think it needs a double dry hop regime, I dry hopped in primary, and that was good enough for this beer. I would like it to dry out bit more, and go back to c40. I think next time, I’ll pitch the proper amount of yeast, but I will consider a move to s04 instead of us05.


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Bitter American Clone  American Pale Ale
Batch Size : 2.00 gal     68.5 IBUs Estimated.
OG: 1.0488 SG     FG: 1.020 SG
Mash: BIAB, Full Body
Boil: 90 minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.50 kg Golden Promise (Simpsons) (2.00 SRM) Grain 4 84.3 %
0.10 kg Munich I (Weyermann) (7.10 SRM) Grain 5 5.6 %
0.08 kg Acidulated (Weyermann) (1.80 SRM) Grain 6 4.5 %
0.05 kg Caramel Malt – 20L (Briess) (20.00 SRM) Grain 7 2.8 %
0.05 kg Caramel Malt – 60L (Briess) (60.00 SRM) Grain 8 2.8 %
Hops Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
8.00 g Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 9 33.1 IBUs
14.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 10 22.1 IBUs
14.00 g Citra [13.40 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 15.0 min Hop 13 13.3 IBUs
14.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
9.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 16 0.0 IBUs
Yeasts Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
0.5 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [50.28 ml] Yeast 14



Misc Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
4.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 2
2.00 g Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 3
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 mins) Fining 11
2.00 tsp Yeast Energizer (Boil 5.0 mins) Other 12


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Please take my Berliner Weisse Brewing survey!

I’m trying to gather some data about how folks brew their Berliner Weisses if you wouldn’t mind taking the survey, and passing it along to your friends who brew them that may not read my blog I’d appreciate it. I’ll be sharing the results once I’ve had a chance to review them. 


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Bottle conditioning hack.

I’ve struggled getting proper carbonation on some of my bottles, specifically my sour saison. When I finished reading the chapter on packaging in American Sour beers, and it didn’t have any better advise than test and see. I then realized my friend JD had a really great hack for knowing the progress of your bottle conditioning. When bottle conditioning he fills a pet soda bottle along with his regular bottles. You’ll be able tell if your beer is carbonating as expected by the pressure building in the soda bottles. Bonus points if you use a brown root beer bottle, which will prevent the beer from being light struck. I can take no credit for this tip, it’s a lesson I should have learned long ago.

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Happy new year, here’s some stuff you should do.

With the new year and the height of brew season ahead of us, now’s a good time to do a few things you might have ignored the rest of the year. Here’s my list of things you should probably do, if you haven’t done them recently. I’m sure I have missed stuff, despite asking twitter for recommendations.

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Inventory and restock – See what you do and don’t have on hand. I over analyze this, and track inventory in beersmith. It really helps with recipe substitutions and formulation. This is as much to prevent running out of gypsum on brew day, but also see what you should use up that’s about to expire. This goes for any and all consumables, cleaners, bottle caps, and clean bottles. Inventory what beers you have on hand too. Use the info to determine what you might want to brew in the coming year. In taking inventory and restocking, keep in mind the poor 2014 growing season for malt which could drive prices higher for 2015 and beyond. While your at it, label your stuff with purchase type, quantity, and purchase date.

Plan your brewing schedule – After you have figured out what ingredients you have on hand to brew, plan your brewing schedule. A proper schedule will allow you to use lower gravity batches as starters for future beers. This will help you optimize your yeast purchases. Plan the brews in increasing gravity, ibu, SRM, to optimize yeast pitching health. Look at the calendar and figure out when you need to brew your Maibock, Berliner Eeisse, and pale ale so it’s ready for that competition, may, or summer sipping. What’s worse than your imperial stout being ready for your summer party, but no session beer. If you plan it right, you’ll have your beers brewed in time for the right season. Take in consideration what beers you brewed last year, and went over well, and what ones didn’t get finished in a timely fashion.

Clean your keggerator – Now that you have planned your future brews, make room in your keggerator for them and get it in top shape. Dump those old stale beers. Clean your lines if they are newish, replace them if they are more than a year or so old. Disassemble your taps, and give them a good scrub. Prevent leaks by tightening any loose fittings, make sure to replace the teflon tape when reassembling them. Give your kegs a good once over and see if any o rings need to be replaced. Prevent rust by cleaning up any moisture or spilled beer, maybe refresh or replace your desiccant.

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Replace all your old plastics, buckets, and hoses. Anything old, cloudy, scratched, soiled or stained, kinked or nicked should be pitched. How long has it been since you replaced your siphon hose or auto siphon? Boil your high temp hoses to rid them of any built up. Check the hoses going to and from your immersion chiller and water filter. Those connections are prone to failure. You’ll thank yourself the next time your buddy tells you about their chiller failure amid brew day.

Clean the rest of your brewing gear. This is my hat tip Brulosophy (and his clean your ball valve post). Disassemble and clean your ball valves. Sit down and scrub that gear that doesn’t always see the best cleaning. Scrub your mash tun, use some bar keepers friend and make your stainless kettle or keggle shine inside and out. Clean up and organize your home brewery.

Calibrate your thermometers, hydrometers, refractometers and scales. You received some new gear for the holiday, now’s a good time to make sure it’s measuring the temps and the volume markings are correct, or make some markings on it.

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Check the expiration date on your propane tanks and c0/ 02 tanks. Worse than not having propane, co, or o2 when you need it, is not being able to fill that tank because it’s expired. Propane tanks need to be qualified ever 5-12 years depending of type / style, and CO2 and other pressurized gas has similar re-qualifying requirements. Usually you can recycle your tank at your local hardware store, or gas supplier. After checking the expiration dates, make sure your tanks are full. Running out of propane or oxygen mid brew is a bad thing.

Basically, this is to remind you to think about all aspects of your brewing process, and gear you don’t maintain on a regular basis. Start a maintenance log for your home brewery and keep it up to date. One final reminder, replace the batteries in you CO monitor, ph meter, powered thermometer, and start your brew year off on the right foot.

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