Author Topic: Wacky fermentation/brewing method  (Read 795 times)

Online phillamb168

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Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« on: July 14, 2011, 05:28:05 AM »
So I really love doing 1-gallon batches - cleanup, etc are so much easier, and a bad 1-gal batch is way easier to toss than a 5-gal - and I'm wondering - what would happen if I were to do a 5-gallon batch, broken up over 5 separate 1-gallon brew days? The idea would be that, after the first gallon was finished fermenting, I'd do a brew for the second gallon, rack the first gallon to a secondary or corny keg, and then rack the cooled second gallon on top of the yeast cake left behind from the first batch. Continue over the course of five weeks (assuming a 1-week fermentation time).

I feel like it might be worthwhile to try, and might even give some interesting results given that you'd be drinking what is effectively a blend of five different beers matured for different lengths of time.

Thoughts?
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2011, 05:41:17 AM »
That is an incredible amount of brewing time to get 5 gal, but in terms of flexibility to try new things its a great idea.  Just recognize that you would have to be very precise with your water, grain, hop, and mineral measurements since the small batch size magnifies any deviation.
 
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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2011, 05:48:25 AM »
But in sum, because of the blending, would that not help offset any glaring difference?

I realize it's a lot of time/very inefficient, but my current setup works quite well when I'm investing the time for doing 10-gallon double batches, but the setup/breakdown time plus the strike water heating time, means that a brew day is quite literally a day. The benefit of the smaller system is that I only have three things I use for brewing: a rice cooker for mashing with a PID for temp control, and a stock pot for boiling. Plus the fact that it's smaller means that my wife and I can be in the kitchen cooking dinner with the wort boiling on the back burner, and no time is 'lost,' whereas were I to do a full brew day, I'd be outside tinkering with things all day.
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Offline Kirk

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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2011, 11:25:06 AM »
Sounds very doable.  What will you use for a primary vessel?  Something like a small carboy?  I was just thinking that one could have several different styles going simultaneously in separate carboys, allowing more of a custom fermentation time. 
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2011, 11:42:19 AM »
Interesting concept.  You know, there are some folks out there who do this not with just 1-gallon batches, but 5 gallons -- keep on brewing the same recipe, using the same yeast cake over and over.  Personally I think any repetitive small-batch brewing such as this is an excellent opportunity to tweak the recipe a bit, to where you would in fact be able to drink some of the first batch or two, figure out if there's anything you need to improve upon, and by the time you get to batches #3, 4, 5, etc., you're getting a lot of experience and making a pretty dang awesome recipe -- all in the span of a month or two.  Maybe the first batch missed the mark pretty badly, maybe the second batch is a little better, maybe the third or fourth batch you royally screwed up and had to dump it, but by the fifth batch, boy oh boy...... I do find it intriguing.  And yes, there certainly are things like leaving a little batch on the back burner of your stove that make small batch brewing a LOT easier.  If that's what works for you... more power to you!
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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2011, 02:51:14 AM »
I like the fine-tuning idea. The other thing behind this theory is that it makes apartment/small-space brewing much more easy to do, especially if you keg. Get a couple 10-gallon mini cornys and you're set.
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Offline tygo

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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2011, 04:56:34 AM »
If you just keep adding the new batch to the same fermenter on top of the existing yeast cake you're going to build up a pretty thick yeast cake by the time you're done.  I'd worry that would be too high of a pitching rate for subsequent batches.  Maybe just reuse part of the slurry to pitch the right amount of yeast in each batch.
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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2011, 05:56:37 AM »
If you just keep adding the new batch to the same fermenter on top of the existing yeast cake you're going to build up a pretty thick yeast cake by the time you're done.  I'd worry that would be too high of a pitching rate for subsequent batches.  Maybe just reuse part of the slurry to pitch the right amount of yeast in each batch.

This is probably covered in other posts, but how do I get some sweet slurry action? Sterilized spoon/pipette? Just scoop it off the bottom after I'm done racking?
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Offline tygo

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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2011, 06:42:04 AM »
Leave a little beer in the fermenter when you rack it off.  Enough to allow the slurry to be poured out.  Or alternatively, since the batch is so small and you don't want to waste any just add a little cooled boiled water back in.  Swirl it up and pour it into another santizied vessel, like a Nalgene bottle.  Then pitch the appropriate amount into the new batch when you're ready.
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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2011, 06:52:50 AM »
Awesomesauce. Thanks!
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Offline richardt

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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2011, 07:39:50 AM »
I like the idea, but I have a few concerns that I'll throw out there for you to consider.

I've pitched onto a yeast cake once or twice--results vary.

Contamination:  If there's any contamination in the first batch--you just wasted all your wort-producing efforts by putting subsequent batches onto it.  Bacteria double every 20-30 minutes.  Yeast double every 3 hours.

Trub/Protein:  I personally don't want to part with a lot of wort loss in the boil kettle (by leaving all the break material and hops behind), so I whirlpool and strain the wort through a 8 inch SS china cap bullion strainer (very fine mesh) which does a very good job of catching the hop pellet material, but not the break material.  Consequently, there's a lot of protein trub in the fermenter, which doesn't seem to hurt the first fermentation.  The concern would be the additive accumulation of break material with every batch.  Rinsing the yeast (or washing) would reduce this problem.

Style:  The slurry will contain the flavors of the previous batch.  Might be a significant contribution in small 1 gallon batches.  This could be significant if you, for example, used dark, roasted malts in the recipe for batches 1 and 2, but not 3 or 4.  Also, yeast tend to adsorb hop character (oils).  If you're tweaking the hops with each batch, you will never be 100% sure that you're truly evaluating the variables only from the recipe. 

Water and pH:  Martin makes a very good point.  Be very methodical with weights and amounts.  Any deviation gets magnified.  It is like giving medication to babies--you have to pay attention to weights and be extremely precise with your quantities and volumes.  No "pinch of this, dash of that."  At least if you're looking to replicate your results.

Consider making a yeast starter and fractionate it into 5 or more sanitized mason jars.  That way you can make a new starter for each batch and that variable will be kept the same.

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Re: Wacky fermentation/brewing method
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2011, 07:44:33 AM »
I like the idea, but I have a few concerns that I'll throw out there for you to consider.

I've pitched onto a yeast cake once or twice--results vary.

Contamination:  If there's any contamination in the first batch--you just wasted all your wort-producing efforts by putting subsequent batches onto it.  Bacteria double every 20-30 minutes.  Yeast double every 3 hours.

Trub/Protein:  I personally don't want to part with a lot of wort loss in the boil kettle (by leaving all the break material and hops behind), so I whirlpool and strain the wort through a 8 inch SS china cap bullion strainer (very fine mesh) which does a very good job of catching the hop pellet material, but not the break material.  Consequently, there's a lot of protein trub in the fermenter, which doesn't seem to hurt the first fermentation.  The concern would be the additive accumulation of break material with every batch.  Rinsing the yeast (or washing) would reduce this problem.

Style:  The slurry will contain the flavors of the previous batch.  Might be a significant contribution in small 1 gallon batches.  This could be significant if you, for example, used dark, roasted malts in the recipe for batches 1 and 2, but not 3 or 4.  Also, yeast tend to adsorb hop character (oils).  If you're tweaking the hops with each batch, you will never be 100% sure that you're truly evaluating the variables only from the recipe. 

Water and pH:  Martin makes a very good point.  Be very methodical with weights and amounts.  Any deviation gets magnified.  It is like giving medication to babies--you have to pay attention to weights and be extremely precise with your quantities and volumes.  No "pinch of this, dash of that."  At least if you're looking to replicate your results.

Consider making a yeast starter and fractionate it into 5 or more sanitized mason jars.  That way you can make a new starter for each batch and that variable will be kept the same.

I hadn't considered the trub/protein aspect. For the others, like slurry contributing a previous batch's flavors, it's not that big of a deal for me as this would be brewing five times of the same recipe.

What I did for this first one, and may do in the next, is divide a packet of US05 into 5 equal portions. From what you're saying it sounds like that would be the safer way to go.

Hrm. Break material. For the first batch it was significant. Anybody know a good way to calculate break volume based on boil volume? Is it a fixed constant?
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