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Colder is better. All chemical reactions slow as the temp drops. No need to cellar If your beers are will not benefit from it.
I pretty much do what Lazy Ant and smkranz do. Immediately thoroughly rinse and drain after pouring and shoot them with Starsan in a vinator at bottling. And have had no problems with 39 of 40 batches.I know of a brewery that wont use this strain because of its hyper attenuation and fear of cross contamination.
But one batch began producing some gushers after 3 months in the bottle. That was a Best Bitters that was my first use of Lallimand ESB yeast. I screwed up the mash temp and mashed too high. After pitching I found out that that yeast doesn't eat maltotrios. FG came in at 1.017 and the beer tasted sweet. Drinkable but sweet. After 3 months I started getting random gushers. The gushers were tough to pour but the beer actually tasted BETTER. I'm guessing that the gusher bottles were not due to bacteria infection but rather due to a tiny amount of another yeast (probably Belle Saison) that didn't get totally rinsed out of the bottles and took 3 months to get going enough to eat the maltotrios.
So I'm now also soaking all my bottles (fermenters too) in an Idofor solution, especially those that had Belle Saison in them. That yeast is a beast.
I personally would not be comfortable using bottles that had not been sanitized shortly before use. There are just too many ways for contaminants to find their way in while the bottles are stored, so sanitation is not an area where I want to take any shortcuts.
I second this. If your bottles are thoroughly cleaned and rinsed out after their contents have been poured, I would skip the whole bleach thing. Store the clean and dry bottles in case boxes, and on bottling day either soak them if that's your preference, or give them a sanitizing squirt with the Vinator. (Either way, I prefer the non-foaming SaniClean over Star San for bottle sanitizing.) An added advantage for me to sanitizing right before bottling, is that I generally bottle carbonated beer from a keg with a Beer Gun, and the pre-wetted bottles help minimize foaming.
Do you have a dishwasher?
I would be more worried about bleach-influenced off-flavors than infection.
There is the possibility of dust carrying bacteria or yeast/fungus spores getting on the bottle lip. A quick rinse with Starsan just before bottling takes care of that. Get a vinator http://www.homebrewing.org/Vinator-Bottle-Washer_p_2472.html . Much faster and easier than soaking.
And for draining, I like the Fast Rack http://www.homebrewing.org/1-FastRack-and-1-Tray_p_3459.html . Compact and nothing touches the lip or inside the bottle.
I always batch-sparge and consistently get 75-77% extract efficiency. My method is to simply drain the sweet wort from the grains as completely as possible, and set the wort aside in the boil kettle for safe-keeping. I leave all the spent grains in the mash tun and simply pour all of my sparge water (heated to 170) into the mash tun, and let the grains steep in the sparge water for 10 minutes (if you've calculated your mash:sparge water right, you should have enough sparge water to just barely cover your grains during the steep). Then I drain all the water off the grains, add those runnings to the wort already in the boil kettle, and get to boilin'...
No secondary for me either...in terms of reusing yeast, I just overbuild my starters. I figure this gives me a cleaner yeast that is unaffected by the gravity or hoppiness of whatever I am brewing.
Lately I also have been making extra starters from a new yeast pack rather than harvesting from a finished brew--not that much more work for much cleaner yeast.
I've never skimmed hot break but there have been comments in resent threads that suggest that it's a good idea. Which brings up the questions: What? Why? How? How much?
1. What? Hot break is the foam that forms (and wants to crawl out of the kettle) during the first 5 minutes of the boil. Is that correct?
2. If the answer to 1. is yes, why skim it out of there? What is the negative impact of letting the foam subside and leaving it in the wort.
3. How? What is the easiest and least messy way to skim? I'm thinking a shop-vac would work well.
4. How much do you want to skim? As much as possible? Is some hot break good to have in the wort?
1. No I don't think so. I think hot break are the proteins in the wort. The foam(often called foop), may contain some hot break but its certainly not all of it. I see hot break formation after 5-10 minutes into boil( after foam subsides).
All brewing literature states hot break must be removed. Usually by means of a whirlpool for us.
2. My foam is small and bright white, I do not remove it, as I boil with a lid, that has a small opening. professional breweries are not skimming.
3. I don't think it will hurt anything either way, it usually sticks to the side of the kettle.