Saturday, July 14, 2012

Secondary Racking

Racking the cider to secondary today.  Then going to bottle brown ale tonight.  From the looks of the cider, I might even go with a tertiary rest on it, just to help a little with clarity, but I do think it looks pretty good overall - I may skip it.  The brown ale looks just great, and I decided to go ahead and bottle it and free up the carboys instead of doing any sort of secondary business with it.  I should get a good 70+ bottles of brown ale out of it, so that is a plus.  Then I've got 10 lbs of Pilsner malt sitting around that I need to figure out what to do with.  What to brew what to brew!?!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So starts the chain reaction

Decided to bottle the CDA/Dark IPA so I could use that carboy as a secondary for the browns and cider - and just clean and rack and clean and rack those over to it.  It did not attenuate out as much as I would have liked but I also think my OG reading must have been low, otherwise I have an "IPA" with about 4% alcohol.  I think based on the other number that I had floating around (and the fact that it does not taste like sweet malt), it's more like 6.4%.

Anyway, chose to do this one because it didn't need as much clarifying, though it is definitely lighter than I would have hoped.  Will have to see how it looks in a glass, but probably need more black patent next time around.

Once I've racked this and cleaned out the carboy, time to rack over the browns and cider one-by-one to secondary fermentation and clearing for a few weeks...


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bottles, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Over the last several years of beer brewing, I have seen lots of bottles come and go.

I have purchased homebrew clean bottles directly from a homebrew store, and while those pristine glass containers are perfect for competition and zero effort, I have also found myself taking a much cheaper route of cleaning bottles from my last six pack and reusing those freebies.

Along the way I have noticed that some bottles are perfect and ideally suited for "conversion" into "competition-ready" bottles with little or no effort, and some bottles are just never going to make it.  So I decided to keep this post as an ongoing post to track which commercially available bottles I have tried to clean for reuse and which ones generally aren't worth my effort.  This is a personal list, you may have found different results.

So first, the criteria for my verdict:  My process for cleaning the bottles has to be the result of a rinse and soak in hot water, followed by potentially peeling off of labels (if they didn't float off) and a light scrubbing of glue with a scrubber sponge.  A subsequent soak in sanitizing solution will result in a usable bottle.

The result will be one of the following:

  • Competition Grade: A clean 12 oz. brown bottle free of labels, with a crimp cap top with a wide enough collar to accommodate my two handed capper as well as the stand capper.  Bottle should have no raised glass lettering, no glue, and no printing remaining that would render it unusable in competition.
  • Personal Use: A bottle that is easily devoid of paper labels or glue and has sufficient collar for crimp top cap.  Some feature of the bottle (size, raised lettering, silk screen printing) would prevent use in competitions, but these are excellent for personal consumption.
  • Trash: Requires too much effort to clean or has bottle characteristics making it undesirable for even my personal use.
I'll start with what I know and update this the more beers I try.  And yes, I know this is scarce right now, but just a starting point for tracking this stuff.

BreweryBeer(s)Cleaning EffortResultNotes
Ballast PointBig Eye IPA
Calico Amber
MinimalCompetition Grade
Dogfish HeadFestina Peche
60 Minute IPA
90 Minute IPA
MinimalCompetition Grade
Magic HatBlind Faith IPA
ModerateCompetition GradeSome heavy glue to remove
Samuel AdamsPersonal UseRaised Lettering
Stone Brewing Co.Arrogant Bastard
Oaked Arrogant Bastard
N/APersonal UsePrinted Logos
22 oz. Size
Widmer BrothersPersonal UseRaised Lettering
Rogue AlesSanta's Private Reserve
Dead Guy Ale
Morimoto Soba Ale
Chocolate Stout
Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout
N/APersonal UsePrinted Logos
22 oz. Size
New BelgiumFat TirePersonal UseRaised Lettering
Odd Size
AbitaPurple Haze
TrashSquat Size Profile

More to come.