Friday, February 20, 2009

Bottle, mini-keg or jerry can?

I spent last night scrubbing bottles. I have had several swing-tops sitting around the flat for a while now in expectation of my first homebrew, so I finally got round to cleaning them thoroughly and letting the labels float off in the hot water.

My batch of beer is a grand total of 8 litres, and I have at the moment only 7 bottles (although I have 2 bottles of Bernard in appropriate bottles), this got me thinking about how I want to serve my beer.

Pivovarský klub sells those 5 litre mini-kegs, so I could buy one of those, fill it - blending one of the beers into the other to make sure it is full, and then bottle the remaining beer. Or, I could buy a jerry can.

Bauhaus is a German home and garden ware chain that has a few branches in Prague, and they sell jerry cans made from food grade plastic which come with a tap on the front. I think the smallest size they have is 10 litres, which would be a bit big I guess, but I could then blend the two beers together, add some extra yeast to do a secondary fermentation and then serve straight from the jerry can.

Alternatively, I could just drink more Bernard, Chodovar and anything that comes in a swing top and bottle everything - green bottles for the 1.040 OG worth and brown for the 1.052 OG.

Thoughts ladies and gentleman please!


  1. Drink more beer and get your friends to donate empties. :) One word of advice, wash out th bottles afte you drink them. It will save a load of time later, as washing and sanitising 40 bottles at a go is soul-destroying. At least if they are physically clean you just need to sanitise them on bottling day.

    I was tempted by the minikegs before, but I believe they have a very short lifespan as well as being a pain to clean, so I never bothered. Keeping something in a 10 litre container would mean you should probably have some CO2 to top it up to stop staling, unless you are going to drink it very quick. Also depends on what kind of carbonation you want I suppose.

    I have about 180 bottles for my brews, and bottle washing is the least favourite of all my beer-making tasks. But in the end it's worth it. Although I am tempted to get a corny keg dispense system as a birthday present to myself ;)

  2. The mini-keg lifespan isn't really an issue for me, as most of the brewing "kit" will be trashed, or given away, before we leave for the States - probably only my hydrometer will come with me.

  3. Well i used 3 mini kegs and a bunch of bottles (about 11 or 12) on my Cider. It worked a treat.
    As i said on my blog though, there is slightly less carbonation in the minikeg and also my cider did not clear. None of this detracted from it, though i need to try some from the bottle to know for certain if there is a taste difference.

    The minikeg system is very handy though, then again i do have a minikeg chiller/tap dispenser system as you saw sitting on top of my bar so it was a natural choice for me. I will use more bottles next time around. I personally use any type of 500ml bottle and i have a crown capper, though i probably need some more caps.

  4. I plan to get more "proper" equipment when we get to the States, so a lot of this is kind of rough and ready brewing. At the moment it looks as though bottles is the way to go - which means I need to drink more beer! Such a shame. What I would like to do eventually, and I am talking a way down the line, is make my own cask conditioned ales in the US. That would be fun.

  5. Indeed it would, as will drinking all the beer for bottles. I have had great fun doing that.

  6. When you are back in the States I would pick up a few party pigs ( for bottling if you don't go to a kegerator solution immediately. Otherwise I would buy a crown capper and a bag of bottle caps, you would be good to go with any of the .5 litre bottles which are the standard there.


  7. I bottle too - yes, it's a labour of love (puting it mildly) but I really enjoy giving them away as presents - and that's one of the best things (for me) about homebrewing!

  8. Getting bottles shouldn't be too difficult. Cleaning the minikegs is difficult.

    For the future, a corny keg system is wonderful! I hate bottling, so I usually use priming tabs or Cooper's drops to bottle a few bottles for friends or competitions and keg the rest. Sometimes I force carbonate and sometimes finish the fermentation in the keg for a real ale.

  9. I'm going to second the bottle idea as well, because from experience I've learned that you never wait long enough for the first batch to carbonate. I always open mine too early "just to check" and see if it's ready. Since two weeks is too long to wait, if it's bottled you'll only be wasting one beer by opening it early and checking, rather than a larger amount with jerry can or mini-keg. Also, you can drink it more at your leisure if it's in bottles-- and leave one or two to age longer. I've noticed that a couple of my brews have gotten significantly better if I leave them for a month or two in the bottle before drinking.

  10. Yes bottles are certainly better than minikegs for quality, although its handier to fill 4 minikegs and a few bottles than about 40 bottles.

    That said, it tastes so much better in a bottle from what I can see.

    Im sure a cornie will be just as good if not better but you run into space and cooling issues then.

    I have about 90 bottles ready to use for my next few batches.

  11. I'd somehow try to gather as many 'brown'(bad light!) bottles as quickly as you can. It'll be worth it. The quality should be better having less exposure in a bottle to the small air pocket above a keg or can. Good excuse for sampling a few more ales :)

    By the way where on earth did you get those glass cabouys in prague?

  12. The glass "carboys" are in fact 5 litre wine bottles that they were selling in my local supermarket. Bought them last year when Mrs Velkyal wanted to make dandelion wine. We ditched the foul wine and hey presto, carboys! Well I did say mos tof the kit was cobbled together!


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