Jump to content
Mr.Beer Community
Sign in to follow this  
Keith'sBrew

Lessons Learned - Two Processes I Won't Be Repeating

Recommended Posts

1.  I will not use a bottling wand on 2 gallon batches.

 

I got a bottling wand with my last extract purchase thinking it would be a good idea, but I won’t be using it again for bottling 2 gallon batches.   Using a bottling wand does speed up the bottling process.  However, I quickly learned that the bottling wand has some disadvantages. 

The first problem is the sanitation issue.  The bottling wand has a spring loaded valve at the tip which controls the dispensing of beer into the bottle.  To properly sanitize it, you have to disassemble it.  You end up with three small pieces when you take it apart (the spring, the stopper, and the valve body).   The first time I took it apart the spring fell out and rolled under the fridge.  The long plastic tube connected to the valve also needs a fairly large container for proper sanitation. 

 

The second problem with the wand is that it is messy.  You have to put a catch pan under the wand to catch the beer dripping off the wand between bottles.  Pouring through the spigot is a cleaner process if done correctly. 

 

The final problem I observed was the aeration of beer.  When you get down to the last of the beer in the keg, the bottling wand turns into a beer aerator.

 

I’m sure some will disagree with me on this opinion.  I can see the advantage of using a bottling wand for large batches (4 gallons or more) because it definitely speeds up the bottling process.  For smaller two gallon batches I think it is more trouble than it is worth.

 

2.  I will not be cold-crashing with glass bottles and stick on labels.

 

This was a “Duh” moment if there ever was one.  The condensation on the cold bottles prevented the labels from sticking properly.  I managed to get them mostly stuck on by drying the bottles and quickly sticking on the labels before the condensation returned.  Of course I could have waited until the bottles reached room temperature, but I was pressed for time. 

 

Unless I’m bottling a light beer and my goal is to achieve the best clarity, I don’t think I’ll be cold-crashing again.  It also messes up my bottling schedule and forces me to bottle on a weekday instead of the weekend.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On issue number one are you saying you have an issue with taking less than 2 seconds to disassemble the bottling wand? As far as losing parts I think that is more of a personal responsibility but it's your choice obviously. As far as the tube being too long to sanitize I usually just put it in the slim line while that is sanitizing. If you don't use a bottling bucket then simply finding a tall glass, hydrometer tube, or beer bottle with sanitizer works fine....even if you have to flip it to make contact will all surfaces. On the subject of it being "messy" I have only heard of this issue with the wand containing the black body instead of the clear body. Not sure what company makes that one. Then again it may have just been assembled wrong.

 

On issue number 2 are you bottling the beer and then cold crashing completely skipping the room temp conditioning? The simple solution would be to place the labels on the beer before sanitizing. A good quality label shouldn't be affected. I seriously doubt waiting an extra 72 hours to bottle on a weekend instead of a wednesday is going to hurt the beer.

 

Obviously all of this is subjective and could be prevented but it sounds like you've already made up your mind. Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should be cold crashing the beer BEFORE you put it in the bottles. You put the lbk in the fridge to allow things to settle out before bottling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

KeithsBrew - do not feel alone in this.

I do not use the wand for the same reasons. For me I use PET bottles and it is quite easy direct from spigot.

I also do not cold crash as I do not mind cloudy beer and do not have suitable (politically) refrigerator.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should be cold crashing the beer BEFORE you put it in the bottles. You put the lbk in the fridge to allow things to settle out before bottling.

I cold-crashed before bottling.  Cold beer from LBK = cold bottles. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm .............Cold beer from LBK = cold bottles = condensation = label no stick. Bah. Gummed labels would use the condensation, you would not have to lick them.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Disagree on wand, I always use mine.

 

A bottling wand leaves the perfect amount of air space at the top of every bottle by filling it to the top, when you remove the wand you have your air space.  

 

Also, there are 4 small pieces.  Valve body, stopper, rubber washer around stopper, and spring.  Disassemble all of it, wash carefully.  I put it together when it's dry and sanitize it together, not apart. 

 

Also, you don't need a catch pan.  If you have all the parts (see washer above), the most the wand does is drip slowly.  First, you should be replacing the full bottle with the next bottle.  I position 8 bottles, and fill one.  As I remove it I put the next one in place and start filling it while placing the first on the counter, then adding a cap (whether plastic or metal) on top.  After I fill 8, I tighten the plastic caps and use my bottle capper on the metal ones.  The wand either drips into my Rubbermaid tub or onto a folded rag.  I it drips 10 times I'd be surprised.  

Let bottles dry, label next day.  They only sweat when it's humid.  When it's not humid they are cold, but not wet.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spigot-only filler here, too. *raises hand*

 

I don't label my bottles until they are pretty much ready. I went early on my Klondike Gold (pics are on here somewhere, I think) because it was batch #1 & I was all proud & $#!%, but I am waiting to label my Novacaine because I have two more batches either ready or upcoming and I want to do all the stuff at once when I go to Kinko's. My Helluva is carbing still, and the Blonde is in the LBK. After I bottle the Blonde, I will get labels made & get them stuck to the Novacaine & the Helluva, and then wait for the Blonde to make sure there are no bottle-bombs.

 

People who use a glue-stick - what kind, and are the labels easy to remove later - i.e., how soluble is the glue?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a glue stick, buy them at back to school sales for $.25 each. Usually Elmers. Rip off and wash rest off with water when washing bottle, easy. They will come off perspiring bottles when you don't want them to, and work better on glass than PET bottles.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cold-crashed before bottling.  Cold beer from LBK = cold bottles. :)

It dawned on me after I posted that's what you were saying!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a bottling wand, so I can't comment on it's effectiveness.  I would imagine the benefits would be more pronounced with a larger batch.  I use the spigot and do fine.

 

As for labels, the ones that the Mr Beer site  promotes are awesome.  I've added labels (see my side pic) with condensation, wiping it off then quickly applying the labels and they stick like the adhesive was developed by NASA.  I'm actually getting ready to order more as I'm out of the first 27 I ordered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will note that the main purpose of the bottling wand is to avoid oxidation, not introduce it.  If you are filling from the spigot, the beer is exiting the spigot at the top of the bottle, being agitated as it runs down the middle and sides of the bottle, causing the potential risk of oxidation.  The wand, with the activation method, only introduces beer to the bottle from the bottom, minimizing agitation and thus minimizing oxidation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right.  For the last bottle, if you're using the LBK, you MAY get some air in the wand as the beer runs out (as you turn off the tap before the trub enters it).  With batch priming, you can tilt the bottling container to get all of it out, again the very last of it will have a bit of air.  Never been an issue for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just flush my bottling wand with water and then soak the end in Starsan when I'm done.  I repeat this process right before it's time to reuse it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the bottling wand all the time. To get it started the first bits go into a tasting glass or two. Then for the occasional drip one of the tasting glasses are there to catch it. I find it works pretty well.

For the label issue why not just wait a day or two after bottling to add the labels?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are so many ways to create oxidation that I've decided not to worry about them anymore.  I try to use best practices, not whipping my hot wort into a froth, not bubbling and splashing fermented beer.  However I've never noticed oxidation so it's a bit like the boogieman, the threat of it is always there but I can seem to find evidence of him anywhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the comments in my links amusing, about us being used to oxidation in imported beer and actually liking it to the extent of "how can I get my beer to taste like that" - lol.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...