Bottling from the Chronical

15 gallons is a lot of bottles for one person

Bottling from the conical setup including rinsing and capping equipment.

I bottled for the first time using the Chronical last night.  It was quite a bit of work; roughly as long as a brew session including clean-up time. A lot of the extra time can be eliminated after applying the fixes I’ll list below. But for now, let’s walk through the process and I’ll describe The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Recirculating – The Good

The first step of the evening was to dump the existing yeast that had collected at the bottom of the conical during fermentation and aging.  I picked up two 48 oz Nalgene water bottles with graduated markings.   After sanitizing them, I connected a tri-clover 1.5″ to 3/8″ barb fitting, opened up the bottle, next the dump butterfly valve.  A slow stream of yeast soup pushed out and then much faster some amount of beer.  I quickly closed the valve and had about 40 oz of yeast sludge which has gone to the fridge.  I may or may not reuse it.  That ended up being really painless.  I like the bottom dump!


Next, I needed to mix in the priming sugar (approx 13 oz of table sugar) and yeast (.5 Liter starter stepped up).  I mixed the yeast into a second Nalgene bottle, opened the top port and dumped it in.  I replaced the bottom barb tri-clover fitting with a hose to connect the bottom port to the input-side of the diaphragm pump from Morebeer.  The output side of the pump has a host connecting it to a 90 degree 1.5″ tri-clover elbow into to top of the conical.  As a pre-caution around pressure build-up, I loosened all of the lid clamps; the were over the lip of the top but not locked down.  I then opened the bottom butterfly valve and then started the pump.  This ran flawlessly for about 15 minutes, then there was some foaming and the pump lost prime and stopped.  I’ll save the explanation for the Ugly section.

Recirculating – The Bad

I had planned to do both recirculation and pressurized transfer from the conical and had purchased additional fittings to make this easier.  However, none of the vendors have exactly what is needed.  The blow-off accessory includes a built-in pressure relief valve in the 3″ fitting and then an open 17mm hole which is filled with a 1/2″ NPT to 1/2″ Barb fitting to allow you to connect a blow-off tube.  The SSBrew Tech store will sell you a 3″ fitting with a 90 degree elbow barb, but if you want to use different connections, then you really want a 3″ fitting with 1.5″ tri-clover adapter *plus* the pressure relief valve.  I didn’t end up having any pressure issues, however, I do plan on creating my own by modifying the current fittings with a small change.  Instead if having the barb on the outside, I’ll reverse it and expose the 1/2″ threads through the top and connect that to a 1/2″ FPT to 1.5″ Tri-clover adapter.  This allows me to connect any other tri-clover fittings (like a 90 degree elbow barb), but I can also put something different on it since it ends in a tri-clover fitting.

Recirculating – The Ugly (my fault)

The recipe had been dry-hopped. I put the hops into a stainless steel mesh container and let it float in the conical for about two weeks. It was still floating when I started recirculating. After about 15 minutes, it started to appear foamy in the site-glass at the bottom of the conical. Then the pump struggled for prime and stopped. It slowly filled up and I restarted the pump. Same thing happened again; I thought something must be blocking it … oh NO! Yes, the mesh had been pulled down to the bottom of the conical and was blocking the flow. With some long sanitized gloves and a stainless spoon the hops were recovered with no issue. This did not help reduce oxygen exposure though. Note to self: Remove dry-hop container before recirculating.

Bottling from the Conical – The Good

The good news is that I got things working and 5 gallons of beer ended up in 49 750mL bottles, 10 gallons into kegs. That’s about it.


Bottling from the Conical – The Bad

The biggest issue I faced was that the conical does not have any easy way to apply CO2 pressure. All of the connections are tri-clamp (save the sampling port) and the recommended way requires one to build an adapter. It would be very nice if the Chronical came with it, or SSBrewTech sold it as a kit. Most of my hair-pulling this evening was related to this as all of my gas lines have female Flare fittings for easy attachment to check-valves and ball-lock quick disconnects. The Last Straw bottling equipment I purchased to compare to my Blichmann Beergun did not come with a 3-way flare tee for splitting the CO2 gas between the filler and the source (though NB lists them as a required part). I had to build one which was rather leaky and quite a bit of CO2 was lost while in use. The liquid line from the Chronical to the where I was filling and capping was probably 12 feet. This extra length is useful for when your filling with already carbonated beer as it slows the flow down. For uncarbonated beer, this just slowed down each bottle fill. The Last Straw itself appears designed specifically for filling already carbonated beer as the diameter of the liquid tube is very small, certainly smaller than the Blichmann.

Bottling from the Conical – The Ugly (my fault)

I have a 3-way flare tee but I couldn’t find it.
I have a 1/2″ barb to ball-lock post adapter, but I couldn’t find it.

The Fix!

First, I’m building the 3″ pressure relief tri-clover adapter to 1.5″ tri-clover. From there, I can switch between elbows and other things. Second, the fancy folks at brewershardware make tri-clover to ball-lock posts, both gas and liquid which allows instant connection to any of my current kegging and bottling equipment. Third, reducing the length of line used to as short as possible since I want to maximize fill-speed for bottling uncarbonated beer. Last, I’ll likely switch to the Beergun as it has a faster flow. I’m really torn as the single-handed orientation of the Last Straw was much more comfortable than how you have to hold the BeerGun.

New parts I’m ordering (Updated 2016-10-07):

Another Session IPA

Whalez Brah!

500mL bottle filled with 1 year whiskey barrel aged hatch chilis fermented on mixed fermentation culture

With the new conical requiring larger batches (15 gallon minimum for using the cooling coils), I definitely need a beer that I can drink often.  The previous Le Petite Prince (LPP) from Jester King, clone batch went amazingly quick (did I drain that keg myself? maybe…), even if the flavor profile wasn’t exactly spot on.  I cheated the natural process and didn’t bother bottle/keg conditioning, but rather force carbonating which definitely prevents some flavors from developing that normally would when naturally carbonating.

I’ve got 15 gallons of LPP ready to be bottled this week and the next beer is going to be a “clean” session IPA, fashioned after Pinthouse Pizza’s Calma Muerta.  A few months ago I got to talk with Joe Mohrfeld there and discussed some details of the recipe which prompted me to take another stab at getting it right.

Here’s my take.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
16 gal 60 min 50.4 IBUs 3.2 SRM 1.041 1.005 4.7 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American-Style Pale Ale 50 1.044 - 1.05 1.008 - 1.014 30 - 50 6 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 4.4 - 5.4 %


Name Amount %
Organic Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess) 20 lbs 80.81
Barley, Flaked 3 lbs 12.12
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L 1 lbs 4.04
Cane (Beet) Sugar 12 oz 3.03


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Calypso 1 oz 60 min First Wort Pellet 15.1
El Dorado 1 oz 25 min Boil Pellet 15
Cascade 2 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 5.9
Meridian 5 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 6.5
Calypso 2 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 15.1
Cascade 2 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.9
El Dorado 2 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 15
Meridian 2 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 6.5


Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 4.53 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 4.27 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 0.80 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Whirlfloc Tablet 3.00 Items 15 min Boil Fining
Yeast Nutrient 3.00 tsp 3 days Primary Other


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
San Diego Super Yeast (WLP090) White Labs 80% 65°F - 68°F


Step Temperature Time
Protein Rest 131°F 20 min
Saccharification 148°F 45 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min


Calma Muerta Attempt #1

WLP090 Recommendations:
"Make sure you make a proper sized starter, pitch cool at 65˚F then set your regulator to 66˚F,
let it rock for 3 days, then raise the temp to 70˚F for a couple days to encourage complete
attenuation and reabsorption of fermentation byproducts. At this point, I usually crash the
beer to 32˚F for a couple days then keg per my typical method, pouring the first pint a couple
days later."

Testing out the Chronical

it's unwrapped!

SS Brewtech 1/2 BBL Brew Master Edition Conical, leg extensions, wheels and blow-off cane.

After many years of promising myself and others that I’d get a conical I finally did.  It took a while.  I really had wanted a Blichmann; mostly because they had just about everything right from the start and most of the other options we’re either much more expensive (hard to believe right?) or just not as well made.  My close friend picked up a smaller 7G Stout tank and ended up upgrading the connections as well as fiddling with the lid for a tight seal and the 3-leg design was rather tippy but ultimately didn’t use it that often since it lacked a good mechanism for chilling.  Blichmann of course doesn’t either but were constructed to fit upright freezers or fridges.  My search continued.

My initial look at SS Brewtech bucket as well as conical left me not convinced.  The primary use-case for the conical was to have a vessel from which I could complete fermentation, yeast dump, dry-hop, recirculate and ultimately bottle or keg the beer without exposure to O2.  Initial buckets and conicals came with warnings that pressurizing was not supported.  The cooling system of coils was an add-on and it lacked a simple way to clean the conical in-place.  The most recent so-called “Brew Master Edition” however was aimed at addressing all of those points.  I found myself convinced after viewing a couple of threads on Homebrew Talk where some users had started to put together a complete solution.  In June I finally ordered the half-barrel and all of the parts needed for a CIP cart.

Clean Me!

Conical with Clean In Place (CIP) cart. This pumps PBW (or Acid cleaner) into the top which has a spray-ball. It outputs liquid through both the racking port and the bottom dump. 1″ host at the bottom back into the the pump.


I swapped out the pump face for a Chugger Stainless Steel Center-inlet on my March 815 HS pump.

After some time with the conical learning the tri-clover connections, figuring out the CIP process as well as how I was going to transfer beer from the boil-kettle to the conical, I was ready for a brew session.

I decided that my best course of action was to brew something that I wouldn’t mind having a lot of (15 Gallons is a lot for one brewer to drink) but light enough in cost that if this failed I wouldn’t be tempted to ignore the flaws that a new process and equipment might introduce.  I also had a nice 500mL slurry of yeast from the previous 5 gallon batch which was a ready-made pitch for a 16 Gallon batch!


Due to various time constraints, I unfortunately had to brew during the day.  Texas is not enjoying the previous two weeks of mostly 100+ F days.  Today was no exception, high of 100F; though a 40% chance lies, err of rain?  Woxford, however is equipped for summer brewing and two fans were strategically placed near the brewers station.

Don't try to brew and fight off wasps...

On brewday I ran a batch of Saniclean (non-foaming sanitizer) through while I was draining wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle.

After a 60 minute mash and waiting for the HLT to bring nearly 15G of sparge water to temperature I transferred from the mash tun to the boil-kettle.  While that was running I ran 1 oz of Saniclean (no rinse sanitizer that foams *much* less than Star San) through the conical with the CIP Spray-ball and the tubing connected.  That only requires 3 minutes of contact time but it ran for about 20 minutes.

I wish I could do 5 gallon batches in this thing but the coil is too high up.

Inside of the conical during transfer. The stainless chilling coils are built in for maintaining temps.

After a 20 minute whirlpool of hops I started transferring the chilled wort (about 80F with ground water) into the conical.  The slow rate due to the warm ground water resulted in about a 20 minute chill time into the conical; that likely added a bit more IBUs since the hops were in-contact for a bit longer.  That’s OK, it was under 20 IBUs already.

I'm full.

Transferred all 16 gallons and aerated with Oxygen

16 Gallons in the conical now.  I applied oxygen for approximately 180 seconds (60s per 5 gallons) and pitched the yeast.  Closing the top and connecting the blow-off tube and it’s all done.


Blow-off arm attached and connected to bucket/airlock

The temp in the garage is going to hit mid-90s, but the yeast strain from Jester King is highly temperature tolerant and produces a super-dry and attenuated beer.  After it’s fermented to dryness, I’ll connect the glycol chiller and bring the temperature down to around 60F which will help the bacteria start to sour the beer a bit.  I’ll follow up with a post on connecting and using the chiller as well as a post on recirculating bottling sugar and yeast when I bottle the batch from the conical directly.

I’m superbly happy with the conical so far and I’ll be sure to share any issues I encounter along the way.

Here’s Hoshi no Ojisama scaled up to 16G, along with some hop-changes for using older hops I still have around.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
16 gal 60 min 23.3 IBUs 2.2 SRM 1.026 1.005 2.7 %
Actuals 1.025 0 0.0 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 17 2 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 5 - 7 %


Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 13 lbs 81.25
Wheat (BestMälz) 3 lbs 18.75


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Target 2 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4.3
Tettnang 2 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 2.3
Target 2 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 4.3
Tettnang 2 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 2.3
Galaxy 0.87 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 8.3
Crystal 3 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 0.9
Willamette 2.37 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 1.7


Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 20.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Jester King Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 84% 65°F - 77°F


Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 156°F 40 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min


Hop Change:
EKG -> Target
Fuggle -> Tett
Add Fruity hop (Galaxy or Moz) to hopstand

2016-07-25 - 9AM -> 1:45PM
Hydro was below 1.000, so estimating at 0.995; temp 175F ~ 1.022
O.G post-boil @ 17.33 gallons was 6.4 brix, which resulted in 1.025 S.G
Pitched 500mL of JK slurry from last Hoshi, aerated for 120 seconds with Oxygen
Temp reading at 86F in garage, likely to rise. No chilling attached.

Subtlety and Nuance: A Brewer’s Beer


The prince is a big fan of Zwanze!

One thing I miss when I was brewing more often was the chance to try out a bunch of different beers in a session. At a brew night, I’d sample close to ten or twelve beers but not have to worry about drinking the whole bottle. As I’m brewing less often I’m finding that I really enjoy having something lighter, but interesting to drink along side a larger bomber.

Dirty keg is dirty; fixing that!

Until I finish this batch, I’ll have to make due with some Han’s PIls

As with many brewers, profession and otherwise it’s a great enjoyment to drink beer while working. In some cases any beer is fine, but when there’s a long day and one would like to stay sharp, the lighter, refreshing (dry) beers tend to be a favorite. This has has proven true for myself. I can recall a number of brewery mishaps after a long brew night (and beer sampling session) due to a lack of lighter beers. A perfectly reasonable solution is to have lots of lighter, flavorful choices available.  If you’re not into the lighter stuff, then you might be into the complexity; some might say the subtlety and nuance of these expressive beers.

Soon you'll be filled with funk and sour!

It was a great day to sip a refreshing beer in the yard.

My recent brews have been stronger, longer aged brews which leaves my taps devoid of anything lighter so I figured it was time to remedy that situation.  My previous brews using the Jester King mixed-culture fermentation have been more successful using an initial hotter fermentation, 75F up to 90F for roughly a week, or however long it takes to get below 1.010 S.G.  After that point, lowering the temperature allows the souring bacteria to take root and bring the pH down under 3.6 for some solid sour flavor.

I’m a huge fan of a local pub, Pinthouse Pizza’s Calma Muerta, a session IPA with huge flavors and strong bittering.  I’ve got that on my list to brew next yet my good friend suggested that we start experimenting with cultivating a high level of funk out of the Jester King yeast since we’ve got a good hold on target gravity and souring methods.  Besides producing an excellent lighter beer, ala, Jester King’s Le Petite Prince, exercising the funk in this brew will help in our sour-aged hot sauce experiments.

For this brew I’m adapting the homebrew recipe Jester King posted and supplying my ingredients.  I’m really excited to give such a lighter brew a go!  Enjoy.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
6 gal 90 min 20.6 IBUs 2.3 SRM 1.026 1.004 2.9 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 17 2 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 5 - 7 %


Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 5 lbs 83.33
Wheat (BestMälz) 1 lbs 16.67


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 3.2
Fuggles 1 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 3.7
Fuggles 0.5 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 3.7
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 0.5 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 3.2
Fuggles 0.5 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 3.7
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 0.5 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 3.2


Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 9.60 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Jester King Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 84% 65°F - 77°F


Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min


Smoke ’em if you got ’em


One of the very few Pilsners that I enjoy drinking from a can

Smoking malt for a batch of Russian Imperial Stout turned out quite well.  With that success complete and now kegged, I’m happy to proceed with more smoked malts! One of my favorite smoked beers is Jester King’s Gotlandsdrika.  The recipe has been shared by owner/brewer Jeff Stuffings over at the Beer and Wine Journal.

This bunghole smells amazing!

Despite the cracks in the wood, the barrel is water tight.

I took this recipe and scaled it up for 15 gallons so I can fill my newly acquired Rye Whiskey barrel.  This time, I’m smoking 100% of the malts used.  I also decided to keep them under the smoke a bit longer to help keep the smoke present post-fermentation.

The recipe calls for using beech and birch woods.  I had access to beech wood chips but no birch.  Instead I picked up some Alderwood to smoke half of the pilsner malt.  The whiskey barrel is a bit aged, dumped in 2015.  It tested well with the swelling and holding water however, I was some what concerned about what might have found its way into the wood since it sat dry for so long.  Barrel steaming to the rescue.


You wouldn't believe how long it took me to get that lid on. Embarrassing.

DIY Barrel steamer comprised of Pressure Cooker, Quick-disconnect adapter, Pressure Gauge , Check Valve, Silicon tubing, nipple to 1/2″ NPT, 90 Deg Street elbow to 2 ft. Copper pipe with drilled holes and end-cap.

Gloves are a must when dealing with steam.

A couple of rags help keep the steam inside the barrel to raise the temperature over 212 for approx 15 minutes.

Using the steam wand, I brought the internal temp up over 212F for about 15 minutes.  I’m really excited to see how this smoked beer comes out after fermenting in this whiskey barrel.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
15 gal 90 min 26.7 IBUs 4.5 SRM 1.052 1.003 6.3 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American Amber Ale 6 B 1.045 - 1.056 1.01 - 1.015 20 - 40 11 - 18 2.3 - 2.8 4.5 - 5.7 %


Name Amount %
Birchwood smoked Pilsner (Weyermann) 12 lbs 40
Smoked (BestMälz) 12 lbs 40
(Oak Smoked) Wheat Malt, Ger 3 lbs 10
Rye, Flaked (Briess) 3 lbs 10


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent 3 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5.6


Name Amount Time Use Type
Phophoric Acid (20%) 40.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Juniper Berries 0.60 oz 0 min Boil Flavor
Gale, Sweet 1.26 oz 0 min Boil Spice


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
JK Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 94% 55°F - 95°F


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 154°F 45 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min


0.20 oz. juniper berries, at whirlpool
0.42 oz. sweet gale, at whirlpool

Phosphoric Acid additions during multi-infusion step mashing: