This Week on BrewZasters: Bottling Laurel India Pale Ale

Last time on BrewZasters), we lost all of our  Lagunitas Brewing’s Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale clone  from our three Tap-a-Draft bottles.

Tap-a-Drafts are a compromise between bottles and kegs. It’s nice filling only three bottles…The handle has an issue. If you do not confirm that the handle is secure and the locking tab is in place, it leaks… About 15 minutes later the beer had found its way into vegetable crisper (onions, celery, and lettuce were marinating in beer), behind and under the crisper, and onto the kitchen floor…we lost one-third of our product, or about $10 retail. Damn. [Update: Lightning struck twice and a second TAD leaked. The TAD needs to be checked constantly.]

My version of Laurel IPA. Slightly cloudy with a SRM color around 6.

Well, gluttons for punishment that we are, today we packaged our third batch of Laurel India Pale Ale. The initial tastings of the flat beer hint at this being another dynamite batch. This time we filled just one Tap-A-Draft so that we can sample the Laurel sooner but we didn’t expose all our batch to the TAD [I checked that it was still holding product after writing this sentence.] We bottled the remainder in 12-ounce bottles.

We will keep constant vigilance on this batch. It is a sin to spill beer.

Fermentables
Ingredient    Amount        %         MCU    When
Pale 2-row 
Ale Malt     13lb 15oz     94.7 %    7.6   In Mash/Steeped
Carapils Malt  7.20 oz     3.1 %     0.1   In Mash/Steeped
Caramel 40L    5.40 oz     2.3 %     2.5   In Mash/SteepedHop Schedule
Hop                     %Alpha     Amt         Timing
Magnum                 11.0 %     0.77 oz    First Wort Hopped
Cascade                 5.9 %     1.85 oz   60 Min From End
Centennial              9.5 %     0.75 oz   30 Min From End
Simcoe                 12.5 %     0.30 oz   10 Min From End
Columbus(Tomahawk)     15.5 %     0.30 oz   10 Min From End
Centennial              9.5 %     0.45 oz   At turn off
Cascade                 5.9 %     0.20 oz   At turn off
Cascade                 5.9 %     2.12 oz   Dry-Hopped
Centennial              9.5 %     1.15 oz   Dry-Hopped
Citra                  11.1 %     1.00 oz   Dry-Hopped
Yeast
 White Labs WLP001-California Ale

mashed at 151F using 9 gallons of water
Output:
7.5 gallons wort pre-boil grav 1.044 @ 113F (Corrected pre-boil of 1.053)
Original gravity: 1.065
Final Gravity: 1.013
ABV: 6.9%

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Tap-A-Draft Review

The Tap-A-Draft system  is a reasonable compromise between the drudgery of bottling and the ease of kegging. Each of the three see-through plastic mini-kegs holds 6 liters (1.58 gallons or 203 ounces) of liquid. The three bottles can hold 4.75 gallons of product. It costs about  $70.

Tap-A-Draft system

Pros:

  • It’s  affordable. It’s significantly cheaper than a kegging system (by 60-100%).
  • You don’t need a second refrigerator  to hold it. In my refrigerator it took up about one-third of the lower shelf. That’s a significant displacement, but not ginormous.  The bottle is 12.5″ long, and 7.5″ in diameter. The dispenser spout adds 4″ to the length.
  • You can see through the PET plastic bottle. So you know how much beer or homemade soda you have on hand.
  • You can force carbonate beer or soda, and drink it darn-near immediately.
  • The dispensing valve has two built-in regulators that maintain a constant 15 psi.
  • You have to fill three bottles only, instead of 51 12-ounce bottles.
  • The CO2 cartridges are easy to handle and change out.
  • The dispenser has a one-way check valve to keep CO2 in the bottle.
  • Pressure relief in case of excessive pressure. If the pressure in the bottle exceeds 60psi, the valve opens to release the pressure in the bottle.
  • The valve carries a one-year warranty against any manufacturing defects.

Cons:

  • The dispenser valve is not spring loaded.
  • You must ensure the valve is completely closed and the locking tab is securely in place, otherwise it will drip. I have lost three gallons of beer in a span of two weeks.  (Yes, it is “operator error” but it requires a boatload of diligence to keep it from happening.)

Because, I have now suffered two dispenser valve accidents and lost some darn good beer (My L’il Sumpin’ gone–I was tempted to lick the floor), I’m going to use fill only one Tap-A-Draft bottle and put the remainder of the beer in 12-ounce or 22-ounce bottles. Your mileage may vary.