Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Retaining your head

 I am still (can you believe it?) not done with my brew from last Winter.  You can see the post of that recipe here:

I've noticed over time that the bottles have very low carbonation and the head fizzes out very quickly.  The other day I was thinking it may be due to my method of sanitizing bottles.  I used to use a funnel and fill each bottle with sanatizer for 15 minutes.  I would do about 10 bottles at a time so it was a long process.  To speed things up I have been putting the bottles in my dishwasher and letting the hot water sanitize the bottles. Then I was thinking, maybe there is some small trace of the soap or the rinse agent that is causing issues. 

 I posed a question on the forums at Norther brewer.  you can check it out here if you want:
I can't be 100% sure, but I do know this never happened to me before I started sanitizing bottles in the dish washer so I'm done with that going forward.  

 The other thing I've learned that I was wondering about is the stronger ABV and the long time I aged the beer in the secondary.  I wanted to make sure I got as much ABV as I could and I let the yeast go until it was completely done.  I remember thinking, ' I hope there is enough left in the yeast to bottle condition ' and I think that may also have played a part in this.  The strain I used was not quite alcohol tolerant enough to ferment all the sugars in this beer and I think it reached its limit before I bottled.  For beers like this I'm planning on adding more yeast to the batch when I add the priming sugar from now on.  

Using a strain that is more tolerant of higher alcohol
 levels sounds like a good idea too.  I'm thinking maybe one of White Labs California strains:



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

yeast starters and pitching amounts

 When I first started brewing I never cared much for the more technical, scientific side of the process and a lot of things like yeast pitching amounts were not even on my radar.  Eventually like many brewers I have come to realize that although you can brew a good beer at home in your kitchen very easily, the small details can add up to an even better beer.

 That lag time between the pitching of the yeast and the time the fermentation actually starts can be a little distressing.  There are things you can do to get a fermentation going if it hasn't started at all but it's nice to know (as soon as possible) that your yeast is at work and happy.  There are a lot of different brewing calculators online that are very helpful but I've found this yest caculator to be the best one I've come across so far:  http://yeastcalc.com/

This will point you in the right direction for getting your brew going, or at least if it's too late it may help you understand why your fermentation has taken so long to start.  I've always stuck with using White Labs liquid yeasts when possible.  http://www.whitelabs.com/

They've always been very helpful when contacting them about any yeast questions I have.  If you've got a few minutes to spare you may find this video about their yeasts interesting:  http://youtu.be/2vELwUsBmWQ