Drying Made Easy: The FastRack and Carboy Dryer

When it comes to choosing a storage vessel for your homebrew, bottles are probably the most obvious option for homebrewers both new and old. Bottling homebrew is a great choice for those starting out because bottles are easily accessible and can be reused time and time again. They’re also great for their versatility in being able to store smaller individual servings in many settings and for ease of transportation.

Homebrew Bottles

Seasoned homebrewers also like using bottles for bottle conditioning which allows the beer to further mature and develop over time in a safe and secure package that can be easily stored for long periods of time. Regardless of why you may choose to use bottles to store your brew, one thing homebrewers can agree on is that a big disadvantage of bottles is the inconvenience they present when it comes to cleaning and drying them.

While most all-inclusive brewing kits come with a bottle brush and sanitizer to clean bottles they almost never include a tool for drying and storing them. To remedy this, many use dish racks, some even roll up paper towels and insert them into the bottle, and others may simply balance them upside down on a cloth or paper towel. However, these are all bad ideas for one reason or another, with the biggest issue being that some part of the bottle is coming in contact with another surface that is most likely unsanitary.
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The Ins & Outs of a Kegerator

Beer is best when served fresh, cold, and on draft. Half the cost of canned and bottled of beer, kegged beer is a cost-efficient way to enjoy your favorite beverage. A kegerator makes this enjoyment possible, and depending on your beer buying frequency, can paying for itself in just a matter of months. It’s kegonomics, really.

Kegerator Anatomy

Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of this aptly named beer dispenser.

Components & Tools Used in Assembly

If you purchase a complete kegerator, all components and tools necessary for assembly will be provided for you.

However, if you’re building your own custom kegerator, you’ll need to be sure you have the following components and tools:
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How Long Does A Keg Remain Fresh?

Due to a variety of beer styles and storage options for your keg, there’s no set answer to this question. Depending on who you ask or what site you read, the answer will range between 20-120 days.

There are many variables that can play a role in how quickly your kegged beer starts to alter in taste, but a general rule to keep in mind is that as soon as that keg is filled at the brewery, the “freshness clock” starts. As time goes by, your beer will slowly start to taste less and less fresh.

How Are You Dispensing Your Beer?

To give you a better idea of how long your keg will last, let’s take a look at the two most common scenarios that one would find themselves in when they tap a keg.

1. Using a Manual Pump:

Manual Keg Pump

Commonly found attached to the top of kegs at house parties and backyard cookouts, the manual pump — sometimes called a bronco pump or party pump — works by pumping air into the keg, pressurizing it so that it can dispense your beer. If you’ve ever poured a beer out of a keg, then you’re probably familiar with this kind of pump, as well as the problems that come along with it, such as over-pumping and excessively foamy beer.
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The Homebrewer’s Guide to Secondary Fermentation

If you are new to brewing your own beer, it is important that you learn how the process of fermentation works and the steps you should take to make the perfect homebrew. For some beers, you may want to follow a secondary fermentation process. This conditioning process is a little more complicated, but if you understand the phases, you will be a pro-brewer in no time.

Here’s our tips for understanding the process of secondary fermentation, how it works and when you should do it.

Understanding the Phases of Fermentation

In order to make beer, you must allow it to ferment for a short period of time. The first few phases of fermentation occur fairly quickly. In the aerobic phases, or first phase, the yeast cells become accustomed to their environment and begin to multiply. This multiplication happens very quickly, but not a lot of alcohol is produced.

Oxygen is needed during this phase by the yeast for it to work. The first phase lasts a few hours and you will not be able to see what is going on unless you have a microscope. Once this process is complete, it moves into the anaerobic phase, where the yeast will metabolize the sugars into Ethanol and CO2. This reaction causes there to be foam, or krausen, at the top of the beer that is fermenting. This active phase of fermentation will usually last anywhere from a few days to a whole week.

Towards the end of this phase, the foam will subside and the yeast cells will die or go dormant, falling to the bottom of the container. However, not all of the cells will do this. A few of them will ferment slowly for several more weeks in the conditioning phase.
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7 Beer Products You Need for an MVP Football Party

Football Party

There are a lot of details to make sure you get covered before you host a party worthy of Sunday’s Big Game. After all, it’s the end of the season. A party is a must.

Regardless of what your football party strategy is, there is no doubt that beer is going to play a key role in your party’s success. There are a lot of different ways to can manage the flow of beer depending upon what types of beer your guests enjoy.

Take a look at this year’s top seven beer items that will make you and your party the MVP of the season.
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Winter Warmers: A Beer Style Designed to Keep You Warm

Winter warmers are another wildly popular seasonal amongst beer geeks. As the name implies, this seasonal is only brewed in the winter and all have a slightly higher ABV to help “keep you warm” during the holiday season.

What is a Winter Warmer?

Winter Beer

For centuries now, beer with higher-than-usual amounts of alcohol has been brewed in the fall and winter months. Nobody is quite sure when the name “winter warmer” was applied to this style, but the name still rings true as this type of beer will definitely keep you warm on a chilly night.

The most notable feature of a winter warmer is the higher-than-average amount of alcohol that you will find within them. While there are no set guidelines of what ABV this style should have, you will generally find that they have an ABV of 5.25-8.0%. In some cases, you will find that this reaches up to 10%, but that is definitely not the norm for a winter beer.

Other than more alcohol, winter beers typically will have a large malty backbone with very little hoppy bitterness. Whatever hop flavor there is will be balanced, to not take away from the malty sweetness this style is known for. You will also notice that the flavor will be full and bold with a medium to heavy body. The color of a winter warmer will be darker, ranging from dark red to deep black.

Some brewers will toss in a few select spices to give their winter warmer a different kind of bite. While this isn’t necessary for this style, it is quite common nowadays. Winter beers from breweries in the United States are known to have an eclectic palate of spices, whereas those from England and other parts of the world are less likely to have these extra ingredients.
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Top 10 Gifts for the Beer Snob in Your Life

The holiday season is officially here. The Christmas lights are up in my neighborhood, the house smells like a fresh tree and my daughter keeps asking me when Santa is coming over. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s definitely that time of year again.

No matter what you celebrate, it’s quite possible that you’re looking for gift ideas for that special someone in your life. In this case, that special someone is your favorite beer snob. Here’s a list of my favorite beer-related gift ideas that any beer geek is guaranteed to enjoy.

Listed in order of price, starting with the lowest, here are the best ten beer gifts to get for your favorite beer snob.
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REVIEW: Prohibition Ale from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
Location: San Francisco, CA
Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 6.10%
IBU: 45
Appearance: Warm, Deep Reddish Hue; Light, Fluffy, Tan Head
Aroma: Complex; Citrusy, Piney & Spicy Florals
Flavor: Sweet; Malty with Toasted Grain & Caramel Notes
Availability: Year-round — Bottle & Draft
Pairs With: Cheeseburgers, BBQ Chicken, Pizza

Before the terrifying days of Prohibition, the United States was chock full of small breweries – over 3,000, in fact.

Unlike the middle of the 20th century, it was easy for a large town to have multiple traditional brewers. The Prohibition put many of these brewers out of business, and most of them got rid of their hardware and moved on to different careers. Some of them resorted to brewing sodas and other non-alcoholic drinks, keeping the equipment in shape for post-Prohibition recovery. Some of these also may have brewed some beer on the side, supplying alcoholic beverages to illegal drinking establishments, known as speakeasies.

It’s with a wink and a nod to this dark period in beer history that Speakeasy Ales and Lagers has named its brewing company, and its beers. With names like Bootlegger Black Lager and Untouchable Pale Ale, there’s a clear theme running through the brews. Their flagship beer, Prohibition Ale, is a hugely popular amber ale that is one of the most widely available beers in the San Francisco area, where Speakeasy is based out of.

Speakeasy Prohibition Ale

Appearance

The label is a striking red and white on black backing affair, evoking movie posters from the Prohibition era. A man stands outside of a speakeasy, dame on his arm, a pair of eyes looking back at him. Very artistic, and a label worth keeping.

Pour it out into the recommended English pint or shaker glass, and it will have a warm, deep reddish amber hue to it. The head is very light tan, fluffy, and leaves some great lacing around the glass.

Aroma

The aroma is complex, with a number of scents from hops coming through. Citrus is the most obvious, especially the grapefruit that tends to come from the West Coast hops used in this beer – Chinook, Cascade, and Centennial. This is followed by some pine notes and spices, all of which is underscored by the slightly sweet and bready caramel malt base

Flavor

The taste has a sweet, malty backbone to it that shines the whole way through. There are notes of toasted grain and caramel underneath the maltiness. While the hops come through in the aroma, they are a bit more subdued in the taste. There is still the mildly bitter, lightly citrus flavor throughout, with a very light finish too it, no real hops sting on the end of a mouth full.

Tasting Notes

Prohibition Ale is creamy, with a medium-to-light body. It has average carbonation, not overpowering, allowing for a smooth finish. It is a brew that is incredibly easy to drink, no severe bitterness, and while not overwhelming in any one area, it is an all-around star. The mid-range alcohol by volume means that this beer toes the sessionable line, and it definitely drinks like it. It is an outstanding beer, but if you’re looking for an amazing flavor experience, it might not be the one for you.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

A favorite in the San Francisco area since it was founded in 1997 by Steve Bruce and Forest Gray, Speakeasy has only recently expanded its distribution area. The company has attributed making it this long in the competitive California market to not overstepping its bounds and staying traditional – they still use their original hands-on, steam-fired brewhouse to produce the beer, with no computers involved in the process.

The majority of their beers are simple and flavorful. They do produce some experimental batches now and again, but these beers are only available at their tap room or their brewery. The company has the feeling of one where the folks involved are doing something they enjoy, and not pushing themselves to be overly successful or to push the boundaries, but simply to have fun and make a living at the same time.

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REVIEW: BridgePort India Pale Ale from BridgePort Brewing Co.

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: BridgePort Brewing Co.
Location: Portland, OR
Style: American India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 5.50%
IBU: 50
Appearance: Slightly Hazy, Warm Yellow Body
Aroma: Pleasant, Light Citrus & Pine Florals
Flavor: Balanced; Earthy & Grassy, Doughy & Malty
Availability: Year-round — Bottle & Draft
Pairs With: Grilled Lamb, Curry, Gorgonzola, Carrot Cake

Everyone knows that Oregon is the state to be in if you want a craft beer in America. It has the second highest number of breweries per capita of any state, and the fourth highest amount overall. It is home to the city with the most breweries – Portland has 52 in the city limits, with an additional 19 sitting just outside in the major metropolitan area. It is also one of the most historic places for craft beer, with microbreweries dating back over 30 years.

If you want to talk about Oregon beer, you have to start with the granddaddy of the bunch, BridgePort Brewing Company and their flagship beer, BridgePort India Pale Ale. It is a beer that has won awards in multiple decades and in multiple countries, and that is ranked highly by a number of publications world-wide. Often this can be misleading, as many highly-touted beers merely hold cult appeal, like exclusive Belgians often touted as “best in the world.” In the case of BridgePort’s India Pale Ale, it has definitely earned its praise, and is a beer that can be enjoyed my every craft beer drinker, not just those with tastes for certain styles.

Appearance

Bridgeport IPA

To start off with, it has a wonderfully unassuming appearance. The bottle itself is rather plain, while when you pour it out into a pint glass, it has a slightly hazy, warm yellow body. The pour will produce an average-sized, off-white head that sticks around for a bit, and leaves good lacing. Altogether pleasant, if not a bit unimpressive.

Aroma

The nose is that of light floral, citrus and pine aromas, the hops are definitely pleasant and the main feature, but are not punchy or overwhelming. There is a certain fresh grain aroma as well, fairly faint but definitely there. It lends a doughy, bready aroma to the overall smell of the beer.

Flavor

The taste is incredibly balanced, with the right touches throughout. There is a solid base of pale malts, producing a touch of sweetness. The citrusy hops are much more pronounced in the taste, as they take over and are the main flavor. There are a wide mix of tasting notes – earthy and grassy, doughy and malty. The flavor is more akin to a British IPA than the usual West Coast IPAs that this will invariably draw comparisons to due to locale. The bottle conditioning also adds a hint of yeast character, but not enough to be off-putting.

Tasting Notes

This India Pale Ale has a body that is on the light end of the medium range, with lively carbonation that may be a bit too much for the style. It is one of the dryer IPAs around, with slightly oily lingering on the tongue afterword, but it fades quickly.

This is not a brutal hops assault, as many craft beer drinkers have come to expect from an India Pale Ale. This has lead to many of the hop-heads looking for outrageous IBU numbers and obsessions with trying to name the hops in a beer to address the brew with a bit of derision. The fact is that BridgePort India Pale Ale is one of the most well-balanced and pleasant IPAs out there, an IPA for folks who don’t really like IPAs. It won’t dissolve the enamel off of your teeth or destroy your palate for the day – the bitterness is moderate, and easy to get past.

BridgePort IPA Label

BridgePort India Pale Ale has also earned plenty of recognition from critics, with a number of awards hanging around its longneck. These include a gold medal at the World Beer Championship, two silver medals at the World Beer Cup, a gold at the Brewing Industry International Awards in Germany, and two silver medals at the Australian International Beer Awards. This amount of worldwide awards demonstrates just how well balanced and easy to appreciate this beer is.

The BridgePort Brewery touts itself as “Oregon’s Oldest Craft Brewery,” although that can be debated. What can’t be debated is that when Oregon opened up to craft beer, BridgePort was one of the first in the pool, opening in 1984 and continuing to be one of the state’s largest producer today. Founded by local winemakers, it was later bought by Gambrinus, who expanded its capacity hundreds of times over, going from 600 barrels per year in the early nineties to 100,000 barrels currently. All that time, BridgePort India Pale Ale has stood tall as their flagship beer, and looks to do so for another 30 years.

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Hard Cider 101: History, Brands & How to Make Your Own

Glass of Hard Cider

With the holiday season quickly approaching, many people are starting to drink more and more hard cider. Unfortunately, everyone else may not have a thorough understanding of what exactly this type of beverage is, and how it differs from its non-alcoholic counterpart.

Most commonly made from fermented apple juice, hard cider is a widely popular alcoholic beverage across the world, especially in the United Kingdom. In the United States, however, cider is a noticeable weaker drink and lacks some of the distinct apple flavor that makes it so delicious. It must be noted that while apple is the most common type of cider, it’s also commonly made using other fruits.

Let’s take a closer look at the history of this delicious beverage, how you can make your own and the most popular brands to start you off.

The History of Cider

Hard apple cider has existed for as long as humans have been fermenting fruit juices; that is, at least a couple millennium. Historians aren’t quite sure who actually invented cider, but the first written account of the beverage comes from Roman invaders in Britain in 55 BC. It’s said that Julius Caesar was a big fan of the drink. Because of this, it’s believed that the Romans perfected the art of making cider by introducing advanced cultivation techniques leading to it becoming one of the most popular beverages throughout Europe.

In the United States, cider was once common enough that many families had an apple orchard on their property specifically for the purpose of making cider. In fact, it was so popular in the early colonies, that it wasn’t uncommon for people to pay their debts and taxes with cider. It was also common practice for children to drink a diluted version of it. It’s estimated that the average denizen of apple-growing regions drank at least a pint of cider a day.
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