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BOTTLING
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Bottle Tree, 90 Peg

L-4816 Store clean bottles upside down
$39.99
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Slide your bottles over the pins on this tree, and they drip dry whilestaying free of airborne dust and particles. Choose from fixed base or a rotating tree that allows for easy access on a crowded kitchen counter.

CUSTOMER QUESTIONS
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4/29/2007 -- I purchased a Muntons Gold Continental Pilsner kit. It does not contain a priming sugar. I can not find any corn sugar in my area but I have read where honey can be used instead. How much honey would I use to prime 5 gallons of beer? Would I disolve it in hot water just like the corn sugar? Does the type of honey make a difference...clover, orange blossom...?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, honey can be used and is in fact a great priming agent. It results in a creamier head with more head retention.

The type of honey really doesn't matter as you don't use enough for it to affect the flavor of the finished beer. However, I have a friend in Iowa who matches his honey to his batch (clover or wildflower for a wheat, buckwheat for a braggot, etc.) You can always experiment with it if you have an inclination to do so.

I recommend using 3/4 cup, dissolved in hot water and added to the bottling bucket just like you would with corn sugar. Honey will give you slightly more carbonation than corn sugar (thus the smaller amount), but it will take a little longer to carbonate properly since honey is a complex sugar. I would give it 1-1/2 times the conditioning time that you would for the same batch with corn sugar.

1/10/2007 -- Is there a maximum amount of time that you can let the wort sit? Will it ever go bad? Does it affect the taste by not bottling it after it is finished fermenting?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: If you're fermenting in a plastic bucket, we recommend no more than 4 weeks in the fermenter. This is because plastic will eventually allow an air exchange, and the wort can start to oxidize after about 30 days.

For glass or ceramic fermenters, we recommend no more than about 6 weeks in the primary and no more than another 6 weeks in the secondary (if used). This is because eventually the yeast that has dropped to the bootom will begin to break down into microscopic waste and come back into solution, giving the beer an off-flavor. This is called autolyzation.

12/29/2006 -- In my fermenter, the bubbling has ceased. I am just asking how long after is a good time to put it in the bottles?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Once the bubbles have ceased, and the liquid in the airlock does not show any indication that there is any pressure coming out of the carboy, you can bottle the beer at any time.

7/14/2006 -- I started a batch of mead for the first time today and I realized I have no idea how to bottle anything! Do I just need wine bottles, cork, and a corker?

I see you have a few different corkers. Do they all do the job the same, or do I need a particular one for this?

I wanted to add that I was very suprised when I got my kit from you today. I think that's the fastest I've ever recived something by mail! Many thanks!

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: First, thanks for the feedback. We like to hear when we do things right, and we love hearing that we've made a customer happy.

Bottling mead is actually a simple prospect. Since you specified that you want the mead to age, you will need to use corks. Both natural corks and Neocorks will allow the aging process to take place (Neocorks are nominally porous).

The cheapest option is to reuse commercial wine bottles with natural corks (I recommend #8 if the bottle is European and #9 if it's American) using the plastic plunger hand corker. As long as the commerical bottles have been washed and sanitized, you can continue to reuse them until they break. The only trouble with commercial bottles is that they hold nearly 26 ounces of liquid, so if you are a sipper rather than a drinker, and you aren't taking bottles to a party, they're a little inconvenient. If you can find the half-sized bottles (splits), they can also be used with the #7 natural cork.

Of course, new bottles are available through home brew shops like us, however they come in full cases and are expensive to ship; so if you are only brewing a gallon at a time, they're a little inconvenient.

As for other equipment, I would recommend the following:
1. Racking cane - this is a hard plastic tube that makes siphong from the fermenter a lot easier. It includes a hard plastic tip to limit the amount of sediment that gets sucked up
2. Siphon hose - about 4 feet
3. Bottle filler (also called a bottling wand) - this allows you to fill the bottles to exactly the right depth for proper aging and corking, and will also help hold the siphon when moving from one bottle to the other without having to use a clamp

If you start doing mead batches in larger amounts, you may also want to invest in a bottling bucket. You can bottle directly from the fermenter, but your last bottle will get more sediment that way. If you start working with 3-gallon or 5-gallon batches, a bottling bucket allows you to transfer the mead off the yeast sediment and allow it to settle again before transferring to the bottle.

5/15/2006 -- I have brewed a batch of your Honey Nut Cheerio recipe and am ready to bottle it. It does not come with bottling sugar, nor is any listed on the recipe. How much do you recommend? I usually use 3/4 cup. Also, if I use honey, how do I prepare it? I assume it should be boiled with some water first, as we do with bottling sugar?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Because of the honey option, we specifically do not have added priming sugar for the Honey Nut Cheerio. However, we should probably include priming instructions in the recipe. Thanks for bringing that shortfall to my attention, as I'm certain you're not the only one to run into the same issue.

That being said, if I were to use corn sugar, I would probably go with a full cup. However, as you mentioned, priming with honey actually enhances the flavor and head retention of honey-based beers more than any other. So, I would recommend using honey. Since honey is a little more volatile than sugar (due to the fructose content), I recommend using a little less - usually between 2/3 and 3/4 cup. I prepare it by steeping in a quart of hot water (just under boiling point) until completely dissolved, then pouring it into the bottling bucket and siphoning the beer in on top of it. The conditioning period will run about 1.5 times longer than it would for corn sugar... about 2 to 3 weeks or so to build up good carbonation.

Another option is to use dry malt extract, dissolved in boiling water the same way you would prep corn sugar. Since DME is only 70% to 80% efficient, I generally go a little more than I would with corn sugar... about 1-1/4 to 1-1/3 cup in a quart of water.

5/3/2006 -- Priming 5 gallons of beer with honey instead of corn sugar for better head sounds great, but how much honey would I use?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: A good rule of thumb when priming is 1-1/3 cup DME = 1 cup sugar = 3/4 cup honey. You can use that conversion and adjust your honey amount for whatever priming agent your recipe calls for. I generally recommend between 2/3 cup and 3/4 cup honey for most beers.

10/24/2005 -- What does "overprimed" mean?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Priming is the addition of fermentable sugar (sugar, malt, or honey) to a finished beer prior to bottling or kegging. Residual yeast in the beer will feed on the sugar and put off small amounts of carbon dioxide. Since the bottle or keg is sealed, the carbon dioxide will be forced back into the solution, carbonating the beer.

We say that a beer is overprimed if too much sugar is added, or if the beer is bottled while it is still fermenting, resulting in an explosive event.

10/24/2005 -- What does OG, FG, SG mean?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: These are all acronyms referring to specific gravities (SG). Specific gravity refers to the density of liquid. The international standard is pure water which has a specific gravity of 1.000. Liquids that are more dense than water have a higher number. In brewing, we measure the amount of alcohol in a beverage by subtracting the final gravity (FG) from the original gravity (OG) and multiplying the result by a constant. Because sugars in the liquid make it more dense, the OG will be higher. Alcohol is less dense than water, and as alcohol replaces the sugar in the fermentation process, the gravity will drop.

8/2/2005 -- Can I bottle my mead in flip-top Grolsch-style bottles? Will this have any negative effects?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Yes, you can. In fact, the partners are both historical brewers, and like using the flip-top bottles to enhance presentation. There is no negative effect, although we recommend using fresh rubber grommets to ensure a tight seal. Also, if you use the clear flip-tops, you will want to keep the mead out of direct sunlight.

4/22/2005 -- Do you have a kit for bottling soda pop? Do you have a 20-lb Co2 tank?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: We do have the equipment necessary to bottle soda pop. There are two ways to do it - through bottle conditioning (using yeast to carbonate the soda in the bottle) or force carbonation (using co2 to carbonate soda pop in the keg and bottle from the keg.) Bottling equipment for the first method runs about $25-$30 (bottling bucket, plastic hose with bottling wand, capper.) The bottling equipment for force carbonation is exactly the same as for beer - a co2 tank, cornelius keg, counterpressure bottle filler, hoses and connectors, and capper - total for all would be near $300.

We currently only carry the 5-pound co2 tank. However, I can ask our supplier about the availability of a 20-pound tank. In the past, we have generally recommended using a tank-exchange service (available at most propane/natural gas dealers) due to the expense of maintaining the tanks.

3/19/2005 -- I noticed there are a lot of different choices of cleaning agents. What's the basic difference between a "cleanser" and a "sterilizer"?

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The basic difference between a cleanser and a sterilizer is that a cleanser is designed to remove dirt, grime, stains, etc. while a sanitizer is designed to kill bacteria. The important thing to remember in brewing is that your equipment needs to be both CLEAN and STERILE; so in some cases, both agents may be required.

Cleansers typically include some kind of soap or detergent agent. Tri-sodium phosphate is common in some of the stronger agents, while other (less caustic) chemicals show up in products like oxy-clean, washing soda, powder brew wash, etc. For the most part, there is some caustic activity when using these products since they are designed to break down dirt and either eliminate it or make it easier to scrub off. The single most important thing to remember is that most of these products need to be rinsed thoroughly in order to avoid having them affect the flavor, fermentation, or carbonation of your beverages.

Sanitizers are a different thing altogether. Some sanitizing agents may include a cleanser (such as the ever-popular no-rinse cleanser), while others are strictly anti-bacterials. In most cases, sanitizers will not attack stains or built-up dirt/grime, although I've found that the hot water I use with sanitizers will cause some of that to loosen up. Some sanitizers kill on contact while others require a set period of time (usually noted on the label). The other things to remember about sanitizers is that some of them leave a residue, or may be detrimental to the material you are using them on. For instance, household bleach is a popular sanitizer for brewers. However, bleach tends to leave a mild residue on the inside of glass carboys that can build up over time. Also, bleach will cause a caustic reaction with stainless steel, and can really mess up the inside of your cornie kegs with frequent exposure. Iodophor (or any other iodine based sanitizer) will stain plastic buckets after one or two uses.

Bottom line - if it looks dirty or stained, use a cleanser and a scrub brush to get it clean. No matter what it looks like, use a sanitizer to get it sterile.

12/7/2004 -- I bought some caps from you a few months back that worked EXTREMELY WELL!!!! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am with them. Problem is that I need more, but I'm only seeing gold on your site and I bought silver and black before. Are you going to get more of them in or am I looking in the wrong spot? Thank you so much! Keep up the AWESOME work!!!!!

Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: I double checked on the bottle caps today. I have good news and bad. The good news is that our current supplier has 4 "designs" available besides the plain gold. The bad news is that none of them are the silver and black. We are limited to what our suppliers have, as different designs come and go.

The other good news is that with the exception of the "real beer" caps, they are all from the same manufacturer; so they should perform as well as the caps you bought previously. Oh - and we also have plain silver oxygen-barrier caps. These are caps with an oxygen-absorbing seal that help prevent oxidation in bottled beer.

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