If you are not currently oxygenating or aerating your wort, you have probably seen products for doing so promoted on home brewing supply websites or seen them at your local home brewing store.
Beer and oxygen have somewhat of a strange love and hate relationship. There are specific times in the home brewing process when oxygen is desired and yet other times when it is despised. We are going to discuss one of the few times when oxygen is considered beneficial and desired in the brewing process.
After you have completed your boil and have cooled your wort down to under 80 F in preparation for pitching your yeast, introducing oxygen into the wort by either aerating it or injecting pure oxygen into it becomes beneficial. The reason for this is that oxygen is essential for yeast reproduction and cell growth. Your beer yeast, both ale or lager goes through a growing and reproduction phase prior to beginning active fermentation and converting sugars to alcohol and CO2. To insure that this process completes as quickly and as effectively as possible, it is critical that you introduce a sufficient amount of oxygen into your cooled wort. After this initial wort aeration process, you will typically want to avoid oxygen at all costs as it will oxidize your beer and potentially create undesired off flavors such as skunky notes in your beers flavor.
As mentioned earlier, there are several options available to oxygenating or aerating your beer if you do not want to stir your bucket from 30 minutes or swish around your carboy for half an hour. The two most common options are oxygen injection kits and aeration pumps. Both of these processes typically utilize a stainless steel diffusion stone to help the wort absorb more of the oxygen as it bubbles through the wort.
Above is a photo of a home brewing aeration pump. This is the system that I personally use for my home brewing setup. It pumps air into your fermenter via a pump that has an attached filter and stainless air diffusion stone. I like it because you do not need to stock oxygen tanks and the cost of using it is lower. You will want to allow it to aerate your wort for approximately 30 minutes prior to pitching the yeast.
If you are interested in purchasing a home brewing aeration or oxygenation kit, several can be found here:
A saying that typically holds true in home brewing is that you get what you pay for, but that is not always the case! Do not always get drawn in to the most expensive home brewing products, thinking that they are superior to their less expensive counterparts. One example of this is home brewing racking canes used to transfer your home brew.
When I first started home brewing, some of the first items that I purchased were my extract ingredient kit, 5 gallon stove top brewing kettle, wort chiller, fermentation bucket and my auto siphon racking cane. The only item that I still use from that initial purchase is that old $12 racking cane. It is not that I have not wanted to replace it, I have. I have purchased $20 stainless steel racking cane setups to transfer my beer, but none have been as effective, sanitary or as unlikely to oxidize my beer as my old trusty auto siphon racking cane.
The home brewing auto siphon is a fantastic racking cane that makes it very simple to transfer your beer from a primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter or to a keg. It can also make bottling your beer a snap. Here are some simple instruction on how to use an auto siphon racking cane.
1 – Sanitize the auto siphon racking cane and the container you will be transferring to.
2 – Submerge the auto siphon into the fermenter, just above the yeast cake as not to disturb it.
3 – Place the the tubing into the container you’re racking to.
4 – Slowly pull the inner tube of the auto siphon up from the body until the liquid fills the tube. You will want to make sure that the base of the container that you are transferring from is higher then the fill line of the container that you are transferring to so that you will not disrupt the flow of the auto siphon once the siphon has began.
5 – Depress the inner tube of the auto siphon back down and siphoning will begin.
it is that easy to rack or transfer your beer. If you are in the market to purchase a home brewing racking cane or auto siphon, you can find them here at a reasonable price.
When you think about it, a good home brewer spends a great deal of time on his or her craft and their finished product should be properly shown and celebrated. Like many home brewers I keg the majority of my home brewed beer because it is so much easier and less time consuming then bottling. Yet every once in a while when I brew a very special beer that I want to be able to share with a large group of people, I will go through the extra effort of bottling. I figure that if I am going to spend this extra time, I might as well do it right. There are a couple of easy things that you can do to make your beer bottle really stand out.
For instance, I brewed a sour about a year ago that I decided that I was going to bottle. I spent a great deal of time planing out the beer, brewing the beer, and tending to it during its year long fermentation. When it came time to bottle it, I wanted to do it right. I ended up using a Belgian corkable bottle, purchase a floor corker, corks and cork hoods. Finally the last step was applying labels. For the bottle shown above I used a GarageMonk.com vinyl label that worked perfectly. It was easy to apply and best of all, does not bubble up or fall off when water condenses on the outside of the bottle. Garage Monk has a variety of color and designs available and if your are in the market for labels, I encourage you to check out what they have to offer.
If you are looking to for specialty Belgian home brewing corks, corkers or cork hoods, Morebeer has a good selection of them available here: Home Brewing Corks, Corkers and Cork Hoods