Picking up home fermentation/brewing

Rattus Suffocatus

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$350 probably isn't bad for that setup depending what brand this pump is, etc. I probably have $250 in my setup at least. As for force carbing.. you are correct that using a tank to do it is technically force carbing... but on the boards, etc. that is generally taken to do the "shake and bake method". I am the odd one who usually likes to sugar prime a keg. The reason why is that the yeast will "eat up" the remaining oxygen in the beer during this process. This is why I generally think the lodo guys are a little crazy, they will argue until they are blue in the face that it doesn't help at all when in fact it's about 1/3 of what they are doing overall. There are cases where this isn't practical or the beer sits too long (like a highly dry hopped IPA) and then going "artificial" is better. One other nice thing about sugar priming is that you use a lot less CO2 and don't need refills as often. Ultimately, you will "force carb" a little because in a keg you want to undershoot the volumes of CO2 a little and let the tank make up the difference for the same reason you don't want to overcarb when doing shake and bake... if you do it right you can drink right away but will make up the CO2 in a day or two for perfection.

Typically if I do a complete artificial carbonation, I will shake and bake a little in the beginning... and then I will hook up at pressure for a week. You can reverse the CO2 line in the keg like above, but I am lazy and that means you have to depressurize the keg at then end before serving which is messy. So alternatively, I'll shake it up a bit every day for that week or so and then at day 7 or 8 you are good to go...

The Mangrove Jacks M02 is going strong right now. It's behavior is odd compared to other yeasts I have used like D47, but as long as it cranks away... it cranks away. (I could have a leak somewhere on my fancy fermenter too but you don't worry about such things as long as it's going.) It seems to get good reviews. I will let you know. Though it looks like you will know anyway. I have been meaning to try that yeast since about 2015....

One thing that is nice about cider in 2020, is that almost all brands now are Pasteurized and it's now hard to find one with sulfates in it. It used to be the other way around, only a couple of years ago. Musselman's at $5 gallon used to be the only reliable way to go (it's still the best commercial mass produced cider though). If this works then two of those and four of the Walmart brand (3 qt) might be my new quick cider recipe.. That and a cup of sugar boiled in water.... That brings a batch down to $5/gal or so which is nice...
 
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jseyfert3

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If you didn't realize I didn't know what yeasts to get so I just got all the yeasts you mentioned, plus one cider specific yeast I saw.

Well, my kreezer is done for now. Two taps, 4 shanks, a 6-way CO2 manifold. Just needs more kegs and two more faucets.

I have an extra hole on the left to route a future CO2 line out of the kreezer, for cleaning/sealing kegs and force carbing. That's why I went with a 6-way vs a 4 way. Plus I can fit 5 kegs so I could potentially add a 5th faucet at some point, but we will see.
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Rattus Suffocatus

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I mentioned yeasts that I wanted to try. The Mangrove Jack's is a bizarre yeast. It's working but man is it different than any beer or wine yeast I have ever used. I was lazy this time (as I often am with ciders) and didn't check OG. I wish I would have. I had the primary in at 68°F for a week and now it's out for cleanup at the about 85F the garage here is in the summer. But minimal airlock activity and the finest lees/trub I have ever seen m. Smells good though.

I never did liquid yeasts all that much because I had a hard time doing a starter on a stir plate exactly three days before a brew. So I used a lot of dry. For a lager it's hard to beat W34/70 dry anyway. For IPA and APA, I used to use a mix of US05 and K97. K97 is supposed to be a Kolsch yeast but most people use it for wheat beers but it is super clean at low temperatures. For darker "English" beers I use Nottingham because I don't like S-04. Here is where the liquid strains might be better. I am going to try the Voss kveik yeast because of the heat tolerance it is supposed to be super neutral. For most beers in your climate US-05 at about 65-70°F .
 

jseyfert3

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Carbonation at room temp (~70 °F) at 28 psi worked well. I connected the kegs, shook for a while till the regulator stopped hissing, then left on the regulator for a few days. Once I got my kreezer working I bled off all the pressure in the headspace, connected both kegs to the manifold and adjusted the regulator to 12 psi, then turned the kreezer on and chilled the kegs, with the help of a fan for faster chilling. Less than 24 hours later and we had carbonation that was spot on.

So as I expected you can get great carbonation without worry of overcarb at ~28 psi at room temp. The key thing, and this is important, is to remember to bleed off the pressure in the headspace before chilling. Otherwise you'll chill and the pressure will be above 20 and the now chilled keg will absorb more CO2 and become overcarbed.

Having beer and cider on tap is amazing. Can't wait till the LHBS gets more kegs in stock, as soon as they do (Monday or Tuesday week after next) I'll be kegging a Summer Ale kit I brewed last weekend.
 
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jseyfert3

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Well, months later I finally am starting the yeast wars.
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Just plain apple juice from Aldi. We've got Lalvin EC-1118 and D47, Safale US-05 and SafCider. Poured 1/4 package of yeast into each half gallon. I will also compare these 4 with a 5.5 gallon batch of cider I started with the same juice and Mangrove Jack's M02 cider yeast three days ago.

Oh, and the Tree Top was just to try, I had bought that on a whim. It got the Safcider yeast.

My pipeline is unfortunate not very established. Got busy all summer and not a lot of brewing. Since the start though, I've done 7 batches total. Five 5.5 gallon batches of cider, including the one started three days ago, and two extract beers, the American Pale Wheat I think I meantion along with a Summer Ale. One of the older ciders is now just over months old, which is good cause I jacked it up to what should be around 8.5% ABV.

Overall though, that's 16.5 gallons of cider and 10 gallons of beer, all gone since we started. Kegs go surprisingly fast when you have even a small group of people over intending to drink a bit...

I plan to keg that cider soon, maybe brew another beer this weekend. And I'd like to buy some malolactic bacteria to try malolactic conversion on some of this cider made from store bought juice. From what I've read, store bought juice cider can especially benifit from malolactic conversion as it's often quite tart to be enjoyed while sweet. But I'm still surprised just how drinkable cider from cheap store bought juice is.
 
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AlexCaro

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Sep 15, 2020
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This system looks great! A friend of mine decided to make his own apple cider. Already tried his drinks. Some of them were as good as made by professional brewers
 
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PoolBrews

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Oct 16, 2019
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I'm always busy - 3 taps and lots of thirsty friends guarantee that! Since March I have brewed (and finished off) the following kegs:

Monkey Brew (Banana Bread Brown)
Ay Yi Yi Yi Yi (Mango Habanero Wheat)
I'rish 4 Beer (Irish Red Ale)
Tangerine Wheat
Hacienda Hooch (Pineapple Cider)
Johnny Blue Brew (Honey Blueberry)
Orange Shandy
Unkel Dunkel (Dunkelweiss)
WmmmMelon (Watermelon Wheat)
Mi' Cerveza (Mexican Pilsner)
Bloozie Doozie (Blueberry Wheat)
Pickwick Porter
WmmmMelon (It was one of my top 5 beers ever made - made it again while watermelon is still in season)
Brown Shuga (Toffee Brown Ale)

Getting ready to brew another two batches shortly.
 
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Rattus Suffocatus

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Don't feel bad. That cider you inspired me to brew is still sitting in the beer fridge waiting to be transferred to a keg...months later.... Luckily with a cider, aging it a bit is actually good... but I've almost stopped brewing entirely. I might considering doing so until I move on to my next home/job/etc. or retire. Just as I was getting good at it, I moved here and that more or less ended it. And everything else fun for the most part.
 

JJ_Tex

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I'm always busy - 3 taps and lots of thirsty friends guarantee that! Since March I have brewed (and finished off) the following kegs:

Monkey Brew (Banana Bread Brown)
Ay Yi Yi Yi Yi (Mango Habanero Wheat)
I'rish 4 Beer (Irish Red Ale)
Tangerine Wheat
Hacienda Hooch (Pineapple Cider)
Johnny Blue Brew (Honey Blueberry)
Orange Shandy
Unkel Dunkel (Dunkelweiss)
WmmmMelon (Watermelon Wheat)
Mi' Cerveza (Mexican Pilsner)
Bloozie Doozie (Blueberry Wheat)
Pickwick Porter
WmmmMelon (It was one of my top 5 beers ever made - made it again while watermelon is still in season)
Brown Shuga (Toffee Brown Ale)

Getting ready to brew another two batches shortly.
Are these full sized kegs? I just did the math and 14 full sized kegs yield 2310 beers, basically a 12 pack a day since March!?!? Part of me wants to bow down to you for that awesome feat, the other part of me feels sorry for your liver.
 

PoolGate

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Are these full sized kegs? I just did the math and 14 full sized kegs yield 2310 beers, basically a 12 pack a day since March!?!? Part of me wants to bow down to you for that awesome feat, the other part of me feels sorry for your liver.

I suspect these are 5 gallon corny (soda syrup) kegs.
 
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jseyfert3

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Are these full sized kegs? I just did the math and 14 full sized kegs yield 2310 beers, basically a 12 pack a day since March!?!? Part of me wants to bow down to you for that awesome feat, the other part of me feels sorry for your liver.
I suspect these are 5 gallon corny (soda syrup) kegs.
I would suspect that as well. 5 gallon kegs are the most commonly used in homebrewing, most people do 5 or 10 gallon batches to fit these kegs. If all 5 gallon batches, that's 54 beers per keg or 756 beers.
 
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JJ_Tex

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Thanks for clarifying, but still very impressive.
 

PoolBrews

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Yes, it's 5 gallon kegs. I've started brewing two batches at a time to keep up with demand. It's fun, and keeps me busy in retirement!

We had a party about 2 weeks ago with live music and 30 friends - we went through nearly 3 kegs on one weekend.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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Those our the "Cornelius" Kegs. They are 5 gallons, or generally the same as two cases of beer. Plus a can or so. (53 12 oz cans is about the theoretical maximum equivalent -- you need to leave a little headspace-- but I never got more than the 48 two cases would be out of mine). They do burn off fast at a party, honestly, and last way too long if you are the only drinker in the house. I am in the latter situation now myself so I am not brewing much.... As I am getting older I have less tolerance to alcohol as well, so I'm considering selling my equipment, honestly. I enjoy it when I can do it tho...
 

jseyfert3

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Bottling is such a pain by comparison! I have been known to bottle off the tap and do growlers lately though...
I've tried bottling off the tap but the bottle beer didn't have enough carbonation. I suppose you could up the carbonation level, but since I'll mainly be bottling the last few beers from a keg or a few one-offs for friends that would be annoying to do. I recently found the Tapcooler Counter Pressure Bottle Filler. I haven't gotten it yet, but reviews on HBT are positive. It is a counter pressure bottle filler that you just shove into your faucet.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

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I built my own Counter pressure filler. I rarely ever use it. If I am going to give someone a growler, then I just fill it. If I am going to bottle for long term storage or a gift for something that's already on tap, I'll kick the pressure up 3 psi or so a couple of days before. It's still easier than a counter filler is. Really if I intend on doing bottles for gifts, I'll split the batch before carbonation and do natural carbonation on both. One part goes into a keg at room temperature for a week, then rest in the bottles. I often do it anyway for kegs only because I think it's better and it saves a ALOT of CO2. More than you'd think.
 
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PoolGate

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I never bottle for any reason. But I do use growlers. I put the growler in the freezer a couple hours before I fill it. That makes a big difference. Then just slowly fill it. Sometimes I spoon off the head. Usually I can get it within an inch of the top.
 
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