Saturday, April 16, 2011

BetterBottle Volume Levels and More

5 Gallon BetterBottle Volume Levels
6 Gallon BetterBottle Volume Levels
I really need to just mark my BetterBottles for volume levels with tape or stickers.  The website for BetterBottles shows the volume levels (select "Carboys" from the left-side navigation).  Linked here is the volume levels for the 5 and 6 gallon carboys.
An even better BetterBottle would have volume levels already marked for the end user.  Just sayin!  It would have been really awesome if the volume levels were stamped in the actual locations with gallon (at least 0.5 gallon accuracy) and liter markers.
Product information on their website also indicates the nominal volume (5 or 6 gallons) reached at the bottom of the neck.
Overall, I really wish I would have thoroughly navigated BetterBottle's website before using the bottles for the first time.  I initially only looked at information for cleaning and sanitizing since my method cleaning glass carboys would end up scratching the internal surfaces (some use a brush anyway).  I really didn't look beyond their suggestions for cleaning and sanitizing.   
There's some other great information on the website that I would have also found very useful.  One immediate discovery one gains when using a BetterBottle for the first time is that the flexible walls create back pressure on standard 3-piece airlocks.  I typically use a bit of Star-San solution in my airlocks and really don't want this in my beer.  Lifting or moving a full BetterBottle can squeeze the internal volume causing positive pressure to be released by the airlock.  Once you put down the bottle, the pressure is reversed, creating a negative pressure internally.  3-piece airlocks are designed to only expel positive pressure from the bottle so when there's negative pressure, the liquid inside the airlock gets sucked into the bottle.  Very unchillindamos!  Better Bottle's website shows what happens:
Effects of positive and negative pressure on 3-piece airlocks using BetterBottles.
I've quickly learned to carefully use 3-piece airlocks with my BetterBottles and try to use bungs or vented silicon stoppers when moving the carboys.  BetterBottle has a product called a DryTap (select "DryTap Air Lock on the left-hand side navigation) that also avoids the situation above.
Another really cool use of their DryTap is for oxygen-free transferring.  Check this out:
Similar to using a Carboy Cap, BetterBottle's DryTap can also be used for oxygen-free transferring.
More applications or transferring can be found on their website, click "How-To Tips" on the left-side navigation of the site.
After using BetterBottles for a while now, I'm a fan.  Strong, extremely light, safe, and fairly easy to clean, homebrewers and home wine makers can't go wrong.  Of course, I'd rather have a stainless steel conical but for 5 gallon purposes, the BetterBottle is the best choice out there.
Speaking of cleaning these things, I'm likely going to get this Carboy Cleaner to get out the stubborn yeast build-up when PBW doesn't seem to be enough.  I'm simply going to buy the replacement pads and bolt them on my lees stirrer since it only gets occasional use.  Hopefully, using the Carboy Cleaner will make using BetterBottles even better.

Image Sources:
BetterBottle Product Images. Digital image. Better-Bottle Bottles, Better-Bottle Carboys, and Better-Bottle Fermenters for Home Winemaking and Home Brewing. High-Q, Inc. Web. 16 Apr. 2011. .

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some Like it Hoppy IPA, April 10 2011

The past three weeks have been amazing.  Our first child arrived and with it, an insane amount of excitement and a number of adjustments.  While my wife, Michelle, has taken the brunt of changes, I have found myself in a state of awe and chillindamos.  Knox will grow up in a homebrewery that I'm sure will also dabble in homemade sodas when the time comes.
Parenting skills harmonizing with chillindamos.
 Homebrewing has slowed down a tad but today I'm back in the game!  I made some subtle modifications to the last IPA batch, Stay Classy IPA.  I eliminated the 20°L crystal malt to add more to the German special malts, Vienna and Munich.  I also upped the whole hop Centennial addition and Amarillo to bring the flavor and aroma just a notch up (eleven).
Grain bags make great swaddles.
Everything else remained identical to the previous IPA.  Stay Classy IPA is still on tap and is great.  I bottled out a few for NHC but am a bit weary of how it will travel considering my inexperience with counter-filling bottling.  I bottled out a few extras to see how it will hold up come judging time.  Though I tried to blow out a pint or so of the trub at the bottom of the keg, some chunks are showing in the other bottles.  I suppose I'll find out in a couple of weeks when I get the judging sheets.
Knox's first homebrewing session!

Some Like it Hoppy IPA

BJCP Category 14-B American IPA
Author: Chillindamos
Date: 4/10/11

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 5.0 gal
Efficiency: 72.55%
Attenuation: 78.5%
Calories: 219.23 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.066 (1.056 - 1.075)

Terminal Gravity: 1.014 (1.010 - 1.018)

Color: 5.64 (6.0 - 15.0)

Alcohol: 6.81% (5.5% - 7.5%)

Bitterness: 121.3 (40.0 - 70.0)


9.3 lb 2-Row Brewers Malt
1.4 lb German Vienna
0.8 lb Belgian Munich
3.0 tsp 5.2 pH Stabilizer - added during mash
1.0 lb Rice Extract
1.0 oz Chinook (11.0%) - added first wort, boiled 90.0 min
1.0 oz Magnum (10.6%) - added during boil, boiled 60.0 min
1 tsp Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
1.0 oz Chinook (11.0%) - added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
1.6 oz Centennial (10.0%) - added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
1.0 tsp Servomyces - added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
0.1 tsp Anti-Foam - added during boil, boiled 1.0 min
0.5 oz Simcoe (12.3%) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
0.5 oz Citra (14.0%) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
1.0 oz Amarillo (8.5%) - added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
1.0 ea White Labs WLP001 California Ale (will change later)
0.5 oz Simcoe (12.3%) - added dry to secondary fermenter
1.0 oz Citra (14.0%) - added dry to secondary fermenter
1.0 oz Amarillo (8.5%) - added dry to secondary fermenter


Ambient Air: 60.0 °F
Source Water: 60.0 °F
Elevation: 0.0 m
00:14:30 Mash-In - Liquor: 3.44 gal; Strike: 172.11 °F; Target: 152.0 °F
01:14:30 Saccharification Rest - Rest: 60.0 min; Final: 147.5 °F
01:24:30 Vorlauf, bitches! - Rest: 10.0 min; Final: 146.7 °F
02:24:30 Fly Sparge - Sparge Volume: 5.33 gal; Sparge Temperature: 168.0 °F; Runoff: 6.0 gal


Small changes from last IPA, Stay Classy IPA. 70% dilution rate. 4 grams Gypsum, 1 gram Epsom Salt, and 1 gram of Baking Soda added to the mash. Chinook and Centennial hops are grown at our hop farm (IBUs estimated). Mash dilution ratio: 1.04 Tap, 2.41 Water Lady (3.44 gallons total). HLT dilution ratio: 1.51 tap, 3.59 Water Lady (5.1 gallons total). Oxygen added for 60 seconds. OG 1.066 @ 68°F. 1 vial to 900ml yeast starter. Will likely share this keg for NHC (unless thirsty for more IPA).
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.15

Anyone ever seen an ale yeast do this after fallen krausen?
Above shows an interesting phenotype from fermentation of the last batch of IPA.  I was planning on racking the new IPA on the yeast bed of the last batch when I saw this happen and delayed the brew.  No off flavors, nothing suspicious, just likely characteristic of this particular strain.  I'll know for sure if it does it again this batch.