Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bottling sucks and oxygen rocks!!!!

I hate the bottling part of homebrewing. But, until I can afford a kegging system, bottles it is. The best bottles to use are the returnable type. Returnable bottles are not as common these days, but they are still easy to find. The really "hard" part is having to buy the beer and empty the bottles. Oh my! What pains I must go through for my craft.

My beer of choice that comes in returnable bottles is Hauenstein. "Hauey" is a semi-local beer contract brewed by the fine folks at Schell's brewery. At $13 a case, the high quality bottles with beer are cheaper than buying empty bottles from a homebrew supply store. The beer isn't too bad. A typical American lager. Not exceptional, but $13 for a case of good bottles makes it worth it.

I bottled my Pilsner Urquell clone last night. As I've mentioned before, I sanitize my bottles in the dishwasher. That's a lot easier than washing them by hand. However, thanks to Chemistry, sanitizing is pretty easy.

There are a lot of sanitizing agents used in homebrewing. The cheapest and easiest to obtain is bleach (sodium hypochlorite, NaClO). However, using bleach requires a lot of rinsing. When sanitizing 50 bottles, excessive rinsing can get annoying. I prefer to use sodium percarbonate (a.k.a. One Step sanitizer). The sodium percarbonate (2Na2CO3•3H2O2 -sorry, I haven't figured out HTML subscripts yet [UPDATE: Got it. Thanks Ψ*Ψ.) releases hydrogen peroxide when dissolved in water. The H2O2 does its thing on the wee beasties, killing them dead. The byproducts are sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) water and oxygen. These don't have to be rinsed away. And that means more time for tasting.....

7 comments:

Ψ*Ψ said...

subscripts are sub /sub in HTML. insert brackets ;)

Chemgeek said...

Sweeeeeeeet!!!

Thanks

Anonymous said...

So you add the percarbonate directly to the dishwasher?? Have you tried San Star (Five Star Chemicals)??

Chemgeek said...

No, it's either the percarbonate or the dishwasher (without detergent). The bottles going into the dishwasher have to be clean already. If I am diligent and rinse them out right after emptying them, it is easy. I usually give them a short squirt with my bottle washer before putting them in the dishwasher. I essentially just use the washer for its sanitize cycle.

No, I have never used San Star. I use B-brite a lot for cleaning ugly carboy deposits.

Anonymous said...

When diluted as instructed, Star San (dodecylbenezesulfonic acid / phosphoric acid) is supposedly a non-rinse sanitizer.. I've never used the stuff before but I'm going to try it on my next brew.. I'm slightly paranoid of effecting the flavor so I'll probably quickly rinse anyways, but it may reduce the rinsing needed.. (I previously used bleach)

A-non-y-mous said...

Hey, also a homebrewer and a chemist (scientist at a biotech).

I use the 5-star (polyphosphoric acid), no need to rinse. I actually just mix it in a squirt bottle and spray it on the surfaces and never had a problem. I also put my caps in a colander and spray them down, then shake it up and let it drip out. Never a problem. Give it a try.

Since you are into serial batches, have you checked out (or maybe have) a Minibrew conical fermenter (www.minibrew.com). It's pretty sweet. Just bottle, then leave the yeast sediment in the bottom. Brew up a batch that day (or the next) and pour it into the Minibrew. No need to resanitize. You reuse the yeast (I've used the same yeast for up to 5 batches), saving you ~$7 a batch. Granted you have to use the same yeast, but if you use a standard American Ale yeast, you're covered for a ton of different styles.

All of the above helps to reduce the amount of sanitization. And I also use the dishwasher for the bottles (with a high temp rinse and dry, the temp is the most important).

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