HOMEBREW Digest #308 Wed 22 November 1989

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		Rob Gardner, Digest Coordinator

  Spiced brews, yeast attenuation (Gary Benson)
  Re: Mead Worries (Michael Bergman)
  Priming timing problems ? (Chris Shenton)
  yeast,cranberries (florianb)
  glass vs. plastic carboys (Ed Falk)
  Re: Yeast Starters and me... (Russ Pencin)
  Sanitation (Bill Crick)
  Belgian Lambics? (S_KOZA)
  Re: Pitching problems (doug)
  Low-head sparging (Brian Capouch)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Mon, 20 Nov 89 13:13:19 PST From: sun!tc.fluke.COM!inc at hplabs.HP.COM (Gary Benson) Subject: Spiced brews, yeast attenuation Greetings, fellow homebrewers! It's been a while since I sent anything in, but I am still an avid reader, and was glad to see our numbers have swelled to 500! Thanks to everyone for keeping the HomeBrew Digest the high-quality mailing list it has always been. I have a few topics that I'd like to have kicked around, and then a comment or two on sanitization... 1. Spiced brews. Lots of people talk about making these for a "Christmas Ale", and usually the spices one hears mentioned are ginger, clove, and other such "aromatics". I categorize all the "pumpkin pie" spices as being in this category (my own catergorization- I have never heard anyone else refer to these as a family), but somehow allspice, ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom seem related. Since I have tasted, brewed, or could imagine the results with these spicing adjuncts, I decided not to do my own that way. Instead, for my "Joulu Vauva Olut" (Finnish for "Christmas Baby Beer"), as an experiment, I made up a batch of my normal Baby Beer (a porter/stout style), but added a couple of cups of very strong coffee and two tablespoons of caraway seed to the boil, about the last 15 mintues. Starting gravity was 1.050, and after a two-day languorous primary ferment and a downright somnolent week in the secondary, things seemed pretty much done, but the SG sat there at 1.025, higher than I have expected, but within the realm of reason, I guess, given that there were two cans of extract and and ounce and a half of glycerine. Besides being quite strong in flavor, this stuff tasted really nummy at bottling time. Seems to be carbonating nicely, so I can hardly wait for the holidays! Can anyone tell me if caraway seeds have some sort of yeast downer that would account for the slow bubbling? I used re-hydrated Edme yeast, which is usually pretty vigorous for me (I ferment in the hot-water closet, 70 -75 degrees F) Also, are the SG's I mentioned reasonable for the ingredients listed? 2. Others here have mentioned higher-than-expected final gravities, and I keep remembering one poster who asked if he should just pitch some champagne yeast when he ran into that...has anyone ever done that? I used champagne yeast one time, and it was EXTREMELY hungry! It was the only yeast I used though -- I didn't want to get into two-yeast recipes, I have a hard enough time with two INGREDIENT recipes! Anyway, the champagne yeast seemed to eat everything in sight, and left a really dry (not sweet) final product. But is champagne yeast the answer to incomplete fermenting? When I called my supplier about this last batch, I was told, that that is just the normal "body", and that I should go ahead and bottle. While I do not agree that high alcohol is "what it is all about", still I wanted this batch to have some kick, but it looks like I'm going to have another great-tasting but low alcohol drink. Ideas? 3. On sanitation. Like most everybody else, I try for a middle ground a little short of absolute fanaticism...when I obtain new bottles, I soak them in bleach water over night, then run them through the dishwasher at least twice with added bleach. Before bottling, I run them through the dishwasher again, adding about half a cup of bleach to the water after it fills. I leave them upside down until almost ready to fill them. I sanitize all my equipment by soaking 20 minutes in bleach solution (about a tablespoon per gallon), and rinse with hot water from the sink sprayer. I have never even rinsed my bottle caps, so maybe I'm just lucky, but I've never had an infection yet. But it may be the short in-bottle time that's saved me, too. I bottle a couple of 7-ouncers for sampling at 1-week and 2-weeks to see how things are going, and they are usually going well enough that when the 1-month mark rolls around, I've already had the first six-pack. As someone else said, my beer doesn't stay around for the months and months it would take to drink at a bottle-per-week rate :-) All the best to you, and don't forget during the upcoming holidays, to Relax, don't worry, give thanks, and HAVE A HOMEBREW. Here's to you! Gary Benson, inc at tc.fluke.COM Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 89 09:45:01 EST From: bergman at m2c.org (Michael Bergman) Subject: Re: Mead Worries Falk writes: I started my first batch of mead Saturday morning, my recipe is 4 lb Honey + water to make 1 gallon juice of 4 oranges 2 tsp yeast nutrient 1 tsp pectin enzyme wine yeast Within hours, some horrible-looking matter had precipitated out of the wort; I assume that something reacted with the orange juice but I'm not sure. After about 24 hours, the precipitate had settled to the bottom of the jug and what's on top looks like I'd expected. Does this sound normal, or have I made some horrible mistake? I have no idea about the precipitate -- you don't say whether you simmered the mixture, or boiled it, or did nothing--"horrible" is insufficient description. I frequently find that the mead must stratifies -- the honey doesn't really stay completely mixed with the water, so I get a clear, yellowish, slightly murky top 80% and a darker, brownish, not-so-clear-distinctly-murky bottom 20%. Usually most of the action is on the top, with a wine yeast, but there should be a fair amount of precipitate as time goes by. What I am worried about (well, not _worried_(RDWHAHB)) is the juice of *4* oranges in *1* gallon of mead. Most of the recipes I am familiar with, for a straight mead, call for the juice of *1* orange or lemon for *5* gallons of mead. So I would say you were in the process of making a melomel (I think I have the term correct) which is to say, a wine based on a mixture of fruit juice and honey-water, rather than a mead. I don't know how much tolerance for acid the yeast has -- it may be too acidic, it may be fine. Personally, I've had fermented orange juice and I don't like it, but this shouldn't be *that* strong. I suspect that the effect of the orange juice will be make you want to age it a little more before drinking it than otherwise. Please let us (or at least me) know how it comes out! - --mike bergman Massachusetts Microelectronics Center 75 North Drive, Westborough, MA 01581, USA +1 (508) 870-0312 UUCP: (...harvard)!m2c!bergman INTERNET: bergman at m2c.org Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 89 11:06:14 est From: Chris Shenton <chris at asylum.gsfc.nasa.gov> Subject: Priming timing problems ? Kenneth Kron writes: > Background: When I prime I usually put 3/4 cups of sugar/5 gallons into > some warm water and pour this directly into my fermenter. I then slosh > it around some and let it sit for 20 min. then go ahead and bottle. And > I have gotten very good results so far. I would suggest boiling the sugar in a little water to kill any nasties. I just add some water to a Pyrex measuring cup containing 3/4C sugar, then toss in microwave until it boils. I then add this to the fermenter and let it hang out while I clean my bottles, to let the sugar distribute itself. > So I don't know if should I uncap all the bottles run around and add > sugar to them all ... Sounds like you're asking for contamination. I'd let it hang out. Return to table of contents
Date: 21 Nov 89 08:50:05 PST (Tue) From: florianb at tekred.cna.tek.com Subject: yeast,cranberries "Doug" sez: Rergarding alternatives to dry package yeast: A pure culture is ideal. Liquid cultures sound like a good bet, but where do you get them? The "yeast" issue of "Zymurgy" indicates that, at 68 degrees, 90% of the yeast is dead in two week if sold in a foil pack, and 90% is dead in three months if stored in a plastic tube. Recommendations for reliable--and quick!-- sources? (I'd still like to try culturing my own yeast. I'd also like to grow my own barley and hops. :-) I'd also like to be independently" The yeast stuff sounds like BS to me. I get Wyeast shipped from Steinbart's of Portland (takes 2-3 days to get to me by UPS). I haven't found any problems with it. They seal it in ice in a couple of bags. The ice is probably unnecessary. As for growing your own hops, well, I do it. Then ed falk comments about mead making: "Within hours, some horrible-looking matter had precipitated out of the wort; I assume that something reacted with the orange juice but I'm not sure. After about 24 hours, the precipitate had settled to the bottom of the jug and what's on top looks like I'd expected. Does this sound normal, or have I made some horrible mistake?" Did you skim the skum while boiling the honey, ed? Then kenneth kron is worried about his priming: :"Problem: What I did this time (it was a rough day) was add *dry* sugar to the carboy and when I got done bottling, I noticed the quantity of sugar in the bottom of the carboy which led me to remember the step I left out. So I decided to leave the beer in the bottles and see what" One thing you could try would be to pour all the bottles into a fermenter, add a cup of corn sugar, stir it up, and wait for it to ferment out. Then, bottle the beer as you normally would. The risks include contamination and oxidization. You could also wait for a month and just drink the beer a little flat. Finally, Tim Phillips describes a nasty problem with cranberries, in that the fermentation hasn't started. I'd suggest pitching with some real zippy dry yeast such as Edme, Munton & Fison or even Red Star, if you are desperate. Be sure to hydrate the yeast first. [Florian Bell] Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 89 10:54:08 PST From: falk at Sun.COM (Ed Falk) Subject: glass vs. plastic carboys Glass carboys are expensive; is there any reason I can't use a plastic carboy (i.e. water bottle) instead? The people who sold me my glass carboy said you can't sterilize plastic, but they're in the business of selling glass so they're not unbiased. It seems to me that a water jug that has never held anything but drinking water should be fairly clean and easy enough to soak in bleach solution. Return to table of contents
Date: 21 November 1989 10:41:36 am From: parcplace!pencin at Sun.COM (Russ Pencin) Subject: Re: Yeast Starters and me... Well, I can't stand it, I've finally got to post something! (please be kind) RE: >From: polstra!norm at hplabs.HP.COM (Norm Hardy) >Lately, though, I have just been using liquid yeast, from WYeast. I am forced >to make a starter just to build up the amount of yeast. I would like to hear >how other people are doing it. > >Thanks again to everyone for suggestions. And please pass on ideas for >a better yeast culture! > >Doug >UUCP: ...!gatech!hisata!doug I started using WYeast about six months ago, and have tried several different approaches to getting a good fermentation going. When I started, I just followed the instructions on the package. This worked okay, but usually took 24 to 40 hours to get a great fermentation going. I now squash the pouch 3 days before I plan to brew, after two days of sitting near the back of the refrigerator ( it's about 86 degrees almost constantly!) the pouch is about ready to burst. At this point I mix 2 cups of dry malt and one cup of corn sugar with 4 cups of water and boil for about 20 minutes in a quart "Cranapple" jar in my microwave. I then cool the mixture down to about 86 degrees and pour the contents of the pouch into the mixture and place a fermentation lock on top. In less than 12 hours the quart bottle of starter is frothing and carrying on nicely. At this point, I start my normal brewing process. Of the last six batches that I have followed this proceedure, not one has failed to start a great fermentation in longer that 4 hours!!! Well that's my two sence werth! Now a question that has me perplexed... Several of the posters to this forum talk about culturing yeast from commercial beers for what ever reason, and others have complained about the cost of WYeast. It seems to me that the average homebrewer has the greatest yeast farm in the world sitting in his own bottled brew! I plan to try my theory out on the next two batches, so I'll have more info at that point. I have a great steam beer with Lager yeast and a wonderful English Bitter with British Ale yeast, both are in the 4 to 5 month bottle age, and still taste crisp and clean. Has anyone else tried this? Basically I plan to follow my starter proceedure, except use the yeasties from a carefully poured bottle of my own beer... Any comments welcome... Russ Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 89 11:09:28 EST From: hplabs!rutgers!dgbt.crc.dnd.ca!bnr-rsc!crick (Bill Crick) Subject: Sanitation The recent rash of articles on sterilization have prompted me to post some comments on my brewing experience. Through the years, I have used various cleaning methods, starting with just plenty of hot tap water, through to boiling water, and santitizing detergents, and chlorine bleach. I really haven't noticed a big difference I've never washed or boiled bottle caps! I often pitch yeast the next morning. I do use a good healthy starter that has been started when I do the boil. This is especially true for ales that I want a high diacetyl content (Butterscotch flavor like Samuel Smith's) To get this, I boil all the water. This drives off the oxygen causing a low oxygen fermentation (I also strip the yeast out of the secondary with finings right away). Because I've boiled all the water, it takes 12 -24 hours to cool to a point where I can pitch. Beer is really resilient stuff! Thats why it has been around so long! I can't say I've ever had any contamination problems except for 3 - 4 bottles that gushed (out of about 6400) because the bottle had a bit of gick stuck in it because it slipped through QA in cleaning. Don't get carried away with sanitation, but look at what you do and try to develop a good "clean room disipline" in your actions. I'm not saying "the cleaner the better" is untrue, but temper this with common sense. There is a law of diminishing returns. I've also noticed a lot of people that seem to be really paranoid about relaxing and letting the beer be. Don't be in a rush. I usually leave ales in secondary for 2 -6 weeks. Lager 4 - 24 weeks. I know "... Autolysis... bad...off flavors...not bubbling...started again..." I've never seen any of these problems! If you do have a bacteria problem, it will probably show up in long ferment or storage times. I try to wait at least 1 month in bottles. I also try to 'lose' a 6 pack of each beer I make for at least 8 months. I have kept some beers around for 3 years, and they are still getting better, although the rate of improvement tapers off after about a year. (except for Cherries in the Snow which is still improving after 4 years) For labelling beers, I give ever recipe a name, and mark a two letter short form of the name on top of the caps with a marker. This is quick, and when there are 6 or 7 different beers in the fridge, short names are easier to remember than numbers, or anything else. Note having only made about a hundred batches, everything I say may be wrong! Bill Crick. brewius, ergo sum! Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 89 15:57 EST From: <S_KOZA%UNHH.BITNET at mitvma.mit.edu> Subject: Belgian Lambics? Hi All, I recently sampled a Cherry Lambic ( It was heavenly even though there was a wood grub floating about in it ) I would like to attempt to brew something of this nature and would appreciate any reports on personal attempts. Remember, unsuccesful research is as important as research that runs like a champ. P.S. I would prefer my batch to come out sans grubby 8-) Thanks, Stephan M. Koza Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 89 21:59:44 EST From: hisata!doug at gatech.edu Subject: Re: Pitching problems Kenneth Kron writes: > Well what happened is, it's been a little over a week and I > opened a bottle and while it had some carbonation it was pretty flat. > So I don't know if should I uncap all the bottles run around and add > sugar to them all or "relax and ..." (which I'm almost out of!!!) or > what. I am going to save this beer (even though it was flat I could > tell it had promise!) but I'm wondering what ideas the list has on this??? Depending on the temperature at which the beer has been stored, I would wait another week at least before doing anything. I've had beer take a couple of weeks to become fully carbonated. If indeed you had a bunch of undissolved sugar sitting on the bottom of the carboy, then the last beer you siphoned may end up being VERY carbonated! Actually, as fine as corn sugar is, you might be surprised how much dissolved on its way down. If, after you've let the beer sit a couple of weeks, it still isn't carbonated, you can try carefully adding about a 1/2 teaspoon of corn sugar to each bottle and then recapping. I've primed this way, using up to a teaspoon of sugar, but I don't recommend it for regular practice. Good luck! Doug Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 89 21:57:59 -0600 (CST) From: Brian Capouch <brianc at zeta.saintjoe.EDU> Subject: Low-head sparging Have any of you hop-heads out there heard of such a term? I was at a homebrewers meeting recently, complaining about the astringent, tannic taste that all my mashed beers seemed to have, and a fellow there recommended I try rigging up my lauter tun to reduce the weight of the water in the siphon. Let me try to describe (hold on tight): I rigged up a hose from the spigot at the bottom of my outer bucket (I sparge with the small-holey-bucket inside the plain bigger one approach). The hose runs about 3/4 of the way up the side of the bucket, where I installed a tee fitting. Off the tee, I put a very short length of hose extending up to the top of the bucket, sort of like a water standpipe. The other side (the "tee" side) I then use for my output. Thus the tee drains off *just below* the level of sparge water in the tun; the idea is supposed to be that you don't have the weight of the whole bucket of water on the grist. I don't know if the physics supports it, but I have now brewed two batches with this method, and they both taste much better than any of the ones I did before. I'm also getting a lot better extraction efficiency, and the sparge is going a lot quicker. But maybe it's all in my head :-) Anyway, does anybody out there know what I'm talking about? Could it make a difference? BTW, I am now using the yeast-handling methods espoused in the current issue of Zymurgy, and boy, what a difference in the activity level of my fermentations. Hope the brews are as exciting to drink as the carboys have been to watch. Return to table of contents
End of HOMEBREW Digest #308, 11/22/89
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