Tag Archives: yeast

Wait, what hops was that?

Last Sunday was a brew day. Yay! Fun times with Chas. Let’s plan this, and then make lots of mistakes. Um, that’s not so great.

This brew day was a continuation from Australian Pale Ale 2 and my search for an easy to brew tasty Pale Ale. After bottling on Friday, and having a sample taste, I knew that the next attempt needed to be a multi hop brew. And that meant different hops at the same times.

As well as trying a new recipe, I wanted to use the brewing caps again. That meant upping the volume of the brew. That caused some issues I didn’t realise until Chas pointed out. I’ll get to that later.

Australian Pale Ale 3

Australian Pale Ale 3 in Carboy and bottles with brewing caps

The brew was based on the Australian Pale Ale 2 and was a 30 min boil with light dry malt extract. Given the bigger volume of water there was more ingredients. Measured out 800 grams of the dry malt for the base. As most of my Galaxy hops went in the last brew I picked up some new hops. Warrior hops for bittering. Crystal hops for flavour and aroma, to be topped up with the last of the Galaxy. All three hop additions were measured out and ready to go.

First up get water to a boil and add the malt. Then after the hot break in went the first hops. Then… Um, what hops was that? A quick review of the bowls with the hops… Yep, that was the aroma hops. Crap. Okay, now what?

After a bit of running around like a crazy person I did some recalculations. New schedule with a new set of aroma hops, being just Crystal. Back to the brew. Added the original bittering hops. Flavour hops went in. Then at flameout in went the aroma hops.

Moved the pot to the ice bath for chilling. Have got a lot better with the chilling of theses small batches. Four trays of ice cubes and about one litre of near-frozen water. Works pretty well.

Then realised the volume issue(s). Given this was a three hop brew I wanted to make just a little more. So, four litres fot the carboy, then 2.5 split into two 1.25 litres plastic soft drink bottles. And that’s where the problem started, there was too much for the carboy. Solution was to use the 30 litres fermenter. Poured all in and topped up with cold water to required 6.5 litres. Oops, forgot to strain the hops out. Poured back into pot. Added yeast. Oh no, forgot to take gravity reading. Do that.

Finally ready to transfer into the bottles. Filled both, not quite to the top. Then filled carboy, and there was too much! Because the bottles weren’t filled to the full 1.25 litres there was well over 4 litres for the carboy. In the end we filled up the carboy to a few centimetres from the top and only threw out a tiny amount of the wort. Thank goodness for blow off tubes.

  • 4 litre boil
  • 800 grams Light Dry Malt Extract
  • 1 gram Galalxy & 2 grams Crystal hops @ 30 mins
  • 4 grams Warrior hops @ 25 mins
  • 2 grams Galaxy hops & 6 grams Crystal @ 5 mins
  • 2 grams Crystal @ flame out
  • Teaspoon of re-hydrated US-05 yeast

The Australian Pale Ale #3 ended up tasting quite grassy with some really well rounded spice. A fair amount of hops left after even after filtering. I’m happy with this. The gravity came in at 1.046 which is exactly what was calculated. Mind you, that did include the yeast, so we’ll wait and see.

-Mikey

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Bulk and Pale, finally there

Whoops, this was meant to go up a couple days ago! Anyway, here it is…

Last Sunday was another brew day at my place. It was a bit of a milestone date as I finally got around to doing bulk priming. Was also able to kick off what I hope is a series of pale ales. Chas made it over and we did a number if tastings through the arvo.

First up was bottling the Baltic Porter #2. As I promised, this was to be my first bulk priming attempt. There was about 15 litres of useable beer. Problem was that I didn’t have another vessel that could hold that much. Ended up using the 9 litre pot that’s normally reserved for the boil. Did two lots of 6 litres and one lot of 3 litres.

Bulk priming set up

First attempt at bulk priming with fermenter, scales, pot and sample in the back.

Used an online calculator to work out how much sugar to add. Sugar was put direct into the pot and beer was released over the top. Then stirred slowly to dissolve the sugar completely. In hindsight it would of been good to dissolve the sugar in some water first. Having just one vessel with one transfer would of been a lot easier. Bottling 15 litres with a syphon wasn’t fun. Most was done into 500 ml bottles which saved a fair bit of time.

The final gravity came in at 1.032 which is a lot higher than expected. After bottle conditioning it should be 5.6% alcohol. That’s a lower than was hoping for. Really wanted this to be above 6%. That said it tasted pretty good when we sampled it. Time will tell.

After bottling was finally done it was on to the brew. Plus there was a few brews up for tasting. The Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, Hoppy Heart IPA 2 and the two apple ciders I made. Chas will be posting about those over the next few days.

I’ve been wanting to build out a range of lighter beers that can be enjoyed on the warmer days coming up. Not everyone in the house likes IPA’s and I’m not ready for doing a proper lager. Pale ale was the only good option. Given the failure of the last attempt I decided to avoid using liquid malt. So, dry malt was used and hops kept tame. As I used up a few things last brew this ended up as a single hop beer. That’s pretty exciting and will be a great benchmark, if it ferments out well.

Before the brew started the yeast and a teaspoon of dry malt extract were thrown into a cup of water for rehydration. Realised after that should have waited before putting in the DME. Hopefully that doesn’t make much if a difference.

Basic brew this one. Only a thirty minute boil.

Australian Pale Ale #2
Boil size 3 litres
500 grams of Light Dry Malt Extract
3 grams Galaxy hops at 30 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 15 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 1 min /flameout.
1 & 1/2 teaspoons if US 05 yeast.

Australian Pale Ale #2

Australian Pale Ale 2 in the carboy after one week.

As this was a small boil it was a lot easier to lower the temperature. Three trays of ice and some half frozen water went into the wort while sitting in the water bath. In less than 20 mins we were already down to 24°C and ready to pitch yeast. Last bit of water put in to get it up to four litres then given a good shake before gravity reading done. Original Gravity came in at 1.044. Airlock on, and done.

Day was a good one. Had a late start and didn’t think it would be a long one. Turns out the bulk priming and bottling took a fair bit longer than I thought. Looks like I’ll need a proper vessel for the priming when I do it again.

Really happy to finally get around to these two things. Next few brews will also be pale ales. But might need to slow down as we come into Christmas.

-Mikey

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New and old, recipe and brewer mix up

Saturday brew day was a long one, nearly 5 hours. I wanted to have another crack at the Baltic Porter. Chas wasn’t available so my mate Kilan came over to give me a hand.

Kilan has done a bit of home brewing over the last few years. Most of his equipment is in storage. He’s still been able to make some cider and brought over a bottle to share. Will talk about that later.

Was fun to have Kilan over for the arvo. We worked on a few things that neither of us had done before. Had a couple near misses and a whole heap of improvisation. By the end of the day we had bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA and brewed what we felt would be a really good beer.

The last time I did the Baltic Porter it was a 10 litre batch. The beer came out nice enough but lacked some body. The beer had a little too much sweetness. There was room to adds more complexity. In short, there was a lot that could be tweaked.

Baltic Porter #2 Mash

Baltic Porter #2
Grains in bag, in pot and mashing

Given the relative ease of the full grain mash at Chas’s last week I thought of trying a mini mash. The recipe was upping to a 17 litre batch and ingredients to match. That meant a lot more grain. Last time the recipe only had Crystal grains, which can’t mass by themselves. With advice from Chas I decided to include some Chocolate malt, which I believe can mash. So all 2kg of the grain went in to mash.

Kilian was a champ and crushed the chocolate malt grain. The only thing I had was a mortar and pestal which meant some grain got crushed. Hope that doesn’t make much difference.

The Crystal grain went into a grain bag and into the pot. The Chocolate grain got thrown into the bag then all was stirred in. Mash was done at 68°C and had 5 litres of water. Wow, that grain soaked it all up and expanded like a balloon! Mash went for a full sixty mins.

While waiting for the mash to finish we bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA. The final gravity came in at 1.019. With the carbonation drops it will be 6.4% alcohol. And before you ask, yes I will move to bulk priming soon.

We opened the apple cider that Kilan brought. That was an interesting drink, and I mean that in all ways. We chilled it right down and was cold most of the time. First up it tasted like alcoholic orange juice, not like apple. Sort of super sweet and slightly tart. The smell was pretty bad, almost like something off. As it warmed up the cider became more like apple and more dry. Much better cold. I think something might have gone wrong with the yeast and / or fermentation. Let’s see euchre same thing happens to my cider.

Back to the brew, and mash was done. Only problem now was how to sparge the grain. And there was a huge amount. Was fortunate that the kettle we have at home has different temperature settings with the lowest being 75°C. So we used that and poured the water over the bag of grains. Each time we tried to press out as much liquid as possible, but we didn’t really have the right set up. After a few kettle’s worth of water at said temperature there was a lot of volume for the boil. I would have liked to do more sparging, but the boil pot just wouldn’t hold it all.

Baltic Porter #2 Grains

Baltic Porter #2
Grains ready for more sparging

So onto the boil. Earlier I realised that I didn’t have the exact amount of hops to do what I wanted. There wasn’t as much Warrior and that was suppose to be the bittering. As a compromise I moved some of the Fuggles from aroma stage to taste. By moving them earlier it should add a bit more bitterness, and hopefully balance. Will have to wait and see.

Once the boil started we re-hydrated the yeast. It’s the first time I’ve done this. It was pretty easy. The only problem is the water that was boiled so early on it cooled down too much. A quick zap in the microwave brought it back up to temperature. The yeast sat in the water while we dissolved the tea spoon of dry malt in half a glass of boiled water. Then waited half an hour before adding that in and gave it a mix.

I held off on adding the dry malt for a bit. Have been getting advice not to add all malt at the start of boils and wanted to try it out. As a result we didn’t get a hot break, it just came to a boil. Bittering hops went in at start, then taste hops at thirty minutes with the first 800 grams of dry malt a five minutes later. Another fifteen minutes later added in the last 400 grams of dry malt. Five mins after that the aroma hops. Then only five more mins before flame out.

Pot was transferred to an ice bath. Some ice cubes went directly into the wort, water previously boiled before frozen. A second bath for the pot. Then into the fermenter. Added a little more sparged grain liquid, that might not have been the best idea as I’m not sure if that could have lead to contamination. Too late now! The liquid malt only went in at this stage, note that it wasn’t part of the boil. Not sure if that will make much difference. Let me know what you think with a comment below.

The wort was still quite hot. That was even after adding about four litres of very cold water. Will need more ice if I’m going to do something this large and this method again. After a couple hours the temperature was down to something close to what I wanted. Yeast was pitched at about 25°C. I forgot to put the yeast nutrient in at the same time. So, went back an hour later and put in four heaped teaspoons and sealed back up.

 

Baltic Porter #2 Yeast

Baltic Porter #2
Re-hydrated Yeast in the jug

60 min mash at 68°C

– 1.5 kg of Crystal 120
– 500 grams of Chocolate Malt 600

Boil wort from mash
60 min
add 8 grams of Warrior hops
30 min
add 14 grams of Fuggels hops
25 min
add 800 grams of light malt extract
10 min
add 400 grams of light malt extract
5 mins
add 5 grams of Fuggels hops

Into ferment:
– wort
– 1.7 kg of Amber liquid malt extract (Black Rock)
– water & ice to bring to 17 litres

Once at 25°C
add 7 grams of yeast, 5g Windsor & 2g kit yeast (previously re-hydrated)
add 4 heaped teaspoons of yeast nutrient

A bit of a strange brew. Some new techniques and processes. Some corrections from previous brews. Some ingredients just thrown together, like hops and yeast. The final gravity came in at 1.071 which is pretty good given the calculated was only 0.002 higher than that. If fermentation can take it down to 1.025 that will mean about 6.5% alcohol before bottling. And this one will be bulk primed.

-Mikey

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Search engine terms #1

Howdy!

I’m really into data and numbers, so I spend a good amount of time checking out the stats for We Make Home Brew.  One thing I’ve found interesting is the search engine terms; what people are searching for when they stumble upon this blog.

This has inspired me to do two things.  Firstly, there is a handy new section above that provides links to the occasional general tip article that we do.  Secondly, I thought I’d share some of the search terms and expand where possible.  Hopefully whoever originally found this blog through a search engine is still reading and now has their question answered!  Feel free to comment with questions and I can go into things further.

Adding to this, we’re currently in the process of writing some other general informational posts that we’ll throw into the new section.  A lot of this is to provide some information, a lot of this is because we’re taking a brief break from brewing because I’ll be going on holidays for about a month!

How do I make cider?  Also various cider related searches.

One of the reasons for the new tips and tricks section.  I’ve done a general run down on cider making here.

Buy super yeast for wine

All yeast is pretty super.  This is a bit of a strange search to do.  I have done a post on yeast, but there is so much to consider, it’s probably best to consult your local home brew store: they should be able to advise you on the best yeast to use for your brew.  All yeasts are different and it’s best to make sure you’re using the most appropriate yeast.

In relation to wine yeast, I’ve only used the SN9 wine yeast for my ciders.  This is advertised as generally good for whites and sparkling wine.  I’ve found it’s a pretty clean yeast that doesn’t leave any yeasty tastes.  What I’ve also found is that it’s a fairly slow fermenting yeast when compared to ale yeasts I’ve used.

Fermentation blanket

I’m not sure where this pointed the searcher, but I think we’ve made references to such things… I keep my fermenter in the kitchen, so I generally just throw a towel or an old blanket over it to keep things warm.  I’ve found that the fermentation process creates a little bit of heat, so in a modern house, a decent blanket can work wonders.  My kitchen also gets a fair amount of morning sun, and it’s best to keep UV off of your brew, so the blanket also helps to block the sun

Mikey, on the other hand, keeps his fermenter in the garage (AKA the Brew Dungeon).  Mikey has insulated a cupboard with old sheets which does a pretty good job.  To compliment this, Mikey also has a heat pad to use in case of emergencies.  Heat pads can be purchased at most home brew supply stores; I’ve even seen heat belts for sale as well.  For general heating, Mikey has thrown some Christmas tree lights into the cupboard.  Keeping these on for a few hours a day does wonders.

I’ve seen and read about various other home made temperature regulation systems.  A popular thing to do is to use an old bar-fridge (not plugged in).  Refrigerators are designed to be very well insulated, so the temperature should stay fairly constant.  Heating/cooling sources can be added to the fridge if the temperature is wrong.

Will yeast die if it gets too hot?

it depends on what is meant by “too hot”.  But yes, yeast is a living thing and will die if things get too hot, it’s always best to keep things in recommended temperature ranges (the yeast packet should tell you).  Even if the yeast doesn’t die, you can create fusel alcohol by mistake.  Fusel alcohol may form at temperatures above about 27 degrees C.  Unfortunately, if the temperature is too low for your yeast, the fermentation process may be too slow (same if you under-pitch your yeast), once again causing the yeast to sit in your fermenter for too long, causing other off tastes or also fusel alcohol formation.

Similar problems can happen if the wort isn’t aerated enough prior to pitching.  This can cause a build up of nitrogen in the fermenting wort, and once again, causing impurities or the wrong types of alcohol to form.

That’s it for now.  Maybe I’ll really nerd out and make some graphs in the future, we’ll see!

-Chas

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Same-same, but different

Brewing day. Ah, nice to have one that doesn’t involve having to fill 80+ bottles. Due to craziness, ie doing other stuff, brew day was moved to Saturday. Plus there was no need to do a supply run which always saves a fair bit of time.

Australian Pale Ale #1

Australian Pale Ale #1 in carboy with separation after 2 weeks.

In the last brew we made the Australian Pale Ale #1. This was an experiment to see what could be done with just a can of liquid malt and hops. It was an attempt to make a very simple but still tasty home brew beer. Last time it was a can of light malt, this time amber malt. Rest of the recipe was the same. Same hops, same boil time, same yeast. Well, the yeast was slight different combination and I’ll explain a bit further down.

So, bottling the Australian Pale Ale #1 was quick. Only 12 bottles used, and the last one wasn’t a full one. There was a huge amount of sediment on the bottom and the brew looked like it had separated at the half way point. Not sure what that was about. There’s the pic to the side here. Anyway, we did a quick stir to mix the two half’s together before bottling. Due to the massive amount of yeast the bottles were very cloudy. I’m not sure how much sugar wasn’t fermented and this is the first time I’m a bit concerned about exploding bottles. Very interesting that the final gravity reading came in at 1.040. That’s high, very high. I’m thinking it’s mainly to do with the huge amounts of yeast. Anyway it means the beer will be 8.6% after bottled. Yay, finally a strong beer.

After that was all done it was onto making the Australian Amber Ale #1. Yes, I know the names are basic and Chas comes up with some great ones. I just can’t be bothered until I get one that I’m happy to continually remake. Plus, the name says what it is.

Started with three litre boil and threw in the can of liquid amber malt. Start of boil added 3 grams of Warrior hops. Twenty mins latter added 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Then 15 mins later another 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Five more mins then flame out and into the sink for a cool bath. Once temperature was close to what was needed it was pored into the carboy and topped up with cold water. Chas got shaking with the carboy and gravity readying was done, 1.097. That’s less then the Australian Pale Ale #1 and I think it’s because a bit more water went into this at the end.

Australian Amber Ale #1

Australian Amber Ale #1 in carboy.

Yeast for the last beer was an issue. There was too much left and the SN9 wine yeast was only put in after 10 days which didn’t do much. So, for the Australian Amber Ale #1 there was a change in what was done. Only half of a kit yeast pack was put in, and the SN9 wine yeast was put in at the same time.

  • Black Rock Amber Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 2.5g
  • ‘Premium Wine Yeast’ SN9 – 1g-ish

A good brew day was had. We busted out the Newcastle Brown and had a couple. Chas put up the review yesterday. Had a couple of the lagers, but one bottle was flat (no sugars in the bottle?). And opened a stout, but it’s not ready yet.

-Mikey

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Bottle day now with 20% more bottles, and a brew

Sunday was another brew day, of sorts. Really it was more of a bottling day with a brew at the end.

Australian Pale Ale 1

Australian Pale Ale 1 in the carboy

First order of business was to pick up some new supplies and equipment. My hydrometer broke last brew day and needed another. Needed some more no-rinse sanitizer. Plus picked up some liquid malt, hops (Warrior & Galaxy) and carbonation drops. Decided to go for more carbonation drops as I didn’t want to prime by measuring sugar, and was too lazy to work out how to do bulk priming.

Once back, it was onwards to the bottling. First up was the last 5 odd litres of the Newcastle brown. That was okay. Got 15 bottles in.

Next was the Stout. Gravity reading came in at 1.020 which means after bottling it will only be 4.0% ABV. That’s pretty low for a Stout. Might even need to call it a dark porter. Anyway, we needed to bottle all of it. ALL 23 litres! That’s 68 stubbies! Needless to say, this took most of the day.

Had a couple of breaks along the way. Got to try Chas’s coffee porter. Cracked open a bottle off the Newcastle brown, but it wasn’t ready yet.

Finally after bottling was done we moved onto brewing. For the past couple if weeks I’ve been thinking about how to get a very strong beer and still keep it easy. There’s a couple ways you can go about doing that, and hopefully over the next few months we’ll try as many of those options as we can. To make sure nothing too crazy is done I’m using a home brewing spreadsheet that let’s you put in ingredients and it tells you what characteristics of the beer will be. It’s amazing and I highly recommend getting your hands on it. You will need to sign up to Aussie Home Brewer if you haven’t already.

Anyway, this time around the brew was going to be a 4.5 litres batch for the carboy. Was using liquid malt extract that hadn’t been hopped and doing a 40 min boil with three hop additions.There was a whole 1.5kg can of liquid malt that went in. For a brew this small that’s right on the edge of madness, but I was keen to do this as a real test if a few things.

For lack of a better name, this is getting called Australian Pale Ale #1.

A big pot was filled with 3 litres of water, set to heat and LME was added. After the hot break added 3g of the Warrior hops. Twenty mins later added 2g of Galaxy hops, then last 2g of Galaxy was added 5 mins to the end. When the liquid malt went in the can was washed out with some boiled water. Not sure how much, but originally I was concerned we had to much liquid. In the end a lot boiled off leaving something just over four litres left. Given there was so much heat it took quite some time for the wort to cool down. The pot went through two long cold baths to get down to 22C. As there was a lot more liquid boiled off, I needed to top up the carboy with some extra water. Then I took a sample for a gravity reading.

Yeast was pitched. Used a whole pack of kit yeast as I had some spare lying around. Then give the whole thing a good shake, BrewSmith style.

Then, I checked my gravity reading and it was much lower than expected. Ahhh! I didn’t mix my wort properly. So, get rid of the sample and took another, which took out some of the yeast. But, that’s okay ‘cos there was a huge amount of yeast. Anyway the gravity came in a whopping 1.102!!

  • Black Light Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 5g

So, a few days in and the brew its going well. Huge amount of activity, but no blow out (lucky). From what’s coming out of the airlock, it smells great. Thanks to Chas in about 4-5 days I’m going to throw in some SN9 ‘Premium Wine Yeast’. This will eat up the last of the sugars, and have something to carbonate the bottles.

-Mikey

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New Brew for New Financial Year, Happy Brew Financial Year!

Yeah, I know that’s a bit of a crap name for a post. I did want to do something witty, didn’t quite get there. Plus, the other options were pretty bad.

Black Rock Miners Stout

Black Rock Miners Stout can and fermenter

As Chas mentioned yesterday it was a busy weekend. Last if the lager was bottled. Then 5 litres of the Newcastle Brown Ale went into storage while the other 17 litres went into bottles.

There were tastings of a whole range of brews. Cider, dark ale, lager and porter. Reviews will be slowly going up over the next week out so. And then there was a brew.

I wanted to make something simple and easy. And I wanted another dark beer. When I picked up the kit for Newcastle Brown Ale I also grabbed a can of Black Rock Miners Stout. Picked up some “stout booster” as well. On some good advice I also grabbed a pack of Windsor Ale Yeast to replace the kit yeast.

Yep, some would say it’s a step backwards in home brew. But when you are running low on time, or just can’t be stuffed, a can kit does fine.

First there was the can as the base. The “stout booster” was a kilo mix of dry dark malt extract, light malt extract, and maybe dextrose. And lastly threw in the 900 grams of Dextrose, which was left over from the original Heritage Lager kit.

  • Black Rock Miners Stout – 1.7kg
  • Brew Blend Stout Booster #25 – 1kg
  • Dextrose – 900g
  • Danstar Windsor Ale Yeast – 11g

Had a lot of trouble with heat on this one. Didn’t really pay attention to how much boiling water went in at the start. As a result, even after for trays of ice, we had to leave the wort cool for half an hour before pitching the yeast. The lid, with airlock, was put on to prevent infection. Overall it was a real pain in the arse. There is a good lesson in there about temperature control.

Final gravity was 1.045. I was hoping for more. That’s three brews in a row where final gravity was less than what I wanted. If I had thought about it, I would of thrown in all the rest if the sugar in the house into the wort. Probably for the best I didn’t think of that at the time. Next brew will have a lot more dry and/or liquid malt extract. Or, maybe just a lot of grain. Hrmm, there’s a thought…

The wort was more bitter than expected. But I’m pretty sure this one will be a nice, somewhat basic and somewhat light, stout.

-Mikey

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Blondes and Browns, big brew day

Sunday was another brew day at my place and it was big, in many ways.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale ingredient list and instructions

First up was a trip for supplies from Australian Home Brewing, aka Liquorcraft, aka Brewcraft, aka something-something. We have done a fair few porters lately. They are pretty awesome and good over the colder months, but time for something else for the cold. An English brown ale was what I wanted. Ended up with a Newcastle Brown Ale kit, plus a basic stout kit for another day.

Then back in the Mikey mobile (aka ‘car’) and back to brew headquarters (aka ‘home’) for brew day.

First order of business. Bottle the lager. Final gravity was 1.012 which means the beer will only be 3.8% alcohol, after bottle conditioning. That’s a fair bit lower than what I was going for. Rather than just a cup of dextrose we should if put in half a kilo. That aside, the sample we took was quite promising. Should be a good session beer.

We have been having some over carbonation in a couple of my beers. Nothing horrid, but the IPA and coffee porter (only a couple sample bottles) have overflowed when opened if shaken even slightly. I’ve been using caster sugar for priming and a few people have suggested this might be the reason. That said there’s not a lot of info on the internet about different types of cane sugar. To test this I primed some bottles of the lager with caster sugar and others with carbonation drops. Had a mix of different bottle sizes as well.

After bottling the lager it was time to start brewing. Cracked open one of the Summer Citrus Blonde Ales and got stuck into it. Chas is going to get a review up soon, so I’ll leave it to him.

The brown ale was a mixed kit. There was chocolate malt (200g), a can of light liquid malt, a can of Nut Brown Ale, some Fuggles Hops, and Safale S-04 yeast.
The malt was left to steep for about 45 mins rather than the 20-30 recommended. Mainly because we were trying to do to much at once.

Chas got the liquid light malt in a pot and brought it to the hot break. And I cleaned the fermenter. Hops were added with the steeped grains. The recipe said an optional 400 grams of brown sugar could be added. Only had 300, but it went in. I finally finished cleaning the fermenter just in time for the fresh wort to go in. Last was the can of Nut Brown Ale. Like the lager, we found the liquid a bit to hot. Was a lot more manageable this time round. Finally, yeast went on and airlock.

  • Black Rock Nut Brown Ale – 1.7kg
  • Black Rock Light Liquid Malt – 1.5kg
  • Crushed Chocolate Malt – 200g
  • Soft Brown Sugar – 300g
  • Fuggles Hops pellets – 15g
  • Safale S-04 yest – 11.5g

Have to say that this was a bit of a hectic brew day. Started late and had a huge amount to do. Tried to do too many things at once. Even spilt some of the strained hops back into the fermenter. Luckily it wasn’t much.

The wort smelt great. Gravity reading was only 1.045 which is a bit below what I would expect for the style. Hopefully this yeast brings the final reading right down. Anything less than 4.5% and I’m going to be disappointed. So, a final gravity from about 1.012 or lower will be good.

-Mikey

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Yeast!

Howdy!

I thought it would be good to talk about yeast: the magic little organism that turns sugars into alcohol through the process of fermentation.

I won’t go into the fermentation process, but if you’re curious, the Wikipedia articles are quite easy to follow.  Fermentation in general can be found here – this article is not specifically about alcohol fermentation, but explains the process in general.  Alcoholic fermentation information can be found here for further reading.

Yeast in general:

Really, you can use any kind of yeast for fermentation, even regular baker’s yeast bought at the super market, but the various brewing yeasts are specifically designed for taste and alcohol tolerance.

On that note, it is possible to kill your yeast if the alcohol content of your brew gets to high.  At this point, you can’t really get anymore fermentation going because even if you add more yeast, that will probably die too!  Then you’re left with a half fermented beer that still has lots of sugars in it, which would probably taste quite interesting, but not in a good way.  Don’t worry too much though, it’s easy to track down yeasts that will be good well into the high teens/twenties on alcohol percentages; these are generally wine making yeasts.

If you’re making a cider or anything with fruit, it’s also possible to use the wild yeast that naturally grows on fruit peels.  In fact, my mother uses this to make home made vinegar: her most interesting concoction was a banana vinegar!  The problem with using wild yeast is ensuring that it’s only the wild yeast that goes into your wort (or juice if doing cider) and not other bugs that will mess up your brew.  I have yet to attempt this, but it may be fun!

Yeast and temperature:

Yeast is pretty resilient, so if it gets too cold, you won’t kill it.  It just gets a bit sleepy and slows down a bit.  You can even freeze yeast if you want to preserve it.  This means that even if your wort gets a bit cold, things will keep working, just more slowly.  Although this isn’t too bad, be aware that if your wort is in the fermenting tub for too long, sediments may begin to taint the taste of your beer.

On the other side though, if your yeast gets too hot, it will probably die, just like anything else.  So although heat will help speed up the fermentation process, there is a point where you won’t get anymore benefit and the heat will actually be detrimental.  Make sure your wort is at specified temperatures before pitching your yeast.

Experimenting with yeast:

Of course it’s easiest to simply buy yeast from your local home brew supply store, but experimenting with different kinds of yeast can be a bit of fun.  The different strains that you can buy at a good home brew supply store have different characteristics for taste, optimal temperature, and alcohol tolerance.  This means that you’ll use a different yeast for different kinds of beers.

For example, there are specific kinds of yeast for ales, lagers, and wines.  With the few cider experiments I’ve done, I’ve always used an SN9 wine yeast and been happy with the results.  As it’s not desirable in a cider/wine, this type of yeast doesn’t leave any taste behind.  Sometimes you want some of that taste in your brew, and you can generally find a yeast that will do that for you.

That’s it on yeast for now!

 

-Chas

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Brewing can be easy and fun, and a bit tedious

Thought a good first post would be one that covers one of the basics of home brewing.

As Chas mentioned yesterday, sanitising is king. The reason is that any bacteria that gets in can ruin your beer.

The beer making process is basically:

  1. Make a tasty sugary liquid.
  2. Add yeast which turns the sugar into alcohol.
  3. Make it bubbly.

Now there is obviously a lot more going on than that.

The tasty sugary liquid is called wort. And I’ll be using that name going forward, even though “tasty sugary liquid” does sound awesome.

Your wort is very vulnerable to all types of bacteria. Whatever gets there first will go crazy eating and growing. We only want the yeast to do that.

Hence making sure everything that touches the beer is:

First cleaned of any dirt, liquid, grime, dust, gung, bits, and whatnot.
Second sanitised to kill all bugs, bacteria, yeast, and tiny bad things.
Finally rinsed (if needed) and kept free of contamination.

This process can take a long time. Sometimes longer than all other steps combined! But if you get it right, which isn’t hard, then you’re well on your way to make tasty home brew beer.

-Mikey

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