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How to Blow Up a Keg, and Why

How to Blow Up a Keg, and Why

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Because there is fire and exploding beer and it's all in slow-motion

Yes, exploding kegs are awesome.

We must admit, as wasteful as it is, we really enjoy watching things get blown up (another reason why sabering champagne is super fun). So as the folks behind Rated RR (who have also blown up rows of beer, boxed wine, and popped open champagne with an AK-47) decided to see if they could tap a beer keg with a detonating cord.

There's a lot of gear lingo and shoptalk that we don't necessarily understand (not a crowd of explosives experts here), but the visuals are pretty cool. There's plenty of wasted beer (sad!), fire, dramatic music, and plenty of smoke and slow-motion exploding. The resulting destroyed keg is not pretty. What a waste, but it was entertaining. Watch it all below, then be thankful that your friends only open a keg and do keg stands like normal people. And sometimes they play Danger Can, but even then it's not as wasteful as this.

How to Blow Up a Keg, and Why - Recipes

Too many homebrewers are overwhelmed by recipe design and as a result stick to kits. While kits can produce solid beers, writing your own recipe means you can tailor the beer to your tastes exactly. Many brewers just don't know where to start, how to select ingredients, and the way everything fits together. This post isn't about ingredients or process (although I'll mention both), each of my recipe posts gives some insight into why I selected particular malts, hops, yeast, and techniques. This is a meta-post about the process I go through each time I write a recipe.

So here are the 10 steps I go through for every batch I brew.

Your goal for a batch could be to recreate Russian River Pliny the Younger, brew an award-winning Berliner weisse, learn the flavor profile of various sugars, pack an IPA into a 2.5% ABV package, or concoct a saison inspired by New Zealand. Be careful not to mix goals, pick one priority and stick to it! Drinking similar commercial beers can be especially helpful in formulating your target profile.

Start by identifying those things that you will actually perceive. Be as specific as you can be in terms of appearance, flavor, aroma, balance, and mouthfeel. How much bitterness, sweetness, banana, clove, bready, roasty, citrus, alcohol warmth, carbonation etc. do you want? Then translate those things into analytic targets that you can build a recipe around: ABV, OG, FG, SRMs, IBUs, and final pH (thankfully many craft breweries provide their targets, as do the BJCP Guidelines). While it is helpful to understand how to calculate each of these numbers by hand, I use ProMash for accuracy and convenience.

Parameters can only get you so close though, a German Pilsner and a saison can look nearly identical on paper, as can a schwarzbier and English porter! Researching flavor contributions is essential at this stage. There are informative books, magazine articles, blog posts, forum threads, podcasts etc. covering almost every style, brewery, and flavor.

The best brewers are usually those that are brewing-knowledge sponges, taking the best ideas and refining and combining them into something that works for their palate and system. I'm always amazed to read things like: "I don't need a book to brew sour beer well." I often read and listen to something even tangentially brewing related in the hopes of gleaning some new tidbit or technique. Sure I can brew most styles well, but I'm always looking for ways to improve!

There is no shame in starting with a recipe someone else has perfected and adjusting to your tastes/system! Every once in a while it is even healthy to brew a reputable recipe that doesn’t look like one you’d design it is easy to get stuck doing things a certain way out of habit, taking cues from someone else breaks you out of that rut!

2. Identify Constraints

As homebrewers, we usually have more freedom than commercial brewers in terms of ingredient selection. We can use any malt, yeast, and hop available without compromise. However, many homebrewers are constrained in other ways: fermentation temperature, water profile, equipment, or timing. Sometimes the correct answer is that the target isn’t achievable given the constraints (e.g., an imperial stout in three weeks, a saison with primary fermentation at 55°F). If you don't have time to make a yeast starter, consider dried yeast (with its higher cell count) a preference. Extract with steeping grains is a constraint as well because it limits both fermentability and grain choices.

Even if you receive the exact recipe from a brewery, hitting the target may require considerably more than simply scaling down their batch size to match yours. Adjust the system efficiency, tweak the hops to account for their greater bitterness extraction (especially from whirlpool), adjust the fermentation temperature to account for the differences in pressure and geometry, and decide how to replace a bourbon barrel, Schaerbeek cherries, or house ale yeast. Converting a recipe from a fellow homebrewer is a bit easier, but requires some similar considerations.

3. Determine Batch Size

Batch size isn’t a single number. Start with how much beer you want going into kegs or bottles and work backwards from there. You’ll need to know your system to accurately predict how much water to start with in order to produce the desired volume of beer. Work in a bit of buffer if you can so you don't need to collect/transfer every drop of liquid.

Use different volumes for different (tasks):
Volume in the bottling bucket or keg (priming sugar)
+ Losses to blow-off, trub, and fermentor dead space =
Volume in fermentor (pitching rate)
+ Losses to hop absorption, break, and kettle dead space =
Volume in kettle at end of boil (IBUs)
+ Losses to boil-off (evaporation) =
Volume in kettle at start of boil (mash efficiency, amount of grain)
+ Losses to grain absorption and mash tun dead space =
Combined mash/sparge water

While you can project targets for all of these volumes, brewing consistent beer requires adjusting as you measure what they actually turn out to be. If you planned the batch to yield five gallons but end up with 4.75 gallons in the bottling bucket, only add enough priming sugar for 4.75 gallons!

4. Deal with Specialty Ingredients

While the base beer is hugely important no matter what weird ingredients you add, I always consider specialty ingredients first (although in an ideal world, you would dial in the base beer before adding less traditional flavorings or fermentables). If there aren’t going to be fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, wood, spirits etc. skip to step #5.

As a general rule, the more I want to taste the “true” flavor of the ingredient the later in the process I add it. If the flavoring doesn't contain significant fermentables (e.g., coffee, citrus zest) I steep it in the ready-to-package beer for a day or two right before kegging or bottling. Infusing directly into the finished beer allows alcohol and water to work together to extract most important aromatics. Exposure to heat and fermentation dull distinct aromatics, giving a more “integrated” character that works well for Belgian-style subtlety. I’d spice a wit at the end of the boil, while I'd dose a pumpkin ale with a spice tea in the bottling bucket.

This is another important chance for research, although this time cookbooks and cocktail recipes are especially helpful. Bloom cocoa powder in hot water, toast chili peppers in a dry pan, and use citrus zest without the pith. The traditional methods used by brewers may not be ideal, so don't limit yourself to them!

With experimental ingredients, a more controlled method is preferred. Spice teas, tinctures (alcohol extracts), blending, slow additions to taste etc. all reduce the risk of an imbalanced beer compared to guessing with an early addition. If you will be aging the beer, the longer you can wait before flavoring, the fresher those flavors will be when the beer is ready to drink.

5. Select Fermentables

The target OG (from step #1), your desired pre-boil volume (from step #3), and projected mash efficiency for your system for similar gravity beers (assume that the lower the total water-to-grain ratio is the lower the mash efficiency will be) are the three essential factors for determining the amount of fermentables required.

If you are adding sugar, determine the amount as a percentage of the gravity it provides (rather than the percentage of the total weight of fermentables). To get a 15% contribution of sucrose by gravity a brewer who achieves 80% mash efficiency would add 10.4% table sugar by weight while to a brewer who hits 60% efficiency would do the same with 8% table sugar. Both would use the same weight of sugar, the percentage changes because the brewer with higher efficiency uses less malt.

You should also consider the timing of aromatic sugars. Honey is best saved for after aroma-scrubbing primary fermentation. All sugars added to beers stronger than 10% ABV are also best withheld until after fermentation peaks to reduce the initial osmotic pressure on the yeast. For pure sugars in moderate gravity beers, add to the kettle as the wort runs in.

Next calculate the total amount of grain needed to reach the target original gravity. Then determine the type and amount of specialty malts. Do this based on weight, rather than a percentage of the grain bill. Lower gravity beers tend to have a higher percentage of specialty malts and adjuncts than stronger beers because they require less base malt. The amount of pale malt in a barleywine provides plenty of maltiness, body, color etc. often without much assistance, while a low alcohol beer can taste thin and bland without some toasted, roasted, or caramelized malts. 15-20% caramel malt in a 1.040 pale ale might be perfect, but the same weight might only account for 5% of the grain in a barleywine. Although I do maintain the grain percentages when scaling for changes in efficiency or volume.

Selecting sugars and malts is one of many areas where your knowledge and research will be key. Brewing and tasting beers brewed with just one-or-two malts, chewing on malts, and reading up on traditional combinations all help. Be specific in your choices and record keeping, not all roasted barley or crystal 60 is created equal different maltsters' products make unique contributions to the wort.

The newer you are to a style, the simpler the grain bill should be. Too many different malts combined without skill will result in a blander beer all else being equal. While a specific dark malt may lean more coffee, chocolate, or charred, three randomly selected and mixed together in equal parts will taste “brown,” that is to say indistinctly roasty. There are complex grain bills that produce delicious beers, but this type of formulation takes considerable skill and repeated brewing.

With the sugar and specialty malts determined, the only thing left is base malt. Select one that supports the malt flavors, and that contains enough enzymatic power to convert the adjuncts and specialty malts (as well as its own starches) given the percentage of the grain bill. While I love Maris Otter and Munich in dark beers, alone they may not have enough enzymatic power to convert half their own weight in unmalted grain and specialty malts (so you might add in a few pounds of a paler malt higher on the Lintner scale). In some cases the last consideration is a small addition of dehusked roasted malt for color adjustment.

When you are starting out, a simple rule is to source your malts from the country that inspired the recipe. As you gain experience though, you’ll likely think of malts in terms of the flavors they contribute. Some of my favorite less traditional combinations are: Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal in bocks, American pale malt in quads, and German CaraVienna in hoppy American pale ales.

6. Choose the Hop Bill

Start with flame-out (hop-stand) addition and work outwards. Flame-out hops impart some bitterness and aromatics, but their main contribution is a wonderful saturated hop flavor. Dry hopping primarily provides aromatics and comes across one-dimensional without a late hot-side addition (the one exception would be a dry-hopped sour beer), so I almost always pair it with flame-out hops. If I want a softer hop character, I’ll make a 5-15 minute addition the final hops. For hoppy beers with a large hop-stand and dry hop, I don’t find late-boil hops to be beneficial (or at least efficient). By default I usually use the same ratio of hops for all flavor/aroma additions (although I've had good results venturing away from that as well).

I rarely use more than three hop varieties in total between the late-boil and dry hop additions. As with specialty malts, without great skill, adding too many hop varieties produce a generic “green” hoppiness rather than layers of complexity.

The final hop addition to calculate is the bittering addition, enough to hit the target IBUs. This can be a relatively generic moderate-to-high alpha acid variety, no worries about matching the late-boil additions. In most cases I bitter with a 60 minute addition, but a one slightly before or after 60 minutes, or a first wort addition can work as well. In many beers, especially those with other strong flavors, this is my only hop addition.

7. Plan the Fermentation

Now that we’ve mostly figured out what the wort will be, we need to plan the transformation into beer. This means selecting a yeast strain, pitching rate, and fermentation temperature. Luckily we are now overwhelmed by yeast-strain choice. Fifteen years ago there were really only a couple labs producing liquid yeast for homebrewers, not only have they doubled the strains they produce, but 10 new labs have opened, and dry yeast quality/variety has also greatly improved!

You’ll need to ensure that the alcohol tolerance of the strain you select is above your target ABV from step #1. The strain's fermentation temperature range needs to fall within the range you have available as well. Finally (and most importantly) the flavors produced must match your goals for yeast character. Consider the attenuation, but know that you can tweak that with the mash profile.

Reading the descriptions and reviews for commercial yeast can be helpful, but better to taste beers fermented with the strain to evaluate the results for yourself! Homebrew is especially helpful for this as it allows you to ask the brewer specific questions about pitching rate, temperature, aeration, and timing.

It is helpful to select a strain used in a beer you enjoy and ferment several batches with it to form a relationship. Does it stall out if you don’t raise the temperature over 70°F to finish? Does it go all bubblegum if you don’t pitch enough cells? Does attenuation pause and then resume when it hits 1.020? Does it benefit from post-fermentation fining?

This is also a good time to think about how much carbonation you want. Don't figure out the priming sugar at this stage, but select a target volumes of carbon dioxide based on style and preference. Also decide if extended aging, high alcohol, high flocculation, fining, or lagering will mean reyeasting is required.

8. Calculate the Water Profile

Repeat after me, "Don’t pay attention to water profiles from cities other than your own!" Brewers everywhere treat their water, so mimicking their source water without their adjustments has a good chance of lowering the quality of your beer. Two of my worst batches were brewed with by-the-book water profiles from Burton-on-Trent and Westvleteren.

It is far more effective to treat your water with the specific recipe and a goal in mind. It is good to have at least 50 PPM of calcium for all styles to ensure good starch conversion, break formation, and yeast health. For pale beers, I prefer the carbonate and sodium to be as low as possible. This is the reason I do not normally post my target water profile along with each recipe, I don’t consider it to be ideal. For pale/hoppy beers, my carbonate ends up around 50 PPM, but I don’t want anyone adding more carbonate to their IPAs if their water has less than that. I’m not willing to buy a reverse osmosis system or 20 gallons of distilled water each time I brew, but I’ll often cut my carbon-filtered tap water 50% with distilled to bring the carbonate down from 100 PPM average.

Extract includes the minerals from the water used to produce it. As a result low-mineral water is ideal for these beers.

The flavor ions (sulfate, chloride, and sodium) don’t influence brewing or fermentation, so they can be dosed in at any point, including to taste at packaging. Sulfate adds dryness and increased bitterness perception, chloride increases the fullness of the body and roundness of the flavor, sodium enhances malty-sweetness (but can clash with high sulfate). Don’t worry about being hyper-precise with your targets because the malt contributes the same minerals, and the human palate isn’t precise enough to taste differences of a few parts per million anyway.

You may have a different water profiles for the mash and sparge (in general sparge water should be softer and more acidic than mash water).

You can estimate acid additions (using Bru’n Water or similar), but it is always best to take a pH reading and add only as much as is needed to hit your target. Similarly, if you think you'll need to add carbonate to raise the pH, calculate the amount of baking soda or slaked lime required, but wait to add it until a reading indicates it is needed. I aim for a slightly lower pH for pale beers than I do for dark beers (including mash, boil, and finished beer). Measured at room temperature the medians for me are 5.4 for the mash, 5.2 for the end of the boil, and 4.4 for the beer at packaging.

I'll include yeast nutrient and kettle finings in this step as well. Yeast nutrient generally isn't required, but one with trace minerals is inexpensive insurance (especially if you use a large amount of distilled or RO water). Similarly kettle finings like Irish moss and Whirlfloc are not essential, but combined with whirlpooling/settling they help to leave more break behind in the kettle. The result is more room in the fermentor for beer, and less protein mixed into the yeast for harvesting. I add 1/2 tsp of Wyeast nutrient and 1/2 Whirloc tablet per five gallons with five minutes remaining in the boil for almost all batches.

9. Determine the Mash Profile

The mash rest temperatures are the last brew day lever to pull. Adjustments here allow you to increase or decrease the attenuation of the selected yeast strain. One of the major drawbacks of extract brewing is that you cede this decision to the extract manufacturer.

My rule of thumb is that mashing base malt at 152°F will give about the yeast’s average stated attenuation, raising by 1°F decreases apparent attenuation by about 1%, and lowering by 1°F increases the attenuation by about 1%. This isn’t foolproof, and only applies from 144°F to 160°F, but is a good enough ballpark. Only do this calculation based on the extract obtained from the mash (assume that pure sugars like sucrose/dextrose will not raise the FG, and unfermentable sugars like lactose will add their entire contribution to the FG – most other sugars will be somewhere between).

Adding crystal malt will slightly lower attenuation, but not by as much as many brewers assume. Mashed gelatinized starchy adjuncts (e.g., flaked, torrefied, or pre-boiled raw grains) don’t have a huge impact on fermentablity as their starches are exposed to the same enzymes at work on the starches from the malt itself.

Most malts commonly available do not benefit from a step mash, but as you dial in a recipe in some cases you may want to experiment with a protein, ferulic, beta-glucan, or multiple saccharification rests. Decoction mashes may give some benefit at the margins, but several experiments over the years have suggested that their contributions are not apparent to the average palate.

10. Brew, Taste, and Rebrew

Always do a final review of all of your decisions to make sure the recipe makes sense as a whole before sourcing your ingredients.

Despite your best efforts, in most cases not everything will go to plan. Don’t hesitate to adjust, augment, or reevaluate as the process unfolds. For example, if your mash efficiency is higher than expected, you should identify that pre-hopping with a gravity reading so you can dilute and increase your hop additions to produce more wort, or dilute and draw off wort for another purpose. If your first addition of dry hops doesn’t produce the intense aroma profile you wanted, add a second dose. If the yeast doesn’t attenuate as expected, pitch a more attenuative strain.

The biggest improvements come from critically evaluating the finished beer and starting the whole process over again! Either adjust your recipe to get closer to your target, or adjust your target if you hit it and realize it wasn’t exactly what you wanted.

The Drunken Lizard Pub

Right now, just started exploring the game. I found a keg behind a house in town and have blown my arse up several times trying to set it off by whacking it with my sword. I can see no other way to detonate it. Perhaps buying a bow & arrow set? Throwing stones? Can someone give me a clue here?

Also, I wonder why the keg is sitting behind this house that is locked. Should I be moving the keg and blow open the house to see what's to be scavenged? Should I sell the Keg? To whom?

Any answers would be great. Cheers!

xolotl Lieutenant
Posts: 777 Joined: August 21st, 2008, 1:54 pm

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by xolotl » July 18th, 2010, 6:47 pm

You can use kegs to soften up doors, though I'm not sure if it will do enough damage to actually blow open a door all the way.

There are some locations throughout the game where a weak section of a wall can be blown apart with a keg (these tend to be somewhat obvious there are no such locations in Eastwillow (the first little town you're in)). They can also be useful to try and set up enemies to be near them and then set them off. One of the earlier quests you'll get can be made rather easier with a few kegs.

I don't know if anyone will buy them they do have some use, though.

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by JfpOne23 » July 18th, 2010, 7:03 pm

Thanks for the quick and helpful answer. I just found the .pdf in the game install directory. duh. Usually Steam has a clickable manual link on the page you use to start the game (most of them anyway) but I didn't find one for Eschalon II. Glad I dug.

Thanks again and see you with more questions I'm sure

Kreador Freeaxe Major General
Posts: 2391 Joined: April 26th, 2008, 3:44 pm

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by Kreador Freeaxe » July 18th, 2010, 7:27 pm

Kill 'em all, let the sysadmin sort 'em out.

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by JfpOne23 » July 18th, 2010, 9:08 pm

Oh yeah. he gets mad And thanks for the clue on the 2nd powder keg. The one I tried only angered the Guard.

Now how can I distract the Town Clerk lady to get at the town treasure chest?

CrazyBernie Captain Magnate
Posts: 1463 Joined: November 29th, 2007, 1:11 pm

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by CrazyBernie » July 18th, 2010, 9:35 pm

JfpOne23 wrote: Oh yeah. he gets mad And thanks for the clue on the 2nd powder keg. The one I tried only angered the Guard.

Now how can I distract the Town Clerk lady to get at the town treasure chest?

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by JfpOne23 » July 19th, 2010, 7:10 am

heh. the Kegs yes. Great idea. I used the kegs in the Well quest for the Priest to channel the Rats into single column attack in that leading corridor. Worked like a charm.

Luckily I still have 3 kegs to try your trick with the Clerk.

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by Asgard The Elder » July 19th, 2010, 7:27 am

You will need more kegs of powder the further you get into the game!
There are many treasures and areas locked away behind walls that may be blown up!

Have fun finding them all!

Painted Lady Lieutenant
Posts: 785 Joined: April 23rd, 2009, 3:09 pm

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by Painted Lady » July 19th, 2010, 3:59 pm

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by JfpOne23 » July 19th, 2010, 4:09 pm

Dragonlady Illustrious
Posts: 1466 Joined: August 29th, 2006, 2:38 pm Location: CA, USA or Knumythia

Re: How to blow up a Powder Keg?

Post by Dragonlady » July 19th, 2010, 5:27 pm

The guard ignores you if you steal stuff from the secretaries place. And if your careful about how close you go to the door, no there is no problem. Later if you wish, you can Charm people with potion/spell and when it wears off they like you again. Just troublesome to go around them to get to other buildings to sell things.

If you've angered the guard, just lure him part way out of town and Quick travel back after going to the next map or far enough you lose him to get to the inn or where ever to talk/sell/buy stuff.

Ferment in a Cornelius Keg

Most local homebrew shops sell used Cornelius kegs at very reasonable prices. Five-gallon (19-L) kegs are most common and are also the cheapest. There are also 2.5-gallon (9.5-L), 3-gallon (11-L), and even 10- and 15-gallon (38- and 57-L) Cornelius kegs, but all of these are far less common and cost several times that of a standard 5-gallon (19-L) keg.

If you’re new to Cornelius kegs, the first thing you’ll want to do after buying a used keg is clean it thoroughly and also replace all of the rubber seals. These kegs were used almost exclusively to serve various types of soda and the only parts you cannot clean well enough to remove the residual soda taste are the rubber seals. A full complement of replacement seals costs about $5. It takes just a few minutes to swap out seals. This step in preparing a used keg is non-negotiable — do not skip it! I also replace the poppet valves on used kegs, but this is not necessary so long as the keg is holding pressure. I’m just paranoid.

Thoroughly rinse the inside of your keg to clear out whatever might have been in there (usually a small amount of sanitizing solution). Mix up 5 gallons (19 L) of a solution of B-Brite or other oxygen-based cleaner (like Oxi-Clean) in a bucket and pour off some of it in a small plastic container (Tupperware or similar). Use a 7⁄8-inch deep socket or crescent wrench to loosen and remove the gas-in and liquid-out posts. Remove and discard the rubber seals on the posts. Remove the poppet valves from the posts. Now remove and discard the large rubber seal around the keg lid, and also unscrew the relief valve from the lid. Also remove both dip tubes, and, again, discard the rubber o-rings (Figure 1 shows several of these parts).

Take all of that (posts, poppets, lid, dip tubes, and relief valve) and drop it in the small container of cleaning solution. While the keg parts are soaking, pour the bucket full of cleaning solution into the keg and let that sit as well. For cleaning purposes you may find it easier to reinsert the liquid side dip tube in the keg, as it is quite long. Letting everything have a good soak for 15 minutes or so loosens up any residual gunk that might be present.

After the soak, add the new rubber seals to the posts, lid, and dip tubes. Apply a very thin coat of “keg lube” to the new rubber parts before installing. This will help keep the rubber from drying out, as well as aid in keeping an airtight seal when the keg is under pressure. (Keg lube is a food-grade lubricant and is available from most homebrew shops that stock draft equipment.) With the keg still full of cleaning solution, reinsert the dip tubes and reattach and tighten down the posts (remember to reinsert the poppet valves into posts before screwing them onto the keg). Attach and lock the lid and reset the relief valve. Give the keg a good shake for 30 seconds to a minute to ensure full cleanser contact on all interior parts. On brew day, follow this same basic procedure to clean the keg. You’ll also need to sanitize the keg with your sanitizer of choice.

Get the gas out

Kegs are airtight by design, and obviously we need a way to let out the CO2 created during fermentation. This can be accomplished in a very simple, straightforward manner with minimal expense and using existing keg components. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

• a “Gas In” disconnect fitting with hose barb
• a metal hose clamp (this is optional)
• a short length of tubing
• a glass or plastic container (such as an old jar or growler)
• anti-foaming agent

For fermentation, remove the gas side’s short dip tube. Attach the “Gas In” disconnect to the “in” post on the keg. Now slip the tubing onto the hose barb of the disconnect. Fill your jar or growler about half full with a solution of the sanitizer of your choice. Insert the other end of the tubing in the growler and you’re ready to go.

What about blowoff?

You probably noticed that this setup looks very similar to a typical “blowoff” arrangement used with a carboy. While it does look similar, the small diameter of the keg fittings and tubing will not work very well for the bits of hops and coagulated gunk common in the foam that is ejected during high kräusen. This is especially true of vigorous fermentations with top-cropping yeast strains, such as Wyeast’s 3333 German Wheat, for example. To avoid a big blowoff there are a few tricks we can use. Plus you can remove the “guts” of both the tank gas fitting and the gas in disconnect, which will allow the passage of kräusen and hop particles unless you’ve used whole flower hops, which can still clog the pipe and cause major problems.

The volume of the keg is 5 gallons (19 L), and that means to avoid problems we need to put a little less than that into it for fermentation. Shoot for about 4.5 gallons (17 L) into the keg. By using a lot less wort than that, we can avoid blowoff entirely. But that’s not a desirable option for 5-gallon (19-L) batches. So instead of fermenting a smaller volume of beer, use a food-grade anti-foaming agent called Fermcap-S to reduce the amount of kräusen present during the height of fermentation. Fermcap-S is widely available at many homebrew shops and mail-order suppliers. The active ingredient is dimethylpolysiloxane, which is also used to make the active ingredient in some over-the-counter drugs, like Gas-X (simethicone). Use three or four drops per gallon (3.8 L) of beer to help eliminate that big foamy head of kräusen and keep the gas disconnect clear of particulate matter. Add the Fermcap-S directly into the keg after you’ve transferred the cooled wort but before you pitch the yeast. The Fermcap-S will settle out after primary fermentation and will be left behind after racking.

If you already brew larger batches or would like to try going bigger, splitting the batch into two or more 5-gallon (19-L) Cornelius kegs is a great way to go. Start off with a batch size of between 8 and 9 gallons (30 and 34 L) and then split them into two kegs. This also lets you try the same recipe with multiple yeast strains for testing and comparison.

Racking with gas

One of the most convenient features of using a keg for fermenting is that you can use CO2 to transfer beer from primary to secondary. This process is closed and does not rely on gravity or siphoning. To do this, some brewers like to cut about 3⁄4 of an inch (2 cm) off the end of the liquid dip tube to avoid picking up yeast from the bottom of the keg. Others just bend the dip tube away from the center-bottom of the keg. I leave my dip tubes fully intact and just discard the first few ounces of cloudy, yeasty beer that comes out when the transfer starts. The choice is yours as all methods work fine.

Whether you plan to transfer to a carboy or a keg, you’ll want to avoid transferring the trub at the bottom of the fermenter. To do that, hook up a CO2 cylinder to the “Gas in” disconnect and adjust the regulator to minimum pressure. Connect some tubing to the “Liquid out” disconnect and slip the other end into a jar or other container. Slowly turn on the gas and watch as the yeast and trub are ejected. Keep an eye on the discharge and turn the gas off as soon as the effluent clears up. And now on to racking.

If you secondary in a carboy, use a carboy cap with a racking cane through the center opening and remove the covering cap on the other stem. Connect the racking cane to the “Liquid out” disconnect on the keg with some beverage tubing. Depending on how snug the connections are (or aren’t), you may want to use hose clamps to secure the tubing. Connect a CO2 cylinder to the “Gas in” side of the keg, and you’re ready to transfer.

Set the CO2 regulator at the minimum PSI possible before opening the valve. Only a very small amount of pressure is needed to push the beer, and any more than just a little could make a big mess or unduly agitate the beer. You may not be able to hear any gas entering the keg, and it may take several seconds for the beer to begin to flow. You also may not see the pressure register on the regulator gauge, but that’s okay. Once enough pressure builds up in the keg, the beer will flow out into the carboy.

You can also use the same basic procedure above to transfer directly to another keg. Connect the “Liquid out” on one keg to the “Liquid out” on the other keg. Be sure to open the relief valve on the receiving keg to allow the displaced air in the keg to vent. When transferring to another keg, you can go a little higher on the CO2 pressure to speed up the transfer.

Racking with gravity

If you don’t have a kegerator setup up and running, you can use a simple siphon to transfer from the keg to a carboy or another keg for secondary fermentation (or directly to the bottling bucket if you do extended primary fermentations). Just use a racking cane in the keg and start a siphon. Nice and easy.

Kegs as secondary fermenters

Cornelius kegs also make excellent secondary fermenters. Just transfer the beer to a keg after primary, close the lid, and pressurize it with about 15 to 20 PSI to make sure the lid seal seats properly. Every few days, vent the keg via the pressure release valve. There will be some residual fermentation going on that will create a small amount of CO2, as well as some leftover CO2 that was dissolved during primary fermentation. Not venting this excess gas won’t be a huge problem because the keg is rated for pressure far beyond what will occur in secondary fermentation, but too much pressure may cause some yeast strains to prematurely flocculate. This is a bigger issue in primary fermentation, but could conceivably have a negative impact on bulk aging.

4 thoughts on &ldquo Homebrew Hacks: The Art of the Blow Off Tube &rdquo

I’ve been using a blow off tube on all of my brews to avoid the potential for a disastrous mess. No downside. Only peace of mind during your fermentation.

I had a stopper blow out even with a blow-off tube. I was using (as I remember) a 1/4″ tube fitted into the drilled stopper hole, which is probably about the size of an airlock stem. I had transferred all the wort, hops included, into the fermenter. Maybe the moral is to use a very large tube (eg 1″ tube directly into the carboy opening) or strain the hops out.

I use a blowoff tube for every batch until high activity falls, then install a regular 3 piece airlock until done.

I use a use a 1″ tube directly into the carboy for secondary when I’m expecting high activity. As was said before, no downside.

How to Blow Up a Keg, and Why - Recipes

I was inspired by coaching one of my coworkers through his first batch of homebrew (an English bitter) to write up a list of the mistakes that many new homebrewers make. Several of these are things I did on early batches, while others I have tasted at homebrew at club meetings. Many of these issues stem from poor kit instructions, bad homebrew shop advice, and common sense that just doesn’t work out.

1. Using the sanitizer that comes with a beer kit. This powdered sanitizer is slow and not especially effective. Instead get a no-rinse sanitizer like Star-San or Iodophor, which are faster and easier to use. Sanitize everything that touches your beer post-boil, and make sure it is carefully cleaned after each use (sanitizers are most effective on scrupulously-clean scratch-free surfaces). Keeping wild microbes out of your beer is the single most important step to brewing solid beer.

2. Starting with a recipe that is strong or unusual. Brewing a big complex beer is lots of fun, but play it safe on your first batch and brew something simple. High alcohol beers require more yeast and time. Interesting adjuncts add complexity to the recipe and process. These are things you don’t want to deal with on your first batch, so keep it easy.

3. Brewing with unfiltered, chlorine-containing tap water. If you are on a municipal water supply odds are that it contains either chlorine or chloramines. To remove them you can either charcoal filter (I use a Camco 40631) or treat your water with metabisulfite, or alternatively use bottled water. One of the most common off-flavors I taste at homebrew club meetings is medicinal chlorophenol, which is formed by the combination of chlorine in the water or sanitizer and phenols from malt and yeast.

4. Squeezing the grain bag after steeping. This releases tannins, which give the body a rough texture. Steep your grains in a small amount of water (no more than three quarts per pound) and then rinse them by either pouring hot water over the grain bag or dipping the grain bag into a second pot of hot water. Edit: I've had a couple people dispute squeezing being an issue in the comments. I've tasted some tannin-y beer from new homebrewers, but maybe it was just from a high water to grain steeping ratio. I'll have to squeeze the grain bag into a glass and have a taste the next time I brew an extract beer.

5. Using liquid yeast. "Pitchable" liquid yeast cultures barely have enough cells to ferment a standard gravity beer on the day they are packaged, and their cells die quickly from there. A high quality 11.5 g package of dried yeast starts with as much as twice the cells as a fresh package of yeast from either Wyeast or White Labs, and retains high cell viability for much longer. While Fermentis, for example, claims a minimum of 6 billion cells per gram at packaging, the actual number tends to be much higher. Liquid yeast can produce great beers, but require a starter unless you are getting extremely fresh yeast and brewing a low-alcohol beer.

6. Not aerating the wort adequately. It takes several minutes of shaking for the chilled wort to absorb the ideal amount of oxygen to allow the yeast to complete a healthy growth phase. The healthier your yeast cells are the cleaner and quicker they will complete the fermentation.

7. Pitching when the side of the pot or fermentor feels “cool enough.” Use a sanitized thermometer to check the actual temperature of the wort before you add the yeast. Pitching when the wort is above 100 F is rare, but will kill the yeast. Ideally the temperature should be at or below your target fermentation temperature to allow the temperature to rise as the yeast grows and ferments. You can pre-chill the sanitized water you use to top-off after the boil to help bring the temperature down.

8. Fermenting at too high of a temperature. Take note of the ambient temperature of the room the beer is fermenting in, but realize that at the peak of fermentation the yeast can raise the temperature of the beer by as much as 7 F. Fermenting too warm can cause the yeast to produce higher alcohols and excessive fruity flavors. Letting the ambient temperature rise towards the high end of the yeast's range as fermentation slows helps to ensure a clean well attenuated beer, but for most strains is unnecessary. If you are unable to control the fermentation temperature, then choose a yeast strain that fits the conditions.

9. Racking to secondary. I know the instructions included in most kits call for transferring the beer from the primary fermentor to a secondary before bottling, but all this step accomplishes is introducing more risk of oxidation and wild yeast contamination. There is no risk of off flavors from autolysis (yeast death) at the homebrew scale in less than a month. At a commercial level the pressure and heat exerted on the yeast can cause problems quickly, but those conditions do not exist in a carboy or bucket.

10. Relying on bubbles in the airlock to judge when fermentation is complete. Wait until fermentation has appeared finished for a couple of days before pulling a sample of wort to test the final gravity. There is no rush to bottle, and doing so before the final gravity is reached results in extra carbonation. Once fermentation is complete and the beer tastes good, you can move the fermentor somewhere cool to encourage the yeast to settle out for clearer beer in the bottle.

11. Adding the entire five ounce package of priming sugar. In almost all cases this amount of sugar will over-carbonate the beer. Even for five gallons of beer this will produce too much carbonation for most styles and most brewers will end up with less than five gallons in the bottling bucket. Instead use a priming sugar calculator to tailor the weight of sugar you add to the actual volume of beer, the style of beer you are brewing, and the fermentation temperature.

Hopefully this list is able to help a few new homebrewers avoid some of the biggest pitfalls on their first batch. If any of the more experienced brewers out there has any lessons learned that are not included on the list please post a comment. You should also pick up a good basic homebrewing book, like John Palmer’s How to Brew or Randy Mosher's Mastering Homebrew, especially if you want to learn more of the “why” behind some of my suggestions.

There are many other things I would suggest as best practices, but they tend to be more style specific and are not worth worrying about on your first batch. I also think fresh high quality ingredients are a big key to making good beer, but most people brewing their first batch are buying and using fresh malt, yeast, and hops.

When should the airlock start bubbling?

After you have made the switch from blow off tube to airlock, you should see bubbles start to work their way through your airlock soon after.

Remember that as fermentation continues, it’s not uncommon for less and less carbon dioxide to be produced as the yeast starts dropping out of suspension and becoming less active. So, if you notice that your airlock remains inactive after a healthy blow off tube phase, be sure to take an accurate specific gravity reading.

If the gravity of your beer doesn’t change and remains above the target gravity you were expecting, you may have an issue with your fermentation. I have written a detailed article about why this happens and how to fix it, so check that out if this situation refers to you.

Looking for Hop Water Recipes / Information / Experience

My wife can't drink alcohol for a few more months, but loves the smell/taste of hops, so I was excited to read about Lagunitas's Hop Water announcement and discover that there are also other similar products available commercially.

However, these products have generally limited distribution and aren't cheap. I have hops, water, and CO2, but what I don't have is a tried-and-true recipe or experience with a product to know what it should taste like. I was hoping someone here could help me.

A read on some homebrew forums suggests that if I enter this naively and just steep hops in water or make hop tea, it will likely come out unappealingly bitter, and many recipes incorporate sugar/yeast and produce something alcoholic. I am envisioning something zero-alcohol, zero-calorie, zero-caffeine, and perhaps (via non-sugar sweeteners) a little sweet.

So I was hoping for some help:

Does anyone brew Hop Water? If so, do you have a recipe that you can share? How did it taste?

Has anyone tried these products? Are they actually good? I was hoping for an IPA or NEIPA flavor/aroma.

That’s not your keg: Some thoughts on deposits, boycotts, and everything in between.

A fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of kegs owned by Freetail Brewing Co.
So here I am again, about to embark on a long-winded blog post about a topic that may in fact be bad for my own well-being in the long-run. It won’t be the first time, hopefully it won’t be the last.

If you haven’t heard by now, a handful of Houston-area bars have agreed to boycott beer from Silver Eagle Distributors over a recent increase in keg deposit fees. Some of the breweries that Silver Eagle distributes: Saint Arnold, Karbach, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, 8th Wonder, Rahr, Six Point, Anheuser-Busch, Modelo, and… you guessed it, San Antonio’s own Freetail Brewing Co.

I’ll start this out by saying that I’m well aware the opinion that follows may result in my beer never again being sold at any of these bars engaged in the boycott, and I’m willing to accept that. I’m willing to accept that perhaps my opinion even means that I can’t sustain distribution in Houston at all. I accept that too, because this is a sword I’m willing to fall on for the industry I love. I’ve always prided Freetail in our transparency and honesty to our suppliers, business customers, peers, and fellow beer drinkers. That’s disclaimer #1.

Disclaimer #2. I understand and I can sympathize with the perspective all parties involved. I’ve paid deposits for other breweries’ beer, and I’ve collected deposits from wholesalers, retailers and consumers alike. I’ve been a part of each side of the transaction. I get it.

I first heard of this story as it was relayed to me by our salesman on the ground hearing a rumor that I confirmed directly with one of the retailers, confirmed with Silver Eagle, and confirmed with a fellow brewer in the Silver Eagle portfolio. My initial reaction was to be concerned from a business perspective. Our new production brewery, and especially our Houston distribution, is so young that hiccups like these have major impacts on our financial well-being and viability. Putting those concerns aside, I thought to myself: “I get it… and I don’t think anyone is really wrong here.”

But I’ve come to change my opinion, and while I have a lot of respect for folks like Ben Fullelove (Petrol Station) and Kevin Floyd (Hay Merchant) and what they’ve done for craft beer in Houston, I respectfully disagree with them on this issue.

Disclaimer #3: if this dispute were just about advance notice of deposit increases, I would concede that point and agree with those with the complaint. But that isn’t the crux of the debate, the debate is over the fact that keg deposit fees are increasing, and may increase in the future. Bars don’t like it because it’s an additional upfront cash outlay, and that cash is best suited elsewhere. I can understand this perspective, but it doesn’t make it the only viewpoint and it doesn’t make it the correct one.

Disclaimer #4: this dispute actually has nothing to do with me other than the fact that my beer isn’t purchased anymore. I didn’t raise my deposit amount that I charge to my wholesalers, so I’m not the reason the deposits went up. However, I’m one of the brewers most impacted by this because as one of Silver Eagle Houston’s smallest supplier’s, most of my volume is at the same craft-centric accounts involved in this boycott. Maybe that’s why I don’t have an issue falling on this sword: I’m already shut out of all these places for a reason that has nothing to do with me anyway, so what’s to lose?

A keg deposit, is just that: a deposit. Just like any other deposit, when you return the item in the condition it was received (or, in the case of kegs, covered in beer and other miscellaneous things), you get your deposit back. The reason we have keg deposits is because kegs are extremely expensive, and keg loss is a major issue in the beer industry that costs small, independent craft brewers MILLIONS OF DOLLARS every year. (The Brewers Association, which full disclosure, I am a current Board Member of, has estimated that lost and stolen kegs cost craft brewers between $5.3 and $15.8 million annually.) The truth of the matter is that in almost all cases, the cost of a keg deposit is significantly less than the replacement value of the keg. The last order of kegs I made, the total cost of which was as much as a brand new Mercedes-Benz (and not an entry level model), came out to $131.62/keg after accounting for production, embossing, screen printing, palletizing and shipping. To really eliminate keg loss/theft, the market really should be charging a deposit fee significantly higher than the replacement cost of the keg to incentivize the retailer/individual to return it. So long as you are only paying a $50 deposit for something worth $131.62, why would you ever return it? (I know the answer to this question: they get returned because most bars are run by trustworthy people who see more value in selling more beer than owning stolen kegs).

But we don’t charge deposits that ensure maximum returns. The market charges a rate that is less than replacement cost off the contract of trust that has been established between the brewer, the wholesaler, the retailer and consumers in cases where they can buy kegs. The amount of the deposit is set by the brewer at a level that reflects the level of risk the brewer is willing to accept that his kegs might get lost. As losses mount, some brewers may feel compelled to increase that deposit amount to cover those losses. Remember: this costs breweries millions of dollars a year, from the global giants to the smallest breweries.

Some people have asked: why not just punish the bars who are losing the kegs instead of everyone? Well… they are. Only bars that don’t return kegs end up losing their deposit. Bars that return kegs, get their deposit back. If they have another order, that deposit can be applied to the next purchase. I’ve had instances where only paid $5 for a keg of beer because we had four shells to return and we were only buying one keg. In other instances, we were buying more than normal, so we had to put down new deposits. Some people have said “you only get your deposit back when you decide not to sell anymore beer.” But that’s how all deposits work. If you rent an apartment, you only get your deposit back when you move out.

Others have asked, why not only charge the higher deposit amount for the kegs with higher deposits? That would be one way to do things, but in my opinion it creates an accounting quagmire that isn’t worth the trouble. If Scott’s bar is carrying Saint Arnold and wants to buy a keg of Freetail next week, the bar doesn’t have to worry about if there is a difference in the deposit – they get credit for the same deposit amount. This makes things nice and simple for both the wholesaler and the retailer. In my time buying beer from other breweries, the toughest part about managing my outstanding keg deposits was keeping track which ones were are various price levels. Having them all the same price made things a lot easier for me.

Lastly, many have said this is about greed from Silver Eagle. The reality is that Silver Eagle pays keg deposits too. Every week when they come pick beer up from me, I charge them a deposit on kegs and give them credit for returns. If they never return a keg, they lose their deposit. The system of deposits rolling downhill keeps accountability on the person who last “rented” the keg. If Specs, for example, sells a keg to Joe Blow, they are going to collect a deposit. If you don’t return the keg, you don’t get the deposit back. Specs is free to charge whatever price for the deposit they want, since they are responsible for getting that keg back to the wholesaler or they will lose their deposit. If Joe Blow loses it, he is on the hook. If Specs loses it, they are on the hook. If Silver Eagle loses it, they are on the hook to me. When anyone loses it, the brewery is on the hook because the deposit didn’t cover the cost of the keg.

[Note, not discussed here is the topic of bars that hold kegs to age, sometimes for years. This has a real cost to breweries to. We expect a keg to turn over 10-12 times a year, so a keg out of commission for years at a time means it needs to be replaced. I’m not saying this practice needs to stop, but it is something to be aware of]

In the end, this is a nuanced situation that doesn’t have easy answers that boil down to “damn the man!”. In this case, “damn the man” is actually hurting Freetail, Saint Arnold, Karbach, Rahr, 8th Wonder, etc., because we are the ones who rely on these bars to sell our beer and keep us in business.

I won’t be responding to comments to this post because our blog has major spam problems right now and comments get lost. I will, however, respond to any comments posted in the Beer Advocate Southwest Forum in this thread. I’m committed to transparent business practices and am more than happy to engage in a discussion on the topic. I invite any retailers who disagree to engage with me too. Some of you have my cell number, reach out, or let’s talk on the BA forum. There may be something I am missing and my mind is always open to new perspectives.

1Sambayan: A powder keg waiting to blow up

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. calls it a “strange bedfellows” relationship, the 1Sambayan Coalition, reportedly formed to represent the opposition in the 2022 elections. “Strange bedfellows” because those in the relationship are not supposed to share a common bed if you know what I mean. Actually, the phrase is a title of a popular Hollywood movie back in the 1960s about two males in an amorous relationship. At a time when people’s attitude toward LGBTs was not quite as liberal as today, the theme was rather controversial, accounting for the movie’s success at the tills.

Picking up the subject matter, I wrote in this column on March 28, 2021: “While the article clearly delineated what he termed, 'strange bedfellows' relationship among those composing the 1Sambayan coalition, i.e., former senior associate justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs secretary Alberto del Rosario, for instance, who are unabashed United States mouthpieces, and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, for another instance, who is said to be a card-bearing member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP), together with Yellow Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Franklin Drilon with retired Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Rommel Ong to boot, I can’t help the feeling that the exposé actually raised the specter of such awful a phenomenon as a genocide that uniformly attend anti-communist campaigns.”

I had in mind the 1965-1966 genocide of communists in Indonesia that culminated in the military ouster and replacement of President Sukarno by Maj. Gen. Suharto. General Parlade’s assessment on 1Sambayan composition struck me as exposing the breadth and width and height reached by the CPP-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front insurgency to the extent that the Sisonites are already in a modus vivendi with otherwise their class enemies for the purpose of ousting President Duterte. And such an ouster may not even be through the electoral process but through something that has the likes of Suharto’s ousting Sukarno in 1967 — as indicated by General Parlade’s question at the end of his piece to retired Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Rommel Ong: “Why are you there, bok?”

If this perception of mine were to be true, then the formation of 1Sambayan reflects an advancement in the strategy of the United States to get the Philippines embroiled in a war with China in order to reassert its lost status as the world’s leading hegemonist. The transpirations at the US-China Diplomatic Dialogue in Anchorage, Alaska, recently indicated that the US ploy in the Indo Pacific Region is for a continued demonizing of China instead of a peaceful win-win relationship proposed by China for enjoyment of world development equally among countries. The US particularly castigated China for violations of what it calls rules-based international order, which the US and its Western allies promote at the expense of the United Nations rules on international relations, which China upholds in their entirety.

Simply stated, there appears no way China and the United States can agree in the South China Sea (SCS) over which China promotes a Code of Conduct among Asean nations, with no interference from outsiders, while the US and its allies insist on freedom of navigation operations. Germany is the latest reported to have sailed a war vessel in the SCS.

Mark it that the advocacies of the 1Sambayan are in perfect accord with the United States position. To fan Philippine discord with China, the issue of the South China Sea is high on the agenda of the coalition. It sticks to the line that the Philippines has won over China in the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling in the country’s dispute with China over certain portions of the region.

Even before that ruling was issued, I already pointed out in 2015 that sovereignty was never at issue in the PCA proceedings, and that at any rate, China had never participated in the arbitration so that the PCA ruling could never be binding on the Chinese. But the way the tandem of Carpio and del Rosario has been raising hoots over the issue, it is as if the PCA did rule that those disputed areas between China and the Philippines are Philippine territories. No such thing. What the PCA ruling says is the Chinese nine-dash line stand is illegal. Just because the Chinese nine-dash line is illegal, does it make the Philippines the owner of those Chinese-claimed features of the South China Sea? It does not follow.

Readers must be enlightened that the entire region of the South China Sea is being

disputed by other Asean nations, including Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, and non-Asean Taiwan. Carpio, del Rosario et al. in 1Sambayan hoodwink Filipinos with distortions of what the PCA ruling really is in order to make them believe that China is on a rampage against the Philippines in reclaiming shoals and features in the area.

But the friendship struck up between Presidents Duterte and Xi Jinping has been so true and strong over the past four years of the Duterte administration that any strategy to sour it up for purposes of advancing US belligerence against China will fail. It behooves the two leaders, but more so President Xi Jinping, to make a determined counter-propaganda to enlighten Filipinos on the incessant hate campaign against China by US. On this, I stand by my assertions from way back when that China has never been known to exercise aggression upon another nation and particularly in its differences with the Philippines over their South China Sea disputed areas, China will never, I say never, war with the Philippines.

All US machinations to bring this about will fail. Hence 1Sambayan is doomed from its very inception

Its touted Philippine victory over China in the PCA arbitral proceedings, for instance, is deemed by General Parlade (“The Unending story of red-tagging, courtesy of CPP,” The Manila

Times, March 26-27, 2021) as a mere “piece of paper.”

Of late, Western media purveyors of US propaganda CNN and Al Jazeera made big waves of so-called 200 Chinese militia ships having moored at the Philippine-occupied SCS feature Julian Felipe Reef. Al Jazeera even accompanied its report with a huge photograph of a protest action by Filipinos at the Chinese Embassy in Makati.

How true was that report? Were those vessels really carrying Chinese military personnel? An unassuming new tabloid published and edited by this writer, Pwersa, ran this innocent-looking report in its April 1 issue, part of which read:

“AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) representatives engaged on March 24, 2021 their Chinese counterpart[s] in a meeting to discuss the situation obtaining in the WPS (West Philippine Sea or South China Sea) as reported. We conveyed the Defense Secretary’s (Delfin Lorenzana) demand for the vessels to leave Julian Felipe Reef where 183 vessels were sighted per AFP’s recent aerial patrol,” Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said.

According to Arevalo, in a meeting of the Philippines with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, the latter’s representatives assured that the boats spotted on Julian Felipe Reef were not militia vessels but were there to take shelter from bad weather.

But true to form, the US seized the propaganda value of the incident, distorted it to suit its objectives and caused it to be ventilated worldwide, with its traditional rah-rah boys in the Philippines led by the Carpio-del Rosario duo picking it up voraciously.

1Sambayan, by its very name, seeks to highlight patriotism as its prime bonding thread. But its falsehoods and prevarications on truly significant Philippine national issues make it dangerously unfit to accomplish such noble an ideal. On the contrary, the opposite is true.

Again, take it from General Parlade, “Talk about patriotism and bring on board the Aquinos, and that’s a perfect recipe for people now to be outraged. It’s a powder keg waiting to blow up.”