This is another simple quality control test I learned about from Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff’s yeast book. This one is even simpler than the forced wort and forced ferment tests, requiring nothing more than some means to pull a sample from your fermentor, two glasses, some foil, and hot water.
The “forced wort” and “forced ferment” tests are simple tests you can use to assess some aspects of your brewing. They’re new additions to my brewing procedure, and maybe not obviously useful until something goes wrong… Hopefully nothing will, but they’re easy enough that I think they’re worth experimenting with.
I was really quite excited when Calum told me about this new book by Chris White (of White Labs) and Jamil Zainasheff (of The Brewing Network). Those of you who know me from the Edinburgh meetings will know that I’m really enthusiastic about yeast (even for a brewer), so as soon as I heard about it, I had to buy it. I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed, but before you all run out and buy copies, you might want to read this review first…
I was bottling last week so thought I would throw together an article on how I perform it as some questions do come up from time to time. The process that I am going to describe is what I use for bottling. I am not advocating that this is “the” way to bottle but simply “a” way that might give some brewers some thoughts on how to improve their own results. However, if you have a competely different process or perhaps made a piece of equipment to help then please tell us about it.
- Use the freshest yeast possible.
- Yeast is sensitive to temperature extremes and light.
- Keep refrigerated and use within 30 days of manufacture.
- 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.
- Use sufficient quantities.
The elimination of contamination is the most important factor in brewing; the one a brewer cannot afford to get wrong.
No matter how good the recipe, how efficient the mashing, how high the quality of ingredients, if the brew is contaminated it’s all for nothing. Poor sterile technique is the one factor that can undermine all the others and ruin a lot of hard work. The only microorganism in your beer should be the fermenting yeast. If only this were always so.
WHAT IS CONTAMINATION?
May sound obvious, after all, we know when a pint is off, but I believe that contamination can be quite insidious. What about lower levels of contaminants that, while not sufficient to be seen as such, are manifested as a taste that lacks the ‘usual flavour’, or is an ‘average pint’, or ‘nothing special?’ Its easy to put it down to a poor mash or recipe, but it might also be that some contamination got in between sterilising and using the fermenter bin, or before a vigorous fermentation got going – especially if there was a long cooling period, and was the wort boiled soon after mashing? Boiling may destroy any contaminants, but even dead bacteria and the compounds they produced while the wort was sitting at cool temperatures, might still taint the brew.