Author Topic: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...  (Read 2740 times)

Offline cowardm

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Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« on: May 07, 2010, 05:57:47 AM »
Hi all,

New to homebrewing and deciding on what to do with batch number four.  So far my first 2 turned out well and my 3rd is due for bottling, so I'm pretty optimistic.  With summer coming up I really wanted something nice and refreshing so I was thinking about the Papazian Linda's Lovely Light Honey Ginger Lager which is based on his Rocky Racoon's Crystal Honey Lager (p210-211). A few questions going into it:

What kind of yeast to use?
I don't have refrigeration for my carboy so I will be fermenting at room temps.  Also, I tend to like the flavor profiles of ales more so than lagers.  The recipe calls for American lager or Pilsener-type yeast.  I was thinking that since I will be doing this at ale temps I should just go ahead and use an ale yeast, but I'm afraid it will come out funky.  Any thoughts?  And if you recommend against going with ale yeast, do you have any thoughts on the lager or the Pilsener for room temp fermentation?

What kind of honey?
The recipe calls for "light clover honey" but instead of ordering that from a homebrew supply I was thinking of going to my local grocery store and getting the honey from the bulk section.  I believe it is clover, organic, and local to my area which I prefer.  I know certain honeys can impart off-flavors, so what might I need to know about buying the local honey?

Other ingredients:
Since I'm new to this I'm a little pessimistic about experimenting, but I was seriously thinking of adding blueberries and/or juniper to this.  I was just going to get any thoughts.

I know it's longwinded.  Thanks in advance for your patience.
Michael

Offline hokerer

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2010, 06:07:18 AM »
For the yeast, since you're wanting to essentially do a lager using ale yeast, you should probably go with something as "clean" as possible.  Wyeast 1056 American Ale would fit the bill.

But, and it's a major but, you also mention summer coming up and fermenting at room temps.  Even with an ale yeast, those two things really don't work well together.  Remembering that the actual temp of actively fermenting wort can be 5-10 degrees higher than the ambient room temp, you're almost guaranteed to exceed the temp range of the yeast.  That can give you all sorts of baddies from crazy esters to fusels, etc.  Seriously consider at least a swamp cooler (get one of those kids toy tubs that your carboy will fit in, fill it with water, and rotate ice (ie frozen water bottles) in the water to keep the temps down).  You can also cover the upper part of the carboy with a t-shirt or something, the bottom of which is in the water.  The water will wick up and evaporate, helping out with cooling even more.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2010, 06:09:37 AM by hokerer »
Joe

Offline cowardm

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2010, 06:18:21 AM »
That helps.  I'm not too worried about the temp.  I keep it in a dark closet and my house is probably the warmest it will be all day and it's 73.8 degrees in there (I know that's pushing the 60 to 75 range).

The book doesn't even say to keep it cold at all.  Is he just assuming that since it's a lager we'll know to do so based on other parts of the book, or is this thing meant to keep room temp?
Michael

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2010, 06:36:48 AM »
That helps.  I'm not too worried about the temp.  I keep it in a dark closet and my house is probably the warmest it will be all day and it's 73.8 degrees in there (I know that's pushing the 60 to 75 range).

74°F is HOT. At high krausen the beer will probably be near 80°F. With ambient temperatures like that I don't ferment anything without using some sort of cooling. Even a "swamp cooler" will at least get you a few degrees. Regulating Fermentation Temperatures

The book doesn't even say to keep it cold at all.  Is he just assuming that since it's a lager we'll know to do so based on other parts of the book, or is this thing meant to keep room temp?

I'd think it would be the former. Lager yeasts fermented at ale temperatures tend to taste terrible - ask me how I know. :-\
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2010, 06:39:37 AM »
That helps.  I'm not too worried about the temp.  I keep it in a dark closet and my house is probably the warmest it will be all day and it's 73.8 degrees in there (I know that's pushing the 60 to 75 range).

The book doesn't even say to keep it cold at all.  Is he just assuming that since it's a lager we'll know to do so based on other parts of the book, or is this thing meant to keep room temp?

You need to be very worried about temps, and as much as I learned from Papzian's books "back in the day" they are way, way out dated. Pick up a copy of John Palmer's "How to Brew" and keep Charlie's book on hand for creative inspiration.

Back to temp: If your ambient temp is 73 degrees your beer will be fermenting at around 78-80 at high krausen, which is far too warm. Fermenting that warm will make beer, but it will be no where near as good a beer as you could make had you wroeeied about temps. Warm fermenattion temps increase esters, which can turn a bit toward the banana side. But worse than this it creates fusels which not only cause off flavors, it also kills beer foam and causes massive headaches. Fermentation temp is extremely important.

Never pitch you yeast warmer than 68 degrees and never let ale fermentation temps (which willl be several degrees over amient temps) go much warmer than 68-70 (72 at the very highest) during the initial 3 days off fermentation, which is when most of the fusels and esters are created. You can use very simple methods to control temp, most commonly a wet T-shirt and a fan, or better a "swamp cooler" in which you immerse the fermenter in a water bath and cycle out frozen water bottles (some use an "igloo ice cube" cooler and cut a hole in the lid for the carboy.) Best option is a freezer or fridge with external temp control.
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2010, 06:45:57 AM »
That helps.  I'm not too worried about the temp.  I keep it in a dark closet and my house is probably the warmest it will be all day and it's 73.8 degrees in there (I know that's pushing the 60 to 75 range).

You absolutely should be worried about the temp!  73.8 ambient means your wort could be as much as 80.  That's way way too warm.  Temp range for 1056 is 60-72 and you always want to be in the mid to lower part of those ranges.  80 isn't even close.

The single best thing anyone can do to improve their homebrew is fermentation temp control (at least in my opinion)
Joe

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2010, 06:51:14 AM »


The single best thing anyone can do to improve their homebrew is fermentation temp control (at least in my opinion)

+1 - every bit as important as sanitation.
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Offline dak0415

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2010, 07:21:08 AM »
+10 Temperature control.  BEST thing I ever did for my beers.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2010, 07:27:58 AM »
Maybe a new post should be started with respect to "temperature control."

I have an old Pepsi fridge (True), but I need more info on how to go about making it a temperature controlled fermentation fridge (right now it's between 37 and 43 F.  I don't want to be drilling holes in my fridge if I don't have to--is there a simpler way to just change the control for the existing probe or do I have to buy an expensive Ranco or Johnson control unit? 

Any and all advice is welcome.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 07:41:45 AM »
You can get an analog Ranco for under 50 bucks.
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Offline tygo

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 07:45:46 AM »

What kind of honey?
The recipe calls for "light clover honey" but instead of ordering that from a homebrew supply I was thinking of going to my local grocery store and getting the honey from the bulk section.  I believe it is clover, organic, and local to my area which I prefer.  I know certain honeys can impart off-flavors, so what might I need to know about buying the local honey?

I'd go ahead and use that honey.  It'll be fine.

If you're going to use fruit the best option for your first attempt is probably canned puree added to the secondary.
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Offline cowardm

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2010, 06:46:52 AM »
Thanks to all for the replies:

On temps:
Yikes!  I had sort of just thought "Plenty of guys do this in their basement without regulation" and considering my last couple of batches turned out fine I wasn't worried.  Looks like it was more important than I thought.

I've heard of carboy jackets that help with temperature control and also provide a safe barrier in the case of carboy breakage.  Anyone have one of these and know where I can find one?  Is it worth it?


On Honey:
These guys are our local honey supplier and even though it's not clover that sourwood honey sure does look about right.  Any thoughts?
Michael

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2010, 06:54:49 AM »
Here's the thing about honey: it doesn't leave much character in the beer. Mostly it is just an expensive way of adding sugar. The exception to the rule is if you a) use a good, raw, local honey (never use the grocery store stuff) and b) add it AFTER fermentation. The very delicate honey characteritics will simply get blown out druing the boil or during the fermentation.

As far as temps go: look into the swamp cooler method. It is the best cheap option. Do a search on the Igloo Ice Cube Swamp cooler that people have been making. If you really think this is a hobby you want to get into, nothing beats a dedicated freezer or fridge with external temp controller such as Ranco or Johnson. BTW: the beers that turned out "fine" without temp control may have been "FANTASTIC" with.  ;)
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Offline cowardm

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2010, 07:07:15 AM »
I'll look into the Ice Cube for now.

What would a cooler setup with a Ranco or Johnson run me?  Sounds like $200+ and is it pretty technical to get together?  Is there a well known web site that sells these things or does home depot have them?
Michael

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Re: Three questions about yeasts and honey and stuff...
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2010, 07:10:18 AM »
A hardware store probably won't, but any reasonably well-equipped homebrew shop should have them. http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/brewing-equipment/fermenting-equipment/fermentation-temperature-control for example.

Unless you have a refrigerator or freezer that's cheap or free, it may not be worth it. I've found the swamp cooler to work very well.
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