14 November 2004
Greyfriars pub

This meeting included a very interesting presentation by Michaela Miedl, a Ph.D. student at Heriot-Watt University, on brewing in Germany.

26 September 2004
The Babbity Bowster

This meeting included a very interesting and humorous presentation on “yeast in depth” by Dr. Heng-Cherl Yom of Heriot-Watt University.

10 Tips for Successful Fermentation

(copied from Dr. Yom’s presentation).

  1. Use the freshest yeast possible.
    • Yeast is sensitive to temperature extremes and light.
    • Keep refrigerated and use within 30 days of manufacture.
  2. Culture up yeast if not at peak freshness.
    • If over 1 month rejuvenate with SG1.020-1.025 half litre starter, cooled to 75°F before pitching.
  3. Use sufficient quantities.
    • Double the pitching rate for every 0.008 above SG 1.048.
  4. Pitch at the right time.
    • The high kraeusen stage 36-72 hours after making starter is optimum.
  5. Use the proper yeast for the beer type.
    • Select the appropriate yeast for the style and the actual fermentation temperature. http://beersmith.com/Yeasts/Yeasts.htm
    • More flocculant ale yeast = Clearer, maltier beer.
    • Less flocculant ale yeast = Drier, estery, fruity beer.
    • More flocculant lager yeast = Clearer, full-bodied beer.
    • Less flocculant lager yeast = Drier, colder-fermenting, longer to be bright.
  6. Use the correct fermentation temperature.
    • Culture yeast at 75°F, not fermentation temperature.
    • Introduce the starter into your wort both at 75°F.
    • Then adjust to proper fermentation temperature.
  7. Perform proper aeration.
    • Lack of aeration: lag time increase, prolonged fermentation, high final gravities, Off flavours.
    • At 75°F, no threat of oxidation from vigorous aeration, CO2 produced will purge any oxygen.
    • More flocculant yeasts need more aeration.
  8. Keep your fermentation temp constant.
    • The temp changes at night can result in premature flocculation and stuck fermentation.
  9. Don’t rack prematurely.
    • Results in a high gravity.
    • Wait until ~90% sugars are attenuated for a 2nd fermentation.
    • Top-fermenting yeast should not be harvested until 50% sugars are attenuated.
  10. Avoid a prolonged yeast storage.
    • Ensure that yeast cells are maintained in a minimal metabolic state, unaffected by stress.
    • During storage, yeast uses endogenous reserves for basal functions.
    • Depletion of these reserves due to a delayed storage and exposure to cold stress or ethanol stress may affect subsequent fermentation performance.

    17-19 June 2004
    CAMRA Scottish Traditional Beer Festival

    Aled poised for action

    CAMRA again generously offered us space for a stall and we made use of the CBA stands which had been resting in my garage since last year. These are available since CBA have been priced out of GBBF. It’s an ill wind—.

    I think we can modestly claim another success for home-made beers, although the event was not without mishaps. Poor Aled Murphy, coming off night-shift and desperate for sleep, put petrol into his diesel car. This meant that his prize-winning beer and three excellent kegs from Ian McAnally were not available until Saturday. Fortunately Les Howarth and myself had kegs ready for the opening and John Findlay also produced a timely keg. The public were less wary of us than last year and we were reasonably busy from the beginning. All our beers were received favourably and people started to appear at the stand asking for particular beers that had been recommended to them. Several different beers were described as ”the best I have tasted” and publicans were even offering to buy our beers for sale.

    We are grateful to Davey Martin of Edina Homebrew for providing samples of equipment and ingredients for display, and for his enthusiastic help with transport. Thanks are also due to Hayley Griffin for producing all the little necessities for the stall, such as tea-towels, t-shirts, sticky tape, paper-clips, pins, etc. that some of us would never have thought of. It was pleasing that so many of our members took turns on the stall to talk to the public about home brewing, and we were particularly pleased to welcome a visiting professor from Korea, Heng-Cherl Yom, now researching at Heriot-Watt International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, who donned our T-shirt and happily lectured the punters.

    Bill Cooper

    (Extracted from Brewer’s Contact September 2004 by kind permission of the author)

    Karen samples Les’ brew

    You too can have a body like this…
    (but what would you do with it?)

    More images from this and other Edinburgh Beer Festivals are here.

    18 April 2004
    AGM and Competion Judging
    Bridge of Allan Brewery

    The Main Item on the Agenda at the AGM was the judging of the 2004 Scottish homebrew Competition. There weren’t as many entries (half as many) as we had 2 years ago but it kept the judges busy for a few hours with spare bottles of beer coming out at regular intervals to keep the masses busy in the visitor centre. The judges were looking for a beer in the scotch ale style. Judging the beer were Douglas Ross (BOA Brewery), Colin Valentine (CAMRA), John Findlay (Pres SCB) and Robin Jones (SCB Member). After an initial elimination round 3 beers were left. The eventual winner was the SCB secretary (Oh! That’s me!) with Les Howarth and Bill Cooper as runners up. The beer will be brewed at the Bridge of Allan Brewery with the winner getting a day out – which I am looking forward too. Despite having 3 committee members as the top 3 it wasn’t a fix – I didn’t expect to get anywhere near the top 3 with a Rye beer!!!

    Aled Murphy

    Competition entries ready for tasting

    The judges (left to right: Robin Jones, Colin Valentine, John Findlay and Douglas Ross) hard at work

    Aled, the happy prizewinner

    Results of the Scottish Craft Brewers / Bridge of Allan Brewery competition:

    Winner: Aled Murphy
    Joint 2nd: Bill Cooper and Les Howarth.

    Scottish Craft Brewers Yeast Trial

    Les Howarth

    On 18th January the members of Scottish Craft Brewers (and a good number of new faces) gathered at the Calton Centre in Edinburgh to, amongst other things, taste the results of their yeast trial. Five volunteers had been given the ingredients to brew a standard recipe. As far as possible, the aim was that the only thing that would be changed would be the variety of yeast.

    The recipe, instructions and ingredients were supplied by Ian McAnally and involved mashing 4.4 kg of pale malt at 65°C for 70 minutes, sparging, boiling with 77g/AA of East Kent Goldings and 135g/AA of Fuggles copper hops for 60 minutes (adding Irish moss 45 minutes into boil) and then adding 54g/AA of East Kent Goldings and 88g/AA of Styrian Goldings aroma hops for 10 minutes of a gentle simmer. Ian represents the quantities of his bittering hops as weight x alpha acid content. To obtain weights in g the g/AA figures above have to be divided by the alpha acid %. The boil was then stopped and 38g each of East Kent Goldings and Styrian Goldings “End of boil 1 hops”, leaving for 20 minutes, bringing the temperature of the wort down to 70°C and adding another 38 g each of East Kent Goldings and Styrian Goldings “End of boil 2 hops” and leaving for 30 minutes before cooling to fermentation temperature, straining out the hops and pitching the yeast. The rest of the process was to be “as usual” with the beers supplied to the January SCB meeting in Cornelius kegs for tasting and assessment. The target final brew length was 23 litres (although Ian McAnally brewed 60 litres). Ian’s yeast was supplied by a local brewery which I shall call “Skudlers”.

    Inevitably not all of the brewing went quite to plan and some of the brews didn’t exactly follow the above instructions. I was interrupted by a phone call so my EOB1 hops got 15 minutes longer (and EOB2 got 15 minutes less), Tom mashed for 90 minutes instead of 70, Neil had a problem with a detached water pipe and Ian McManus had all sorts of problems*. A summary of who brewed what and when is given in the table below, along with OG and SG at racking (FG).

    Yeast Brewer OG FG Date
    “Skudlers” Ian McAnally 1042 1012 20 Dec 2003
    Inveralmond Ian McManus 1043 1007 17 Dec 2003
    Safale S-04 Neil Williams 1043 1010 12 Dec 2003
    White Labs #WLP002 English Ale yeast Les Howarth 1045 1011 12 Dec 2003
    Wyeast #1098 British Ale Tom Pettigrew 1044 1012 14 Dec 2003

    For the tasting we used an assessment sheet (whose format was taken from one available from the Bacchus Wine and beer forum, which I believe is a simplification of an American Homebrew Association judging form) where tasters were asked to rank Appearance (on a score from 0-3), Flavour (0-20), Body (0-5), Aroma (0-12) and Drinkability (0-10). This gives a potential maximum score of 50 with 40-50 being considered “excellent”, 30-39 “very good”, 25-29 “good”, 20-24 “drinkable” and less than 20 indicating a problem. Tasters were also invited to add comments on the beers.

    I received 19 tasting sheets back and the table below gives the average scores for the beers.

    Yeast Appearance Flavour Body Aroma Drinkability Total
    Wyeast #1098
    White Labs #WLP002
    Safale S-04

    All of the brews were of a high standard and the Inveralmond brew would have been judged as “Good” and the others as “Very Good” under the scoring system.

    The Inveralmond brew scored lowest overall but this was largely due to its cloudiness and consequent low appearance due to Ian’s brewing problems and is not truly representative of the potential of the Inveralmond yeast. Interestingly perhaps, in spite of Ian’s problems, this brew did not score worst for aroma.

    The Skudlers brew scored best overall which might have something to do with it being one of Ian MaAnally’s standard brews-so he’d had some experience of this recipe, in particular the use of the large amount of hops that caught some of us by surprise, myself included. The other 3 brews were broadly similar and on a side by side tasting I found the White Labs and Safale brews to be indistinguishable but not everyone agreed with this assessment so maybe my taste buds had become tired by that stage.

    The other three brews scored broadly the same but it may be of interest to look at which yeast came second (after Skudlers) for each ranking. The Safale gets the “silver medal” for appearance which probably fits with its extremely flocculant nature. The Wyeast comes second on flavour, body and drinkability while the White Labs yeast does it on aroma.

    I am sure that others present might disagree with my conclusions (see below) but I’d say that the yeast had noticeable but relatively subtle effects on the beers. It was also noticeable to me how well the only dried yeast (Safale) had done and its scoring was very close to the most readily available liquid yeast in the UK (Wyeast).

    The average scores in the table above give no indication of the spread of scores but, without going into the statistics, the analysis of the data indicates that the Skudlers was better than average for the group, the Inveralmond was worse than average and the other three were pretty much the same. However, beer appreciation is very much a matter of opinion and to give some idea of the range of opinion of the beers amongst tasters here is an edited (there was some illegibility due to bad handwriting and smudging due to beer spillage) list of notes made on the tasting sheets ranging from the least to most favourable:

    Inveralmond: Infection?; Too sweet; Yeasty; nice and malty; Much more drinkable than cloudiness suggests.

    White Labs: Astringent/metallic finish; Harsh hops; Dry finish; Woody flavour; Would have 2nd pint.

    Safale S-04: Poor finish; Poor aroma; Something not right; Slightly harsh; Well rounded; Fruity.

    Wyeast: Solvent aroma which dominates flavour; Slightly harsh; Doughy; Toffee flavour; Peppery.

    Skudlers: Balance is poor-hops all the way through; Simple, spicey; So drinkable-p***ed again.

    There is clearly no accounting for taste! This gives some idea of the range of opinion with both positive and negative comments for each beer. I liked them all. I’m also wondering whether the comments on the beer I brewed could relate to tannins in the beer caused by over sparging, rather than anything to do with the yeast, so hopefully this exercise will also improve my own brewing practice because of this feedback.

    This exercise in yeast comparison clearly had its limitations, so the results should not be taken too seriously. The bottom line is that we enjoyed ourselves and it certainly provided food for thought and discussion. Now the SCB has to decide what it is going to do for its next research project…

    Thanks are due to Davie and Eileen Martin of Edina Homebrew for laying on an excellent spread of food for us again.

    * – The story of Ian McManus’ brew in his own words: “brewed the goods on 17/12/03 at 10:13.

    I made a mistake with the mash temperature and had it far too cool. I will bore you with the details. Patience is a virtue I must cultivate!

    Ran in 9 litres liquor @ 92C. Mash tun seemed stable at 80.8C, so stirred in Grain.10:19, temp on top centre 69.2 (only a little higher than I was seeking) and immersed centre 74C. Stirred again 10:21 temp immersed in corner 73.6C Add 1pt tap water Temp 71.4. Add 2 pts water temp 70. Add 2 more pts tap water and gave bloody good stir. Temp 73.3!!!! Added 4 pints cold water, making 9 pints in all. Temp in corner now 49C. Guess the language in the kitchen. Strained off 1 gallon, raised to 80C and stirred in. 10:44, temp 56C.Heated more wort to 80 10:53 temp 61.6, That will have to do.12:15, final temp 55C.

    OG 1043-surprisingly enough, just on target. Boiled 60 mins etc, etc, pitched Inveralmond yeast. 21/12/03 Racked beer into secondary fermenter at SG 1007 still fermenting slowly.2 weeks later, into cornelius. disappointingly cloudy FG about 1005.

    Hope that tells the story