Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Why didn't I Buy This Earlier?

Before departing on my holiday I mail-ordered a large-diameter (1/2") auto-siphon.  What is an auto-siphon you ask?  It is this:

Basically, its a siphon you start by pumping the racking cane (the hard plastic portion of the siphon) inside of a wine-thief like outer tube.  Pumping primes the siphon, then you set back and let it rip.  No sucking beer into the siphon, no pre-filling the siphon with water, no fingers plugging the business end, no accidental contacts while trying to move a filled siphon into the beer and empty keg.  Simply clean, insert into beer/keg, pump a few times, and away it goes.

This thing is a huge time (and pain) saver.  It takes a few seconds longer to sanitize, but starts in a few seconds, and the larger diameter of the siphon drained 20L of Überschuss European Ale into a keg in less than two minutes - far faster than the normal 5-6 minutes usually required to transfer that much beer.

Faster and easier - and probably a lesser chance of infection as well!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Eight Hundred Billion

This is either the happy, or depressing, thought of the day.

I am in the process of trying to setup a yeast bank so that I can share yeasts with brewers around the country.  As part of this, I've been researching yeast growth characteristics in wort under various conditions.

As part of this research I came across a staggering number - 50,000,000.  That is, on average, the peak number of yeast you'll find in the average batch of homebrew  - per millilitre.  Fifty million per mil (range is 40-60 million/ml).


Taking into account the average sized batch of beer (5US gal, 19L), and the amount of yeast typically left in finished (unfiltered) beer, that works out to 800,000,000,000 yeast dying for one batch of beer.  Eight Hundred Billion.

Yes, billion - with a 'B'.

I've got to work that into a label for a future batch of beer - something like 'Eight Hundred Billion yeast died to bring you this beer - you better enjoy it'.

Too dark?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Emergency Brew Session - Überschuss!

As mentioned in my last post, I have a problem with my kegging system - I drank all the beer, and didn't have a new batch on-route.

This isn't the first time my consumption has exceeded my brewing, but my usual solution - a quickly-made English bitter (ready in as little as 10 days) - was not in the cards as I'm off for two and a half weeks at the cottage (you're bleeding for me, I know it).

Not  only that, but I had some leftover hops and grain from my last batch - the hops especially need to be used as their shelf-life is not great.  Using a few brew book and the net I cobbled together two recipes that would deplete this store.  The first of these is a real hodge-podge of stuff, that may or may not be a good brew.  Its vaugly formulated on an European-style ale (i.e. an Altbier).  The second, to be brewed when I get back from the cottage, is a more traditional English Bitter.

Todays brew - Überschuss European Ale

Überschuss (German): surplus, excess

More below the fold

Two Problems With Kegging

My recent foray into kegging has revealed two serious problems.  The first of these has to do with my kegorator setup.

The problem, as you can see to the right, is whenever I pour I get a head of foam.  At first I suspected the usual suspects - bad poor technique or beer lines which were too short.  But a closer look revealed something different:

At the beginning of the pour (top), pure foam comes out of the tap.  But after a few seconds, a proper pour ensures (below).  After the first glass, I can pour successive glasses that are perfect pours.

A bit of searching identified my problem - the beer lines in the tower were not being cooled, so the first bit of beer to pass through warmed, releasing its CO2, causing the foaming.  The flowing beer then cooled the line, resolving the issue.

Problem 1: Beer lines in tower are warm.
Solution: Create a heat-sink.

More below the  fold...