HOMEBREW Digest #57 Tue 24 January 1989
FORUM ON BEER, HOMEBREWING, AND RELATED ISSUES
Rob Gardner, Digest Coordinator
blow-off tubes, mashing temps (Jeff Miller)
re: beginner bottle question (olson)
Pale Ale Problems (Joseph Palladino)
A mill-ion thanks (Peter Klausler)
Blow Off, Grain Crushing Comments & a Lager Question (rogerl)
RE: Big Brewer Blowoff (David Baer)
Hello, Methods, and Brewing Notes (Alex Jenkins)
Extract Pilsner, or What to do when 4 is to little, 8 too much? (Robert Bjornson)
Send submissions to homebrew%hpfcmr at hplabs.hp.com
Send requests to homebrew-request%hpfcmr at hplabs.hp.com
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 89 11:08:23 CDT
From: Jeff Miller <jmiller at unix.eta.com>
Subject: blow-off tubes, mashing temps
I've been sitting by watching the conversations on blow-off tubes and I
thought it was finally time to throw in my two cents. I am a firm believer
in the blow off tube method. I think it is the only way to go when doing
a single stage fermenter which is what I almost always do. If your using
a double stage fermentation then I would think that you might be able to
remove the wort from the oils before they start to get absorbed back into
I have never really had any headaches with the blow off method. I always
take a look at the fermenter on my way to the shower in the morning and
the one time things looked like they were stopping up I simply fixed it.
One of the guys I brew with regularly had a problem where his blow-off
tube blew off his fermenter but nothing nasty happened. A possible solution
for those concerned with carbouys blowing up might be to use a canadian
air lock. You can take the top off it and attach a hose around the outside.
I think this works better then trying to smash a tube into a one-hole stopper.
> What do the big brewers do? I don't recall A-B using hoses and scaled-up
> gallon jugs to collect their blowoff. Presumably, they use a closed
> fermentation system, with the resins falling back into the wort.
At Summit brewing they use a blow-off method. I would imagine that others
might be using a two stage fermentation process and could remove the beer
from the oils. Yet another concept is that some of these oils are intended
to be in their beers? I seem to get worse hangovers from commercial beer
then my beer and maybe it is because more oils are in the beer? Comments
> To get high body, you must mash low; to get thinner body, mash high.
Are you sure about this? I don't have a good memory and my books are at
home but I thought it was exactly opposite this. As I remember it the lower
temps cause the chains to get busted apart and the higher temps cause the
cains to be eaten from the ends. The longer the chains the more body.
I used to mash at higher temps and often had problems getting the iodine
to change. When I did a tripple decotion mash (starting as low as 90F) I
got complete conversion and a very light body brew. I'll have to check my
brewing books at home to see if I'm all wet and if Darryl was right.
Sorry John, if I were you I wouldn't use the screw top bottles. They are
a lot thinner and it would be a severe bummer if you started blowing up
bottles. As far as soft drink bottles there was an article in Zymurgy awhile
back that talked about using PET bottles. I could look it up if your
As far as Seattle, I don't know of any brewpubs but there is the Independent
Ale Brewery (Redhook) which might be nice.
Jeff Miller (jmiller at eta.com)
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Date: Mon, 23 Jan 89 10:27:44 EST
From: olson at cs.rochester.edu
Subject: re: beginner bottle question
John Opalko writes:
>I've decided to take the plunge and start brewing my own. The nice man at my
>friendly, neighborhood homebrew supply house informed me that the twist-
>off beer bottles (not screw cap) that I had been emptying and saving all these
>months are useless. He said that even though the bottles take a crown cap
>and will seal properly, the glass is thinner than regular bottles and I
>may end up with dozens of little, tiny time bombs.
>Is this true? Not that I have any reason to doubt him; just hoping. Are
>soft drink bottles acceptable? I've got zillions of sarsaparilla bottles
>that aren't twist-off. Nice dark brown glass, too.
An uninformed opinion, mind you - I haven't tried it. But I suspect that
the nice man is right. I bottle in a mixture of old Beck's and Molson
bottles. The Beck's are built like trucks, and look to be about as
robust as the classic longnecks. The Molson bottles are a lot thinner,
and I used to worry about them until I found out how bad that was for my
beer. In any case, none of them have ever gone boom.
The problem I'd guess is not so much the gas pressure as the strain of
being capped. Look closely at the rim of a twist-off bottle. No substance
to it at all. When you cap, you grab the poor baby by the neck in a pair
of steel jaws, then pull up on the neck and push down on the head hard enough
to bend the metal of the cap. My old capper (tall, has a spring and three
fingers that hook under the rim of the bottle, requires constant adjustment
and is generally a pain) used to bite the heads off one or two molson bottles
during every bottling session. If you bottle in twist-offs, you might
bite the heads off; if you're unlucky, you might weaken the rims enough
that the gas pressure does the rest. BTW, I now use a low-profile,
non-adjustable capper that seems to leave the Molson bottles alone.
Your sarsparilla bottles sound just fine. As I said, my experience with
lightly built molson bottles (I've used a few Anchors as well, they
too are rather flimsy-looking) suggests that anything with a non-twistoff
rim will do fine.
Just to be on the safe side, you might want to do what I do: after bottling,
put the bottles in case boxes and put the cases into a plastic lawn 'n' leaf
bag. My theory is that if the worst happens, most of the broken glass
will be contained by the bag, and maybe I'll have a little less mopping
up to do...
As Nicolette says somebody says, "May your bottles never break!"
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Date: Sat, 21 Jan 89 20:52:05 EST
From: palladin at moore.seas.upenn.edu (Joseph Palladino)
Subject: Pale Ale Problems
Dear Brewing Public:
I made my first batch of ale with:
3.3 lbs John Bull English Ale Extract (hopped)
3.3 lbs. Light malt extract
pelleted aroma hops (unknown amount and type)
It was fantastic.
I decided to get fancier:
1/2 lb crystal malt
6.6 lbs Amber malt extract
1.5 oz Cascades boiling
0.5 oz Cascades finishing
It tasted wimpy, not enough hops and had poor head.
After 3 months aging it is still wimpy and now there is
a head but it dies fast.
I tried Papazian's recipe for Palalia Pale Ale:
1 lb crystal malt
1/2 lb toasted malted barley
6.6 lbs. Amber malt extract
3 oz Cascades boiling
1 oz Cascades finishing
The specific gravity was lower than the recipe specified
i.e. 1.033, but I just switched to a carboy and I don't
think I mixed adequately. After one week it is cloudy and
yeasty, as expected at this time, but it seems almost too
hoppy, i.e. the hops predominate.
The bottom line is: my first batch using a kit entirely was
better than my "experiments". Any suggestions or recipes for
pale ale? I'm after something like Whitbread or Bass ale with
more body. How about changing hop types and/or amounts?
Will this current batch improve much with age?
Thank you for your support.
Poor Pale in Philadelphia
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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 89 08:03:57 CST
From: pmk at bedlam.cray.com (Peter Klausler)
Subject: A mill-ion thanks
... to those who wrote me re: crushing grains. After a humorous (in retrospect!)
attempt with a blender, I drove up to Semplex and bought the Corona mill.
Works great, couldn't be happier; first mash attempt is now busily fermenting.
(I've rationalized the $49 cost in a frugal, neurotic Minnesota Scandanavian
way by noticing that the mill should also be useful for grinding bread flour,
crushing nuts, and other making-big-things-much-much-smaller activities.)
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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 89 09:48:51 EST
From: rogerl at Think.COM
Subject: Blow Off, Grain Crushing Comments & a Lager Question
First Thanks to Dick Dunn for catching my typing error.(so much for my
proof reading skills)
Re: Blow Off - I use this when I want to ensure a smoother finished
product. I too have noticed that there is a difference between using
it and not. The difference is neither good nor bad, as was mentioned
by Gary Trujillo. The end product is just different. And I haven't
notice a hang over difference either.(more controlled studies are
needed here) About the mechanism for blow off the 1/2" hose mentioned
by Aljis Korzonas is definitely a prudent measure. The 1988 Special
issue of Zymurgy has an article about how to modify one of those
orange plastic carboy caps to accommodate the larger hose. These
wonderful caps will also prevent your carboy from making a mess of
themselves. They don't fit so tight that internal pressure can't
force them off. I'd rather have the top come off than have the floor
washed with an IPA. These caps have other virtues which are beyond
the scope of this discussion. Also all this about putting the end of
the hose in water may be a bit of overkill. A guy by the name of
Pasteur, first name Lou, a few years back proved that bacteria can't
make its way up and around a bend in a tube. So to be safe I start
the primary with a fermentation lock until the microbeasties get
going. When I know there's a steady output of gas I swap over to the
hose. The hose just hangs down into a bucket. When things calm down
I usually rack into the secondary, lock it and have a brew. So far
I've not had a problem. Maybe I worry to little, but things seem to
be OK so far. Comments?
Re:Grain Crushing - I'm an occasional masher, and find the pre-crushed
method to be the handiest for me. I've tried the blender routine a
couple of time but found the grain got too crushed, no matter how
short I zizzed it for. I've been led to believe that to fine a crush
is not good either. Is there a "correct" level of crushing? Can it
only be accomplished by a grain mill? All the Books say this is so.
What does experience say?
First Time Lagering Questions - I started a batch using the Ireks Malt
extract and Brewer's Choice liquid yeast et cetera. I started the
yeast per directions, built the wort, pitched it and trundled primary
et al down cellar. I checked it this morning and found the water in
the lock all on the wrong side. My guess is that this is due to
continued cooling. Should I worry about infection? I suspect some
additional air has gotten into the fermenter. Anyone with experience
lagering have advice? I'm not really worried about it, just curious.
I mean really, it's only one batch.
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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 89 09:32:14 PST
From: dsbaer at Sun.COM (David Baer)
Subject: RE: Big Brewer Blowoff
In this quarters AMERICAN BREWER magazine
there is a discussion of open and closed
fermentation (which is somewhat equivalent
to open vs blow-off to the homebrewer)
and there is no clean answer. The British
commercial breweries often use open
fermentation and then x-fer to conditioning
tanks or secondary fermentors after three
or four days. In my opinion, either method is
viable for producing very high quality beers.
Depending on what the goals are (very clean
tasting brews, or slightly yeasty, smoky ales)
you should pick the fermentation method that
will achieve the desired results.
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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 89 12:21:30 EST
From: hpfcla!hpwala!hp-pcd!cmcl2!harvard!prism.TMC.COM!atj (Alex Jenkins)
Subject: Hello, Methods, and Brewing Notes
Hello fellow zymurgists! Please excuse the length of this mail ... so
here goes anyway: I have been brewing beer for about three years.
I would like to share a few of my methods with the readers, because although
I would not necessarily recommend them, they do work well for me. The ales
and lagers I have produced are excellent, I think. The use of grains for
mashing gives the end result much more character than any all-extract brew,
in general. (However, my former roommate, a chemist, brews beers at the
next higher order of magnitude of quality from mine. He and I brewed our
first batches together. He now regularly saves yeast cultures for reuse.)
I attribute the success of my brews to mashing, and common sense.
I generally use five pounds (usually eight) to ten pounds of whole grain.
It is cracked in the $15.00 coffee grinder. Three decent grinds, or six
shots, whatever makes it look like there are a lot of husks left but
definitely some powder. I am talking about Pale Malt of course. I do
lightly crack the adjunct malted grains because I like to have the grist
uniform when I pour in the liquor. Therefore all the grain is cracked
and scooped around in a four gallon plastic bucket. Meanwhile, 2.5
gallons of spring water are being brought to exactly 175 degrees F (the
liquor). The grist is put in a nylon grain bag sitting in the 4 gallon
kettle. The liquor is poured into the bag, wooden spoon mixing and pushing
out the air bubbles. Initial heat is measured with the candy thermometer.
A pH reading is taken, and perhaps some ascorbic acid is added to
adjust it down (I bet that raises one response).
The temp. is always 150 deg., pH varies. I do feel that the adjuncts
contribute to this, because recent experiments with lighter brews
(fewer adjunct grains) had higher initial pH.
Mashing proceeds from 1.25 to 2 hours at 130 deg. to 155 deg. in the
kettle on a gas range. I have done it the oven set at low also.
(Just the facts Ma'am.)
Then we get to sparging. At least one gallon is heated to 175 deg.
The grain bag is removed from the wort, letting drip for a while.
It's placed down in a plastic bucket with the lid of the bucket
holding it up from the bottom. The hot water is poured slowly over
the grain bag from a small pitcher. This effectively strains out
a very dark and sweet wort. The sparged wort is added back to the
kettle, and set to a rolling boil. The spent grain is dumped on
the compost heap for the garden.
As the wort is heating up to a boil, any sugar or malt extract is
stirred in with the wooden spatula. Careful watching, it breaks
and you can turn it down a bit.
Boiling. It boils for at least fifteen or twenty minutes before adding
any hops. My recipes are always made up on the day of brewing, guided
by the recipe I made up when I bought the ingredients.
Sterilizing. Before brewing you spend two hours sterilizing all your
equipment, the kitchen surfaces, the top of the washing machine where
you place buckets, and other random items. Equipment to sterilize:
two five gallon plastic buckets with lids, two four gallon stainless
steel kettles, a grain bag, two pitchers, wooden spoon and spatula,
thermometer, quart saucepan, sieve, large funnel, 8 oz. coffee mug,
maybe a plate to place things on, and the hydrometer and fish tank
thermometer. The sterilizing solution is made of a bathtub three
quarters full with warm water and a few glugs of household bleach.
Everything that can fit is placed in the tub to soak for an hour or two.
Everything is rinsed numerous times, with hot tap water (but, use cold
foa the hydrometer and fish-tank thermometer). Usually the carboy is put
in the tub after everything else is removed for rinsing. It is good to have
the bathtub clear by the end of the boil.
Cooling the wort. The kettle removed from the stove, and covered wort is
placed in the tub that is half-filled with cold water. The wort is cool
within a half-hour.
The yeast starter: one half quart is taken from the wort after it
is boiling (all sugars have been added), but before any hops are
added. When it cools, pitch the yeast. By the time the wort is
finally cool, it is usually quite active, and ready to add to the carboy.
The cooled wort is added to the carboy with the yeast starter, and
probably a half ounce of hops pellets for aromatics (dry-hopping).
For these mostly-grain batches, I have not needed the blow-by-tube
most of the time. I can usually tell if it will be necessary.
Usually a month goes by before bottling. I'll send mail about bottling
in the future. I love the digest format of `homebrew', and will feel
free to be verbose this time. In fact, I thought I would end with a
couple of "recipes" that I recently took down. I will basically summarize
the notes from brews I made last fall. (All water is Poland Springs.)
(#27) day one: Halloween Stout
The liquor: 2.5 gal. H2O at 170 deg. The grist: 5 lb. Pale Malt,
1 lb Crystal Malt, 1 lb. Chocolate Malt.
Mixed the above: 154 deg., pH 5.2. Maintained at 140 to 150 deg. for
1.5 hours. Ending pH 4.8. Added 3.3 lb John Bull Unhopped Dark to the wort.
Sparged the grain, brought the wort to a boil, extracted some for the yeast.
Boiled the wort: 20 min., added 1 oz. Clusters hops pellets
20 min., 1 oz. Hallertau loose hops buds,
10 min., 1 tablespoon Irish Moss
added an extra .5 gal. boiling spring water
another 20 min., I added 0.5 oz. Willamette hops pellets
for aromatics, and boiled another 15 minutes.
Set wort to cool, added it to the carboy with 3 gal. water, the yeast
starter, (and because that was not very impressive at the time) another
packet of the Red Star Ale Yeast. Specific gravity: 1.044
Set the six gallon carboy with the beer in the cool basement with a blow-by.
day 2: replaced tube with bubbler, there was no need for the blow-by.
day 29, bottled, s.g. 1.014.
(#28) day one: Ale
2.75 gal. H2O at 170 deg, 5 lb. Pale Malt, 1 lb. Crystal Malt. 1 tsp. Gypsum
Initial heat: 155 deg., pH 5.0. Maintained at 120 to 153 deg. 2 hours.
ending pH 5.2 Sparged, added to the wort with: 4 lb. (minus two cups
reserved for priming two batches), and 1.3 lb. light brown sugar.
Extracted 1 qt. for the yeast starter.
Boiled: 30 min., added 1 oz. Willamette (Fuggles) hops pellets.
15 min., 1.5 oz. loose Hallertau hops
15 min., 1 T. Irish Moss
30 min. more boiling and strained the wort.
Sparged the hops with boiling water.
Added 1 oz. Clusters hops pellets for dry-hops to the cooling wort.
Added wort to the carboy, with yeast starter (Red Star Ale) mixture,
and 3.5 gal. water. Set with an airlock; s.g. is 1.048.
Notice I screwed up the hops. Clusters are for bittering, and Fuggles are
aromatics in general. So much for guessing! It should be interesting.
day 23, bottled. 1 cup light DME for priming, s.g. 1.011 at 61 deg. F.
Almost 5% alcohol [ (48 - 11) / 7.46 = 4.95 ]
(#29) B. W. Lager
grist: 7 lb. cracked lager malt grain. liquor: 2.5 gal. spring water at
170 deg. Initial heat 150 deg., pH 5.9. added 1 T. gypsum, 2500 mg ascorbic
acid --> pH 5.3. Maintained porridge at 130-150 for two hours. pH 5.0.
sparged. 5 lb. Amber Unhopped DME added to wort as it neared boiling.
Extracted 1 qt. wort, cooled and added 1 packet Red Star Lager yeast.
Boiled the wort: 30 min., added 2 oz. loose Talisman hops
20 min., Irish Moss
10 min., 0.5 oz. loose Hallertau hops
20 min., strained wort, sparged.
The yeast is doin' great! While cooling, I added to the wort 1 oz. Willamette
hops pellets for aromatics. 64 deg. F, s.g. 1.029 (adjusts to 29.3)
day 30, bottlin' s.g. before priming 20 at 55 deg. pretty high still.
50 bottles: 5 pints, 4 20-25 oz., 41 12 oz. brown bottles.
comments: it tastes great. low alcohol content (by the measurements anyway,
I can't notice the difference). Nice amber lager.
2.5 gal. water at 170 deg. added to 7 lb. cracked Lager grain.
initial heat 155 deg., pH 5.3 after adding 1250 mg ascorbic acid.
2 hours at 130 - 150 hours, ending pH seemed higher than starting.
Added sparge output, and 3.3 lb. light unhopped John Bull M.E. and
brought to a rolling boil. (took some for the yeast).
Boiled: 20 min., added 1.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops pellets
20 min., 1 oz. loose Talisman hops
and the Irish Moss
Set to cool and added 1 oz. Willamette hops pellets.
Added yeast starter, and 1.5 gal. water to 5 gal. carboy.
s.g 46 at 74 deg. F.
The higher gravity seems to reflect a more effective mashing than the
day 2: disaster narrowly averted, bubbler almost completely
clogged. replaced with the blow-by tube.
day 25, bottled s.g. 18 at 59 deg.
Fairly amber, not too sweet, a certain dryness in the aftertaste.
(#31) Twelfth Lager
10 lb. Lager grain, 4000 mg ascorbic acid, 3 gal. H2O at 170 deg.
initial heat 155, pH 5.5, mashed for 2.25 hours. Sparged.
Boiled: 0 min., 1 lb. light unhopped DME
and 9 oz. Chinese Yellow Lump sugar
20 min., 1 oz. Talisman hops (loose in a hops bag)
15 min., 1 oz. German Hallertau hops pellets
10 min., Irish Moss
30 min., removed, strained, sparged hops.
Dry-hopped with 1 oz. Cascades hops pellets. s.g. 43 at 62 deg.
next day: beer is going well, with about 1 inch layer of foam.
No need for the blow-by most likely.
day 35, bottled s.g. 10 at 55 deg. Slightly hazy,
very light colored. I have not brewed a beer of this color in over two
years. I once tried the recipe for Foster's Lager from Dave Line's
_Brewing_Beers_Like_Those_You_Buy. It was certainly as light as
the Foster's, but I had a problem with low initial gravity. It was
not nearly as malty as Foster's. My roommate at the time called it
a hops martini. The above lager (#31) will not be lacking in that
area I have a feeling. (I always wait three weeks for lagers to
condition. Two more to go. Stouts, on the other hand, like to be
sampled every day starting two days after bottling. What an amazing
array of flavors, as it changes every day for the first two weeks.
Better save some. :-) That's all for now!
Alex T. Jenkins
Mirror Systems, Cambridge Massachusetts atj at mirror.TMC.COM
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cassius: You love me not.
Brutus: I do not like your faults.
Cassius: A friendly eye could never see such faults.
"Julius Caesar" IV,3
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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 89 15:18:08 PST
From: sco!arthure at ucscc.UCSC.EDU
Papain is indeed an enzyme which helps break down proteins.
Its action in fermenting beer is just that, to break down
the proteins that would otherwise combine with tannins to
produce chill haze.
Note, however, that boiling an enzyme will denature it,
rendering it useless. Since you presumably put the
water salts in before you brew, the papain will have no
effect, unless it is able to act during the mash phase.
I would suppose it would be more effective to add it to
the cooling wort before pitching.
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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 89 11:43:09 EST
From: Robert Bjornson <bjornson-robert at YALE.ARPA>
Subject: Extract Pilsner, or What to do when 4 is to little, 8 too much?
I'm a fairly new brewer (on my seventh batch or so). I'm getting
ready to try my hand at a Pilsner while the weather is still cold
here. I have two cans of Edme Pilsner style malt extract, and would
like some advice. Clearly, one can (4LB) alone is not enough. The cans
have directions specifying 2.5 LB corn sugar, but I have a preference
for beer with more oompf than that's likely to give me. I'm wondering
if I should just use both cans. That would give my a SG of maybe
1.065, which is much higher than any pilsner SG in any of my books (in
fact, it's about dopplebock strength!) I *could* use 3LB or so of
light dry malt, but I don't have any. The other idea I had was to
brew the beer at 1.065, but then when I bottled, add extra boiled and
cooled water, maybe a gallon or so, to bring it down a bit. I also
wondered if anyone had any experience freezing malt extract -- that
way, I could use 1.5 cans, and freeze the rest for another time.
This problem seems to come up a lot when I brew with the larger cans
of extract. Two 3LB cans work great, but the 4 or 4.4LB cans are a pain.
USMAIL: Robert Bjornson
BITNET: <bjornson at yalecs.bitnet> Dept. Computer Science
USENET: <bjornson at yale.uucp> Box 2158 Yale Station
INTERNET: <bjornson at cs.yale.edu> New Haven, CT 06520
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