Brewer

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Everything posted by Brewer

  1. There's a mildly (IMO) interesting podcast offered by The Mead House. In the most recent episode (# )59 there is a discussion about making meads which are ready for top notch competitions (and which are medal winners) in only a few weeks. But these are , I think, the equivalent of session meads - low ABV meads.
  2. In Britain pint jars in pubs have a line near the top, below which there can be NO foam whatsoever. You buy a pint of ale, not a pint of froth or foam.
  3. If a grain has 0 L diastatic power (for example, chocolate malt) does that mean that there is essentially no starch in the grain because of the way it has been kilned as well as no enzymes) and so if I add this to my wort should I expect no increase in gravity and "only" added color and flavor, or will the enzymes in the wort convert whatever starches are in the chocolate malt to fermentable sugars? Thanks, as always
  4. Thank you. I was looking for color and flavor - and not to boost the gravity.
  5. @ Creeps McLane, Yes. Am I asking whether I can expect the gravity to rise if I add say 2-4 oz of chocolate malt to LME or if this wil simply add more flavor and color.
  6. If you look at commercial meaderies for example, they all suggest that at most they may heat their honey to about 100 F (my hot water faucet runs at 90 F) simply to make the honey flow more easily. If you are pitching a large enough batch of viable yeast then the few cells of wild yeast will be far out-competed by the lab cultured yeast and if you are anxious about the yeast and bacteria in the honey you might add K-meta (AKA campden tablets) to the must 24 hours before pitching your yeast. Why the change in protocol? To be honest I just think that as mead is becoming less of an exotic drink, more and more people are making mead and are questioning and testing all kinds of received assumptions - including the idea that it can take years for mead to reach its prime. Groennfell Meadery, in Vermont, for example, states that their mead, from honey to sale, takes about 4 - 6 weeks. Another long held view that you pitch your yeast and you forget about the mead for a year or two is now viewed as errant nonsense: you need to degas the mead during active fermentation (CO2 inhibits fermentation) and you need to provide nutrient (many argue) as the yeast converts the sugar. One other lovely assumption that has been demolished in the last few years is that mead will be both high in alcohol and sweet - many commercial (and home brewers) meaderies now design their meads to be low ABV (about 5 or 6% (so use about 1.25 - 1.5 lbs of honey/gallon) ; dry; and carbonated - so they are enjoyed like beer and not as if they are dessert wines. According to the American Mead Makers Association, in 2003 there were 30 meaderies in the continental USA. By 2016, there were 300 with 50 or so breweries offering mead. There is a great online forum for those interested in mead making. Not sure of the ethics of listing its name here but I will provide the name to anyone who sends me a private message
  7. Apologies for resurrecting an older thread, but I think the idea of adding yeast along with some priming sugar is because given the length of time aging and the relatively high ABV of the barleywine it is possible (not very likely but possible) that there are not enough viably active yeast cells in the beer to carbonate it in the bottle. Adding some more viable yeast will ensure carbonation BUT... simply adding any yeast to a high ABV solution may in fact hobble this yeast which is why the suggestion is that priming can take many months. I have never made a barleywine but I wonder whether adding a champagne yeast (they are cultivated to prime champagne in the bottle and that wine might be 12-14% ABVand aged for years before being bottled) and are considered to be "killer" strains (that is, they do not play nicely with other strains of yeast) will ensure carbonation.... ?
  8. A few quick observations. #1 Buckwheat honey from East Coast hives tastes very ... um.. earthy, some say, unpleasant. West Coast buckwheat has a very different flavor profile, much more pleasing. and I say that as someone who loves saison beer and who often makes mead using saison yeast. #2 In the dim and distant past, mead makers boiled their honey - I suspect because the water was not potable but there is really no need to "pasteurize" honey in 2017. If the honey is not raw and was filtered then there are really no significant "bee parts" and it has already been pasteurized. And any raw honey I get from local farmers' markets here in Upstate NY is filtered clean and heating that honey above about 100 F will in fact destroy the very volatile molecules that create the taste and smell of the honey. You might as well ferment table sugar if you "pasteurize" the honey. Honey , in and of itself has so little moisture that it will extract the moisture from living cells and kill them which is why honey has throughout history been used as a bactericide and was used to treat wounds to prevent infections (That's not to say that raw honey does not in fact contain living but dormant yeast cells - You can ferment raw honey without the addition of lab cultured yeast, if you know what you are doing - bees and flower pollen being covered with wild yeast). That is not to say, of course, that all wild fermented meads will taste good. It can taste like crap... which is why you might want to carefully propagate the wild yeast in tiny batches of the honey and use your taste and smell to see whether the colony of yeast you are growing is a keeper or not. #3 Using 3.5 lbs of honey per gallon will make a honey wine (something to be sipped), but you can make a session mead - (something to be quaffed at around 6-7% ABV ) by using about 1.25 - 1.5 lbs of honey to the gallon (1 lb of honey will raise the gravity of 1 gallon of water by about 1.035, so 1.5 lbs will have a potential ABV of about 6.55 % (an SG of about 1.050). The flavor may be a bit thinner than a mead at 14% (most of the flavor comes from the honey but your choice of yeast plays a significant part too) but if you allow this to ferment bone dry (and honey will ferment down below 1.000) and you then add carbonation drops or additional honey dissolved in a little water you can carbonate this mead and have a brew that you can enjoyably drink in about 4 weeks from pitching the yeast that can go head to head with just about any beer or cider. At 14% ABV this honey wine might need to age six months or longer... . #4 Many (but not all mead makers ) argue that the higher the ABV and so the more honey in the must the more yeast you need to pitch. You might consider using one pack of yeast for every gallon. You really cannot over-pitch yeast as a home brewer but you can under-pitch and under-pitching, ironically, can create stresses on the yeast that lead to yeasty flavors and aromas...
  9. I have about 80 - 100 bottles of different styles of beer and I find it really difficult to locate a particular style of beer that I have brewed. I have taken to write on the caps but that does not seem to be very effective not least because I can write perhaps two letters on any one cap... How do you store beer bottles so that you can easily identify the contents? Or do you simply make a batch and then drink it before making any next batch? (I store my home made wines and meads and ciders on their side with tags that I can read from the front but I have not found any similar structures for storing beer bottles on their side)
  10. There seems to be a little bit of confusion around the terms being used. Brett is a yeast and I don't think that it in fact "sours" anything. Brett. short for Brettanomyces, is simply a different kind of yeast but it is a yeast that can create funky flavors and wine makers used to dread the presence of this yeast. More than that, Brett can ferment sugars that Saccharomyces (the usual suspect) cannot, so for example, if you have a wooden barrel OR you have oak chips Brett can get inside the wood and transform some of the sugars from the wood into ethanol. So if Brett was found in a winery that used to mean that it was likely to have infected all their barrels. But today, a number of commercial and amateur mead-makers are experimenting with Brett. Souring comes from the presence of bacteria - not fungi like yeast, and those bacteria produce lactic acid - Lacto-brevis , for example. I may be wrong about this but according to White Labs lactic strains can only ferment one or two points so you need to either finish with an ale yeast or start with an ale yeast. The thing about wort is that it is very susceptible to lactic bacterial infection and while you can certainly add cultured colonies of bacteria if you allow your wort to slowly cool and leave it "open" for 24 hours before pitching your yeast it will have begun to sour because of the bacteria in the environment.
  11. And if you make a mistake and don't follow the instructions perfectly don't worry. Brewing is really quite forgiving, most problems can be solved and most brews can be salvaged...
  12. I have to say that the Inkbird is a great temperature controller. I use it mainly for controlling the temperature of a small dorm room fridge I use as a cheese cave but you can use it to keep the temperature of your fermenter at a reasonable level in the summer or, if your basement gets too cold to allow the yeast to ferment in the winter, to control a heater. Never tried it to control the temperature of a slow cooker but I would think that you could use it to transform your crockpot into a sous vide. Unlike some controllers this one is truly "plug and play".
  13. Sorry, but I have never made a cider form a kit but making cider from pressed apples requires time. After 9 months or so apple flavors transform from OK into something incredible. Bottom line: you may simply need to allow your cider to age. Again, I am unfamiliar with Mr Beer cider kits but apples contain malic acid and malic is a very sharp flavored acid. Time - and the right yeast (71B , IMO) is what juice from a good blend of apples need.
  14. A better approach might be to make a starter and then store, say, 25 % of that starter - no need to "wash" the yeast and no problem with transferring flavors from one beer to a different beer...
  15. I suspect that the idea of chilling beer was to hide the fact that commercial beers were pretty close to having no flavor and the colder you drank them the less flavor your mouth can taste. British beers were typically made with barley (compare the rice and other grains used by the BIG brewers in the US) and so they were drunk for the flavor... I never knew that beer was "supposed" to be chilled until I moved to the States.. But then , room temperature in Scotland was never warm ...
  16. Recently purchased a pack to make two gallons of Sticky Wicket but when I opened the box there was in fact no instructions included. Is that usual? I located the recipe online but I wonder if others buying may simply use the instructions on the can of extract... (bought the batch to teach my SiL how to brew... )
  17. I guess Mr Beer assumes that first time brewers are not going to be buying kits with grains... and so won't assume that the instructions ON THE CANS included are NOT the instructions for the kit they have just purchased... My point is really not whether Mr Beer SHOULD include instructions but that they DO include instructions - only the wrong ones... C'est la guerre..
  18. Not yet tried this - mainly because I don't use liquid yeast and so don't make a starter - but rather than wash a yeast a more simple method would be to create a starter and then remove say a few hundred ml of the starter (say 25 percent of the volume) and store that in the fridge then pitch the remaining 75 percent in the wort you are brewing. There is then no need to wash or scrub the yeast and no problem of producing a beer tainted with the flavors of an earlier brew. All you do is use that quantity as the basis for a second starter and repeat the harvesting process by setting aside 25 percent ..
  19. Have you checked your hydrometer? It's accuracy depends on the application of the scale to the glass tubing. Also , the gravity of any liquid is related to its temperature so if you are taking a reading at room temperature and your room is at 80 F then the gravity will be lower than if the temperature of the wort is at 55 F. Additionally, if you take a reading a few hours after you have pitched the yeast then it is very possible that the yeast will have started to gorge on the sugars and the yeast will have started to produce alcohol - and a) a reduction in sugar and b ) the presence of alcohol with a gravity less than 1.000 will mean that your reading will be lower than you might have anticipated. Finally, gravity is also dependent on the final volume. Gravity is a measure of the density of the liquid, so if you have 1 lbs of sugars in a gallon of liquid the gravity will read about 1.040. That same amount of sugar in 7.5 quarts will give you a reading closer to 1.045. If that same quantity of sugar is dissolved in 8.5 quarts of water the gravity is going to be less because the density will be less...
  20. I just bought a recipe for the Sticky Wicket Oatmeal Stout (hoping to show my SIL how easy it is to brew beer... ) and I see that the recommended temperature range for fermentation is between 65 and 76 F. I was thinking of using Safale 04 yeast in place of the package that came with the shipment. 04 prefers a lower temperature - (59 -68 F). If I aim for about 60 F will this detrimentally impact on the formula designed by Mr Beer? Thanks
  21. I have got to test this out.. I guess I haven't refrigerated my beers because I prefer them at what I think of as room temperature (around 62 F) and I prefer to make darker and heavier beers (even for the summer) rather than wheat beers and pilsners and the like. So what'll take - three days to a week in the fridge for the CO2 to be more absorbed by the beer?
  22. What is the benefit of setting the fridge on its lowest setting (about 40 F) if I am looking for an ambient temperature of about 50 F (assuming the wort will be at about 10 F higher - Is that to make sure that the temperature controller is not constantly running the fridge "on" or is it just to ensure that the fermenting temperature will not exceed the optimum maximum?
  23. Wait... You need to chill the beer in the fridge to avoid "gushing" ? Is it possible that because I don't chill my beers in a refrigerator that I sometimes experience "gushers"? Is there any way to check for infections - other than by taste? My palate is not sufficiently sensitive to flavors that might suggest an infection... and given my cleaning and sanitizing protocol I would think that infections may be a little unlikely...
  24. Skunky ... suggests that either the fermentation or the filled bottles were exposed to light. Sunlight or UV light, I think) reacts with the hops and creates a chemical compound that is "skunky". You want to make certain that your beer is not exposed to light.