wow, has it really been a year since my last post? these past twelve months have flown by as the phantom carriage has grown and expanded. we took on a head brewer, an assistant brewer, a bar manager, and a graphic designer, and our employee count is now in the double digits. since we have a great team in place, I feel comfortable jumping back into blogging and plan on monthly updates that focus on different wild beer production implementation aspects.
- specifically, I hope to highlight instances where our team was able to apply a DIY homebrewing approach to the professional arena to achieve one or more benefits (e.g., improved quality, money savings, etc.).
- for example, one of our team’s recent goals has been the bottling of our beers. however, off-the-shelf bottling solutions easily run thousands of dollars, and appear to use a trough system that seems to expose beer to oxygen during the bottling process.
- luckily, commercial brewers utilize a forum similar to homebrewtalk – probrewer.com. while researching bottling implementations I came across a post describing a home built rig capable of counter pressure bottle filling (which minimizes oxygen exposure) which cost a fraction of the pre-fab systems. the next week BL and I put our rig together with a morebeer order, a sawzall, a drill, and some elbow grease (morebeer sells a similar rig for a pretty steep markup here).
- after some successful practice runs, we got the team together and ran more than a thousand bottles of non-barrel aged beer through the system. once we had our setup dialed I started tinkering with our barrel aged offerings, which require a little more care to bottle condition.
- more specifically, the high gravity and significant age of our barrel aged wild beers necessitate the addition of yeast during bottling to ensure adequate carbonation. I have done this successfully many times in the past at home, and slightly tweaked my implementation to give even our double-digit ABV beers the best chance of carbing up in the bottle.
- before bottling day I whipped up a large yeast starter and calculated my priming sugar amounts to achieve my target volume. since we currently only bottle one oak barrel worth of beer at a time, I primed a half barrel sanke keg with the sugar solution, filled the keg halfway with beer, added a portion of my yeast starter, and topped off the keg with beer. once the keg was full, we hooked it up to our bottling line, bottled and capped, and refilled once the keg was empty (the keg was only refilled two more times). keg filling can even be performed in parallel with bottling to save time, although once you start getting into higher volumes it becomes more prudent to bottle straight off of a brite tank.
- building our own bottling line has really simplified the bottling process while maximizing the quality of the beer in the bottle. I only wish I had one of these suckers when I was bottling at home, especially since a two-head system will only run you a couple hundred bucks!