How Many Beers Are In A Keg? And Other Conversions

This is something I had to memorize for the Advanced Cicerone exam so I figured, may as well make my own chart!

How Many Beers are in a Keg? A Barrel? A Batch?

I always hear brewers talking in “batch sizes,” bartenders talking in “pints,” and um…frat boys talking in cases. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize how all of these common beer phrases relate to each other.

I created this niffy little chart to make it easier (and also because I have to memorize it for the advanced Cicerone exam…)

Unit Bottle 6-Pack Case Keg Barrel 10 Barrel Batch 30 Barrel Batch 250 Barrel Batch
Bottle 1 6 24 165 330 3300 9900 82500
6-Pack 1/6 1 4 27.5 55 550 1650 13750
Case 1/24 1/4 1 6.875 13.75 137.5 412.5 3437.5
Keg 1/165 1/27.5 1/6.875 1 2 20 60 500
Barrel 1/330 1/55 1/13.75 1/2 1 10 30 250
10 Barrel Batch 1/3300 1/550 1/137.5 1/20 1/10 1 3 25
30 Barrel Batch 1/9900 1/1650 1/412.5 1/60 1/30 1/3 1 8.33
250 Barrel Batch 1/82500 1/13750 1/3437.5 1/500 1/250 1/25 1/8.33 1

I picked the 10, 30, and 250-barrel batch sizes because I thought it was a nice way to look at production across the different types of breweries. The largest craft breweries like Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada have 250 barrel brew houses.

So, anyone memorizing this bad boy with me??

How Do Brewers Make Clear Beer?

These are notes from the field while studying for the Advanced Cicerone Exam

What Is Added to Beer to Make It Clear?

Yes, I know, who cares about clear beer these days? It’s all about that #haze #juicebomb, right Instagram?

Well, if you’re brewing a classic style or entering competitions (or studying for Cicerone!) you’ll definitely want to know how to make your beer clear. There are two categories of substances used to make beer clear, also called “finings.”

The first category is “hot side.” These finings are added during the brewing process when the wort is “hot.” The clarifiers in this category are Irish Moss and Whirlfloc tablets. Both are made from seaweed but Whirlfloc tablets have more carrageenan in them than Irish Moss. Carrageenan is the active ingredient causing protein to clump and fall to the bottom of the beer so Whirlfloc requires a smaller dose to be effective.  

Naturally the other category is “cold side.” Cold side finings include Isinglass, Gelatin, and Polyclar. My favorite in this category is isinglass, just because it’s made of fish bladders and I like imagining all the tiny fish bladders dissolving in a beer.

As a homebrewer I typically use gelatin for clearing beers. For all of these cold side clarifiers, the fining agent is mixed with water (or in the case of isinglass an acid) and added to the fermenter a few days before bottling. When the beer is racked or bottled after being cleared with gelatin you get a nice layer of protein jelly, is cool but also kinda gross to clean!

What do you think about clear beers? Do you prefer them or are you all about the haze? Let me know at @beerswithmandy.


Which Hops Produce Bitter Cones?

These are field notes jotted down while studying for the Advanced Cicerone Exam.

Only Female Hops Make Beer Bitter

Did you know it’s lady hops giving your IPAs bitterness??

When you see hops hanging from a bine those are almost always the “female” cone. In fact, it’s a best practice in hop growing to eliminate a male hop plant immediately if you see one. The characteristics of male plants are much harder to control and will cause a specific type of hop (for example Columbus or Chinook) to taste slightly off or have a different alpha acid content. Male hops grow “flowers” that are used for breeding so if a male plant pops up in a hop farm, the hop cones will have seeds (which is not ideal for harvesting).

So next time you take a sip of bitter beer, thank the lady hops that made it for you!

Figure 1. a. Male inflorescence, b. stamen (male flower), c. anther, d. female inflorescences (burr stage), e. pistillate (female flower with stigmas projecting above bract that surrounds ovary), f. hop bine, leaves, and cones, g. hop bract, h. hop seed (achene). Source: Wikimedia

Figure 1. a. Male inflorescence, b. stamen (male flower), c. anther, d. female inflorescences (burr stage), e. pistillate (female flower with stigmas projecting above bract that surrounds ovary), f. hop bine, leaves, and cones, g. hop bract, h. hop seed (achene). Source: Wikimedia


What is a Stange Glass? (And Why Do I Care??)

These are some field notes from Advanced Cicerone study sessions.

What is a Stange Glass?

The answer to this question is pretty easy, a stange glass is the traditional serving-ware of a kölsch.

But let’s get more difficult ~why is a stange glass?~

That my beery friends is far less clear.

This tall, thin, perfectly cylindrical glass can be traced back to Cologne, where they are served out of a kranz tray like the one below. A traditional stange only holds about 6oz of beer so a group could drink several stange-fuls out of a kranz.

kranz-beerswithmandy.jpg

The light carbonation of the kölsch style benefits from the smaller serving size. It is unlikely that the beer will be completely warm and flat by the time you finish 6oz. In a busy bar, it is also unlikely that your server will want to refill your 6oz glass every few minutes. Today, stange glasses are made in 12-13oz sizes so your bartender doesn’t need to constantly top you off.

Similar other tall, thin glasses, like a weizen vase or a pilsner glass, a stange is helpful for head retention and shows of the brilliant clarity of the kölsch.

Is there other glassware that you are curious about?! Let me know @beerswithmandy so I can tell you a little more over the next 95 days!

Why is a Little DMS Okay in Pilsners?

These are field notes from my Advanced Cicerone studies. (Yes, I passed!)

Why is DMS Acceptable in a Pilsner?

The mild corn-like aroma on a pilsner has nothing to do with corn in the beer (although some may contain corn to lighten the body and mouthfeel). Dimethyl sulfide, referred to as DMS can be formed on the hot side of the brewing process or as a result of an infection in fermented beer. DMS from an infection is never acceptable, not even in pilsner. Today, I’m focusing on the DMS that can be formed even when beer is brewed properly.

DMS is formed from a “precursor” compound SMM (S-methylmethionine). SMM is found in malt but it is burned-off almost completely during the kilning process. Since very light malt like pilsner is kilned for such a short amount of time, some SMM may remain in the malt after it’s kilned.

Since pilsners are made of - you guessed it - almost 100% pilsner malt they are very susceptible to DMS, even after careful brewing. The best way to eliminate DMS is to boil the wort for a long time and cool the wort extremely quickly after the boil. Since some traditional methods and technologies do not allow for this accelerated cooling, DMS is considered acceptable in pilsners especially the traditional German styles.

So if you’re hanging at the German bar for Oktoberfest this month and you catch a whiff of creamed-corn (the tell-tale sign of DMS formed in brewing) don’t cry “bad beer” right away! Take a few sips, let the beer warm and see if you can enjoy a corny tinge to a classic style.