Homebrewing blogs

Kegging Still Mead, Wine and Cider

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sat, 01/18/2020 - 11:20am

Today I take a look at some of the challenges you face when trying to keg still mead, wine or cider. Many beer brewers also make mead, wine and cider, and also have kegging equipment. Kegging your mead, wine and cider can be much easier than bottling. Also there is a substantial advantage to being able to pour just a glass or two of wine or mead rather than having to open an entire bottle.

Low Pressure Kegging for Still Beverages

Most beer brewers force carbonate their beer by applying CO2 pressure to the keg and storing the keg in a fridge. A combination of temperature, pressure and time will carbonate the beer.

A still beverage is served un-carbonated. For still beverages like most wines, and many meads and ciders, you don’t want any carbonation. A simple way to do this is to simply purge your keg with CO2 at a very low pressure.

So if you are kegging some red wine, for instance, you would siphon the wine from your fermenter into the keg, and then set your CO2 regulator to a low pressure – perhaps 2-3 psi (7 kpa). Seal the lid, apply pressure, and then release the purge valve several times to purge any remaining air out of the keg.

Once the keg is purged you can remove the gas source. I typically will just leave a picnic tap attached to the keg and serve from it. The small amount of pressure should be enough to serve your beverage, and you can apply more gas (again at low pressure) if the flow gets too slow.

Alternatives to CO2 for Kegging Wine

Even though the CO2 option above works well for many still beverages, carbon dioxide can still affect the balance of some beverages – particularly wines.

While all wines contain a slight amount of residual CO2 from fermentation, adding carbon dioxide to the wine creates some carbonic acid which can alter the flavor balance of wine over time. This can also affect some fine meads and ciders, though often the mead or cider’s other flavors will mask these effects.

As a result many commercial wine kegging systems go to great lengths to avoid changing the CO2 balance of the wine. There are several ways to do this: One is to use an inert gas like Argon or pure Nitrogen to pressurize the keg. Since Argon and Nitrogen are inert, it won’t affect the flavor balance of the wine.

Another method I’ve seen is to actually place the wine inside of mylar bags inside of the wine keg. Regular CO2 is used in the keg space outside of the bags, compressing the bag and forcing the wine out of the keg.

Another option is to use a CO2-nitrogen mix. In fact, some wine kegging systems use both a CO2 gas source and a nitrogen gas source and then have an adjustable mixer that controls the CO2 percentage in an attempt to match the native CO2 content of the wine. Depending on the style of wine and temperature it is served at you can adjust the mixer so it does not alter the balance of the wine.

For home brewers the two best options are Argon/Nitrogen or a CO2-Nitrogen mix. Argon and nitrogen are readily available from gas supply stores but can be quite expensive, and you will typically need a separate regulator. More commonly, home brewers use the typical “Stout mix” which is 25% CO2 and 75% nitrogen.

It turns out that the stout mix is very close to an average wine’s ideal mix for beverages around room temperature. As a result, using a stout mix on a typical wine at low pressure won’t change the CO2 flavor balance of the wine much. So a talk of “stout mix” is a good alternative for beer brewers who might also enjoy using that mix for serving stouts. I have personally stored wines in kegs for several years using a stout mix with great results.

Hopefully the information above will help you if you want to keg your still wine, mead or cider. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Kegging Homebrew Beer with Chris Graham – BeerSmith Podcast #206

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sat, 01/11/2020 - 12:19pm

Chris Graham, President of Morebeer joins me this week to discuss kegging home brewed beer and some of the new equipment available for kegging.

Subscribe on iTunes to Audio version or Video version or on Google Play

Download the MP3 File– Right Click and Save As to download this mp3 file.

Topics in This Week’s Episode (50:34)
  • This week I welcome Chris Graham, the President of Morebeer. Chris has taught at the prestigious Siebel institute and was also a member of the Brewers Association board as well as the AHA Governing Council.
  • We briefly discuss our previous episode on kegging, and then start with a discussion of some of the advantages of kegging over bottling home brewed beer.
  • Chris explains the basic components of a kegging system.
  • We talk about the three major keg connections and the ball lock which is the most commonly used one in home brewing.
  • Chris walks us through the basic kegging process starting with beer in the fermenter.
  • We discuss keg refrigeration and various options to keep your beer cool.
  • Chris briefly discusses the issue of keg line balancing and how there is extra effort involved in planning and managing long keg lines.
  • Chris next switches to discuss some of the new devices available to home brewers for kegging – starting with the floating dip tube.
  • We talk about pressurized fermentation and pressurized keg transfers which can completely eliminate oxygen exposure when kegging your beer.
  • Chris tells us about new larger keg options including the 10 gal and 15 gal torpedo kegs.
  • We talk about a new type of keg line connection called Duotight which helps reduce the chance of keg line leaks.
  • Chris explains how you can also keg your mead and wine if done properly with argon or a CO2-nitrogen (stout mix).
  • Chris provides some closing tips on kegging your home brewed beer.
Sponsors

Thanks to Chris Graham for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!
iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (or use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Belgian Beer Styles with Stan Hieronymus- BeerSmith Podcast #205

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 12/30/2019 - 1:04pm

Stan Hieronymus, the author of the book “Brew Like a Monk” joins me to discuss brewing Belgian beer styles.

Subscribe on iTunes to Audio version or Video version or on Google Play

Download the MP3 File– Right Click and Save As to download this mp3 file.

Topics in This Week’s Episode (51:38)
  • This week I welcome Stan Hieronymus. Stan is the author of Brew Like a Monk, For the Love of Hops, Brewing with Wheat and Brewing Local (Amazon affiliate links). Stan is also a certified BJCP beer judge.
  • We start with a short discussion of Stan’s recent travels.
  • We jump into Belgian styles starting with what makes Belgium such a unique place for beer.
  • We discuss how so many Belgian styles survived two world wars when many other styles died out.
  • Stan tells us a bit about the various major Belgian beer styles.
  • We talk about “Trappist” and Abbey ales and what the difference is between them.
  • Stan tells us a bit about the major Trappist styles and how they are brewed including major ingredients.
  • We discuss the use of “candi sugars” and how the ones used in Belgium are different from many sold here.
  • Stan talks about Belgian yeasts and some of their unique character.
  • He shares some of the Trappist brewing and fermentation techniques.
  • We talk about some of the changes in Trappist and Belgian beers since “Brew Like a Monk” was published back in 2006.
  • Stan gives his closing thoughts on brewing Belgian styles.
Sponsors

Thanks to Stan Hieronymus for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!
iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (or use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Warm Fermented Amber Lager

Brew Dudes - Wed, 12/25/2019 - 12:05pm

Mike has been going nuts with brewing up lagers at room temperatures. When you get a yeast strain that has been proven successful at producing quality beers through non-traditional processes, you keep at it. Let’s learn more about this warm fermented amber lager! Brewed Warm – Tastes Good This is the second time Mike has […]

The post Warm Fermented Amber Lager appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Brewing Up a House Stout Recipe

Brew Dudes - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 10:36am

As experienced homebrewers, we want to be known for certain standard beers that we brew all the time. There is something special about the idea of having 3 or 4 beers that your friends, family, and acquaintances know you brew and brew well. Mike has been a champion stout brewer since the start of his […]

The post Brewing Up a House Stout Recipe appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Hop Utilization in the Whirlpool for Beer Brewing

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Wed, 12/18/2019 - 2:22pm

This week we take a close look at hop utilization in the whirlpool. With the wild popularity of IPA beer styles, whirlpool hops have become an important part of modern brewing.

Whirlpool Hopping and Aroma Oils

Whirlpool or “steeped” hopping is a technique where you add your hops after flame-out and let them steep at hot temperature for a period of time before chilling the wort. In a professional setting, a pump creates a “whirlpool” in the boiler which helps to settle the trub out before chilling and transferring to a fermenter.

The main purpose of whirlpool hopping is not to add bitterness, but instead to capture volatile hop aroma oils in the beer. Most of the aroma oils in hops have a boiling point lower than that of water. As a result the aroma oils will quickly boil off if you add the hops in the boil. So we add hops either in the whirlpool or as dry hops to preserve these oils.

Whirlpool Hop Utilization

While whirlpool hops are primarily used for capturing aroma oils, the hops are added at a temperature where “isomerization” still occurs. Isomerization of the alpha hops creates “isomerized alpha acids” which are the main bittering compound in beer. So adding whirlpool hops will still add some bitterness to the beer.

A secondary, and often ignored factor is the effect of boil hops that carry into the whirlpool. For example, imagine adding hops 10 minutes before the end of the boil. That hops will generate some bitterness in the boil, but it will still have quite a bit of alpha acid left as we switch into the whirlpool. So it will continue to generate some bitterness in the whirlpool.

For simplicity, lets first consider the utilization of hops added in the whirlpool, then we’ll look at the more complex boil carryover case.

Calculating hop bitterness in the whirlpool is similar to calculating it in the boil. Hop bitterness is a function of boil (or steep) time, amount of hops used, boil volume, boil gravity, and the alpha acid percentage of the hops. The same basic relationships apply to the whirlpool.

The only major difference is that in the whirlpool, the hops are at a lower temperature, so the isomerization process takes place at a much slower pace. In fact, below boiling it drops off very rapidly. As a result the temperature and time of your whirlpool additions are very important.

If we calculate the hop utilization for an equivalent boil hop using the time, volume and gravity of the wort for the addition, we can then apply the “whirlpool utilization” to this number to estimate the overall hop utilization. Here’s a look at the whirlpool utilization with temperature assuming 100% would be an equivalent boil hop:

  • Formula: Utilization = 2.39 * 10^11 * e^(-9773/T) where T is in Kelvin
  • Boiling: 100 C (212 F) – Utilization is 100%
  • At 90 C (194 F) – Utilization is 49%
  • At 80 C (176 F) – Utilization is 23%
  • At 70 C (158 F) – Utilization is 10%
  • At 60 C (140 F) – Utilization is 4.3%
  • At 50 C (122 F) – Utilization is 1.75%

So we can see that the utilization drops very rapidly with temperature. Even at the quite hot 90C (194 F) case we are getting half of the isomerization of an equivalent length boil.

Keep in mind, however, that isomerization is a byproduct of whirlpooling. The main goal of whirlpool hop additions is to preserve volatile hop oils that don’t really want to go into solution and boil off quickly. So often a slightly lower whirlpool temperature can work to your advantage.

The main reason we calculate whirlpool hop utilization is so we don’t accidentally upset the IBU balance of our beer when using a large amount of whirlpool hops.

For hops carried forward from the boil, the utilization calculation is more complex. You first have to have some idea of what percentage of the hop alpha acids were isomerized in the boil, and the amount left that could be isomerized in the whirlpool. From that basis you can then apply the utilization formulas and factors in the whirlpool over the entire whirlpool period.

To do this accurately you need to estimate it for each hop addition individually and then add the result together. I won’t try to cover the detailed calculation here but the above outline along with the standard hop formulas can get you there.

Whirlpool Hops in BeerSmith 3

BeerSmith 3 has a variety of features to capture the effects of whirlpool hops including hop utilization in the whirlpool as well as hops carried forward from the boil.

For whirlpool hops, you can set both the time and temperature of each whirlpool hop addition and BeerSmith will estimate the IBU contributions of each addition.

For hops carried forward from the boil there is a new setting in the equipment profile where you can specify the total whirlpool hop time as well as a check box for “Estimate Boil Hop Util in the Whirlpool” which will carry forward the boil hops to the whirlpool based on the whirlpool time and estimate bitterness for those as well.

If you want to learn more about the new settings in BeerSmith 3 you can watch this short video.

Hopefully this helped to clear up your understanding of hop utilization in the whirlpool. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Passionfruit Peach Gose Tasting Notes

Brew Dudes - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 2:37pm

Back in the summer, we brewed a beer and it was a collaboration with Oregon Fruit and North Country Group. We were trying to meet up with Elliot but we couldn’t get it going on our end. With a keg full of Gose and our ever-demanding production schedule, we present to you this Peach and […]

The post Passionfruit Peach Gose Tasting Notes appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

High Altitude Beer Brewing and Hop Utilization

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sun, 12/08/2019 - 11:17am

I often hear from brewers who live at altitude asking about how to adjust their beer brewing recipes. Living at a higher altitude means that both water and wort will boil at a lower temperature which leads to lower hop utilization.

I spent six years living near Albuquerque in New Mexico, with four of those in the East Mountains at some 7200 feet (2194 m) above sea level. At altitude we had to adjust not only beer brewing activities but even simple recipes like baking bread.

Effects of High Altitude Beer Brewing

The primary effect of brewing beer at high altitude is that it lowers the temperature at which water and wort boils. While water boils at 212 F (100 C) at sea level, the boil temperature drops about 6 F (3.2 C) for every 3200 feet (1000 m) of altitude. So if you brew at 6400 feet (2000 m), your boil temperature would be approximately 200 F (93.6 C).

As the boil temperature is reduced, hop utilization also drops off. In fact it drops off fairly rapidly with temperature. This means you may need to either add more hops or increase your boil time when brewing at altitude to achieve the same bitterness level.

How much does it drop off? My friend John Palmer wrote an article for the MBAA, Vol 54, No 3, 2017 entitled “A Look at Isomerization Reduction Due to Altitude” where he leverages the work of Mark Malowicki and Thomas Shellhammer who studied hop isomerization versus temperature. This work has become increasingly important to estimate the hop utilization in whirlpool hops.

It turns out that the drop off is pretty substantial. From Palmer’s paper:

  • 500 meters (1640 ft) – Water Boils at 209 F (98.4 C) – Utilization is 87%
  • 1000 meters (3281 ft) – Water Boils at 206 F (96.8 C) – Utilization is 76%
  • 1500 meters (4921 ft) – Water boils at 203 F (95.1 C) – Utilization is 67%
  • 2000 meters (6562 ft) – Water boils at 200 F (93.5 C) – Utilization is 58%

So if we consider a typical mountain brewer at a location like Denver, CO where the altitude is 5000 feet (1500 meters), you can see that they are getting only about 67% or 2/3rd the utilization of a brewer at sea level. So they would need to add roughly 40% more hops or boil the hops much longer to achieve the same bitterness level in IBUs.

Altitude Adjustments in BeerSmith 3

Fortunately BeerSmith 3 software has the altitude adjustments built in so you don’t need to do these calculations by hand. You can enter the altitude into your equipment profile and it will adjust all of the hop utilization calculations to include your local altitude effects.

To adjust your equipment profile, go to Profiles->Equipment within the software and find your personal equipment profile. Double click on the equipment profile to edit it and look for the section titled Hop Utilization and Whirlpool Options. Under that section set the Boil Elevation to your local elevation in feet or meters.

Now when you use this equipment profile in a recipe, it will adjust the hop utilization calculations to fit your altitude. You can also use the equipment profile to scale other people’s recipes which will adjust those recipes to match your equipment and altitude.

I hope you enjoyed my brewing tip for this week. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Anchor Brewing with Scott Ungermann – BeerSmith Podcast #204

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 11:26am

Scott Ungermann, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing joins me to discuss the history of one of America’s oldest small breweries.

Subscribe on iTunes to Audio version or Video version or on Google Play

Download the MP3 File– Right Click and Save As to download this mp3 file.

Topics in This Week’s Episode (40:09)
  • This week I welcome Scott Ungermann, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing, which is one of the oldest small breweries in the United States.
  • We discuss a bit about Scott’s background which brought him to Anchor brewing around 1987 for a tour, and led to him starting home brewing.
  • Later he attended UC Davis and worked 18 years at Annheiser-Busch before joining Anchor Brewing as brewmaster in 2014.
  • We start with a bit of the history of Anchor Brewing which started during the California Gold Rush. The current “Anchor Brewing” name dates back to 1896
  • Anchor was one of the few small breweries to survive prohibition as well as industry consolidation in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
  • We talk about the 1980’s when both Scott and I were introduced to Anchor Stem Beer.
  • Scott discusses Anchor Steam beer which was preserved by Anchor and is now known widely as the “California Common” beer style. We also talk about how steam beer is still fermented in open fermenters.
  • Scott provides some advice for those looking to create the perfect steam beer at home.
  • We discuss the “micro brew” years in the 1970’s and 1980’s when Anchor moved from brewing steam beer into other styles like Anchor Porter and made some of the first American Pale styles.
  • Scott briefly discusses Ninkasi beer which was made from bread in 1989 by Anchor
  • We move forward to today and discuss how Anchor’s lineup has changed.
  • Scott shares a few beers added after his arrival including Bay Keeper and Fog Breaker
  • We talk about Anchor’s 45’th annual Christmas Ale which creates a unique holiday ale every year.
  • Scott share his opinions on where he thinks craft brewing is going next after a decade of extraordinary growth
  • We talk about Scott’s advice for home brewers
Sponsors

Thanks to Scott Ungermann for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!
iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (or use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.

Mark Edelson joins me from Iron Hills Brewery to discuss the evolution of Craft Beer Brewing in the US.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Strata Hops SMaSH Beer Review

Brew Dudes - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 3:10am

I got a 2 ounce packet of this hop variety from Yakima Valley Hops and wanted to learn something about it. Watch this video as we try to figure out what aroma and flavor notes we get from this Strata hops SMaSH beer! Our Strata Hops Notes If there was one takeaway from this Strata […]

The post Strata Hops SMaSH Beer Review appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Tracking Brewery Purchases, Crafty Beer, and Craft Conglomerates

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 3:49am
In July 2018 I made a poster illustrating the connections between breweries. I've expanded and updated it a few times since then, both thanks to people who have commented with suggestions and because big breweries haven't stopped buying smaller breweries. Below is the most recent update. As always let me know if you see anything incorrect, but please include a source confirming it.
Higher resolution image - Prints are available from my web store.

The biggest change since my last update two months ago was the purchase of New Belgium (and Magnolia) by Kirin/Lion. Other big news included purchases by Legacy Breweries (Ninkasi's parent company) of Laurelwood, and Aspen in pursuit of buying 15 breweries by the end of 2020. AB InBev purchased the remainder of Craft Brew Alliance (Kona, Red Hook, Cisco, Widmer etc.) up from 31.5%.

I added some smaller ownership groups around the center box, both craft breweries who own other craft breweries, and private equity firms that own a brewery in their entirety. I've also tried to replace the bigger breweries outside the US with smaller breweries that would be more easily confused for independents. 
As always my goal isn't to tell anyone what beer they should buy/drink, only to provide information. There are a wide variety of situations represented along the outside of the chart, and there is a big difference between a brewery owned by Duvel Moortgat and one owned by AB InBev. Personally I do my best to support small local breweries where the owner is personally involved. Then to independent regional breweries, then to independent national breweries, on to the private-equity-backed conglomerates, and finally those owned by big beer (whose interests, lobbying, and sales practices often hurt small breweries).
There are also a wide range of situations that I haven't found a way to represent on the chart. For example the breweries that are owned in part by private equity firms (Abita, Stone, Schlafly, Unita, Weyerbacher, and Lord Hobo).
A few common questions:

How did you choose which breweries are in the center box?
  • I tried to include a range of sizes and locations, focusing on my favorites, friends, and those that had been generous with their time. There are tens of thousands of breweries and not enough room for all of them.
Why is Sol under Heineken, isn't it owned by MillerCoors?
  • The poster shows ownership, MillerCoors has a 10-year distribution deal for Sol in the US. My goal is to show ownership, so I ignore contract brewing. This is different than the overlap between Groupo Modelo and Constellation where brands like Corona and Dos Equis are owned/brewed separately for the US.
What is that weird symbol above the Trappists?
  • It's the logo of the Holy See (Vatican). Certainly not the same as the corporate relationship depicted elsewhere, but it is certainly a connection between them and the other monastic orders of the Catholic church.
Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Homegrown Cascade Hop Beer

Brew Dudes - Thu, 11/28/2019 - 2:54am

Although I had planned to brew three beers using homegrown hops, my brother gave me his Cascade hop harvest and so 3 beers became 4. This video talks about the process that I followed to brew this beer which was a little bit different from the Chinook beer I brewed. Let’s watch and learn now, […]

The post Homegrown Cascade Hop Beer appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Homebrewing Competition Tips and Tricks

Brew Dudes - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 11:23am

We have received this question a lot over the years, “How do I enter a homebrewing competition?” I was reluctant to put a post together that gave people instructions, tips, and/or tricks to getting their beers into homebrewing competitions. First off, I am no “brewer of the year” winning homebrewer. Yes, my beers have won […]

The post Homebrewing Competition Tips and Tricks appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

The Importance of Healthy Yeast for Beer Brewing

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Tue, 11/19/2019 - 10:13am

This week I thought I would write a short article on the importance of healthy yeast, as poor yeast is a major source of off flavors in beer.

Some time ago I was reviewing a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) score sheet, which is widely used to judge beer in formal competitions. I noticed that a large number of the “off-flavors” listed on the left side of the score sheet are yeast related.

In fact, of the 16 off-flavors listed on the score sheet, a total of 9 are directly related to yeast health. These flavors includes beer flaws like acetaldehyde, alcoholic, diacetyl, esters, phenolics, solvents, sour, sulfur and yeasty flavors.

To avoid these off-flavors you need to ensure proper yeast health and conditions throughout fermentation and maturation.

Start with Enough Healthy Yeast Cells

The first step is to make sure you pitch enough healthy yeast cells into your wort up front. Beer generally requires a much higher yeast cell count than beverages like wine or mead. There are three main factors driving how much yeast to use: The age/viability of your yeast, the size and gravity of the beer and the size of your yeast starter.

Consider first the age and condition of the yeast you are using. While dry yeast can safely be stored at room temperature for two years or more, liquid yeast is much more fragile with many packages falling below 50% viability within 6 months of packaging. Typical liquid yeast packages have about 100 billion cells when packaged, but most beers require a higher pitch rate, so a starter is needed for most liquid yeasts. Dry yeasts, being more robust, can often be used by just hydrating.

BeerSmith has a yeast starter calculator built into the recipe builder (and as a separate tool) to help you calculate how many yeast cells are needed. You can also refer to this article which covers basic yeast starters. However it is not unusual for a typical ale to require 150 billion cells for a 5 gal (19 liter) batch. Lagers require almost double the pitch rate of ales, making a starter very important.

If you are working with dry yeast, you can often just purchase a few packets and pitch them. Be sure to properly hydrate your dry yeast first. For liquid yeast, you will often need to create a starter by boiling up some dry malt extract (DME), cooling it and then pitching your yeast into the starter a day or two before you brew your beer. ‘

Aerate Your Wort

Adding oxygen to your wort is very important up front. When you boiled your wort, you also forced a lot of the oxygen out of it, but yeast need oxygen up front during the early growth phase to reproduce.

Here’s an article that covers the details of aeration. Methods include shaking/splashing your wort around, using a small aquarium pump to add oxygen and using an aeration wand with pure oxygen.

Of these methods, my preference is to use an aeration wand with a small tank of disposable oxygen, as pure oxygen is needed to reach the ideal aeration levels for the yeast, and these wands are now relatively cheap to purchase and easy to use.

Maintain Proper Fermentation Temperature

Before you pitch your yeast, you first need to bring the wort down from boiling to an acceptable fermentation temperature. If you pitch your yeast into wort that is too hot or too cold you risk shocking the yeast and killing off a portion of your carefully prepared yeast cells.

There are a wide variety of options for wort chilling. Options include immersion chillers, counter flow chillers, plate chillers and variations of an ice bath. Here is an immersion option, and Chris Graham covered some of these very well in a podcast I did with him. Ideally you want your wort to be within 5 degrees of the starter temperature to avoid shocking the yeast.

Next you need to maintain a good fermentation temperature for the length of fermentation and aging. There are a variety of methods to do this as well. A simple method is to put your fermenter in a cool dry place and wrap it with wet towels. Change the towels every 6-8 hours and the evaporative cooling will keep your fermenter several degrees below room temperature which is ideal for ales.

If you have the money or time you can consider other options including ice baths, fermentation chillers and even temperature control systems for stainless fermenters.

Ideally you would like to be able to raise the temperature a few degrees later in fermentation to allow for a diacetyl rest, and later perform a cold crash to help clear your beer more quickly.

Finally you need to allow adequate time for the beer to mature. A number of important changes happen late in the fermentation process, and proper maturation will result in a beer that tastes better and is more stable in the long run.

Those are my yeast tips for this week. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Iron Hills Brewery with Mark Edelson – BeerSmith Podcast #203

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 1:55pm

Mark Edelson joins me from Iron Hills Brewery to discuss the evolution of Craft Beer Brewing in the US.

Subscribe on iTunes to Audio version or Video version or on Google Play

Download the MP3 File– Right Click and Save As to download this mp3 file.

Topics in This Week’s Episode (45:53)
  • This week I welcome Mark Edelson, brewer and co-founder of Iron Hill Brewery in Philadelphia. Mark joins me to discuss the early days as well as the evolution of Craft beer brewing in the US. Mark has brought home over 20 consecutive GABF awards as well as world beer cup awards.
  • Mark and I first discuss his early years in the early 1990’s when he started as a homebrewer.
  • He shares his transition to pro-brewing in the mid-1990’s and some of the reasons that drove him to open Iron Hills with his two partners.
  • Mark shares some of the challenges he ran into starting his first brewery in 1996.
  • We talk about some of the differences between home and professional brewing.
  • He shares some of his favorite beers over the years, as well as a few mistakes he made.
  • We discuss his dozens of GABF awards as well as some of the things that have made Iron Hills a success.
  • Mark shares his thoughts on the business aspects of brewing versus brewing itself.
  • We talk about the Craft Beer revolution in the 1990’s, the industry shakeout in the late 1990’s and also how Craft Beer has evolved.
  • Mark talks about his “Brew with a Legend” contest for home brewers where you can win the chance to brew your own beer on a professional system at Iron HIlls.
  • Mark shares some of his closing thoughts after nearly 30 years in brewing.
Sponsors

Thanks to Mark Edelson for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!
iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (or use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #38

Brew Dudes - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:47am

As this beer exchange series continues, we find ourselves with a bottle of Marzen in front of us. Watch this video as we examine the experience of this homebrewed lager from Matt of The Wrecked Brewery out of South Carolina. Our Thoughts This Marzen killed it on the malt profile. The flavor was rich and […]

The post Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap – Exchange #38 appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Making Cider With Blueberries (Because It’s Easy)

Brew Dudes - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:11am

Mike made hard cider because it was harvest time here in our neck of the woods and he added blueberries to it because it’s easy to modify cider with other fruit when you are struck by inspiration. Here’s a video about Mike’s experimental cider with blueberries. The Process and The Taste Mike was sitting around […]

The post Making Cider With Blueberries (Because It’s Easy) appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Specialty Beer Brewing with Randy Mosher – BeerSmith Podcast #202

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Sat, 11/02/2019 - 3:06pm

Randy Mosher joins me this week to discuss brewing beers centered around unusual specialty ingredients including spices, fruits and more.

Subscribe on iTunes to Audio version or Video version or on Google Play

Download the MP3 File– Right Click and Save As to download this mp3 file

Topics in This Week’s Episode (49:24)
  • This week I welcome back Randy Mosher to talk about brewing beers with “specialty” ingredients including unusual spices, fruits and vegetables. Randy is the author of Radical Brewing, Mastering Homebrew, Tasting Beer (all Amazon affiliate links) and partner in two Chicago area breweries: Five Rabbit and Forbidden Root.
  • We start with Randy defining what he means by a “Specialty Beer” typically built around special ingredients.
  • Randy provides some basic principles for brewing a beer centered around specialty ingredients.
  • We discuss how to get layers of flavor rather than a one dimensional beer by using complementary flavors.
  • Randy shares his thoughts on the psychology of beer and how it can often trick us into experiencing flavors that may not precisely be there.
  • We talk about ingredients – including the importance of understanding flavors for the basic beer ingredients.
  • Randy talks about working with herbs and spices which can be very powerful cues for certain flavors.
  • We discuss working with fruits including different forms of fruit available and how to best brew with them.
  • Randy shares his thoughts on ingredients that don’t fall into the fruit or herb/spice cateogry.
  • We talk about prototyping beer to get the appropriate flavor balance up front and how the prototype can be scaled up to create a final beer.
  • Randy shares his closing thoughts on working with specialty beers.
Sponsors

Thanks to Randy Mosher for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!
iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and my newsletter (or use the links in the sidebar) – to get free weekly articles on home brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

BRU-1 Hops SMaSH Beer Review

Brew Dudes - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 8:29am

For these Brew (dash) Dudes, this hop variety seems named just for us. We like to get a packet of hops we know nothing about and brew a one gallon SMaSH beer (that’s a single malt and single hop beer) to get to know them better. Learn what we thought by watch our BRU-1 Hops […]

The post BRU-1 Hops SMaSH Beer Review appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

American Pale Ale With Homegrown Chinook Hops

Brew Dudes - Thu, 10/24/2019 - 8:01am

yeah Sometimes Homegrown Hop Beer Are More Than OK If you remember, that American Brown Ale I brewed with homegrown Nugget hops was just ok. The hop aromas and flavors were pretty earthy. They were more English than American. This Pale Ale I brewed with my homegrown Chinook hops was a different story. This hop […]

The post American Pale Ale With Homegrown Chinook Hops appeared first on Brew Dudes.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

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