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02/18/08 06:51 PM  
Huge beer procedure
I made my westy clone today using the D2 syrup from the sugar swap. My OG was 1.10. Biggest all grain beer I've made. I used yeast nutrient in the boil and then oxygenated for about 30 sec. with pure 02. Is there a rule of thumb for dealing with beers like this? Should I hit it with 02 again at some point (like on day 2)?

Or just let it run its course? I pitched a big starter of WYeast Abbey ale II and it took off in about 90 minutes.

thanks in advance.


02/19/08 09:58 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Depends... how big is a big starter?

And how did you grow it?

02/19/08 10:03 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Baums, I don't have very much background in aerating, but arn't to supposed to only do that before fermentation is apparent?
02/19/08 10:12 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
O2 should be applied before fermentation starts and my general rule is 1 minute for medium gravity beers and two minutes for high gravity beers. Also for high gravity beers you should make a large starter of fresh yeast.
02/19/08 10:20 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Steve, I think mostly you're right. But, on the other hand I know guys at a very well respected microbrewery who don't think twice about aerating even later than the 24 hour point. I think it's not a black or white thing--anytime you introduce oxygen you do some damage--but the extent of that damage is dependent upon a lot of factors, and it may not be significant in some cases.

That said, I'm definitely not psyched about doing any late aerations. Just like you, I suspect.

Anyway I'm actually asking about Ryan's starter more because if it seems like there could be a problem, it's easier and more effective to add some extra yeast now, vs. later when the thing is 10% alcohol. I think adding yeast is much safer than adding more oxygen.

02/19/08 10:38 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure

Let us know how this beer turns out as I'm very interested due to the short lag time. My worst beers were always the ones with 4 hour or shorter lag times. I'm not saying that will be your experience but it has always been that way for me.

02/19/08 01:19 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Hey guys

I started my started with a smack pack of Abby II from Wyeast that had not yet swelled. I first pitched it into 2L of 1040 worth (DME) that was boiled with yeast nutrient. I hit the starter with pure 02 for about 15 sec. and then put it on a stir plate with loose foil. 36 hours later, I added that to another 2L of same, more 02 and yeast nutrient, back on the stir plate. I oxygenated the wort for about 30-60 sec right before pitching.

It now has a full head of kreusen. I'm just wondering if it will get stuck or if it'll be okay.

For some reason, I haven't had a beer lag more than a few hours in about a half dozen brews. Even my 100% B. lambicus took off in under an hour and that was a 1075 wort.

I may be pitching too warm, but yesterday I made sure the wort was cool (60s) before pitching so that can't be the whole explanation.

So no more 02 at this point? I have champagne yeast I can add later, but I'd rather let the Abby ale yeast impart its character first.

Ross....you're freakin' me out man.

02/19/08 01:36 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Ryan, Id think you should be fine. Im no microbiologist, and have no clue why, but Ive had some yeast that was slow to start, regardless of how much I poked at it and tried getting it going faster. It seems as though all my controllable conditions were all good, but was still slow to get going. I havent had any issues yet with a beer not finishing, so hopefully youll have the same luck!

I definitely wouldnt hit it with anymore O2 though if it has already krausened.

02/19/08 01:38 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
"Ross....you're freakin' me out man."

Well in two more weekends Ross will be attending Belgian Brewing Boot Camp (BBB-C) for re-programming at my house. Hopefully he'll stop freakin out folks here as well as himself!


02/19/08 01:46 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure

how does one get invited to one of these courses and are fatigues required?

02/19/08 01:55 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
One merely has to ask and arrange agreeable dates. I stop brewing at the end of April or beginning of May because it's so freakin hot in Tucson by then and brewing outside becomes unbearable. Clothing is required but it's your choice as to what fashion statement you want to make.

The schedule so far is Friday afternoon we taste different beers and then we go to my band's rehearsal for the evening with more beer tasting. On Saturday we will brew a multi step mash Tripel (this will be a split fermentation with Brett CL and WLP550)with more beer tasting and that evening go see one of my friend's Led Zeppelin tribute band. Sunday we will bottle a brett CL Strong Golden in corked and wire wrapped 750's followed by more beer tasting and whatever. Daily discussions will about brewing techniques and what really matters and what to stop worrying about.

02/19/08 01:57 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
...and I forgot that there may be a field trip to our walk in cooler on the other side of town where we have a couple barrel projects in progress.
02/19/08 02:09 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Seems about right to me then Ryan. The way I figure (assuming this is a 5 gallon batch, assuming about 100B cells grow in a stirred 1L starter, and assuming 50-100B good cells in the Wyeast pack) you pitched ~1 million cells/ml/P, and the cells should be healthy. So, I don't see anything obvious to worry about.

BTW I personally would never worry about lag time unless it's really long.

02/19/08 02:13 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Hmmm I smell another experiment coming up......a webcam pointed at a carboy in time-lapse mode! Might be an interesting video :)

02/19/08 02:29 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Thanks Baums

Cisco: sounds like fun. Love me some Zeppelin.

Maybe someday eh?

02/19/08 03:27 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Whenever. It's up to you and my schedule. You might want to find out what Ross's experience was like.
02/19/08 07:49 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
I'm really looking forward to boot camp....I just hope I don't wash out 'cause it sounds like my liver will!!

Don't freak out about the short lag times Ry! I too; and this is the only thing I would say this about; would rather have a short one than a long one..! :-)

I thought I was crazy about some of my beers not being as good with the shorter lag times but Jamil explains it on a couple of his shows on why short lag times don't usually equate to great beer. I'm speaking of the difference between good beer and great beer only. The short lag times should still produce really good beer. Know what I mean Vern?

Of course, when I start brewing great beer after my training at camp Cisco, I'll be able to speak more authoritatively regarding the subject! :-)

02/19/08 08:11 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Also, since I opened my big mouth I figured I'd look up some info at Mr. Malty. All of you yeast dudes out there, please correct my math if I'm not correct.

For 5 gallons of 1.100 wort, ~ 336 Billion yeast cells are required.

One pack of a Wyeast pack in 2L raises the cell count to approximately 220 billion. Now add another 2L and you'll be around 440 billion; nearly a 30% over pitch.

Now read what Dave Logsdon of Wyeast says about over pitching:

Logsdon says, I try to stay within 20% of my ideal pitch rate and I prefer to slightly under pitch rather than over pitch. This causes more cell growth, more esters, and better yeast health. Over pitching causes other problems with beer flavor, such as a lack of esters. Changes in the flavor profile are noticeable when the pitch rates are as little as 20% over the recommended amount.

02/20/08 07:02 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Ironically, I made some effort to slightly under pitch thinking that I would get that ester production you're alluding to Ross. I split the gallon starter between two five batches. However, I probably still overpitched by something closer to 30 or 40% because the 1.10 beer was only about 4 gallons (I only collected 1st runnings from a no sparge mash).

We'll see. It smells divine (really spicy and dark fruit...I think that that D2 sugar must really add the missing link).

02/20/08 01:11 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure

Using an equation from a Brewing Techniques article, 1.100 SG equals 23.7P. You can't say you're "underpitching" or "overpitching" without having some reference for the "normal" pitch rate--probably Logsdon's referring to the standard US micro rate of 1 M cells/ml/P. For 4 gallons (15.2 L) of Ryan's beer, that's 360 billion cells.

(And BTW, if you convert this to 5 gallons and drop the desired pitch rate to 0.75 M cells/ml/P, you get the Mr Malty number reported above. This lower pitch rate for ale was recommended by George Fix and others.)

Anyway, for Ryan's beer the US micro rate is *360B cells*, the "George Fix" rate is 3/4 of that or *270B cells*, and the lowest pitch rate at any brewery reported in Brew Like a Monk is about half the US micro rate or *180B cells*.

I figure the whole gallon starter had 450-500 B cells, so half of it would have 225-250 B cells. So I don't think you're overpitching at all--and in fact you're underpitching with respect to both the standard US micro rate and the George Fix rate, and closer to the minimum Belgian rate.

The calculation or "normal" pitch rate is very accurate (once you decide whose rule to follow) but the calculation of how many cells you grew in your starter isn't. (I just assumed 100B cells/L for your starter, based on the numbers I've seen.) There's some uncertainty (as much as 40% maybe) in that, and of course you'll only really know when you see how strong the ferment finishes, and taste the levels of acetate esters.

02/20/08 01:17 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Very interesting Baums.

If I'm close to the low end, then why such a short lag time?

By the way, I completely forgot to include the fact that I also added a drop of olive oil to the first 2L of starter. Not sure if that could be playing a role.

02/20/08 02:59 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
I think short lag time basically tells you that you've got some at least reasonably healthy yeast at the START of fermentation. But when we talk about aeration and pitch rate we're talking about whether there are sufficient resources (cell material) stocked up so that the yeast remain healthy even at the END of fermentation.

As for the olive oil, I think even without it your cells would be very fully stocked with fatty acids, since you give them continuous oxygen in the starter. But hey, maybe they are even more stocked up since you added the oil. Either way I don't think would would significantly impact lag time, because the yeast could ferment well at the start even if they didn't have large sterol/fatty acid reserves.

02/20/08 04:33 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
I guess I'm not fully understanding the metabolic cycle.

I thought that yeast started in an aerobic phase (or at least a growth phase) until the colony size was suitable to metabolize the sugars in the environment. when said colony size was reached, I thought they then switched to anaerobic metabolism (fermentation).

Thus, my interpretation has always been that once the lag time ended they had grown and started ferementing, but that prior to the lag, they were aerobic and just multiplying. As such, I assumed that my short lag times meant effectively zero colony growth.

Is this incorrect?

02/20/08 06:17 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Yeah, that's a common misconception that's been widely propagated in popular homebrewing books. I hate to just say what I think the truth really is, because how do you know I'm not telling you a bunch of BS as well? But, I don't have references with me, nor time to get super deep into it, so here's my current understanding. If you want a reference for something let me know and I'll try to find it.

(First, forget all that stuff about "stationary phase" and maximum yeast concentration, etc.)

If yeast can reproduce, they will (slight simplification). This is true regardless of whether there's oxygen in the wort (beginning of beer ferment) or not (middle and end of beer ferment).

But if the yeast run out of something they need for reproduction (such as nutrients, or sterol or fatty acid supplies) then

1. naturally they stop reproducing

2. therefore they need MUCH less energy (30-40X less)

3. therefore they ferment much much slower

4. more acetate esters get made (as long as there's still sugar available) out of stuff that would normally be used for growth

This is the classic "stuck" fermentation with resulting solventy beer. A fermentation that's not stuck is one in which the yeast can/do keep reproducing right up until the end.

Of course there's a middle ground, where the yeast are "starting to run out of gas" to some extent, as they hit the finish line. (I think of it like some fraction of the cells have run out of material--but I'm not certain that's exactly accurate.) It's tempting to say that you should run your fermentation so that 100% of the yeast are very healthy and reproducing right up until the end--and I personally believe that's often the best way to go for many beers.

But, the more you let the yeast run out of gas toward the end, the more acetate esters you get (to a point), and once in a while you might want that. A classic example is German Hefe brewing, where less yeast is pitched so that the cells come closer to running out of gas, and thus produce more isoamyl acetate (banana).

Common acetate esters are ethyl-, which is pearlike in low concentrations but solventy in high concentrations, isoamyl- which is banana, and phenylethyl- which is a nice rose thing like in Rochefort (note your Abbey Ale II should make some of this--and does make plenty according the Wyeast gas chromatograph experiment). If you make a beer and want more of this stuff the next time, reduce the pitch rate a bit. And vice versa.

By the way, what I've seen of the current literature is pretty clear that the non-acetate esters are NOT regulated by the same mechanism. Hence pitching rate is not a clear way to control these esters.

02/20/08 07:37 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Sometimes I wonder if I should have been a microbiologist instead of an evolutionary biologist. Super interesting dude.

Its probably a dumb question, but have these differences been quantified? I guess its hard to quantify thresholds for taste and smell, but if, for example, would the pheylethyl character double with half the pitch rate (e.g., if I'd pitched the first 2L of starter only)?

02/20/08 10:43 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
<<You can't say you're "underpitching" or "overpitching" without having some reference for the "normal" pitch rate>>

I did make a reference: to Mr. Malty.

<<I split the gallon starter between two five batches. >>

Why didn't ya' say so in the first place ya' douche!!! :-)

02/21/08 06:52 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure

If I remembered every detail from the get go, I'd be accused of being in need of reprogramming.


02/21/08 10:08 AM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Yeah it's been quantified in various papers (which is how I know that the qualitative link truly exists). Not sure how much use the exact numbers are, cause it's a different setting with a different yeast/wort/etc. But understanding the overall link can at least be useful for making adjustments to a beer the next time you brew it.

Changing pitch rate by a factor of 2 sounds a little drastic to me, but then again it's about the difference between the highest and lowest pitching rate "rules" mentioned earlier.

02/21/08 12:03 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Just peruzed through this thread....full of lots of great yeasty info - always amply provided by Baums - Thanks!....Baums, just to play devils advocate... In a recent Zymurgy they had a section of Jamil Z/John Palmer's new book on brewing with Hefe yeast (Hefe, dunkel, weizenbock, etc..) and he suggests the opposite of common belief - using a high pitch rate and cool fermentation temp to cut down on excess esters. He also states this is how classic examples are made.

02/21/08 01:36 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
It sounds like most people already said "don't worry yet and leave it be" so I'll just add my small 2 cents: If for some reason it is underattenuated (I don't think it will be) I would advise against champaigne yeast. Much better to go with a fresh Krausen of the original yeast. Champagne yeast can sometimes strip a beer of the leftover sweetness and leave it thin.
02/21/08 01:58 PM  
Re: Huge beer procedure
Potts--of course I agree with those guys that pitching higher and fermenting cooler should cut down on the banana and some other esters.

Whether that is "classic" for weizens, or whether the opposite approach is classic as I claimed, probably depends on which classic one you're talking about. I'm pretty sure at least one standard German text recommends managing yeast with lower pitch rates or higher temps, to increase esters. But there could be other perspectives of course.

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