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Beer To Go

Monday, September 9, 2013 10:34:51 AM America/Denver

 

Beer To Go!

HBS Blogger Chris Corcoran

When I started home brewing, the one aspect that I did not like was bottle filling. It took hours to do, weeks to carbonate, and when all was said and done too many variables made it nearly impossible to ensure consistency from bottle to bottle. After about a year, I moved to a decent two tap kegging system and relished in the fact that I was only dealing with one really big bottle.

That was when I discovered some drawbacks to kegging, like how to share my beers with friends and family, or enter in competitions, and even just to take some of my beers out the lake and camping. I had previously enjoyed all of these activities without thinking about how kegging would impact that. This led me down the road of finding the best of both worlds.

At first I simply took the bottle or growler, shoved it up under the tap, turned down the pressure, and filled it up. This process wasted a lot of beer in the form of foam, introduced a lot of air into the beer, and was very messy. Then one day at my local brew pub I saw them using a growler filler.

A growler filler is a piece of tubing slightly longer than a growler with a tap faucet plug on one end. The faucet plug fits snuggly up in the faucet and helps control the flow of beer. Meanwhile the tubing directs the flow, allowing a fill from the bottom up. This all contributes to reducing the amount of foam produced and the amount of air introduced to the beer. This device is very inexpensive and quite easy to use, just turn down your serving pressure a little and start pouring.

Sadly, while inexpensive, a growler filler doesn’t work as well for standard 12 ounce bottles.  For competition entries or even handing out bottles to friends and family you want a counter-pressure bottle filler. These bottle fillers allow you to fill directly from the keg. Most bottle fillers allow you flush the bottle with co2 first then you can fill slowly with minimal amounts of foam. This method helps ensure proper carbonation levels, minimize chance for infections or oxidation, and is just as quick and easy as standard growler filler attachments! These fillers work best at very low co2 serving pressures, somewhere in the 2 to 5 psi range. One more tip: chill your bottles before filling. This will help to reduce the amount of foam.

Last but not least, what do you do when you want to take the whole keg out to serve while camping or spending the day at the lake or river? The answer: jockey box. A jockey box is a cooler which has been modified with a stainless steel coil or chiller plate installed inside and one or more faucets on the outside. When chilling, the coil works best if packed with ice and allowing the water from melting to stay; contrariwise, the plate chiller functions best with melt water drained off. You can get all shapes and sizes of coolers, from small easy to transport or shoulder strap coolers to massive rectangles or cylinders. One tip about serving with a jockey box: higher than usual pressure is required. This can lead to foaming and over carbonating the beer when not serving, so your best bet between glasses is to turn off the gas. My secret is to start the pressure low and slowly turn it up. I keep turning it up until I get a steady but slow flow of beer. This helps keep the beer from becoming foamy and, since it’s slower, lets the beer cool off more while moving through the chiller.

Aside from the jockey box there are small CO2 chargers and faucets you can attach directly to the keg, though they will not keep the beer very cool, unlike the jockey box which holds the ice. I like to use CO2 chargers and faucets when serving from the fridge or ice bucket to keep the beer cooler. The chargers are small, use paintball CO2 cartridges and are not recommended to carbonate the beer. Chargers simply don’t have enough CO2 to carbonate a full keg, so the keg will need to be carbonated before going on the road or into the fridge. You don’t need much pressure with the tap attached directly to the keg, and in my experience it takes about two CO2 cartridges to serve a full pre-carbonated keg.

 

0 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Yeast Starter

Thursday, May 30, 2013 3:35:37 PM America/Denver

Yeast - Let's Get Started!

"Healthy yeast allows you to fully ferment the beer, avoid off flavors, and lower the chance for infections. You’ve spent several hours crafting what may be the best beer you’ve ever made, why chance ruining that?"

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0 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Hop Trellis

Thursday, April 25, 2013 4:53:04 PM America/Denver

Stringing up the Hops!

"I’m going to briefly cover a few points about hop plant growth: from planting and stringing hops up on a trellis, to reading plant health and harvesting."

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1 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Cereal Mashing

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 9:52:57 AM America/Denver

The holidays are over, the sun is staying out a little longer each day, and it’s still bitterly cold out…..must be January! I haven’t put out a post in a while but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been brewing. Currently the Eisbock is cold conditioning and I’ll be freeze distilling it in just a few weeks. First, my buddy and I are going to practice freeze distilling on his Apple Wine. I’ll have the full write up in about a month.

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0 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Brewing Fundamentals: Part 2 (Bottling/Kegging Day)

Friday, December 21, 2012 12:01:26 PM America/Denver

The fermentation is done and now it is time to bottle the fruits of your labor.  This is no time to cut corners, unless you plan to skipping bottling and going straight to a keg.   But just like the brew day you will need to be clean and sanitary with everything that will come in contact with your beer.  It is not a good feeling to do everything right on your brew day.  Wait few weeks for fermentation and then skip a few key processes in bottling and end up with a flat or off flavor beer.  So be patient make your check list and check it twice as you prepare to bottle your beer.  The equipment you will need is as follows. (Measuring cup, Small pot, Bottling bucket, Racking cane or Auto Siphon, Bottle filler, Capper, 50+ 12oz bottles, 50+ Bottle caps, Corn sugar.)

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0 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Beginning Brewery Upgrades

Friday, November 23, 2012 10:00:46 AM America/Denver

At my local brew store yesterday, I was asked about upgrading to all grain brewing. The home brewer in question is relatively new to home brewing and thought all grain was the key to cheaper and better beer. While all grain is less expensive in the long run it does not necessarily make better beer. Malt extract has come a long way since the early 80s. The two things all grain brewing does are open up the choice of ingredients and give you more control. While I couldn’t make brewing any cheaper for him, I outlined how to achieve better beer without the expense of moving to all grain.

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1 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Drunken Turkey, or Belgian Quad Turkey

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:58:36 AM America/Denver

This is a wonderful way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving, It yields the most flavorful & moist turkey I have ever had.  In addition you have the "Cool Factor" of cooking your turkey with Beer!

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0 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Fundamentals of Brewing Part 1: Brew Day

Monday, November 19, 2012 1:09:36 PM America/Denver

Brewing is a simple process that anyone can learn. My intent of this blog is not to be an in depth lesson on how to brew, but rather a 10 step quick reference guide to help you prepare for your brew day. If you are not familiar with the brew processes and why you do each step a certain way I suggest you do some research and seek advice from experienced brewers before starting your first batch.

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0 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

Winter Lager Brewing

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 9:58:20 AM America/Denver

Where did the summer go? It sure got cold out pretty quickly (and this is great for home brewers). If you have read much of my previous posts you know I stress the importance of fermentation temp control.  In the heat of the summer months it is often difficult to keep the wort cool enough, but in the winter it’s much easier to keep it warm. The other reason I love the cooler months? Garage lagers.

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0 Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly

End of Season Round-up

Monday, November 5, 2012 9:01:40 AM America/Denver

Every few months it is important to review the previous posts. I brew everything I post here but normally I get the blog post out prior to being able to sample my work. Sometimes I want to update you on my experiences, sometimes I notice an error after the post has been published.

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Comments | Posted By Marcus Bezuhly
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