Often when it comes to fermentation a significant amount of time is spent searching for recommended yeast parameters (fermentation temperature, flocculation, etc) for the brew being designed.  Instead of continuing to search this information out at various locations across the web, it is now easily accessed for all yeast strains in one spot here on Fermentation Riot – Yeast Strain Database.

If any new yeasts are not listed feel free to let me know and it will happily be added.

 

The following guide was put together to help brewers serve their beer in the appropriate glassware.  Select a beer style and the page will update with the appropriate glassware for that type of beer.  Multiple glass styles may be appropriate for each beer.

More information here - Beer Glass Guide

Cheers!

The following guide will help you understand the details associated with kegging your beer before you dive in:

How to Keg

Kegging beer has many benefits over bottling beer:

1.) Its faster – no filling bottles, capping, and cleaning each bottle.
2.) No yeast sediment to worry about.
3.) Can perform additional processing like counter pressure bottle filling and filtration.
4.) Tighter control on the carbonation and serving.

Beer Exposure to Sunlight

Hops + Sunlight = Skunky

If you have ever tasted a skunky beer you might think to yourself, after spitting it out, what could possibly cause an off flavor that bad?  Well one reason for this flavor would be that the beer was exposed to sunshine (ultraviolet radiation). Specifically, sunlight initiates degradation of the alpha acids into smaller chains which then allow sulfer to happily bond to form 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, if you care!  This is what tastes like a skunk or rotten eggs, something not preferred in my beer.

This is why beer bottles are amber in color as it does a better job at blocking UV than would a clear bottle.  With time though, UV will impact the flavor of an amber bottle so it is not completely safe.

If you want to experience the flavor for yourself take a moderately hopped beer and place it into direct sunlight in the middle of summer when UV is strongest.  Take samples over a time period of an hour and notice the degradation in the flavor, that is if you can let a beer sit that long!  Skunk – yum…..

Wort Aeration

Oxygen Tank and Racking Cane Mixer

The following points detail the importance of supplying oxygen to the wort just before fermentation:

  • Ever had a stuck fermentation?  This may be due to low oxygen content in the wort which puts stress on the yeast and reduces their ability to reproduce.
  • Ever had a beer that tasted sweet?  This is due to the yeast not completely metabolizing the malt sugars to the attenuation level expected.  This can also be due to low oxygen content in the wort which places stress on the yeast.
  • Ever tasted a homebrewed beer that tasted funky?  These are off flavors that can be created due to the yeast stress which can be a result of low oxygen content.

So what can be done to ensure that oxygen is present in the wort to adequate levels?

Oxygen content in the wort is dependent on the original (starting) gravity, yeast cells being pitched, and the desired quantity by the end of fermentation.  As each of these stated factors increases the oxygen content also needs to increase.

Stirring a fermentor by hand by rolling it on the floor will not achieve more than 10 ppm oxygen content in your beer.  This is a good number for most beers but it will require a vigorous stirring for a minimum of 10 minutes (although realistically it may take up to a half an hour).  To quickly achieve oxygen content needed the best way is to use a sintered stone and an oxygen tank.  This can reduce the time to 1 minute of purging to adequately get oxygen levels up to 10 ppm.  An oxygen tank also allows you to exceed 10 ppm with further aeration time.

Some people use an aerator mixer at the end of a racking can and the truth is that it may help to increase the oxygen content slightly but it should not be the only method for aeration.  If you are not using an oxygen tank, my recommendation would be to use the aerator at the end of the racking cane followed up with at least 10 minutes of good manual mixing rolling the carboy on the floor.

Too much oxygen (>20ppm) which is difficult to achieve may impart more fusel alcohols and increased acetaldehyde.  This may impart a “hot” cidery apple flavor which would not be desired.

At the end of the day the important tip to remember is that the yeast need oxygen early in fermentation to allow growth and reproduction.  This becomes even more important as the starting gravity increases where additional yeast pitch rates will also be required.   This could be the one thing you are missing to turn your average beer into a great beer.

 

Beer Clarity

Beer clarity and chill haze

The most common type of problem with beer clarity is haze. Typically the haze that causes most home brewers problems is the chill haze (which is temporary). Often a beer with chill haze will exhibit a hazy look at cooler temperatures but will be clear at warmer temperatures. The exact mechanism is that the proteins and pholyphenols, otherwise known as tannins, form weak bonds at lower temperatures. As temperature increases the bonds are broken and these compounds are then dissolved into the beer (unobserved by the eye).   Aging, just like with most things, affects chill haze in a negative manner so it is important that it be reduced to a minimum when bottled or kegged.

So what needs to be done to reduce the occurrence of these chill haze compounds?  I will step through the list and give the low down on each.

  • Fining Agents, There are three main types of agents (chill haze polyphenol removers, chill haze protein removers, and yeast removers).  These can be added to reduce chill haze but if they are over done it can cause added haze to the beer.  It is very important that these be used in a limited fashion as recommended by the agent supplier.  Fining agents will not be able to overcome technical problems which result from brewing.  This is the most common and typically the only method that home brewers use.
  • Filtration, It may seem that filtration would be the best way to remove particles from your beer but the truth of the matter is that the haze compounds are not easily filtered.  It will help to filter the beer as some of the haze compounds are removed but it may not be as beneficial as logic would lead you to believe.
  • Ice Stabilization, Cold storage has the biggest bang to reducing haze compounds.  If the beer can be at near freezing to the point that ice crystals are formed there is a number of benefits to the beer assuming it can be separated from the low quantity of ice.  The first benefit is that the beer is as cold as it will be served and the solubility is the lowest.  This means that the beer can be separated from the majority of the problems related to haze.  You will notice that yeast will not want to be in solution at cold temperatures either they will drop out like a rock.  Haze compounds will also settle out at colder temperatures assuming the beer is racked at these colder temperatures.  This is by far the easiest and most efficient methods of stabilizing the beer.  If used in conjunction with the other methods listed above, a very bright beer should be expected.

 

    

Here is a video I created which goes through the steps required to make a yeast starter. Its not that difficult so give it a try (and a few minutes) for your next batch. Remember brewers make wort and yeast make beer; if you don’t have enough yeast cells the yeast will not make the quality beer you are hoping for.

Yeast Starter Size and Pitching Rate Calculator

 

 

Check out a recent video I made taking images every 60 seconds for the first 24 hours and every 120 seconds thereafter.  If I do it again I will be sure to use a lighter beer so I can see more through the carboy.  Feel free to shoot me some suggestions for the next attempt or other test suggestions…

Beer Fermentation Time Lapse

Nearly all partial boil brewers will reach the point when making beer and ask themselves  “What can I do to make this beer taste better?”  Well, the first answer is to move from partial boils to full boils.  By this I mean that if you are brewing 5 gallon batches of beer but only boiling 2.5 gallons when making hop additions and then adding water after boiling you would be doing a partial boil.  The full boil gives the benefits outlined below:

  • With a partial boil the specific gravity of the wort is higher and the solubility of the wort decreases.  As a result the hop utilization also decreases, resulting in a less hoppy beer.  A full boil has a higher solubility therefore the utilization of the hops increases.
  • Carmelization is another problem with the partial boils.  This can result in flavors that don’t exactly fit the profile of the beer you are looking for.  On top of this, it can darken your beer.  With a full boil the wort is diluted more to prevent this from occurring.
  • Adding water at the end of the boil will increase the likelihood for contamination as the water being added is likely not sanitized.  If you are not holding that water above 160°F for at least a few minutes you are likely not killing all the bacteria that are in the water.  You might argue that your tap water is treated to kill bacteria but there may be growth in or near your plumbing or devices that dispense the water.  Assuming your water is perfectly clean because it is chlorinated read the next point.
  • If your adding into your partial boil tap water that is treated with chlorine, the boiling of this water helps volatilize the chlorine from your wort.  As this water is added at the end of the boil your chlorine content would be higher resulting in a medicinal flavor – yum.  If your water is treated with chloramine the only thing to watch out for is your yeast not performing well; this will have little effect on the overall taste of the beer.

So in the end it comes down to personal preference, what you are willing to pay, and ultimately how your beer tastes.  If you like your beer then keep doing what your doing but if you are looking for something better it just might be time to make the change to full boils.

© 2011 All Grain Beer Brewing and Beer Recipe Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha