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.
Oh, how the days of anticipation and planning have flown past!
A brief history – if I may be so indulgent – late in the year 2009, for some forgotten reason, but possibly because of some time wasting chat at work, a rather tall scotsman started to take an interest in the world of homebrewed beer.
Despite the search term ‘homebrew’ fetching back some rather perplexing sites talking about unpaid software developers writing code for various electronic devices, eventually THBF was discovered, and a login procured.
Now as this tall scotsman’s Mrs wasn’t exactly keen on the idea, he instead proposed a starter kit as a Christmas present. Not that his wife was swayed, but his almost equally unfeasably tall sister did, and one plastic barrel and some odd tubes and a very long egg flipper were gifted on that day.
Full of enthusiasm, but woefully short on knowledge, the two cans of concentrated wort in the Scammonden Dark kit were diluted in the plastic barrel, and then the dawning realisation that you couldn’t drink it straight from the barrel!! Oh, the naivety!!!
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…
The Scottish Craft Brewers had a small but successful visit to the National Craft Brewing festival at the Copper Dragon Brewery in Skipton on Saturday 18th September.
The event was organised by the Northern Craft Brewers who were rekindling the event after a break last year. Steve Taylor, the owner of the Copper Dragon Brewery and founder of the Northern Craft Brewers, has kindly offered to host the event at his state of the art brewery in North Yorkshire so the NCB had grabbed opportunity with enthusiasm and laid on a memorable event. This turned out to be perfect as the festival was able to spread out across an enormous warehouse which had plenty of space for the entrants, visitors and also the retail partners who supported the event.
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.