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.

RAR_HB_12_02_Wash

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.

RAR_HB_12_02_Capper

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

How Well Do You Know Your IPA?

Carbonating the Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs

Pliny If you have read more than just this post to the blog you will know that I love IPAs. We have had the opportunity to brew a few of them. Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs (Guy-us Plinius Secendus) was the first and my favorite.

We followed the directions step-by-step. The boil went by perfectly and we transferred to the fermenting bucket like we were supposed to. I was surprised how much hops were in the bottom of the bucket. There was a gallon equivalent in the bottom. This was far more than any other beer we had made up to that point. We dry hopped the fermentation for two weeks before bottling. The whole bottom was green.

After two weeks in the bottles we opened one bottle and it was flat. The flavor was great. It had the classic burnt copper color and had an incredible bitter taste of Centennial and Columbus hops. We were baffled why it was so flat. We waited another two weeks.

On the second try the beer was still flat. We asked the guys at the brewing store and they said to swirl the bottles to agitate the yeast. Ales have a top feeding warm yeast. I looked at the bottles and all the yeast had fallen to the bottom. I swirled the bottles and the yeast spun all around.

Two weeks later the carbonation was perfect. The beer had a perfect white head when poured into a glass. I loved drinking it. The sweet citrus mixed with the bitter hops was delightful. I want to make the beer again.

Bottle conditioning can fix almost any problem you are having with a batch. Making beer is an active chemical process with real organisms. Give them what they need, a little time, and you will have excellent beer.

 

The Flagship of Craft BrewingColumbia Hops

IPAs are the fastest growing type of beer in the United States for drinking and for brewing. It ‘s inevitable that you will run into an IPA somewhere along in your journey; therefore, you might as well know a little bit about them.

There are three main types of IPAs: English-style India pale ale, American-style India pale ale, and Imperial (double) India pale ale along with countless subcategories.

English-style India pale ale are quite balanced in overall malt and hop character. Notable floral, earthy, grassy hop character resides alongside a caramel, bready malt backbone. American craft-brewed versions of the English-style IPA, which outnumber available English-brewed examples, may show a little more hop personality than English-brewed IPAs; however, they remain more restrained in overall hop character than American-style IPAs.

American-style India pale ale- golden-to-copper appearance as English Pale Ale and delivers a medium malt profile, but it then diverges toward a hop-forward personality and often imparts a crisp mouth-feel. Pronounced fruit, citrus, pine and/or floral aromas and flavors from Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and other American hop varietals are often the mark of American Pale Ale. Brewers use techniques such as adding hops late in the boil phase as well as dry hopping to ensure the hop aromas and flavors are harnessed along with bitterness. The American Pale Ale style can perhaps be credited with starting America’s love affair with hoppy beers.

Imperial (double) India pale ale- are all about copious amounts of hops—typically of American variety—with plenty of malts and higher alcohol levels to offer balance to the hop bitterness. Variations exist within the style, with some examples offering a unilateral “tongue ripping” hop experience (to the joy of many hop enthusiasts as of which I am one). Others are balanced overall in hop bitterness and malt sweetness, and still others are complex, with multiple layers of fruity, hoppy, malty character that evolve as the beer passes over the palate and as it warms in the glass.

IPA’s have been the flagship of craft brewing for years now, but there is a challenger to the world of beer. Check out my post next week for more details. My latest experience was fun.

Community Brewing Competitions

For the community news section I will attach the American Homebrewers Association list for the up and coming brewing competitions. Find a competition in your area and try to make it. I look Northern Libertiesforward to the Annual Brewsters Cup Mead Competition near Cincinnati and maybe I will see some of you there.

“For Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Hoppiness”

This week I am reviewing one of my favorite beers Christian Moerlein Northern Liberties IPA. I have been an IPA man for about a year now and this is the IPA that got me into IPAs. It is a smooth beer that is not too over powering. I have had beers with more hops and more bitterness, but this one is just right.

The color is a burnt copper with a perfectly white and aromatic head. Thlife libery hoppinessis is one of the few beers that are an exception to my father’s see through the beer rule (see previous post for the rule). In my Brewing Over an Open Fire post I talked about ales and lagers. Lagers are known for their crisp taste. IPAs are considered ales, but this beer is very crisp. There is plenty of bitterness in the taste and citrus notes abound.

I love this beer. Finish this post and go buy some. You can find it at most retailers with a beer license. I bought my six-pack at Kroger for $8.99.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. Be sure to check the backlist of posts for more content. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

I’ve noticed that the highest day for traffic to the blog has consistently been Wednesday. I’m not sure why, but I welcome it. I will be changing my post day from Thursday to Tuesday to compliment the Wednesday high traffic day.

Discussion-

 

  • Think about your favorite type of beer. For me that is an IPA. What beer introduced you to the style and what about it converted you? Remember to hit comment at the top of the page.

PROST!