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Topics - dmtaylor

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If you hadn't seen it already, there is an interesting article in the March/April 2018 issue of Zymurgy discussing results of DNA testing of 96 assorted strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

As a science nut, I was deeply captivated by the article, and went ahead and pulled up the source paper for full details.  I then proceeded to spend probably about 20 hours reviewing everything line by line in an attempt to blend (1) the official scientific results with (2) my own personal (flawed?) knowledge and intuition in order to come up with some additional conclusions and hypotheses, which I will admit are probably not 100% correct, but which people might find interesting nonetheless as food for thought and discussion.

So I thought I might share.  Feel free to rip this stuff to shreds.  But I think it's pretty dang interesting to think about.  My own personal summary of the whole thing based on my own interests, experience, and intuition:

A) All beer yeast as we know it today has been in existence for only 400 years.
B) As such, prior to 1600, beers were likely entirely different than we experience today.
C) At least 9 "lager" strains out there are actually Sachharomyces cerevisiae ("ale" yeast).
D) Wyeast 1007/WLP036 is derived from bread yeast, explaining its vigor and bready character.
E) The smaller Beer 2 clave has a tendency for high attenution as it can eat maltotriose.
F) One abbey strain is a cousin of the Beer 2 clave, totally unrelated from all other beer yeasts since <1600.
G) One abbey strain originated from wine yeast.
H) 3 abbey strains are actually English in origin, while 3 remaining are distinctly Belgian.
I)  2 Belgian abbey strains and 1 English-derived abbey strain are unable to produce any clove.
J)  Duvel yeast WLP570/1388 is confirmed to be a daughter of McEwan's WLP028/1728.

Go ahead.  Think about the stuff.  See if it makes any sense to you.  Provide your own thoughts.  Have fun with it.

Link to the source paper, FYI:

The Pub / Margaritas and Whiskey Old Fashioneds...
« on: February 10, 2018, 02:35:24 AM »
...are some of the reasons I only drink about 2 beers per week on average.


I don’t know what the hell happened..... I brewed a decent rye stout (akin to an oatmeal stout), which has all the right flavors, nutty, cocoa, coffee, etc....... except the finished beer, ready to package, has this really crazy harsh bitterness to it.  And the IBUs aren’t even high, or shouldn’t be.  Recipe is below.  Mash pH was dead-on at 5.4 (room temp).  Water is from Lake Michigan, which is pretty moderate, same as I usually use, nothing too odd.  I added a touch of baking soda and gypsum (1/8 tsp each) when mash was done to try to match a British water profile, but that was about it for water treatment.  Four or five things I did with this brew that I don’t normally do:

1) I used Munton’s ale yeast.  The last time I used this yeast was at least 15+ years ago.  I just figured it was time to give it another try, it’s been so long and it’s still available.  I think I liked that yeast at the time, didn’t have trouble with it, but it’s hard to remember.

2) I added the dark roasted grains in the last 15 minutes of a 60-minute mash.  Usually I would mash everything the whole time, but figured I’d try something different, to hopefully smooth out the roast character.  In a way, I kind of think it worked, but maybe had the opposite effect?!

3) I used Phoenix and WGV hops.  I have never used those before in my life.  Phoenix I thought smelled AWESOME in the boil -- spicy and very “hoppy” in a general sense.  I’d use it again I think.  The WGV.... meh.....

4) I toasted 2 oz of the Maris Otter at 350 F for about 12-13 minutes, just about an hour prior to brewing with it, just long enough for the entire kitchen to smell awesome.  However, I have also heard that toasted malts need a couple of weeks(?!) to “mellow” and “avoid harshness”?!  I have used toasted Maris Otter in the past and didn’t get a harshness, so I kind of don’t know what to think here.

And one other thing is that efficiency was unexpectedly 91% with this batch.  Usually I get about 82%.  Not sure what was up with that, but I actually diluted with some distilled water to bring OG back down.

I am BJCP Certified, so I can tell you in a somewhat qualified manner that the beer has no other off-flavors except for the bitterness.  I have tasted it three separate times during fermentation.  It is NOT astringent, not puckering in any way, and not tart either, not yeasty, no DMS or chlorophenol or anything like that.

The bitterness could be from the water or the baking soda addition I think maybe, especially if the local water utility suddenly had something weird happen.  But like I said, I measured mash pH and it was fine.  The pH was measured just one time, about 15 minutes after hitting mash temp which was about 150 F. 

Could the bitterness somehow  be from adding the dark grains later in the mash?  This would have lowered the mash pH but I never measured it.  The beer does NOT taste tart.  I brewed in a bag (BIAB) but I never ever squeeze, instead I dunk-sparge, essentially a batch sparge but in a bag into a new container of hot water, with equal 1st and 2nd runnings.  The sparge water I think was about 190 F, around there, it had been boiled then allowed to cool slightly for ~10 minutes, but combined with 145-ish temperature grain bag, the temperature should have been fine.  After the sparge, I poured 100% of the sweet wort through a double thickness mesh to strain out larger particles prior to boil.  I didn’t measure pH of the sparge, but since it was essentially batch sparge, I wouldn’t think I’d need to.  Maybe I should have!?

This is frustrating to me because the beer tastes great IF you can ignore or put up with the harshness.  The first time I tasted a sample, I’ll admit I really hated the beer, it seemed really gross to me and I became very worried that this could turn out to be a dumper.  But then tasting a second time a few days later, I loved the beer!  It is indeed complex and tasty.  Then today, I had mixed feelings.  I detected the harsh bitterness the first time, but did NOT pick it up the second time, and then seemed to have been able to combine both perceptions of good & bad today.  Perhaps this will be a beer that will improve with age, or one where I’ll need to be in a special mood for a particularly acrid stout.  I dunno.  I think it is worth saving.  I’ll bottle it up tonight or tomorrow no matter what.  I just want to be able to enjoy the beer every time I drink it, instead of picking up crazy harsh bitterness half the time or whatever.

One other thing I am wondering about is the toasted Maris Otter, which was made immediately prior to brewing.  Could this have really affected the perception of harsh bitterness this much?!  It was only about 3% of the total grist.

Did I use too much dark roasted grains?  I do not believe so.  It’s not even a jet-black beer, but only a deep brown.

Do you all have good ideas on how I might be able to “fix” this?  Is this reversible, maybe??  I don’t want to add lactose because I only got 57% attenuation with Munton’s ale yeast as it is, so it sure doesn’t need lactose!  Would any kind of water treatment help?  Perhaps I should test the final beer pH and/or run some little experiments in several samples with different salt additions to see if it does anything?  What should the final uncarbonated beer pH be for a stout??  Temperature will be about 50 F.  Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated!!


Rye Stout
2.6 gallons

Brewhouse Efficiency = 91%

60-minute mash at 150 F
45-minute boil

Roast Barley 5.50oz
Rye Malt 5.00oz
Maris Otter 3.00lb
Crystal 80 3.00oz
Chocolate Malt 3.00oz
Maris Otter Toasted 2.00oz
Victory Malt 1.50oz
Black Patent 1.00oz
Phoenix 0.50oz (6.7% alpha, 40 minutes)
WGV 0.50oz (7.1% alpha, 3 minutes)
Munton’s ale yeast (only a buck, baby!)

By the way.... fermentation took off VERY fast within about 6 hours after pitching, but took about 8-9 days to hit terminal gravity.  I began the ferment in the basement at about 59 F, then when things slowed after ~4 days I brought upstairs to 68 F where it’s been for about 5 days now.  I’d use this yeast again I think as an alternative to Windsor or Wyeast 1099, but not if you believe it might have caused the weird harshness.  I don’t think it was the yeast.  But I’m all ears!

If you’ve made it this far and have some ideas to share, thanks so much!  Cheers!

General Homebrew Discussion / MoreBeer forum is apparently dead
« on: January 23, 2018, 01:50:54 AM »
I just attempted to go to the MoreBeer forum to see if there were any posts over the past couple weeks, only to find.... the link is dead.  I couldn't find any link on the main site either.  They weren't getting any traffic anymore for the past couple years, so I guess they finally pulled the plug.  About 10 years ago it was a pretty hip forum.  Wonder who's next.

Old/dead link:

Homebrew Competitions / Manitowoc County Fair Home Brew Competition
« on: August 03, 2017, 02:17:41 AM »
Looking for a small competition to maybe medal in?  Or just would appreciate a bit of certified and unbiased feedback on what you've been brewing?  Then why not enter the Manitowoc County Fair Home Brew Competition?  Only $5 per entry.  Brought to you courtesy of the Manty Malters Homebrew Club and the Manitowoc County Expo Center, Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  Must register online by August 6, so do not delay!  AHA and BJCP sanctioned.

I see I got an upgrade.  Cool!   8)

Questions about the forum? / Separate Subforum for Low Oxygen Brewing?
« on: January 30, 2017, 07:34:08 PM »
I figured this *might* be a good way to see what everyone is truly feeling on this topic.

Results will not be posted for the first 5 days.

I will add the fact that Bryan requested something like this in the past (and Bryan, feel free to comment below if you've changed your mind at all):

Cheers all.

Yeast and Fermentation / Are We All Overpitching All Dry Yeasts?!
« on: August 08, 2016, 09:11:30 PM »
The following thread prompted a eureka moment for me just now: Are we all in fact overpitching with all of our dry yeasts?

As many of us already know, dry yeasts are super reliable and shelf stable.  Even a 2-year old (or older!) packet of dry yeast can simply be sprinkled on top of 5 gallons of wort and immediately get to work in a matter of 12-16 hours, and typically will finish its job as quickly if not quicker than a huge starter of liquid yeast.

So..... what the hell is going on?  What's so special about dry yeast?

And then there's the continuing complaints over "my Belgian or hefeweizen is too clean".  I wonder: Is it just too darn easy for us to all overpitch when we use dry yeast?  These yeasts basically require some stress in order to give us the best flavors.  But if we always pitch 11 grams into 5 gallons, isn't that way too much to stress out these yeasts??

I wonder if maybe the dry yeasts are really all TOO good, TOO healthy, and there's TOO much placed into each packet, such that maybe, just maybe, we should really only be pitching 1/4 to 1/2 of a dry yeast packet into any given batch of 5-6 gallons of wort.  Thus we can expect all those esters and phenols, as applicable, plus save some of the yeast packet for next time, as well as save some money on yeast, and all without having to ever make any yeast starters.

Thoughts?  Are dry yeasts just TOO good to pitch the whole pack???

These questions might cause some folks to become excited.  I'm just thinking out loud.  But I do think there might be something to all this, especially for Belgians, German hefes, and maybe even the S-04 and Notty but more experiments would be needed to confirm and I don't know if anyone would dare pitch just 1/4 or 1/2 pack of S-04.  That one I might worry about.  But it might also be interesting to know if anyone has ever tried this and what the results were.

You've come to the right place!  May all our posts be archived until kingdom come or until we lose interest, whichever comes first.  Keeping fingers crossed...  ;D

It seems I haven't brewed for almost 6 months -- yikes!  I'm really intrigued by that 100% oat malt idea though, might need to try that sooner than later!  Otherwise I have the ingredients for a 19th century American stock ale on deck for random brewing purposes, hopefully sometime in February.

I still need to bottle all my cider and cyser from October, it's all done and ready to rock.  The wild fermented one in the back of the fridge is not bad but not great either, has a slight acetone flavor.  The others are great.  I made four batches in all.

Sometime this year I really still want to run an exbeeriment to determine the impact of high vs. low efficiency on finished beer flavor.  I have the experience to dial in my efficiency to whatever I want, from 50s to 90s, so I figure I'm the right guy to run this, with the only variables being efficiency and total weight of malt.  Someone give me a round tuit again, as I seem to have lost the last one.

Feel free to insert your own random comments here -- might possibly turn into an accidental interesting thread, maybe, or maybe not.  Happy brewing, all.

So... I was listening to an old Basic Brewing Radio podcast (I believe it was, and they brought up an idea for experimentation that I think deserves some exploration.

The question is: Why do we heat up the strike water alone to 170-190 F then mix with the grain to hit 150s?  Why do we not heat it all up together?  Assuming we have direct heat capabilities (not possible with a cooler mash tun), why not dough-in the grain with the usual 1-3 qts/lb water at room temperature, then ramp up the whole mash together to 150 F?

This might be even more feasible with smaller batches where temperatures will not linger in the protein rest and beta amylase zones for too long before hitting the alpha range.  However it will guarantee that you get through at least a brief sort of acid rest, beta-glucan, protein, everything, and you would also have the opportunity to easily step mash if desired, stopping for rests along the way as desired.  This is all contingent on having direct heating equipment that could handle it.  Personally I’m most interested in this technique because I brew small 1.7-gallon batches all the time, so it would of course be very easy for me to experiment with.

Unfortunately I do not brew very often these days so it would be some time before I can come up with any results on my own.  But of course I wanted to throw this idea out there for anyone else who might like to try it, or who might already have any experience with it.

One theory about all this, also discussed on BBR, is that the resulting beer might be lighter in body and have less head compared to the traditional single infusion strike at 150-ish since it goes through some period of time in the protein and beta zones, breaking down proteins and starches more than you’d get otherwise.  However this won’t stop me from experimentation!  Who knows... where personal preference comes into play, you might find you like this method better than the traditional way.  When I run my batches, I am not actually going to step mash and make any rests along the way.  I’m just going to crank up the heat from room temp to about 140 F, then back off and coast up to 150 F.  Then I’ll get some idea of the difference between this and traditional strike water mashing.

Thoughts??  This isn’t an original idea and has probably been toyed with for centuries, but I really don’t know exactly what to expect until I try it for myself.  Sounds like fun to me, and I really don’t think it will ruin anything -- it will still be making good beer!  At least I believe so.

Zymurgy / New AHA Member Can't Login to Member Content!
« on: October 26, 2013, 01:24:20 PM »
New member here... I've tried dozens of times to get into eZymurgy, and every time, I receive an error message as if they have no idea who I am, even though I paid the $44 and set up a profile with my name and address and everything.  I have successfully reset my password a couple of times and that has not helped either.  So what gives?!  I also emailed a couple of days ago, to no avail.  What's the deal!?  Maybe no one works on Fridays?  Or I am just very impatient!  Any help would be much appreciated.

David M. Taylor
Two Rivers, WI

Homebrewer Bios / Brewer Bio: David M. Taylor
« on: June 30, 2013, 03:58:32 PM »
Name: David M. Taylor
City: Two Rivers, WI
Advice: When in doubt, keep it simple, smaller is better, and mash at 150 F for 40 minutes.  It ain't rocket science.  Just don't forget the Campden if using chlorinated water.  That's about it.

I am normally an all-grain brewer, but at the request of a friend, recently I came up with an extract/mini-mash recipe for Bud Light.  And then I was thinking, I might actually want to give this recipe a try in my own house, as it is just crazy enough that it might actually work.  And I want this beer to be as dry as possible, no residual sweetness to speak of, just like the real Bud Light.  All distilled water would be used, maybe even a little acid to help bring the mash pH down.  However, I also know that the various extracts in the market today have different attenuability depending on which manufacturer, i.e., some extracts won't ferment down below 1.018, no matter what you do or how much simple sugar or adjuncts you add or whatever.  But.... what if it were possible to level this playing field?  What if you could use ANY manufacturer's extract and still get reasonably consistent results in regards to high attenuation (goal would be 1.010 or less).  Since this is a mini-mash beer, what would happen if you used the following process?:

1) Steep a pound of crushed 6-row malt in a bag (mini-BIAB) in about 3 quarts of water at 147 F for 75 minutes.
2) Pull the bag out, but while the enzymes are still active, add all your extract, ensure it is all dissolved, and also let THAT sit at 147 F for another ~20 minutes.  A small amount of heat will need to be added to bring temperature up, but since there's only 3 quarts of sweet wort at this point, this is not difficult at all.
3) After "mashing" the extract for ~20 minutes using the dissolved enzymes from the grain, add all the rest of your brewing water (total of 6 gallons), bring up to a boil, and brew as normal (5 gallon recipe).

The theory is that the high enzymatic content of the 6-row will be plenty to break down any complex sugars that may be in the extract -- you could extend the extract "mash" to an hour or more if you wanted the beer to be as dry as possible, but my guess is 20 minutes would suffice.  Then add your water and brew as normal.

I have a feeling this will work, and I kind of want to try it.  What do the other all-grain mashing experts think?  Has anyone else tried anything similar to this process before?  How did it turn out??

General Homebrew Discussion / Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale "Style"
« on: April 20, 2011, 07:58:25 PM »
I can't help but be hypercritical of the relatively new "style" called Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale.  Answer me this -- How is it much different from existing BJCP style categories, including:

12B Robust Porter -- allowed to be heavily hopped
13E American Stout -- many of them fit here and aren't far from the benchmark, Rogue Shakespeare Stout
13F Russian Imperial Stout -- any of your stronger versions likely fit here

To those who think Black IPA is the next big thing -- Please take a step back and ask yourself, is it not just a big bunch of hype, and in reality just more of the same?  If you want to be a trendsetter, more power to you, as there is ground to be broken in many areas, but don't expect educated jerks like me to give you any credit for reinventing the wheel.   :o

Another peeve of mine is that the term Black IPA is inherently illogical, for if it were spelled out, it would be a contradiction in itself.  A black pale ale?  Really?!  Which is it -- black, or pale?  Just silly.  Call it Cascadian Dark if you must, but don't make yourself look like an idiot by calling it both black and pale.   ::)

What are your thoughts?  Don't care?  No pants?  Shut up?  Ah, yes... the likely response from your typical Gen X/Y/Z American....   :-\


Other Fermentables / Fermentation Temperature for Mead
« on: February 14, 2011, 12:34:28 PM »
I've just made a simple mead with the Wyeast 4184 Sweet Mead yeast.  It is currently at 70 F.  I have made good meads at 70 F in the past; however, now I'm ready to make REALLY GOOD mead that would please even the conneisseurs.  So my question is:

What is the RIGHT temperature to ferment mead using the 4184 sweet mead yeast?


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