Kegging is so much easier, think of it as washing one bottle. I use to involve the kids in helping to wash and fill bottles. One negative of kegging is that I am doing it solo, but now I have more time with the family. I avoid bleach due to the possibility of getting off flavors, I have found bleach aromas difficult to get rid of.
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I sterilize bottles the way we sterilized dry glassware in grad school. Wrap a small square of Al foil on the top of each bottle. Stack them (on their sides) in the oven. Bake at 300 F for 30 minutes (I raise the temp gradually to avoid heat shock). Do this in the evening so they can cool over night. In the morning, put the bottles away. The bottles stay sterile until you need them. No need to wash, rinse, etc, and sterilizing can be done days, weeks, or months in advance of bottling day. When bottling, just take out a case of sterile bottle, slip off the Al cap, and add the beer.
I started in college at a Brew on Premise (BOP) in Boulder. When I moved back to Maryland I found a BOP in Virginia and made a few batches. From there I had a basic understanding of the steps required, so I bought a homebrewing set up, and started making extract brews at home. After reading up on Brew in a Bag techniques, I've gone to an all grain, no sparge method. I increase my grain bill by a few pounds, and mash in with a really thin mash, stirring frequently over a very low flame to keep a constant mash temperature.
As for cleaning, I only use bleach, and my dishwasher. Bleach goes on all the plastic buckets and anything that touches the cooled wort. For bottles, I rinse them with my bottle washer with very hot water, then run them in my dishwasher on high temperature setting with no soap. A dozen batches later, I've never had an infection.
I've also made a hard cider, but that turned out to be a bust. Hose smelled like a rotten egg factory, and in the end my wife didn't like it. Need to read up a little more on that subject before I tackle it again.
The sulfurous stench is common with ciders due to the lack of balanced yeast nutrient in the apple juice. Some wine yeasts like EC-1118 and Montrachet seem particularly prone to this. I found that adding some Yeast nutrient (I used FERMAX) drastically reduced or eliminated the odor. The odor during fermentation never seemed to really affect the final product, though.
Hi everyone, my name is Travis and I'm a... oh, wrong forum.
I have enjoyed beer for years, but I only got into brewing this year actually, in January. A friend of mine who used to brew needed to free up some room in his garage. Since he hadn't brewed in years, he offered all of his equipment to me, which was quite an extensive set. I opted for the feet first approach to home brewing and gladly accepted. My first brew was an extract batch robust porter which turned out quite well, in fact I'm still enjoying it! The recipe was developed from several other recipes in Victory Beers. Since then I've made the transition to all-grain and have brewed several batches. I'm hooked!
Right now I have a helles bock fermenting away and am planning a Veteran's Day wheat ale.
The simple answer is from drinking beer. We lived in Lawrence, KS and got introduced to microbreweries at Free State Brewery. Since then I have always wanted to try my hand at it. I have a brewing starter kit on my wish list.
I started brewing 10 years ago with some friends, and we've been going ever since. We started out with partial grain brewing, then moved quickly to all grain. The equipment and methods we employ have improved over the years, and we have never made (knock on wood) a bad batch. We're down to about a 4 hour process for a 5 gallon batch, and usually can brew two in about 6 hours total by staggering them. We tend to brew high gravity beers (barleywines, RIS, Belgian Trippels), but also do a lot of other styles.
Thanks Robert - I'll have to try that again this year. Last year I travelled out to a place near Sharpsburg, MD where a cider maker grows and presses apples both for fresh cider and hard cider. I made a hard cider with the juice of Kingston Blacks. I have a question though. When fermentation was complete, I primed the batch before bottling to make it a sparkling cider. The cider was very dry after bottle conditioning, and my wife and I were not real fans of it. Is there a yeast strain that you could recommend that might have lower attenuation, so that the cider remains a bit sweeter. Or would I have to add lactose to the cider for this sweetness. I'd like to make another batch, but do not want 30 bombers of really dry cider that no one likes. Thank you
I have been a beer lover for years due to the abundance of craft brewers in my area but I started homebrewing a year and a half ago when I finally got over my fear of doing cell culture in my kitchen. Now I love it. I am still extract brewing because I am space limited. i would love to eventually get one of the Blichmann systems I drool over at my homebrew shop. My most successful brew to date has been a pumpkin stout that even my mom loved. (She's not much of a drinker)
Sweet ciders are hard to make. My ciders come out very dry as well, since I generally use wine yeasts but I enjoy them more than some of the commercial ciders (Woodpecker, Woodchuck) which seem to be somewhat sweetened.
There are two methods I have seen for sweet ciders: either a sorbate/sulfite treatment to kill the yeast followed by a backsweetening with either sugar or apple concentrate. Other folks have sweetened with non-fermentable sugars such as lactose prior to bottling as you suggest. There are some yeasts, like the Danstar Windsor that tend to leave higher gravities, so maybe you would get some residual sugars that way, but it may be that the Windsor only leaves residual sugar from complex carbohydrates in malt and would still cut through the simple sugars in cider.
You might be interested in the recipe I linked to in my first post. "GRAFF" is a malted cider beverage using a 1 gal wort made with malt extract and specialty grains which is added to apple juice/cider at a rate of 1 gal wort/4 gal of juice. The malt and specialty grains leave some sweetness, though it can turn out rather tart. The recipe calls for a small amount of hops to add flavor, but I left the hops out of mine. It calls for an ale yeast (I used Nottingham) and some folks have used the Danstar Windsor and ended up with a FG of 1.020
It tasted GREAT right out of the fermenter. Soon after bottling and priming, it sort of tasted like bad beer. Too malty and not so much apple flavor. After a couple of months, though, it really evened out and turned into a really nice drink with the apple flavor coming through and being nicely complemented by the malty sweetness.