So after my fixation on yeast and how it affects home brewing, well all brewing for that matter, I purchased some equipment, read some, and set to work. Here is how my first try at “Doing it right” went. I have decided that I will follow these steps for each experiment with brewers yeast:
Take out the yeast packet
Steam sanitize the flask
Heat tap water
Mix it up on the stir plate
Sorry the lack of 12 steps. I’m sure I’ll add more later.
The reason I’m taking out the yeast is it will warm up slowly without touching it. I’ve been told by a brewer with a PhD in microbiology, focused on Eukaryotes, that the dried yeast in the packet is very brittle and should be handled with care. In fact he said to only hold the edges of the packets and not to touch middle of the packet unless you have to. I know this is has something to do with all the time he spent in a lab setting at school but I figure it can’t hurt to at least keep his advice in mind with handling the yeast.
To steam the flask I use the good old Granite Ware stock pot. I put 2 cups of water in the pot and 2 tablespoons of water in the flask. Set the flask in the stock pot and let ‘er rip. I did not notice that much steam coming from the flask but the water in the pot mad quite a bit along with some great gurgling noises. I let it steam for 10 minutes. When time was up I used canning tongs to remove the flask and let it cool on the counter.
I use a small pot to heat up 600 mL of tap water to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the stove.
To rehydrate the yeast I poured the heated water into the flask. Next I gently open the yeast packet and slowly pour the yeast into the flask. Next I cap the flask with a plastic sandwich bag and rubber band. I move it to a corner on the counter top and wait 30 minutes.
I made my own stir plate from a computer fan and hard drive magnet. I put the stir bar into the flask, the flask on the stir plate and turn to fan on. I wait 30 minutes.
Finally during the process I take temp readings and write them down. It’s good to know what you did in case you want repeat your successes or figure out your mistakes.
Like I said is the format I am going to use for now. I hope there will be changes. That way I know I’m learning.
So the last couple of batches have not turned out well with quite a lot of off-flavors.
I spoke with some fellow Home Brewers at the CBM and they said to watch the temperature that I ferment. It turns out that the locations in my house I’ve been leaving the carboy are way to warm. They have been keeping the yeast at the very high end of their range. Turns out its best to keep your yeast in the bottom of the suggested range.
I also have not been rehydrating my yeast or proofing my yeast. It is really not good to mistreat your yeast. So after reading some articles and checking with the good ol’ How to Brew by John Palmer Chapter 6.5 Preparing Yeast and Yeast Starters I need to always use yeast starters.
When I first started brewing I just pitched the dry yeast straight into the chilled wort. I had no idea that stress that would put on the little microorganisms. Wort is not the environment that resting yeast want to dive into. The temperature, sugar, and lack of oxygen are actually not good for resting yeast. Some of the yeast is already not going to make add to that the ones that die from the shock. If you make a starter it will let the yeast come to life before you pitch and lead to a better fermentation with less off-flavors.
I thought about doing some yeast experiments and documenting my endeavors. So I decided to make my own stir-plate, buy a 2000 mL flask and a stir-bar. I picked up some dry yeast packets at the home brew store and started trying to play microbiologist.
So tonight I’m giving the manual path of installing BrewPi on a Debian Weezy VM. I want to see if I can get BrewPi up and running without the Raspberry PI and the BrewPi Shield.
Nothing against the great BrewPi devs but I wanna see if I can make the setup so easy that not tech people in my homebrew club can get it working without being turned off by all the tech and DIY you have to do.
I’ve got the VM and pulled the files down from the GIT repository.
Did not need to run SUDO since I was just logged in as ROOT. I know. I know it is just a first run through and wont be production so that’s OK.
The install script was setup to run SUDO so I had edit it in VI to remove those commands. Everything was loading fine until the APT-GET bombed out. I ran each package individually and only 1 would not run: python-configobj. I’ll have to research that package if it wont run without it. Basically just delete line 179.
For some reason I’m listening to Nemisis and Too $hort. Oh the memories.
OK. Edited the updateCron.sh to remove SUDO and now the Cron job runs and the website loads!
Script is not running but I’ll check on that. BrewPi docs say I need to program the Arduino next.
Whis is more important Mash Temperature or Fermentation Temperature?
So I’m thinking of getting into full grain brewing and as usual my brain starts working on trying to figure out “the best way” to put together the all grain brewing setup.
The hot liquor tun or the sparge water tun which is the first step is only used to hold hot water so that is not too complicated. Naturally I first started looking into the Mash Tun, which in a 3 tier brewing system is the second step but it is where the magic happens before the boil. We are engaging enzymes to manipulate chains of sugar to feed the yeast in this step so it had to be important and you have to keep the temperature at set levels to not mess up the enzyme magic sugar splitting. The mash temperature also affects the mouth feel and lots of other aspects.
Well with all good hobbies there are always options, so many you head could explode, and there are always very expensive options.
But it turns out after doing some research and asking members of the Carolina Brew Masters that it is fermentation temperature that is more important to the taste of the beer not the temperature control of the mash.
Fermentation temperature is much easier to control since all you have to do is regulate the temperature of your fermentation vessel to the range of the yeast you are using. That is as easy as an old freezer and a temperature control unit that can be purchased for around $80 or you can make one from parts on Amazon for $45 if you you are a maker.
I’ll right up some plans on the configuration I’m going use in another post. Might even delve deeper into why fermentation temperature is so important as well.
So the first beer I brewed for my wife is a Belgian Wit extract recipe. It is now kegged next to my 2x IPA in the beer fridge.
It started 6 weeks ago with a DME kit from Alternative Beverage on South Blvd. This time I was looking for the “Her’s” brew to go in the left tap. That was part of the deal to convert the freezer in the garage to a kegerator, one tap for her and one for me. Not a bad deal since I get to make beer for two people instead of just me. It’s also nice to share brewing as a hobby with my wife.