Yeast Set The Timeline

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 09.08.10 under Brewing, IPA, Kegging, Oktoberfest, Stories, Stout, Yeast

I have been used to US-05 for quite some time now.

But recently I decided I wanted to branch out. Mainly my motivation was looking for a nice “malty” yeast for my faux-toberfest (that’s an Oktoberfest-style beer done as an ale rather than the traditional lagering all summer).

I ended up with Wyeast 1338 “European Ale” because of its supposed low diacetyl (buttered popcorn flavor). There was another (WLP029?) Kolsch yeast that also sounded good but allegedly gave off tons of sulfur aroma throughout fermentation, which I didn’t want to deal with. The only down side of 1338 that I read was it could be slow.

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Brew Day – Yeast Growers

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 10.10.09 under Brewing, Extract, Yeast

When last I brewed on August 29th, I planned to save the yeast. I was intent on making a couple of big beers – an IIPA and an RIS. But now that the dry yeast costs $4 a pack instead of $2 a pack, I’m not so eager to just buy a few packets to get my cell count up for a big 1.095 wort. A natural solution was to save all my yeast from that brew day. So on kegging day, I packed up a few mason jars full of yeast sludge and thought I was good to go

Since then, the yeast has been acting funny. One has been very active, even though its beer finished at 1.008. I got two jars from the other batch. One has been dormant and the other overflowed with activity. I admit that I don’t know how to interpret this. Is the dormant one dead or normal? Is that 1.008 one infected or what? I have no confidence in these yeasts ability to make a nice clean beer.

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Fermentation Friday: Yeast

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 12.26.08 under Fermentation Friday, Yeast

Tis nearly the end of the night, and here I am yet to post the Fermentation Friday topic. This month it is Yeast.

All I have to say about yeast is that dry yeast is the best. Sure you can get more variety of strains with the liquid option, but dry is so easy. The main reason I use dry yeast all the time is that you never need a starter with it. The number two reason is that it’s so cheap! Saving both time and money…my favorite things to have more of!

Why spend eight bucks on a little vial of yeast, which you’ll have to build up in a starter before you can really use it, when you can spend two bucks on a ready-to-go pack of perfectly good yeast? If your beer is too big for 11 grams of dry yeast to handle, why, just pitch two packets! They’re only $2 each!

It’s probably in my favor that I prefer the IPAs and Stouts, since these both benefit from a neutral yeast. And the most incredible Fermentis Safale US-05 dry yeast is the best out there. In fact, it’s the same as the Wyeast 1056 and the WLP-001, or so they say.

So, in conclusion, forget the starter, use US-05, and let your other ingredients set the flavor for your beer.

Fermentation Friday: Homebrewing Horror

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 10.30.08 under All-Grain, Bottle Conditioning, Brewing, Fermentation Friday, Stories, Troubleshooting, Yeast

It was early in my all-grain career. A beautiful sunny day. Nothing like the cold stormy darkness of Halloween night. Not the sort of scene you’d expect for the tale of terror that will unfold before us.

A Duvel clone. That should have been the first clue. The Devil was at work here. A step mash was called for, but me with my igloo cooler and no real way to do a decent step mash. Eerily, that part went fine. Great, even. I got the best efficiency of my brewing life up to that point on that batch.

The thing was coming along great. After a few weeks, it was time to transfer to secondary. The recipe also called for a bunch of corn sugar to be added at transfer. I was skeptical. My OG was already above the expected value for the recipe, even without this adjunct addition. But I followed the recipe like a zombie seeking delicious brains. I was curious to see how far I could go. I was also curious to see how far I’d come. I bottled one bottle at transfer time with a measured dose of priming sugar. Read the rest of this entry…

Mindbreaker

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 05.07.08 under Brewing, Tasting, Yeast

Just a quick note on Mindbreaker. I sampled one a few days ago, and it was not ready yet. It was still too hot and boozy, in that very young beer way.

I had one tonight, and it has come a long way. I think it’s about conditioned, maybe just another few days for the final warm settling action to take place. Then I’ll put most of them in the fridge. They’ll get a bit of chill haze (guess I haven’t solved that problem!) and I want to give them time to settle as clear as they can.

I just had a Great Divide Hercules Double IPA last night, so I’ve got that impression fresh in my mind. I could not help but compare Mindbreaker to Hercules. Hercules has a harsh (in a good way) hop edge to it that hits you right away, and lasts nicely. In contrast, Mindbreaker starts with a sweetness, which eventually gives way to a deep hop bitterness. Mindbreaker is a bit on the subtle side for an IIPA, which wasn’t exactly what I was going for, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy drinking them. Funny how nearly a half pound of hops in a five gallon batch could ever be called subtle.

There is one issue that I have with Mindbreaker, and I think I know how to fix it. It is the sweetness. This sweetness is not so much underattenuation (although that’s part of it). It is more of an estery sweetness. This has combined with a ton of Willamette at flameout and a week of Centennial dry hopping to add a lot of sweet flowery flavor to the beer. This aids initial drinkability, but can work its way towards cloying by the end of the glass. I believe that this is the result of underpitching yeast to the beer. I used one pack of US-05. A few days later, I was on Jamil’s yeast pitching calculator, and found that I should have used more like 1.5 packs of yeast.

Lesson learned. Next time, check Jamil’s calculator first, and pitch the right amount of yeast. I probably would have had better luck with two packs than I did with one. I could have even tried to split a pack, since the Mindbender really only needed a half a pack of yeast.

The more I think about it, the more I think that perhaps underpitching is responsible for a wide array of homebrewing problems.

Brew on!

High Gravity Brewing

[ 6 Comments ] Posted on 05.01.08 under Alcohol, All-Grain, Bottle Conditioning, Brewing, Extract, Troubleshooting, Yeast

I wrote a post a while back about calories in beer. It was really fun to write, and even more exciting when Bob Skilnik called me out on a few ambiguous and incorrect statements I made. But just having Bob Skilnik reading my site was cool!

The other day, I got a new comment on there, with a commentor named Kiwi asking the following question:

So my question is, your 10%ABV russian stout (sounds most excellent) got to that % by the recipe…which has more… sugars? and a better yeast? I am trying to up my alcohol %, but not ruin my homebrew.

Such a great question deserves front page answers, not some answer hidden in the comments of an old post. So, Kiwi, this one’s for you!

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Brewing: Yeast Starters

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 12.11.07 under Brewing, Yeast

Brewer's Yeast CellsI have already talked about the basics of brewing typical beer, both with malt extracts and directly using malted grains. I’m going now to go a bit into more detail about one pretty easy way to improve your brewing.

When you normally pitch yeast directly from a package that you get at the homebrew shop, often times there is just enough yeast to be minimally adequate to ferment an average strength wort – say 1.060 or less. Once you want to make beers with more alcohol, the prepackaged doses of yeast may not be enough to give a vigorous start, thorough fermentation, and minimize undesired byproducts of excessive yeast growth.

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