Monday, September 26, 2011

Primary Fermenter Turned Bottler

In previous posts I have talked about the "new" conical that I scored from the guys @ VV&B, and some tweaks I had made to it. This weekend I took a stab at using another function that I equipped my conical to do. When I was piecing together the parts to fit the conical with, I bought a 3/4" female hose thread to 3/8" barb adapter to attach to the ball valve for transferring the beer since the ball valve would allow too much beer to flow at once, and it would just spew it causing tons of splashing and aeration. Another possibility for this use is to attach a bottling wand to the transfer hose, and bottle directly from the primary conical fermenter.

After opening the ball valve and removing the trub and yeast collected at the bottom of the cone (3 pint glasses worth), I added my priming solution directly to the fermenter and mixed it in well with a sanitized slotted spoon. We (my wonderful wife always helps bottle, and I am grateful for it since she is amazing with the capper, and I am not) then began bottling directly from the fermenter. The first bottle was a flop as it had quite a bit of yeast in it, but from that point on, it was smooth sailing. And in the end, I only had to clean the fermenter which I would have to do anyways, no extra equipment... no bottling bucket to clean. We will see soon how well it worked once I can taste a bottle of my Fresh Hop IPA, and see how much yeast sediment is in the bottles, and how it carbonated. So far it looks about normal in the bottles.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Conical Update

A few weeks ago I got a conical fermenter and assembled it to brew my Mild. It worked fairly well except that there was no way of knowing the temperature of the fermentation with out removing the airlock to insert a thermometer, which defeats the purpose of a conical to keep oxygen out of the beer. This past weekend I brewed a fresh hop beer with 1# of wet Simcoe hops, and 1# of wet Citra hops in the last 15 minutes of the boil. While that was cooling I cut a hole in the top of the conical to fit a small rubber bung, and forced (quite difficultly) a thermometer through the bung into the fermenter. This will give me the ability to know the exact fermentation temperature of the beer inside the fermenter. Now I just need to get a different thermometer since my spare only reads in 5 degree increments as opposed to 2 degrees like my other one, meaning that 71F and 74F look almost the same, yet are worlds apart in the world of ale fermentation. Next up is a sample port so I can keep the system fully closed until packaging or secondary additions, and then a stationary insulated chamber for temperature control.

How Did That Happen?

Thought this was kinda interesting... I brewed 3 beers from one mash awhile back, and this is one of the first times that I had them poured side by side. The two beers in the picture are almost the same OG and FG, both had 90 minute boils. The only difference is hops, yeast, and fermentation. The one on the left is my Bavarian Hefe that was fermented open with Sierra Nevada's Kellerwiesse yeast. The one on the right has 7oz of Falconer's Flight hops, fermented w/ American Ale 1056, and has a pineapple in the secondary with the dry hops. It is quite astounding the difference in color on these two beers. Granted, the Hefe has yeast in the glass, and the Wheat has lots of hops (for the style at least) and pineapple (juice included). Hard to believe they both came from the same mash. I might have one Hefe left to do a 3 way comparison with the "Berliner Wiesse" that was made from the last runnings, which will inevitably be lighter seeing as it was a thinner wort to begin with and almost 1/2 the OG.