Brewing Journey Pt 3

Brewing Different Styles

Testing my skills and developing new ones by doing new things

Several styles and new equipment and processes

I let this ferment go for 12 days. The first 3 were fierce with the Nottingham yeast. 9 days at 18 degrees +- 0.5 then one degree higher for the last 3 days. See the following for the transfer method. I am using 5 PSI pressure to transfer and using my home style spunding valve to release keg pressure. I turned off the heat two days ago and let the fermenter cool naturally to 11.5 degrees. Looks to be 6% alcohol and quite clear. Lets’ see what happens in the keg after 2 weeks in that. I have added no additional conditioning sugars and will leave it self carbonate then bring it up to 10 PSI in the keg, if needed. This one will be darker but not as dark as I thought. I will once again use the bottom contents of the fermenter to bottle some of the ale.It may only be a bottle or two this time because I had 20l in the fermenter. It was actually 4 bottles before I got to the heavy sediment. Quite efficient really. The bulb was enough to hold all the precipitated yeast and with no dry hopping there was not much else in the fermenter.

Brew #5 Bottle/kegging. Brew #4 tasting

Laundry Brewery.jpg

Here is the result of Brew #4

Amberish Ale.jpg

The bottled version was more yeasty, probably because it was from the bottom of the fermenter after I had filled the keg. Probably a little too much carbonation but I am unsure. The first glass from the keg went into the sink (15 July). Quite a lot of sediment and very frothy. Second glass was much better and still a bit cloudy. Later glasses were clearer still and poured well. Keg temperature 12 degrees the same as the laundry. Malty sweetness is more evident in the keg ale than from the bottle – drier finish form the bottle too. The bottle, had 3 g of glucose added … interesting. The bitterness is noticeable and pleasant after the first mouthful. I could drink this often. 5-5.5% alcohol by the calculations.

Tasting Brew #5
A week after transfer to the keg and Brew #5 tastes good from the keg. This may be a bad thing because a litre disappeared on Friday evening. I still cannot work out how the glass emptied so fast. A week of conditioning seems to have mellowed the brew and the yeastiness is less evidenced. Pleasantly, there seemed to be minimal sediment when pouring from the keg this time – perhaps it was the different yeast. Initial carbonation was a little low with not enough tongue tingle (is that an official term?) going on for me and it was around 6 PSI. I put the CO2 on for an hour at 10 PSI and it was better by then. I may give it another charge or two this weekend (21 July) while tasting more then leave it alone for a while. Temperature of the keg was just over 13 degrees because the nights have been milder so there may have been a bit of fermentation but not much because the pressure was not much above transfer pressure – I suppose a couple of PSI is significant over a week in Winter.

The colour is a bit darker than Brew#4 and the malt is more pronounced. Alcohol tastes/feels lower but should be around the same as Brew#4 There is good bitterness and a nice balance over the whole palate. A slightly watery feel in the mouth may be due to carbonation being low. Also perhaps being a week since transfer.

I am interested to see what it is like after a few weeks. Might post tasting notes weekly …

Other Things
I have planted some hop rhizomes in pots so that they can be well exposed to the cold. Goldings and Chinook. Dug the garden bed to about 40cm deep then built on top of that a raised bed 40cm higher. Gypsum turned into the clay at the bottom, a half cubic metre of compost mixed in and then next weekend I will add cow manure and more compost to the raised bed, sprinkle powdered clay over it then a large amount of stone dust from a mason. stone dust is usually a better fertiliser than chemicals and the clay dust also has good nutrient and water retention properties to balance out the quick drainage of the compost. I will show how I make the framework for the hops to grow up as I do it. Basically 3m high square aluminium posts with a similar cross bar. U bolts for attaching guy ropes and the whole frame inserts into concreted square tubes with a snug fit. Then all I do is attach the twine to some more u bolts to make a good climbing frame for the hops. The frame will get a lot of sun and I can protect it a little in peak summer. Windbreak provided by the house and a fence. Irrigation via drippers and a controller that adjusts the amount of water according to humidity and temperature. It should work.

In September, I will have a partially raised bed (20cm or so) for the barley crop. It will be at least 10 square metres and possibly 20. Depends on some other ideas I have. I would prefer to have planted potatoes or similar as a winter crop to prepare the soil … next year

Brew #5 after 3 weeks.jpg

Brew #5 after 3 weeks.
Mellowed a little and a nice colour. Some of the edge is gone. Quite a lot to like. Malt is still there.

This is about Batch 13 and a bit about the Kolsch experiment.

Batch #12 was the Grandfather Strong Ale. That is the name I am giving it. I settles on Strong Ale rather than Porter or Amber Ale because it is not either of them. It may not strictly be a Strong Ale either because I am not confident it was ever kept for months before drinking in Ballarat 1850s style. It would have been drunk fairly soon, I think.

New pieces of equipment etc:

  • A chest freezer with adjustable temperature from -24 to +10 degrees. Holds 2 x 19 litre kegs and 3 x 4-10. Kolsch in there now to lager or something like that …
  • Lactic and phosphoric acid to adjust acidity. CaOH2 does the reverse. Lactic used in Brew #13
  • Triclover fitting to make a home-made pressure transfer for the Grainfather Fermenter. Successfully trialled yesterday with a transfer direct to keg. Far better than using the pump and faster too
  • Properly setup wort cooler. Now using the immeresion cooler in the kitchen sink and recirculating for 2 minutes to get the wort from boiling to 85 degrees quickly. Did a hopstand with 30g of Galaxy hop pellets for 20 minutes while the wort cooled to 82 degrees. Then cooled again recirculating for 15 minutes down to 45 degrees with a change of water in the sink. Quite efficient but for the water usage. See below for the Brew #13 story.
  • A dangly stainless steel ball thing for hops. Worked well.
  • Irish moss flocculator. Probably did what it was supposed to do but I am not sure it is needed.
  • better weighing tools. Jewellers scales for the chemicals. 0-50kg scales for malt and keg weighing. See Batch #12
  • A collection of buckets for the malt, crushed grain and water transfer
  • Let water stand overnight to remove the noticeable chlorine. Soon to have a filtration system in the kitchen to remove a wade variety of water contents. It will muck up the calculations …

Batch #12 was kegged after a three week fermentation where the cold crashing was done in the Grainfather Fermenter. Glycol cools the fermenter so I left it to “lager” on the yeast for a week. Then I carbonated by giving the keg a burst of CO2 at 14 PSI while the keg was still cool around 8 degrees. Two bursts at 2 hour intervals and then the keg into the fridge/freezer. Another burst this morning and at midday keg steady at 8 degrees. It seems to work ok. Compared with the fermentasaurus it is a bit more work but the temperature and other factors are more controlled. I could have transferred to the fermentasaurus for a “secondary” but wanted to see how this approach worked out.

The pressure transfer setup I made was good for 3 PSI transfer pressure. I used a white connector to the IN post of the keg and nothing on the end of the tubing attached. I consider that the constant flow of beer keeps air/oxygen out well enough given the thin tubing. I considered using a blow off bottle but decided it was too anal retentive to own up to in public. Transfer was done in a little over 5 minutes compared to using a pump. It was much cleaner and easier to sanitise/clean up. Personally, I think that the Grainfather Fermenter should come standard with a Triclover ball lock post for a spunding valve or blow off bottle connection rather than the airlock and bung. Then it could be more easily used for pressure transfer. The double butterfly valve and its arrangement pushing the outlet above trub/yeast is ideally suited to a pressure transfer. The setup I made was cobbled together instead of using a simple and readily available connector for the CO2. 3 PSI is fine for transferring so no problems there.

If I was designing a next gen version of the Grainfather fermenter, I would make sure there is a lid that handles higher pressure (10 PSI would be good enough) and a 4″ triclover connector so that readily available attachments (ie with gas and liquid posts and a hook for doing dry hopping) can be used. The rest of what it does id good. Very good. Maybe they could do what they have done with their brewer and have a phone and recipe controlled fermentation schedule. It is a pain setting it up on a small screen at floor level.

With fermentation under pressure and the connections to allow no-opening additions, there would be no need for another vessel – as I think is needed now.

Brew #13 – American Pale Ale

This is another learning brew. I want to learn about hops, what I need to get clear beer and to see if I can do it well enough. I chose Galaxy hops for every hop purpose. I introduced a hopstand step. 10g at 70 minutes in the boil. 30g for the hopstand at 85 degrees through to cooling and transfer to the fermenter. I will not dry hop this time to see what I get. Theoretically the hopstand will have given me about what I want and I need to isolate the steps and consequences a bit more.

I paid strict attention to pH this time and to the water additives. Mashing was at 67 degrees because I needed to maintain some gravity when using US05 yeast. Here is that I used:

  • Voyager Compass – 4 kg
  • Voyager Munich – 400g
  • Simpsons pale Crystal – 100g
  • 200g Maltodextrin powder (becasue I could not work out a way to get the gravity up enough otherwise). Lazy but possibly effective. I hit the projected OG of 1.057 exactly
  • Galaxy hops 10g at 70 minutes on the boil. 30g hopstand
  • CaSO4, CaCl2, NaHCO3, MgSO4 and NaCl to adjust water
  • 2ml Lactic Acid to adjust mash pH. I tested and then added 2.5ml more to get the 5.3-5.35 pH I was after. The difference is probably not great but the aim was to pay attention to the pH.

Process changes were in doing the hopstand and an improved cooling method. I was quite happy with both and they worked together well. Overall, I found that I saved around 2 hours compared to Brew #10 which was the last one I timed. Started at 2 PM. Finished with cleanup and fermenting by 9:55. Plenty of time to do other things while getting alerts to start the next step. Simple things like having buckets and other items ready – rather than searching for them one at a time – helps. I now have a shelf in a cabinet with the equipment I need ready to use.

CO2 bubbles started relatively slowly at around 13 hours after pitching. No attenuation after 17 hours. Still, it is going. We will know whether it is a a good batch in 3 weeks.

Ok, new year and I have a couple of days to do things brewing.

Firstly a report on Brew #13. A major disappointment. It seemed like it was going well until tasting it from the keg … it was conditioned for 3 weeks and the keg leaked gas. While leaking gas it may also have taken in some air. Hard to tell but, instead of having a strong Galaxy hop flavour, it was dull and uninteresting. On top of that it had probably oxidised. That means I will have to try again with the process I was testing to see if the process or equipment is the issue.

Cricket season has meant that I have been unable to do much at all since October. This next 10 days, I plan to do two batches. One a repeat of the galaxy pale ale and the other will be a different pale ale with some wheat. At the same time I will be doing some malting. More soon but back to a brew with an easy boil (outside) for the pale ale. No way would I be putting this much heat and steam in the house in this weather.

I promise some pictures.



Brewing Journey Pt 2


Learning about brewing and how to get it all right

Experiment 1 Malt Milling

Grain milling
Some of what I want to do is to test a few theories and see for myself what works. Not that I do not trust the knowledge of others … just that there is often something that matters t me and not to others.

I have now tested the results from milling a pale malt via my KitchenAid grain mill and comparing it with a three roller grain mill that I borrowed.

Pictures below are of the two results. Which was done in the KitchenAid and which was done in the three roller grain mill? Is this a good grain crush size (the grain mill was adjusted to the recommended setting). Results were slightly different for crystal malt.

Mill A


Mill B


Mill A (oval bowl) was the 3 roller mill. Mill B (circular bowl) was the KitchenAid.

There are indeed whole grains in the sample from the 3 roller mill. This is probably because the rollers are a little too far apart in order to operate the mill or because of the wrenching required to move the rollers. There is also more flouriness from the 3 roller mill.

There is less flouriness overall from the KitchenAid grain mill and it was easy to do the milling. However it only does about 300g at a time. The consistency is very even. Time taken to do 1 kg was around 6 minutes on speed 6. Speed 2-6 seemed to produce the best results. Cleanup and setup was fast and simple. The milling was done on the maximum setting so there is no scope to try and get larger pieces of crushed grain. Crystal malt grains that are smaller crushed well on the second coarsest setting.

3 Roller Mill.
This produced an inconsistent crush at the recommended settings and I closed the gap a little. When I closed the gap more there was more flouriness.Resetting to the recommended gap, some grains got through uncrushed but this could have been because I had to wrench the handle hard to move the rollers and therefore the crushing was probably uneven an perhaps pushed through some grains. The smaller gap was very hard to move – for me, at least. I could do 3-4 kg at a time if I was able to manage to crank the handle for long enough. I understand that there is a motor coming for these mills that will improve ease of use. The roller gaps are infinitely variable so there should be a lot of flexibility fo rdifferent grain types and sizes. Setup is finicky with a strong table and clamps needed to use the mill. Cleaning is not much of an issue. Cost is around $180-220 for the mill according to websites I saw.

Overall, I think the KitchenAid mill is the best. It is of course not as flexible but it is certainly easy. I think the attachment costs about $240 now. I think I paid less than $100 when I bought mine for making bread over 10 years ago.

Experiment 2 – Measuring and managing ferment

After the experiment with grain milling, I have two more interesting ideas to explore. Firstly to try continuous monitoring of SG so that I can pick the time to transfer to a keg or Fermentasaurus for the finishing/secondary/maturing phase. Secondly, I want to try out a clean German ale (Kolsch style) brewed with ESB and Nottingham yeasts. More details in the following, however the main thing to note is that I am doing this with a new process that first ferments with a Grainfather temperature controlled fermenter for as short a time as possible and then transfers under pressure (ideally) to a secondary vessel (Fermentasaurus or perhaps a 19l keg) to further ferment and mature under pressure and with minimal spent yeast.
Experiment #2
This was done using a Tilt monitoring device that sits in the fermenter and comparisons with the previous process of checking 2-3 times a day to see the SG while measuring the temperature of the fermenter sitting under a blanket and warmed with a heat pad. Now that I am using a highly temperature controlled fermenter (heating and cooling) I have the ability to do a lot more manipulation of the ferment process in a less clunky way. The Tilt has built in temperature monitoring as well as the SG, which is the thing I am most interested in.

I will give a more thorough review of the Tilt in another post. For now the important things to note are that it does what it says. It is accurate. It does NOT work well in a double walled stainless steel fermenter but it is usable. It is more suited to plastic containers because it relies on Bluetooth to communicate. It integrates with Brewfather which is where I was able to graph the ferment in the picture below. The ferment was with an extract recipe for a German ale of a Kolsch like style … only the ales made in Cologne and surrounds can be called a Kolsch. Anyway the style is an ale and it is one that is supposed to be clear and free from any off flavours. It is also highly fermentable and … different … the intention is to drink it rather than pour down the sink. I need a new baseline to work with the new setup because nearly everything is different in detail. It is in part a learning exercise and in part an experiment in its own right that will lead on to Experiment #3 which is the really interesting one. One last thing. I used the Lallemand ESB yeast. It is not a Kolsch style yeast at all but this is the experimental part.
The objective is to use the Tilt and manual testing of the ferment in a Grainfather fermenter to see how long I need to ferment a controlled sample of wort to full attenuation and know when it is “right” to transfer to another vessel to complete secondary ferment and maturing. Along the way, I want to know how well the Tilt works and how best to use the Grainfather fermenter features. For this exercise I am going to only use the heating on the fermenter so the process is closer to the one I already understand.

I made up a wort consisting of two tins of light pilsner malt and 30g hallertau hops. I boiled 10l of water and added the extract to this along with hops for a total boil of 15 minutes … theoretically at least. There was about 25 minutes more of steeping while the temperature reduced to a bit over 85 degrees. I then transferred to the Grainfather, straining the wort to remove hops – the wort was fairly clear and light. I let the wort cool to 70 degrees and added cold water that got the temperature to just over 22 degrees and overall volume to 20l. I rehydrated the yeast at 25 degrees and set the fermenter to 21 degrees for the initial growth stage. I added some Go Ferment to the wort because I forgot to add it to the rehydration jug. I splashed the wort to aerate it a bit more. Pitched the yeast and added the Tilt. I had to be careful to sanitise everything because of the temperatures. I liked the ability to put hot wort into the fermenter. The Grainfather has that over a fermentasaurus. However it is much more of a bulky item and awkward to maneuver. I expect that with cooling pipes and all the rest attached, it will have to stay in place and the wort carried to it. Doing that via a robobrew may not be a lot of fun. Will have to think that part of the process through when doing grain only brewing.

I planned to leave the fermenter at 21 degrees (on the Grainfather display) for 6 hours then reduce to 18 degrees, however it was only 4 hours before the airlock started loudly popping. I turned the temperature down to 18 and was almost kept awake at night by the fermenter – even behind a closed door two rooms away. Monitoring of the Tilt was a bit tricky, requiring a visit to the fermenter to get a reading. That part of the Tilt operation is not as good as I would like. The rest is good for what I want.

The Grainfather fermenter is a pain to use for racking. I ordered a pressure transfer kit but it is not arriving until October. I found that I could only rack the brew to small vessels by sitting th efermenter on a box 50cm high. Getting the ale into a 19l keg or fermentasaurus was impossible because of the difficulty of lifting a heavy weigh to bench height. This is also not feasible with cooling tubing attached. I will have to rig up a pump to do the transfer … of course the fittings for the pump are not in stock either. Bunnings may be my friend or a specialist plumbing supplier. Aqua Safe maybe. That is another story. Malt, hops, water and yeast.

The two pictures below show it all, Really. I was surprised by two things. Firstly how violently the ESB yeast fermenteed. Secondly, the heat generated by the ferment was more than I was expecting. The Grainfather fermenter has an insulated layer inside a stainless jacket. This meant that the fermenter heated up despite an ambient temperature of 14 degrees and then down to 12 after I opened an external window to cool the laundry down! I was finding out what I needed to know.
1. use the cooling – even for ales
2. ESB ferments fast. The ferment was over in 1 and a half days with attenuation from 1.041 to 1.008.

I think the high ferment temperatures mean the ale will be less than clean but it is in small kegs with some dextrose to see if that can clean things up a bit over 2-3 weeks. Otherwise I am happy enough with what I managed to find out. I know what I need to do for subsequent ferments and I know that the process can work well with a few more tweaks. That brings on Experiment #3.


GF Baseline.png

A couple of things warrant an explanation. A lovely smooth curve for fermentation against time looks good. However fermentation is a dynamic thing and measurement is a chancy thing as well. A hydrometer is indirectly measuring SG by using buoyancy as the measure wit a scale reading to get the SG, assuming a temperature and then requiring further calculations to get an accurate answer. The Tilt uses bouyancy as well but then calculates SG from its tilt angle and does the adjustment calculations for me. The Tilt device has the advantage of not requiring any draw off of the ale and therefore offers the ability to take frequent measurements without touching anything. It does require my phone to be close to the fermenter to do a test. They recommend that you do not leave a phone nearby permanently because it runs the Tilt batteries flat faster. Besides, I kind of need the phone for other things. The Tilt can be disturbed by bubbles clinging to the side and krausen is that kind of bubble. The early readings were frequent then the next one was overnight. Subsequent readings were late in the day and several times in the evening. I think the Brewfather “smooths the curves” to resemble the theory. The early morning single reading seems to have been a bit low and was probably due to a short sample time as well as some krausen clinging to the device. Later measures taken over longer times showed a lot of variation but then averaged out (the device and app handle this fairly well). A later glitch where there seemed to be no attenuation over 3 hours is due to another short sample period. Lesson – take the samples over 5 minutes or so, not 10 seconds.
Interestingly, the temperature profile tells me a lot about what was happening. A large rise in temperature as the ferment went wild (the airlock was almost hissing) and then falling once the fermentation was nearing completion.

Second part of baselining is to do a proper Kolsch ferment and see how close to the theory I get.

This was done Sunday 12 August. I used pre-prepared 15l Zeirholtz wort with 5l of water added. I will be using this wort as a standard for Experiment #3 to ensure that I have almost identical starting conditions and therefore can make sure that the differences will reflect yeast rather than other factors. The Grainfather fermenter will be used on its own for this baselining. I want to see the effects of using the chiller to keep temperature steady and to then do a rapid cold crash of sorts. The profile will be to start the ferment at 20 degrees and rapidly move to 17 degrees as recommended by Zeirholtz. The yeast was 21 degrees when pitched mid afternoon and the wort 20 degrees. Setting the temperature for fermentation to 17 degrees, it took 14 minutes to reach that. Maybe too fast for propagation to happen. We shall see.
Courtesy of Bunnings, I have fittings to pump from the Grainfather to a keg or Fermentasaurus. That will mean minimal exposure to oxygen and be more convenient. I need more kegs!

Using While Labs Kolsch yeast the ferment looks like the graph below as the temperature is being raised for cleanup and a day prior to 4 degree crashing. The rather ewild swings in temperature are due to the Grainfather fermenter having difficulty handling the thermal effects of the cooler, I think. overall a very sedate ferment compared to the ESB ferment on the same wort.

Screenshot_2018-08-17 Brewfather.png

Next weekend I will commence Experiment #3.

Experiment 3

Experiment #3 was delayed due to the novel concept of having to do some work … imagine letting that interfere with brewing.

Experiment #3 changed. It changed because I have more things to measure with and new things to try.

Here is what it will be. I want to nail down a process for fermenting that is tied into a rapid brewing method that produces as good a fermentation environment as I can manage while seeing whether fermentation additions, filtering wort and methods of cooling the wort to pitch and ferment a standard yeast. I mentioned previously that I was going to use US05 (first idea) then Nottingham. Now I think London ESB is the yeast of choice for my ultimate goal of making the Amber Porter (my name) which is probably a Strong Ale and could be an Old Ale. It seems to cross that line and also have similarities to a lighter porter too.

So here are the three stages of the experiment and my plan:
Standard Brew Process:
The brew process is to use a recipe of:
5.5 kg Joe White Pale Malt
300g Voyager Voodoo melanoidan malt
200g medium crystal malt
100g Joe White Chocolate malt
London ESB yeast

crush all that in the kitchenaid (takes 15 minutes)
Prepare chemical additions.
Prepare hop additions
Wash and disinfect brew equip

Mash in at 70C then 65 degrees for an hour and back to 74 to mash out for 10 minutes. 17l of water and water adjusted (3g Calcium Chloride, 2g Magnesium Sulphate, 3g Calcium Sulphate). Sparge with 11l of similarly corrected water. Bring to a boil while draining sparge into the wort over about 20 minutes.
Add 50g of EK Goldings for 75 minutes after 5 minutes for the boil to settle down. Recirculate on 1900w (using the insulating jacket) for 75 minutes then add 30g of Fuggles after the power is turned off to cool and the wort is around 90 degrees. Hop additions in small bags. I should have 20l after the longer boil and it should be around 1.065 OG and 70-80 degrees hot. Then the experiment starts …

Stage 1 is to do the standard brew with a defined grain mix and brewing process up to a relatively long Hopstand of 30 minutes. Then try idea #1 of simply transferring into the SS fermenter and cooling within the fermenter. It should work.Set the temperature for initial fermentation to 21 degrees. Add Fermaid 3g. When the temperature is 23 degrees in the wort, hydrate the yeast at 30 degrees and follow the guide to then add wort to bring the temperature from 30 degrees to between 21 and 25 degrees. Pitch at whatever the temperature of the wort is at this time(this is the recommendation). Only stir the yeast in. After 3 hours at 21 degrees, shift to the primary fermentation temperature of 19 degrees.

Stage 2 will vary the fermentation process by filtering the wort aggressively to remove hop and malt particles. Keep the Fermaid

Stage 3 will vary by not filtering and not using Fermaid but aerating the wort.

Stage 4 will try cooling wort directly from the robobrew and transferring to the fermenter at around 23-25 degrees, using the best of the previous processes. I do not expect to see a difference but may taste one.

Stage 5 will take into account what was learned by the previous fourand see if there is an optimum combination or something else to investigate. If nothing else, then I will see the effect of a cold crash after a 5 day ferment without a second vessel ferment.

During fermentation the activity and timing of the ferment will be tracked in detail so that I can see what effect it has. This monitoring will be for the first ferment and the second vessel ferment, see below.

The experiment is to see how techniques in the first ferment and transfer to the fermenter affect fermentation as a whole. I will use a second vessel ferment step in a fermentasaurus to let the yeast clean up. This will be for a week at around 18 degrees but not with high precision as with the first ferment vessel. The purpose of this step is to take the ale off the trub/yeast so as to reduce the impact of that material while it should be able to drop the suspended yeast from suspension over a week. After this it goes into a keg and a few bottles. Taste testing will be the final arbiter.

That is the plan.

A trial using Stage 1 is complete and it came out at at 1.063 OG. Temperature at transfer was just under 70 degrees. It cooled down to 23 degrees in 2 hours and the glycol chiller handled it well. I prepared the yeast a bit early so it sat ready for 20 minutes and it was Nottingham because my London ESB has been delayed. I would have to have redone it later anyway. Simple process and relatively fast with some waiting to do in between short bursts of activity. I will report on the progress over the next week. First measurements show that the ferment started 7-8 hours after pitching. 15 hours after pitching the fermentation was going quickly.


Full run of Experiment #3 Stage 1 underway after an eBay order of ESB yeast. I am proceeding with the planned Stage 1 although I think I know how i want to tweak the process in the end. Yesterday I got a very efficient transfer to the fermenter and ESB yeast going well 6 hours after pitching the yeast. This is Batch #12.

Cooling in the fermenter with glycol works well enough but I think that adopting the Grainfather method of cooling:

  • a counterflow wort cooler sanitised by recirculating wort to the boiling vessel
  • trickling the wort through for 15-20 minutes with quite a bit of cold water
  • wort straight into the fermenter at around 25-28 degrees (estimated
  • then use the glycol chiller to take the wort to 23 degrees and rest there for 3 hours
  • reduce to 19 degrees to ferment 3 days

That is essentially the details for Stage 4 of Experiment #3

I am now thinking I will try a step mash as well with 40 degrees for 20 minutes, 63 for 20 minutes and 69 for 40 minutes – that is for my strong/amber/porterish ale. With luck this will remove a bit of haze. For a Kolsch or IPA I think a mash of 40/20, 60/20, 68/30 will work. Or something like that.

Second vessel transfer by pump and tubing is a right PITA. Pressure transfer is a much better thing by my reckoning. I think I can rig up something on the fermenter by drilling a 1.5 triclover cover and attaching a gas ball lock valve. This will allow me to pressurise to 3-5 PSI and transfer from the valve above the trub/yeast and avoid messing around in a tight space. This method can allow transfer of CO2 to the secondary vessel to minimise oxygen in the vessel.

My method this week was to vent some CO2 in the fermentasaurus and then add 1l of second wort made from 0.5l of water and 200g of dried malt extract, cooled. Add a tea ball of dry hops (10g of Fuggles) on a chain attached to the lid. Seal it up. Pressurise the fermenter to 12 PSI. Pressure release. Repeat. Should be not much O2 left (<2%) in 35l of airspace. This was reduced further as the contents of the first fermenter was pumped in and the headspace volume was about 14l. Another pressurisation and release then attach the spunding valve set to 10 PSI. Any remaining oxygen should be cleaned up by the yeast fermenting the second wort I added.

During transfer by pump, I found that there were bubbles forming in the pump. As I tried to clear on one occasion, the silicone tubing came off and half fermented beer splattered the laundry. At least the floor will be nice and clean by this evening … walls

Update on the German Ale experiment.

This followed the first German ale with Nottingham yeast. The idea was to see if aeration makes much of a difference. If the difference is undetectable then why bother. If noticeable then it is worth doing.

First brew was done with a standard extract recipe and partial mash then hops. Fermented with Kolsch Yeast from White Labs. The variation was to intensely aerate the wort with an aquarium aerator for 15 minutes. Rapidly cooled wort before fermentation. Direct pitched yeast. Fermentation was 18 degrees for 5 days then one at 21 degrees and conditioning for 2 weeks in a keg. Isinglass finings.

Second brew was the same except I only splashed the wort around a bit.

Short story: Experimental brew Kolsch #1 was fairly cloudy and had a yeasty smell to start with and settled down with conditioning. Yeast started to create CO2 after 9 hours at a steady 18 degrees. FG was in about 4 days 12 hours at 1.008. Quite a lot of esters and banana evident. Possibly some higher alcohols too. After conditioning the ale was clearer with some haze.

Experimental brew Kolsch #2 was a little cloudy and detectable yeastiness and clarified very well. Co2 started at around 15 hours and the ferment reached FG in 4 days and 3 hours. FG 1.007. The reading is within the measurement error. Timing was surprising because I would have thought the early start to fermentation would have meant an earlier finish. Final product tested well and was cleaner than the first brew that had a week more conditioning. No noticeable esters or banana.

I would like to do this again to confirm the results because it goes against the advice generally given to aerate. Will do in November or later. BTW, both batches are drinkable and may well improve. I cannot find anything where someone else has experienced what I found in this experiment.

What has anyone else experienced with aeration?

The reply was that oxygen is by far the best way to aerate with significant improvements to quality of the ferment. It is suggested this is due to the yeast being healthier. Yeast manufacturers suggest otherwise, but again opinions differ. This means another Experiment!