Author Topic: Some Brewing Questions  (Read 1017 times)

Offline brewtopia

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Some Brewing Questions
« on: July 28, 2010, 12:11:14 PM »
I've been hanging around a brewer at a brewery lately, and he's been helping me a lot. But I still have some questions about things he's told me, and just some general questions.

1) He said he ferments his ale's at 32F, so that when you pour the beer and the people drink it at higher then 32F you don't get precipitation. I'm trying to figure out how to clarify my beer, and I know I can use..."something"...I can't  recall the name of the product you can use in the kettle to coagulate the proteins so they sink to the bottom.

2) If you are making a 5 gallon batch of beer, how to you calculate how much water you should use? Or do you just start with 2 gallons, boil your wort, then add cool water to the wort until it reaches desired gravity/Plato? Where can I find a Plato meter to purchase online?

3) Plato vs. Gravity. Which is better, I'm told Plato is more like working with metric (ie: C), it is more precise then gravity.

4) How do I control the thickness of the head on the beer? I'm finding my beer's carbonation has big, round bubbles, and I would like finer bubbles, and a thicker head on the beer. How do I manipulate this?

...I think that's it for now ;)

Cheers

Offline BrewArk

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Re: Some Brewing Questions
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2010, 02:50:43 PM »
I've been hanging around a brewer at a brewery lately, and he's been helping me a lot. But I still have some questions about things he's told me, and just some general questions.

1) He said he ferments his ale's at 32F, so that when you pour the beer and the people drink it at higher then 32F you don't get precipitation. I'm trying to figure out how to clarify my beer, and I know I can use..."something"...I can't  recall the name of the product you can use in the kettle to coagulate the proteins so they sink to the bottom.
That's awfully cold for fermentation.  Maybe after fermentation he might store it that cold to get precipitation before bottling.  There are multiple things to add to aid clarification.  Try some Irish Moss at the end of your boil.

2) If you are making a 5 gallon batch of beer, how to you calculate how much water you should use? Or do you just start with 2 gallons, boil your wort, then add cool water to the wort until it reaches desired gravity/Plato? Where can I find a Plato meter to purchase online? It's generally preferred to put as much of your water in the boil as possible.  I loose about a gallon/hr so 6 gallons in the kettle for 5 in the fermenter.  While you're starting out, stick to gravity (remember it changes with temperature).

3) Plato vs. Gravity. Which is better, I'm told Plato is more like working with metric (ie: C), it is more precise then gravity. Again stick with gravity.  On the net there's plenty to read about Plato - & that'll be what he uses in a brewery, but at home, it's much simpler to take a gravity.

4) How do I control the thickness of the head on the beer? I'm finding my beer's carbonation has big, round bubbles, and I would like finer bubbles, and a thicker head on the beer. How do I manipulate this? There are several discussions on foam/head retention, read up on those.  My advice is focus on cleanliness and temperature control.

...I think that's it for now ;)

Cheers
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Offline dirk_mclargehuge

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Re: Some Brewing Questions
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2010, 04:00:08 PM »
I've been hanging around a brewer at a brewery lately, and he's been helping me a lot. But I still have some questions about things he's told me, and just some general questions.

1) He said he ferments his ale's at 32F, so that when you pour the beer and the people drink it at higher then 32F you don't get precipitation. I'm trying to figure out how to clarify my beer, and I know I can use..."something"...I can't  recall the name of the product you can use in the kettle to coagulate the proteins so they sink to the bottom.

2) If you are making a 5 gallon batch of beer, how to you calculate how much water you should use? Or do you just start with 2 gallons, boil your wort, then add cool water to the wort until it reaches desired gravity/Plato? Where can I find a Plato meter to purchase online?

3) Plato vs. Gravity. Which is better, I'm told Plato is more like working with metric (ie: C), it is more precise then gravity.

4) How do I control the thickness of the head on the beer? I'm finding my beer's carbonation has big, round bubbles, and I would like finer bubbles, and a thicker head on the beer. How do I manipulate this?

...I think that's it for now ;)

Cheers
1. Don't worry too much about clarity.  Fine with Irish moss and gelatin, and you can get most beers pretty clean.  Then let them sit cold for a while, and things will drop out of suspension.  If you must have crystal clear beer, buy a filter kit.
2. There are some software packages out there that calculate the water for you, but check out http://www.howtobrew.com for all the nasty math.
3.  Stick with Specific Gravity.  Most of the homebrew literature uses it.  See the link above to convert to Plato.
4.  Not a clue.

Offline wingnut

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Re: Some Brewing Questions
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2010, 05:16:31 PM »
I've been hanging around a brewer at a brewery lately, and he's been helping me a lot. But I still have some questions about things he's told me, and just some general questions.

1) He said he ferments his ale's at 32F, so that when you pour the beer and the people drink it at higher then 32F you don't get precipitation. I'm trying to figure out how to clarify my beer, and I know I can use..."something"...I can't  recall the name of the product you can use in the kettle to coagulate the proteins so they sink to the bottom.

32 is the ageing temp.  Ale yeast at 32 will just go to sleep and not ferement. At 32F ageing temp, however, proteins causing cloudy beer will form larger chains and settle to the bottom, then you can rack off this.

2) If you are making a 5 gallon batch of beer, how to you calculate how much water you should use? Or do you just start with 2 gallons, boil your wort, then add cool water to the wort until it reaches desired gravity/Plato? Where can I find a Plato meter to purchase online?

Specific Gravity on hydrometer can be converted to Plato fairly easily to estimate.  Essentially drop the 1. from the hydrometer reading and divide by four.  So a 1.054 Specific Gravity will be 13.5 Plato. (actual is 14 Plato)  My other thought is to just use your hydrometer and convert via an online calculator if you want to be exact.   There are hydrometers scaled in Plato (Williams brewing did at one time, and may do so still), but the specific gravity is easier to find.   

As for water, there is some software/spread sheets/calculators that will allow you to figure out how much extract to add to SIX gallons to reach the Specific Gravity/Plato you desire (the methods you are outlining suggest you are an extract brewer).  Essentially, if you know your boil off rate (usually about a gallon an hour) and you know you want to put 5 gallons of beer into your bottles, I would try and finish my boil with 6 gallons.  Which means start with 7 gallons in your batch at the start of boiling. 

When you calculate you extract needs, however, calculate based on the 6 gallons you will have left when boiling is done.  Why 6 gallons left? That way you can leave a half gallon left in your kettle (containing trub, hop matter, etc) and then when fermentation is done, you can leave a half gallon of yeasty/trub matter at the bottom of your fermentation vessel.  Leaving the gunk behind in those steps will allow your beer to clear faster.  I also recommend Irish moss or whirlfloc tablets to help clarify the beer.


3) Plato vs. Gravity. Which is better, I'm told Plato is more like working with metric (ie: C), it is more precise then gravity.

It is only a scale, so it is only as accurate as the person/device measuring. SG is what home brewers use, Plato tends to be what pro brewers use.  The divide by 4 trick will allow you to slip back and forth easily.

4) How do I control the thickness of the head on the beer? I'm finding my beer's carbonation has big, round bubbles, and I would like finer bubbles, and a thicker head on the beer. How do I manipulate this?

“How to Brew” website has some information on that topic as well, however, bubble size has mostly to do with the size particles you have in your beer, and the types of proteins you have present.  It gets really really complicated, but an easy answer is let the beer settle out for a couple weeks, and you will notice that since most of the larger particles have settled, the beer foam will be denser, smaller bubbles.  Also, some of the natural oxidation aging reactions will form more of the proteins that will lead to a fuller denser head.

...I think that's it for now ;)

Cheers
1. Don't worry too much about clarity.  Fine with Irish moss and gelatin, and you can get most beers pretty clean.  Then let them sit cold for a while, and things will drop out of suspension.  If you must have crystal clear beer, buy a filter kit.
2. There are some software packages out there that calculate the water for you, but check out http://www.howtobrew.com for all the nasty math.
3.  Stick with Specific Gravity.  Most of the homebrew literature uses it.  See the link above to convert to Plato.
4.  Not a clue.
-- Wingnut - Cheers!

Offline euge

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Re: Some Brewing Questions
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2010, 11:38:47 PM »
I use a refractometer on brew-day and a hydrometer for specific gravity checks. The refractometer is in Brix but I think in specific gravity.

Conditioning at 32F is more like lagering. If you want to do this with ales it's OK but let the beer finish first. Say- 14+ days. That's good for most average strength ales. I use Whirlfloc tabs but yeast flocculation characteristics plays a large role.  A yeast strain with high-flocculation traits will aid you the most coupled with time and cold temps. A high flocc'ing yeast can clear a beer pretty quickly all on it's own.

For me, my beer never comes close to the 32F. More like 43F once in the kegerator. I'm not much concerned with clarity but more with taste and how drinkable the brew is.

These are all good questions. There's nothing like beer brewing and drinking to hone your knowledge.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

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Offline alikocho

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Re: Some Brewing Questions
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 05:31:35 AM »

1) He said he ferments his ale's at 32F, so that when you pour the beer and the people drink it at higher then 32F you don't get precipitation.


This isn't going to be a ferment, but a step after fermentation known as 'cold-proofing'. Commercial brewers do this as they don't want beer that isn't crystal clear (when it would be expected to be) being returned. In my experience, this isn't something that you need to do with homebrew.
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