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Messages - kcjaz

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Reusing lager yeast - Update
« on: March 22, 2011, 01:41:40 AM »
OK, here are the final numbers.  To remind everybody, on February 18, I brewed an 11 gal batch of wheat beer.  OG = 1.044.  I had some old yeast slurry saved from a previous lager batch that was brewed on Thanksgiving (Wyeast 2035).  I had periodically been "feeding" this yeast with shots of DME wort.  On brewday, I took this old yeast and made a new starter from a 1/2 gal of my new wheat beer.  I also did the same thing with a brand new smack pack of 2035.  I let the starters do their thing over night while I let the remaining 10 gal of wort chill and settle in the fridge.  The next morning, I racked the work of the trub into new carboys and pitched each starter into the wort at 50F.

Both took off pretty quickly. 7 days later on 2/25 the gravities were:

New yeast = 1.013
Old yeast  = 1.014

Today (3/21/2011), after lagering at 33F since 2/25 the gravities are:

New yeast = 1.010-
Old yeast  = 1.010

I put the minus sign after the 1.010 for the new yeast because it was a slightly lower reading than the 1.010 for the old yeast. 

I can't say that I can detect any real flavor difference between the two half batches.  The "old yeast" may be a little sweater but it is barely perceptible, I may even be imagining it.  Both taste really good.  I am certain that any taste difference could only be noticed by tasting each beer side by side.  Tasted months apart, with different batches, you could never tell, there are many more other factors that could cause "identical" homebrew batches to be different (that is part of the fun). 

My conclusion is that the "old yeast" was just fine to use and conversley, the "new yeast" provided no real advantage in the end product.  The only advantage I see for the "new yeast" would be a higher chance of success and and lower chance of something bad happening. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Drainage time
« on: February 28, 2011, 03:31:19 AM »
I go really slow.  I brew 11 gallon batches and sparge 8 gallons through the grain bed and just drain the last three.  It takes me anywhere between 60 minutes to 90 minutes to fill my BK.  I could open up the valve more and go a lot faster but it has always been an experiment I've been afraid to try.  My efficiency is 80 to 85 and I don't generally have clarity issues so I don't think I need to go any slower.  Perhaps I could go faster though with no ill affect.

All Grain Brewing / Re: 5 gallon batches with SABCO mash tun
« on: February 27, 2011, 10:30:02 PM »
Regarding the strike temp calculation, I had a theory that predicted (before I added the recirc pump) I would miss my target temp on the low side due to the "dead space" under the false bottom.  I reasoned that this would happen, because I would effectively only be mixing a lower amount of hot water with the grain above the false bottom and I would have a layer of hot water below the false bottom.  Think of it as a stratified mixture with a "hot" layer under the false bottom.  Given enough time, the heat might rise through the mixture but this would be very slow.  

Well, this never really seemed to happen, in fact, when I first started doing all grain batches, I would overshoot my target by 4 to 5 degrees.  I use Promash to calculate the strike temp.  Now I just subtract 5 from what Promash tells me and I hit the target (more or less).  I just figure that the specific heat vs. temperature assumption for the grain is off a little bit in Promash.  I have to add about 20F to the grain temp entered into Promash to make it match what happens in my mash tun.

All Grain Brewing / 5 gallon batches with SABCO mash tun
« on: February 27, 2011, 06:31:48 PM »
I use a SABCO converted keg for my mash tun and I brew primarily 11 gallon batches.  The way the SABCO mash tun is built there is about 1 gallon of volume below the false bottom.  This means that when I shoot for 1 qt total water per lb of grain the mash ends up thicker because of the liquid below the false bottom.  For example, with 20 lbs of grain, I need 5 gallons (20 qt) of water for 1:1 but what is really happening above the false bottom is 16 qt of water mixed with 20 lbs of grain for a 0.8 qt/lb ratio.  This has never really seemed to cause any problem and sometime I do two infusions with the first one a little thicker than 1:1 and the second one ending up thinner at 1.2 or so.  I use a recirc pump and I've got my process up to about 85% efficiency.  It all seems to work fine at 11 gallons.

I want to brew some half batches (5.5 gallons) but I am concerned about the one gallon volume below the false bottom as it will become a greater porportion of the total volume.  If I use a 1:1 ratio, for 10 lbs of grain, I'll be at about a 0.6 ratio above the false bottom which seems too thick and I would think would hurt my efficiency.  Is all I have to do is bump up to 1.4 to keep at 1.0 above the false bottom?  In other words, not count the gallon of water below the false bottom in my water to grain ratio?  Is the only affect here extraction efficiency?  ???

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Reusing lager yeast
« on: February 26, 2011, 05:44:19 AM »
Now they seem to both be going at about the same rate.  I'll rack to secondary on Friday and take a gravity reading and taste test.  So far though, I don't see any ill affect from my old yeast.  The proof though will be in the gravity numbers and the taste.

OK, its Friday now and I racked both carboys to secondary carboys, 6.5 days after pitching (I pitched the yeast last Saturday morning). Gravity data is this:

Old yeast:1.014
New yeast: 1.013

Both were in the same fridge held at 50F.  While it's tempting to say the new yeast did better, I'd say 0.001 difference in gravity after 6.5 days is really, in practical terms, pretty much the same.  The taste between the two was very similar.  I'd say the old yeast was a tad sweater but I think that is just because I knew the gravity was higher.  In a blind test, I don't think I could tell the difference.  There was nothing funky with the old yeast.  Now I'll drop the temp a couple degrees each day down to 36 or so and lager until the gravity levels out.  This is a new recipe so I'm not sure where it will end up but I'm hoping for 1.008 or so.  I'll post the final results when I have then.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Reusing lager yeast
« on: February 23, 2011, 04:07:35 AM »
My old yeast was waht I collected from my last batche's primary and I had fed a couple times so there was a lot of yeast cake. I don't know how much of it was still alive but there was a lot of thick slurry.  The new yeast I pitched was a large activator pack, so a billion cells or whatever it is.  I believe that explains why the old yeast seemed to get going faster.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Reusing lager yeast
« on: February 23, 2011, 02:53:44 AM »
Thanks, that's pretty interesting.  I wonder if the cleaning/feeding kits can be scaled down to 10 gallon batches.  In reality though, the ecomonics of keeping a yeat culture viable for several months seems sketchy compared to just buying another smack pack. 

I decided to try an experiment with the yeast I have stored and fed for 2 months.  Last Friday I brewed an 11 gallon batch of a wheat lager.  I put it in two 5 gallon carboys and put them in the fridge to cool down to 50F and settle over night.  I made one starter out of 1/2 gallon of the same wort and pitched a new smack pack of Wyeast 2035.  I took my 2 month old 2035 yeast and made another started with another 1/2 gallon of the same wort. 

The old yeast started bubbling in about 20 minutes while the new yeast took about 90 minutes to start going.  The next morning I racked the wort off the trub and pitched each starter.  After 24 hours each carboy was going pretty good, each with a nice krausen on top.  The new yeast was producing airlock bubbles at about 1 per 6 seconds and the old yeast was making bubbles faster at about 1 per 3 seconds.

Now they seem to both be going at about the same rate.  I'll rack to secondary on Friday and take a gravity reading and taste test.  So far though, I don't see any ill affect from my old yeast.  The proof though will be in the gravity numbers and the taste.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Wheat beer mash schedule
« on: February 18, 2011, 06:31:56 AM »
Thanks.  I think I'm going to strike somewhere in the 120's and then infuse again at 150 ish and then mash out at 165.  I'm going to use American lager yeast and ferment cold.  Goal is mild tasting lighter beer for my not so adventurous friends that gets them past Bud Lite.  Kind of a public service project.   ;)

All Grain Brewing / Wheat beer mash schedule
« on: February 18, 2011, 04:43:47 AM »
I am going to brew a wheat lager for my next batch (never done a wheat with lager yeast before).  I was looking at some recipes for wheat beers and noticed that for most German hefeweizen recipes seem to use a multi set infusion mash schedule while the american wheats seem to use a single step (with basically the same grain bill).  My theory for why this is, is because Germans tend to prefer complicated over simple.  ;D  In the end though, what impact does this have on the final beer?

Yeast and Fermentation / Reusing lager yeast
« on: February 17, 2011, 05:00:12 AM »
I generally don't try to keep my yeast cultures going and just buy new smack packs each time I brew.  That made sense to me when I was brewing only ales, and only brewing once every 3 to 4 months.  Now though, after getting my brewery set up in a dedicated space in my basement, I'm brewing more often.  I've brewed 4, 10 gallon batches since November and trying to get the cost down by repitching yeast seems like a good idea. 

My basic question is how long can you store yeast?  Is the amount of time the yeast has been stored the big factor or is it the number of batches that the yeast has been used for?  I have some lager yeast that I used for a batch I brewed on Thanksgiving.  I've kegged half the batch but I still have the other 5 gallons in a carboy (secondary) lagering away, with a thin layer of yeast on the bottom.  Could I just transfer the beer off of it and repitch the yeast into my next lager batch?  Should I "wake up" the yeast by feeding it a DME starter and then repitch it?  Does it matter that this is yeast from a secondary not a primary?  I also saved some of the yeast from the primary.  I've been feeding it about once a month by pouring off the beer and giving it fresh wort made from DME.  I was just doing this to experiment and see how much yeast sediment I could get by keeping it active.  Is feeding it periodically necessary or can I just let it sit in the fridge for several months and repitch it into a new batch?

I would appreciate any words of wisdom on this.

Pimp My System / Re: Single Tier Semi-Automated, Lowell Brewing
« on: February 16, 2011, 05:55:07 AM »
Very very cool.  I was proud of myself when I added an indication lamp to tell me I had power to the electric heater in my plastic HLT to help keep it from melting.  I have a ways to go before I get into BCS.  I had not seen BCS before, so thanks for posting.  I love seeing different set ups and everyone's different approaches to automation or lack there of.  Lots of ideas here to think about.

... I was thinking about even building in recipe sharing and some social media type stuff.

you could call it Brewbook...  KCJAZ likes it!   ;D

Pimp My System / Re: 3 tier gas/electric indoor 10 gallon brewery
« on: February 10, 2011, 06:12:36 AM »
You don't run into any carbon monoxide issues with the propane? Does the exhaust fan have enough oomph to pull it all out? Do you also have a fresh air intake somewhere? Just curious as I start to plan...

I use a CO monitor just to be safe but it has never gone off.  CO isn't really the big danger with propane.  The combustion gases need to be vented, so a exhaust hood and fan is a must, especially with a turkey fryer burner Btu capacity.  If you put inan exhaust fan, CO should not be a problem.  It also helps get the beer smell out of the house.  I rather like the smell of brewery but the other members of my household don't share my view on this. 

The real danger with propane is if the flame goes out and you don't notice and propane gets released in the room, or your tank leaks.  If this happens, the propane will settle on the floor because it is heavier than air.  If enough propane leaked out, it could get deep enough that the pilot on your hot water heater could ignite it.  Having propane in the house is not the best solution.  While I have done it myself, it is a temporary solution and I would not recomend others do it.  Maxieboy's comment was dead on.  Using propane turkey fryers indoors should make you nervious.  If you do use propane in doors, you need to understand the hazards and act accordingly.  I never leave the room when the burners are on.  I never run the burners without the exhaust fan on and CO monitor plugged in.  I never store the propane tanks in the basement when I am not brewing.  Natural gas is a much better solution.  It is lighter than air and if it leaks, it will not settle on the floor. Plus, it is way more convenient and cheaper.  No tanks to run out and have to refill.  The only down side is that converting propane burners to natural gas will reduce their Btu capacity.

As for a frech air intake, I do not have one.  I originally thought I would need one and planed to put one in.  My house apparently has enough air leaks though so it isn't a problem.  If you have a fairly air tight house, it could be an issue.  I still plan on adding a fresh air source just so I don't suck in cold air through windows and doors and make my furnace run harder than it needs to.

Pimp My System / 3 tier gas/electric indoor 10 gallon brewery
« on: February 09, 2011, 05:06:43 AM »
I'm new to this forum but have been brewing on and off for 10 years.  When I saw the "Pimp My System" category, I thought it would be great to share some pics.  Then I saw the Hammersmith post and felt like a little leager stepping out on to the field in Yankees Stadium...  In spite of that, I've decided to post my pics anyway.  So, here is my basement brewery.  It is still very much a work in progress, and has been rather organic in its development.  Process first, equipment and gizmos obtained to facilitate or improve my process.  The last mod was adding a water heater heating element to the cooler I use as a HLT.  Before that I boiled the water in the mash tun first then pumped it into the cooler before starting the mash.  With the addition of the electric cook top to my work bench, I'm now completely out of our main kitchen on brew day (wife is happy about that).  Exhaust hood works well and vents to the outside.  Next major mod will be getting rid of the propane and converting to natural gas on the two burners.

Here is the link:

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Amylase Enzyme
« on: February 05, 2011, 10:26:01 PM »
I hear you.  What actually happened when you tried to use it to fix a stuck fermentation that ruined the batch?

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