Author Topic: Getting started  (Read 2316 times)

Offline mattybartender

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Getting started
« on: August 16, 2012, 01:24:19 PM »
Hey all. So I'm going to my local brew supply joint this weekend to get started on this new hobby. I just have a couple questions if you good people have the time to answer. I'm pretty familiar with distillation and I'm hoping some of that can transfer over to this. Obviously it's different, but every time I'm in a distillery, there's a lot of talk of keeping yeast happy and sanitizing everything and such.

I'm thinking about making a Saison for my first run. I love this style (even fought to get the Hennepin Saison on draft at my bar). I'm thinking about doing this because my grandpa's old Pabst thermometer that hangs by my front door reads a regular 80-84 degrees most of the day and I've heard Saison is good to ferment at around 80 degrees. I live in LA and don't have air conditioning. I also want to try steeping some grain along with the malt extract. Does this sound like a good idea? Bad?

Any advice would be more than welcome, both on the type of beer I should try first and any other general tips. Thanks in advance!
Matt Wallace
Head Bartender at Harvard & Stone

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2012, 01:56:46 PM »
First, welcome to the hobby! and the forum.
Saison traditionally is very dry and there are not alot of choices in steeping grains that don't add sweetness. You could steep some dark grains and make a dark saison perhaps, just .25 lbs of carafa or something. I like saison with some non-barley additions, I ussually add some wheat malt to mine so you could use a wheat extract and that would add some interesting character. Maybe add some spices if you really want to play with ingredients. just go easy at first.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline mattybartender

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2012, 02:06:48 PM »
Thanks for the warm welcome. That all sounds crazy cool. I've got a couple wierd ideas for adjuncts later down the road, but for now just kind of want to get the process down. I love the idea of a dark saison!

So the warmish temp. of my apartment shouldn't be too much of an issue with this style?
Matt Wallace
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 02:37:46 PM »
The temp seems too high to me.  I would do what you can to cool the fermenter so that temps stay under 80.  Maybe let it rise after a couple days, but don't start out at 80 ambient.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline brewtrek

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 02:39:27 PM »
As far as your temperature question, I've had fairly good results when it's been that hot in my house with some yeasts. It all depends on the recommendations of your yeast supplier, in my experience, I've noticed a five degree window above and below what the specify in which everything came out okay. I personally like White labs, I've had more consistent fermentation from them than with other suppliers.

Because of time and space, I almost always brew with extract and steeped grain, it's a good way to add body and taste without mashing. Since it comes in a variety of Lovibond, crystal malt can add just what you want for color and body. There are so many options for steeping grains though, that you might want to do some research on any of the brew supply web sites, even if you don't order from them; many will give descriptions on what each grain adds in taste, as well as how much you can use in proportion to your recipe.

Good luck and have fun!

Offline mattybartender

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2012, 02:46:28 PM »
Thanks 'trek. Great suggestion.
Matt Wallace
Head Bartender at Harvard & Stone

Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2012, 02:59:20 PM »
I don't have A/C either and don't have any method of temperature control, which is exactly why I brewed a saison at the height of summer last year. I used White Labs WLP565  (reportedly the Dupont strain) with ambient temps from 75F - 85F and I was very happy with the yeast character that resulted. My 5 gal recipe included (a blasphemous) 12 oz of caravienne and 4 oz of caramunich. The result was a little sweeter  and darker than many commercial saisons, but it was pretty much exactly what I was hoping. So the choice of grains really just depends on the flavor you're shooting for.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 03:03:35 PM »
As far as your temperature question, I've had fairly good results when it's been that hot in my house with some yeasts.

You can certainly make beer at that temperature, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Fermentation generates heat, so the beer will be hotter than the ambient temp.

Hot fermentations can give you strong/hot alcohol flavors as well as fusel alcohols which can give you bad headaches.

You'll be better off if you can cool your fermenter somehow.  Put it in a tub of water, add ice packs, cover it with a damp towel and run a fan on it, whatever.

If you can bring it down close to 70 you will have a much better beer.  I ferment at an ambient temp of 60 and the beer can reach 68 or so at the height of activity.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 04:01:20 PM »
I think on the temp thing, if you have any way to get the wort down well below ambient temp even just at first, clean out the fridge over night and stick the bucket in there sort of thing, it will probably be okay.

I just brewed a saison and had no room in my ferm fridge so I stuck it in the spare bathroom. Well I live in the northern part of the central valley in CA and it was ~100-110 pretty much every day for that ferment. Probably a bit cooler in the bathroom maybe 90-100 ish. I chilled the wort down to 60 overnight in the ferm fridge, the old ale that was in there just sat out over night, and pitched at 60ish then stuck the saison in the shower stall.

final result? full to the brim with yeasty esters but not very much fuesels to speak of. no headache. The starting gravity was only 1.036 though and that might make a difference.

on second thought. I don't think my experience is germain here. I am pretty sure I got a bit of a lacto infection on that batch as well. it's very tart and the bucket was slimy. tastes good though. so fermenting at 100* with WLP565 is doable at least with low gravity wort that was pre-chilled to much cooler than that. and you are increasing your chances of lacto infection given that you are at the low end of lacto's favorite temp range.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline gmac

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 04:52:00 PM »
If you're talking steeping, I'm assuming you're doing extract.  Since it's your first brew, I'd go with just Extra Light DME and 1 lb of white sugar and get your character from the addition of a bit of coriander, ginger and citrus peels at the end of the boil (and not at all necessary but since you want to play around...).  Save the steeping grains for the pale ale you're gonna make in November.

6 lbs of ELDME and 1 lb of sugar will give you a beer in the 1.060 OG range which should end up around 7% ABV, 5 lbs of ELDME would get you closer to 6%.  Add 1.5 oz EKG at 60 and 0.5 oz at 15 mins is all I'd add.

I'd use WY3711 French Saison simply because I've heard that strain is easier to use than the DuPont strain and because I've had great success with it (although I've never used the DuPont strain so I'm just going from what I've been told but 3711 makes a great beer and it really chews down the sugars for a nice dry saison).  I'd also agree about cooling the wort prior to pitching (put it in a tub of ice water if you have to). 

And welcome and don't blame us when the obsession kicks in.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 05:01:14 PM by gmac »

Offline smkranz

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2012, 10:06:27 PM »
About every third beer I brew seems to be a Saison.  Using WLP565 pitch it at about 80°, with lots of oxygen (and if it is a high gravity Saison, add more oxygen after about 15 hours).  Let it rise on its own to as high as it will go, probably 86-88.  When it starts to slow down after a couple days, I personally would keep the temp artificially elevated (space heater in the  bathroom?) for at least a few more days to encourage those yeasties to keep going and not stall.  You want it to dry out, and letting this yeast cool down early will pretty much shut it down.  It is a characterful yeast that likes it hot.  My nicest Saison topped out at about 92°.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2012, 04:27:39 AM »
Saisons are a great choice for the temperature control challenged. But while it may not be optimal the chico strain can be very clean at warmish temps (low 70's).

Welcome to the forum, matty. Great to see some new enthusiasm. It only gets more awesomer!  8)
Keith Y.
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Offline mattybartender

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2012, 09:47:54 AM »
You people are all insane... so I must be in the right place.  ;)

So it sounds like I might be doing the right thing by starting with a saison. Good to know. Thank you all for your input; you guys are the best. I'm going to ask the guys at the homebrew store by me what they think as well, as I'm sure they brew in or around my region of LA.

Anybody have any thoughts on secondary fermentation? Pros/cons? If I understand it correctly (and please correct me if I'm off point) it serves to kind of rest the beer before priming to bottle and aids in clarifying it, yes?

Thank you all again. If you ever need cocktail geek or whiskey advice, I'd be more than happy to return the favor. :)
Matt Wallace
Head Bartender at Harvard & Stone

Offline denny

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2012, 09:56:42 AM »
I think you'll find a quite a number of people (maybe most?) no longer do a secondary in favor of leaving the beer in primary for 3-4 weeks, then bottling or kegging.  It's almost never necessary and increases the (slight) risks of oxidation and infection.  Plus, I'm lazy so why do more work than I have to?  ;)
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Offline mattybartender

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Re: Getting started
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2012, 09:58:51 AM »
Plus, I'm lazy so why do more work than I have to?  ;)

Amen brother.
Matt Wallace
Head Bartender at Harvard & Stone