Beer Brewing Tips & Tricks
Pick the right time to chill your beer The shoulder seasons – Spring and Autumn – are the transition between Summer and Winter. They are also the gateway to the heartbreak of a lesser known phenomenon –flat beer! Wildly fluctuating temperatures bring warm days and chilly nights. Your freshly bottled beer needs constant warmth for bottle fermentation to occur properly. Bottle fermentation takes place over 14 to 21 days under optimal conditions. A little science happens to your homebrew once it’s bottled. The viable yeast still left in suspension after bottling mingle freely with the priming sugar and fermentation ensues! The by-product CO2 is trapped under the cap and absorbed into your beer. Life is good! If your freshly bottled beer is in a spot where it is exposed to cool temperatures before the viable yeast still in suspension have had the chance to ‘do their thing’, then it will take a very long time for them to convert the priming sugar into alcohol; if ever. In the Autumn especially, we’re all reluctant to turn on the heat for the first time. We throw a sweater on to stay warm but do nothing to protect the fledgling beer. This is not the right time to chill your beer! Here’s the solution! When you bottle your beer, put one or two of your beer in a P.E.T. pop type bottle (500ml) – not a water bottle – and leave them with the rest of your beer which is in glass bottles. When the P.E.T. is rock hard (like a new bottle of Coke) and there are little pockets of sediment in the divets in the bottom of the bottle, then the ‘sentinel’ beer has done its job and the batch is ready or very close to being ready to pile into the fridge. No guesswork involved. Opening a beer after waiting for a couple of weeks or longer, anticipating a frosty, fizzy pint only to find flat, slightly sweet beer is a cruel and terrible disappointment…….not to mention a waste.
To avoid disappointment:
Be sure to leave the whole batch someplace where it will be WARM. It doesn’t need to be tropical, but it does need to be warm - not hot, not by a window, not by a heater, not on the floor, not in a draft. (read any Dr. Seuss lately?). It needs to be at the same temperature that you would keep it if you were fermenting out a batch of beer or wine or making bread. 70 + degrees F (or about 22 + degrees C) would be great! Remember - no drafts. Under ideal conditions, your beer should be good to go in two three weeks but ideal conditions are hard to come by so anticipate 3 to 4 weeks for good carbonation. The cooler it is, the longer it will take to carbonate - up to several months. Seriously! So watch your temperature - it's really that important! Other than that, keep it out of bright light; it is beer after all.
Barley, Malt & Vine has 500ml PET bottles available if you choose to go the plastic bottle route, which, by the way, is great for Summer playtime. No worries about broken glass on the boat or by the pool. While we’re talking about fermentation issues, here’s a couple of other common problems: Waiting too long to bottle a beer after it’s finished.
Racking too frequently to ensure that you have a really clear beer at bottling time. Both actions cause more yeast to drop out of suspension and can result in a beer that is ‘too clean’. It will take a long time for the remaining yeast to build up to a level where they can finish the job. While you don’t want to bottle cloudy beer, you need to have some of the yeast culture alive and kicking in order to provide the all-important bottle fermentation that represents the essence of home brewing. There’s a certain difference between homebrew & commercial beer that I believe is due in part to the final fermentation. Every now & then we have customers bring a sample of their beer because they were not happy with the carbonation level. The severity of the problem has ranged from a few bubbles perhaps but certainly not what they (or we) would expect to being completely flat! With a second bottle of the customers flat brew, we've had occasion to experiment by stashing their beer bottle someplace where it would be at a constant temperature - in our fermentation room. No fluctuating temperatures. Voila! One week later (or so) and we have beer with BURP! Just goes to show you - beer wants to be at a 'warm' temperature while it is performing its magic! Moral of this story: Give your beer lots of warm love and you will never be heartbroken when you want to give it the cold shoulder! Gone are the days when 'home-made beer' meant something that your uncle made in the garage and brought out only when the 'good, tailor-made' beer was gone. Made properly, home brewed beer will stand up to comparison with any micro-brewed beer. PLUS - you can make your choice of beer GLUTEN FREE!
At Barley, Malt & Vine, we've taken home-made beer to a whole new level. We offer a wide range of beer kits in a vast array of beer styles: FestaBrew beer kits are a proven market leader and are 25 litres of pure wort. Just pitch the yeast into the wort and off you go. They are made by a Canadian microbrewery and are actually available to buy commercially in Ontario! Best Case beer kits are locally sourced and contain all the ingredients that you need to make a batch from grains. These kits are a hot seller and offer the DIY beer-maker the easiest way to make a real micro-brewed beer from scratch. (It's easier than you think!)Our canned beer kits are from all over the world: Brew Canada (Canada), Brew Maker (England), Coopers (Australia), Mountmellick (England) and Muntons (England). Whether you favour a light Mexican style cerveza or a stick-to-your-bones hearty stout, we have it - and everything in between. Not only can we offer you a world of beer, we also have cider - apple, pear, mixed berry, raspberry lime, peach passion, blueberry and raspberry mango. What a great change of taste - sparkling cider! We also offer kegging supplies; everything that you will need to set yourself up with your beer on tap. With a range of different yeast styles and a variety of hops to enhance your beer to suit your tastes, we can help make your homebrew experience even better. Don't forget that you can make your beer gluten-free! Imagine! Your choice of beer gluten-free. Does it matter what's coming; Summer? Christmas? Wedding? Party-time? Get ready!