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Messages - hopshead

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WLP-022 is also a top cropper.

I just top cropped the Essex Ale for a second time this weekend.  It is EXTREMELY different looking than the Cal Ale I was using.  Very dense and I easily collected 80 grams of yeast.  After collecting the yeast, several hours later, a new krausen formed and could have been cropped again if I wanted. 

Based on S. Cervevisiae posts in this thread, I may be top cropping too soon however.  In this second harvest, I skimmed the braun hefe and discarded around 16 hours after pitching.  The actual harvest was about 24-26 hours after pitching.  It may take me a while working with this yeast to figure out the "right" time.  But so far I have been impressed.

I also agree with storing yeast under fermented beer, not water.  A couple of years ago I was storing under water (still harvesting Cal ale at the time), I lost batches of beer due to spoiled yeast very quickly (4-5 generations). 

I brew every other week, so in my process, I collect some wort from the fermenter (through the valve of the SS Brewtech bucket) to let the top crop ferment (about 2-3 days), then I store in my kegerator for about 7-8 days, then make a quart to 2 quart starter for the yeast to feed on a couple of days before the next brewday.

Before fermenting in the bucket, I was top cropping from a carboy.  Get an orange carboy cap and insert a racking through it so the end sticks into the krausen.  This is basically a forced blowoff.  It works, but it takes longer to collect.


I remember seeing something about the braun hefe.  I guess I will skim and discard at 24 hours and skim for repitching at 48.  I am making a starter now with WLP022 (essex).  They say that is a top cropper.  Anyone have experience top cropping this strain?

Ahh, well that makes sense.  Time to experiment with "true" top croppers.  Thanks for the help.

Brief Brewing Background
I have been homebrewing for 9 years (8 of that all grain).  I brew 24-26 times a year (every other weekend) and I usually make 5-6 gallon batches.  For the last 3 years I have been top cropping ale yeast with various different procedures.

Top Cropping Procedures
My current top cropping method isn't very technical and I recently lost a batch of beer so I want to hear from the yeast wizards out there if there is anything they would change.

Typically 48 hours after pitching my yeast, I use a sanitized (starsan) measuring cup and lift the lid of my brewbucket and carefully scoop the yeast on top of the beer and put it in a re-purposed 8 pound size PBW plastic jug (sanitized with starsan).  I always put the plastic jug on a scale (set to measure grams) and I try to collect 100 grams of the foam from the beer, but sometimes I fall short because I pulled all of the foam already.  Then, I sanitize the valve on the brewbucket and pour in about a pint of beer on top of the yeast I collected.  The lid to the plastic jug is fitted with an air lock and I screw this on and let the beer ferment in the small jug for 2 days, then refrigerate.   About 1-3 days in advance of a brew day, I make a 1 quart starter and pour this into the jug and to wake the yeast up and have some (although who knows how much) cell growth.

Now to the beer I lost... I had been top cropping WLP001 since July 2014 and the 15th batch went bad.  All previous batches of beer were good, but I did notice a house flavor developing.  I am not sure if I had bad cleaning and sanitation that led to the bad batch or I slowly picked more contaminates in the yeast that finally took over the pitch.  At any rate, I think going that many generations might be to many so I will start buying a new pitch sooner.

Let me know if you have any questions and thanks in advance for any advice you may have.

Beer Travel / San Antonio
« on: June 09, 2014, 09:58:11 AM »
I will be in San Antonio near the Rivercenter next week while on business travel.  Are there any beer destinations or local beers that I must try while there? 

I have a SS brewing bucket and thought about buying a cooling jacket from cool zone (link below) for fermentation control.  Has anyone used this system, if so what do you think?

Ingredients / Re: Bravo, El Dorado
« on: June 02, 2014, 01:26:34 PM »
I used El Dorado hops for the first time and sampled the beer this past weekend with some fellow homebrewers.  For a point of reference, here is the recipe to the IPA (tasting notes below the recipe)

18 pounds 2 row (96%)
0.75 pounds carpils (4%)
mashed at 153F for 60 minutes

1 oz Millenium 12.9% 60 minutes
1 oz Willamette 4.2% 20 minutes
2 oz El Dorado 15.6% 20 minutes
1 oz Willamette 4.2% 10 minutes
2 oz El Dorado 15.6% 10 minutes
1 oz El Dorado 15.6%  0 minutes

WLP001 (top cropped - 2nd generation)

Original Gravity 1.064, Final Gravity 1.010, IBU 84 calculated

Tasting Notes:
There wasn't as much aroma as expected.  I needed a good carbonation after kegging to get a faint hop aroma.  I smelled a slight tropical hop aroma.  My fellow homebrewers thought the aroma was closer to watermelon rind. 

The taste was very pleasant with no harsh bitterness.  I quickly picked up the taste of the El Dorado hops as most closely resembling a pear.  This was seconded by one of my friends.  It is possible that the Willamette hops played into taste, but largely I felt the El Dorado dominated.  It is a very palatable hop, but it isn't an aggressive one.  I think this would be a good base of hop oils with other combinations of hops.  Definitely one to tinker with in IPA recipes.

Make a two stage starter.  See if that yeast is good before you buy more.

Ingredients / Re: Whether or not to dry hop
« on: March 21, 2012, 03:26:38 PM »
My answer, add the dry hops, use lots of late addition hops in the boil, enough bittering addition hops for a firm bitterness, and first wort hops.  Can you tell I love the hops.  Obviously, a brewer with a limited hop supply and budget should scale back, but for me, add plenty of hops always. 


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Batch 500
« on: March 12, 2012, 06:26:22 PM »
VERY IMPRESSIVE.  I brew 5 gallons every other week, about 26 batches a year and I have been pretty consistent with that for 6 years.  So, I estimate I have brewed approximately 150, not close to 500 though.

Equipment and Software / Re: Proper Drill for Milling Grain
« on: September 28, 2011, 05:53:23 PM »
After reading these posts and doing some homework, I opted for the 1/2 heavy duty low speed drill from harbor freight in my earlier post.  Drill specs are:
variable speed control from 0 to 550 rpm
double gear reduction motor for increased torque
120 volts, 7.5 amps

Someone mentioned that this may be too much drill... nah... let her rip, lol.  Thanks for your help.  I can't wait to brew a double IPA and mill the grain with this bad boy.

Equipment and Software / Re: Proper Drill for Milling Grain
« on: September 27, 2011, 06:23:31 PM »
I browsed the internet and found this:

What do you think about that drill.  Like I say, I am not sure what I need to get the job done.

Equipment and Software / Proper Drill for Milling Grain
« on: September 27, 2011, 05:53:43 PM »
I have a barley crusher  and have hand cranked grain for about 5 years.  At some point in time, I will have to replace my grain mill.  But, I also want to buy a drill and hook it up to the grain mill - I am tired of the hand crank.  I wanted to know about homebrewers  experiences using drills to power their mills, and what kind of drill should I buy?  I really know nothing about the various power tools out there and I feel lost looking at all the models speeds etc. for power drills.  All I can say for sure, is that I am leaning towards a corded drill and I prefer to have it cost less $100.  Let me know what you all think and thanks in advance.

Beer Recipes / Re: Recipe Ideas for the Hophead
« on: September 17, 2011, 05:03:23 AM »
Good suggestions everyone.  I have done some of ideas mentioned here.  A couple of summers ago, I did a series of single hopped beers (keeping the grist the same).  I have also made beers with piles of late hops and dry hops and I love them both.  I also agree with becoming your own critic, because I rarely brew to style.  Here are some ideas I have including one recommended by Denny above:

1) all munich IPA
2) IPA with a small of oak cubes (maybe just 1) in with the dry hops
3) the hell with an IBA - I want  to make porter/stout base with an IPA hop bill
4) And, I want to try a few different hops (maybe a pile of noble hops, late hopping)

Any other ideas welcome and thanks for your thoughts.

Beer Recipes / Recipe Ideas for the Hophead
« on: September 11, 2011, 12:40:55 PM »
As my username suggests, I LOVE hoppy beers.  I have been homebrewing for 5.5 years now and for the last 2.5 to 3 years, I have always had a very hoppy beer on tap/bottled or fermenting.  An american pale ale/IPA (but with higher hopping rates that bjcp style guides) is my favorite. 

I want to get some "interesting" recipe ideas from the forum.  But, I know that I will not be happy with drinking a malty beer.  All my recipes generally average a ratio of IBU to GP of 1.0 to 1.5.  Essentially, I want to experiment with different flavors for my hoppy beers.  Got any suggestions for the insane hophead?  Let me have 'em and thanks in advance.

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