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Home brewing equipment
 
 
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parsa
Home Brew Guru


Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2003 4:06 pm    Post subject: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

I'm building up a set of stuff with which to brew root beer, so I thought I'd share the things I've found here on the forum. I'm brewing with ale yeast.

Bottles:
I've been collecting capped bottles (as opposed to twist off bottles). Some bottles I've found are:
** Martinellis sparkling apple cider, etc. (0.75 liter champagne-type bottle with a beer cap).
** Bulldog root beer bottles (now available at Cost Plus World Market).
** Afri-Cola bottles (also at Cost Plus World Market). Good stuff, BTW. It's better than Coke or Pepsi for sure.
** Mexican soft drinks available is smaller Hispanic markets here in San Diego. Many of these are reused bottles (ex. Jarritos), but the one I liked was a Sangria grape flavored drink called Senorial. It was like a small champagne bottle:
http://www.latingrocer.com/brand-jarritos.html
** Old soft drink bottles my daughter and I collected in the Mojave desert along Route 66. These were sitting in vast bottle and can dumps near where old shops used to be located. Some will never be used, but I got a few of them acceptably clean and sanitized.
** I'm looking for little 6 to 7 ounce bottles to use for testing carbonation levels. Someone told me Corona beer still sells little bottles.
** Many people just bottle in plastic 2 liter, 20 ounce, or 12 ounce bottles. They work for a few times, and can be squeezed to test the carbonation level.

Sanitizing equipment:
**One or two 5 gallon buckets and chlorine bleach (unscented). Soak the bottles in chlorinated water between uses. It will keep them clean, germ free, and wild yeast free. Rinse, or run through the rinse cycle on your dish washer, before bottling. Hint: The washer also takes off bottle labels that are glued on.
** A beer bottle brush to clean out junk from dirty bottles you find. This is not needed if you keep the bottles rinsed and then in the chlorinated water.

Brewing stuff:
**A pot to brew in. Wort (your roots, sugar and herbs) for one gallon of root beer can be cooked in a 3 quart (3 liter) pot. You can also use a larger stock pot, but you won't need to buy anything if you have a big pot that came with a cook set. ) BTW, don't put vanilla extract or yeast in the hot wort.
** A big spoon.
** A steel spice ball, herb ball, large tea ball, etc. You don't need this, but I bought one to put the roots and herbs in to reduce what I have to filter. These are used for mulled spice drinks and can be found in kitchen stores. You can also use wort bags sold in brew supply shops.
** A glass jug. I'm using a one gallon glass jug. You can also use a small carboy, or even a plastic jug if you want. This is for mixing and shaking up the brewed wort, cold water, and yeast. You don't brew in this, so it doesn't need to be fancy.
** Some funnels, preferably with a filter screen. You can find big ones to fit the glass jug at brewers supply shops or online. I found a small metal filtering funnel used by canners/bottlers at a kitchen store. "Domestic crafts stores" (places to get canning supplies) often have these, too. Small food-grade funnels without filters are available anywhere. They are usually white if they are for food. You can always throw a filtering bag or cloth into a regular funnel to filter.
** A cup to throw the yeast in before you put it in the jug. This is more important if you are using dry yeast.
** A glass thermometer. I'm a science teacher, so I had a lot of these! It must have a big range. You only really need to know when the temperature is not too hot for the yeast, which means luke warm for ale yeast. Most people can judge this without a thermometer.
** A scale. Good for weighing ingredients like roots. Again, I have these at my school. Digital ones are nice.
** Measuring cups and spoons. One kind of measuring spoon I found I needed was a skinny, small one for my yeast. I needed one narrow enough to fit in my tube of liquid yeast (White Labs) and which measured 1/8 teaspoon. I found one at Crate and Barrel. Many people just measure by eye.

Bottling equipment: If you reuse plastic bottles you need nothing. However, if you want glass bottles you will need a capper and bottle caps.
** Bottle caps (crowns). These are available at home brewing shops and online. I found bottle caps in plain gold, red with white stripes, blue with white stars, and at one site in a few other solid colors.
** A bottle capper. I just got a red hand capper at a brewers shop, but if you do a lot, you may want a table-top model. Old and new ones are always on sale at Ebay.

If you look at the list, you'll realize that if you really want, you can make root beer without buying anything, or at the very least just a capper and some bottle caps.

If you want natural carbonation, you will have to buy yeast. I bought White Labs liquid yeast mainly because they are here in San Diego so the stuff is very fresh.

Lastly, I highly recommend the book "Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop" by Stephen Cresswell. A link can be found in the Recipes section of this (Root Beer World) web site.

Parsa
  

Last edited by parsa on Wed Dec 17, 2003 5:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Blake
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Joined: Dec 16, 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2003 4:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

Wow Parsa,

What a great starter list! I've been meaning to reply to your last. Thanks for the lead on Hoptech. I'll check it out. I think I've used Hires and McCormick, both liquid extracts. I can't remember if the yeast was powdered or cubed, but it was definitely dry. There is something about the flavor........my mouth experiences the same feeling from a well made coffee cake or gingerbread. I'm assuming that is an effect of yeast. We did have the bottles on there side, I think it was just too hot in the toolshed/maybe too much yeast. I now put the filled bottles in a beer case that has the cardboard dividers, then put the whole box in heavy duty garbage bags for the two week fermentation. Your experiments sound really cool! Do you teach science? One of my favorite pastimes!

Blake

oh yeah, Coca Cola still makes small bottles, I haven't seen small Corona, but would assume that they are clear.
  
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parsa
Home Brew Guru


Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2003 5:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

When I was in high school in Indiana, the Red Cross building had a very old Coca Cola vending machine still labeled 10 cents. The bottles were those little ones. My mother, father and I all did services for the Red Cross. When my father and I laid new roofing tiles on the building I must have gone through a lot of these little bottles.

I haven't seen any of the small Coke bottles in Southern California. I think all the glass Coke bottles here are from Mexico.

Have you noticed how the American consumption of carbonated soft drinks is increasing in volume? In the 40s and 50s many bottles were 6 or 7 ounces. In the 60s and 70s it was more common to find 10 ounce bottles. (The bottles I found in the desert were all 10 oz.) Then we had 12 ounce cans and bottles. Now you usually see 20 ounce plastic bottles in convenience stores, not to mention the huge 32 or 44 ounce monsters people buy. No wonder everyone is getting fat.

Parsa
  
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Blake
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2003 11:37 am    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

Parsa,

I'll try this again, if it worked before disregard, but I don't think it posted the first time. You're absolutely right about consumption, and I always liked the ten ounce size. A funny side story. When I lived in Norfolk I used to go to a place that sold hot dogs only, very popular with a very brisk business. The dour man peered from behind the counter and stated "Chili, mustard, onions, what'll it be?" One day I asked for ketchup and received a five minute lecture in front of all the other customers about why that was so wrong. Needless to say, the dogs were very reasonably priced and very thirst provoking. In keeping with his simplistic theory, he sold soft drinks only in seven ounce bottles at a not so reasonable price! I'll keep my eye out for smaller bottles.
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Blake
  
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parsa
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Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2003 2:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

I normally don't go into Mexican markets, I usually just shop at a nearby supermarket (not now, however, because they are on strike). There must be many dozen little Mexican markets in Escondido (which shouldn't surprise you with a name like that). There are also a few "super mercados." I went into two of them yesterday just to check them out. They were very fun to visit... a real cultural experience. Now, I'm not exactly an insular person; I spent time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and have been exposed to many cultures all my life. It's just that I never thought I needed to visit these little markets.

Well, the supermercado was a delight for someone wanting to make root beer, especially if they are willing to experiment. For one thing, they had tons of cheap yucca root. I was looking for that as yucca root is supposed to make an excellent head on root beer. You will notice yucca extract as an ingredient in many bottled root beers. I would assume it is Yucca schidigera (Mojave Yucca) since that is what is usually sold commercially:
http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=YUSC2
However most of what grows around here locally is Yucca whipplei (Chaparral Yucca).

They also had Corona in 7 ounce bottles. It was sold in 6-packs, which is more than I need, and unfortunately the labels were all screen printed on the bottles.
One mercado had the Mexican bottled softdrinks for 89 cents, while the other sold them for $1.09. They're probably 25 cents in Mexico.

The cheaper supermercado had many, many spices, chilis and roots in bags. They carried almost every brand sold here from Hispanic spice suppliers. Many were roots that I had never heard of before. Unfortunately, they did not seem to have zarzaparilla (sarsaparilla) at the time. However, I did find "cocolmeca" root, which may be the same mayan coclmeca mentioned in the sarsaparilla articles I posted elsewhere. Hopefully it is Smilax glabra, a central american sarsaparilla species. Another said "cocolmeca" (aka cuculmeca) is Smilax aristolochiaefolia, and another said it was Smilax cordifolia. In any case it's packaged for food use, so I shouldn't die if I try it. It's called "green brier" on the label which would indicate a Smilax species. The USDA calls most Smilax species "greenbriers."
They had other interesting roots also such as "cuachalalate", which may be native Mexican chocolate.
...no, I just found out it is a plant called Amphypteringium adstringens, and is also called cuachalalatl. Chocolate in aztec is chocolatl.


Here are some Spanish to English herbal links:
http://www.herbsofmexico.com/englref.htm
http://www.internationalspices.com/Spice_Herb_&%20Candy_List.htm


As for the hot dog fantacism, I saw a really great special on PBS about specialty sandwiches throughout America. You're right there's a big debate about Chicago style, New York style, etc. I don't mind ketchup (or is it catsup?), but I really like mustard and kraut.
Actually "The Hot Dog Program" and "Sandwiches You Will Like" are two different documentaries by the same person, Rick Sebak. He also did documentaries on ice cream, amusement parks, and flea markets. These are pretty entertaining documentaries.

Parsa
  
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tallyrc
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Joined: Aug 17, 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i've seen both the hot dog episode and the icecream show, and as with most of their shows, they were excellent...
  
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tallyrc
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Joined: Aug 17, 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

am i crazy for going straight to a keging system? i have a new complete setup with 5 gal cornelius keg, 5 pound co2 bottle and regulator and i'm going to convert an old mini fridge to a degerator.. am i simply not a "purist" or will i not get good flavors...
  
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parsa
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Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 7:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

No, I think forced carbonation is OK. Yeast can be a pain. It's the flavoring that is important. Your scale sounds pretty big though!

Parsa
  
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tallyrc
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yea i would like to get a second smaller keg, but it's hard to complain since it was all a gift.. whoo hoo!
  
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brett
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Joined: Sep 01, 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

parsa wrote:
tons of cheap yucca root. I was looking for that as yucca root is supposed to make an excellent head on root beer.
Parsa


Did you try brewing with the yucca root? I bought some myself but am having a hard time figuring out the best way to use it. I think I'll try peeling it, removing the center "wood," chopping it up and adding it with the rest of my roots/herbs. But I have no idea how much root to add to yield the same effect as a concentrated extract. I'm just making a one-gallon batch and don't want it to end up soapy either. I guess I'll go with ol' trial and error...but if you have any insight, PLEASE let me know. Thanks!
  
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parsa
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Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

When I used yucca, I think it made my root beer smell and taste kind of nasty. It could have been another cause, but it was probably the yucca root. It may have been old or bad, but it didn't look that way. Yucca extract, which I don't expect would be easy to find, would probably be better.

I'd try things without the yucca first. Forced carbonation will make a lot of CO2.

Parsa
  
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tallyrc
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

should i be able to force carbonate root beer in a keg, then transfer it to bottles and maintain carbonation?
  
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parsa
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Joined: Dec 15, 2003
Posts: 50
Location: Escondido, CA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 3:16 am    Post subject: Re: Home brewing equipment Reply with quote

If you've made it by forced carbonation, then you'll probably lose some carbonation in the transfer. I'd think it wouldn't be too bad though.

Parsa
  
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