No matter you are a traditional homebrewer or an ALCHEMA user, you might notice there is a sparkling trend. In this article, we share with you "3 steps to easily turn your homebrew into a carbonated masterpiece at home".
Before we begin, to help you take more away from this article, you have to understand the very fundamental thing which is "yeast transfers sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation". And the carbon dioxide is where the bubble comes from. The following 3 steps are based on the knowledge you just learned.
STEP 1 - Find a sealed transparent glass swing bottle with a high air pressure tolerance
If you want to carbonate your homebrew, racking your result into swing bottles to make it carbonated is the best choice. You could easily find swing bottles on Amazon.
* Why is a sealed bottle necessary? We want to trap the carbon dioxide in bottles.
* Why is high air pressure tolerance is necessary? Since we trap the carbon dioxide in bottles, it increases the air pressure. If your bottles are not strong enough, it will explode.
* Sometimes, the swing bottle you get is not that air-tight. To make sure you have perfect carbonated drinks, you could split your result into several bottles. Don't put all the eggs into the same basket.
* The volume of the bottle will not affect the result. So you could choose what suits you the best.
STEP 2 - Leave it at room temp. for 3 days or in the fridge for 6 days
There are three things you need to take care of in this step. One is “how much should I fill in?", the other is "How the temp. affect the result?", and the last is "Should I place the bottle straight or horizontal?"
- How Much Should I Fill In?
We recommend you to fill in your result to the gree line as we dictate below which is where the bottle starts to shrink. Why? If you fill in your brew above the gree line, you might have champagne spray while opening. If you fill in your brew below the gree line, the whole process might take longer. Since you leave a lot of spaces above, it takes longer to increase the air pressure.
* Before racking, please rinse your bottle.
- How The Temp. Affect The Result?
The way to carbonate your homebrew is doing "the secondary fermentation". The secondary fermentation means you let your brew ferment again after the main fermentation. The main fermentation defines the main flavor profile of your drink. While the secondary fermentation provides bubbling taste. As we mentioned, fermentation generates carbon dioxide. When we send the carbon dioxide back to the body, that is where the bubble comes from.
Since the tatic is based on fermentation, it will be affected by temperature. Normally if the temp. is higher, the fermentation goes faster, and if the temp. is lower, the fermentation goes slower. Pretty straight forward.
If you leave it at room temp., the temp. is usually higher, somewhere around 80°F. In this case, your fermentation goes faster, it takes about 3 days to carbonate your result. The upside is the period is short, while the downside is the dense of the bubble is lower.
If you leave it in the fridge, the temp. is usually lower, somewhere around 39°F. In this case, your fermentation goes slower, it takes about 6 days to carbonate your result. The upside is the dense of the bubble is higher, while the downside is it takes longer.
- Should I Place The Bottle Straight Or Horizontally?
If you use the bubble we recommend, placing your bottle straight is a good choice. The upside is the effective convection. If you place your bottle straight, the carbon dioxide could easily go through the whole bottle. If you place your bottle horizontal, not only it causes bad convection but also increases the possibility of leaking.
Some homebrewers prefer placing bottles horizontally which is not wrong. Through that to decrease the efficiency of the convection and decrease the possibility of bottle explosion. But the core thing we need to take care of is we have to use bottles with high air-pressure tolerance.
STEP 3 - Gently open the bottle
This is the easiest step but also the most important step. Before opening, don't shake your bottle. We all know what comes next if we shake champagne or coke before opening. Yes, the mess will be everywhere. DON'T SHAKE YOUR BOTTLE BEFORE OPENING.
Besides that, even though you don't shake the bottle, we highly recommend you dissipate the gas by opening a bit of the cap. If you see the bubble goes up and it is about to come out, close the cap! Yes, close the cap. You don't have to worry about the explosion, just close the cap and reopen to subside the gas again until no bubble will come out causing any mess.
* If you are looking for stronger carbonation, close the cap and repeat step 2.
Anything I need to know?
- Should I add sugar before step 2?
If you are an ALCHEMA user, no, usually you don't have to add extra sugar. Most of our recipes have enough residual sugar for the secondary fermentation. If you are not an ALCHEMA user, since your brew is not been monitored, we assume your result doesn't have any residual sugar. In this case, adding 1 oz of sugar for every 100 oz.l of your brew.
- Will my result taste different after the secondary fermentation?
Yes, but you might not be able to notice the difference. Since yeast transfers sugar into alcohol and CO2. The longer it ferments, the higher alcohol content it has with less residual sugar. In most cases, the fluctuation of ABV is less than 1%, the fluctuation of sugar content is less than 1Brix.
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