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Topics - Richard

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The #CampFire is burning near Chico and Sierra Nevada has closed their brewery until further notice.

Yeast and Fermentation / What to do with a pre-smacked yeast pack?
« on: August 11, 2018, 10:29:07 PM »
I purchased a Wyeast smack pack at the store yesterday and wasn't paying a lot of attention to it at the time, but when I got it home it appears that it has already been smacked. It was refrigerated, so it is not puffed up as much as one that is smacked and left at room temperature, but it is more puffed up than the usual ones. I can't feel the inner packet inside, either. What should I do with this? Can I warm it to room temperature and pitch it into a conventional or SNS starter just like a regular freshly-smacked package?

Yeast and Fermentation / WLP028 krausen won't fall
« on: May 31, 2018, 03:03:31 PM »
I am brewing a Scottish Ale with WLP028 Edinbugh Ale Yeast, and the krausen isn't falling. The gravity dropped to 1.017 (right on target for FG) within 5 days, and there was a 3" - 4" layer of "gooey" krausen on top at the peak of fermentation. There has been no noticeable airlock activity or change in gravity in the following 5 days. The krausen has thinned to about 1/2", but it is still covering the whole surface. I bumped the temperature up from 67 to 70 on day 7, but three days later there is no change. I am now running the temperature down to 60 to see if that will encourage the krausen to drop out. Anything else I can do other that wait it out? Is this typical behavior for this yeast?

Yeast and Fermentation / Any experience with WLP845 ?
« on: April 29, 2018, 04:30:58 AM »
I was perusing the White Labs yeast list and ran across this one. There is almost no information on it. Has anyone used it, and if so can you share some results?

There is a new method of yeast starter growth that produces healthier, more vigorous yeast than you have ever had before. This method is called Sinusoidal Continuous Amplitude Modulation (SCAM). You may have heard of the Shaken Not Stirred (SNS) method that is considered by some to be superior to the use of stir plates. This new method uses a stir plate, but it is not your father's stir plate! The key to this process is the use of a stir plate which has the stirring velocity and frequency continuously changing in a sinusoidal form, hence the name.

All athletes know that the key to building fitness is repeated cycles of stress and recovery. Too much stress and you just break down, too much recovery and you lose ground. The key is the combination, and that is what this method provides for yeast. Ramping up to a high velocity gets the yeast up and moving vigorously and promotes healthy gas exchange at the surface. Too much spinning can be stressful, though, so this method ramps down the speed to allow the yeast to rest and recover a bit, but before they have a chance to get flabby the velocity starts up again at the start of another cycle.

But wait, there's more! The yeast would soon adapt to a basic sinusoidal modulation, which is easily predictable. To make things more interesting the frequency of the modulation is varied in a way that produces Bessel sidebands that are unprecedented in stir plate history. By modulating the ampltude and frequency with incommensurate frequencies the pattern produced is highly variable and nearly chaotic. The one certainty is that this will produce very robust yeast that can adapt to any wort into which you pitch them. These yeast will never get bored! They are in a continuously-changing environment that is stimulating and challenging but also gives plenty of downtime. Even the strongest Russian Imperial Stout wort will be no match for yeast grown with this method. They will laugh at even the strongest wort and ask for more. You will get the most vigorous and thorough fermentation you have ever seen, regardless of the yeast strain.

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General Homebrew Discussion / Hoppy beer without hops
« on: March 20, 2018, 04:35:54 PM »
Scientists have engineered brewer's yeast to produce linalool and geraniol, molecules that are key parts of the hop flavor profile. This allowed them to produce beer with hoppy flavor without actually adding hops. I hope the links to the articles below will work for people without subscriptions.

Kegging and Bottling / CO2 Stratification
« on: February 16, 2018, 09:48:02 PM »
There was a recent thread about purging of kegs where the stratification of CO2 in kegs was questioned. One post says that we would all be dead if CO2 sank down and formed a blanket below oxygen. Here is a link to an article in Science magazine which describes exactly that in a geologically active region in ancient Rome.

Here is an excerpt:
 Pfanz and his colleagues measured the CO2 concentration in the arena over time. During the day, the sun’s warmth dissipates the gas. But at night the gas—slightly heavier than air—billows out and forms a CO2 “lake” on the sheltered arena floor. It is particularly deadly at dawn, when the CO2 concentration 40 centimeters above the arena floor reaches 35%, enough to asphyxiate and kill animals or even people within a few minutes, Pfanz says. But concentrations fall rapidly with height.

CO2 stratification is real and can be deadly (or useful, if you are careful).

is there any relation between the quality of the krausen on fermenting beer and the foam on the finished beer? Sometimes I see what I call creamy or gooey krausen and sometimes I see very delicate, lacy foam in the carboy. Is the character of the krausen any indicator of the character of the foam that will be seen in the glass when the beer is finished? So far I haven't seen any correlation.

General Homebrew Discussion / Does grain absorption depend on crush?
« on: December 10, 2017, 05:47:53 AM »
This question was raised on the BeerSmith forum, but has not been answered. It was asked in the context of BIAB, where some people grind very fine. Does that make any difference to how much water is absorbed by the grain?

General Homebrew Discussion / Microgravity Brewing
« on: November 28, 2017, 11:36:55 PM »
No, I'm not talking about extremely weak beer, I am talking about brewing in outer space. Budweiser has announced that they want to be the first beer on Mars, and they are sending some barley to the International Space Station as the next step ( )

The articles I have seen have focused on the problems of growing barley and hops, but not on the challenges of brewing beer. Mars itself has a gravity about 1/3 that of Earth, so brewing there might be similar to the way we do it, but on a space station or ship with essentially zero gravity, there would be a number of issues. Here are a few I thought of. What else?

    You wouldn't be able to lauter in any normal way because you have no gravity to help separate wort from grains.

    Boiling would be odd, with bubbles just sitting in the middle of the liquid without anything to make them rise.

    Break material and hops would not settle out in the kettle.

    You would not have krausen rising or CO2 venting off the surface during fermentation

    Yeast would clump together but would not fall to the bottom of the fermenter on their own.

    Pouring a glass and drinking it would be a different experience because the bubbles would not rise and create foam on the surface. You would just get a glass with all the carbonation still in the liquid. Astronaut's sinus passages tend to clog in the absence of gravity, so the  carbonation would behave differently and would not carry flavors up into your nose. The beer would be lacking in taste (but it's Budweiser anyway, so you might not be able to tell).

Most of these challenges could probably be met with some combination of centrifugal force, liquid and gas pumps and filters, but it would be pretty complicated. How do you take a sample from a spinning fermenter?

Any other issues or challenges? Any brilliant ideas on how to conquer these?

General Homebrew Discussion / Dry hop time: how much does cold crash count?
« on: November 28, 2017, 05:02:57 AM »
If I add dry hops to my fermenter, then cold crash 3 days later and keep the beer cold for 3 days, does that count as 6 days of dry hopping or only 3 days? It seems to me that since the cold crashing drops all the hops to the bottom and slows down all chemical processes, the cold time should not count as much as the warm time for the hops to contribute flavor and aroma. On the other hand, the hops are still in contact with the beer and still contributing flavor compounds, just at a lower rate. How do the cold days rate relative to the warm days when tallying days of dry hopping?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Gordon Biersch Chum dry-hopped Irish Red Ale
« on: November 13, 2017, 03:25:18 AM »
Gordon Biersch, in San Jose CA, has made a beer to honor the San Jose Sharks hockey team. It is called Chum, and it is an Irish Red Ale. I love the wordplay, but I really don't like the beer. It has a taste that I really don't care for. Can anyone tell me what that flavor is and/or where it comes from so I can avoid it in the beers I brew?

From the website at :

This dry-hopped blood red ale features a rich malt bill, complemented by a spicy hop aroma from imported Hallertau and Tettnang hops. A smooth yet powerful beer just like the San Jose Sharks lineup. This ale will leave you circling for more.

I have used Hallertau hops before and they are not the issue. It is either something in the malt bill or the Tettnang hops. I think it is in the malt, but I'm not sure.


General Homebrew Discussion / Any reason to cold crash a stout?
« on: October 28, 2017, 03:07:08 PM »
Does cold crashing do anything other than help to deliver clear beer? I have a stout that is so dark that clarity doesn't matter, so I am thinking that there is no point to cold crashing. I bottled a dark brown beer a couple of weeks ago that used WY1335 yeast that I cold crashed for a few days, and it hasn't carbonated properly in the bottles. I am wondering if I took too much yeast out of suspension with the cold crash. I used the same procedure I have many times before and this is the first time I have had a problem.

All Grain Brewing / How to get pH of modified from Bru'nWater
« on: October 18, 2017, 11:00:29 PM »
I use Bru'nWater to choose my water modifications, but I like to take the finished profile and put it into BeerSmith so I have all the brewing information in one place. BeerSmith wants a pH for the water, but Bru'nWater doesn't give me that, it only gives me a mash pH. It seems like it shouldn't be hard to get the pH of the modified water from all the Bru'nWater inputs, and I was surprised that it isn't there. Am I missing something?

Yeast and Fermentation / Vigorous fermentation with no krausen -- why?
« on: August 09, 2017, 09:49:53 PM »
Two of my last Irish Red Ale brews have fermented vigorously but without any foam. The first one finished fermenting in 24 hours, and the carboy had a lot of swirling and upwelling action going on. It almost looked like it was boiling, but the temperature was 67 F. I decided I must have pitched too much yeast and that all of the motion essentially stirred all the foam back into the liquid. The beer tasted fine, so there was no infection or contamination. I did several more brews that went normally, then I tried the Irish Red Ale again. This time I made a much smaller starter. When I shook the carboy to aerate the wort I noticed that it did not get a thick foam cap on it as I am used to seeing. This time the fermentation was slower, and there was a bit of foam, but again no thick krausen layer. There was a bit of the brown gooey stuff that forms on top of the krausen and then gets pushed to the edges. The beer tastes fine, so there is no infection or contamination.

The one thing that these two brews have in common that is different than the others is that I used Malting Co. of Ireland Ale Malt for the base malt (8-9 lbs out of 12 total). This malt is supposedly very low in protein, and I wonder if that can be causing the lack of foam. I used WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast, but I have used that yeast before and had no strange behavior, even with this same recipe with a different base malt. Has anyone else had this issue? Has anyone else used this base malt? Any other ideas? ???

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