Quick Hits: Homebrewing Questions Answered 01
Many times we use homebrewing questions we get to decide what needs to be written about here in the Learning Center. However sometimes the answers are short and sweet, which is good, but they don't fit together well as an article, so we can't get the answers out to everybody as easily. Quick Hits is a bi-weekly question-and-answer series that covers short answer homebrewing questions or other brief topics.
What Size Keezer Do I Need?
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The answer, like many homebrewing questions is, "it depends". To help you answer that question, you need to answer this. How many kegs do you plan on having? Your keezer will need to hold all the kegs you imagine yourself having on tap at one time. Two-to-three is a good starting place if you want to have a big beer like a barleywine that will sit for a while, and a couple other rotating beers for variety. Chest freezers and refrigerators are measured in cubic feet, which is a good place to start when determining chest freezer size you need, but those measurements don't account for the fact that many fridges and chest freezers are not perfect rectangular prisms inside; there are raised areas, which can restrict the amount of kegs it will actually hold. The best thing to do is make a cardboard cutout the size of the bottom of a keg, measure the height with disconnects, and bring that information to a hardware store to see how many templates each chest freezer will hold. Remember, it's okay to go a little bigger than find a perfect fit in case you want to serve more kegs, or store yeast inside.
What is Freeze Concentration?
Freeze concentration is taking advantage of the fact that alcohol (ethanol) freezes at a much lower temperature than water. Negative 173.2F to be exact. So by freezing beer, wine, or cider, you can increase the amount of alcohol by volume by removing frozen water from the equation. This of course reduces the overall yield but increases the ABV significantly.
Can I bottle Beer In Plastic Soda Bottles?
Technically speaking, yes, they will hold just about as much carbonation as you can throw at them. But here's a few things to consider. Beer is very sensitive to light. Ultraviolet light causes beer to skunk. That's why when you buy beers like Corona (clear bottles) and Heiniken (green bottles), they have a skunkiness to them right out of the gate. Brown beer bottles block some exposure to UV light and help reduce skunking. One option if you are dead set on using plastic bottles for packaging your homebrew is to use A&W single serving Root beer bottles (not the 2 liter ones). They are brown, not clear, and will help with the skunking issues.
How Does Special B Malt Taste?
Special B malt is a very unique one. It's personally one of my favorites to use across several styles. It adds a complex sweetness of plums and raisins, and also adds some very mild roastiness to balance the sweetness it adds. It works well in Belgian Dubbels and Dark Strongs. I've also used it in ESBs and Alts with good success. The key is to use it in moderation. It's very pronounced so keep your usage to no more than a quarter pound to third of a pound for 5 gallon recipes.
Why Won't My Mead Clear? How Can I Clear My Mead?
There are a few reasons your mead didn't clear, and a few ways to tackle the issue. One reason it didn't clear, and it's usually the main reason, is it's too young. Meads are not for those who lack patience. If your mead isn't even at the six month mark yet, don't worry about clearing, come back when it's at least six months old and not clear. The next possible reason is there are some suspended proteins or ultra-fine particulates. These can be from the honey, or created by added ingredients like ground spices. To solve this problem, you want to hit it with Super Kleer or Bentonite. Once causes negatively charged ions to drop out, and the other positively charged ones. Because of this, you can't use them both at the same time (they cancel each-other out). Use one, if that still didn't work, rack off the sediment and use the other. Lastly, pectin is another possible reason an aged mead isn't clearing. When fruit is heated (you might do this to release flavor, soften fruit, pasteurize) it creates pectin, which is what makes jam and jelly thick. it's actually added into jams and jellies. However in mead and beer, it creates a haze that clearing treatments won't clear. You need to add pectic enzyme in this case. Pectic enzyme breaks down pectin and will clear a mead or beer with pectin haze. Have some homebrewing questions you want answered? Ask it below in the comments and we'll answer it there or feature it in the next installment. Until then, Happy Brewing!