Kegs, Growlers, Bombers, Bottles, and Cans

What’s Happening Now

We bottled the brown ale on Thanksgiving night. It fermented for nearly a week and a half, but we aren’t worried about that. A few extra days in the fermenter won’t hurt anything. For a recap, we have half a case of stout, a case and a half of IPA, and are aging two cases of brown ale.

We have forgone buying fresh bottles for the last few bottlings. We have started to recycle old bottles from previous brews or the commercial bottles that we drink. Even my girlfriend’s family has a box of bottles they save for me when I go visit them. We haven’t bought new bottles for around six weeks or maybe longer. It’s ironic and humbling to see our beer being put into Sam Adams, Lagunitas, Rivertown, or Christian Moerlein.

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Our process starts with bleaching the bottles in soapy water. Bottles usually have residue from the previous beer that has settled and dried in the bottom. We allow the bottles to soak in a mixture of bleach and soapy water for about ten minutes. This gives us more time to set up the rest of our bottling process. One of us will pick up the bottles two at a time with some water in them, shake, and pour out the gunk that was in the bottom.

The bottles are then transferred to the sanitation sink where they are rinsed of bleach and sanitized with Star San no rise acid satiation. I like this sanitizer, because the bottles don’t require rinsing and the solution won’t hurt the yeast as they carbonate the bottles during conditioning.

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The bottles are set on the floor six or eight at a time and the bottling bucket is set up on the counter in the kitchen (I didn’t have a good picture for this, but next time I promise I’ll take a high quality picture). We use a pvc hose and special bottling nozzle. Our last batch was around 5.6 gallons, which made exactly 48 beers. We have a special capper that puts the final touch on the bottles and seals them tight (see above). I have high hopes for this batch. I’ll let you know how it tastes in two weeks.

Hey, Did You Know?

For the last couple of months I have been only discussing beer in bottles. There is a myriad of different ways to store, transport, condition, and consume beer. I wish to focus on the most popular families of containers. There are kegs, growlers, bombers, bottles, and cans. I will discuss the first three. I trust you know the last two.

Kegs are a great way to house and transport a large amount of beer, because they usually come in ten gallon or five gallon installments and are lined with stainless steel. The stainless insures the integrity of the container, but also the beer. Stainless steel is very smooth and does not allow for many microbes and other things to set into the metal; thus, kegs are easy to clean and maintain. They are very popular with restaurants, pubs, and breweries. These entities get to save on container cost because one keg eliminates a lot of bottles and cans.

A problem with kegs is that they are very large requiring a very large refrigerator. They are not for the typical home brewer that does 5 to 7 gallon batches.

Next is the growler. These containers are made of dark glass or steel and are usually a half-gallon or gallon. This is a better for people who want a larger volume of beer with the convenience of bottle sizes.

More breweries and bars are starting to allow for a growler exchange program. You buy a growler and pay to fill it up. Once the growler is empty you take it back and exchange for a filled one, but only at the cost of the beer. You only buy one growler and you don’t have to pay for container cost again.

A downside of the growler is that usually exchange programs will only exchange their branded growler. You can’t take growler “A” to tap room “B”. However, there are some places out there that will let you exchange any growler regardless of where it’s from. Remember and go back to these places, because they are good guys and such establishments are few and far between.

My friends are Paradise Brewing Supplies outside of Cincinnati allow outside growlers. They don’t exchange different growlers, but will fill them and only exchange their branded growlers. We also get all our brewing supplies here and consider them family at this point. Check them out if you live near Cincinnati or are visiting.

Bomber, this piece is not a growler or a bottle, but a hybrid. Bombers are between the 16oz. bottle size and the 64oz. half-gallon growler size. This week’s My Unadulterated Opinion beer is from a 24oz. bomber (keep reading). I am not aware of bomber exchange programs, but I’m sure they are out there somewhere.

All of these containers have different styles and sub categories. This is not an end-all-be-all explanation, but it should get you started.

 My Unadulterated Opinion-

This week’s flavor hails all the way from Oregon. Rogue Ales & Spirits is the best-kept secret tucked away on the West Coast. One of my favorite beers from them is their Dead Guy Ale. This beer is a take on a Mailbock, which are known to be lighter in color than other Bock beers and have a significant hop character.

Dead Guy Ale falls perfectly into that category with a burnt copper color, medium head, and hop flavors from Perle and Saaz hops. As soon as it’s opened floral notes fill the area, which is uncharacteristic of lagers, but it creates a smooth drinking experience and I’ll allow Rogue to break the conventions here –see my post Brewing Over an Open Fire about the difference between ales and lagers. The carbonation on mine was good and I enjoyed drinking this beer. Dead Guy Ale is one of my favorites from Rogue Ales & Spirits and they make a killer Mocha Porter, which you will see in a later post closer to Christmas.

This beer is a lager to be drank during the spring, but I love this installment and it came in a bomber. I think Dead Guy Ale can be enjoyed anytime of year and not just spring.

Drink this beer.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com. If you’re looking for a freelance writer check out the Hire Me! page.

See you next week on the other side of the pint glass!

Discussion-

  • What other types of beer containers can you name? What are your favorites?

Featured Image Credit: Active Beer Geek

Other Image Credit: Ryan Ross

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Thanksgiving Beer

What’s Happening Now

 

This week we will be bottling the brown ale that we brewed last weekend. This beer only has a fermentation period of a week and we will bottle condition it for two weeks. When it’s done it will have a dark amber color, malty sweetness, and toasted nut notes. We are still drinking on the IPA and Stout. Well, I’m drinking the IPA.

 

Have you ever had an issue with flies congregating around your CO2 blow off tube or valve? We did. They are there because the brewer’s yeast emits a fruity aroma during the fermentation process. These aromas attract the tiny, impossible to kill fruit flies.

 

Scientists have discovered the particular gene that causes the yeast to produce a fruity aroma, reports Wired Magazine. Experts can enhance the gene, where the yeast create more of the aroma or limit the gene, where the yeast makes very little of the aroma. They are working to produce a strain of brewer’s yeast that does not produce the aroma at all. Researchers believe that this aroma is produced to attract the flies on purpose. The yeast uses the flies as a transport to spread the organism’s population range since a yeast culture cannot move far on its own.

I know this is something that would normally be placed in the Hey, Did You Know? section, but I have a good post for that and this pertains to What’s Happening Now. We have had fruit flies everywhere and have for some time regardless of the falling temperatures outside. They congregate around the blow off valve or tube depending on the set up for different types of beer.

 

Here is how to kill those little buggers from my friends at Wiki How.

Hey, Did You Know?

 

Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is coming up and I felt it necessary to do a seasonal post about the holiday. I was curious about beer at the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims would have brought barrels of beer on their ships across the Atlantic because beer lasts longer than potable water. Researchers at the Smithsonian Magazine believe there would be very little beer, if any, at the first Thanksgiving, which makes me sad. Fear not my readers. Your Thanksgiving has potential to keep the beer flowing throughout the gorging day.

 

You want look for brown ale style beers or if you have Marzens left over from Oktoberfest. Concentrate on brews that have a high level of sweet malts and toasted nut flavors, low levels of bitterness, and lower levels of alcohol – because no one wants to be the one who ruined Thanksgiving due to drunkenness. These types of beers are going to pair well with the multitude of flavors, textures, temperatures, and weights of Thanksgiving meals. You want to make sure that you are not drinking a heavy beer that will fill you up as you enjoy the turkey. Brown ales or a Marzens will be a perfect blend to avoid flavor dominance over your meal.

 

May you have many things to be thankful for. I know I am.

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My Unadulterated Opinion-

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t like brown ales. I don’t care for the sweet malts and lack of hop flavor. I want some bitter hops, but I just upsold you on toasted malt beer to go with your turkey so I put my pallet on the line. I’m glad that I went against what I normally drink. Boffo Brown ale by Dark Horse Brewery is a fantastic beer.

 

The dark color and the smooth head make the beer look aesthetically great. It pours out as a muddy color with about 80% clarity. The flavor is robust and exquisite. The sweet, toasted malts flavors meld well with bitterness dark chocolate notes. I think I like it because it does have some bitterness in the flavor, but it’s not from hops. I was able to overlook it though.

 

I enjoyed drinking this beer. This beer will be at my Thanksgiving dinner table. I got a six pack for $11.99. Enjoy my friends.

 

PROST!

 

 

Discussion-

  • What beer will you drink over Thanksgiving?

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com. Make sure you go and read the backlist posts.

Featured Image Credit: Boulevard Brewing

 

Tour of Rivertown Brewery

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Last week my girlfriend surprised me with reservations to tour the Rivertown Brewery in Lockland, Ohio just north of Cincinnati. Rivertown Brewery, started in 2009, have now have reached: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Florida. They have two brews a day to meet up with their demand. I have been to several breweries in the Cincinnati area, but never had a formal tour. This was such a great experience and I highly recommend anyone reading take a tour of your local brewery. We drank beer through the whole tour -that’s a plus.

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We got there over an hour early like the tickets said to. As soon as we walked in there was a huge a bottling machine capable of filling 72 bottles at a time (back left of picture). The whole place smelled of fresh grains and sweet malt. Their taproom stood off to the right of the door. We had a few pints while we waited for the tour and talked to the bartender.

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Six o’clock hit and Josh, Rivertown Brewery’s general manager, gave us a tour of the brewery. It started with showing us the different types of ingredients they use in the beer. We sampled different malts and grains. Josh encouraged only smelling the hops – and rightly so. We moved into the room with their 31 barrel (976.5 gallons) mash tun and half a dozen fermenting vats of varying sizes.

Next was their old bottling machine. At 24 bottles at a time the machine did it’s job well, but Rivertown Brewery is expanding too rapidly for the small thing to meet up with demands. They have a huge rotating 72 bottle capacity machine, but it is not in operation as of yet.

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Josh moved us on to the wooden barrels where they age some of their beers, the pallets of bottles and kegs, and finally to a cooler the size of a three car garage. After the tour we met back up at the front bar and some other employees answered questions.

The shining star of the whole visit was their sour beer. Yes, dear readers, sour beer. I’m not talking about old, skunked, or stale beer. Sour beer is the new style of beer that brewers are making. Think about how food companies take cream and add bacteria to make sour cream for your tacos. This is the same process. Rivertown takes a few of their “normal” recipes, adds bacteria, and creates sour beer.

I wasn’t excited to try it at first, but I knew that I had to take the plunge for my home brewing readers. I did it for you. It took some getting used to, but by the end of the night I got a full pint down and was satisfied. It’s not a beer that you throw back during a sports match or one to sip on.

The preferred technique from the Rivertown brew masters is to drink it in large mouthfuls to saturate the taste buds. The first few drinks were the worst, but as time went on the beer got so much better. I felt myself waiting with anticipation until the next drink. It tasted like someone took a beer and put Warhead candy into it.

I thought that sour beer is genius and Rivertown expects it to be the next big thing. There are several breweries across the country that makes sour beer. I don’t know if this will ever rival the IPA as the flagship of craft brewing, but it could give it a run for it’s money.

Check this beer out and my new friends at Rivertown Brewery. I can’t thank them enough for the amazing experience and knowledge they shared with us. I would also like to thank my lovely partner in crime for surprising me and arranging everything.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

Discussion-

Had you ever heard about sour beer and would you ever drink it?

PROST!