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Brewing Equipment FAQs

What is a hydrometer and why is it important?

A hydrometer is an instrument that uses the density of the liquid to measure the presence or absence of another substance. The hydrometer can measure the density of any liquid and for that reason that are an abundance of industrial variants depending on the application. For example there are lactometers, saccharometers, thermohydrometers, and barkometers. The most pertinent one for the purposes of this website is the alcoholometer. The alcoholometer uses the density of the liquid in question in comparison to the gravity and atmospheric pressure at a given altitude to create a rough measurement for the amount of alcohol present in a solution. The hydrometer, in any form, is a vial with a centralized sealed floating mercury vial within it. You pour the solution into the initial vial and the inner mercury filled vial floats. A piece of paper is commonly placed in the inner vial during the fabrication process with demarcations of the various levels of the substance you’re measuring for. A alcoholometer is typically advised for the avid home brewing enthusiasts so they can keep track of the level of alcohol in their brew. In order to accurately measure the level of alcohol, a prior to fermentation measurement is required. That becomes the baseline measurement, and then following fermentation, various alcohol levels can be measured and recorded. By keeping good notes, just like a laboratory, the process can be revisited and revised whenever it is desired. Most brewers keep a cookbook of sorts that outlines their favorite recipes as well as thorough notes for potential alterations.

What does a full-fledged micro brewing plant have that my 10 gallon garage brewing set will not?

Depending on the scale of the operation, the micro brewing plant will have several advantages to your small-scale 3 tier brewing system. A typical three tier system will have a bin for the wort, another for the brewing process, and another for the fermentation. Although simplified, the process using a 6-bin cycle allows each bin to be dedicated to a specific cause. Heating and cooling increasing in energy required and therefore cost depending on the size of the application, which means that as a flat rate your small system will be cheaper, but at the end of the day, the micro brewing plant might be cheaper per liter due to accommodations for efficiencies of scale. The six bin section will also have offshoot fermentation bins so that the rest of the system can be utilized while a beer ferments, which is the longest step in brewing. The number of fermenters adjusts the output of your tier system or your plant. For example, on a home brewing system, you can have multiple kegs or other containers for the third tier which enables you to make more beer with the first tier wort & kettle and second tier cooler. The other advantage to the larger system is that you begin to dedicate lines to it. For example a dedicated water line or two for micro brewing is a necessity. The larger the system the larger the corresponding parts of the system.

Are there bottling machines available for the average home brewer?

Yes. Bottling solutions abound for the casual bottler. From bottle plant solutions to small screw top hand held bottling capacities, there is a bottling potential for anyone. Several companies offer worldwide bottling solutions for all applications, from the noncarbonated juice or beverage industry to the vacuum sealed soda or beer production. Depending on the vigorousness, there are companies that offer handheld button-press based devices. With these you hold the head of the device that looks similar to the handle and hilt of a sword, except that you hold it up-side-down and instead of a blade there is a funnel shaped device that attaches to the exterior of the bottle cap. There are table mounted manual and electric variants. These use the manual power amplified by gears to seal the beer, or use electricity and sensors to automatically seal bears. One such model offers 1,000 bottles sealed an hour with an experienced individual. These are in stark contrast to revolving micro brewery scale bottling production lines. These lines optimize the economies of scale to creating a revolving line of sealed bottles depending on the type of liquid, level of seal required, and potential requirement for vacuum sealing.