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Phantom Brewer

Draining Carboys Fast

TPB brings you two tips this month, both to help you get those carboys empty quick by avoiding the glugs. Those pressure equalizing bubbles of air slow down the voiding of liquid. So to speed up the flow, you must provide air to the interior of the carboy.

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Organizing Your Brew

Something funny seems to happen when brewers get to the boil, they get distracted and disorganized. The Phantom’s seen it happen to many a brew partner and himself, so this month’s tips are some simple techniques to fight the fog of brewing.

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Clean that Kettle - Beerstone

Beerstone. No matter how much you much how you squeeze it, you'll never get beer from it. Beerstone, the colloquial term for calcium oxalate and water salts, is the ugly brown coating that grabs hold of the inside of your shiny brewpot. Not only is beerstone unattractive; it affects the performance of your kettle. Remember a clean brewery is a good brewery.

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A Tip to Help Prevent Boilovers

 A good rolling boil is important for a good beer. Lots of good stuff happens during the boil. Volatile, smelly sulfur compounds are expelled from the beer. Other compounds, alpha acids, that bitter our beer are only extracted by boiling. But get too vigorous a boil going, and you'll slop wort all over the place. Instead, try using your marbles.

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Portable CO2 and Beer Service

 Summer time and the beer's flowing freely; or at least it will if you remember this Phantom Brewer's Tip.

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CO2 Powered Bottling

  Who likes lifting heavy things? Right, so why lift, when you can simply turn on the gas? In his article on CO2 racking, Falcons' President Drew described how you can use CO2 to move your beer from Carboy to Carboy (or keg to keg). But why stop there? Let CO2 assist you when it comes time to bottle.

    What you need; you probably already have 90% of what you need if you have a CO2 setup:

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Stealing The Wort For Your Starter

    If you are a Falcon, odds are you brew often. Odds are even better that when you do brew, you make sure you have enough viable yeast to give your creation the best chance possible. Unless your roommate is the head brewer at BJs, this entails making a starter. And, since you're a Falcon you are going to want to step that starter up once -- possibly twice if you're doing a big lager. That's two to three hours out of your week when you could be with your family/feverishly refining your next recipe. But the Phantom Brewer has a trick for you. Steal the wort -- from yourself.

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Cold Pitching Yeast

    If you harvest and reuse yeast from your fermenter, you should try cold pitching. This is done by pitching the yeast directly from refrigerated storage, into wort that has been cooled to about 4-5 degrees below the optimal temperature for the yeast strain and beer style. Cold pitching can give you shorter lag times, more vigorous fermentation and more complete attenuation.

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Batch Sparging

The longer you brew, the more technical you tend to get. Immersion chillers? That's for beginners. More and more brewers (especially us gadget crazy Falcons) are opting not just for counterflow devices, but for mini plate style heatexchangers, just like the pros use (only minus all that glycol). Therminators for all! Hydrometers? Get a refractometer. Glass Carboys? I'll take my conical in Stainless Steel, please. And on and on it goes until many of us have a full working small scale brewery sitting in the backyard. And some aren't so small!

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Tip Potpourri

The Phantom Brewer outsourced this month:

     Adding Rice Hulls when using a cooler as a mash tun. I pre-heat my tun with hot water so as to have a thermal mass close to zero when adding my strike water. If you are worried about the hulls affecting the amount of strike water needed, you should add them into this pre-heat water. After you drain the pre-heat water, you have pre-soaked hulls and a warm tun.

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