It's time to clarify units of measurement

willedoo

Well-Known Member
#61
If you take a barrel to be two kilderkins and a kilderkin to be two firkins (which are themselves, of course, nine gallons)

Technically, a Firkin is a specific size of a cask. It is 1/4 barrel or 10.8 gallons. There are other sizes as well Pin (5.4 gallons) and Kilderkin (21.6 gallons). Casks were originally made of wood, used to produce Cask Conditioned beer; also known as Real Ale.

The beer you normally drink is filtered and carbonated with CO2 prior to being kegged. Then it is pushed out of the keg with CO2. Occassionally, nitrogen is used as well. The carbon dioxide is what gives beer it’s “fizzy” characteristic and moves it through the tap system in your local bar or taproom. Cask Conditioned beer is quite different. It is commonly not filtered and not carbonated. Instead, it is placed into the cask while the yeast is still alive so the beer is able to continue to ferment. Fermentation produces CO2 gas which provides some carbonation. But not nearly as much as what is added to modern beer. Since the beer isn’t filtered, the result is a beer that is often cloudy.

Technically, a Cask Conditioned beer should be served using a beer engine aka hand pump (think of the old water well pumps). This is a system that pulls the beer out of the cask. These are quite rare but some traditional pubs will offer this method of serving.The other option is a cask tap which is more or less a faucet that’s driven into the side of the Firkin. Depending on the pressure inside of the Firkin and how accurate the cask tap is struck, it can create quite a mess. Once tapped in this way, gravity takes over and allows the beer to flow through the faucet and out of the Firkin.

Ideally, beer of this style is served around 55 F (12.5 C) but it will be highly dependent on the room temperature as it is not kept in the cooler. That's English warm beer - just like drinking red wine at "room temperature" In the past, the casks were often stored in the basement were it could be kept at that temperature. You must remember that the term "room temperature" refers to the average European room temperature, not 25 C or more on an Australian summer's day. Just think of Density Height. It's based on a Standard Atmosphere of 15 C and 1013 mbar.
old man emu, I brew my own home brew and put it into 50lt kegs. I've heard of people fermenting it in the keg, but I do it the usual way in a plastic container and decant it into the keg when it's finished fermenting. Before the beer goes in the keg, I add sugar as a secondary fermenter ( much the same as the teaspoon of sugar per bottle when bottling, but a lessor proportional amount). It's sugar plus a bit of heated water to make a thin syrup which will go down the spear without blockage.

Next in is the beer straight from the fermentation vat, seal it off and Bob's your uncle. With the secondary fermentation in the keg from the added sugar, there's no need to purge the O2 as it continues to produce CO2 in the keg for a while and carbonates while the keg is resting. A day or two before swapping out kegs in the main fridge, I turn on a second cool down fridge and plonk the warm keg in to cool down. When the old kegs runs out, it's a simple matter of swapping kegs, with the new one already cold, carbonated, and ready to go. It doesn't even need the CO2 bottle turned on for the first 2 or 3 beers, in fact a bit of gas has to be initially let out.

I used to do bottles but it's Fred Flinstone stuff, an ordeal to do and doesn't hold a torch to kegged beer in taste and quality. I brew Coopers home brew and one advantage of 50lt kegs is that you brew in a 60lt container, a double brew, so you can blend beers. I like a darker ale, so I add one can of Coopers Real Ale and one of Coopers Dark Ale. If you like a darker, more bitter ale, then this one's mother's milk. The other trick is to use dry malt as the majority of the fermentable material. With two cans of wort in a 46lt brew, I use 1kg of light dry malt and 250g of raw sugar. I'd estimate the alcohol content at around 3.5%; a good mid strength.

Using the majority malt as a fermenter as opposed to all sugar is like comparing a Maserati to a Volkswagen. It gives a smoother, creamier headed beer and even in the middle of summer, you can use the same glass all night long and it will produce those creamy rings inside the glass with every mouthful. With the right system, anyone can produce world class beer at home. A lot of people make hard work of it, rolling kegs around on the floor to help carbonation and other laborious strange rituals, but it's way easier than that if you know how.
 

old man emu

Well-Known Member
#62
Are your kegs wood, steel or plastic? I think that to make a traditional Conditioned beer you would need to use wooden kegs. I think that flavours would leach from the wood as they do with wine.

Obviously it is not an economic reality nowadays for commercial brewers to use malted grain as the sugar source. I think that the two factors - beer made on malt and beer served at room temperature (10 - 15C) - are the reasons Australians poo! poo! traditional English ale. There's no doubt that a chilled lager-style beer is the thing for cooling down in summer heat, but a Real Ale is a thing to sup on when rugged up an relaxing.
 

Bruce

Well-Known Member
#63
My understanding of brewing in the bottle is that you need great precision with the amount of sugar, otherwise you will cause bottles to burst.
I would love to brew my own but the wife says I drink too much as it is.
 

Old Koreelah

Well-Known Member
#64
My understanding of brewing in the bottle is that you need great precision with the amount of sugar, otherwise you will cause bottles to burst...
Very true, Bruce. I made a strong batch of ginger beer and several large bottles exploded; I had to use a face shield when handling them until I got wise and started using small 270ml beer bottles.
 

old man emu

Well-Known Member
#65
Putting anything in a glass bottle that can cause the internal pressure to rise is dangerous. I had a summer job once, delivering soft drink door-to-door. I was warned to keep the bottles out of direct sunlight as there was a possibility that they could build up pressure by expanding bot gas and liquid, and the bottles could explode due to a weak point in the moulded bottle. Since the bottles were in crates on the tray of a truck, they were at eye level. If they exploded injuries could have been permanent.

Besides, it would be a pain in the rs to have to decant 50 litres of beer into 750 ml bottles, add a dab of sugar and then Crown seal them. That's five and one half dozen bottles. And they have to be sterilised before you start.
 

facthunter

Well-Known Member
#66
OME, the wooding is a bit overdone. and extremely costly, done the traditional way.. Toasted shavings and wood staves have been used as a substitute for the casks which are essentially single use for high quality wines. Wood was used when there was no stainless steel. for casking wine. American oak is too strong generally and overpowers a lot of subtle flavours. You can buy a lot of "unwooded" wines today..
I have been an enthusiastic wine person for years, as I don't particularly like a lot of beers , and was a "dedicated wine grape" grower near Swan Hill in the 90's achieving nationally accepted viticultural qualifications at Mildura TAFE. (because it's nice to have a clue about what you are doing). Australia had, and probably still does have a system where a levy on sales goes to research on many Grape matters and helped Australia achieve the world class wines it's been capable of for many years now.. Smaller privately owned vineyards can achieve a very high standard of grape as large holdings rely on paid outside help which is a varied level of "application" and skill. and get as much as they can from each acre so quantity rather than Quality is often the case. and may skip drainage for short term profit. (The salinity takes a few years). It's a mug's game being a farmer of any kind. You carry all the risk and are never guaranteed a return. Weather, diseases The market, the bank, cost of sprays and equipment. the winery going broke. and not paying etc.. Betting on horses is maybe safer. Nev
 

Marty_d

Well-Known Member
#67
My understanding of brewing in the bottle is that you need great precision with the amount of sugar, otherwise you will cause bottles to burst.
I would love to brew my own but the wife says I drink too much as it is.
I've been brewing and bottling for the last 8 years or so (yes it's a pain in the ass, but at the moment kegging it is not financially viable).
Never had a stubby explode. I've used the same ones over and over again.
You can use sugar, which I have, but far easier to use the carbonation drops which looks like a translucent lolly. Pop one in each stubby (2 for a 750ml), fill with beer, cap and leave in a warm spot for a week or two. I put them in the cupboard above the hot water cylinder.
 

old man emu

Well-Known Member
#68
Obviously to get the flavours of traditional European beers, you would have to use European woods for your casks, and that wood is a dwindling commodity. In this interesting article, the author reports that the use of American oak for beer casks was advised against due to the stronger taste created by American oak. Recreating Medieval English Ales
 

spacesailor

Well-Known Member
#69
bottled beer.
A house in Graystanes NSW .Has or had a lot of 750 sized beer-bottles left under the house as my son-law couldn't get one out without it exploding,
Over sugared for a ladies drink.
Grapes.
A vine was, long ago (before ww 1) taken from Austria to England then to NZ, (great eating but gave a sore anus with large pips)
Was covering a complete garage, about 5 inches thick at the stem, so lots of grapes.
The local winery took a complete crop in return for ONE bottle of wine, they couldn't understand the next refuse'l, which we ate with relish.
spacesailor
 

willedoo

Well-Known Member
#70
Are your kegs wood, steel or plastic? I think that to make a traditional Conditioned beer you would need to use wooden kegs. I think that flavours would leach from the wood as they do with wine.

Obviously it is not an economic reality nowadays for commercial brewers to use malted grain as the sugar source. I think that the two factors - beer made on malt and beer served at room temperature (10 - 15C) - are the reasons Australians poo! poo! traditional English ale. There's no doubt that a chilled lager-style beer is the thing for cooling down in summer heat, but a Real Ale is a thing to sup on when rugged up an relaxing.
old man emu, I've got four steel kegs, one Fourex and three German kegs, all with A type couplers. The German kegs are easy to source. I bought a couple from a small brewer who told me that he paid a $50 deposit on the kegs, and as it's not viable to ship them back to Germany, they sell them for $50 - $60 to get their deposit money back. That seems to be the going rate for most second hand kegs.

Cost of equipment to start kegging was around $400. That included the kegs, two couplers, fittings, regulator and the all important beer tap that is on the side of the fridge. I rent the CO2 bottle from BOC, but will eventually buy one. Cleaning wise, I use laundry booster (sodium percarbonate). No crud will survive that stuff. The best one is the IGA generic brand, Black and Gold, as it doesn't have a heavy perfume, just a very faint lemon smell which doesn't taint anything. When a keg runs dry, I put the coupler on and put two or three litres of water in the keg, give it a swish around, and then turn it upside to drain. That gets rid of any sediment residue. Next step is a funnel in the coupler and gradually blend about a coffee cup of laundry booster while filling the keg with water. Come time to fill the keg with beer, I drain it then refill with about two jugs of boiled water and a swish around to sterilize, drain and then it's good to refill.

The beer I brew is a darker ale. I think home brewed beers like Coopers lager or draught are better with good carbonation and chilled. I find the darker ales are much better with less carbonation and less cold, much like a UK or NZ beer. I've found with the darker ale that if it's as cold and fizzy as a draught beer might be, the taste quality goes down. When I think back to my younger days when we used to have a chuckle about the Poms and Kiwis drinking what we termed warmish, flatish beer, I never thought I'd be happily doing the same one day.
 
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willedoo

Well-Known Member
#71
I've been brewing and bottling for the last 8 years or so (yes it's a pain in the ass, but at the moment kegging it is not financially viable).
Never had a stubby explode. I've used the same ones over and over again.
You can use sugar, which I have, but far easier to use the carbonation drops which looks like a translucent lolly. Pop one in each stubby (2 for a 750ml), fill with beer, cap and leave in a warm spot for a week or two. I put them in the cupboard above the hot water cylinder.
Marty, that's the luxury of brewing in Tasmania. It's easier to keep beer warm but harder to keep it cool without aircon. If it's cool weather, a fish tank heater in the brewing vat set at 22 or 24 degrees does the job. Most of the year in Tasmania, it's below that so the heater keeps it at a constant brewing temperature which also makes for a better beer. Now that summer has hit here in Queensland, I've had to set up an elaborate water evaporative cooling system on the brewing vat, involving gravity fed drip irrigation tubing dripping onto the wet sheet covering the vat etc.. On a 36 degree day, I can keep the brew to about 26 degrees that way. Last summer, before I had that cooling system going, I lost several brews to the extreme heat. For a drinking man, that's unacceptable.

There's a lot of reasons I'm moving to Tasmania, but easier brewing will definitely be a side benefit of it.

Just as a side note Marty, I started kegging early this year and was fortunate enough to have a mate in Tasmania who started doing it several months before me. He's the sort of bloke that goes full on with anything he does, so with lots of internet research and trial and error, he quickly got it down to a fine art. When I started, he walked me through the whole thing. It would have been a bit daunting starting from scratch, so if one day you decide to start kegging, it's so much easier if someone experienced can point you in the right direction.

Cheers, Willie.
 
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Marty_d

Well-Known Member
#72
Marty, that's the luxury of brewing in Tasmania. It's easier to keep beer warm but harder to keep it cool without aircon. If it's cool weather, a fish tank heater in the brewing vat set at 22 or 24 degrees does the job. Most of the year in Tasmania, it's below that so the heater keeps it at a constant brewing temperature which also makes for a better beer. Now that summer has hit here in Queensland, I've had to set up an elaborate water evaporative cooling system on the brewing vat, involving gravity fed drip irrigation tubing dripping onto the wet sheet covering the vat etc.. On a 36 degree day, I can keep the brew to about 26 degrees that way. Last summer, before I had that cooling system going, I lost several brews to the extreme heat. For a drinking man, that's unacceptable.

There's a lot of reasons I'm moving to Tasmania, but easier brewing will definitely be a side benefit of it.

Just as a side note Marty, I started kegging early this year and was fortunate enough to have a mate in Tasmania who started doing it several months before me. He's the sort of bloke that goes full on with anything he does, so with lots of internet research and trial and error, he quickly got it down to a fine art. When I started, he walked me through the whole thing. It would have been a bit daunting starting from scratch, so if one day you decide to start kegging, it's so much easier if someone experienced can point you in the right direction.

Cheers, Willie.
Mate, I will happily accept guidance from you... I do eventually want to keg it.
 

Yenn

Well-Known Member
#73
When my father had a pub in Britain we used to have Pin, Fitkin and Kildekin barrels and I thought they were 4.5, 9 and 18 gallons. UK gallons not US gallons. Maybe that is why the figures quoted by Willido look wrong.
 

willedoo

Well-Known Member
#74
Yenn, the steel pub kegs I use are 50 litre kegs which replaced the old 10 gallon kegs (Imperial gallons). 50 litres is close to 11 gallons. A can of home brew wort usually makes 23 litres of beer, about 30 bottles or 60 stubbies.

Into that keg goes two 23 litre brews totaling 46 litres, leaving 4 litres of air space in the keg. The larger plastic fermenting tubs come in a 60 litre capacity, so with 46 litres of beer fermenting in it, it leaves about 14 litres worth of airspace.

The UK kegs sound similar to what we used to have. Fourex used to come in 5, 10 and 18 gallon kegs from memory.

Cheers, Willie.
 

spacesailor

Well-Known Member
#75
I have always found,
It's cooler beneath the ground level. I keep my Fuel in the Mechanics pit & that seems to stay at 25c, even thro the garage hits 45c.
The pit is vented with a Black steel rain drain pipe.
Outside it's cooler sitting under the garden trees, for lunch than running the air conditioner.
spacesailor
 
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