Cold Crashing Your Home Brew

Cold Crashing Your Home Brew

Cold Crashing Your Home Brew

There are always ways to refine your brewing process, clarity is one of those things that isn’t always really necessary but it would be nice to achieve the pin-sharp clarity of commercial beers. Cold crashing beer is a technique that more and more brewers are doing with the primary benefit of achieving a crystal clear beer.

Reducing the temperature and cold crashing beer in the fermenter has become a mandatory step in many brewers processes, however, it isn’t strictly necessary for most batches of homebrew. What is the point then of going to the trouble and what does this step do the beer. In this article, we will cover how and why you may want to cold crash your beer.

Why Cold Crash Your Home Brew?

The main purpose of cold crashing your beer is to encourage the flocculation of yeast and other particles that may be in suspension and therefore clear the beer. Quick cooling and occasionally the addition of finings during the cold crash can leave you with a finished beer that is crystal clear.

The quick cooling of a beer or other brews like wine or mead encourages yeast to flocculate or group together and other particles like protein to coagulate. When the particles group together the collected mass helps to bring them down to the bottom of the vessel and out of suspension.

This process of removing the particles from the beer is what gives the finished beer a level of clarity that to the naked eye is just the same as a commercial beer and this happens without filtration.

What About Flavour Benefits?

In most cases, it is doubtful that you will be able to tell the difference between a cold crashed beer and a non-cold crashed beer. Even after cold crashing, there are still particles suspended in the beer, including yeast. This experiment on cold crashing failed to identify much difference between two beers that were identical, except for the fact one was cold crashed.

Working as a commercial brewer I cold crash every batch of beer. The primary reason for doing so is to get as much of the particles in suspension to sediment. This speeds up the process and means packaging can take place a lot sooner. As a home brewer I rarely cold crash beers and I have seen no difference other than the beers taking longer to clear.

One benefit you may find with cold crashing is that because more of the particulate is removed from the beer before packaging that the flavours in the beer are stable or more consistent for a longer period of time. This is an assumption rather than evidence based statement though.

How To Cold Crash Your Beer?

Simply put, all you need to do to cold crash your beer is to chill it down close to 0.5°C / 33°F in a short time frame. The easiest way to achieve this is to put the fermenting vessel in a fridge or temperature controlled freezer.

You are going to need a chamber that you can place the fermenter in to cool it down so cold crashing a beer is not going to be possible unless you have something like a fermentation fridge. If you do temperature controlled fermentations then this will not be a problem, if not then you will have to forego the cold crash.

Inkbird

When To Start A Cold Crash?

When you should cold crash a beer or any other home brew for that matter is important.

We need to make sure that the fermentation is finished, to begin with. If fermentation is not complete the yeast will stop fermenting as soon as the temperature falls below a certain point. There will be residual sugars left in the beer and it is not going to taste as it should.

Along with this, there are compounds created during fermentation that will impart undesirable flavours, Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS), a sulphur based compound is created during fermentation and the yeast will ordinarily clean up these unwanted compounds once fermentation dies down. If you cold crash too soon, some flavour compounds such as these can remain in the beer. Fortunately, it only takes 2 – 3 days after fermentation activity stops for the yeast to clean up these off flavours.

First of all, check your fermentation is finished with a hydrometer. Check over consecutive days to ensure no movement and then wait for 2 – 3 days at a minimum before cold crashing. This simple rule should be enough to ensure fermentation is finished and the byproducts of fermentation are removed.

Cold Crash Temperature Range

The temperature at which you want to cold crash your home brew is between 0.5°C – 5°C / 33°F – 41°F.

As mentioned earlier a temperature controlled fridge or freezer, using a simple thermostat controller like an inkbird is one of the easiest ways to maintain these temperatures. You do not want to freeze the beer but getting the temperature down to this range rapidly is the most effective way to get the best clarity of your beer.

Beware Airlock Vacuum

One of the issues many brewers will encounter when they cold crash a beer is that the temperature drop will cause a vacuum to form in the sealed fermenter.

What happens is that the air in the headspace in the fermenter contracts as the temperature drops. This creates a vacuum and air is sucked in through the airlock. This is not a big problem but causes some people to panic that air of liquid from the airlock is being pulled into the beer.

If this is a concern, the easiest thing to do is to remove the airlock and replace it with a small bung. The vacuum will still happen but it is not going to be strong enough to damage the fermenter. Many people fill their airlocks with vodka so that if any liquid is pulled through into the beer it is sanitary.

Should You Bother Cold Crashing Your Beer?

In my opinion, this is completely personal preference. The impact on the flavour is negligible at best, it is more a case of the way the beer looks and the process.

Many brewers incorporate a cold crash into their process because they have a fermentation fridge or chamber set up to control the temperature of the main fermentation. Performing a cold crash after that is not a problem, you just have to change the temperature controller.

I do not perform a cold crash on most of my beers and do not have any problems with clarity so I don’t feel it is a necessary step, but that is not to say it is beneficial to the look of your home brewed beers.

What Is Yeast Nutrient? And How To Use It

If you have been brewing for any length of time you may have heard of yeast nutrient. It is a very common additive for plenty of wine recipes but is not often listed in many beer recipes.

Several yeast companies produce their own brand of yeast nutrient but what exactly is it and when should you use yeast nutrient. In this article, we are going to cover, what yeast nutrient is and why you would need it.

Yeast Nutrient

Yeast Nutrients

Yeast health is one of the most important aspects of making good homebrew beer, wine or mead. After all, it is the sole reason for any alcohol being produced at all. Not only is yeast necessary for converting sugars to alcohol but it is also particularly important because it has a large influence on the flavour of the finished beverage.

Yeast creates many different compounds when fermenting a beer or wine that have a big effect on flavour. Wheat beer yeast for instance produce, clove, banana and bubblegum like flavours and this is desirable for the most part, if they are not healthy, however, they can produce undesirable flavours.

Unhealthy yeast can contribute undesirable flavours to your home brew. Flavours like apple flavours from acetaldehyde, harsh alcohol flavours or buttery flavours from diacetyl. These are all symptoms of poor yeast health or not enough yeast cells. This brings us to our main subject, yeast nutrition.

Yeast Nutrients Aid Health Of Yeast Cells

Yeast nutrients are added to beer or wine to ensure that the building blocks required by the yeast to form new cells and reproduce are available to them before and during fermentation.

When yeast reproduces they require things like amino acids, nitrogen, fatty acids and vitamins to form new cells. If these are not present when you add yeast to your wort or must it can lead to problems during fermentation or even starting fermentation, to begin with.

What Is In Yeast Nutrient?

Most blends of yeast nutrient contain a few different compounds, it is a good idea to check on the label to see what is added as some yeast nutrients may only provide things like nitrogen alone.

The most common compounds found in yeast nutrients are the following:

Diammonium Phosphate: This is a salt that provides a source of free amino nitrogen (FAN). This is the main ingredient in most yeast nutrient blends and is vital for yeast health. In most cases malt has a large amount of FAN so this nutrient is often not needed for beer making (more on that in a moment).

Yeast Hulls: Essentially this is dead yeast which acts as a source of lipids and fatty acids vital in providing resources for new yeast cell production.

Vitamins, Thiamin and Biotin: Yeast requires certain vitamins for cell growth and production just like our bodies do. Vitamins are added to nutrient blends to provide these important compounds. Biotin is a B-vitamin commonly used in making country wine production.

Magnesium, Zinc: These compounds are added to yeast nutrient to increase the cell count and magnesium aid yeast metabolism.

Do You Need To Use Yeast Nutrient?

It is almost always best to use yeast nutrient if the recipe has it listed in the ingredients and sometimes if it isn’t. There are some cases where it is not really necessary so let’s take a look at those.

Yeast Nutrient In Beer Making

For the most part beer has a lot of the nutrition yeast needs because wort for beer is produced with nutrient rich ingredients like malted barley. This means adding yeast nutrient is not really necessary

There may be certain instances when you are brewing particular beers that adding yeast nutrients will be beneficial. The time to think about using yeast nutrient would be in some of the following scenarios:

The Beer Is A Particularly High Gravity Beer: All yeast strains have a certain level of tolerance for alcohol depending on the type. The closer you get to this tolerance the harder time the yeast has. The addition of yeast nutrients in beers over or around 8% can ensure you aren’t going to run into problems with yeast stress and stalling.

The Beer Uses A High Portion of Adjuncts: If the beer uses a high portion of adjuncts, particularly if a large amount of the fermentables comes from plain sugar. Sugar alone has no real nutrients for the yeast so in cases where 25% or more of the fermentables come from adjuncts, yeast nutrients may be a good idea.

Unless you are brewing a beer that is like this then it is not really necessary to use a yeast nutrient for beer making. Most wort is highly nutrient rich and will contain everything needed to produce healthy yeast.

Nutrients for Yeast Starters

What Is Yeast Nutrient

If you regularly make yeast starters than you may want to consider using yeast nutrients. Ramping up yeast cell numbers is intensive and requires them to be plenty of nutrition for the yeast to create new cells. To aid the process and speed it up using a yeast nutrient with nitrogen, vitamins, zinc and magnesium is very beneficial.

Yeast Nutrients For Wine Making Or Mead & Cider

Yeast nutrients become more vital for home wine makers and mead makers where the ingredients aren’t as nutrient dense as malted barley and wheat.

For country wines where more than 90% of the fermentable sugars come from simple sugars then the yeast need the addition of yeast nutrients to be able to reproduce and thrive. The same is true for making mead, honey is a simple sugar and will need a boost of nutrients for the yeast to ferment at their best.

In most instances, it would be recommended to use yeast nutrients in wine, mead and cider because there is no way for the home brewer to know how much nitrogen is available and what other micronutrients are in the ingredients they are using. There is no home test available to test these things. Whereas beer makers have malt specification so they can be certain of things like FAN.

How Much Yeast Nutrient To Use?

Dosages of yeast nutrients are almost always stated on the package they come in so always follow the advice and recommendations from the manufacturer.

In most cases, it will be around 1 gram a litre or 1 tsp for 5 litres/1 gallon.

This is usually added at the start of fermentation. Some more advanced wine makers space out additions of yeast nutrients into 2 or 3 additions, one before fermentation and then another addition once fermentation has started. I would say this isn’t necessary for a simple country wine but if you are making large amounts of grape wines this could be beneficial.

Maris Otter

Tips for Buying Home Brew Supplies

home brew supplies

When it comes to buying home brewing supplies, there are a few things you need to think about. Things like ingredients you need to think about quality, cost and freshness. Equipment purchases mean thinking about how useful is it, practicality and price.

In this article I want to give you some tips on buying equipment and ingredients because (and I know) there are plenty of opportunities to spend money and end up with something you hardly use or is just not right for you.

Read more

Open Fermentation

Open Fermentation Without the Contamination

I’ve read a lot of people making a big deal about open fermentation, especially home brewers thinking anything other than a carboy fitted with a bung and an airlock will lead to infected beer and spoiled brews. Open fermentation makes many people think of the sour beers brewed in Belgium or in quaint 19th century farmhouse settings.

On the opposite side of the coin though, if you walk into any number of breweries here in the UK, Belgium, Germany and even some in the US, all fermentation will be carried out in open vessels. I know this from personal experience because this is how all the beer I brew at work is fermented. So what’s with all the controversy with open fermentation?

Open Fermentation

So You Don’t Have To Keep Fermentation Airtight?

As a home brewer I have gone through stages of open fermentation and closed fermentation using demijohns and airlocks not once have I had an infection in one of my batches. Nor have I ever been that worried about it.

The first 4-5 batches of beer I made (probably 9 or 10 years ago now) I used a book published in the 1970’s that suggested you ferment in a bucket and skim the yeast off every day it didn’t actually say you can store the yeast for later brews. So this is what I did for all of my first batches of beer. It was only when I got more involved with home brewing and read further that I switched to closed fermentation believing that an infected beer was inevitable.

Since those early years though and many more years of practice and research I’ve learned that some of the best beers in the world are openly fermented and it’s not just because the breweries that brew them have any special conditions under which they ferment them.

Fermentation Under Sterile Conditions

Most breweries that I’ve visited here in the UK have fermentation rooms but there are no special environments just air filters to remove impurities and dust from the air, pretty much every FV I’ve seen on a brewery tour has been open although a lot of craft breweries now use closed tanks to aid kegging and carbonating the beer. I know many breweries around the world use open fermenters too and mostly under conditions the same as you would have at home.

Once the krausen has built up on top of the beer and CO2 is being produced no further protection from the air is needed

The Home Brew Scale Open Fermentation

Pretty much all of my fermentations now consist of racking the cooled beer into a fermenting bin (plastic bucket), pitching an adequate amount of yeast and setting the lid loosely on top to stop dust from getting in. No airlock or completely closed and airtight fermenters.

As long as you have aerated the wort properly and created a healthy amount of yeast to pitch then fermentation starts between 2 – 6 hours. The krausen builds up and the carbon dioxide sits over the top of the beer stopping any oxygen from contacting it.

It is only after the initial burst of fermentation (say a few days to a week) has completed I then move the beer to a closed container with an airlock fitted and allow it to condition. This process is very much like a lot of commercial breweries in the UK who use condition tanks to store the beer in before casking or bottling.

Leaving the fermentation open after until the krausen has sunk back into the beer allows you to do whatever you need to such as adding fruit, dry hopping or harvesting yeast and secondary fermentation can then be completed under closed conditions when less CO2 is being emitted to form a blanket over the beer.

What’s The Benefit Of Open Fermentation?

  • I believe open fermentation leads to more yeast character. There is less pressure on the yeast in an open fermenter and as beer ferments, the undesirable compounds that are produced can easily disperse which is less likely in a closed fermentation. If it leads to better beer, you will have to deciede for yourself.
  • Convenience, there is less equipment to sanitise especially if you have to use more than one carboy for a batch and an open fermenter with a wide neck is far easier to clean than one with a narrow neck
  • Adding fruit and hopping during fermentation is far easier both in terms of access and cleaning
  • As long as your fermenter is big enough you don’t have to worry about airlocks clogging or fitting blow off tubes. I’ve had numerous clogged airlocks but never had an open fermenter overflow.
  • Probably the best reason is to harvest yeast for reusing. It’s simply a case of skimming it off the top with sanitised equipment and storing. You’ll notice the earlier stages of fermentation will bring dark trub material to the surface which can be discarded but after this you have a plentiful supply of clean, fresh, healthy yeast and is one of the best ways to collect it, rather than from the bottom of the fermenter after primary fermentation.
Clone Beer Recipes

Clone Beer Recipes – Recreate Your Favourite Commercial Beers

When I started brewing my first few beers were commercial beers I’d tried to recreate. In essence, they were a clone beer. I would say that was somewhat of my motivation to start brewing in the first place, I wanted to recreate some of my favourite beers that I could buy in the shops. I still do brew the occasional clone beer but now it’s more of a case of brewing a beer I cannot otherwise get here in my corner of the UK and I think brewing these clones is a great way to learn your craft especially if you can compare them with the actual beer.

Clone Beer Recipes

Making Your Own Clone Beer

There is always something satisfying about cloning a commercial beer and measuring your efforts against those of a proper brewery. I have written about clone brewing before, but recently I came across the website for Deschutes Brewery and was pretty surprised to find a list of home brew recipes to recreate some of their most popular beers.

Deschutes Clone Recipes

Of course, they haven’t given you the exact recipe for all their beers, they have, however, listed all of the ingredients used in say their Obsidian Stout. Any home brewer that has that information is going to be able to make a fairly good approximation of Obsidian after a couple of attempts.

I think this is a great thing that Deschutes is doing and I’m sure most home brewers who have ever tried to clone a commercial beer will appreciate them connecting with the home brew community. If you have ever tried contacting a brewery about the recipe for one of their beers it can be a hit or miss affair.

Brewdog Clone Recipes

BrewDog has gone one step further and released all their recipe for pretty much every beer they have made. In effect, they have open sourced all their recipes and released them all in a book.

BrewDog have even scaled their recipes for a typical home brew setup, provided quantities and tips on getting a close clone of the beer. They have released all their recipes in a free pdf ebook called DIY dog and I think this is an unprecedented movement for breweries being open about their methods.

In a lot of cases, modern craft breweries start out as homebrewers who take their hobby professional. Giving their recipes away like this is great for the home brewing community and I am sure it has won BrewDog a lot of fans in the process.

Avery Brewing Clone Recipes

Avery brewing is another brewery that is completely open with their recipes. On each of their beers pages on their website, they have a home brew recipe scaled to 5 gallons and listing the quantity of each ingredient.
For a home brewer like me who has little chance of getting one of their beers here in the UK, this is a great way to be able to get an approximation of one of their beers and give me further inspiration for my own beer recipes.

What Are Your Experiences With Contacting Breweries?

Some breweries are completely fine with telling you what hops are used in their beers or the makeup of the grist, where as in my experience the majority of emails to a brewery receive no response. This is why, when I came across Deschutes home brew recipes I was slightly taken aback and excited they have chosen to be so open. Hopefully, more breweries will take a similar stance. Of course, now you’re going to go out and buy that breweries beer because they have reached out to you, plus to see what your clone is like.

If you have ever contacted a brewery and they’ve been only happy to help you out then let us know in the comments section.

Books on Clone Beers

The first beer I ever made was a clone beer, it was Fullers London Pride. I seem to remember it was a pretty good replica of the actual beer and this is what really spurred me on to learn more about home brewing. At the time I knew hardly anything about brewing, everything I did was following the instructions set out in this book:

Brew Your Own British Real Ale

Graham Wheelers – Brew Your Own British Real Ale. There are over 100 recipes in this book of British real ales and if you are looking to brew any clone beer from the UK then the best bet is to look here first.

Clone Brews

Next up is a book called Clone Brews. This is a book I have only flicked through briefly. I haven’t attempted any of the recipes in it but there are plenty there and some good commercial beers are included. If clone beer recipes are your thing then you need this in your library.

North American Clone Brews

Lastly, a book heavily referenced in forums is North American Clone Brews. With such a huge craft beer scene in the US at the moment this book has 150 odd recipes for brewing US and Candian beers, although some reviews are mixed it may be worthwhile for getting ideas on brewing a particular American or Canadian craft beer.

Forums

Forums are a great place to find recipes, there are so many people brewing recipes and trying to replicate beers you can get a good idea of the ingredients in a beer and then tweak to your liking. The first place you need to check out is the recipes section on Home Brew Talk there is more information on this forum alone than any of brewing website on the web.

If you are looking for British Beers then check out  The Home Brew Forum for good recipes. If you can’t find the beer you are looking for then post because I’m sure someone on the forums will have brewed it.

Podcasts

Lastly, I’m pretty sure most people have heard of the Brewing Network. There are some pretty detailed and in depth podcasts on cloning commercial beers. The Jamil Show/Can You Brew It is the one to look for and the whole archive is available for you to look through. So if they have covered the beer you are wanting to brew this is a must listen, however, if you want to brew something a bit more obscure they are likely to have not covered it.

Hopefully, you have found some of these resources helpful in brewing your own clone beer. Anything to add then put it in the comments.

NEIPA New England IPA Recipe

NEIPA A Perfect Beer To Experiment With – New England IPA Recipe

NEIPA or New England IPA, a tropical fruit laden, murky and silky smooth beer style has captured the hearts and minds of craft beer devotees for quite a while now. It is now gaining attention outside of this niche with coverage in the national press. NEIPA, however, is still very much a beer style in its infancy and one that is still evolving. It is the perfect candidate for home brewers to brew in small batches exactly for this reason.

NEIPA New England IPA Recipe

If you like clarity in your beers then NEIPA is definitely a no go, producing a good NEIPA involves intentionally boosting the haze or murkiness of the beer. I have seen the term “it looks like orange juice” used to describe the clarity of a NEIPA in a good way.

I know some consumers, especially in the part of the UK where I live (Cornwall) who would absolutely refuse to drink a beer that was murky some who would return the beer to the bar even at the slightest hint of haze.

The IPA Haze Craze

I am not in the slightest bit concerned about the looks of a beer. I love that we are still seeing radically different beer styles emerging. I have always been of the opinion that taste is the first and foremost criteria when judging whether a beer is any good or not. As a home brewer it doesn’t really matter what is available locally because should I wish to try a new style of beer, all I have to do is find a recipe or find out what ingredients are typically used for a beer and then make it myself.

We like NEIPAs so much we have a small batch all grain beer kit in the shop that we have been working on for a little while.

The great thing about new beer styles like NEIPA’s is that even commercial breweries are still experimenting with ingredients, hop combinations and techniques so as a home brewer with no limits or commercial concerns you can really push the boat out.

New England IPA Essentials

The profile of NEIPA is hop driven, not just any hops though, typically hops with a heavy tropical fruit aroma. The beer is often described as juicy which unfortunately doesn’t really describe the flavour but I think it relates to the flavour of overly ripe tropical and stone fruit. The flavour is mango, pineapple, passionfruit heavy and the level of bitterness restrained to give the impression of a “juicy” beer.

Hops are predominately new varieties and even experimental varieties of hops that don’t even have names yet. Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic and Azacca are all likely candidates. These hop varieties all have the character we are looking for and new experimental varieties are emerging that are ripe for trying out.

Excessive dry hopping with these kinds of hops is necessary to get maximum aroma into the beer as is normal with most IPA but the differences to say a west coast IPA comes to the bittering additions. The bitterness in NEIPAs is lower sometimes dramatically lower. The idea behind this is to fill the beer with huge amounts of aroma with a smooth flavour and fuller body to enhance the “juicy” character of the beer.

The malt for a NEIPA fades into the background, it’s supposed to be neutral. Predominantly pale malts or extra pale malts are used. Caramel malts are used in a very restrained manner if at all, often light special malts like Carapils are used.

Unmalted Grains

The key part of the grain bill is the unmalted grains, these along with the huge amount of dry hops are what causes the turbidity in the beer. Flaked wheat and oats are added in the grist in fairly large percentages which introduce starches and protein that boost the haze and create a smooth and full body in the beer.

Yeast strains are varied for the style both English and US ale yeasts are used and can range from neutral to fruity strains that produce more esters. A couple of choices are Vermont Ale yeasts, White Labs WLP095 Burlington or Wyeast 1318 London III if you want something specific you could always just use Safale US-05 for a neutral yeast profile should you wish.

New England IPA Recipe

NEIPA - American IPA
================================================================================
Batch Size: 18.5 L
Boil Size: 23 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.014
ABV: 6.0%
Bitterness: 44.9 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 10 SRM (Morey)
Fermentables
================================================================================
Name  Type    Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
Pale Malt (2 Row) UK Grain  5.000 kg    Yes   No   78%   6 L
Oats, Malted Grain 700.000 g    Yes   No   80%   2 L
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L Grain 350.000 g    Yes   No   75%  20 L
Wheat, Torrified Grain 276.165 g    Yes   No   79%   3 L
Total grain: 6.326 kg
Hops
================================================================================
Name Alpha   Amount     Use       Time   Form  IBU
Columbus (Tomahawk) 14.0% 32.000 g    Boil 60.000 min Pellet 44.9
Citra 12.0% 65.000 g   Aroma    0.000 s   Leaf  0.0
Chinook 13.0% 40.000 g   Aroma    0.000 s   Leaf  0.0
Mosaic (HBC 369) 12.2% 65.000 g Dry Hop  5.000 day Pellet  0.0
Chinook 13.0% 40.000 g Dry Hop  5.000 day Pellet  0.0
Yeast
================================================================================
Name Type Form    Amount   Stage
Safale American   Ale  Dry 50.275 mL Primary
Mash
================================================================================
Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
Mash In Infusion 15.000 L 75.227 C 65.000 C 60.000 min
Final Batch Sparge Infusion 15.000 L 85.879 C 75.000 C 15.000 min
Brewing Kit Giveaway

Small Batch Extract Brewing Kit Giveaway – Worth £70

Brewing Kit Giveaway

Today we have something a little different, we are really excited to be offering one of you guys the chance to win one of our small batch extract brewing kits.

The whole purpose of Home Brew Answers was to help people understand how to home brew. Creating beer recipe kits that made the process of home brewing as simple as possible was the next logical step. The response to this endeavour has been great and I hope we have gotten a few more people into the hobby.

Keeping this in mind we have decided that what better way to thank you, the people who come and read this site than to give away one of the extract brewing starter sets and a beer kit of your choice.

Complete Beer Kit Original

We designed these beer kits to use minimal amounts of equipment and to be able to brew a beer in the kitchen on the stove. The equipment consists of the following: fermenting bucket, bottling bucket and filler, capper, caps, hydrometer, thermometer, airlock and syphon tubing. You can view the setup here.

Each beer kit produces 8 litres of beer and the range is gradually expanding as we introduce new beer styles and try to keep things interesting.

If you want to be in with a chance of winning the brewing starter set all you need to do is go to this page and register your details to sign up to our newsletter. The competition will run until 19th June 2017 at which point we will randomly select an entry and get in touch with you to confirm that you’ve won.

Enter Here!

Get over to the entry page now and register!

 

 

Warm Fermented Lager

Lager Fermented At Ale Temperatures?

Warm Fermented Lager

Fermenting a beer with a lager yeast at ale temperatures. There are probably a few purists that will say the beer will end up a mess of off flavours and fusel alcohols. I have bent the rules however and done this very thing, fermented a lager yeast at 18°C and the result, is quite simply, a fantastic beer!

The term lager is not really appropriate to a beer fermented at ale temperatures. One of the most distinguishing features of lager is that it is matured in cold storage (store/storeroom is the literal translation of lager). The other defining feature of lager however, is the yeast strain used to ferment it. Ales are fermented with top fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and lagers are fermented with a different species of yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) which are bottom fermenting.

It’s safe to say a lager made at ale temperatures cannot be called a lager at all, it is a hybrid beer. Will it taste like a lager, though? Or will it taste like a complete mess? Depending on your recipe and the lager yeast strain you use, it can taste just like a lager, there may be some differences in a side by side comparison but you get a lot of the same characteristics as well as a delicious beer in its own right.

If you would prefer a more traditional lager recipe you will find my go to Pilsner recipe here.

Warm Temperature Lager Yeast Strains

When choosing a yeast strain to use you have to do a little research. If you look at the note released with each strain provided by the manufacturer you can easily find suitable lager yeast strains that can deal with higher temperatures without producing a lot of undesirable flavours. It should be noted, not all lager yeast strains are going to make a pleasant beer if you ferment them warm.

Every yeast lab will give you recommended fermenting temperatures for each yeast strain they produce. As an example take the dry yeast from Fermentis:

Saflager W-34/70, it states right on the front of the packet the recommended fermentation temperature range is between 9 – 22°C, this is something I only first noticed from a post on Brulosophy, the range does seem incredibly wide.

Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager is another yeast strain I have experimented with. Bohemian Lager, this is another yeast strain that has the detail we are looking for right in the notes from the lab;

A versatile strain, that is great to use with lagers or Pilsners for fermentations in the 45-55°F (8-12°C) range. It may also be used for Common beer production with fermentations at 65-68°F (18-20°C).

If you spend a little time looking up various yeast strains it is possible to find something you can use in an unconventional way. These two strains just go to show that yeast can be a very versatile ingredient of a beer recipe.

Common Beer

In the quote from Wyeast above, you may have noticed the term Common beer. This refers to an American lager beer style like California Common or Steam Beer. One notable example of a common is Anchor Steam Beer. The defining features of these American Lagers are that they are fermented with lager yeast strains at higher than usual temperatures.

This quote from the BJCP guidelines gives us an idea why these lagers are fermented warmer:

Large shallow open fermenters (coolships) were traditionally used to compensate for the absence of refrigeration and to take advantage of the cool ambient temperatures in the San Francisco Bay area. Fermented with a lager yeast, but one that was selected to thrive at the cool end of normal ale fermentation temperatures.

Common beers are usually fermented around 14 – 18°C, which, as you can see is just in the ballpark of an ale fermentation temperature. This makes the case for using lager yeast at warmer temperatures even stronger, one particular yeast strain that is synonymous with steam beer is WLP810 San Francisco Lager yeast from white labs. The recommended fermentation range for this yeast is between 15 – 18°C.

California Common is not a beer that is widely produced in the UK, I’m not too sure why this is but there are many hundreds of examples brewed in the US that the British drinker may be familiar with, the previously mentioned Anchor Steam and Flying Dog Amber Lager are a couple of examples.

Designing A Warm Fermented Lager Recipe

Now we know there are some lager yeast strains that can turn out a beer when fermented warm then we can think of how to make a beer around them. I decided that there was not much point in following any particular style guidelines for this kind of beer. You could, of course, follow a particular lager recipe if you wanted.

I know that I wanted a beer that was light in colour like a pilsner but also that uses ingredients that were closer to home just like the early California Common brewers would do.

It’s for this reason I have chosen a grain bill made up of 50% Pilsner malt and 50% Extra Pale Maris Otter. Extra pale Maris Otter is a grain I’ve been using a lot recently and it provides some of the character of Maris Otter we all know while lending itself to lighter coloured beers.

The hops are a combination of Perle from Germany and a classic hop variety for lagers alongside East Kent Golding to give the lager an earthy and floral note.

The yeast strain in this beer is the most important part of the recipe. I chose Saflager W-34/70 and held the fermentation temperature at 18°C, there was plenty of sulphur notes coming from the fermenter on the nose but not very much at all, if any, in the taste when the beer was bottled. Whether you agree with me or not this yeast strain has made a delicious lager and I am in the process of experimenting a little more with these “common” style beers.

 

Maris Otter EP Lager - Dortmunder Export
================================================================================
Batch Size: 18.000 L
Boil Size: 21.000 L
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.053
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.2%
Bitterness: 22.3 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 6 SRM (Morey)
Fermentables
================================================================================
Name  Type   Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
Pale Malt, Maris Otter Grain 2.300 kg    Yes   No   82%   6 L
Pilsner (2 Row) UK Grain 2.300 kg    Yes   No   78%   2 L
Total grain: 4.600 kg
Hops
================================================================================
Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time Form  IBU
Perle  8.0% 20.000 g Boil 60.000 min Leaf 17.9
Perle  8.0% 10.000 g Boil 10.000 min Leaf  3.2
Golding  5.0% 10.000 g Boil  5.000 min Leaf  1.1
Yeast
================================================================================
Name  Type Form    Amount   Stage
Saflager Lager Lager  Dry 11.000 mL Primary
Mash
================================================================================
Name     Type   Amount     Temp   Target       Time
Mash In Infusion 11.960 L 73.092 C 65.556 C 75.000 min
Final Batch Sparge Infusion 11.031 L 87.450 C 75.556 C 15.000 min

 

Quick To Brew Beers

Brewing Beers With A Quick Turnaround

Quick To Brew Beers

Is It Possible To Go From Grain To Glass In 10 Days?

Brewing a quick turnaround beer or a “fast” beer is entirely possible and something I have done before in a pinch. Today we will look at some of the factors to take note of brewing a beer quickly.

You have just gone to get a bottle of home brew from the fridge, there are only a couple left. You check the keg you started a few weeks back and there is only a few pints left. Pretty soon you’ll be all out of beer. If you brew fairly regularly then you may have had the experience of getting caught out in a position like this. What you need is a home brew that has a quick turnaround. From grain to glass in as short of a period as possible. You want to get the fridge stocked and a keg filled.

Of course taking your time with each batch of beer is likely to yield the best results in the long term. There are ways, however, of making good beer that don’t require lot’s of time to be ready. It is a case of thinking about the way beer conditions and ages and then building your recipe around this.

How To Brew Quick Turnaround Beers

The length of time it takes for a beer to be ready is variable. A lot of factors can make affect the time from grain to glass. Trying to compress this period to get a beer ready to drink requires a little bit of thought.

There are definitely beer styles that you won’t be able to brew quickly and you can take off the list. High gravity beers and sour beers require a lot of time fermenting and conditioning to be contenders for a quick turnaround beer. The same applies to lagers which take much longer to ferment at low temperatures than ales fermented at warmer temperatures (although commercial brewers even turn lager out quickly).

Now we have excluded a few beer styles it gives us a bit more direction on what we should be looking to brew. A beer that has a low starting gravity will ferment quicker than a high gravity beer and a quick fermenting ale yeast to shorten the time it takes to get to final gravity.

The Importance of Yeast For Brewing Beers Quickly

When brewing any beer the biggest chunk of time from the brewday to getting the beer kegged or bottled is the fermentation and conditioning period. If you can shorten this phase of making the beer then the turnaround will be much quicker.

This fermentation and conditioning phase is all down to the yeast and the environment they have in the wort you produce. Producing a wort that has ideal conditions and pitching the right amount of healthy, viable yeast cells will mean they can ferment the wort and produce less undesirable flavours during the process. Reusing yeast from a previous batch is an ideal way to pitch enough yeast.

Choosing A “Fast” Yeast Strain

Selecting a yeast strain to ferment a beer quickly means you need to look for certain traits. The best strains will likely have the following characteristics:

High attenuation – High attenuation means the yeast will ferment out to a low final gravity and usually in a timely fashion

Highly flocculant – High flocculation will result in the yeast dropping out of suspension quickly so once fermentation is complete the beer clears a lot quicker. Although wheat beer strains are an exception

Tolerates higher fermentation temperatures – If you can ferment a beer warmer, around 22°C for example, the yeast will attenuate out much faster than at 18°C. Optimal ranges for yeast are always listed on the package, at these higher end of these optimal ranges the yeast will ferment quicker without producing undesirable compounds such as higher alcohols and phenols.

Picking yeast strains with these traits will usually result in faster fermenting beers and beers that condition a lot quicker than usual.

Utilising Bold & Strong Flavours

“Fast” brewed beers can suffer from being “green”. In other words, most beers take a little time for the flavours and byproducts created during fermentation to even out and round off. This is why we want to choose a yeast strain that limits the production of byproducts that will affect the taste of the beer.

Conditioning the beer for a period of a few weeks to allow the flavour to round out really isn’t an option if you want to brew a beer quickly and be drinking it in around 10 days. If however we make a lower alcohol, bold flavoured beer any potential undesirable flavours can be overwhelmed so you don’t notice their presence. Clean tasting or subtle beers are usually best avoided for quick to brew beers.

Choosing roasted grains and caramel malts with bags of flavour will fill the palate when you drink it, the same is true of using bold, fruity and citrusy hops. When you fill a beer with flavour any undesirable flavours that are a consequence of short brewing times get disguided.

A Couple of Examples

  • Make a 4% ABV Stout and the dominant flavour you are going to taste straight from the fermenter is toasty, roasty, chocolate and toffee notes. Big bold flavours will always shine.
  • A Session Pale Ale of around 3.8% with bags of hops added at the end of the boil. The main flavour will be these aroma hops even before the beer has been carbonated the flavours fill the mouth
  • A 3.2% Mild although being a really low ABV has complex malt driven flavour. Mild are a definite contender for being one of the best fast to brew beers.
  • A 4.5% wheat beer although it uses simple fairly neutral tasting ingredients has one of the boldest tasting yeast strains. Wheat beers are also hazy by nature so flocculation of the yeast isn’t really a concern.

Packaging & Carbonating Your Beer

A truly quick beer will need to be kegged and force carbonated, a process that will take far less time than bottling and waiting for the beer to carbonate over a week or two. Once the beer is racked into a keg you can add CO2 immediately by either shaking the keg or if you have one using a carbonation stone. This will easily carbonate the beer within 24 hours and you can start pouring straight away.

If you have no other option than to bottle the beer, you will have to wait at least a week to achieve any kind of carbonation. The process can be sped along a little by holding the bottles at around 26°C for 3 – 4 days. This is how many commercial breweries bottle condition beers by using warm rooms. After a few days, you can let the bottles condition at normal temperature and check the carbonation by opening a bottle. Once carbonated the bottles can be chilled and served as and when needed.

Beer Kits

Our Malt Extract Beer Kits & What’s Coming Next

As you may or may not be aware, there is now a shop here on Home Brew Answers primarily selling small batch malt extract beer kits. When I initially setup this website the whole point was to get more people brewing. When I tell people I brew they are always interested. It’s not always the easiest hobby to explain in a conversation so Home Brew Answers is where I try to direct people.

The first article I published here was “How To Make A Beer Kit”. It is still one of the most popular pages here. It seemed pretty obvious that I should do something to try and make beer kits a little bit better than the old “Kit and Kilo” (beer kits that rely on plain sugar) type of brewing kits that new brewers start out with.

That is why I chose to make all the core small batch beer kits in the range using malt extract, plus steeped grains, hops and quality dried yeast.

Beer Kits

Why Malt Extract Beer Kits?

Malt extract is a great way to make beer and that’s why we have chosen it for the core beer kits in our range. The quality of malt extracts available today is a lot better than a few years ago, plus the range of malt extracts mean you can brew a large range of beers without having to compromise or be limited on which styles to brew.

When we set about designing our malt extract beer kits the primary goal was to brew beers with maximum flavour, clean tasting with no undesirable characters. If we couldn’t do that using malt extract, we wouldn’t use it at all.

What Is Malt Extract?

All of our beer kits currently use dried malt extract. You can get both liquid malt extract (LME) or dry malt extract (DME). The beauty of dry malt extract is its stability is a lot better than LME which can pick up flavours in storage and dried extract is far easier to handle and package in the correct quantities.

The way any malt extract is made, is in a brewery. We use Muntons malt extract who have a commercial brewing facility. They take malted barley and add it to a vessel called a mash tun to convert the starches in the malt to sugar, a process called the mash. This is exactly what pretty much every commercial brewery in the world does to make a beer. The grain is separated from the liquid which is now called wort. After this the wort is boiled exactly the same as a commercial brewery would do. At this point, however, the wort is concentrated by boiling to create a syrup which is liquid malt extract or, alternatively, dried completely by spraying the wort into a heated chamber to make a powder which is dry malt extract.

Malt extract beer kits are just one step away from brewing beer like a commercial brewery would.

Malt Extract Beer Kits Are A Lot More Consistent

This process means one step of brewing is completed by a commercial brewery. The product we use, malt extract, is consistent every single time. It will produce the same results and therefore using it in a beer kit means you can consistently create the same beer no matter who brews it.

We spend a lot of time brewing and re-brewing each beer before it gets made into a beer kit to sell on Home Brew Answers. You could say we are well versed in what you can and cannot do with malt extract beers. The thing is there are far too many benefits to brewing with extract to not develop beers using it. If you have ever made one of our extract beer kits you’ll know just how easy it is to use.

First of all utilising malt extract as a base for our beers means you the brewer get a consistent result. All grain brewing has a lot of variables to control which impact the final beer, by removing the mash and using malt extract our beer kits are a lot more consistent when you are starting out, meaning you get a better tasting beer.

Secondly brewing a malt extract beer kit require less equipment and smaller size vessels than brewing an all grain beer. We want anyone to be able to brew and for it to be as accessible as possible meaning the cost to get started brewing is lower

Adding Special Malts To Our Beer Kits Builds Flavour

We use malt extract as a base for our beer kits. On top of this, we select grains for each of our recipes that add layers of flavour, colour and body. These speciality grains are steeped before the malt extract is added, the steeping extracts complex flavours and colours.

It’s these speciality malts that allow us to brew a stout that is almost black in colour and also a very light pale ale, both these beers use the same malt extract but 90% of the malt flavour comes from steeping these special malts.

Using a combination of malt extract and steeping grains gives you the best of both worlds, it makes brewing a lot quicker and simpler but also enables you to create complex and unique flavours and beer styles. Plus this method it so much more adaptable than pretty much every other beer kit on the market.

What’s Next For Home Brew Answers Beer Kits?

The range of beer kits is slowly expanding, there are plans for more beer kits in different styles. Each one we release is brewed multiple times and tweaked to get it just right so this process takes time. Eventually, we want to offer a wide range of beer styles and unique seasonal beer kits too.

All Grain Beer Kits

At the same time as developing more extract kits, we are shortly going to be releasing small batch all grain beer kits. These are going to make the same amount of beer, 8 litres, which will use primarily all the same equipment as the extract beer kits.

This means if you have bought the complete brewing equipment kit here then the only further item you’ll need is a mashing bag which we have sourced and are ready to stock.

 

Small batch German Wheat just hitting the boil #homebrew #wheat #smallbatch #beer #weißen

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All grain beer kits will open up the possibilities of which beer recipes we can create so the possibilities will be almost limitless. We have already developed a German Weissbier and a New England IPA that are ready to go.

Any Suggestions / Feedback

If you have any suggestions on the sort of beer styles, types of beer kits or just anything you would like to see available in the shop please drop a comment below or email. Cheers

 

 

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