Back in my day, if you were a home brewer and wanted to ferment your beer, you only had a few options. You could ferment in a bathtub, plastic bucket, glass carboy or perhaps if you liked to hang out at the Renaissance Faire a bit too much you might ferment your beer in a wooden barrel.
Image courtesy of Angelfire
But now a days with home brewing growing so rapidly in popularity we have it easy and there are a variety of fermenter options we can choose from! So wipe that mascara and tears from your eyes pirate man, because home brewers can now brew with small scale versions of what pro brewers use and for relatively low prices. As a matter of fact, right now you can pick up a 14 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter for $495. Click here for more details. These are not some piece of junk fermenter either, they are the real deal, constructed from Food Grade 304 Stainless Steel. Here are some specs on the stainless conicals:
Rotating Stainless Steel Racking Arm
60° cone for yeast harvesting and cleaning
Weldless thermowell included
1.5” Tri-Clamp Fittings on the lid, side and bottom
Molded Silicone Gasket for airtight Lid seal.
Pressure relief valve included
Spring-Loaded Lid Clamps hold Lid in place
The fermenter is pressurizeable to 5 PSI for beer transfers
Electrically etched (not painted) gallon markings
Stainless Steel Homebrewing Fermenters
You can pick up a 7 gallon version of this stainless steel conical fermenter for just $395, but I would recommend the 14 gallon version which is currently $495 and is perfect for 10 gallon beer batches. Even if you are not brewing 10 gallon batches now, you may be down the road, so it is something to consider.
Article Keywords: Home brewing, Conical fermenters, stainless steel homebrewing fermenters, home to ferment your home brewed beer, best home brewing fermenters, beer fermentors, stainless fermentor, homebrew.
Lately, with the trend of craft breweries moving towards ultra hoppy, high IBU IPA’s; home brewers need to be on their game if they want their home brewed beer to stand up to what the breweries are releasing. One of the greatest advantages that a home brewer has over a craft brewery is freshness. As beer ages the potency of hop bitterness and aroma diminishes and that is accelerated by heat and oxidation. Since a home brewer does not need to contend with their beer sitting in a hot warehouse during distribution or having the sun beat down on their bottles in a stores showcase, you should do your best to take advantage of your beers freshness. Always do your best to store your beer in a cool dark place if possible.
Whole Citra Hops
Another way to make the most of your IPA’s freshness is to dry hop. The reason a brewer dry hops their beer is to impart the beer with fragrant and fresh hop aroma. Since the beer is cool when the hops are added, the oils from the hops will not be infused with the beer and they will pass on little to no bitterness. Dry hopping is typically conducted once primary fermentation has completed and the hops are typically left in contact with the beer for between 7 and 14 days. The hops are usually added after primary fermentation has completed so that less CO2 is being produced and the hop aroma can stay in contact with the beer as opposed to being carried out of the fermentor with the escaping CO2. I personally like to use whole hops for dry hopping, but pellet hops can be used as well. When the beer is ready to be transferred to a keg or bottle, the beer is siphoned as normal and the hops are left behind in the fermentor to be discarded. I typically add about 2 ounces of hops for every 5 gallons of beer, but more can be added if desired.
Recently I came across a great article (5 Tips for Better IPAs) from the American Homebrewers Association where they interviewed Vinnie Cilurzo (Owner and Brewer at Russian River Brewing) and he gave 5 recommendations on how fellow brewers can improve their IPA’s. I thought that I would take some of Vinnie’s fantastic advice and expand on it a bit with a few of my own suggestions!
Here are 7 easy ways on how you can improve your Home Brewed IPA!
1) Every Beer Starts with Water!
Never under estimate the importance of beers primary ingredient, water. The water that you are using to make your beer is critical, especially when it comes to all grain brewing. Water plays an important part in everything from the taste and the mouth feel of a beer to the sugar conversion and acidity in a finished beer.
If you are using city water that has been treated with chlorine, always make sure that you are removing the chlorine with a carbon filter or alternative method. It is also a good idea to check your city’s water report to see if you are lacking or have an over abundance of minerals in your water that may be impacting your beer. Vinnie suggests treating your water with gypsum in both your mash and your boil to heighten the hop flavor of your beer. You can also use low level sodium additions to have a similar effect. Before making these additions you should first examine your existing levels to make sure that it will not detract from the quality of your finished beer.
2) Dry Hop Until You Just Can’t Dry Hop Anymore!
Unlike adding hops early in the boil, dry hopping adds little to no bitterness to the finished beer but what it does add is a strong and fresh hop aroma! When dry hopping beer, I always recommend adding the hops after the airlock has stopped bubbling in fermentation. That ways the escaping CO2 will not carry the hop aroma out of the fermentor along with it. Vinnie suggests adding multiple dry hop additions at different times which may deliver additional hop aroma to your finished IPA!
3) Do Not Rush Your Fermentation!
We all want to try out our latest beer as quickly as possible, but there is allot to be said for patience in home brewing! If you have the ability to temperature control your fermentation, set the temp between 65F to 67F. Yeast loves a low stable temperature and produces far less off flavors than at higher temps. It will take longer to ferment at a lower temperature but your beer will come out cleaner tasting so that your robust hop profile can really shine in the finished beer! Also, cold crash your beer once your fermentation has completed. Try to crash at around 36F for 2 weeks if possible. This will help force any residual yeast out of suspension and leave you with a cleaner tasting and clearer beer!
4) Don’t Skimp On the Yeast!
Now a days home brewers have a huge variety of options when it comes to yeast. If you want your beer to be as good as possible, then you are going to have to use the best and most suitable yeast for the style of beer that you are brewing. A great West Coast IPA yeast strain is the White Labs WLP001 Ale Yeast, available here.
Make sure that you create a yeast starter, insuring viability and that you pitch a sufficient quantity of yeast for the strength of beer that you are brewing.
5) Do Not Overload Your Beer With Crystal or Malty Grains!
Vinnie suggests that you add crystal malts sparingly to your grain bill. He remarks that the sweet flavors and aromatics derived from those grains can compete with the flavors and aromas of your hops. An IPA is a showcase for the hops and the other ingredients should complement them not detract from them.
6) Consider Adding Hop Resin Extract to Your Boil!
Pure hop resign extracts can be a great way of boosting the bitterness of your wort with out having to add an extreme amount of hop additions to your boil. Just like with actual hops, in order for the bitterness to be captured by the wort, the hop resign still needs to be boiled in the wort for a sufficient amount of time.
7) Opt For a Dryer Beer!
A dryer beer can really help the hops in your IPA stand out! Vinnie suggests supplementing approximately 5% of your grain bills sugars with dextrose. Dextrose is a very simple sugar that yeast can easily ferment. Another option would be dropping your mash temp down by a degree or two in order to create less complex sugars during the mashing process.
If you are looking to try your hand at one of Russian River’s IPAs, you can find a couple of excellent kits available here: