Home Brewing / Micro Brewery / My own beer

TheSlinger

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Is anyone here part of the Worthogs homebrew club and if so which chapter do you belong to.
I would be if I was that side of the world.

This side we have the South Yeasters. But they have meetings at a time that doesn't work for me on the absolute other side of the city. Occasionally one or two this side, but too short notice...
Maybe it's time for a chapters to make it to this side...

In other news, I have a brand new lager up for drinking and a honey blonde ale ready to be bottled for Xmas!
 

Space_Kriek

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I would be if I was that side of the world.

This side we have the South Yeasters. But they have meetings at a time that doesn't work for me on the absolute other side of the city. Occasionally one or two this side, but too short notice...
Maybe it's time for a chapters to make it to this side...

In other news, I have a brand new lager up for drinking and a honey blonde ale ready to be bottled for Xmas!
Why dont you start your own SouthYeasters chapter in your area. What area are you in. I know Helderberg has a club.

I could help you get in contact with the correct people
 

Frequent visitor

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Hi,

Anyone have experience with Home brewing? I am checking out a few (dismal) local sites on starter kits, and a few UK (awesome) sites regarding starter equipment for home brewing.

Has anyone tried this before, have you bought a kit from a store , or made up the parts yourself, what style did you make?

I am definately going to give this a go, so I can have my own brew ready for Christmas and the engorgement that shall ensue.

If you've done this please let me know of the results, and from where / how I can get my hands on the equipment.

Cheers!

edit - looking at equipment, are there thermometers around that can give me a max / min reading as well? I want to find the best room in the house for brewing, and want to evaluate the temp differences in each one so that i make the right choice. Surely this exists....but what is it called!
It does exist. It is called a max/min thermometer, or was in the 70s. I got mine in a garden shop for use in greenhouses.
 

TheSlinger

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Why dont you start your own SouthYeasters chapter in your area. What area are you in. I know Helderberg has a club.

I could help you get in contact with the correct people
I'm based in Kraaifontein, so right between Banana Jam (the south yeasters go to spot) and Sommerset.
I have given it some thought, and may sometime in the new year. But most of my free time is spent doing diy-house things at the moment - we've been busy making changes to our new house.
I have certainly thought something casual like the Helderberg club (I know the founder of the club and he's also encouraged me to start something where I am). Maybe next year there'll be a casual Northern Brewers.

If/When I do I'll post back here for anyone interested.
 

Toxxyc

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So I've been planning a low-ABV beer for a while now, and I did it this weekend. To copy-paste from another forum:

Alright, so this weekend was "the time". Saturday, to be precise. Our wonderful, 36°C Saturday.

I started out the morning with some friends over to finish off some beers I had so I could use the bottles. Why? Well, because I needed bottles. Because the previous beer (Munton's IPA Bitter) was still in the fermenter, for a respectable while at this stage. Want to see how that one turned out (so far)? Check here. Anyway, we finished off a few bottles and a mini keg during a "beer breakfast". You can have champagne during breakfast, so why not beer?

Anyway.

Now they're gone, and I get to work. I borrowed a big-ass urn from a forum member (@langchop) to see how this AG/BIAB thing will go. Great oke, so big props and a sincere thanks to him!

Back to brewing! I put a bunch of water in the urn. 15l, it looks like. Respectable amount. I'm aiming for a strike water temp of around 71°C so I turn the urn's thermostat to JUSt under 70°C. I leave it for about 45 minutes, look up to see it's on "keep warm", so it hit temperature. Take my probe thermometer, dump it in the water. 88°C. Aww yay.

Overshot the temp by far. So I take off the lid off the urn, turn it off and wait. For almost an hour. During this time I get started on bottling the beer currently occupying my fermenter. Sanitize the bottles, wash out the mini keg, etc. Halfway into bottling I check on the temps and they're at 69°C. Close. Turn up the thermostat a little bit, set the probe thermometer in the urn and set the alert alarm for when it hit 70°C, which it does in a matter of seconds. Turn the thermostat so that it's at the current temp and hold it there.

Next step - sink the brew bag. It's a lekker big bag so it goes over the entire rim with ease. It's deep, so it goes lekker deep into the water. Probe of the thermometer is still in the kettle, just above the element on the protective grid. I reckon it's a good spot to check for temps, since the wort above will be slightly cooler. So I set the thermometer to 72° so it'll warn me when temps go a tad high, I added the grains and stirred. Water temperature dipped to 69°C again, but I turned up the heat to get it to 70°C again. Set the timer for an hour, and continued on the bottling. I stirred twice during the time of the mash as well, just FYI, and the temps stuck at 70°C for the duration.

Right, so mash is done. I lift up the bag and the first thing I see is...holy crap it's heavy! 1kg of grains take up A LOT of water! Anyway, I lift up the bag and now I realize how frigging dark the wort is. I completely overshot the colour I was aiming for, but more on that later. So I squeeze the bag a bit, burn my hands like mad, and realize this ain't gonna work. I need to find something to place this bag in. Bag in hand I kinda hobble over to the cabinet where the pots are, and wort is dripping all over the kitchen floor. Seriously glad wife's not seeing this. Get a pot, dump the bag and now I'm taking a look at this situation.

Got a pot with a hella hot bag in it, and I don't know how to get the water out. I know about sparging, so I turn on the kettle. Halfway into pouring the hot water over the grains I realize I'm just making my problem worse - I'm going to burn even more. So I stop. Squeeze the bag as much as I could and pour that wort into the urn. I then sparge with cold water, because it needs to cool down. At that cooler temp I manage to get the grains pretty dry by squeezing the bag and add that wort to the urn.

Great. I'm at about 14l in the urn remaining, so not a lot of loss. Now for the boil. Probe thermometer is back into the urn and I turn up the heat. A lot. Set the probe to 98°C because we mos boil cooler than at the coast.

Yeah no.

Thing screams like mad a 98°C but no boiling. So I turn it to 100°C. Same story. The wort only starts to boil when the temperature hit 102°C.

No worries. I add my 60-minute hop addition. I'm not entirely sure what the weights were (I wrote it down at home, so I'll have to check), but I think it was 10g Admiral and 6g U1/108. I decided on this combo as the Admiral has good bittering qualities and the U1/108 apparently has good tropical flavours when it's boiled for a long time. So I boil them for a long time. Set a timer for 45 minutes and wait.

At 45 minutes I add my 15-minute hop addition. I add more U1/108 for flavour, and I think here I added 8g. Could be 6g, but I'm not sure. Anyway. It's boiling.

After 15 minutes I turn off the kettle, and then my issue hit. Now I need to cool this **** down. I read all kinds of bad things about wort that stays too hot for too long, so I'm worrying now. With the urn turned off I'm expecting the temperature to drop slowly, but it doesn't. Langchop took this double-wall urn and insulated the gap between the walls, meaning this thing keeps heat. It keep heat WELL.

Plan B. I kinda expected this, so during the previous week I've been running and ice machine to make some ice for me should I need it. Clean water, no worries.

Well I need it. I start adding ice. And more ice. And more ice. And more. Suddenly I'm out of ice. Thermometer still reads 64°C. So what now? OK, cold water from the fridge (also clean, don't worry). Doesn't do much. 63°C.

I'm out of ice and out of cold water, so I do the only thing I can do - let it sit and cool down on it's own, while I hope and pray there's no trouble with the wort. I start a fan and let it blow on the urn as well. No difference.

Now at this stage I need to point out that my plan was to pour cooled wort directly onto the yeast cake in my fermenter. Obviously this isn't going to work, so I go to work on the yeast cake. I swirl it up and pour it out into two clean glass bottles. I lid them and set them aside to separate. I need to harvest the yeast and get rid of as much of the previously fermented beer, no?

So I just rinse out the fermenter to get rid of the old krausen ring and decide to pitch the still warm wort into the fermenter. I do so. It's a mess, it splashes everywhere out of the tap of the urn. Eh. I'll clean up later. During this time I remember I have some lactose in the pantry and figure I'll just toss it in there as well. What's there to lose? I weigh it out - 140g - and add.

With the wort into the fermenter and see I'm 6l short to my aimed volume. Add clean, cold water. Temperature in low 50's now. Still waaaay to hot to pitch yeast. I place the fermenter in my cooler box and pack it with ice packs. Cold, wet towel draped over the top to aid cooling. It's not working lekker. After an hour the stick-on thermometer still glows on the 40°C mark. I'm out of ice, I'm out of ice packs and I got nothing left. I stick a bottle of frozen milk in there. Slooooowly the temperature starts to come down.

By now it's bedtime. It's 22:00 and the wort is still warm. The stick-on thermometer reads 32°C. The yeast has been washed and it's clean. I just have no other choice, it's bedtime and I can't let the wort sit like this. The fermenter has not been sanitized and something WILL happen. So I pitch the yeast. The entire cake. I had the yeast at room temp, at least, and the outside temperature of 36°C means the yeast is at least close to the wort temperature. Not ideal, but eh. Can't keep worrying over this. I sink the airlock, wet the towel again, add the last bit of ice that the ice machine has been making during this time on top of the towel so it can trickle cold water down the side of the fermenter and go to bed.

At around 2:30 I wake up. I get up to check on the wort, because I'm worried. Torch in hand I turn off the alarm, unlock the security gate and head to the kitchen. Whole house smells like chocolate wort. I'm happy, wife not so much. Anyway, get to the fermenter and check the temps. YES! It's coming down, the milk bottle is working, along with the ice. It's at 24° and coming down. Not too bad. Luckily the M42 yeast is a very clean yeast, so I can only hope it didn't stress too much.

Anyway, Sunday morning I took a look again and found the fermenter at 20°C. That's my target temp, so I'm happy. I keep adding ice and ice packs to keep it there, check through the lid and see some foaming on top. Only a little bit, but there's activity - YAY.

During the course of Sunday I leave it alone, and last night I took a look inside. There's a krausen ring. Not big, not thick, at all, but that's to be expected. There's a definite CO2 smell, but nothing else. No off smells yet, which is GREAT. Close it up and let it sit.

This morning I checked on it. The smell from the fermenter is great. There's CO2, but there's also sweet chocolate notes and some great hop aromas coming off. I took a tiny little taste test and, to be honest, I think it's OK. I expected a much more watery brew, but it actually had pretty good aroma and flavour. Body is a bit on the down-low, but that's to be expected. It has a sweet-ish caramel-chocolate taste, and it reminds me of a stout. Wasn't what I was aiming for, but it did give me some good ideas.
 

Toxxyc

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Now, some notes.

I overshot the colour with the roasted malts. I wanted to add some roasted malts to give the beer a deeper colour and not just look like diluted pee. Turns out 30% of the grain bill was a bit too much, maybe. On that note, I'm glad I did, since the caramel chocolate flavours with the added sweetness of the lactose is actually not bad.

I love BIAB/AG brewing. I immediately saw what I could change, what I should change and how I can tweak recipes with this. It's opened up a whole new world for me, to be honest, and I'm seriously happy I tried this. Suddenly my death-by-chocolate sweet stout I've been meaning to try is now a reality, since I don't have to guess what the kits will turn out like. I can tweak my recipe to my liking! I can do hop additions as I please and tune the flavour and aroma to my heart's content. It's fantastic!

Oh yes, and on the gravity. I aimed for 1.012 according to the online calculators. I hit 1.011. That's pretty close to my target gravity, even if I have to say so myself!

Finally, spent grains. I dumped it all into a pot and figured I'll dry it and make dog biscuits out of it. However, it had already gone sour by Saturday evening. This heat definitely didn't do it any good, so I dumped it in the garden. How should one go about drying it if you want to use it for something other than compost?
 

Toxxyc

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And finally, some pictures! Adding the grains:



After the mash and checking on the colour:



Gravity before pitching the yeast:




Next morning - some activity!




And it's fermenting with a tiny krausen ring!
 

handyman007

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Just to make sure: If I buy something like the Beer recipe kits (Included in this kit are: 1 x Mangrove Jack's Dutch Lager 1.7kg kit. 1 x German Lager enhancer pack 1kg (contains dextrose, malt extract, maltodextrin, hops). 1 x Mangrove Jacks Workhorse Yeast. ) from Brewcraft, would I still need carbon drops when I bottle?
 

Toxxyc

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Just to make sure: If I buy something like the Beer recipe kits (Included in this kit are: 1 x Mangrove Jack's Dutch Lager 1.7kg kit. 1 x German Lager enhancer pack 1kg (contains dextrose, malt extract, maltodextrin, hops). 1 x Mangrove Jacks Workhorse Yeast. ) from Brewcraft, would I still need carbon drops when I bottle?
Yep. You would need carbonation drops, or you can use normal table sugar. It's a bit more effort, but just regular table sugar can be dissolved in some boiling water, added into the fermenter, stirred in with a spoon, left to sit for an hour or so and then you bottle. It's cheaper and works pretty much the same, with the added bonus that you can more finely control the carbonation. I'm busy using up my last carbonation drops and then I'm done with that. If they're finished I'm going to be using plain brew sugar (dextrose). It's like R23 for a kg of Dextrose, which is the exact sugar used to make carbonation drops. Carbonation drops cost anything between R30 and R60 for a bag, weighing about 250g so for me it's a no-brainer. I buy from these guys: http://brewmart.co.za/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=162&search=dextrose

Also, if you batch prime (in other words, add sugar to the fermenter instead of drops to each bottle), you eliminate a few issues:

1. Infection. Carbonation drops aren't sterilized before adding to the bottles.
2. Over-carbonation - you can't accidentally put two carbonation drops in a bottle and create a bottle bomb.
3. Under-carbonation - you can't forget to add a drop to a bottle. I haven't bottled a lot, maybe like 300 or 400 bottles in total, but I have used a torch to shine into a bottle to see if I added carbonation drop at least 10 times.

So yeah, I was told it's the best by many more experienced brewers and just never believed it, but I'm definitely there now. It's my go-to method from now on. I always have dextrose in the cabinet anyway (because you can use it for a lot of things, including boosting ABV if you miss your gravity, for example), so it's easy and convenient and it saves money. With a 1kg bag I will be able to carbonate 10~12 batches, easy, depending on how I like to carbonate them. 20 batches if I just use the mini-kegs.
 

handyman007

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Mar 1, 2017
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Yep. You would need carbonation drops, or you can use normal table sugar. It's a bit more effort, but just regular table sugar can be dissolved in some boiling water, added into the fermenter, stirred in with a spoon, left to sit for an hour or so and then you bottle. It's cheaper and works pretty much the same, with the added bonus that you can more finely control the carbonation. I'm busy using up my last carbonation drops and then I'm done with that. If they're finished I'm going to be using plain brew sugar (dextrose). It's like R23 for a kg of Dextrose, which is the exact sugar used to make carbonation drops. Carbonation drops cost anything between R30 and R60 for a bag, weighing about 250g so for me it's a no-brainer. I buy from these guys: http://brewmart.co.za/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=162&search=dextrose

Also, if you batch prime (in other words, add sugar to the fermenter instead of drops to each bottle), you eliminate a few issues:

1. Infection. Carbonation drops aren't sterilized before adding to the bottles.
2. Over-carbonation - you can't accidentally put two carbonation drops in a bottle and create a bottle bomb.
3. Under-carbonation - you can't forget to add a drop to a bottle. I haven't bottled a lot, maybe like 300 or 400 bottles in total, but I have used a torch to shine into a bottle to see if I added carbonation drop at least 10 times.

So yeah, I was told it's the best by many more experienced brewers and just never believed it, but I'm definitely there now. It's my go-to method from now on. I always have dextrose in the cabinet anyway (because you can use it for a lot of things, including boosting ABV if you miss your gravity, for example), so it's easy and convenient and it saves money. With a 1kg bag I will be able to carbonate 10~12 batches, easy, depending on how I like to carbonate them. 20 batches if I just use the mini-kegs.
Thanks for that. Bought a Mangrove kit and only used it once, want to start again. You've given me a few things to think about.
 

Toxxyc

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If you have a kit, just buy a "refill" ingredients kit. It's cheap and works well. It's where I brewed for a long time as well.
 

handyman007

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If you have a kit, just buy a "refill" ingredients kit. It's cheap and works well. It's where I brewed for a long time as well.
Sorry, but can you please give a link to something like this? So far I've only used the ingredients that came with the kit.

Thanks in advance.
 

Toxxyc

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Sorry, but can you please give a link to something like this? So far I've only used the ingredients that came with the kit.

Thanks in advance.
Yeah sure, with pleasure. You basically have 2 options:

1. Buy a pre-made kit with everything included to make a specific style of beer.
2. Buy "kit" ingredients individually and build your own kit, so to speak.

Option 1 is simpler and sometimes a little bit cheaper, since you get yeast, LME and DME all in one box. A simple recipe like a traditional pale ale or something similar is a good way to start (or to continue if you haven't brewed in a while), since they're more forgiving beers.

On this page I would recommend the Wheat Beer or the last one on the list, the Pale Ale. Both should be quite forgiving in terms of fermentation temperatures and you won't be too worried about clarity in both.

On this page I have made two of these beers - The Dutch Lager and the Dublin Dry Stout. I can highly recommend the Dublin Dry Stout with a simple improvement, but the Dutch Lager I'm not too impressed with. It came out too dry and a tad sour for me to be classed as a good, classic Dutch Lager.

Both companies will also sell carbonation drops and other goodies. Make sure you have at home the following, or order with your ingredients to avoid issues come brewing or bottling day:

1. A bottle brush. Bottles get dirty on the inside, specially if they're not rinsed shortly after use. They mold on the inside very quickly, and a bottle brush makes removing this mold a breeze.
2. A sanitiser of sorts. I personally use the Mangrove Jack's No Rinse Sanitiser granules. It's not the best, it's not the cheapest and it's not the easiest to work with, but the bottles are small-ish so they make for easy purchases when needed. There are a plethora of options available, and you don't have to use a brewery specific branded sanitiser. Even Milton's apparently works just fine, just make sure you get a no-rinse sanitiser so it makes your life A LOT easier. Although it works just fine, avoid bleach.
3. Carbonation drops or dextrose if you're not going to be using table sugar.
4. Crown caps if you're going to be capping your bottles. Few things are as annoying as getting to bottling day and finding out you've run out of caps. I usually have quite a few in stock, but this weekend I'm probably upgrading to swing-top style Grolsch bottles which is a lot easier to work with. They're also stronger and won't bottle bomb as easy.
5. Beer finings - optional. If you want to make a crystal clear beer, finings help speed up that process. IMO it's completely optional though. Beer drops clear on it's own, and some styles (like the wheat beer mentioned above) actually calls for a cloudy beer. If you want to fine cheaply, gelatin also works fine if you take a little bit of care before adding it to the fermenter.

And that's about it. Take note that it's summer, so fermenters get hot. I place my fermenter in a cooler box and surround it with ice packs if it gets too hot. Cover with a towel and you're good to go. I can keep temperatures very accurate and stable like this.
 

Toxxyc

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On to Option 2. Option two gives you the same things to buy as in Option 1, but you can customize your brew. Say you want to brew a stout, but you don't want it dry, instead you want it sweet, then you can buy the tin of stout LME and get a bag of Sweet stout enhancer instead of the dry. You can also choose better yeasts and other additional ingredients like hops for dry hopping or low-boil additions if you wish. You can customize your brew a lot more, but in essence you'll be buying the same sort of stuff.
 

handyman007

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Joined
Mar 1, 2017
Messages
688
Yeah sure, with pleasure. You basically have 2 options:

1. Buy a pre-made kit with everything included to make a specific style of beer.
2. Buy "kit" ingredients individually and build your own kit, so to speak.

Option 1 is simpler and sometimes a little bit cheaper, since you get yeast, LME and DME all in one box. A simple recipe like a traditional pale ale or something similar is a good way to start (or to continue if you haven't brewed in a while), since they're more forgiving beers.

On this page I would recommend the Wheat Beer or the last one on the list, the Pale Ale. Both should be quite forgiving in terms of fermentation temperatures and you won't be too worried about clarity in both.

On this page I have made two of these beers - The Dutch Lager and the Dublin Dry Stout. I can highly recommend the Dublin Dry Stout with a simple improvement, but the Dutch Lager I'm not too impressed with. It came out too dry and a tad sour for me to be classed as a good, classic Dutch Lager.

Both companies will also sell carbonation drops and other goodies. Make sure you have at home the following, or order with your ingredients to avoid issues come brewing or bottling day:

1. A bottle brush. Bottles get dirty on the inside, specially if they're not rinsed shortly after use. They mold on the inside very quickly, and a bottle brush makes removing this mold a breeze.
2. A sanitiser of sorts. I personally use the Mangrove Jack's No Rinse Sanitiser granules. It's not the best, it's not the cheapest and it's not the easiest to work with, but the bottles are small-ish so they make for easy purchases when needed. There are a plethora of options available, and you don't have to use a brewery specific branded sanitiser. Even Milton's apparently works just fine, just make sure you get a no-rinse sanitiser so it makes your life A LOT easier. Although it works just fine, avoid bleach.
3. Carbonation drops or dextrose if you're not going to be using table sugar.
4. Crown caps if you're going to be capping your bottles. Few things are as annoying as getting to bottling day and finding out you've run out of caps. I usually have quite a few in stock, but this weekend I'm probably upgrading to swing-top style Grolsch bottles which is a lot easier to work with. They're also stronger and won't bottle bomb as easy.
5. Beer finings - optional. If you want to make a crystal clear beer, finings help speed up that process. IMO it's completely optional though. Beer drops clear on it's own, and some styles (like the wheat beer mentioned above) actually calls for a cloudy beer. If you want to fine cheaply, gelatin also works fine if you take a little bit of care before adding it to the fermenter.

And that's about it. Take note that it's summer, so fermenters get hot. I place my fermenter in a cooler box and surround it with ice packs if it gets too hot. Cover with a towel and you're good to go. I can keep temperatures very accurate and stable like this.
Thank you. This is the dumb-down version I was looking for, haha.

If I'm going to be using 500ml and 750ml bottles, how many carbonation drops would I need to use?
 

TheSlinger

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Jun 6, 2014
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789
So I've been planning a low-ABV beer for a while now, and I did it this weekend. To copy-paste from another forum:

Alright, so this weekend was "the time". Saturday, to be precise. Our wonderful, 36°C Saturday.

... snip ...

Good read, thanks for sharing. I am lazy to be on multiple forms, but I do sometimes read wortsandall too. I took the mashtun route myself and made a cooler mashtun with one of those plumbing sleved pipes. Although I am going to be upgrading it sometime to a larger cooler and use pex piping as a filter at the bottom.

My setup is a 75 liter brew pot, the cooler and the latest addition is a chest freezer as a fermentation chamber with a stc-1000 controller. Going to be putting that to the test properly this year - as soon as I bottle my December Bygone Brew (Brown Ale, Moer-by-pot of left overs from the year).

Planning a weissbier next I think.
 

Toxxyc

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Dec 12, 2012
Messages
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Yeah I'm still brewing tiny. If I had a 75l pot that would be a completely different story and I would actually LOVE to brew more. However, things are hellishly expensive and, well, I got a baby coming.
 

Toxxyc

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Messages
2,625
Thank you. This is the dumb-down version I was looking for, haha.

If I'm going to be using 500ml and 750ml bottles, how many carbonation drops would I need to use?
500ml bottles will take one carbonation drop. 750ml bottles will take two, for the most part. That explains the issue with carbonation drops perfectly, actually - you get a set volume of CO2 per drop and it's impossible to change that. Hence, my recommendation to not even start with them.
 

GrootP

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Aug 22, 2011
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500ml bottles will take one carbonation drop. 750ml bottles will take two, for the most part. That explains the issue with carbonation drops perfectly, actually - you get a set volume of CO2 per drop and it's impossible to change that. Hence, my recommendation to not even start with them.
I use table sugar exclusively. I used to have beer that was so difficult to pour because of over-carbonation.
You also have to keep in mind that the veracious beer styles call for different levels of carbonation.
So I do the batch thing; mix maybe 120 g table sugar with just enough water to cover and then boil for a few minutes to sterilise and then cool it to around 30 C before pouring into a sanitised bottling bucket and then run the wort into the bucket. Some good help is here: https://www.brewersfriend.com/stats/
 
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