HOMEBREW Digest #4925 Sun 01 January 2006

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  Refractometer calibration (David Edge)
  Ew: Water Analysis and a Water Profile Question (Stuart Lay)
  Water Analyses ("A.J deLange")
  re:dry yeast-one more chance (Nathaniel Lansing)
  Re:  Dry Yeast ("Kyle Jones")
  RE: Dry Yeast (Bob Hall)
  re: dry yeast starter ("Chad Stevens")

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sun, 01 Jan 2006 07:58:32 +0000 From: David Edge <david.j.edge at ntlworld.com> Subject: Refractometer calibration David Houseman asks about refractometer calibration. The UK Midlands Craft Brewers did an experiment in the summer that showed for our small sample of instruments (3 refractometers, 4 homebrew hydrometers) the dominant source of error was the people using them. The standard deviation for all instruments was 2-3 brewers degrees, ie OG points, yet the average reading for each instrument was very close to the reading obtained in a brewery with decent instruments for the three test samples (1020, 1038, 1058). I'd be inclined to trust the refractometer, but would go and talk to my local microbrewer if I was worried and try my instruments against his. I suspect that in wrong part the US you may be 500 miles from a micro, I've got four in walking distance. David Edge, Derby, UK Return to table of contents
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2006 05:30:57 -0600 From: Stuart Lay <zzlay at yahoo.com> Subject: Ew: Water Analysis and a Water Profile Question Yesterday Paul Waters asked about labs where one could get a complete water analysis performed. Last April I sent Ward Laboratories in Kearney, Nebraska (www.wardlab.com) a sample of local spring water for analysis. One phone call and a couple of days later, I had a sample bottle and a listing of the services they provided. I filled the sample bottle and mailed it back, and they quickly returned the results. Only after I received the analysis did they request payment -- $15. The analysis they sent back included the following: pH: 7.5 Total dissolved solids: 174.0 Electrical conductivity .29 Cations/Anions, me/L 3.4/2.7 Na 1 Potassium K 2 Ca 52 Mg 8 Total Hardness, CaCO3 163 Nitrate <.1 Sulfate <1 Chloride 2 Carbonate CO3 <1 Bicarbonate, HCO3 159 Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 130 I was definitely pleased with their responsiveness and customer service and would recommend them. On to my question -- with the water analysis above, what kinds of beer is this water well suited to? I've been using it untreated for deep amber, red, and brown ales. I'm seeing about 80% efficiency from my system (about normal). Finally, we live near Hot Springs, AR, and this region is blessed with many, many springs. Another spring I use for brewing light ales (lawnmower beers) comes with the following, abbreviated analysis. Any ideas on this one? Ca .3 Mg .28 Bicarbonate <1.0 Sulfate .9 From this, using John Palmer's book and chart, I calculated a residual alkalinity of 4, but I'm not real sure of the math. My impression is this is very soft water and should be OK for light beers. stuart Royal, AR 741.2,226.9 Apparent Rennerian Return to table of contents
Date: Sun, 01 Jan 2006 15:07:08 +0000 From: "A.J deLange" <ajdel at cox.net> Subject: Water Analyses Laboratory water reports available to the public are aimed at homeowners and are designed to let the guy who buys them sleep soundly secure in the knowledge that his litttle dears will not be poisoned by dioxin and that his wife's whites will come out whiter than white. Now this is of significance to brewers too. If my well supplies water with negative residual alkalinity but laden with DDT I don't want to brew with it. Municipal water reports are designed to satisfy regulatory requirements imposed by federal and local regulations. If they happen to inform the public at the same time that is an added benefit. In neither case are brewers and their needs considered but usually the brewer can find what he needs. So what does he need? I used to refer to the "significant seven" being those parameters most important to the brewer in the usual circumstances. They are pH, calcium hardness, magnesium hardness, alkalinity, chloride, sulfate and chlorine/chloramine. The hardness numbers and alkalinity tell you whether your mash pH is likely to be in the right range. Chloride and sulfate are the most significant "stylistic" ions i.e. those that will have the most direct flavor impact (as opposed to the indirect flavor impact of improper mash pH) and chlorine/chloramine lets you know whether you have to get rid of one or the other or both of them or suffer potential chlorphenolics. pH itself is not very informative but is required for calculation of the amount of bicarbonate and carbonate in a sample of given alkalinity. Now if you happen to be in an area where nitrates are high it is important to check the nitrates and nitrites and if you have a deep well sodium may be a concern. Also iron and manganese may ruin your beer but if these are present you can taste them and removing them to the extent that you can't taste them anymore is sufficient. Where the typical water report falls down is in not reporting alkalinity or reporting alkalinity as "bicarbonate" or "carbonate". If alkalinity, carbonate and bicarbonate are all reported then the numbers mean the concentrations of bicarbonate and carbonate but if only bicarbonate or carbonate appears it usually means the bicarbonate content which must be converted to alkalinity (if pH < 8.3 divide by 61 nad multiply by 50). Another shortcoming is listing just "hardness" i.e. not breaking it down into calcium and magnesium hardness. This makes calculating residual alkalinity hard but you can take a stab at it by assuming that 60 of the hardness comes from calcium and the rest from magnesium. My personal preference is not to rely on laboratory or supplier but to do the tests myself. The ones for hardness (both types) and alkalinity are extrememly simple and inexpensive kits and even test strips which will give you results accurate enough for brewing are available. Check Hach and Lamotte web sites or try an aquarium supply store. The same is true for chlorine/chloramine and iron. Somewhat more elaborate kits are available for chloride and when you get to sulfate you run into difficulty though Cole Parmer still sells a drop titration kit for $60. For those with access to a spectrophotometer or colorimeter there are chemistries for all the ions I've mentioned plus dozens of others. Sodium is in a class by itself. The most usual method for measuring it involves an ion selective electrode (similar to a pH electrode) which is expensive, finicky, short lived and difficult to use. pH and pH meters are a subject for a separate discussion. Every brewer should have one but not for checking his water. If you receive a lab report that is pretty complete except that it doesn't distinguish between the types of hardness or list alkalinity in a form you understand you can always buy a test kit for those parameters and rely on the report for the rest. I like to check harndess and alkalinity before every brew and enter the data into my brewing records. It only takes a few minutes to do this. A.J. Return to table of contents
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2006 11:37:05 -0500 From: Nathaniel Lansing <delbrew at compuserve.com> Subject: re:dry yeast-one more chance The US 56 yeast is excellent and should give you a clean beer. But on making a starter one week in advance,_DON'T_! An eleven gram pack of dry yeast would ferment a start to completion in a day or so. After that the yeast will be starving and depleting its' glycogen reserves. You would actually be weakening the yeast by making a starter and waiting a week. My recommendation is _properly_rehydrating the yeast and pitching immediately. That is how they are made to be used. HOW TO PROPERLY REHYDRATE DRY YEAST from Lallemand... 1) Sprinkle the yeast on the surface of 10 times its weight of clean, sterilized (boiled) water at 30-35C. Do not use wort, or distilled or reverse osmosis water, as loss in viability will result. DO NOT STIR. Leave undisturbed for 15 minutes, then stir to suspend yeast completely, and leave it for 5 more minutes at 30-35C. Then adjust temperature to that of the wort and inoculate without delay. 2) Attemperate in steps at 5-minute intervals of 10C to the temperature of the wort by mixing aliquots of wort. Do not allow attemperation to be carried out by natural heat loss. This will take too long and could result in loss of viability or vitality. 3) Temperature shock, at greater than 10C, will cause formation of petite mutants leading to long-term or incomplete fermentation and possible formation of undesirable flavours. My note- Do not use a nutrient in the hydration water unless it is a nutrient specifically designed for yeast hydration (Go-ferm & etc). A 10 gram pack of yeast/ 5 gallons will give you a pitching rate of 10-20 m cells/ml. Return to table of contents
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2006 12:10:09 -0500 From: "Kyle Jones" <kjones1 at ufl.edu> Subject: Re: Dry Yeast I recently tried dry yeast (US56) for the first time, and was very pleased with the results. I had a stuck fermentation, so I ran over to the local homebrew store (God bless that store) and grabbed a pack of Safale US56. Boiled up some low gravity wort with DME when I got home, and pitched the yeast right out of the packet (I had to shake the wort a little to get the yeast out of the foam and into the wort). Within about 2 hours, fermentation was evident, and before bed that night, it was raging, and I probably could have poured it into my beer then. Waited till next morning (approx. 10 hours after pitching), poured it in, and when I came home from work the beer was on its way to completion. That being said, my one experience with Safale US56 was good. The original yeast I used was Wyeast 1338, and the final product turned out just as I expected it to, and *I* think that the US56 actually added some complexity to my beer (an Old Ale) that I wouldn't have had by using 1338 alone, so I may make this standard practice sometimes (like I'm sure some homebrewers) already do. I was very impressed at how short the lag time was, and at how vigorously the starter fermented, I've never seen anything like that with White Labs or Wyeast. And on another note, Happy New Year to you, too, Pat. Thanks for all the work that you do (and largely behind the scenes) to make the HBD run smoothly. It is appreciated, in the way many things in life are - no one really even notices until something happens, so I wanted to take this chance and verbally express my gratitude! Kyle Return to table of contents
Date: Sun, 01 Jan 2006 15:03:44 -0500 From: Bob Hall <rallenhall at henry-net.com> Subject: RE: Dry Yeast Greg from Chicago asks about experiences with Fermentis US-56 dry yeast. I have been doing side-by-side comparisons with US-56, Nottingham and Safale S-04 this fall. I've found them to be quite different and useful in various ways. I split a batch of bitter (Gritty McDuff clone) and pitched US-56 and S-04. The S-04 fermented much more quickly and dropped clear immediately. It could have been bottle conditioning by the time that the US-56 began to clear. I offered blind taste tests to my visitors throughout the fall. During the first month or so the vote was decidedly S-04 ... "more flavor" was the typical comment. However, since then the votes have swung decidedly the other direction ... "smoother" is what I'm hearing now. US-56 didn't ferment as fast, clear as fast, or mature as fast in the bottle. That said, given a bit more time, it seems to be an outstanding dry yeast. I also corresponded with Denny Conn regarding his experience using US-56 in his now-classic rye IPA. I duplicated Denny's recipe using US-56 and now have a very nice, clean American-style IPA that is a hit with visiting hopheads. As Denny suggested, I've found the characteristics of US-56 to be very close to Wyeast 1056. A split batch of pseudo-lager between US-56 and Nottingham showed that, again, US-56 was not as fast a fermenter or clearer. However, it produced a softer flavor profile that was not as dry as the Nottingham. In a lager-like beer you may want the drier finish .... tastes may vary. I guess my impression is that S-04 throws more esters, ferments fast, drops fast, and hugs the bottom of the bottle like nobodies business ... you can pour the entire contents without disturbing much yeast. It has it's place with British style ales where you may want more of a tart, fruity profile. US-56 seems appropriate to any recipe that calls for 1056/California ale. It is neutral and clean, and seems to be a favorite of my many taste testers over the holidays. Nottingham, a fast fermenter, is neutral and a bit on the dry side. If dry is to your taste, Nottingham is a proven yeast. I have rehydrated these yeasts and also pitched directly into the wort. Directions vary according to manufacturer. So far, I have not noticed any difference in the final product. That said, I do typically rehydrate and aerate. Also, if I needed more cell mass for a high gravity wort I'd probably just pitch two 11g. packets rather than make a starter. Just one less step in the process. Hope this helps. I have a feeling that US-56 will get a lot of use in my house ales during the coming year. Bob Hall Napoleon, OH 65.3, 189.7 Apparent Rennarian Return to table of contents
Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2006 17:47:35 -0800 From: "Chad Stevens" <zuvaruvi at cox.net> Subject: re: dry yeast starter Regarding making a starter from dry yeast, the short answer is, you're going backward if you make a starter; you're depleting glycogen stores that were built in at the factory. In a UFA/FA poor starter medium, every time the yeast divide, they divide their available glycogen. After the fifth generation, they are running dangerously low on glycogen stores. So by making a starter with dry yeast, you are in effect, using up about four or five of their "nine lives" in the starter rather than in the wort where the cell division can be put to good use. Not to mention increased possibility of contamination in the extra fermentation step.... Dry yeast is built incredibly well these days; don't mess with it, just pitch it. You're in Chicago by the way; go see Kieth Lembke at Seible; I'm sure he'd be happy to give you a dissertation on the issue...especially if you buy him a pint! Cheers, Chad Stevens QUAFF San Diego www.quaff.org Now accepting entries for America's Finest City Homebrew Competition. Register online now!!! We need judges too! Return to table of contents
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