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Q&A: Homebrewing


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Sounds like you're back in the saddle!

I'm thinking of doing some brewing today... i've got a starter of the Roeselare yeast going now, and I think I might make a batch of Flanders Red. I'll need to sit down and do some figuring, but I'm thinking something like:

5 lbs of Marris Otter

3 lbs of Munich

1 lb of Caramunich

.5 lb of Aromatic

.5 lb of Special B

.5 lb of flaked rye

.5 lb torrified wheat

Bittered with something like an ounce of US Goldings or Styrian Goldings.

Made some changes when I actually brewed it:

5 lb Marris Otter

3 lb Munich

1 lb Caramunich

.5 lb torrified wheat

.25 lb Aromatic

.25 lb Special B

.25 lb Golden Naked Oats

1oz Styrian Goldings

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Sounds like a good batch of beer in the making Chris. Tell me more about the red-

are you mixing old/young beer? Aging in Oak? Or just using Oak Chips?

I like wild yeast/lambic beers a lot and am pleased to see a nice assortment of appropriate cultures available. I really want to try one and the Flanders Red sounds like a good place to start.

Both of the beers we brewed last weekend are on their target FG.

Both have been kegged and should be ready to go after a week or two to condition.

The samples we took in order to test FG were quite good and provided a nice preview of how the finished product will taste.

The stout is sparging as I type this. We also got a gallon of apple cider started this morning as well.

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I might make another IPA today as well since I have grain on hand for it and well...

The bulk of the "work" is set up and tear down of equipment anyway.

I payed about $50 for a 6 gallon batch, so it seems I'm paying significantly more. Here was the breakdown:

$2.70/lb crystal and chocolate malt

$5.90/lb dry malt extract

$2.22/lb liquid malt extract

$3.00/oz hops

DME is $3.67 /lb here, I only really use it for feeding yeast cultures so 3 pounds goes a long way for me.

I'm paying $1.09 for domestic base malts, $1.59 / lb for imported.

The specialty grains are either $1.59 or $1.69 depending on type. I re-use yeast and still have a hop stash but even if I were purchasing both my (5 gal) batch cost would be around $20 or so. That is about twice as much as 5 years ago if my notes are any indication.

All grain is certainly more cost effective than using DME or LME, the prices for those have *really* shot up. I also get a 5% discount at our local store (as a member of the local brew club).

-edited with exact local prices.

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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I've got a gallon or so of 2005 vintage Flemish red, and may blend some of that into this batch. I've only used oak chips so far, and am under the impression that it makes no sense whatsoever to try using full oak containment vessels for batches of this size. Google for Raj Apte's musings on Flemish Red brewing... it's on the parc.xerox.com servers but I can't recall the exact address.

The Wyeast Roeselare blend really does produce great results, given enough time. The first 9 months are really not palateable, but after that (at least for beers kept in plastic with its O2 permeability) it gets really good.

My first batch with the Roeselare was morebeer.com's Fire in the Hole grain bill with radically restrained hopping. It rocks.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Thanks for the info on how you do your Flanders Red. Is your secondary in carboys, buckets, kegs or PET bottles?

I'm thinking I'll try 7-14 days primary in a (plastic) sparkletts bottle with the long secondary + Oak chips (8-12 months at least) in a Cornelius keg. On the other hand I could get hold of a 5 gallon Oak barrel.

As can be inferred from above I'm going to be making a Flanders Red soonish!

We just racked & pitched the IPA; clean up is also done and the process was a lot easier this weekend, funny how things come back to you.

I'm really looking forward to the stout.

Now off to google the finer points of Flanders Red...

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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I doubt you want the 5G oak barrel. The important part of the Apte research is that getting the right rate of oxygenation is helpful in turning out good sour beers. The oxygen permeability of wood is way too high to use an all wood vessel for a quantity as small as homebrewers make. Apte suggests using a toasted oak chair leg as a stopper in a glass carboy to get a reasonable rate of oxygenation. That's why you'd not want to do the secondary in a corny keg... too airtight.

I find that the rate of O2 permability of my particular fermenting buckets does a fine job at getting a sour beer off on the right foot. Last time I secondaried in the 6L blue PET bottles that come with a Tap-A-Draft system.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I doubt you want the 5G oak barrel.  The important part of the Apte research is that getting the right rate of oxygenation is helpful in turning out good sour beers. <snip>

I find that the rate of O2 permability of my particular fermenting buckets does a fine job at getting a sour beer off on the right foot.  Last time I secondaried in the 6L blue PET bottles that come with a Tap-A-Draft system.

I was joking about the oak keg.

My wife and I are having a semi serious conversation ATM about pitching some of the bitch (my own sourdough starter, Bourdain reference notwithstanding) into some wort to see what develops.

What do we have to lose really? Its a mean starter! And not Vinegary!

Agreed that the O2 permeability of the corny kegs is too low. PET Sparkletts bottle should do the trick for the secondary I think and the price is right.

The stout is burbling away already maybe 5 hours post pitch. Go beserker yeast go!

The IPA is also showing signs of life :).

Apte's Page

wow what a good read Apte is. Lots to digest there.

--edited to add the link to Raj Apte's page

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Glad you found the Apte... there is more, however. Keep a lookout for his illustrated stuff about the chair leg technique... it sounds fascinating, but I don't use glass carboys so it's not applicable to me. I'm wondering about running a dowel through the pressure release valve fitting on the lid of a corny keg... but I'm guessing that since that will have much less surface area than a chair leg, it won't be as effective.

So far, I've had good luck with the PET bottles and oak chips.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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On deck for this weekend's brewing:

A Boddington's Bitter clone

HefeWeizen

Flander's Red.*

*Chris did you pitch the Roeslare straight into the wort or first primary with ale yeast then pitch? Also for secondary on lees or racked over? conflicting opinions on varied brew boards there.

--edit drinking a glass of the steam we brewed weekend before last. 5 days in the keg to condition @ ambient moved into the fridge last night. We still have our groove; tasty!

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Just spotted your question- I did pitch just the Roeselare into primary, though I ramped it up in a half-gallon starter and got it good and ready to go.

I do rack after about a month, so it doesn't get the same funk nutrients as a lambic would. I secondary in a plastic bucket for a few months, then add fruit or oak or other tastiness and let it sit for another couple of months. DO NOT count on a Roeselare beer being good until at least 8 or 9 months in. Then they get REALLY REALLY good.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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wow Jon, you are definitely back into brewing with enthusiasm. It is very inspiring reading yours and Chris' discussions about the hobby. As for me, I'll be brewing my first oatmeal stout soon. The recipe is a pretty much from Palmer's "How To Brew" book with some minor alterations:

September Oatmeal Stout

Style: Oatmeal Stout

Type: Extract w/grain Size: 5 gallons

Color: 61 HCU (~25 SRM)

Bitterness: 44 IBU

OG: 1.035 FG: 1.010

Grain:

0 lb. 8 oz. American crystal 60L

0 lb. 8 oz. Roasted barley

1 lb. 0 oz. Rolled oats, cooked loose

Steep: Steep grains at 155-160 F for 30 minutes

Boil: 60 minutes SG 1.050 3.5 gallons

4 lb. 0 oz. Light malt extract

3.3 lbs of Light DME at knockout

Hops:

0.75 oz. Fuggles (4.75% AA, 60 min.)

1 oz. Nugget (12% AA, 30 min.)

Yeast:

Pitchable White Labs Yeast - Irish Ale WLP004

Starter? Y

Carbonation: 2.3 volumes Corn Sugar: 3.93 oz. for 5 gallons @ 70°F

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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I just got another batch of the Brett-fermented Berliner Weiss into the fermenter last night... I tweaked the recipe a little bit in the direction of a Leipziger Gose type beer by adding a little coriander and some Golden Naked Oats to the grain bill, and by blending an ounce or so of german weizen yeast (3068) slurry into the 2-quart Brett starter. I intend to see how this beer works with a pinch of salt in the glass.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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wow Jon, you are definitely back into brewing with enthusiasm. It is very inspiring reading yours and Chris' discussions about the hobby. As for me, I'll be brewing my first oatmeal stout soon.

That stout recipe sounds good. Oatmeal stout is a favorite of ours and Carrie has been thinking we should make some soon.

We tend to get pretty enthusiastic with our pursuits.

At the moment we have a keg of stout and a keg of steam in the fridge. 2 kegs IPA 1 steam and 1 weizen conditioning and 5gal each apple cider, bitter and Flanders Red in primary.

We are thinking of doing a Saison with some yeast retrieved from a bottle of Saison Dupont and something that is yet to be determined this weekend. I may need to make another stout as the keg we made earlier this month seems to be evaporating at a most rapid rate.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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  • 1 month later...
wow Jon, you are definitely back into brewing with enthusiasm. It is very inspiring reading yours and Chris' discussions about the hobby. As for me, I'll be brewing my first oatmeal stout soon. The recipe is a pretty much from Palmer's "How To Brew" book with some minor alterations:

September Oatmeal Stout 

Style:  Oatmeal Stout

Type:  Extract w/grain  Size:  5 gallons

Color:  61 HCU (~25 SRM)

Bitterness:  44 IBU

OG:  1.035  FG:  1.010

Grain:

0 lb. 8 oz. American crystal 60L

0 lb. 8 oz. Roasted barley

1 lb. 0 oz. Rolled oats, cooked loose

Steep:  Steep grains at 155-160 F for 30 minutes

Boil:  60 minutes  SG 1.050  3.5 gallons

4 lb. 0 oz. Light malt extract

3.3 lbs of Light DME at knockout

Hops: 

0.75 oz. Fuggles (4.75% AA, 60 min.)

1 oz. Nugget (12% AA, 30 min.)

Yeast: 

Pitchable White Labs Yeast - Irish Ale WLP004

Starter? Y

Carbonation:  2.3 volumes  Corn Sugar: 3.93 oz. for 5 gallons @ 70°F

Brewing is definitly a voyage of discovery and learning. Although I am not quiet sure what I learned this time around. Due to Hurricane Ike and it's aftermath, I did not get to brewing this stout till this weekend, Saturday evening to be exact. First thing I noticed is the major amount of foaming durning the early stages of the boil. I am guessing this is due to the pound of oatmeal that was steeped in there and all the proteins from it (I cooked the oatmeal loose roughly twice the amount of water to oats by volume, before steeping).

To ferment I had made a starter, for the first time, because after reading Pappazian and Palmer and the whole thing about yeast count, I concluded I was pitching too little yeast for 5 gallon batches. Besides, I love to experiment and starters and yeast fascinate me. In goes a quart of Irish Ale yeast that I had built up over a couple of days. According to Palmer, a quart is about right for a 5 G batch. Sure enough, I noticed vigourous burbling and fermentation within 10 hours or so. Much faster and stronger than when I pitched one test tube's worth.

Then a few hours later I check on my fermenter and the lid is popped open on one side! There is wort in the airlock and scummy wort around the fermenter. Luckily I always start the fermentation in our guest bathroom tub just in case something like this happened. It did not seem like I lost too much wort, maybe a quart or less and it smelled good. So, I popped the top back on, wiped the mess, cleaned the airlock and put it back in. No other explosions since then, but the airlock is still bubbling (albeit slowly by today, Teusday). I hope no major damage was done to my beer and it will not be a waste. I am wondering though, why did that happen? Too much yeast? Too much sugar in the wort? Will it happen everytime I use a starter? Maybe I should only pitch about a cup of starter next time?

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you... It's been a busy week.

First concern on the recipe is that you introduced no enzymes into your steep to convert the starches in the oatmeal into sugars, so you've got a starch issue.

As to the blow off, sometimes it happens... some yeasts get exuberant. Don't cut back on how much yeast you pitch if you've gone to the bother of growing up a starter. Deal with the blow off.

Some folks use a blow off hose in place of an airlock for the first few days of fermentation... if you're using a 3-piece airlock, take the top off, and the floater out, and attach a few feet of tubing to post the floater goes over. Stick the end of that tubing into a jar half-full of sanitizing solution. Voila- a place for all the blow-off to go. Hopefully the blowoff isn't goopy or chunky enough to clog the hose.

Another solution is to use a foam control product... I've never done it, but homebrew shops sell them.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Sorry for the delay in getting back to you... It's been a busy week.

First concern on the recipe is that you introduced no enzymes into your steep to convert the starches in the oatmeal into sugars, so you've got a starch issue.

As to the blow off, sometimes it happens... some yeasts get exuberant.  Don't cut back on how much yeast you pitch if you've gone to the bother of growing up a starter.  Deal with the blow off.

Some folks use a blow off hose in place of an airlock for the first few days of fermentation... if you're using a 3-piece airlock, take the top off, and the floater out, and attach a few feet of tubing to post the floater goes over.  Stick the end of that tubing into a jar half-full of sanitizing solution.  Voila- a place for all the blow-off to go. Hopefully the blowoff isn't goopy or chunky enough to clog the hose.

Another solution is to use a foam control product... I've never done it, but homebrew shops sell them.

Like cdh has pointed out... 2 row, or a similar base malt is required for mashing other grains in most cases. The proteins in the base malt will convert the starches in the oats to the stuff you're looking for. "Mini mash" or partial mash brewing is generally the name for it. Heating roughly 1.2 quarts of water per lb of grain to around 162 degrees and dumping your grain into that for an hour should should do it.

The tip about using the airlock for a blowoff is one of my favorites. I've had people try to stick huge tubing into the mouth of a carboy, only to create a bad seal. Just take a 3 piece airlock, 1/2in. ID (inner diameter) tubing, and stick that on the middle post of the air lock. The need for a blowoff will change somewhat on the strength of ferment, and the type of grain used. Wheat has strong protein structure in the krauesen (or so I've been told), and will necessitate a blowoff more than other grain.

That said, I had an airlock hit the ceiling 7 feet above the ferment with 4oz of wheat in a 5 gallon batch.... it could happen to anything. :huh:

Edited by theisenm85 (log)
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Sorry for the delay in getting back to you... It's been a busy week.

First concern on the recipe is that you introduced no enzymes into your steep to convert the starches in the oatmeal into sugars, so you've got a starch issue.

As to the blow off, sometimes it happens... some yeasts get exuberant.  Don't cut back on how much yeast you pitch if you've gone to the bother of growing up a starter.  Deal with the blow off.

Some folks use a blow off hose in place of an airlock for the first few days of fermentation... if you're using a 3-piece airlock, take the top off, and the floater out, and attach a few feet of tubing to post the floater goes over.  Stick the end of that tubing into a jar half-full of sanitizing solution.  Voila- a place for all the blow-off to go. Hopefully the blowoff isn't goopy or chunky enough to clog the hose.

Another solution is to use a foam control product... I've never done it, but homebrew shops sell them.

Like cdh has pointed out... 2 row, or a similar base malt is required for mashing other grains in most cases. The proteins in the base malt will convert the starches in the oats to the stuff you're looking for. "Mini mash" or partial mash brewing is generally the name for it. Heating roughly 1.2 quarts of water per lb of grain to around 162 degrees and dumping your grain into that for an hour should should do it.

The tip about using the airlock for a blowoff is one of my favorites. I've had people try to stick huge tubing into the mouth of a carboy, only to create a bad seal. Just take a 3 piece airlock, 1/2in. ID (inner diameter) tubing, and stick that on the middle post of the air lock. The need for a blowoff will change somewhat on the strength of ferment, and the type of grain used. Wheat has strong protein structure in the krauesen (or so I've been told), and will necessitate a blowoff more than other grain.

That said, I had an airlock hit the ceiling 7 feet above the ferment with 4oz of wheat in a 5 gallon batch.... it could happen to anything. :huh:

I appreciate both of your answers. Obviously, I cannot do anything about the starch in the beer at this point, since I am ready to bottle it today or tomorrow. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time. So, what should I expect from this brew? A pretty hazy beer with heavy mouthfeel?

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't read this whole thread seen as it is so long, but first i'd like to thank you for making this guide, it's really helpful and has inspired me to start homebrewing.

Anyway my question is, can you reduce the amount you make by quartering it? or would that mess the whole thing.

I know this sounds kind of stupid, but I don't really like beer, I just want to make it. Haha.

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You can proportionally reduce the recipes I've put together for this course. You might surprise yourself and find that you actually like some of the beers you make... Feel free to ask any questions that come to mind. (but you should read at least the first 10 pages of this thread...) :biggrin:

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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That's great to know, does everything such as fermentation take the same amount of time that way? Or does that also need to be reduced?

You might surprise yourself and find that you actually like some of the beers you make...  :biggrin:

Hopefully, it's probably not a great idea to drink too much of it though, having just turned 15 :raz: .

Edited by ElisG (log)
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Probably not wise to drink any of it if you're 15... nor to give it to similar aged friends. I'd not want you to end up needing my professional services as a result of following my hobby hints. (I'm a lawyer in real life, FWIW.)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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  • 4 months later...

Brewing 911:

I brewed a batch of Honey Amber Ale late Saturday evening. I used honey, honey malt and crystal to steep and Light Liquid Malt extract. I made a starter using White Labs CA Ale yeast (total of about a pint of starter). It's worth mentioning that the yeast fizzed very well when I opened it but it smelled more funky and sour than what I've tried before. It definitely was NOT expired. I pitched the starter at about 79F.

The first time I checked on it was about 10 hrs later. Nothing. No gurgling. Very odd. However, a strong funky smell was evident sort of like an amplified version of the yeast smell I mentioned earlier. Again no activity that I could see through yesterday morning (Monday).

By Monday night though, while the airlock still is not bubbling, that odd sour smell seems to have dissipated. The smell that comes out of the airlock is kind of nice now. I am very confused by this scenario.

Could I really have missed the "activity" during the first 10 hrs?

Should I pursue my initial plan of chucking it all out and making a fresh batch because this seems to be contaminated?

Maybe I can take a taste from it this weekend (halfway mark) and decide?

Any suggestions that can save me time and effort would be great.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Give it 10 days.  And get it cooler than 79F. It should sort itself out.  Yeast makes all kinds of funny smells when it is concentrated and active.  They should blow off.  Give it a chance to work through the process.

Thanks Chris. I will try that. I was mostly concerned with the apparent complete lack of "gurgling" in the airlock. I've never seen this before.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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A year and some since reading this post...I'm now about 30 batches in. Some quick notes just from reading this page... I feel like the dowel in the corny keg is a good idea, and if you can find the dowel with the ridges that run lengthwise I don't feel like you're giving up much surface area.

Chris I would love to try your berlinerweiss. It's one of the styles I've never had and have been afraid to tackle.

Be careful propagating from the bottle. Many times a different strain is used in bottling, or the primary yeast may have died off and given way to only some of the souring strains used.

Foam control drops (fermcap) is a solid product. I use them in all my starters and in high gravity/wheat beers with great success.

FoodMan, here's my advice. First, honey is a notoriously slow fermenter. I've had honey brews take 3 weeks just to get through primary. Second, never even think about dumping out any beer until it's at least 6 months old. As they say, time heals all things. Not entirely true, but very applicable to beer.

Sorry for the long post. Thanks Chris, for nudging me into what has become quite a passion for me.

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I am so happy to hear that terapinchef! Great comments all around! Very few beers last 6 months... except the sour ales I've been brewing that have been occupying 15 gallons of my capacity for the last 9 months... and I don't know when they're going to be ready, but I think I'm going to need to blend them real soon now... just to free up some space.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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