Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Q&A: Homebrewing


Recommended Posts

@MSK:

Ummmm not my favorite.

I was hoping to get a lot of the fruity, sour, ruby red character from the grapefruit. Unfortunately, all I got was the dry mouthfeel of eating a grapefruit. No fruit, no sour, just a peppery, dry finish, which are not what I consider desirable traits in a quenching wheat beer. Plus, I had the Belgian, not Bavarian, strain of yeast, therefore I had less fruity character to begin with. Again, not what I was shooting for.

I'll save a few, but most likely the majority will be going down the drain so I can save the bottles.

:wacko:

Better luck next time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ZGT-

If you used the Belgian wit yeast, don't dump the beers. Give them at least 5 weeks in the bottle for the yeast's natural sourness to develop. If you've got a good base of grapefruit flavor in the beer, as the yeast sourness comes online, you'll get what you're looking for. Don't dump the batch yet.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CDH,

That strong dark llooks great.  I have learned that I really  love that style.  Chimay Blue and McChouffe are two of my favorite beers.  Do you think the dark candy syrup is what gives it that grape soda like flavor?  Its hard for me to describe it any other way, though it probably does not do it justice.

Msk

Realized I'd not answered this question- and I think that the flavor that you call "grape soda" and I call "dried fruits" comes more out of the yeast and maybe using Special B than from the syrup. What you're talking about is the fruity esters that yeast produce when fermented at certain temperatures. In American brewing those flavors are regarded by many as mistakes, and many find them disgusting... I happen to like them, so I let my yeast ferment a bit warmer... but I don't expect hardcore hopheads to appreciate what I brew. To get those flavors, find an ester producing yeast, and ferment it in the 70s. Some of the fruit character will be influenced by the hops too... One of my favorite beers in the UK was Marston's Pedigree- a beer that definitely had that grapefruit character that ZGT is hunting for... but it contained no grapefruit by-products at all...

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not necessarily Homebrewing strictly speaking, but I felt it would get more interest here than on the Wine forum, I kicked off a cherry melomel a day or two ago on the following recipe:

8 pounds bing cherries, destemmed and crushed (didn't yield much free juice but I wasn't trying THAT hard)

10 cups clover honey (about 7.3 pounds)

6 tsp Fermax nutrient

1/4 tsp pectic enzyme

Standard operating procedure here--juice the cherries, bag the pulp and make a must of 5 gallons volume, dose with campden tablets for 24 hours, used Lalvin 71B for this one as a meadmaker friend and beekeeper swears by it for anything involving fruit and honey.

The OG was around 1.080, which I realize is a little short for a mead, but my intent is to introduce more cherries in secondary, which will add some more fermentables, and I'd rather this be bone dry and on the light side rather than leaning towards rocket fuel.

Fermentation is proceeding, but with the nutrient addition and the OG, I'm a little surprised at how leisurely it seems to be going. Maybe the acid content of the cherries?

My only disappointment so far is that the honey my roommate had acquired has a somewhat distinct flavor that seems off somehow--i've been told that's common in very homogenized or low grade clover honeys, so I'm hoping the cherry masks it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't think I'd seen the meadmaking thread, it'd be good to have that showcased as well :)

Working in a wine/beer supply shop with 2 meadmakers (one of which is a beekeeper as well) really got me interested in that facet of the hobby.

My roommate and I have plenty of that clover honey left, but considering the taste issue I mentioned , I think i'm going to use it just as a base for melomels and cysers as the year progresses.

Edited by Malkavian (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
Cool new project.  We've got a meadmaking thread around here someplace...  I'll see if I can dig it out and get the mods to move this over there... would be good to breathe some new life into that.

Just racked the melomel today, good taste, little bland, so I added about half a bottle (1/3 a gallon juice equivalent i believe) of tart (montmorency?) cherry concentrate and a bit more honey at secondary. By my calculations that'll boost the ABV to around 10% which is roughly where I wanted it.

Also was extremely pleased to find my (infected, hah) chocolate stout has apparently undergone some other sort of secondary/tertiary reaction and the tangy funk taste left by the wild yeasties is totally gone to be replaced by a wonderful chocolate taste (it's been aging on cocoa nibs all thist ime) --gonna get that bottled ASAP, it's approaching six-eight months old at this point so I want to get ti refrigerated quickly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I just finished reading all of the postings on this topic, and realize that I am SOOO far behind in this posting but I can't help it and I need to talk to someone! I am a first time brewer and I made the recipie in Class One as directed...with one change. I accidentally made a 3 gallon batch instead of a two and here is what is happening that is freaking me out. The wort turned out with great color and tasted okay before yeast was pitched. It was put into a 5 gallon carboy with airlock (I know this is a no no, too much exposed air in the container already but it was the only thing that I had) and I placed it in a dark room in my basement in Michigan that holds between 65 and 70 degrees. This was a Monday. Tuesday evening it was bubbling ferociously, every 5 seconds or so, and had built a beautiful raft of foam across the top.

And then I got worried. By Thursday my raft had all but dissappeared and the bubbling was down to every 35 seconds. I checked the temperature in the room and it was holding at around 65. I got nervous and hooked up the heater outside the door and gently raised the temperature. Now it is Friday. The temerature in the room is holding right near 70 degrees. My airlock is now working at the terrifying (to me) rate of once every 65 seconds. I gave the beer a good swirl on Thursday. There is no raft left, just a crust on the side of the carboy and a few small collections of bubbles floating on the surface of the wart (I'm afraid to call it beer, I don't want to jinx it!)

SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME THAT:

a) Everything is going to be allright

b) I should start over and create a new batch of beer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome terapinchef-

Don't worry! Everything will be fine. Your yeast did exactly what they should.

As to the 3 gallon batch in a 5-gallon carboy being a no-no... I'd not say so. The yeast is going to create great masses of CO2 that will push all of the O2 away from your beer while it is fermenting.

Don't worry if you're fermenting below 70F, that is fine, yeast like it.

It sounds like your yeast ate all the sugar quickly. That's not unexpected if you used 11g of dried yeast in a low-gravity wort. Let it continue doing its thing for the full 10 days before bottling, but don't expect the churning and swirling show from the first days to continue throughout the whole time.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cannot begin to tell you how much better I feel...I was so worried :)

I would also like to note to anyone who is in my position of just starting out that I recently found out that Craigslist is a great place to obtain empty flip top bottles...I recently found someone willing to sell me 50 bottles for $20 or 180 for $50...I also found out that if you consult your local Grolsch distributer (usually a Budwieser distributor) you can obtain bottles for no more than the deposit price...

This being said, I'm pretty sure that after making my first batch of beer (without even bottling my first batch...) I'm addicted. I'm ready to try and find someone to barter a bucket of beer to make me a wort chiller...and I cannot wait to stop drinking cheap beer after work and start drinking something that I created!

So it will be a week on Monday and I just want to make sure that I understood your post correctly. I will still will be waiting the full two weeks from brew day to bottling day right? My bubbling is almost a minute and a half apart, and I would love to bottle as soon as possible, but without a hydrometer I want to avoid any possibility of glass grenades...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi folks,

Just picked up my first homebrew kit +equipment (Muntons Mountmellic Irish Style Newkie Brown) and am very excited to start! As I did this before reading through this thread (typical), I plan on working through the course recipes shortly afterwards, as dumping a can into water isn't exactly my idea of a hobby :biggrin: .

What is the benefit (if any) of a secondary fermentation? The instructions that came with the equipment say I should transfer my beer from the plastic bucket to the carboy after the initial high-activity phase (3-4 days), but the instructions in the beer kit would have me do everything in the bucket (although it also says that I should be ready to bottle in 5-6 days, which seems a bit short given most of the instructions here).

Edited by Mallet (log)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the hobby, Mallet!

As to secondary fermentation, I'd say that for most average strength beers you don't have to worry about it. I'd put the carboy away and forget about it too, as I have an aversion to large slippery-when-wet glass vessels that can break into razor sharp shards and really hurt you.

There is an unfounded paranoia about "yeast autolysis", where the yeast begin to cannibalize themselves, generating awful odors and flavors. That is why people urge you to "get your beer off the yeast" as quickly as possible, hence moving everything over to a secondary fermenter. I've left beers in the primary bucket (in my 65F basement) for nearly a month and not noticed any signs of autolysis. In my dozen years of brewing, autolysis has yet to rear its ugly head. And I've never secondaried anything but Belgian styles that I've infected with brettanomyces in the secondary.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm thinking of brewing this weekend and want to do something seasonal/fallish/even christmasy. I found this recipe for Holiday Porter that sounds promising. What do you think? I am worried about it being too spiced though. Should I change anything? Also boiling 8 gallons is out of the question. I'd need to reduce the boil volume to no more than 4 gallons and maybe the yield to 4 or 5 gallons. Any ideas?

Then again there's this Winter Warmth Strong Ale that is also sounding very good.

Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All right, I know it's only Friday but I'm getting excited for my bottling session on Sunday. I've got all of my bottles good and clean and I'm mentally ready to go. I'm going to try and include some pictures (if I can figure out how to post them...and how to take pictures with my hands full). I just have a few more questions....

So like I said before I followed the first recipie fairly closely...right up until the part where I put an extra gallon of water in there at the end. So my question is do I need to change the amount of priming sugar needed to properly carbonate my bottles? I don't mind a gentle fizz if that will be the only danger...but I don't want to make my first batch any more dangerous than necessary (I will be bottling in Grolsch bottles, and yes, Chris, you do have me terrified that I will wake up to the sound of exploding beer bottles.)

My second question is slightly more advanced...

Due to the fact that as soon as I get involved in something I immediately try to read everything in the world available on the subject, this question came up.

Certain bottled beers that I have purchased in the past sometimes have a layer of yeast sediment on the bottom (Chimay is the only one that I can think of right now). Now I know that I'm getting W-----A----Y-----Y----Y ahead of myself given the fact that I haven't even bottled my first batch of beer yet, but would it be possible to cultivate these yeasts back into usability?

Anyways should be posting pictures soon, and because I haven't done it yet I want to thank Chris for shoving me over the edge and getting me to finally start brewing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm... thoughts re bottles and priming:

Getting your bottles clean a few days ahead of time doesn't mean you can skip the sanitizing step just before you fill them. Giving them a few days for airborne beasties to settle on/in them is suboptimal. I always run my bottles through the dishwasher right before I fill them. (Dishwasher detergent is powered by chlorine, so does a fine job of killing beasties, particularly when coupled with the heated dry cycle.)

Priming sugar scales linearly. Add 50% more for 3 gallons than you would for 2 gallons... unless you'd like to experiment with a less fizzy beer, which might be quite nice.

The danger of exploding bottles comes more from jumping the gun and bottling before all the sugar in the wort has finished fermenting. (Another cause of bottle explosions is infections with beasties that can eat sugars that yeast can't...)

As to yeast culturing, yes, it is possible. Doesn't always work, but it can be done. You can go from seat-of-your-pants attempts all the way to lab-style culture selection. To get going, you need a medium in which to propagate your new generation of yeast. You could use latino Malta drinks for that purpose, but you might want to dilute them about 1:1 with sterile water and degas them and add a tiny pinch of baking soda or chalk, as many of them them are dosed with phosphoric acid as a preservative to kill off things that might start growing in them (read the ingredients).

IF your target yeast is a monoculture, you should be able to just pour (through a sterile funnel) 1/4 cup of your growth medium into a freshly opened and decanted bottle of beer with yeast cake on the bottom. Give that a good swirl (and oxygenate it if you can) and let it go a couple of days in a warm place. You might put a balloon over the top of the bottle so you can easily tell if any CO2 is getting made in there. If it looks like things are growing in there, get some more growth medium , add a bit of yeast nutrients, and step up the size to a full pint, and then to a quart. A lab-type magnetic stir plate really helps to get the yeast vigorously growing. (People are building their own out of old computer power supplies, case fans, and magnets nowadays... which seems like fun, but I've not gotten around to playing with that idea yet.)

IF your target yeast is a blend of things (like many belgian beers are) you're going to need to remember your high school bio class where you grew a petrie dish of beasties from swab samples. Identifying which colonies that grow are the ones you want takes more microbiological skill than I've got, but it could make for fun experimentation. There's enough inexpensive lab equipment out there that you could get a good enough microscope and some petrie dishes for less than a small fortune.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm thinking of brewing this weekend and want to do something seasonal/fallish/even christmasy. I found this recipe for Holiday Porter that sounds promising. What do you think? I am worried about it being too spiced though. Should I change anything? Also boiling 8 gallons is out of the question. I'd need to reduce the boil volume to no more than 4 gallons and maybe the yield to 4 or 5 gallons. Any ideas?

Then again there's this Winter Warmth Strong Ale that is also sounding very good.

With either of those, I'd do it as a partial mash with extract added late in the boil to bring them up to the gravity you want, particularly if you won't be doing a full boil.

For the Holiday Porter I'd do something like:

Grain:

2 lb. British pale

2 lb. Wheat malt

1 lb. German Munich

1 lb. American crystal 60L

12 oz. American chocolate

4 oz. British black patent

Mash: at 156 for 60 minutes

Boil: 90 minutes 4 gallons

6 lb. Amber dry malt extract added with the Saaz hops at 10 minutes.

Hops:

1.75 oz. Magnum (14% AA, 90 min.)

1 oz. Saaz (3.75% AA, 10 min.)

Chuck in whatever spices make you happy. Cinnamon and I don't get along particularly well, so I'd look to use a few cloves, some allspice berries, a little nutmeg, maybe a star anise or some juniper. Look up the spicing of your favorite christmas cookie, and use that as a start. Hmmm... I'd bet that ginger snaps or pfeffernuesse in the mash would work and do something interesting... The enzymes in there could convert baked flour in dough as as well as raw starches in grain :raz:

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pretty much decided on the second one. I've already made a porter and want something different. How would I convert that to partial? I can maybe also flavor it to my liking with some orange zest and such.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, the trick to converting to partial mash is to leave all of the specialty grains alone, and substitute extract for most of the base malt. Hops stay about the same if you're doing a late extract addition... you'd need to up the hops some if you're adding the extract at the beginning of the boil.

Use the calculator at www.hbd.org/recipator to fine tune the recipe from there. I usually assume a 68% efficiency there, as that is a safe middling number and I don't mind if the actual efficiency is +/- 10%.

Give it a try and post what you come up with.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I got something like this. Also I could not find American Special Roast in the list to add it.

Strong English Winter Ale

Size 5 gallons

Boil 4 gallons

color 27 HCU (~14 SRM)

bitterness 43 IBU

OG 1.061 FG 1.022

Alcohol 5.1% v/v (4.0% w/w)

Grain:

3 lb. 0 oz. American 2-row

1.5 lb. 0 oz. American crystal 40L

0.5 lb. 0 oz. Dextrine malt (Cara-Pils)

Mash:

68% efficiency

Boil:

SG 1.077, 4 Gallons

5 lb. 0 oz. Amber LIQUID malt extract

Hops:

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 60 min.)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 45 min.)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 30 min.)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 15 min.)

How does that sound? I still need the American Special Roast in there. Also, how important is the specified (pretty low) fermentation temps in the original recipe?

Any help is very much appreciated to fine tune this.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Were I you, I'd add a bit more extract. Your recipe is coming in a little low on the malt side.

The low fermentation temperatures are not particularly important if you don't mind the yeast adding flavor to the beer. People who insist on fermenting in refrigerators don't like the flavors that yeast make and are trying to use cold to prevent them from forming in the beer. It's all a matter of taste. If you don't think that beers you fermented at warmer temps in the past are disgusting, then you won't mind what yeast fermented at warmer temperatures do.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this better? Is it the OG that told you malt is a bit low?

Strong English Winter Ale

Size 5 gallons

Boil 4 gallons

color 30 HCU (~14 SRM)

bitterness 43 IBU

OG 1.069 FG 1.022

Alcohol 6% v/v (4.0% w/w)

Grain:

3 lb. 0 oz. American 2-row

1.5 lb. 0 oz. American crystal 40L

0.5 lb. 0 oz. Dextrine malt (Cara-Pils)

Mash:

68% efficiency

Boil:

SG 1.086, 4 Gallons

6 lb. 0 oz. Amber LIQUID malt extract

Hops:

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 60 min.)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 45 min.)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 30 min.)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 15 min.)

Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, here is the recipe pretty much as I brewed it on Sunday. BTW, I love this recipe calculator Chris. It really helped me 'get' how a recipe is built and manipulated! I'll definitly use it again. Looking at the recipe though, my main worry is the IBU. Seems to me like I needed to boil more hops in there. We'll see.

Strong English Winter Ale

Size 5 gallons

Boil 3 gallons

color 34 HCU (~17 SRM)

bitterness 15.2 IBU

OG 1.072, FG 1.022

Alcohol 6.5% v/v (5.1% w/w)

Grain:

3 lb. 0 oz. American 2-row

1.5 lb. 0 oz. American crystal 40L

0.5 lb. 0 oz. Dextrine malt (Cara-Pils)

0.75 lb Belgian Biscuit

Mash:

68% efficiency

Boil:

SG 1.120, 3 Gallons

6 lb. 0 oz. Amber LIQUID malt extract

Hops:

1 oz. Kent Goldings (FWH)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 60 min.)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, 20 min. + 1tsp Irish Moss)

1 oz. Kent Goldings (5% AA, FO)

+ star anise/orange zest/cloves

1 oz. Kent Goldings (DH)

Yeast:

White Labs English Ale

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...