Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5 Tricks For Your Next Extract Batch

Just a few things to help out hopefully.
Boil some water while you are steeping:
With stovetop home brewing, much of your time is spent heating up water. A simple trick to cut down some of this time is to use two kettles at the same time. Try doing your 30 minute steep in a smaller pot, since you only need a gallon or so (enough to cover your grain). During the steep (or maybe even before) start bringing your big kettle of water to a boil, making sure to leave some room for the water from your steep. Now you will have water near a boil the instant you are done with your steep saving you some time.

Use one muslin sock for your hops
Many times people will almost instinctually assume that all of their different hop additions will need to be separated in the boil, leaving them to buy a separate small straining (muslin) bag for each hop addition. Muslin bags are pretty inexpensive, but if you are doing a big IPA the cost can start to add up, not to mention the hassle of tying up a bunch of hops in a bunch of different little bags. Next time try just one large muslin bag, and keep the open end out of the pot (wrapped around the handle so it doesn’t slip into the pot). Each time you have to add some hops to the boil, just Keep adding them into the same sock.

Wort Cool Down:
Cooling down your hot wort can take some time and while putting it in an icebath in your sink is a great way to cool it down quickly there is another technique for a quick cool down in the event you are out of ice. If you have ever just put your pot in some cold water in your sink you have undoubtedly found out that all you get is a sink full of hot water in a matter of minutes. Ice helps this, but you can also put a rag or paper towel at the bottom of your sink rather than stopping up the drain completely. A partially stopped up drain  will allow the water to slowly drain, and lets you to simultaneously run cold water from your tap into the sink. Now you have a cold water bath that will continue to transfer heat away from the pot and down the drain.  

Chill Your Top-Off Water:
If you find yourself needing to top off with some water in your fermenter to get to the five gallon mark there are actually some benefits to doing so. In a five gallon pot (20 qt) you usually start your boil at about four gallons and boil down to 3-3.5 gallons leaving you with about two gallons needed to add to your fermenter. Put this water in the fridge (or even the freezer) to get nice and cold. Now you don’t have to wait so long cooling your wort in an ice bath. If you can get two gallons of really cold water into your fermenter it is likely you only need to get your wort down to about 100 degrees. The top off water will bring it down the rest of the way to room temp and you can pitch your yeast. There is an added benefit to this. Pouring in the cold water aggressively will churn up your wort and plenty of oxygen which is essential to a healthy start to fermentation.

Use the sani rinse on your dishwasher:
Lot’s of people complain about the bottling process because you must clean and sanitize dozens of bottles. Washing, rinsing, sanitizing can be a pain, but if you treat them like any other dish you would use at dinner time, you can take out a bunch of the hassle. First, treat them like a dish; when you are done with a beer, rinse out the bottle and make sure you get all the yeast sediment at the bottom, then put it in the dishwasher with the rest of you dishes. Then just put your clean bottle away in your bottle box to use again some day. When bottling day arrives, put all your cleaned bottles in your dishwasher and set it to sanitize (most newer washers have this setting). Use a little bit of Oxy based cleanser, like PBW or OneStep and you will have a couple of racks full of sanitized bottles ready to use for bottling.

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