I've been brewing beer on a very irregular basis since the summer of 2002 and have made 7 batches thus far. Everything that I've learned has been based upon a few used books, friends and family and keeping meticulous records.
Why Brew Beer?
Jordan and I started brewing beer for two reasons. First, we had just graduated from high school and were not of legal drinking age yet. Second, good beer is expensive. A 12-pack of Sierra Nevada will set you back about the same amount in dollars and brewing seemed like a reasonable way to make any flavor of beer for the price of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
A more recent motivation to learn more about the basic processes involved is that (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is the probably most intensely studied eucaryotic cell in history. It's genome composed of about 6000 genes was completely mapped in 1997 and there is plenty of information out there. There's also plenty of information about the yeast life cycle and ideal growth conditions. Brewing beer is just a practical application of insanely complicated biochemistry to create a tasty beverage and reduce your chance of scurvy.
Fermentation Temperature Control
Bottling has a much lower initial cost and time investment than kegging, however it will quickly become apparent that the investment in a good kegging system will pay for itself very quickly. Between the 2-4 hours required to setup and bottle 5 gallons of beer and the ongoing cost of replacement bottles for the ones that grew all kinds of interesting things, kegging is cheaper in the long run.
With that said, you will need the following to bottle one 5-gallon batch of homebrew:
- (60) Relatively clean 12 oz. glass bottles (no screw-on caps)
- (60) Bottle caps
- (1) Hand-held bottle capper
- (1) Beer filled glass carboy
- (8 feet) 1/4" ID clear hose
- (1) Bottling Tube
- (1) Bottle scrubbing brush
- (1 cup) Corn sugar
- Make the priming solution
- Bring the corn sugar and 16 ounces of water to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover, remove from heat and let cool until needed again.
- Sanitize the bottles, caps, bottling tube and clear hose
- Fill a sink with cold water and iodine cleaning solution per the instructions on the bottle
- Quickly scrub the insides of the bottles with your scrubbing brush to remove any grime
- Place them upside down on paper towels and allow to dry as long as possible.
- Prepare for bottling
- Place the carboy on a very high surface to generate enough surface for racking to the bottles.
- Add the priming solution to the carboy. It will diffuse fairly uniformly by the time that you fill the bottles.
- Place the clear tube in the carboy and lower to within 1-2" of the yeast sediment line
- Attach the bottling tube to the clear hose, hold it above the carboy. Insert the valve side into your mouth and press with your tongue. Suck until enough beer is in the tube to start a siphon
- Gather as many bottles as is convenient on the ground for easy access. Sit with them.
- Press the bottling tube to the bottom of a bottle and fill until the beer is at the very top of the bottle. The displacement of the bottling tube will correct the apparent fill level (Be sure to fill the bottles with enough beer, or else there will be excess oxygen in the bottles that will allow hearty aerobic bacteria to grow quickly and take over your beer more quickly than normal)
- Bottle until all of the bottles are full or you run out of beer. Don't be afraid to leave a small amount of good beer in the carboy to minimize the amount of yeast that ends up in each bottle.
- Carefully place the bottle caps on all of your bottles and then cap them. Once you get the technique down it should go fairly quickly.
Keeping it cold: Building a kegerator on the cheap.
to be continued...