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Topics - seajellie

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Beer Travel / Six hours in Heathrow: Go local or hit the tube?
« on: May 01, 2012, 02:11:36 PM »
This summer en route to Berlin, I have a SIX HOUR layover at Heathrow.

Not sure of current security, but I think I can skip out of the airport, hit the underground, enjoy a couple pints, and make my connection.

Three options to use this time enjoyably:

a) Airport pubs - can't find current beer menus, but looks like Fuller's LP and Adnams have been on hand pulls there in the past. Which pubs are best?

b) Find a classic traditional English pub (w/ Adnams a bonus) not too far from a tube stop direct from Heathrow. This would be awesome - but which ones? Could easily waste precious time on the search....

c) Hit this CAMRA beer fest, which just happens to be opening up 30 min before my plane lands. That would be cool - but it seems to feature some of the more nontraditional, nonmajor choices of England - whereas I wouldn't mind simply enjoying Fuller's ESB and Adnams and any other classics, for the taste bud resetting.

Thanks for any tips!

Ingredients / Old Belgian D and D2 syrup: Ales or waffles?
« on: January 03, 2012, 06:04:57 PM »
I have some three year old Belgian candi syrup laying about, never been opened. It's been stored at a constant 55 to 65 degrees. Purchased from William's Brewing, packaged by It might be another four months before I get time for Belgians in my brew schedule.

So is this stuff still OK for brewing, or has it possibly oxidized (like malt extract would have) beyond optimal results? Darkening is OK; off flavors are not!

Or should I just pull out the waffle maker and have some great breakfasts instead?


Kegging and Bottling / Bottled tastes better than Kegged.
« on: March 02, 2011, 06:00:26 PM »

And what do you think?

I find that for my home brew, packaged with my system and my techniques, and for the taste buds of those that sample my wares, that the bottled samples consistently taste better than the kegged versions. Sometimes dramatically so. (This assumes the beer is otherwise treated the same; that is, force carbed or primed, or cold conditioned the same, same drinking vessel, etc.)

I had a stunning reminder of this just days ago. I made a lightly smoked porter last fall. It was an "improved" version of something I've made a couple times years ago, when I only bottled. This version was force carbed in a keg. I had very high expectations for it; but It was only a good, decent, very drinkable beer. It lacked a depth of flavor, richness, and nuance that should've been there. So I bottled some up recently to give to friends (used a cheap cobra tap-racking cane setup, force carbed).  I heard some big compliments back. Surprised, I tried a bottle. Wow. A completely better beast. I compared head to head with a friend who agreed (granted, it was not a blind test).

This is not just with dark beers IME. I noticed the same thing with an English Pale Ale last fall. I could not detect any of the fruity ester smell and flavors that are typical of this yeast; but when I bottled it, they were there, very noticeable, and very appealing.

Assuming I'm not off my rocker, I can think of four reasons for this consistent experience:

1) Oxidation. Kai and others have noted that for big dark beers, oxidation can bring "improved" flavors, or at least the flavors typical of what we expect for styles like dopplebocks. I think this probably holds true for lighter styles as well, within limits. Also, it's well known that oxidation is key for the development of red wine, and last I checked, they weren't using any chocolate malt in those. So a little may be a good thing for many styles.

2) Head space. Someone who has studied gas-liquid physics more recently than me should chime in here. You have one inch of head space in a bottle, say this is 8% of the total volume. You may have 15 inches of head space in a corny keg, and this could be a huge percentage of the total volume. I would expect that volatile aroma and flavor compounds could escape from solution (beer) into the keg head space with much greater ease than in the bottle.

3) Gravity. Unpleasant compounds in a bottle only have to drop six inches or so to precipitate out. In a keg, these same compounds may have to travel much further.

4) Dip tube location vs. top of bottle. You can leave most of the dregs behind in a bottle, but in a keg, regardless of how clear your beer may seem to be, I find it hard to believe that a dip tube located a millimeter above sediment, under pressure, is not going to pull some of that stuff into your glass. Regardless of whether it is forced or primed.

I have of course had better beer in kegs than the bottled version on occasion; but for me, in every one of those cases, I can point out that the bottled version got less favorable treatment than the keg. For example, maybe the keg got to sit all comfy in a fridge for six months, while the bottles had to sit in the cellar at 58 to 65 degrees during that time.

Very interested to hear from others on this.

Unfortunately for my taste buds, bottling just takes too much time so it's going to have to be a part-time pleasure!

Equipment and Software / Stainless Steel bucket fermenter
« on: December 02, 2010, 06:44:25 PM »
Has anybody on this site ever been enticed to find or build a stainless steel fermenter designed more or less like the ubiquitous plastic bucket fermenters that are so readily available? If so, where did you find the bucket?

I've searched off and on for a couple years, and the closest I can find is lined steel barrels at either 5 gal or 10 gallon size; unlined and 7 - 8 gallons would be perfect.

Maybe I just don't know how to search for it, but it seems they would already be around given the advantages:

* much lower cost than a conical or a ten gallon corny (which I can only find new for lots of $$)
* easy to clean and sanitize; can use heat, no worry about breakage
* easier to move, similar to moving a plastic bucket, and right-sized to fit in most fridges for fermentation temp control
* could be readily adapted with weldless spigots and CO2 fittings.
* same container could be used for primary or secondary with use of CO2.

The ability to dump yeast with a conical is cool I admit, but not worth hundreds of dollars of expense to me.

Right now I use a combination of five gallon cornies, plastic buckets, and glass carboys for primary or secondary fermentation, but I'd get rid of all of it in a second for a more versatile, durable, and coherent system of ss buckets. And while the corny as fermenter is not bad, getting in there to clean it is not as easy as with buckets, and I'd prefer a more squat geometry for the fermentation. And of course, there is the used keg option, but the half kegs that I've seen take up a huge amount of foot print for 8 gallons, and take more metal work than I desire to do.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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