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Old 05-09-2012, 11:27 AM   #21
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I also start my yeast in warm water.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:36 AM   #22
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Do you just use the cheap dry packets? The supply store I have been going to I think only sells the wyeast packs. They are pretty cool, since you just pop the inner pack and let it sit for a couple hours, but at $9 each I figure there must be better options. That's a third of the price of some of my beer recipes!
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:40 AM   #23
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Try a small batch with regular bread yeast from the grocery store and see how it produces. I've tried it a few times with success.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:33 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by skidude View Post
What temperature do you control for when fermenting an ale? I have my buckets in the basement right now, and they seem to be staying at a pretty steady 66 degrees.
If you look at the manufacturer's data sheets, each yest strain has a different optimal temperature range that it likes to be at. The English & Irish stuff, for instance likes to be fairly chilly, whereas a lot of the Belgians prefer to stretch their legs a bit, with some of them working well into the 80F range.

http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/homebr...html#ALE_YEAST

http://www.wyeastlab.com/rw_yeaststrain.cfm



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Do you just use the cheap dry packets? The supply store I have been going to I think only sells the wyeast packs.
I'm not sure which styles of beer you prefer, but as massive of an impact as the yeast have on the flavor and aroma of the finished product, I can't imagine spending $40-50 on ingredients and then cheaping out on the yeast.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:40 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
If you look at the manufacturer's data sheets, each yest strain has a different optimal temperature range that it likes to be at. The English & Irish stuff, for instance likes to be fairly chilly, whereas a lot of the Belgians prefer to stretch their legs a bit, with some of them working well into the 80F range.

http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/homebr...html#ALE_YEAST

http://www.wyeastlab.com/rw_yeaststrain.cfm



I'm not sure which styles of beer you prefer, but as massive of an impact as the yeast have on the flavor and aroma of the finished product, I can't imagine spending $40-50 on ingredients and then cheaping out on the yeast.
I am still pretty new to this, and the first few batches I made were pretty simple so I was really just learning the process. I have been reading quite a bit more in the last week, and I had no idea how important the yeast was to flavor. I figured it was just sugar in, alcohol and CO2 out, with subtle changes in flavor. I still have no idea what the difference is between the different strains of yeast available in the smack-packs, but I am definitely going to try a starter for my next batch.
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:21 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by skidude View Post
I still have no idea what the difference is between the different strains of yeast available in the smack-packs, but I am definitely going to try a starter for my next batch.
Beer isn't like wine, where the underlying fruit is 99% and the yeast is almost incidental. Honestly, the yeast strain is probably the biggest single contributor to the flavor of the beer of everything that goes into it. (I'm obviously handwaving over things like octuple IPAs, which consist of about 90% hop resin with a bit of water sprinkled on top.)

If you look at the grain and hop bill for, say, a Hefeweizen as compared to a Belgian White, they are nearly identical. And yet these two beers are very distinct from one another in character when they are finished. It is the yeast which account for this distinction.

Put another way, go to some big supplier like Austin Homebrew and have a look at the malt extracts- they only carry five different types of liquid malt, and the same holds true for the DME! How do you make a hundred different beers from only five types of malt?

Well, take a look at the yeast selection. From White Labs, they list a total of 53 different strains in regular inventory, not counting the "special order" stuff like Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and Lactobacillus Delbrueckii. It's the same story over in the Wyeast "smack-pack" aisle- 44 different standard varieties, plus nine in the "Special & Seasonal" category.

Now, granted, a lot of this is subtelty. There's probably not a huge difference between, say, Belgian Wit Ale WLP400 and Belgian Wit II Ale WLP410. In the automotive world, that's like comparing 75W90 GL4 to 80W90 GL4.

But the difference between Belgian Abbey Ale WLP530 and Edinburgh Scottish Ale WLP028? Absolutely massive. Try running a dozen laps at Road Atlanta with ATF in your engine case and let me know how that turns out.

There's a reason we have 50 different kinds of oil, and 50 different kinds of yeast.
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:41 PM   #27
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Thanks, Joe, I like that analogy to oil. I understand that.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:00 PM   #28
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One of the most startling things you can do, in terms of understanding how the beermaking process works, is to actually taste the wort fresh out of the kettle just before it goes into the fermenter. (Cool it first so that you don't burn your tongue, obviously.)

In this form, it tastes absolutely nothing at all like beer. I don't just mean the lack of CO2 and alcohol, it's almost completely unrecognizable. Kind of sickly-sweet, like tasting maple syrup mixed with shoe polish.

And yet the only material differences between what I was tasting and what I'd eventually put into a bottle were yeast and time.

For me, that was an "Aa ha!" moment. I'd read about how yeast alter the flavor character of the beer as they do their work, but until I'd actually discovered what beer tasted like prior to the yeast getting their grubby little tentacles onto it, I had absolutely no concept of how dramatic this transformation was. It's not like wine, where the liquid coming out of the press gives you a reasonable idea of what the finished product is going to taste like- boiled wort is in a completely different league from finished beer.

And the simple little yeasties responsible for the transformation are so varied from one to the next in terms of what their excrement tastes like that it nearly defies belief.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:01 PM   #29
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+1 to everything Joe said, he covered pretty much everything I was going to say!

Your right, yeast is stupid expensive in some places. I've had fairly decent luck with the Wyeast Smack-Packs but I'd like to start harvesting viable yeast and reusing it via a technique called "Yeast Washing" Check out the video here: http://billybrew.com/yeast-washing It's kinda involved but it should yield tons of viable yeast for future brews. The other option is to drop your new batch of wort onto the yeast cake left in the carboy from the last batch, but that can be problematic if your not doing the same style. You certainly wouldn't want to drop an ale on a stout yeast cake, unless you don't mind having the stout flavors that are left in the trub in you ale. That's the fun of homebrew, experimenting!

I've done a starter for every batch I've brewed this year and they've all come out great. I've followed Palmers basic process instructions here: http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter6-5.html but I'm a lazy *** and and he has too many steps. I make his basic starter wort, but then I toss my yeast into the flask and stick it on a stir plate overnight. Check out http://stirstarters.com/instructions.html and DIY. The cost to build one is super cheap and the effect is massive. You can easily pitch 10x more viable, healthy, hungry yeast using a process like this. Rather than your yeast being a bunch of grumpy bitches that just woke up that complain that they can't find their slippers and the floor is too cold, your yeast will be like a coked up Fae with a new box of sawzall blades on a fresh Miata. Fermentation will start in hours rather than days and I've had 5g batches ferment to completion in just over 48 hours. Just don't get crazy, you don't need 1 liter of yeast slurry for a 2.5g batch. The idea is to get the culture fired up and pitched while its super active to reduce lag time. Be prepared with a blowoff tube though, fermentation will start fast and hit hard.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:22 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by EO2K View Post
Rather than your yeast being a bunch of grumpy bitches that just woke up that complain that they can't find their slippers and the floor is too cold, your yeast will be like a coked up Fae with a new box of sawzall blades on a fresh Miata.


I'm going to be cleaning bits of Pad Thai out of my keyboard for a month.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:46 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Beer isn't like wine, where the underlying fruit is 99% and the yeast is almost incidental.
Lies! First and foremost, you select the yeast-type based upon your target alcohol content. I don't have an expertise in wine which parallels your knowledge of beer, but I can easily taste the difference in an Assmanhausen Zin vs a Rotie because simply, the Assmanhausen will come off with more spice, the Rotie with a lingering tobacco finish and allow more fruit to come through. The same with Barolo which provides more subdued spice and fruit, but will create a hotter wine with a higher ABV (boozey). Quality wine uses a precise yeast blend because without that blend it becomes an over-done mess of flavor with no refinement. The magic is when a wine maker balances the yeast blend to the meticulously recorded weather data collected through harvest. The nose is about the grape and the yeast, the finish is more about the yeast and the oak. Speaking of oak...I need to grab a bottle of something that saw some French Oak.

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There's a reason we have 50 different kinds of oil, and 50 different kinds of yeast.
Truth. I want to make some beer...but my heart still lies with wine.
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:43 PM   #32
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A buddy of mine said you can mimic beer by pouring a bottle of what you like in as the yeast. Is this true?
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:52 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by hustler View Post
(in defense of wine yeast)
Well, I'm not a wine guru myself. My experience here comes from a cow-orker of mine who lives in Temecula, CA and owns a very small vineyard in which he grows Montepulciano grapes.

They do not add cultured yeast to the must, relying instead upon the natural yeasts which tend to congregate on the grape skins while still on the vine.

In the world of beer, we refer to this as Spontaneous Fermentation, and it is considered by many to be a Weird and Scary Thing™, because of the unpredictability of the process. While all beer was spontaneously fermented a thousand years ago, today the art of spontaneous fermentation is practiced only by a very few commercial brewers, mostly in Belgium for the production of Lambics, Flanders Ales, and other "Sour" beers which rely not just upon wild yeast, but also certain airborne bacteria known to be present in specific regions at specific times of the year.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob300zx View Post
A buddy of mine said you can mimic beer by pouring a bottle of what you like in as the yeast. Is this true?
Yes, however it depends on the beer.

Long ago, this process was precisely how commercial brewers maintained consistency from one batch to another. And even today, commercial brewers still harvest the yeast from the bottom of the fermenter after it has flocculated, and treat it to a nice sponge bath and revitalizing spa treatment before using it again, as EO2K notes in the link which he posted. This is the reason that commercial fermenters are conical at the bottom- it allows the yeast to settle into an area where they will remain behind after the beer is racked out, and can then be easily captured by draining from the bottom of the cone.

The problem for homebrewers today is that the vast majority of commercially produced bottled beer is both pasteurized and filtered. Pasteurizing kills any and all microorganisms in the beer, including the yeast.

If you have a "live" beer (one bottled without pasteurization or bottling) then yes, you can collect the sediment from the bottom of the bottle by leaving about 1/2" of beer behind during the pour, harvest it, clean it, and re-use it. You can easily proof the viability of sediment by simply dropping it into a starter made from a half-cup of DME boiled in a half-liter of water, and then cooled. If it foams, it's viable. So long as you keep the mixture sanitary, you can then pitch this starter directly.

One thing to be careful of is that some of the more complex beers out there are fermented in multiple stages, using different cultures in a specific sequence. A low-attenuating yeast might be used for a few days in the primary fermenter, followed by racking into a secondary and inoculating with a higher-attenuating yeast with a higher alcohol tolerance.

Capturing the dregs from such a beer and re-using them will not produce the same results as the original, as the secondary fermentation is likely to have killed or damaged the less tolerant primary yeast, or the primary yeast might have been filtered out during the racking, etc.

There's a ton of info written on this subject out on the interwebz.
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Old 05-18-2012, 02:22 AM   #34
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---- yeah Strawberry Wheat!!

I got lazy and left my wheat sitting on the strawberries in the secondary for about 2 weeks. It sucked ALLLLL the color out of the berries and turned the beer this awesome amber color that my blackberry just cannot accurately capture. Its got that classic wheat opaqueness, its just the "wrong" color! I drank half my pint before remembering to take pictures:





I sampled the dregs from the bottling bucket and the first thing that struck me is the strawberry aroma. Not that sweet, sticky artificial smell you get from strawberry flavored candy, but an honest to god fresh strawberry nose that gets right in there. The taste is what really got me though. Its got that same fresh strawberry flavor up balanced with the wheat with a touch of yeast, followed by some strawberry tartness that matches the hops bitterness in the finish. It's a little on the sweet side currently, but its also got the priming sugar fully dissolved in it at the moment. I expect this to dry out as is carbs up. ABV should be right around 4.5 or 4.75% so its not a big beer by any means, but it should have epic drinkability.

Now, where to hide this so I'm not tempted to drink it all...
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:20 AM   #35
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That sounds awesome.

I've had a few commercially-produced cherry / raspberry wheats, but I don't think I've ever tried a strawberry. All the beers I've ever made have always been really heavy, serious stuff, but you're making me want to try a fruity witbier now.

Mind sharing the recipe?
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:00 PM   #36
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Always glad to share, Its a stupid-simple extract+grains brew that I did as a test to play with the strawberries. I'll get the details tonight and post them up.
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Old 05-18-2012, 11:15 PM   #37
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I need to get off my *** and make another batch of burrah. Right after I moved into my house, my buddy and I rounded up all the stuff and made a batch of Belgian ale in my kitchen. It was a tad flat, but damn tasty and damn stout. A couple of months later we tried an oatmeal stout and a spicy "holiday" beer. You can probably guess that the holiday brew was a big fat fail, but the stout was pretty good. Before we dive into another brewfest, I need to get one of those outdoor turkey frying rigs so we can cook the ingredients without making a disaster inside the house.

Anybody got recipes to share?
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:19 AM   #38
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When I was inside, we used to make wine with grapes and spit. It would come out OK enough to wash down a grilled cheese sandwich made using the in-cell radiator.
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Old 05-19-2012, 02:38 PM   #39
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Before we dive into another brewfest, I need to get one of those outdoor turkey frying rigs so we can cook the ingredients without making a disaster inside the house.
The all-grain guys really seem to like the Bayou Classic (SP10?) turkey fryer that comes up for sale at the club stores & WalMart around September/October. IIRC you can find it with a 30qt pot for under $50 if you keep an eye out.

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Anybody got recipes to share?
Man, there are TONS on HomeBrewTalk if you stick to the stuff posted by the regulars (EdWort, Beermuncher, et. al.) I also like hopville.com but you really need to watch some of the recipes. As long as they look sane, they are probably pretty good. Charlie Papazian put a crapload of recipes in "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" and also "Microbrewed Adventures." I recommend the former for anyone looking to get into brewing. Its slightly dated, but the info is still solid. (Incidentally, you could probably save a significant number of trees by removing all instances of "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew" from that book)

For Joe: Simple Wheat base

SG: 1.042-1.046
FG: 1.012-1.017 (target)
IBU: 26.0 ([email protected] messin' wit my IBUs)

2.5g batch size! This was split in half from a 5g recipes

2.5lbs Briess Bavarian Wheat DME
4oz Carapils
0.5oz Tettnang pellets 60min
0.5oz Hallertau pellets 2min
Danstar Munich yeast (1 packet)

The original recipe called for 6lbs of "Wheat LME" so I split it in half and the guy at my LHBS converted that to 2.5lbs DME.

Actual SG I hit was 1.046. Fermented @ 68 for 10 days in the primary (even through most activity stopped after 3 days) until actual FG of 1.016.

Processing the strawberries was a mental challenge more than anything else, as I didn't want to sulfate them and I've never used berries before. I started by washing them and pulling the leaves off the tops as best I could. I did not cut or gut them as this stage. After I got about 3lbs cleaned up, I dumped them in a gallon of StarSan for about 5 minutes with minor agitation. I then transferred to a strainer to drip dry (notice: no rinse.) Using a sanitized knife and cutting board, I cut the tops off, split them down the middle, then tossed them in a freezer bag. After freezing overnight, I broke them up and added them, still frozen, to another 3g BB I used for secondary. I racked the beer onto the mostly frozen berries and let it sit for another 2 weeks. After the strawberries thawed and the temp came up a bit fermentation started again, but this was expected with the amount of sugar in the berries.

Racked to bottling bucket with priming solution (2.75g of dextrose boiled in 1c water for 10min) and bottled in 22oz bombers. It's been 48 hours and they haven't exploded, so I call that a win.

The wheat base recipe was split from either a NorthernBrewer or Midwest Supplies 5g kit I found instructions for online. I've recently come to learn that simply splitting the hops additions when reducing batch size is not 100% accurate. I can't tell you if I'm getting the right hop profile in this because I've never brewed it before and the strawberries are totally jacking with the hops. I DID taste the beer on its way to the secondary... but I think I was drinking an IPA that night so my palate was all screwed up, so YMMV.
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Old 05-19-2012, 03:10 PM   #40
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When I was inside, we used to make wine with grapes and spit. It would come out OK enough to wash down a grilled cheese sandwich made using the in-cell radiator.
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