The walls of my cooler are definitely warped, but it doesn't effect the performance.
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I usually pick my yeast based on the temperatures in my house. I usually go through the list of yeasts from the northern brewer website, my local brew shop, or the wyeast site and pick according to the temperature tolerance and the characteristics I'm going for. It's hard to get too warm for Wyeast 3724, Belgian Saison.
Try an experiment... Make this kit once and then try it again later, but next time substitute one of the of Saflager http://www.fermentis.com/fo/60-Beer/60-31_product_rangeIB.asp dry yeasts instead of the kit's yeast and compare the two profiles.
I think our next big purchase will be a grain mill - any suggestions?
Hmm. I just tilt and rock the carboy back and forth really hard for about 5 minutes. No lifting. Seems to work for me, although I have bought a mix stir recently which is easier, but not helping me built up my biceps ;-)
The production of esters can be affected by both the fermentation temperature and by the yeast pitching rate. Pitching too little yeast encourages more yeast growth and ester production. This is very desirable in Hefeweizens. Overpitching reduces the yeast growth and ester production.