As an about to brew newbie who foundly remembers his grandfathers home brew bubbling away back in th e late 50's & 60's when iy was actually (still) illegal) in 20g ceramic crock (w/nothing but cheese cloth over the top) i've got a couple of (nery) newbie Q's:

1) what was wrong with that initial fermentation process he used in an uncovered ceramic crock

2) when it comes to bottling now, v 12oz bottles and caps why not just use 64oz growlers @ about 1/2-1/3 the cost? you're gonna drink it anyway, maybe a couple of points a night, w/o 'sharing' it so a growler will be empty in 2 dyas or... 2hours so... why NOT just skip the whole expense/hassle of 12 oz bottling in favor of a 'greener', cheaper alternative in 64oz growlers?

seems like ez 'math' to me > thanks > Ken

1 Answer 1


Let me try to answer your questions.

1) Modern home brewers use airlocks to minimize the chance that airborne wild yeast or bacteria will populate the beer and produce undesirable characteristics. A brewer chooses a specific yeast strain for their beer because of the particular properties that that yeast strain has been cultured to impart on the beer. The airlock keeps any other yeast from populating the beer and contributing characteristics other than those the brewer planned for. Your grandfather's cheese cloth likely kept dust and pests from settling in the beer, but may not have done such a good job keeping out microscopic life. Now, there's nothing WRONG with what your grandfather was doing. It sounds like he was successful with his brewing.

2) You could use growlers, or bottles with ceramic flip top caps with rubber seals. I've used these in 500ml and 1L sizes with great results. They have a more expensive start-up cost than regular beer bottles (which are essentially free), but greatly cut down bottling time. One concern with using these vessels is that you need to take care when bottling to leave enough space for the carbon dioxide to expand in the bottle. Over carbonation could lead to exploding bottles. This is always a concern when bottling, and more painful occurrence when the bottle that breaks is not only more expensive to replace, but also had more beer in it.

Hope it helps.

  • Yeah, Bill is right, the growlers are not built to hold as much pressure and are much more prone to breaking/exploding when used to carbonate beer. It is better to put the beer in the growler for a temporary amount of time after the beer has been carbonated.
    – dzachareas
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 1:26
  • I bottle into growlers all the time. Just use slightly less bottling sugar than the recipe calls for. I usually use 2 cups of DME when bottling 12 gallons. I've never had one explode on me. pop oops, there went one out in the garage. Murphy's Law. Or something. Actually, the ones with rubber stoppers will usually just seep out of the top rather than explode if they're over carbonated. Don't worry about it. Also, I highly recommend brewing a cheesecloth farmhouse ale in memory of your granddad.
    – Juanote
    Commented Oct 19, 2010 at 2:37
  • Bill has explained this well. It's also worth mentioning that in the initial fermentation process that the fermenting wort expels enough CO2 to keep out the unwanted microbes (Ken mentions that it was done this way during the "initial fermentation", so I'm assuming it was transferred to a sealed container or bottled after this). After a few days to a week of the initial fermentation, however, the chances of microbes getting in increases greatly.
    – markskar
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 20:03

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