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Messages - kylekohlmorgen

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Bucket lid problems
« on: January 08, 2015, 11:47:54 AM »
I'm sorry in advance for this novel-sized reply.

I’m a long-time bucket fan for all phases of fermentation.
I use buckets for everything from IPA to lagers to lambic. Primary, short conditioning (‘secondary’), and long-time mixed fermentation.

For sours, I’m often criticized for using buckets (and even by the Mad Fermentationist himself), but I think a few practices significantly limit oxygen pickup.

1.   FILL IT UP. I try to get at least 5.25 gallons in my 6 gallon bucket. My batches that turned to vinegar have been due to under-filled fermenters (both buckets AND carboys). If I’m using a big krausen producer in primary, I use Fermcap and have never had issues with blow-off. For lager strains, most bretta, and 3724, there usually isn’t enough krausen to worry. (Side note: I think blow-off tubes are a potential source of contamination, but that’s another post)

2.   Replace lids often. For long-conditioning beers, I won’t use a lid that isn’t a PITA to remove. It doesn’t take too many cycles for a lid to lose its shape, so those lids get marked “MALT” and are used for grain storage. I’m currently testing some lids with O-rings I found at the LHBS; I’m not yet convinced they fit more or less snug than the regular lids.

3.   Limit opening/sampling. This is probably the reason most homebrewers have issues with buckets. More sample = more oxygen and more wear on the lid seal.

4.   Keep airlocks full. An empty airlock will allow more oxygen in than the lid. I’ve switched to 3-piece airlocks for conditioning buckets. Also make sure that the grommet fits tightly around the airlock. Don’t pull the airlock to fill or ‘peek’.

5.   Healthy, active cultures. I propagate dregs and mixed cultures so they are healthy before pitching into wort. This greatly reduces the overall aging time. My sours are usually ready to keg in under a year, but I’m confident that at least some bretta will stay in suspension for much longer. For clean beers, the same rules apply: healthy yeast and fermentation conditions allow the yeast to protect the beer from oxygen.

6.   Limiting acetobacter exposure. You can’t make acetic acid without oxygen, alcohol, and acetic acid bacteria. I try to minimize acetobacter in my mixed cultures by stepping up dregs in the bottle and tasting before adding to a culture or batch. I also regularly feed the cultures, which help push oxygen out and keep bretta dominating. It also helps to keep the exterior of bucket and lid clean.

6.   Flush with CO2. If you can, flush the bucket before transfer or even after opening. This is less critical, and I'm guilty of skipping it on occasion, but it will help (again - with buckets or carboys).

WHEW! Sorry again for the diatribe, but hopefully this helps some of my fellow bucket brewers!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: pH question - dead lacto?
« on: January 08, 2015, 09:15:51 AM »
I don't mean to be argumentative Kyle, you have much more experience with sours and various lacto strains that I do. Not sure if the OP is going for a BW, I  just wanted to clarify where I was coming from and what makes sense to me from sources that I trust.  To your point about nutrients and byproducts, to address that I gently swirl my flasks once or twice a day to mix things up a bit. Regarding even temperature, my flasks are in a fermentation chamber at steady temperature rather that a warming pad or band. Any further comments or insight on this would be greatly appreciated.

We're not arguing - its collaborative discussion!

That talk is an awesome reference for lacto fermentations. Good point on oxygen in the fermentor. I was referring specifically to the starter. Sorry I didn't specify. Oxygen is bad for the main lactic fermentation, whether its increasing the risk of aerobic bacterial infection or just oxidation.

Thinking back on it, I may have had oxidation issues with long lacto ferments in the past. I'll definitely be purging my lacto fermentor from now on!

For the OP - I wouldn't worry too much about it. Your LHBS was right - be patient, check it in a few weeks, and then react if needed. Sour beer is all about patience and RDWHAHB.

Ingredients / Re: chile mulato
« on: January 08, 2015, 07:06:44 AM »
Honestly - if you like the flavor of the chile (or want to make its flavor a central component), go with a lighter beer and 'dry-chile' in the keg.

One of my favorite summer homebrews of all time is a chipotle blonde. I was getting tired of my blonde on tap, so I tossed one chipotle into the keg. I left it in for awhile to get a feel for flavor extraction, but since they float their easy to remove. Just fantastic.

Rich stouts are always great. The important thing is richness and body to balance the heat and tannin (much like chiles and sour cream or chocolate). For lower-gravity, use oats and lactose to build richness. Better still is an imperial stout. A favorite here in STL is Abraxas by Perennial - a viscous, rich and chewy imperial stout with chiles, cinnamon, and a touch of vanilla. The FG is north of 1.030 with an ABV of 10%, so the sweetness, alcohol, heat, and complex flavor profile are nicely balanced.

With the description, I'm thinking an old ale might be interesting. I've never had the chile, nor an old ale with chiles, but its an idea.

Now I'm thirsty...

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: pH question - dead lacto?
« on: January 07, 2015, 08:51:11 AM »
I wouldn't use a stir plate either. Oxygenating may inhibit the lacto.

Oxygen doesn't bother the lacto. The stirring action will help bring nutrients to the cells and carry away byproducts, as well as keep heating even.

Warmer is better. I don't think there is much difference between 90-120F, so just keep it as warm as you can without significant fluctuation. Consistent temp (just like with yeast fermentation) is important.

Don't trust your pH meter unless you can calibrate with standard solution(s). The colorpHast strips for mash pH (the expensive ones) are fairly consistent, and they can tell you if your pH has dropped below 4.8.

Depending on hopping rate, gravity, and starter culture health, 10 days isn't a terribly long time at ambient temp.

Equipment and Software / Re: Share your brew stands!
« on: January 02, 2015, 02:20:29 PM »
Mine is shown below and is a Work in Progress (same goes for just about everything in my home brewery).

If you're looking for inspiration, mine could use the following improvements:

*A GRANT at the MLT outlet would make life much easier
*Raising the mash cooler off the ground (I use cinder blocks now, but they aren't pictured)
*Pump housing and sample draw (like the BYO pump tool box project)
*Sparge water manifold on the cooler lid - this model of cooler does not hold temps well, and cracking the lid to sparge doesn't help!
*Plate chiller
*More tubing and valves to switch from vorlauf to kettle
*More permanent sparge manifold - the current design likes to detach mid-mash (pictured)

All Grain Brewing / Re: Brett Mash Temperatures
« on: December 24, 2014, 11:38:31 AM »
...You'll end up with a lot of brett character whether you mash at 158 or 152. Brett finds plenty to eat no matter what...


Brett will metabolize (and create flavor compounds from) many things in beer. Think about a brett saison, or Orval - very dry beers that continue to develop brett character as they age.

That being said, traditional ordinary bitters are brewed to maximize body. Otherwise, such a low gravity beer will seem watery and lifeless.

If you want to increase the perception of body in this beer, mash high (160F wouldn't be too high). I like to no-sparge when mashing for body to minimize temperature drop during sparging. You can also increase the perception of body with adjuncts: flaked barley, oats, or rye.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Beer Gun Tips
« on: December 23, 2014, 12:43:45 PM »
...I'm wondering if a little more pressure would have been better for the beer gun...

Yep - if there is foam in the line, it means CO2 is coming out of solution. 2 PSI is pretty low, so slowly increase the pressure until the beer flows through without foaming.

Steve has a point - cold helps. If you chill the beer down while its on CO2, make sure you account for it in your carb pressure setting.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Jolly pumpkin dregs
« on: December 20, 2014, 08:13:47 AM »

The brewers in Ann Arbor say that JP uses WLP-550 as the primary strain.

Thanks, Jeff. Man I love their Ann Arbor brewpub. I stop by anytime I'm remotely close.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Jolly pumpkin dregs
« on: December 19, 2014, 01:47:27 PM »
I managed to acquire several bottles of Jolly Pumpkin (big fan) of which I am hoping to harvest the dregs and add to a little wort to sustain them until I'm ready to toss into some wort.  Does anyone know if the yeast and/or bugs located within the bottles are all the same or different for each bottle?  Do sour beers like Jolly Pumpkin typically contain live cultures of lactobacillus or Pedio?

I've used JP dregs a few times and I love their contribution. Very distinct flavor profile ('tastes like JP') and very active. I've gotten great (and relatively quick) results from simply pitching the dregs into a keg or carboy.

I don't think you don't need to prop up the dregs, unless you're pressed for time or want to keep a culture going. In general, fresher bottles of lower gravity beers (Bam, Blanca, etc) are best for propagation/culturing.

The bugs are the same throughout their lineup. They use Belgian ale yeast for primary (WLP550?) in open fermentors, then rack to barrels that contain their local microflora.

I think you could AT LEAST use it as a cleaner/sanitizer work horse. With a good cleaning, you should be able to remove any chemical residues, as long as those residues (or residual water, etc) haven't corroded the interior.

I would check the inside for pitting or rouging. Ideally, you'd want to check if it seals under low pressure (5 psi or so).

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Brett Brux, secondary fermentation duration
« on: December 05, 2014, 08:40:09 AM »
Thanks a bunch dude. That's basically what I had in mind, but needed corroboration.

Acerolas do have pits, but I removed them and did a reduction before adding it in at the end of boiling.

Any Idea on how time would affect sourness vs funkyness?

As far as tasting, the beer is in a glass carboy and I've read and been told that breaking the pellicle is a sin, as oxygen might sour up the beer.

But at this point I'm leaning towards bottling and praying. FG should be very low, since it was under 1.005 when I transferred to secondary. And that was over 3 months ago.

Mort is steering you in the right direction.

I just wanted to add that the beer is 'ready' for bottling as soon as the gravity stops dropping. With brett in secondary, I'll take a gravity reading once every few weeks and bottle/keg when I get two or three constant gravity readings.

I certainly would not toss any beer without giving it a taste first.  If that's a brett pelicle it may turn into something wonderful.

This is my brewing motto.

Let it sit for awhile, taste every month or so. If it develops a nice character (or not), report back on this post!

One thing to consider - in the photo, I see that you're using a plastic fermentor. You can try to wash/sanitize,  but I wouldn't count on completely removing the brett. This fermentor (and all soft parts used: airlock, lid, tubing, etc) may infect future batches.

If this beer turns out well, KEEP the equipment and use it for sour/funky beers, or beers that you'll turn over quickly. If the beer develops weird/unpleasant flavors, pitch them.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Repitching Wyeast 3724
« on: November 15, 2014, 02:07:51 PM »
I found that the heat of fermentation would not increase the fermentor temperature - to step up the temp, I would have to increase the heating belt set point.

Anyone else have this issue? I'll continue to post updates - using the harvested slurry in a rebrew this week.

At homebrew volumes I don't think the fermentation is sufficiently exothermic to get that much warmer than room temperature. I always have to use a heating element for assistance.

My thoughts exactly.

This is why I stress the dual-stage controller.

The words 'free rise' don't really mean anything to me as a homebrewer.

Brewing today. Late start (3PM mash in) and it just started snowing!

The March/April 2014 article of Zymurgy had an article called "Homebrewing Vintage Beers" in which Patrick Dawson suggests to ferment at higher temps to create esters, phenols and fusels which with enough age will change into desirable flavors.  The author says "Many commercial brewers with vintage beer pedigrees keep their primary fermentation temperatures in the 80s and (very occasionally the 90s)." The only given example of a non-Belgian yeast fermented at higher temps is White Labs WLP002 (English Ale).  I'm interested in fermenting a Russian Imperial Stout at higher temps.  Any yeast recommendations?

Another example of how commercial process may not carry over to the homebrew scale.

It could be a number of factors (their house yeast has evolved to handle hot temps, fermentation size/pressure, etc), but what really matters is what works in your brewery.

For a dark, malty RIS, there are plenty of flavor compounds from kilned/roasted malt that will slowly transform into lovely aging characteristics over time (if kept properly). Even in a healthy fermentation, the high sugar content provides enough stress to produce esters.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Repitching Wyeast 3724
« on: November 14, 2014, 12:11:18 PM »
What does the extra conditioning time do with this strain?...

The saison has some 'rough edges' which mellow out after a few weeks of conditioning (around 62F).

I also get some alcohol heat and astringency immediately after fermentation which drops out during this conditioning phase. Thinking about it, the alcohol could just be from the relatively high temperature of the sample (76F-80F) and the astringency could be from a high amount of suspended yeast.

It also took approx. 3 weeks to reach FG = 1.006, though it reached 1.009 in 10 days.

I have a saison I just brewed with 3724 and 1/4 packet of belle saison...

I was concerned Belle or 3711, even in a small amount, would start fast and takeover the fermentation profile. Brett is slower to start in primary, but the strain I used provides a wonderful (but restrained) layer of complexity. The increase in shelf life and complexity with age makes it worth bottling.

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