HOMEBREW Digest #119 Tue 04 April 1989
FORUM ON BEER, HOMEBREWING, AND RELATED ISSUES
Rob Gardner, Digest Coordinator
Commercial Yeast / Hop Bags (Mike Fertsch)
Freezing yeasts (Michael Bergman)
Re: yeast, hops, coolers (Pete Soper)
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Date: Mon, 3 Apr 89 10:00 EST
From: Mike Fertsch <hplabs!uiucdcs!adc1.RAY.COM!FERTSCH>
Subject: Commercial Yeast / Hop Bags
> From: Paul Perlmutter <paul at hppaul>
> Subject: Free Commercial Yeast
> It would be interesting to know people's experience using yeasts
> cultured directly from commercial brews that are not pastuerized,
> such as Sierra Nevada (and Samuel Adams?).
A few years back, I make a Barleywine Ale, fermented with dregs of two
bottles of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot BarleyWine. I made a starter with 2 pints
of water, around 1/2 cup of dry extract, and sterilized it in my small
pressure cooker. After cooling, I poured the last ounce from two bottles
of the Sierra Nevada beer (the bottom of the bottle has the most yeast
sediment) into my starter. In about two days, the starter was going, and I
pitched it into my Barleywine. The beer was superb. (I formulated the
recipe to be somewhat between Bigfoot and Anchor Brewing's Old Foghorn. I
called my beer 'Big Old Fogfoot').
Sierra Nevada now filters their beer prior to bottling. It still is
unpasteurized, but there is significantly less sediment to make into a
starter. Sierra Nevada is unpasteurized, so starters can be made. It is
just more difficult now than before. Here on the East Coast, SN is not
always in best condition, so I use Wyeast's Sierra Nevada strain (#1056).
I try to get two batches out of a Wyeast package.
People in my brewclub have successfully cultured yeast from several Belgian
Ales (Chimay and Orval, I believe). The key is to get fresh beer. Old beer
has dead yeast. I've tried making a starter from Hoegarden Gran Cru this
Christmas - it didn't take, probably because of its age.
Sam Adams is another animal alltogether. Sam Adams is a contract beer from
Pittsburgh Brewing, the makers of Iron City. As a large brewery, I would
be VERY surprised if they let any beer out the door in an unpasteurized
state. I've found Sam Adams to be crystal clear, with no sediment or haze
at all. Don't count on it for culturing.
> From: hplabs!uiucdcs!iwtsf!korz (Algis R Korzonas +1 312 979 8583)
> Subject: straining
> The hop bag, I was told by my retailer (Greg
> Lawrence - Lil' Olde Winemaking Shoppe), is made of polyester,
> not nylon as many posters have mentioned. A chemist or two
> may want to comment, but I believe that nylon still contains
> aromatic hyrdocarbons, which I would rather keep out of my
In the past I've used hop bags out of cheesecloth. They are cotton, so
they should be inert enough. Cheesecloth is cheap, so I just throw the bags
away, like a big teabag. The bad part is making the bags in the first
place. We (my wife, actually) use a sewing maching to sew the hops in the
I now use a 'zapap' type strainer (the bucket with billions of tiny holes -
described in TCJOH) to strain my hops. I just realized that 'Papazian'
spelled backwards is 'naizapap' - I now know the origin of 'zapap'.
fertsch at meccad.ray.com
fertsch%meccad.ray.com at a.cs.uiuc.edu
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Date: Mon, 3 Apr 89 13:12:14 edt
From: bergman at medusa.m2c.org (Michael Bergman)
Subject: Freezing yeasts
A friend of mine who reads homebrew in print form and is a
microbiologist as well as a brewer looked at the discussion on
freezing yeasts and pointed out something important--if your
refigerator is a frost-free model, then there may be enough
temperature variation in the freezer, especially near the door, to
damage the yeast. They (yeasts) keep quite well frozen, but will be
ruined if subjected to a repeated freeze-thaw cycle.
bergman at m2c.org
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Date: Mon, 3 Apr 89 17:35:44 edt
From: Pete Soper <soper at maxzilla.encore.com>
Subject: Re: yeast, hops, coolers
From: weinberg at duvel.ias.edu (Martin Weinberg)
>the dried yeast than the liquid yeast cultures. Are we overpitching
>when we use the dried yeasts?
No. A pitching rate frequently seen in descriptions of commercial
brewing practices is 5% by volume. That's a quart of yeast per 5 gallons
of wort. That's *yeast*, not yeast+starter wort. When you think of a
2000 barrel batch of wort in a real brewery, the mind boggles. This
also brings out a difference in potential sanitation levels. With 400
barrels of yeast, it would be hard to grossly contaminate it if you
wanted to. With our dinky little packets of yeast a single speck of
dust in a starter can affect the flavor of the beer.
I have one of those BrewCo caps which together with an upside-down
carboy allows collecting the yeast from a primary fermentation. I
haven't used it yet. Partly because it is gardening time here, but also
because I'm afraid of not being able to maintain proper sanitation.
But if I've got a quart of yeast paste, a speck of dust won't have the
same impact, since by definition I won't have significant growth of yeast
(or bacteria) before pitching it again. Hmm.
From: Dr. T. Andrews <tanner at ki4pv>
>I don't keep sterile wort on hand, either. When I plan to make beer,
>I sterilize a half-gallon glass vessel (the usual bleach-water) and
>produce some boiled wort on the spot. Use light-coloured DME, boil
>it for a few minutes, cool it, and pour into the glass vessel. Add
>yeast to this. Cover with clean saucer, or use sterilized plug &
I just can't be happy with chlorine for something that has to be
truly sterile. The catch-22 with chlorine is that I would have to
rinse it out but this might compromise the sanitation level. What could
I safely rinse it out with? Heat-sterilized water. Why don't I heat-
sterilize the item in the first place? And so it goes.
Around 15-30 minutes at 250 degrees fits my idea of sterilization.
But I'm not without sin here, since I still place a "sanitized" lock
on my sterile bottle of wort. I've been too lazy and cheap to
to buy glass fermentation locks that can be autoclaved. If I get
involved with slants using Leistad's procedures then glass locks
will be mandatory. Leistad's book can be ordered from American
Brewmaster at (919) 850-0095 for a few bucks, incidently.
Boiling starter wort for just a few minutes hasn't got a chance of
coagulating proteins, so I would trade a lack of darkening (and IMHO a
lack of complete sterilization) for haze material. I boil my starter
wort in bulk for 45 minutes and get rid of the break prior to running
it through the canner. I should point out that my latest "Steam Pilsner"
has a color of about 2.5-3 degrees Lovibond. To give you an idea of what
this looks like, PU is about 3.5 and Bud is about 2. My starter wort
looks like it is around 15 degrees (i.e. much darker than Bass Ale's 11
degrees but lighter than a real "dark" beer) . Thus a quart starter
would add almost a degree to the overall color. If I'm going to add
this color, I want it to come from munich or crystal or the like, not
from a caramelized starter.
But the thing I'm still curious about is whether you fellow Homebrew
Digesters ferment your starters out fully before pitching them?
>If I were really worried about keeping the colour light, and needed
>canned wort, I might make a batch of sterile wort by mashing a couple
>of pounds of pale lager malt, boiling the resultant barley-water, and
>canning. The DME wort is generally darker than from pale grain.
That's a great idea. A wort of around 1.018 SG made from the 6 row
malt I'm using now would have a starting color of roughly 1-1.5 degrees,
which would allow for a lot of caramelization without getting too dark.
>On hops: I always use one of those hops bags for pellets. If I am
>using more than one type of pellets, or inserting the same variety
>at two points in the boil, I use more bags. They're (a) dirt cheap
>(b) easily cleaned after use with pellets. Keep 4 in your beer-making
>drawer. That way you have a spare.
Hop bags sound like a real convenience item. But can hase free beers
be made with hop bags? Is extraction of bitterness/flavor/aroma as efficient?
My experience has been that getting rid of pellet hops is easy, since
they settle nicely once the wort has been force cooled to around 50-60
degrees. Getting rid of the hot break is more of a problem, since
I'm always fighting to get my wort Ph low enough and this seems to be the
magic factor. I am cursed by bicarbonate water and even after boiling
the heck out of it the Ph is marginally high. It's getting rid of
cold break that has been really difficult and this is the primary reason
I'm buying a chest type freezer this week.
Incidently, I got a new Williams catalog recently and it advertises
an appliance controller exactly like Darryl Richman's description.
That is, it has a temperature probe and controls power to the whole
appliance. It also costs around $50 with shipping, which is one third
the cost of a used 9 cubic foot freezer.
Pete Soper, Encore Computer Corp, 901 Kildaire Farm Rd., bldg D
Cary, North Carolina 27511 USA phone 1 919 481 3730
arpa: soper at encore.com (184.108.40.206)
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