V01.00, Oct. 21, 1999


Traditional methods for putting up beer are a lot of work and have many risks. This approach minimzes the labor, minimizes long-term costs, and reduces the risk of contamination. After all, why brew a quality beer so some bug can convert it into something only Mr. Toilet would enjoy. The key componets are:

Getting Started

You'll need the following:

Sterilize Everything

Unlike chemicals, steam sterilization leaves no residue; is virtually free; and is no more hazardous than cooking. The key is using a directed steam generator, a pressure cooker with a steam vent. Put all of the small parts, bungs and caps, into an open container inside of the pressure cooker. A small abount of water, ~.5 inch or 1 cm., in the bottom is enough (Note to singles: a pressure cooker is a "time machine" that allows you to make really taste but otherwise long cooking dishes in a very short time. WARNING: too much time will introduce you to the liquid diet!):

Put the pressure cooker on the stove and fire it up to max. When the steam streams out, cut the heat down a bit but keep it coming:

Put your keg on the open vent and let the live steam sterilize the interior. How do you know if it is ready?

We use the magic of steam tables! It turns out that at sea level on a standard day, steam will condense until the object it is touching reaches a temperature of 212 degrees F (100 degrees C for the metricly challanged). Since water at 212 degrees F at the same pressure will evaporate or boil away, we put a little dab of water on the outside of the container and know it is done when the water "boils" away:

Also sterilize the "overflow" containers. For "gift" bottles, simply put them on the steam outlet and wait until the volume of water excaping decreases (See figure). As for "Gorsh" bottles, this is left as an accademic exercise with three answers and only one uses the word "oven." Full credit requires all three answers.

The beer has to be moved from the primary fermenter to the kegs but we don't want to infect it with beer loving bacteria ( extremely small critters, about the size of the brains of a creationist) that need to be "cooked." So we put one end of the siphon on the steam vent and let it flow until condensed water no longer spitts out the end:

Opps, we forgot to include "THE BEER." In this particular example, 2.5 gallons of Bob's Standard Mead is being kegged (See figure). The reason for siphoning the mead is to minimize the amount of spent yeast in the final product. Although the yeast has done a wonderful job converting fermentable sugars to alcohol as well as some subtle taste vectors, yeast in large quantities makes the most horrible tasting cheese seem a treat. Thus the siphon with the sediment trap serves to minimize floating and settled yeast in the final product:

Pry off the remaining valve cover and the final product is exposed. Take a whiff and if everything worked "OK," your mind will recall that best-beer of your youth or home-made bread fresh from the oven:

Put the siphon in the beer and without using your contaminated mouth, prime it. Hint: pinch the plastic tube to block air flow and tilt the solid tube to establish a column of liquid. If this is too difficult, you have flunked and might as well lay on the floor and begin sucking on the tube until the beer is gone or you lose consciousness.

Fill the kegs and after WASHING YOUR HANDS (you filthy beast!) assemble the bung so the plug can be pushed out by the tap. Then using sterilized screw drivers and skill, install the bung in the filled kegs. As for the excess bottles, use standard practices.

Congratulations! You have finished the second semester of Bob's Homebrewing course. Practice often and refine your technique and style. When you have found what works for you, let Bob know by sending him a sample.

Bob Wilson

who hangs out in 'hsv.general.'