Monday, January 5, 2009

Filtering into a keg (or bottling bucket)

So my first keg of beer has come and gone. With some help from some friends and some holiday days around the house, I was able to cycle through 5 gallons without much trouble. This morning, I put the last of the keg into a growler (about half full) and cleaned out the keg. One thing I was very curious about was the effectiveness of a new (for me) beer filtering technique. Here's the history...

Last June, I was back home in Pennsylvania visiting my folks and spending some time with my little sis who is spending a year in South Korea. While there, my sister and I visited a few different breweries, one of which is a small farmhouse brewery, Twin Lakes Brewery, in Northern DE. This was a pretty small brewery operation, even compared to other microbreweries, but they had some tasty beers and had a cool little place to hang out and drink some of their offerings. The owner/brewer is still an avid homebrewer; he uses his homebrewing to experiment for future batches at the brewery. So he and I got into a conversation about homebrewing. Most homebrewers are very open about techniques and very willing to talk at length about their brewing. This gentleman was no exception.

One question I posed him was about straining beer from the hops when moving from the secondary of a dry-hopped beer. The problem is that if one uses hop pellets, there wasn't a great way to strain since running the beer through a strainer like when tranferring from the brewpot will tend to aerate the beer, which is something one doesn't want at that stage of brewing, just before bottling or kegging. If using whole hops in the secondary, the problem was the inability to fully drain the beer from the hops, leaving more beer in the secondary than I care to waste. So this fellow suggested using panty hose and a clamp on the end of my siphon tube. So that's what I tried.

I cut the end off of a new pair of pantyhose, attached it to the end of my siphon tube with a clamp, and sanitized them with the tube prior to siphoning my beer. When I finished my kegging, there was still a good bit of trub at the bottom of the secondary, which is usual, and there was also some in the panty-hose, but I wasn't sure how successful I was at catching it since I had expected more to have been caught. So I would have to judge the effectiveness by how much sediment there was in my beer at serving time as well as what was left in my keg when the beer was finished.

Well, the beer was essentially sediment free in the glass, and then when I cleaned my emptied keg, there was virtually no sediment present there, either. I must say I am very pleased with the technique, and will certainly recommend it to others in the future.

I should probably also mention that kegging does seem to be worth the price of admission (especially so for me, whose admission was paid for by others). I do find myself more willing to pour myself another glass than to open another bottle; I think having two kegs pouring should mean that each one will last longer than the 2 weeks required to finish off my first.