Vigilante Brewing Company – Pretentious Hopster update

There is a chance I’m making too many presumptions, but I trust everyone remembers that Vigilante Brewing Co is my own name for my very new homebrewing company I started just a little while ago.  Maybe there will come a time when I don’t feel the need to tell everyone who Vigilante is, but I really don’t foresee that time coming very soon.  So far I have only really brewed one complete beer: Happy Amber Anniversary.  However, I am currently a little ways into getting my second concoction into bottles.  Even though I’ve gone through this process once, I realized approaching bottling time that I have a few questions regarding some of the things I will need to do when bottling this one.  I’m hoping I can get a good idea of how I should go about finishing off this brew.

Question 1: What is the best way to filter the beer when moving it from the secondary to the bottling bucket?  This is really the biggest question I have.  This beer has more sediment in it than my previous bottle.  Plus, I had to dry hop this one, so it contains even more hops floating around in the secondary.  I’m trying to figure how best to make sure all of that junk doesn’t get into the bottles.  I was thinking of making some type of filter at the end of the tube with cheesecloth or something, but I’m not sure if that is the best way to go about it.  I’m also concerned about getting to much air in the beer when trying to filter it.  What are some methods that have worked well for some other people before?  I just want to produce the best beer possible.

Question 2: What is the best way to clean used bottles?  The bottles I used last time had never had liquid in them.  Therefore, I used the dishwashing machine, without soap, to sanitize them.  I read somewhere that the heat cycle can be used to sanitize the bottles.  This time, however, I’m concerned that I need to also clean out all of the garbage that may still be in the bottles.  I rinsed the bottles after using them, but I am sure that are still things in there that need to get cleaned out.  How do I make sure I get everything out?  Also, along the same lines, how do I best get the labels off the bottle?  I have some ideas for this one, but I want to see if there is something I haven’t thought of.

Questions 3: Why do I have to add a second batch of yeast three days before I bottle?  The previous batch I made sent you all of the ingredients and you just pieced them together.  This time I’m following a recipe and buying all the ingredients myself.  It’s really essentially the same thing, but there are different instructions to follow that I didn’t need to do the last time.  Is there anything I should keep in mind adding a second batch of yeast, and should I be concerned about any additional stuff to filter out adding the second batch?  I’m not sure why I’m a little worried about screwing this batch up.  I think it’s because I paid for all of these ingredients this time, and I feel like it’s kind of more my baby!

I think this covers all the questions I have about my upcoming brew.  I want to make sure it’s amazing, and I’m most worried about getting a lot of sediment in the bottles. Any advice you have for me will be appreciated, so I hope I get some good feedback. Help Vigilante Brewing Co become the next best thing in Washington DC!

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11 Comments

  1. Have you checked out http://www.reddit.com/r/Homebrewing/ ?

    It’s got a lot of info from people brewing their own stuff. Might be helpful.

  2. When I send my beer over to the bottling bucket, I use an auto siphon that has a little filter cap on the end. It doesn’t keep all the trub out but it keeps the hop debris out. On bottle cleaning day I use a big ole bucket filled with my bottles, take about two scoops of oxy clean and then fill the tub with the hottest water my faucet can muster. After 2-3 hours the water is something your hands can manage (use gloves) and the labels and gunk fall right off. Lastly, I would imagine that yeast is to build carbonation. You can also use priming sugar at the time of bottling to achieve the same results. For my next batch I’m also getting some oxygen absorbing caps and letting the bottles sit for about 20 minutes before crimping to push any of that oxygen out to avoid weird oxide favors. Good luck!

    • Oh I should note, after oxy cleaning, I run the bottles through the dishwasher sans soap to rinse off the oxy clean. I then run it through the short steam cycle two times (probably because I’m a little nuts) to sanitize.

      • Megan’s got you covered. I had trouble with the auto-syphon adding O2 to my beer when racking. Instead, I use one of those carboy caps with the two spouts. Through one, I insert a stainless steal racking cane with the cap on the end to keep out chunks. Then, I blow into the other spout and let gravity do the rest. I stop the syphon before too much sediment transfers.

        I would add to the bottle cleaning that you need one of those faucet extensions that shoots water into your bottles.

      • Yeah I think I’m just mostly concerned about the hops that are floating around in there also from dryhopping. I need to get one of those extensions for sure.

    • Thanks, I do have the auto siphon. I just felt like it ended up taking in a lot of extra trub on the transition from primary to secondary. So there seems like there is a bunch in the secondary as well. Additionally, I have a lot of extra hops floating around because of the dryhopping. So I don’t want to get those in there. I guess I just need to be extra careful. Also, thanks for the thought on the cleaning. I need to go get some oxy clean now!

      • Be careful not to allow the siphon to sit in the sediment. That should help if it’s completed settled.

      • Yeah I know not to sit down in that, I just want to make sure I don’t get a lot of loose hops in there either.

  3. Great comments above. Just a few thoughts of my own.

    Resist the urge to filter at this point. Any excess agitation is just going to get air in your beer which is the last thing you want. If you’re getting to much trub in your secondary also make sure you’re doing a good job of (as cleanly as possible) transferring from the kettle to the primary, and the primary to the secondary. Hopefully the directions have you using a clarifier in the boil (like Irish Moss).

    Bleach will also work to clean out old gunky bottles. The best thing I found though when I bottled was simply to clean the bottles out once I poured the beer out. I used to keep four – six cases of bottles in rotation. Once I poured out a homebrew, I would immediately rinse the bottle out and run a bottle brush in it. It takes about 10 seconds. When I had a whole case of clean empties, I’d run them through the dishwasher steam cycle sans soap or maybe with a little Starsan.

    As far as dry hopping, place the hops in a hop bag or a tied piece of cheese cloth to keep them together (I’m assuming you’re not DH with pellets, don’t) as much as possible. An additional advantage to this is that you can place some clean, sanitized marbles in the bag to the hops actually sink into the beer, instead of floating around on the top.

    • I am enjoying all of this feedback. I realized too lake I should have kept the hops contained somehow, but it was an afterthought. Now I have to deal with my mistake. I like the idea of the marbles. I will definitely be using that in the future.

  4. For filtering, I just use the auto-siphon and try to avoid sticking it in the trub. I dry hopped a recent beer, but that didn’t really cause any problems either, though I may have left a little usable beer in the bucket. I may be overly cautious… but the beer turned out great:p

    For bottles, I’m definitely overly cautious, but again, my beer’s been turning out well recently, so I don’t really want to upset that rythm! When I open a bottle and pour it into a glass, I’ll also make sure I rinse the bottle with hot water as best I can, then I leave some hot water in the bottle overnight. The next day, I empty it out and throw it in case for later. To take the labels off, I usually just soak it in hot water (maybe with some sort of cleansing agent) for as long as possible. A lot of labels peel right off if you give it enough time (we’re talking a few days here), but there are some that are super stubborn and I find myself just scrubbing it to get the labels off. Once you have a good amount of bottles, you won’t have to worry about it and you can just recycle the old bottles.

    To sanitize, I usually just use starsan and a bottle brush on the day of bottling. I’m sure it’s overkill and it is tedious and annoying, but it works for me…

    I’ve never added yeast after primary fermentation, so I’m not sure what to tell you there, but my overly cautious instincts would be to make sure you sanitize the yeast pack and scissors (probably not a big deal, but I’m a better safe than sorry kinda guy).


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