Archive for the Beer Making Info Category
Comments Off on What is the ideal temperature to brew my beer at?
With beer brewing, the rule of thumb is the cooler and more consistent you can keep your fermentation the better! When yeast is forced to work at higher temperatures, it will produce a large amount of fermentation by-products, such as esters and fusel alcohols. These by-products are responsible for all sorts of weird flavours in beer, flavours that are not associated with good beer! Therefore the cooler and more consistent you can keep your fermentation, the less esters your yeast will produce and the cleaner more commercial taste you will achieve for your beer!
Most generic yeasts that come with your beer tin concentrates will usually specify fermenting between 20-25C, although this will give you your best results, these yeasts generally can handle fermenting warmer (up to 28-30C) with a lot less noticeable esters than if you were using specialty yeast. Again though, the recommendation would to be to stay as close to the ideal fermentation temperature as possible!
When purchasing and using specialty yeast, the esters caused by warmer fermentation is a lot more noticeable. The ideal fermentation temperature is usually 18C-20C for ALES (with a 2-3 week fermentation time). Whilst the ideal fermentation temperature is 13C-14C for LAGERS, (with a 3-4 week fermentation time).
Comments Off on Important Information On Maturing Your Beer!
Maturing your Home brew:
Short answer: Most literature state 2-6 months as an optimum time for beer to age to get the full effect of the hop flavour, as after 6 months the hop taste will start to diminish.
I love hearing stories, I love talking to people and I love to hear different ideas and theories on homebrew. Recently I have been hearing many different stories on maturing your brew. How long people do it for, methods, preferences and the difference all this makes.
I have meet people who mature the beer in total darkness, people who let it sit in the sun for a day before putting in in the fridge and people who will only mature in the fridge…..with a broken light!
While a lot of people don’t give the topic much though, it is important to know a little about and it is nice to know what effects different practices have on your beer, as it has almost as much importance on the overall flavor of your beer as the actual fermenting.
This article is less about the actual hows of maturing your beer, but more so the effects that different factors can have on it like temperature, time and exposure to light (which are the main factors contributing to the flavor of your beer after it is bottled).
As most people know, beer left in the sunlight goes bad and is often called “skunky”. The most common perception is that the sunlight effects the yeast, causing it to react and give off bad flavors. This is false(we are taking about sunlight, or ultra violent rays, not heat). All commercial beer has the yeast almost entirely filtered out of it. It is actually because the hops used to flavor your beer are extremely sensitive to light. Even if exposed to light for less then an hour, beer will undergo a chemical reaction a produce a chemical called 3-methyl crotyl mercaptan . This is the chemical that gives beer that skunky taste, and believe me, once its in there you will know about it!
If you want to act smart around your mates try telling about this: It occurs when UV light penetrates a beers’ glass container and is a photochemical reaction. The (energy) strikes a cyclic (a carbon ring) ring structure derived from the hops. The ring opens up and a free radical is formed. A sulfer compound attaches to the free radical producing a skunk-like aroma.
Most supermarkets and bottle shops display the beer in brightly lit fridges. There bright, cheap, attractive and pump out ultra violent rays that can set of that chemical reaction and cause your beer to go skunky.
This is why most beer come in a brown bottle. It is to minimize the amount of sunlight exposure they receive. Beer that comes in a clear or green bottle are offered almost no protection to the sun light, and with the wrong type of beer it can go off in a matter of minutes (there have been tests that saw a clear bottle filled with a mid-strength beer go off in 15 seconds).
If you have a specified beer fridge I would recommend either change the light bulb to a non fluorescent light bulb or just turn the light off all together.
Brewers can also battle this process by using hydrogenated hop extracts instead of fresh hops, but then you’re not getting the best quality beer.
Beer wants to remain at the same temperature as long as possible. Especially home brew, without the cold conditioning process that most beer goes through before hitting the shelves. In fact beer goes stale faster in warmer conditions. This has to with the yeast,e. Its the yeasts physical reaction to the heat that causes off and often yeasty flavors. Always try to keep your beer no warmer then 25c-30c. As a general rule of thumb if you brewed the beer at 27c, try not to let it get to hotter then that (if you cant ferment beer at 30+ what makes you think you can store it at 30+!). remember your beer is not finished when it is in the bottle, it is undergoing a secondary fermentation process.
Maturing your beer at cooler temperatures ages it ‘better’. This is because of the amount chemical reactions happening to a beer whilst it is cooler is much less then that if it was at a higher temperature. Just for a test try this. Find a suitable a brew, something around 3 weeks to a month old. Try one on a Monday, make a note of its flavor, head, bitterness etc. Get two of the same brews. Put one in the fridge and one on the shelf. Sunday night put the one on the shelf in the fridge. Monday taste them both and makes notes of any differences. You will be amazed at the difference this makes.
Heat is like over-pasteurizing a beer. The heat caramelizes whatever sugars are in the beer, giving it a differently sweet taste. Heat will also greatly amplify any hint of off-flavor, like dimethyl-sulfide (one of the off yeasty flavors)
Many people wonder if there is a time limit on how long you can age your beer. The short answer is no. The beer will last an indefinite amount of time, although the flavor will change, as long as it is stored properly.
But is there a limit to how long you should age a beer before the aging has different effects or stops being so productive. I mean I have drunk a 6 year old home brew pilsner that had been in the fridge almost from birth, and they where fantastic (as you might have guessed). What many didn’t know that an extremely long fermentation period can have different effects.
Chimay blue, considered one the best beers in the world is fermented for an incredibly long time, and it isn’t what you call a regular beer. Its fruity with a touch some wine character and for your average beer drinker a little off (personally I could appreciate it, but couldn’t sit down to a whole carton….maybe the price had something to do with that though)
Just to give you an idea this is the sort of thing that can happen to a home brew (especially a highly hopped beer with lots of flavor character), so if you where after that fruity, wine character you might consider putting the beer down for an extended period.
Most literature state 2-6 months as an optimum time for beer to age to get the full effect of the hop flavour, as after 6 months the hop taste will start to diminish. Maybe this is because most people cant be bothered waiting for longer, or there is no way for a home brewer to do the exact same beer under the exact same conditions and test the difference a year or two years later.
This sort of age usually isnt acheivable for your average bottle home brew, I know of “keggers” who do it but thats only because they have lots of kegs!
Most people are well aware of how to mature your beer. Its simple really, keep it cool, keep it dark, and keep it for about a year!
I just hope that next time you bottle and think you will just leave that carton there, next to the window, whilst I quickly have a quiet few and bask in the glory of whats to come, you will think twice and be able to thank yourself a year later when you crack open a wonderfully aged brew and reward yourself with some of the best beer you have ever tasted.
Comments Off on How long should I ferment?
In beer making all time is relative to temperature. The warmer the brew, the faster the ferment the more quickly it will spoil once fermentation has finished, that is prior to bottling. The cooler the brew, the more slowly things happen. Generally rely on your hydrometer to tell you, if you take two hydrometer readings 24-48hrs apart, and they read the same both times, fermentation is complete and you can then keg/bottle.
Comments Off on Brewing In Summer – How To Beat The Heat!
Short Answer: The simplest and most efficient way to ferment at a selected and constant temperature is to use a refrigerator to ferment in. Simply purchasing and using a ‘Fridge Temperature Controller’ to control the fridge and ferment your beer at the temperature you would like. 18-20 degrees is optimal for Ales, whilst 13-14 is optimal for Lagers!
Realise that the following paragraph will contradict what is written in the instructions of most brewing kits (especially Australian ones) where the suggested temperature is often quoted as being in the mid twenties. A maximum of 32 degrees is listed as the upper limit in one well known brewing kit! The yeast will have no difficulty working at these temperatures. In fact it will flourish, fermenting out the beer in rapid-fire time.
Unfortunately, the object of brewing beer is not to ferment out the beer as fast as you can, but to produce beer as good as you possibly can with the equipment and ingredients you have at hand, and to do this you must ferment at lower temperatures.
“Why are lower temperatures better than higher temperatures?”
When yeast is asked to work on brewing wort at higher temperatures (above 25 degrees) it will produce a large amount of fermentation by-products, such as esters and fusel alcohols. These by-products are responsible for all sorts of weird flavours in beer, flavours that are not associated with good beer. Esters produce fruity type flavours in beer, which in low levels can have a positive effect on your beer but start fermenting above 25 degrees and you will finish up with a beer that tastes like tropical fruit punch. This particular problem is most obvious when using a lot of malt and pure brewing yeasts.
The most common problem associated from brewing at high temperatures with kits is the dreaded “Yeast Bite”. This is particularly nasty and once you have encountered it in a brew you won’t forget it in a hurry. It leaves a foul harsh yeasty bitterness in the beer making it undrinkable. This is a problem we see regularly in the shop during the warmer months of the year, and is one which can easily be avoided with a little forethought and planning.
“How do I stop the brew from getting too warm?”
There are several ways to do this, and these are listed below. No doubt you will have some ideas of your own. All of these methods have been tried and tested by our customers or ourselves.
1. Do not use any boiling water to mix all your ingredients, we add two litres of cold water to the fermenter first, add the malts and stir vigorously. You do not need boiling water to mix your malts and sugars a little elbow grease will do the job nicely. By keeping the initial temperature of the brew down you stand a much better chance of maintaining a reasonable temperature. Aim for a pitching temperature of 22 degrees or below. Another thing to consider is that the while the brew is fermenting it will tend to maintain the temperature it was at when fermentation began. This will occur even when the air temperature around it is as much as 4 to 6 degrees lower. For example if the brew starts to ferment at 28 degrees it will tend to stay around this figure even if the air is 22 to 24 degrees.
2. We recommend you freeze some small-sterilized containers of ice and add them to the brew after you have mixed the malt. This will help to get the temperature down, as water from the tap in Cairns is already 26 to 28 degrees.
3. Brew in the coolest part of the house, preferably an area that gets good airflow. Do not brew in your garden shed it is to hot.
4. If you are having difficulty keeping the brew cool try wrapping a wet heavy cover around your fermenter, towels are ideal. All you will need to do is keep the cover wet. As the water evaporates it cools down the fermenter. If you have ever had an alcohol swab applied on your arm you will now how cold it feels. This is because alcohol evaporates very quickly.
5. The method I find easiest to use is to place the whole fermenter into a trough of water. This is very effective, especially if the brew has overheated and you need to cool it quickly. To maintain an even temperature all you need to do is to freeze some water filled 1.25 litre plastic bottles and place them in the trough.
We keep 8 frozen at all times and once the brew is made we place the fermenter in a plastic crate filled with water and add 4 frozen plastic bottles (Coke bottles are great) change the bottles over each morning and night.
6. One final piece of advice. I find it a good idea to reduce the amount of priming sugar you put in your bottles at this time of year to a level teaspoon. This occurs because during the warmer weather the beer carbonates very quickly in the bottle and, if left for several months, will become very gassy.
PS. Don’t forget to put you beer in the fridge as soon as its finished carbonating this will ensure it lagers down nicely.
Comments Off on Beer Quotes
Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza. –Dave Barry
The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind. –Humphrey Bogart
Why is American beer served cold? So you can tell it from urine. –David Moulton
People who drink light “beer” don’t like the taste of beer; they just like to pee a lot.–Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI
Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.–Kaiser Welhelm
I drink to make other people interesting. –George Jean Nathan
An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools. –For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemmingway
An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do. — Dylan Thomas
You will get an inverted meniscus instead of an extroverted meniscus. — Guinness Spokesperson describing the results of an improperly poured head.
Comments Off on Kegging Your Beer!
The kegs used in most systems are post-mix kegs, made of stainless steel with a hatch cover for ease of cleaning and filling. They include gas in and beer out valves as well as a safety release valve. These types of “kegs” vary in size from as small as 9 up to 50 liters. The most common is 18 litre and 22 litre, which are ideal for the home brewer as they hold a standard brew.
There are a couple of different types, pin lock and ball lock (snap lock). We supply ball lock, which are available in stainless steel and plastic and work on the same principle as your standard garden hose fittings, they click on and click off for easy connection and disconnection of the beer and gas lines from the keg.
CO2 GAS BOTTLE:
The gas bottles come in various sizes. The most common and easiest to handle are the “D” size bottle. They are a bit taller than knee height and weigh under 20kg. Other sizes are available but can be quite heavy and difficult to move, not to mention unsightly. Gas bottles are available for hire from BOC Gases or Air Liquid amongst others.
Bottle hire is expensive, usually about $160 per year plus gas and that’s for every year that you have the system. Keg King make a 6kg Steel, Australian approved bottle that is available from most homebrew shops for about $300.00. They can be filled at most gas outlets but you should check with your local gas retailer first. Some Homebrew shops operate a bottle exchange system or refill the bottles for you!
A full CO2 bottle will hold a pressure of approximately 800 psi (pounds per square inch) 5600 kpa, that’s a bit more than the 10 psi/70 kpa that’s needed to run this system, so a regulator is a must.
The regulator screws onto the gas bottle and reduces the pressure to safe levels. There are two gauges on the regulator, one for gas bottle pressure, the other for keg working pressure. The CO2 in the bottle starts out as a liquid and the pressure of the gas in the headspace of the bottle will be between 700 and 800 psi (5000 – 5600 kpa) depending on the temperature of the bottle.
The high pressure gauge on the regulator will only begin to fall when all the liquid is gone.
The best way to estimate how much CO2 is left in the bottle is by weight not pressure, so make a habit of weighing your bottle when you first get it. The bottle will be weighed and stamped when empty.
PREPARING THE FRIDGE:
Like bottled beer your kegs will need to be kept cold. With a standard keg holding a full batch of beer and being somewhat bigger than a bottle your fridge is going to need to be changed to suit your kegs, you may need to remove some or all of the shelves, you may also have to level the base.
Some older fridges are not level at the bottom and will need to be leveled. Use whatever suits you best.
You will need to drill a small hole to bring the gas line from the regulator into the fridge. Whether you choose the side or back of fridge is up to you.
NB: Make sure all power is disconnected prior to drilling.
Try and use a drill bit just large enough to allow gas line to fit snugly through hole. Before sealing gas line make sure there is sufficient length of line to reach out of the fridge.
NB: The wiring systems and cooling systems will vary from fridge to fridge so take care when drilling any holes in your fridge.
If your keg system is going to have a beer gun it’s just a matter of cutting the beer line to a length that suits you and attaching the gun to one end of the line and the beer disconnect to the other. The length of line should be between 1.5 and 2 meters long. If you choose to have a tap, there are more holes to be drilled. As stated before, take care when drilling. The position of the tap is your choice again. If putting the tap on the door of the fridge, make sure there is enough beer line so that the door can still be fully opened.
If deciding to put the tap on the door, when you tighten the back nut it may collapse the interior of the door. We have found a small length of PVC pipe pushed over the shank of the tap allows the tap to be tightened so that it is secure, without damaging the interior.
FILLING THE KEG:
Ferment your beer in the normal way. The day before fermentation is completed is the time to clean and sterilise the keg. You can use most of the liquid sterilizers sold in Homebrew shops in the same way that you would sterilise your bottles.
We have found the best way is to 3/4 fill the kegs with water and liquid sterilizer, hold the lid in place and fill with gas (40 PSI or 280 KPA ) allowing the pressure from the gas to seat the lid in place and then clip the lid down. Turn the keg upside down for about 4 hours and let the sterilizer get into the fittings at the top of the keg. If bacteria is going to grow this is the most likely spot. Then turn the keg upright and leave for another 4 hours to clean the bottom of the keg. Once this is complete release the gas, pour out the sterilizer and rinse with clean water.
The transferring of the beer to the keg is as simple as racking directly into the keg via a piece of clear sterilized tubing, cut to length so that it reaches from the tap of the fermenter to the bottom of the keg.
You will notice that there is a tube in the keg running from the top of the keg to the centre of the bottom. This is called the Drip Tube, this is how the beer is drawn from the keg. There is also another tube that is quite short in length. This is the Co2 inlet, where the Co2 is injected into the beer.
Your keg should be filled to approximately 12-25 mm (1/2 to 1 inch) from the bottom of this tube.
Now the keg is full replace the hatch cover and move keg to the fridge. Assuming your gas line was cut to length it should be long enough to reach outside the fridge so you can connect it to the gas bottle. Turn the gas bottle on and set pressure on regulator to 40 PSI or 280 KPA, hold the lid in place and connect the gas line to the keg. Allow the pressure of the gas to seal the keg and then clip the lid down.
What we have to do now is purge the air from the headspace of the keg and replace it with CO2. This is done to protect the beer from oxidisation. By lifting the pressure release valve the CO2 will flow into the keg and the air will flow out through this valve. This is called burping the keg and is best done in half a dozen short bursts.
The absorption of the CO2 into your beer can depend on many things, most particularly the temperature of the beer, the pressure at which it is applied and the length of time pressure is applied.
The CO2 will be absorbed at a faster rate when the beer is cold (the beer will not absorb gas as well at room temperature) so if you apply 40 psi (280 kpa) continually for 36-48 Hours under normal refrigeration temperature your beer should be ready to try.
We have found that two days at this pressure gives the correct carbonation. Depending on personal taste you may like more or less so there is some trial and error to find what is best for you, eg. For an English type Bitter you may prefer a lower rate of carbonation but on the other hand you may be making a German Weizen which should be more effervescent so again the rate of carbonation is up to you.
A short cut to this process which we have found works very well and is consistent, is to burp the keg as described and then while the gas line is connected and the pressure is set at 40 psi (280kpa) lay the keg on its side with the gas post on the top side. Rock the keg back and forward with your foot vigorously and you should start to hear the gas pumping into the keg. Continue this process until you cannot hear any more gas going into the keg.
Go and have a beer (About 5 minutes) and then repeat the process. Keep doing this for about 30 to 40 minutes on and off. After this time you should notice that you can not hear any gas going into the keg when you rock it which should mean the keg is gassed. To use this system you will need to make sure you have a long gas line, about 2 metres so the keg can be gassed outside the fridge. Once the keg is gassed you can either store it in the fridge or outside if you do not have the fridge space.
Now for the good part pulling that first beer.
First reduce your keg from carbonating pressure to dispensing pressure. Do this by turning down the set screw on the regulator, if the pressure doesn’t come down as you turn the screw you may have to vent the keg using the safety relief valve to release the excess pressure. A suggested dispensing pressure is 10 psi/70kpa.
Even though the beer that you kegged may have been clear you will still get some settlement at the bottom of the keg so the first glass may be not what you expected. We suggest pulling a couple of glasses through until it clears. Whether using a gun or a tap always dispense with it fully open, if it’s used part way opened you will end up with all froth and no beer.
Dispensing like carbonating can be trial and error, plenty of practice will see your right!
Having installed a keg system in your own home you have come a long way from the teaspoon of sugar in a long neck and it should give you many years of enjoyment. To convert psi to kpa multiply psi x 7 = kpa.
Comments Off on The Bubbling Won’t Stop?
Slow air-lock bubbling can continue for an extended period of time in the perfectly sealed fermenter. Ascertain the correct time at which to bottle by either using your hydrometer or alternately by the visual signs. If you take two hydrometer readings 24-48 hours apart and the reading is the same for both readings, fermentation is complete and it is time to bottle/keg your beer! Don’t use the air-lock to determine when to do anything, home brewers all too often leave the brew in the fermenter too long because of slow air-lock bubbling and your brew will spoil fairly quickly if not bottled/kegged at the correct time.
Comments Off on My Beer Tap is leaking will I have to buy a new one?
No – seal kits for beer taps and pluto guns are available on our website, or from most homebrew shops and are easy to fit.
A Kit normaly includes O-rings, springs, clips etc
Comments Off on My Beer Is Flat In The Bottle?
A: The priming sugar has been missed or incorrectly measured. It is quite easy to miss putting sugar in a bottle during the bottling process.
B: The cap has not been clamped on properly or sufficiently, this is a common problem when using hand cappers.
C: You put the bottles straight into the fridge after bottling, instead of leaving them out for the first 2-3 weeks to secondary carbonate.
It is quite normal to feel a bit wary about hitting the bottle too hard when using a hand capper, and therefore leaving the cap a little loose. If you have been persisting with a hand capper, do yourself a favour and buy yourself an auto capper and I guarantee you won’t look back!
Twist top bottles can also present a problem because they tend to jam into the bell of the capper and are twisted out. Under such circumstances they should be tilted out and not twisted out as this can lead to the cap being loosened.
Comments Off on Will It Hurt The Beer to Take it Out of the Fridge?
No, it should not be a problem. Due to the fact that as long as the keg is sealed and full of CO2, bacteria wont be able to grow, so your beer shouldn’t go off. It would however be a good idea to give it a quick squirt with a bit of Co2 for a minute at 40 psi (280kpa) to make sure the keg is sealed at a decent pressure.
Comments Off on Should I Age My Kegs In The Fridge?
Once the keg has been gassed and the oxygen purged from the keg it can be stored out of the fridge. We do this ourselves as we often have to many kegs full of beer to fit in our fridges.
However the beer will age much faster if it is kept in the fridge and I will explain why.
Beer that is consumed early is often described as green. What you actually taste is the live yeast in the beer. As yeast is a living organism it needs three things to survive, Warmth, Oxygen and Food. The beer has a ready supply of food; we call it our beer, so that leaves the oxygen and warmth to remove. We have removed the oxygen when we pumped CO2 into the keg and purged the beer so all we have to do now is remove the warmth by putting it in the fridge. By removing both the oxygen and warmth from the beer the yeast dies faster and the beer ages faster!
Comments Off on I Keep Getting A Yeast Taste In My Beer?
This is a problem frequently experienced and has three main causes:
1/ Poor hygiene is the most common cause so ensure you sterilize everything with a quality sterilizer. We recommend the ‘Liquid Solution (Stericlean) 1L’ because it has the ability to clean and sterilize. Sodium Metabisulphite and No Rinse Sterilisers can be used but remember they do not clean your equipment, they sterilizer only!
2/ When sterilising your kegs, ensure the keg is filled with sterilizer, sealed with Co2, then turned upside down overnight. This will allow sterilizer to get into the keg posts and other fittings which have a habit of harboring bacteria. Also make sure to run steriliser through your beer lines periodically to maintain a clean and sterile system!
3/ Fermenting at too high a temperature, commonly causes a yeast taste in the beer due to excessive heat. Make sure you ferment your beer as cool as possible (no hotter than 25C being ideal) and use only cold water for making your wort during summer. We recommend you freeze some small sterilized containers of ice and add them to the brew after you have mixed the malt. This will help to get the temperature down, as water from the tap in FNQ gets extremely warm during summer!
Comments Off on How Long After I Keg My Beer Can I Drink It?
Once the beer is put into the keg it needs to be gassed with C02 (which usually takes 36-48hrs), then the beer needs a couple of days to absorb that gas. It is drinkable after a few days of being gassed, however it will still be extremely ‘green’ and not ideal! 2-3 weeks after gassing would be a minimum time frame to allow for a nice beer, 6 weeks or more in the keg would improve your beer quality substantially!!
Comments Off on My Beer In My Keg Is Flat And Has No Gas, Why?
Flat beer in a keg is usually due to the keg being under gassed or the keg having a gas leak. Before you gas the keg a second time you will need to check the keg for leaks. To do this you need to set your regulator to 40 psi (280kpa) and pump gas into the keg for about 5 minutes. This will be enough to test the keg. Once the keg is full of gas get a spray bottle with a mixture of dishwashing detergent and water and spray the mixture onto the Hatch Cover, Gas Post and Liquid Post, lines and fittings. Don’t be shy with the detergent and make sure the whole area is covered with the solution (detergent and water).
If bubbles appear you will be able to see the leak and need to repair the keg. Usually it’s the Popette valves in the gas and liquid posts or it’s the Hatch Cover Seal. All of these parts are available from us online. If no bubbles appear around the Hatch Cover, Gas Post or Liquid Post you should spray detergent all over the keg especially around areas where the rubber head or toe of the keg joins the stainless body of the tank. These areas are pron to rusting under the rubber and getting pin hole leaks.
If no bubbles appear it is safe to say the keg is OK and you should proceed to re-gas the keg. When gassing a keg the easiest method is to attach your gas line, turn it to 40psi (280kpa) and allow it to sit under pressure for 36-48hrs.
Comments Off on How Do I Take A Hydrometer Reading?
While a beer hydrometer can be used to monitor the progression of fermentation, a lot of home brewers have difficulty getting an accurate reading. Below is an easy to follow guide on how to use your hydrometer.
Hydrometer readings are typically taken before pitching the yeast and after visible signs of fermentation have ceased. It is generally not recommended to take more samples than necessary because each time the fermenter is opened to draw out wort, you are introducing the risk for contamination.
Place the wort sample in a vessel big enough to allow the hydrometer to freely float without hitting the bottom or sides of the container. Use a test tube, or you can sometimes use the container the hydrometer came in. Once the liquid is in the container, place the hydrometer in the sample and give it a gentle spin. The hydrometer will eventually settle and you can take your reading. Sometimes the hydrometer will stick to the side of your vessel, so make sure it is floating freely before you take the reading!
General rule of thumb is that if you take two hydrometer readings 24-48hrs apart, and you get the same reading both times, fermentation is complete and you can now bottle/keg your beer.
Important Note: After you are finished, do not return your sample to the fermenter, as it could cause contamination. Instead, taste the sample to get an idea of what to expect from the final product, and discard it.
Comments Off on My Beer Is A Bit Watery And Tastes A Bit Like Cider! Why?
Usually this stems from using white or raw sugars in your wort. Sugar (or sucrose) contains fructose. Fructose is a complex sugar and hard for your yeast to break down, often in this process of breaking down this fructose your yeast will create unwanted esters (off flavours such as cidery, fruity or bitter flavours) that make your beer taste unpleasant. You can avoid this by using dextrose or brewing blends to ferment with your beer tin concentrate!
Comments Off on How Should I Store Beer ?
In general, beer should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. After secondary fermentation is completed, placing your beer in the fridge will greatly increase the aging process. Cooler climates often use cellars to store beer, which works quite well, in the tropics however we are not so lucky, so the coolest place you can keep your beer would be the best!
Comments Off on What Is BOCK Beer?
Bock is a style of lager beer which originated in Germany. It was traditionally brewed in the fall, at the end of the growing season, when barley and hops were at their peak. It was “largered” all winter and enjoyed in the spring at the beginning of the new brewing season. Bocks can be pale (helles) or dark (dunkles) and there are double (doppel) bocks which are extra strong. Bocks are usually strong beers made with lots of malt yielding a very full-bodied, alcoholic beer.
A persistent myth has been that bock beers are made from the dregs at the bottom of a barrel when they are cleaned in the spring. This probably seemed logical because of the heavier body and higher strength of bocks. From a brewing standpoint, this is clearly impossible for two reasons: 1) The “dregs” left after fermentation are unfermentable, which is exactly why they are left over. They cannot be fermented again to make more beer. 2) Any attempt to re-use the “dregs” would probably result in serious bacterial contamination and a product which does not resemble beer as we know it.
Comments Off on What Are LAGERS?
Lagers are brewed with “bottom-fermenting” yeasts at much colder temperatures, 12-16C over long periods of time 3-4 weeks. Often after this time brewers will then drop the temperature dramatically (2-4degrees) for another couple of weeks to help clear the beer. This is called often called “cold crashing” or “lagering”. Lagers include bocks, doppelbocks, Munich- and Vienna-style, Märzen/Oktoberfest and the famous pilsners. Pilsner beer originated in the town of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic and was the first non-cloudy beer.
Comments Off on What Are ALES?
Ales are brewed with “top-fermenting” yeasts at closer to room temperature than Lagers, generally 17-24C (although generic ale yeast can handle up to 30C). Usually ferment ales for 2-3 weeks at the lower temperatures (18-20 degrees), or 7-10 days in warmer weather (26-28 degrees). Ales encompass the broadest range of beer styles including bitters, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley wines, trappist, lambic, and alt. The British Isles are famous for their ales and it is a popular style with homebrewers.
Comments Off on What is Beer?
Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from malted grains, hops, yeast, and water. The grain is usually barley or wheat, but sometimes corn and rice are used as well. Fruit, herbs and spices may also be used for special styles.
In the distant past, the terms “beer” and “ale” meant different things. “Ale” was originally made without using hops, while “beer” did use hops. Since virtually all commercial products now use hops, the term “beer” now encompasses two broad categories: ales and lagers.
Comments Off on How Is Specific Gravity Related To Beer?
Specific gravity is a measure of the density of a liquid. Distilled water has a specific gravity of 1.000 at 15C and is used as a baseline. The specific gravity of beer measured before fermentation is called its Original Gravity (OG). This gives an idea of how much sugar is dissolved in the wort (unfermented beer) on which the yeast can work. The range of values goes from approximately 1.020 to 1.160 meaning the wort can be from 1.02 to 1.16 times as dense as water. When measured after fermentation it is called the Final Gravity (FG).
The difference between these two values is a good gauge of the amount of alcohol produced during fermentation. The OG will always be higher than the FG for two reasons. First, the yeast will have processed much of the sugar that was present, thus, reducing the gravity. And, second, the alcohol produced by fermentation is less dense than water, further reducing the gravity. The OG has a significant effect on the taste of the final product and not just from an alcoholic standpoint. A high OG usually results in beer with more body and sweetness than a lower OG. This is because some of the sugars measured in the OG are not fermentable by the yeast and will remain after fermentation.
Comments Off on What Is DRAUGHT Beer?
Technically speaking, draught beer is beer served from the cask in which it has been conditioned. It has been applied, loosely, to any beer served from a large container. More recently, it has been used as a promotional term for canned or bottled beer to try to convince us that the beer inside tastes like it came from a cask.
Comments Off on Does Using A Dry Enzyne Make Diabetic Beer?
Dry Enzyme’s will help make a low carb beer, as it is designed to turn carbohydrates into fermentable sugars & let your yeast ferment them then into alcohol. You will find you get a dry crisp beer when using the enzyme, and should get a lot less unfermented sugars in your finished product and in turn a lower carb beer than normal fermentation. However consult a doctor if you are a diabetic, to make an informed decision on you diet, and what is ok for your circumstances.
Diet and Diabetic Beer must conform to regulations and the main requirement is that they contain no unfermented sugars, no matter what the alcohol level is. In home brewing we assume that fermentation (both primary and secondary) ferments all the sugars available; however, the yeast cells usually leave a small percentage just as you don’t eat all the crumbs on your plate, & some higher sugars are un-fermentable.
Special formulation and treatments are necessary to ensure that regulations are met, when breweries make diet beer. Home brewed beers will always contain some minute quantities of unfermented sugars: however, many diabetics will tell you that well matured home brews give them fewer problems than non diabetic commercial beers.
Comments Off on Why Is My Beer Hazy?
All home brews with the help of ‘finings’ should clear reasonably well in the fermenter before bottling/kegging, then should settle out in the bottle/keg to be crystal clear. If your beer refuses to clear after a reasonable time, ten to one it’s affected by one of the following problems:
1. Oxidization – This is caused by excessive exposure to oxygen during bottling.
2. Starch haze – This means a hazy state created by the addition of starchy additives to the brew.
3. Chill haze – Occasionally when a beer is chilled. It may become slightly hazy. This condition can occur with any beer. It is caused by a slightly higher than normal protein content in the basic ingredients. The beer is perfectly all right. There is no effect on taste, as it is a natural occurrence. Save these ones for black outs, by the way, chill haze is quite common and natural in wheat beers.
Comments Off on What Are ICE Beers?
The making of “ice” beers, in general, involves lowering the temperature of the finished product until the water in it begins to freeze and then filtering out the ice crystals that form. Since water will freeze before alcohol, the result is higher alcohol content. The ice forms around yeast cells, protein particles, etc. so these get removed as well; leaving fewer components to provide taste and character.
This process is not new to brewing, having been developed in Germany to produce “eisbocks”. Apparently they were produced by accident during the traditional spring celebration with bock beers. Spring, being the capricious season that it is, probably sent a late cold snap around one year causing some of the spring bocks to partially freeze. People drank it anyway and liked the change in flavour.
Comments Off on Froth/Foam Is Coming Through The Air-Lock, Should I Be Worried?
This is a common problem in hot summer conditions! Absolutely no harm befalls the brew; it will generally only happen in the first stages of fermentation and can be prevented by starting and fermenting your wort cooler (if possible). Simply wash the airlock, refill with water and put back in place!
Comments Off on My Brew Temperature Dropped To 10 Degrees, Will This Hurt My Beer?
Yeast does not like dramatic changes in temperature but unlike brewing too hot, low temperatures do not create problems as far as taste or clarity.
When the temperature drops below the optimum temperature for the yeast you are using it simply goes dormant. When the brew heats up the yeast will activate again.
Of course in this situation you do want to warm the brew up, wrap it in a towel/blanket, use a heater pad or heater belt to maintain a constant temperature where possible. It is more detrimental brewing too hot than too cold.
Comments Off on My Bottled Beer is Overgassed?
Certain bottles or even whole batches of your beer may at times become over gassed, while not necessarily exploding. This can be caused by bottling to early, as the beer is still fermenting it will continue to do so in the bottle and can cause over gassing (if bottled much to early these bottles could explode).
Always use a hydrometer to be sure your beer is ready to bottle. Another cause could be infection (if the beer taste bad you will know that is the reason), make sure to clean and sterilise everything thoroughly before use. Lastly this could be caused from putting too much carbonation sugar into the bottles, using a sugar measure or carbonation drops will help make sure you are accurately carbonating each bottle.
You can put the over gassed bottles into the freezer and cool them right down to near freezing, then keep in the refrigerator, this can sometimes help! Or other people choose to uncap and re seal their bottles to let out some of the pressure, although this does pose some risk if infection due to exposure to oxygen.
Comments Off on There Is Sediment In My Beer?
As commercial beer contains no sediment in the bottles, some home brewers become obsessed with achieving the same with their brews. It is impossible unless you keg it. There is always a small final sediment in the bottles of home brewed beer. If the beer is made correctly, the sediment should be similar to a coat of paint on the bottom of each bottle.
The obsessed brewers leave the beer in the fermenter for weeks after fermentation only to find it has spoiled. They try to filter the beer, only to oxidise (allow to be affected by oxygen) or contaminate the beer, thus ruining it. The answer is compromise and understanding. Allowing your brew short but sufficient time to settle before bottling is the only way to produce good beer to measure accurately.
Comments Off on Exploding Bottles?
This condition can only be caused by excess sugars in the bottles after capping, and this could have been created in two ways.
1/ You may have bottled too early, when there were still unfermented sugars in the brew. This can often happen when the actual brewing is during winter. In cold conditions, a brew can ferment reasonably while fermentation is active (generating a bit of heat) but can stop prematurely when the activity lessens. The remaining unfermented sugars will in time over gas the bottles.
2/ You may have added too much sugar to each bottle. Some people are of the opinion that if one teaspoon to each bottle makes a good brew then three teaspoonfuls will make it even better – NOT SO. Crazily, some still believe that the alcohol content of the finished beer depends on the sugar you add to each bottle. You may have primed a bottle twice with sugar. It’s easy to do – If the odd bottle is inconsistent with the rest of the batch, you have doubled up.
Comments Off on Poor Head On Your Beer?
If a beer refuses to form and then hold a good head, it can be either the beer is under gassed (more prominent in a keg situation) or insufficiently matured. Beer that has had longer to mature means the alcohol and the C02 have had longer to bond, the Co2 molecules are now smaller which take longer to float to the surface of your glass of beer and pop, in turn the head holds longer!
Corn Syrup (or moltodextrin) will help with achieving a better beer head, usually add 250-500gr per 23 litre brew at the beginning of fermentation (add with tin of beer concentrate and additional brewing sugars).
Note: Beer glasses that have been washed with dishwashing detergent or put through a dishwasher will seldom hold a head as the detergent puts a film onto the glass.
Comments Off on My keg is over Gassed what should I do?
Sometimes when you first pour a beer you get to much head and it appears the keg is over gassed. This is because the tap which is outside the fridge is warmer than the beer in the keg and when the beer passes through the warm tap the beer foams up giving the appearance of being over gassed. Once you have poured a couple of beers this problem usually goes away.
If your keg is over gassed you will need to purge some gas out. First thing is to turn off the gas to at the bottle and simply purge the gas through the release valve until no more gas comes out. Wait about 10 minutes and pour a beer. You will often find the gas pressure in the keg has built up again and there will be enough gas to pour a beer without turning the gas on at the bottle, you may have to repeat this process a number of times depending on how over gassed you keg is. If no beer comes out when you try to poor a beer turn the regulator down to about 5psi/35kpa and try pouring again.
If the keg is still over gassed you may need to leave the release valve open for a number of hours or even overnight. Sometimes when you do this you end up releasing too much gas and the beer ends up flat. If this happens don’t worry just hook the gas back into the keg and set the pressure at 40 psi (280kpa). Gas the keg for about an hour and leave it sit for about 4 hours to absorb the gas. Then set your regulator back to the pour pressure and try again. Remember there is not hard and fast rule to degassing a keg so it will be a bit of trial and error. Good luck
Comments Off on My beer tastes great but I would like it to be clearer!
Finings is the generic name given to clearing agents used in beer or winemaking. The principle behind all forms of finings is to act as a flocculent, which causes impurities to gather through the medium of positive and negative charges into large enough clumps to make them sufficiently heavy for gravity to take effect and allow them to sink to the bottom of the fermenter.
Finings are normally added 2 days before fermentation is complete. However, I do not like to open my fermenter and expose it to air so I recommend you add the finings at the beginning.
How to use finings:
Dissolve the finings in a cup of warm water (not hot) and add to the wort approx 2 days before kegging/bottling your beer. Due to the added risk of infection by opening the fermenter at such a late stage in fermentation, some brewers prefer to dissolve the finings in a cup of warm water (not hot) and add to the wort at the preparation stage, just before pitching the yeast.
Comments Off on Which sugar should I use for the bottles?
We recommend using carbonation drops, they are a pre measured tablet able to be dropped into both stubbie and tallie bottles. Easy to use and no risk of over-carbonating! If you prefer to use a measure ‘Carbonation Sugar’ is often sold at most homebrew outlets (including online by us) and is a super fine, easy to measure granulated sugar. Use a ‘Sugar Measure’ to ensure the correct amount is put into each bottle.
Comments Off on Why isn’t the Air-lock bubbling?
This is the most common problem of all, never trust the airlock as this often means little as to weather your brew is fermenting properly. Usually the brewer assumes the brew is not fermenting so “Out she goes” when often it is perfectly fine! Fermenters do not always seal well and if not sealed, the air lock doesn’t bubble.
First, assess the situation properly by taking a hydrometer reading or by looking for visual signs of fermentation (a ring of foam around the water line, or condensation in the lid is a good sign). If the brew is still fermenting, seal it as well as you can and allow it to finish. If it is already finished, bottle immediately. Don’t throw it out without sampling a small amount out of the tap, as it’s quite possibly OK!
Comments Off on How long does Beer keep?
To quote Michael Jackson: “If you see a beer, do it a favour, and drink it. Beer was not meant to age.” Generally, that is true. However, some beers that are strong and/or highly hopped must age to reach their full flavour potential.
How a beer is conditioned and handled has a great affect on its shelf-life. Beer conditioned in the bottle (Home Brew Beer) or cask still contains live, active yeast and should be drunk as soon as possible. Most larger scale, commercial beers have been filtered or pasteurised to remove/kill the yeast and stabilise the product for the longer storage times encountered in the retail world.
In any case, stored beer should never be exposed to heat or strong light. Most literature says that 2-6months is optimal for beer to be at its best, as hop flavours start to diminish after this time. however I have drunk beers that were 2 years old in the bottle (kept in optimal conditions for that time) and they have tasted great!
Comments Off on Something tastes a bit “off”. What have I done wrong?
Any off flavours in a finished beer is the result of contamination or excessive heat during fermentation. This could be caused by the water you’ve used in the brew, poor hygiene or exposure to contaminants late in fermentation, or during bottling; If only the odd bottle tastes “off” then the problem is with your bottle hygiene or splashing during bottling.
Should the whole batch taste crook, pay more attention to your method of brewing and sterilisation next time. For instance, a common contamination often comes at the end of fermentation. That is if you were to open your drum very late, then reseal it and leave for a few days prior to bottling, allowing oxygen in and bacteria to grow. Chances are there will be a white film on the surface of the brew when you go to bottle, this form of contamination can also appear in the bottles.
A good tip is to always bottle as soon as possible after fermentation finishes!
Comments Off on How Do I Calculate My Beers Alcohol Content Using A Hydrometer?
Don’t worry, understanding hydrometer readings has been confusing people for years. Here is a simple explanation on how to check the alcohol content of your beer.
First you need to understand what you are measuring.
During the brewing process yeast is added to malt and some other fermentable ingredients, maybe dextrose, and during fermentation the yeast organisms eat the malts and sugars and produce alcohol.
The density of the sugar in the water is lower than the density of alcohol so you use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of the solution before and after fermentation.
The volume of the alcohol in the solution can be calculated as follows.
Specific Gravity at the start of fermentation, minus the specific gravity at the end of fermentation, divided by 7.36.
So let’s go through this step by step.
1/ Mix all your ingredients in your fermenter and take a specific gravity reading. The reading will vary depending on how many ingredient you have added so don’t worry too much just record the reading.
2/ Add your yeast and let your beer ferment as normal.
3/ When fermentation is finished take a final specific gravity and record the reading.
4/ Now the calculation is simple. Opening specific gravity minus finished/final specific gravity divided by 7.36 is the alcohol content
So let us look at an example.
If I made a full flavoured beer like Guinness the opening specific gravity would be something like 1074 and the finished or final specific gravity would be something like 1025.
1074 – 1025 = 49 Now divided this number by 7.36
49 / 7.36 = 6.65 % alcohol.
It’s that simple.
Comments Off on Olive Oil Addition to Yeast as an Alternative to Wort Aeration!
The initial research was apparently carried out at KUL in Belgium, but it was a paper by Grady Hull of the New Belgium Brewing Co. that really brought the concept to the attention of the English-speaking homebrew realm.
The basic concept is that “oleic acid in the olive oil will provide the UFAs necessary for yeast growth and proper fermentation, eliminating the need for wort aeration.” Commercial breweries (and home brewers) are interested in minimising oxygen contact with beer at all stages of brewing in order to extend flavour stability.
The catch is that, at home brewing scale, the amounts of olive oil used in the paper are unfathomably small – 0.0000833mL per 5 US gallons.
Several other questions also remain. Oleic acid only provides fatty acids, so there is still a need for a sterol source (the paper mentions the possibility of “adding a combination of ergo sterol and oleic acid”) and the paper reports increased ester levels by this method, which may or may not be appropriate for the beer you’re brewing. There’s also a big question over exactly how much olive oil is optimal. Two other people came up with rates as high as 3mL or 15gm per 5 US gallons.
Of course, in their own inimitable fashion, home brewers around the world have jumped in head-first to test it out. And the funny thing is that several people are reporting positive results!
I guess it’s worth pointing out that most of the ‘results’ refer to measurable/observable fermentation characteristics, and not necessarily flavour. I find it interesting that in the home brewing world the use of olive oil is seen primarily as an easy alternative to oxygenation of wort or yeast, not as a means of minimising oxygen contact, which was the initial intention of the paper.
To be honest, I’m still quite sceptical. But I’m a grumbly old stick-in-the-mud anyway. Depending on how much stock you put in random people on the internet, it may still be reasonable to state that, a) you aren’t likely to ruin your beer with a small addition of olive oil; and b) it doesn’t appear to affect head retention.
I’m not aware of anyone saying that adding olive oil ruined their beer, so there doesn’t seem to be too much to lose by experimenting. Olive oil is one of my favourite foods anyway, so maybe I should give it a go. It might be a good addition to pizza beer!
Comments Off on An in depth look at hydrometers and how they work!
At some early stage, for most brewers, a hydrometer becomes part of their brewing equipment. To most it’s a matter of “drop it in and read” but having encountered some unlucky readings, I decided to delve further in the mysteries of the hydrometer.
In theory a hydrometer is basically an instrument for measuring the density of liquids relative to the density of water, measured on a scale called specific gravity, at a given temperature.
In a practical aspect, when substances such as sugar, malt etc are dissolved into our wort, the increase in specific gravity (S.G.) which means there is actually an increase in weight. When our hard working yeast converts these sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol our density decreases and we encounter a weight reduction or decreasing S.G.
Im unsure who actually devised the system, but it was given that pure water had an S.G. of 1.0000, (remember specific gravity being the ratio of a fluids density in relation to the density of an identical volume of water) Therefore our wort with and S.G. of greater then 1.000 is proportionally heavier than the same volume of water. Put into practice, 20litre wort with an initial S.G. of 1.050. will weigh 1.050 times heavier than the same volume of water.
Given that 1 litre of water =1kg
20 litres x 1.050 (S.G.) = 21 Kilograms
It is worth noting that before hydrometer existed, brewers of old used this method of weighting and comparing the wort against the weight of the same volume of water. Thank god for hydrometer!!!!
Most of this is seemingly quite straight forward, but there is one aspect that we do have to monitor whilst taking readings. Hydrometers are calibrated at a given temperature. The majority that we use in brewing are 20c. (the calibration temp can be found in the paper insert in the upper thin tube on your hydrometer) If we measure our S.G.at a higher or lower temperature, as we sometimes do, an inaccurate reading will result.
This is because the absolute density of a fluid changes with the temperature, but the specific gravity doesn’t. Utilising the chart below, we can make adjustments and correct our readings.
Correction table for 20C hydrometers
Hopefully now, when you drop your hydrometer into your test, you’ll be somewhat more informed and have a batter understanding of what is actually happening. Listed below are some other helpful hints to ensure correct readings.
Handle with care – I’m yet to hear of one that has bounced.
Check the calibration of your hydrometer – Floating in water it should read 1.000.
When testing and sample, spin it in the test flask to dislodge and clinging oxygen bubbles, and ensure the hydrometer isn’t clinging to the flask sidewalls.
Take readings at eye level to prevent distortion, and never return samples to your fermenter, as the risk of infection to your beer will be extremely high!
After taking S.G. reading, remove the hydrometer and do a taste test, it should taste like hot flat beer, if it taste unpleasant or fruity you may have an infection!
Comments Off on Some Interesting Methods for Using Hops!
Hops were originally used in beer as a preservative. These days, the bitterness they impart to balance the sweetness of the malt is an integral part of a beers flavour. In addition to the bitterness which comes from the alpha acids there is also a huge array of flavours and aromas available to the home brewer. Whilst this sheet will give instructions to hop your own beer from scratch, it should be said that most beer concentrates on the market will do the bittering part of things pretty well, and the best brands also use hop oils to add additional flavour. Even so the judicious use of small amounts of ‘finishing hops’ will make these beers their delicious best.
METHODS OF HOPPING:
This is the most simple and arguably the best method for adding aroma to your beer, it will also add a pleasant fresh hop flavour. Suitable for cones or pellets.
Dry hopping is the practice of adding fresh hops, cones or pellets directly to your fermenter. The hops are best put into a muslin or nylon bag, they are then added to the brew at some stage during fermentation. My suggestion is to add them before adding your cold water i.e. mix all the ingredients as usual in hot water, when dissolved add the hop bag and give it a stir to ensure the hops are wet, then top up with cold water and pitch the yeast.
The Stubbie or Tea Method:
This method will provide an excellent balance of flavour and aroma. It is most suitable for hop pellets.
As the name implies this method is just like making a cup or pot of tea. It is simply a matter of steeping the hop pellets in boiling water for a few minutes, then tip them straight into the brew either strained or unstrained at the hot water mixing stage
My preferred method is to bring about 500ml of water to the boil in a saucepan, place the hops into a muslin bag and drop them into the boiling water, put the saucepan lid on and remove from the heat. The rest of the ingredients are then mixed with hot water in the fermenter, when blended the contents of the saucepan, including the hop bag are added and stirred into the then cold water.
The quick boil method:
This method can be employed when your recipe includes some additional malt, it has an advantage in the flavour department as the hops essential oils are ‘keyed’ into the malt. It is suitable for cones or pellets.
In a large saucepan blend the additional malt with enough warm water to make a fairly thin mix eg. 500g of malt powder to two litres of water, bring the mix to a gentle boil. In the mean time get your finishing hops, according to your recipe ( I would usually use 12g up to about 20g) split the hops into two equal piles, when the malt mixture is boiling steadily add one of the piles of hops and continue to boil for 10-15 minutes, then add the second pile, stir, cover and remove from the heat. Let the mix rest for 5-10 minutes then strain into your fermenter as part of the hot water in your original mix.
Comments Off on Beer Faults – A Guide to The Tastes and Smells of Bad Beer!
At some point in our brewing careers we are all going to make a bad batch. It’s a fact of life and is something we can’t change. For most of us this means committing the most cardinal of all sins….throwing your beer out.
But for some of us this just isn’t good enough. I for one like to know what went wrong and at what point and if I can save it, I want to know how. So here my friends is a guide to the disturbing world of the tastes & smells of bad beer.
Fruity or Vegetable Smells
This is caused by under aerating wort prior to pitching yeast. It can be caused by a long lag phase. In other words the yeast has taken too long to start fermenting. The cause could be not enough yeast pitched or the yeast is stale or infected. There is no cure for this.
This is caused by the same things as above. That is the yeast is not aerated enough for good fermentation to start. Buy the time you get to taste it it’s to late, no cure.
Vinegar Taste & Smell
This is caused by acetic acid bacteria. Can be airborne by fruit fly or dust particles. If you the wort was aerated well, the yeast is off to a good start, the fermenter is well sealed and an airlock fitted, vinegar bacteria should be kept out. If infected, tip it out. No cure.
Lactic Acid Bite
Another bacteria that infects beer. The symptom is a sharp acidic bite to the tongue. Could be caused be poor cleaning of fermenter from last brew. Again, no cure.
Often described as butter or butterscotch flavour. Minor lactic acid infection could be a cause. Often from not pitching enough active yeast, Aeration during fermentation, or Transferring to secondary fermenter too soon (absorbed air). Often a buttery flavour can be a characteristic of the yeast being used. Pitching and fermenting at too high a temperature is a cause. Stick to the yeast manufacturers recommended temperatures. If it is the yeast, change your yeast style. If using a lager yeast, cold lager for two weeks at 0-5C, this will reduce some of the diacetyl and the flavour. Curable.
Esters or Fruity Aroma
Esters or fruity, apple like aromas are caused by fermenting at too high a temperature and poor aeration of Wort. Summer temps of 30C + are a frequent cause. Ferment your ales at 17-25C and you wont get fruity flavours or aromas. In Queensland areas, we suggest using a ‘Fridge Temperature Controller’ or placing a large towel over the top of the fermenter with the ends soaking in a tray of water on each side, maintaining a temperature of about 25C with evaporation of the towel, even though the air temperature is in the 30’s. If you taste a sample of the brew before bottling, and it seems to estery or fruity, and you have a fridge available, store the fermenter of beer in the fridge for a couple for weeks at 5C-10C. This helps. It is basically the same as lagering. Even ale yeast will absorb some of the ester & diactetyl flavours. Certain yeasts will provide fruity flavours or apple like flavours. Curable.
Sulphur or Rotten Egg Gas Smell
Sometimes a by product of certain yeasts. Mostly driven off during fermentation. Sometimes a little in bottle. This usually goes in about 30 seconds. The smells that stay are the problem. Can be caused by leaving beer on yeast on itself causing a rotten egg or swamp gas smell. Sometimes it can even produce a burnt rubber smell. If not autolisis, it could be an infection. In either case, good sanitation and healthy yeast are good insurance.
If you are re-using yeast from a previous batch, test it for taste, aroma and appearance. If it tastes clean and beers, smells beery (not sour or acidic) and the colour is pale, light amber to almost white and too dusty in appearance, it is good to use. If it is not good enough to taste, it is not good enough to use. Curable.
Medicinal or Phenolic Flavour (Clove Flavour)
Could be caused by yeast austolsis, bacteria or wild yeast. May also be cause by too much chlorine in water supply. An easy was to get rid of chlorine is to leave a fermenter full of cold water for 24hrs with the lid off. The chlorine will evaporate. Remember though that in wheat beer, the clove flavour and smell is desirable. Curable.
We don’t have skunks so we guess an old cat will do for comparison. This smell is from the hops deteriorating in the bottle or the bottles have been exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet) Even fluoro tubes will cause light strike. Store your beer in the dark as long as possible to give a longer shelf life. As little as a week in the light will cause light strike in brown bottles, with green or colourless bottles it will be even less.
There are many other tastes, smells or aromas in beer, several things you should ensure when you are brewing are:
- Good hygiene or sanitation will prevent most problems.
- Pitching enough yeast for your particular beer recipe will also solve a lot of problems.
- Always remember the importance of fermentation temperature!
Comments Off on Bulk Priming Beer Bottles!
After years in the Home brew game it finally happened, my first batch of bottle bombs……it wasn’t that I bottled to early either, I waited 2 weeks in this case, almost to long in most peoples opinion. It was the sugar, I was out of carbonation drops and with out a sugar measure, and was stuck using a teaspoon and a bag of sugar, a messy process in anyones books.
I was apprehensive at first, assured myself not to worry but sure enough, 3 days later I returned home to find my lovely partner screeching her head off. She wanted explanations….assurances…… she wanted promises, written and signed that it would never happen again. Imagine the fright she would have receive when 6 of my precious brewski’s exploded whilst she was quietly watching TV ( a new idea for April fools just entered my head).
This little experience did however send me on a search for different methods of carbonation. Carbonation drops are good for the most part but I always wondered how do the brewery’s do it, and with no sediment in there bottles, it is a question that has played over in my head many times…… And along came bulk carbonation
A little known method that seems to have slipped through the fingers of the majority of home brewers out there and tends to come as a bit of a shock to many.
Most of us will have started our beer brewing days with bottling, and as such I think EVERYBODY will be familiar with the tedious process of filling the bottle, putting the sugar in, capping the bottle….repeat. Little did many people know that you can eliminate the middle step in the process, thats right, sugar less carbonation….well not quite.
Actually you still use sugar (or dextrose in this case), just in a very different way. Instead of placing the required amount in each individual bottle, which we all know posses a degree of risk, you dissolve the total amount of sugar needed first and add to the whole brew.
Heres a short example that would be used for medium carbonation (see table). So for an average 23 litre brew we use 90-140gm of dextrose. Lets call it 110 grams and call it even.
In a small saucepan and using a small amount of water (about 200ml is usually acceptable) mix in the dextrose and bring to the boil, let it boil for about 2 minutes whilst stirring. Take of the heat and add to your wort just before the bottling stage, try to pour it in so it spreads all throughout the wort and ‘lightly’ stir. I strain on the word lightly to, as we want to be sure NOT to kick up any of the sediment on the bottom, or aerate our beer!
After this just continue on to bottle like normal.
|Carbonation Level||Total amount of Dextrose to add (grams)|
|19 L||23 L||40L|
his method has two major advantages over the traditional method. Firstly it ensures a constant carbonation over the entirety of your brew and it allows you to appropriately adjust the carbonation levels according to the type of brew you are doing (something of a myth to those accustomed to using carbonation drops). Secondly it eliminates yet another contributer to the sediment that graces so many of our home brew bottles, albeit only a little but I’m sure most of you will agree, every little bit counts….especially when it comes to beer!!