Tuesday, April 21, 2020

100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

The new one gallon keg.

Okay, more like 4 bottles and a one gallon keg. Alas, it was time to bottle my latest brew. I again went to Mr. Beer for a two gallon extract kit. I was able to get a lager and an Oktoberfest refill for rather cheap. This was my first time doing a lager. I stuck almost strictly to the kit except I added a little extra corn syrup for what is hopefully some extra fermentation/alcohol content.

Bottling was a little more exciting this time as I picked up a one gallon keg with a small regulator and some food grade CO2 charges. This means I'm able to enjoy some suds with some suds right away. Typical bottling requires a secondary fermentation with "priming" sugar to produce the CO2. This takes three-ish weeks after bottling to achieve decent tongue tinglyness.

Cleaning and prepping the keg took a little extra research as I wanted to get any leftover oils, etc. from the manufacturing process off the keg; not to mention I'm interested in learning the actual best practices on this stuff. It turns out you want a non-corrosive/caustic alkali detergent. Something similar to bleach. The trouble with bleach though is it is corrosive and can leave pitting and damage to the inside of the keg.

There are a number of beer-centric products out there. PBW is one that gets a lot of attention. People even buy this in bulk and then part it out and sell it. Unfortunately, my lack of preparedness had a shipping date pushed out to next week. Given there are hundreds of different hardware store available cleaners out there I looked for one that had some brewing "street cred".

There were a couple of forums that mentioned good old Simple Green as something that works. Throwing caution to the wind I went for this approach. At a minimum SG is non-toxic, I just worry about extra residue left behind. Also, for extended times the smell is a little annoying.

I washed, soaked and rinsed in hot water until my nose could no longer detect the SG. I then went to the no-rinse sanitizer. Fortunately, I had some of this, StarSan is a popular brand, from previous batches and was able to readily sanitize the equipment...all of the parts and such.

The no-rinse sanitizers essentially leave an antimicrobial, very thin film on the gear that disallows things that ruin beer. Once rinsed it's important not to scrape the insides of the containers.

Gladly, the lager seems to have fermented well although I can't tell if the little extra corn syrup helped boost the alcohol content. I think a hydrometer might be on my supply list shortly for measuring this. For now I just sample the pre carbonated beer to make sure something didn't go wrong.

The two gallon kit allowed me to fill the keg, two one-liter glass bottles and a couple of the plastic bottles. I like filling at least one plastic bottle as squeezing it gives a good idea if the beer is carbonating.

I hooked up the regulator and dispenser to the keg right away and had the keg pressurized and pouring right away. I poured another small glass and was pleased at the taste. Although I must admit the extract kits do have some distinct flavors that are present in all the batches I've made so far, regardless of the type.

Note to self that the dispenser handle is not terribly stiff (I had a minor spillage of suds on my kitchen floor). Despite the spillage and little bit of weeping over the spilled beer, I placed the keg in my basement fridge to chill.

I'll definitely be having another tasting this evening. :)

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