Brewers United for Real Potables
No Butter in my beer Please!
Diacetyl. You know it when you taste it. Many describe itas slickness on the tongue and a buttery or butterscotch flavor. Some people have a lower threshold for it than others, but at high concentrations it is easily detectable. Diacetyl is a normal product of fermentation. Most judges recognize it as a fault. But some people don’t find it objectionable. They believe that a little Diacetyl provides a greater depth of flavor and “roundness” to the beer. In a description of mild on the CAMRA website it says: “Slight Diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) flavors are not inappropriate.” And the BJCP style guidelines say this for
Ordinary Bitters: “Generally no Diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.” Reading between the lines
(huh?), with English style Real Ales you can have a little detectable diacetyl. But if you want the beer to be a champion, its best to have none. Diacetyl can also be produced by unwanted bacteria, especially pediococcus. The biggest source of diacetyl is brewers’ yeast. Yeast cells create a diacetyl precursor
called α-acetolacate. When the α-acetolacate exits the cell, it undergoes a chemical reaction and forms diacetyl. The reaction is relatively slow, but higher temperatures and low pH causes it to accelerate. Luckily, the yeast the produced the diacetyl in the first place, can absorb diacetyl and convert it into flavorless compounds. Here are some things that can cause diacetyl formation:
• Certain yeast strains are known to produce diacetyl;
• Highly flocculent yeast strains may settle out before
it has had a chance to take in the diacetyl;
• Not enough oxygen during the initial fermentation
• Too much oxygen during the middle and end of
• Too low of a yeast pitching rate; and
• A higher than optimal fermentation temperature
So how can we help the yeast scrub out the diacetyl in time for kegging? The easiest would be to prevent the formation of α-acetolacate. However, that is not an option. Holding a beer at a temperature around 65–70 °F (18–21 °C) at the end of fermentation for one to two days will give the yeast time to take in the diacetyl. This is commonly known as a diacetyl rest. Diacetyl rests should be started when the specific gravity of a beer is between 1.002-1.005. Since Real Ales usually ferment at temperatures between
65–70 °F (18–21 °C), raising the temperature is not necessary. However, the beer needs to sit for two to three days after fermentation appears to be complete. Racking the beer or crashing the temperature too quickly after fermentation will increase the possibility of diacetyl not being absorbed by the yeast. Consider not racking the beer to a secondary fermenter. Just let the fermented beer clear in the primary fermenter, and rack into your keg. BURP News October, 2012 Page 5 If your beer is infected, there is nothing you can do about diacetyl formation. Prevention is the only solution. Luckily, in the case of Real Ale, it takes some time for the bacteria to grow to a level that produces diacetyl at detectable levels. The reaction is also slowed by lower temperatures. Real Ales are supposed to be served at cellar temperatures, drunk young and quickly. As such, there is less time for the bacteria to grow. In summary, for preventing diacetyl in you competition Real Ale, or any other beer:
• Choose low diacetyl yeast stain that is not super
• Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation;
• Pitch enough yeast;
• Do not under or over aerate; and
• Allow the beer to sit at 65–70 °F, 18–21 °C for a
couple of days following the end of fermentation.
Foster, Terry. “Diacetyl: Techniques.” Brew Your Own
Bible, Chris. “The Dreaded Diacetyl.” Brew Your Own
October 2012, Vol. 18, No.6
Dry Hopping 101
Continuing our precedent of including some sort of educational component in each newsletter, this month we present some tips & guidelines for dry-hopping to tie in with the planned experiment.
• Dry-hopping is a great way to get a bright hop aroma in your beer along with a bit of flavor without adding additional bitterness (though a highly dry-hopped beer may have some perceived bitterness). You can dry-hop any beer, but generally it is reserved for more hop-forward styles (Pale Ale, IPA, Pilsner, some Stouts, California Common, etc.).
• Dry-hop after fermentation is complete to avoid stripping out hop volatiles by carbon dioxide that is gassing off. Some brewers choose to dry-hop directly in the primary after fermentation is complete or you can transfer to a secondary to do your dry-hopping. It all depends on how confident you are in the health of your yeast and how long you plan to dry-hop for post-fermentation.
• If using hop pellets, there is no need to put the hops in a hop bag. Simply put them in the top of the fermentor, and they will settle to the bottom (sometimes crash cooling will expedite this process). If using whole hops, a muslin or nylon hop bag is recommended. The bag of whole hops will naturally float, so you can use glass marbles or stainless steel ball bearings to help weigh the bag down (be sure to sanitize them first!).
• Hops have some natural anti-microbial qualities, and properly fermented beer should hinder the growth of any unsavory organisms. Therefore, there’s no need to worry about adding new hops to the beer post-fermentation.
• Most brewers to choose to dry-hop for 3-7 days. There is some anecdotal evidence that prolonged dry-hopping will lend a grassy, vegetal character to the beer. I’ve had success with even dry-hopping in the keg when I know a beer is going to be consumed quickly. I use a metal tea ball stuffed with hops to prevent the dip tube from clogging.
• NERD ALERT! Hop oils are made up of hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds. The former includes such compounds as humulene (herbal/spicy), myrcene (citrus/pine), & caryophyllene (herbal/spicy as well), which are very volatile, and most are driven off during the boil as well as fermentation. Oxygenated compounds like geraniol and linalool (both floral-like characteristics) are less volatile. Dry-hopping allows you to “replenish” those oils that were driven off.
Spicing Up Your Beer
By Steve Marler
It’s November, it is getting colder, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Many brewers have or are starting to think about brewing beers for the holidays, and the December BURP meeting. Some of you may be considering brewing a beer with herbs and spices. Here are some tips on brewing herb and spice beers.
When designing your recipe, think about how the herb/spices are going to interact with the flavor of the beer. One suggestion is to look toward your favorite foods to find complimentary flavor combinations and try to imagine how these flavors will either blend or contrast with the base beer [Zainasheff and Palmer]. Your base beer should generally have a lower IBU level and not have late hop editions. This will allow the spice and herb flavors come through. If you want create the impression of a holiday dessert, bigger and sweeter base beers would be appropriate. For a beer that provides a spicy food impression, consider something dryer and less sweet. If the herbs/spices you are planning to use have delicate flavors, a lighter base beer such as a blonde ale and Kolsch would work well. For bolder and more flavorful base beers, increasing the amount of herbs/spices will be necessary, especially if they have delicate flavors. According to Gordon Strong, understanding the interactions between recipe variables you tweak and how they finally balance is your goal. He suggests avoiding clashing flavors. By understanding common flavor clashes and how flavors balance and complement each other you can avoid most of these problems. Strong notes the following clashes:
Dark malts and citrusy/piney hops
Yeast, spice, or fruit and bitterness/late hops
Fruit and spice (make sure the combination works)
Sour and bitter
Harsh and harsher (spices and coffee)
Spicy/hot and bitterness/alcohol (the spicy/hot
spcies can amplify bitterness and alcohol impression)
You can easily overdose on spices. I remember BURP member Polly Goldman saying that she believes in the rule of three: no more than three individual herbs/spices. Five spices might be great for the chili at the BUPR chili cook-off, but it is hard to balance all those flavors in a beer. It is better to go with fewer flavors and aromas. Remember, you are making beer. It should taste like beer and have a beer character. The spices/herbs should be noticeable but in harmony with the rest of the beer and it should not overwhelm the beer character [Zainasheff and Palmer]. Strive for a mysterious blending of flavors. These beers are best when the individual flavors don’t jump out at you [Mosher].
There are a couple of ways that you can add herbs and spices to your beer. The first that comes to many brewers minds is to add them at the end of the boil. If this is your preferred method, then add them during the last few minutes to retain as much of the volatile aromatics as possible. You can also add herbs/spices by dry hopping, and making teas and potions. Dry hopping with herbs/spices is similar to dry hopping. Add them to the beer after primary fermentation has subsided. Because of their size and possibility of being transported to the keg or bottling bucket when racking, consider putting the herb/spices in a hop bag. Always keep your eye on sanitation. There are two benefits to making teas and potions: the risk of contamination is lower; and you can control the exact dosage of the herb or spice being added. To make a tea, boil a cup or two of water, turn off the heat, and add your spices. There are different thoughts on what to do next. Let the tea sit until it has adequately cooled, then add the entire volume, including the spices, to the beer [Zainasheff and Palmer]. Or run the tea through a coffee filter [Mosher]. Potions are made by soaking the herbs/spices in vodka for a week or two. The alcohol in the vodka will leach out the essential flavors. Once you determine that your potion has enough flavors, then filter out the herbs/spices. Do not add your dry hop herb/spices, tea, or potion during fermentation. The escaping CO2 will scrub out the volatile oils. If you filter as Mosher suggests, you can control the mix and strength of the spicing. To do this you will first need to conduct a small-scale experiment by adding a measured amount of the tea or potion to a small sample of beer. This can be done by using a pipette or syringe. Test how much of the mixture needs to be added for the best flavor, and then scale it up to the rest of the batch. Here is an example from Mosher on how to scale up your test:
1 ounce beer sample to 5 Gallons
1oz x 128(oz per gallon) x 5 (gallons in batch) = 640 ounces/batch
If the test determined that 0.2 ml was the correct amount for a 1 ounce sample, then:
.2 ml x 640 = 128 ml of potion must be added to match the small scale test.
We look forward to drinking your spiced Holiday beer at the BURP Holiday Party.
Gordon Strong, Brewing Better Beer, (Boulder, CO:Brewers Publications, 2011)
Jamil Zainasheff and John J. Palmer, Brewing Classic Styles, (Boulder, CO: Brewers Publications, 2007)
Randy Mosher, Radical Brewing, (Boulder, CO: Brewers Publications, 2004)
Bottle conditioned beers are either unfiltered or havebeen filtered and then reseeded with yeast. A variety of sugars can be added to the beer and then placed in a sealed bottle to “re-ferment”.
Scott Burns indicates he and his wife, Hope O’Keefe, have been homebrewing for a little over two years. He provided the following description of his bottling procedures: We brew roughly once a month, more often during the spring and fall, less so during summer and winter. We started with extract kits on the kitchen stove and moved outside to all-grain batches on our ninth batch. Our beer, technique and, of course, equipment have grown or improved over time, but one thing we haven’t done is made the jump from bottling our beer to kegging it. Bottling fits better with how we drink, share, and store our homebrew. Yes, maintaining and filling bottles can be tedious, but less so than maintaining kegs, draft lines, faucets, gas lines, and CO2 tanks. We’ve evolved a process for maintaining our bottles with as little work as possible so we always have a supply of clean ones ready to go when it’s time to bottle a batch. Since this is home brewing there MUST be equipment! We use the following things: 1) one or two HDPE buckets, with lids; 2) a brass jet bottle washer; 3) a pair of Blichmann brewing gloves; 4) a plastic bottle tree; 5) a Vinator bottle rinser; and 6) a bunch of corrugated plastic beer cases from C&W Crate Co. Buckets are available at Home Depot. Everything else can be had at the local homebrew store or cwcrate.com. We use OxyClean Free (free of perfume and dyes) for cleaning bottles and Starsan
for sanitizing. PBW would also work for cleaning but we save that for dirty fermenters and racking equipment due to cost.
Our next task is acquiring clean bottles. New clean bottles can be purchased from local or mail-order supply stores. We still buy beer (horrors!), so our collection of about ten cases came from our recycling bin. We pull the bottles with paper labels and leave the ones with foil or plastic labels. After spending lots of time in the early days boiling, soaking, and scrubbing bottles we now let chemicals and time do the hard work. I mix one scoop of OxyClean with 5 gallons of water in a bucket, sink the bottles into the mix, making sure they are filled and fully submerged, then put the bucket lid on and set it aside for a week. At the end of a week, the OxyClean has dissolved the glue holding labels on the bottles and loosened up any old yeast, mold or other gunk hanging out inside them. A quick scrub of the exterior with a scrubby pad will remove any remaining glue on the outside. For the insides we flush the bottles thoroughly with hot water using the brass jet bottle washer that attaches to the sink’s faucet. Three blasts of hot water are usually sufficient to remove any remaining cleanser and gunk. I’ll then give the bottle the spyglass test (watch for water coming out!) and, if clean, pop it on the bottle tree for drying. Once dry, the bottles are packed into the plastic beer cases and stacked away in the basement to wait bottling day.
We’ve found that the week-long soak and rinse gets most of the bottles sparkling clean the first time
through. There are always a few outliers and they go into a new batch of cleaner for another week. It’s extremely rare that any gunk survives the second week of soaking. I no longer try to clean stubborn bottles with a bottle brush as I often ended up scratching the bottom of the bottles when doing so. We now spend about 45 minutes every week or so rinsing bottles that have been soaked and setting recently consumed and returned bottles to soak for the coming week.
When a batch of beer is ready to bottle, the first thing we do is sanitize the bottles. We brew five gallon batches so will usually pull two cases of 12oz bottles and four or five 22oz bottles out for sanitizing. For sanitizing, we use Star-san, the Vinator Bottle Rinser and the bottle tree. The Vinator Rinser is a nice gadget; it is basically bowl with a built-in water jet activated by a pump that’s triggered when you place an inverted bottle over it and push down. The pump pulls sanitizer from the reservoir and sprays it into the bottle, which then drains back into the reservoir. I dilute the Star-san per the manufacturer’s instructions with distilled water; put a quart of sanitizer in the Rinser and grab the first bottle. I dip the top of the bottle in the reservoir to sanitize the outside and when give it three or four squirts to coat the inside. I
leave the bottle on the pump to drain while reaching for the next bottle, later moving it to the bottle tree and repeat. Using this method we can sanitize all the bottles in about 15 minutes. Once all the bottles are on the tree the remaining sanitizer is returned to the bucket to be used for soaking and sanitizing our siphon, tubing, bottling wand, and finally bottling bucket and spigot.
While the bottles finish draining, we prepare our priming sugar and rack the beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. By the time that’s done and the beer is primed, the bottles are mostly dry. We fill, cap and rinse them in the sink to cut down on clean up time, then wipe them dry and pack them in plastic beer cases, where they stay until carbonated and, eventually, imbibed. The empty bottle is then returned to the soaking queue and the cycle starts again.
Thanks, Scott for the description of your bottle procedures. There are also a number of web sites that provide detailed steps for naturally carbonating beer. Several of these web sites are:
http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/02/homebrewinghow-to-carbonate-and-bottle-your-beer.html, http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter11.html andhttp://www.northernbrewer.com/learn/homebrewing-101/step-4/
Wort chilling is a task that every serious homebrewer has to deal with, and depending on the beer and time of year, it can sometimes be one of the most challenging. Yet, if you can’t get the wort chilled to the right temperature, there’s a huge chance your beer won’t turn out as you hoped or expected.
We could write a nice, long paper on the methods and science of chilling wort, but to make it simple: (1) We need to get wort from 212° F to 70° F or lower, and (2) while we’re doing that, the temperature difference between the wort and the cooling water narrows, and so the rate of heat extraction drops dramatically.
You no doubt see this yourself if you use an immersion chiller, which chills wort quickly from 212° F down to perhaps 150° F or even 120° F, and then the rate of temperature change slows to an eventual crawl – as your water meter spins! So initially, temperature drops quickly, but then what? Use a hundred gallons of tap water to chill five gallons of wort? Or spend the money and for the next batch switch to a more efficient counter-flow or plate chiller?
The gist of it is this: Immersion chilling uses a lot of water, and if you want to get close to the temperature of the cooling water, it will use incredible amounts of water. When wort is 210° F and tap water is 65° F, you have a 145° F difference, and the cooling proceeds quickly. Once the wort gets down to 80° F, which is still too warm to pitch most yeast strains, there’s only a 15° F difference, and it takes your tap water (very roughly) almost ten times the water flow to keep cooling at that same rate.
Enter the well-known ice bath pre-chiller with a second coil. This can help, but you need to reduce flow to a frustratingly slow rate for the chilled water to really be cold. Worse, the water you use still goes down the drain. I used the pre-chiller method for chilling lager wort in late winter when I had a mountain of snow piled on the north side of the house – free chiller ice. It still took a lot longer than I expected.
There’s a far better alternative that uses little ice and saves a lot of water. I was helping one of the FOAM club guys with a problematic pre-chiller and hit on this method, then found various others on the internet also using it: Skip the pre-chiller hardware and simply recirculate the ice water itself through the wort chiller. The equipment for this chilling method is minimal. If you’ve already got an immersion wort chiller coil, all you need is some cheap tubing, a big bucket, and a fairly inexpensive submersible fountain pump. And a GFCI. Don’t neglect that! I use a $26 SunTerra 320 GPH fountain pump, and I don’t recommend anything much smaller because the pump needs to be sized large enough to overcome the substantial resistance of the wort chiller coils.
If your ice is free, like after a winter snowfall, you can use this method to do the entire chill process from boiling temperature to pitching temperature, but in most seasons when you need to buy (or make) ice, it’s cheaper to use tap water the “normal” and wasteful way first to chill the wort down to 100° F or so, and then move the tubing over to use recirculated ice water.
Unlike the usual immersion chilling methods, you are recirculating the ice water, so you can run this as fast as you like, or as fast as the pump will manage, which helps speed up the cooling process without wasting water. The ice cubes or slush ensure that the re-chill of warm return water is fast, much faster than with a prechiller in the ice bucket. All you have to do is keep the wort moving a bit by stirring (or the “Jamil” recirculation method) so that you move cooled wort away from the cold coils, but if you’re lazy, you don’t even have to do that, and you can just let this chiller run longer and use no more water and only pennies more electricity. A note on GFCI: A 120 volt electrical circuit like this, which is immersed in water, should either use a GFCI outlet or a circuit with GFCI breaker (I installed the former). If you don’t have that, buy a GFCI adapter or extension from Lowe’s or Home Depot. In the rare event a defect allows water to reach the electrical contacts inside the pump, the GFCI will trip and cut the power instead of turning the water, coils, and kettle into a shock hazard.
In summer with my 5-gallon batches, I use roughly an 8-pound bag of ice for ales and 12 pounds of ice for lagers. In my tests at home and one that I did at Flying Dog Brewery for a demo, we were able to chill 5 gallons of water from over 90° F down to 50° F in less than 15 minutes. Try beating that with just tap water! And our total water usage for that step? Only about three gallons – including the ice!
Crystal vs Caramel malt
There was an interesting article in Brew Your Own back in October of 2013 regarding Crystal Malt versus Caramel Malt. I shared these highlights with the homebrew shop staff at 3 Stars, but I think BURPers will find it interesting as well! The actual article is 7 pages long, but here’s a bulleted summary:
1. For all intents and purposes, Crystal and Caramel Malt mean the same thing.
2. Crystal Malt is specifically the English version where the malt is Roasted at low temperatures in the presence of moisture.
3. Caramel Malt can be either Roasted or Kilned. Roasting and Kilning are not the same thing though. Therefore, all Crystal Malt is Caramel Malt, but not all Caramel Malt is Crystal Malt.
4. Briess, one of the major U.S. malt houses, does in fact Roast their Caramel Malts, so those are interchangeable when a recipe specifically calls for Crystal Malt (matching for color of course).
5. When Roasting, 90%+ of the grain is crystallized. When Kilning, only about 50% is, and the remaining portion is more like a traditional highly kilned malt (such as Munich or Vienna).
6. Weyermann, for example, makes CaraMunich and CaraVienna malt by creating Kilned Caramel Malts–half ends up being Crystal Malt and the other half is Munich or Vienna (depending on temperatures).
7. Briess doesn’t do any Kilning for their Caramel varieties. Their CaraMunich 60L, for example, is actually just a blend of Caramel 60L and regular Munich Malt. Likewise, their CaraVienne 20L is a blend of Caramel 20L and Vienna Malt.
8. Based on all that, if you’re looking for a Lovibond rating of CaraMunich or CaraVienne that you can’t find, just do a 50/50 blend of Caramel Malt and Munich/Vienna. For example, CaraMunich 40L = 50% Caramel 40L + 50% Munich. CaraVienne 80L = 50% Caramel 80L + 50% Vienna.
Carbonating beer is one of the final steps in the brewing process and is an important flavor component in beer. It adds effervescence and life to beer. We can taste the Carbon Dioxide that carbonates beer as sourness, http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=carbonation-has-a-taste-09-10-16. The carbonation contributes to perceived “fullness” or “body” and enhances foaming potential of beer. The Carbon Dioxide bubbles enhance the aroma of beers. Carbon Dioxide also plays an important role in extending the shelf life of beer. There are two ways to create and control the amount of carbonation in beer, bottle conditioning and force carbonation. Either unfiltered wort or filtered wort that has been reseeded with yeast can be used to bottle condition or naturally carbonate beer. A variety of sugars, additional wort, or malt extract can be added to the beer and then placed in a sealed bottle to “referment.” As CO2 is created by the yeast, it is adsorbed into the beer. Last month, Scott Burns described his procedures for sanitizing and getting bottles ready for bottle conditioning. There are a number web sites that provide detailed steps for naturally carbonating beer. Several of these sites are:http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/02/homebrewinghow-to-carbonate-and-bottle-your-beer.html,http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter11.html and http://www.northernbrewer.com/learn/homebrewing-101/step-4/. To complicate matters, not all beer styles taste good at the same carbonation level. The amount of carbonation in beer is measured in volume of carbon dioxide per volume of beer. Milds – for example – taste better at about 1.64 volumes while wheat flavors of a Wiezen taste best at a volume of around 2.5. There are a number of calculators to assist you in determining how much sugar is needed to bottle condition different beer styles including
http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugarcalculator/and http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/priming.html. Force carbonating beers requires a kegging system to infuse carbon dioxide under pressure. The temperature and amount of pressure to the beer play important roles in determining CO2 concentrations in the finished beer. The lower the temperature of the beer, the easier the beer can absorb Carbon Dioxide. The procedures for force carbonating beers can be found at http://blog.brewps.com/2012/04/homebrew-kegcarbonation-chart-how-to-force-carbonate-beer/ and www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0GQOg5PyLY. When force carbonating beers, achieving the proper concentration of Carbon dioxide or volume for a beer style can be accomplished by creating equilibrium in between the amount of pressure being applied to the beer and ability of the beer to absorb the carbon dioxide. Fortunately, there are web sites like http://www.simgo.com/draft1.htm and
http://www.kegworks.com/faqs/Draft-Beer-Quality-Manual.pdf that calculate a beer’s final Co2 volume based on the pressure (PSI) and temperature.
Mel Thompson uses a PSI gauge attached to a corny keg fitting , to check the pressure of his real ales to assure that the pressure doesn’t exceed 10#. If the pressure starts to creep up above 10#, he de-gasses the keg to the appropriate pressure. During the secondary conditioning, he checks the pressure daily.