Friday, July 26, 2013

December Rockit Cup: Mini-Cask Fest

For December’s Rockit Cup, you’ll be choosing a previous Rockit Cup recipe, brewing it, and putting a portion of it into a mini-keg. Yes, you’ll need to do something with the other 3.68 gallons, since a mini-keg will only hold 1.32 gallons (or 5 liters for those of you who like the metric system), but that is up to you. If you’re super lazy (I’m looking at you, Ben Cripe), you’ll fill up a mini-keg with American Weissbier (if you’re cutting it close) or Brett Trois IPA (once you get around to it). Or maybe you’ve already planned for it—I’ve got a mini-keg of the Millenium Single-Hop Session IPA stashed somewhere in the basement. But ideally, everyone will brew something new, and get to experiment with the joys of cask-conditioning beer. Me, I’ll be brewing the one Rockit Cup beer I didn’t brew: the Northern English Brown from December 2012. Woot!

Here’s a list of links to previous Rockit Cup recipes:
April 2011: Standard/Ordinary Bitter
June 2011: Session IPA
August 2011: Saison
October 2011: Dry Stout
December 2011: 60 Shilling
February 2011: Alt
March 2012: Belgian Session IPA
May 2013: Black India Session Ale
June 2013: Chris Wyatt’s Landlord
August 2012: Hoppy Wheat
October 2012: American Bitter
December 2012: Northern English Brown
February 2013: Grinder’s Mild
March 2013: Belgian Pale Ale
April 2013: Single-Hop Session IPA
June 2013: Rye Pale Ale
August 2013: Choose Your Own Yeast American Weissbier
October 2013: Brett Trois IPA

A couple of comments on mini-kegs: you can either buy one new (like the above shiny silver one) or re-purpose a commercial one you buy and empty (I have a Scherlenka Rauchbier mini-cask I’ve used several times now—see picture below, filled with Rockit Cup Dry Stout). If you buy one, you’ll need to remove the plastic and rubber bung: pull straight up on the red plastic lift piece until it snaps apart from the bottom piece, push the bottom interior piece into the mini-cask, and remove the black plastic bung. You’ll have to shake the keg around to get the other piece out, but the two red plastic pieces will snap back together through the plastic bung, and can be re-used (although you will want to sanitize it first); if you damage the bung, or if you get one that won’t re-connect, you can always buy a new one at Brewtensils (they are currently in stock). Do get the one that has the red top (like in the picture), and not the gray one that you have to push the entire center plastic piece into the beer to get it to work.

Carbonation: the larger volume of the mini-keg means you’ll want to scale down the ratio of priming materials you use: don’t ask me the physics, but the bigger the vessel, the less priming sugar needed to achieve the same level of carbonation in a smaller vessel. Thus, when I used ¾ ounce of table sugar to prime my first mini-keg (90. Session IPA; for this batch I added the priming sugar separately to the mini-keg and the rest of the batch of beer), that was still too much. The second time round, I packaged the entire 5 gallon batch (99. Rockit Cup Dry Stout; 2 mini-kegs and the rest in bottles; I did the entire batch together this time) with 2 ounces of table sugar, or approximately .525 ounces for each mini-keg (and .95 ounces for the other 2.36 gallons), which turned out much better. For the most recent mini-keg that I can find notes on, the aforementioned 143. Rockit Cup Millenium Single-Hop Session IPA, I used 2.2 ounces for the remaining 4 gallons (I bottled the first gallon to take to the April DRAFT meeting); I filled the mini-keg first, then bottled the rest, which means I used .726 ounces for the mini-keg and 1.474 ounces for the remaining 2.68 gallons. The bottles were all fine; I haven’t opened the mini-cask yet, but my guess is slightly over-carbonated.

Let me know if you have other questions!


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