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Old 01-27-2010, 07:30 PM   #1
gyllstromk
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Default Brewing on the cheap -- no chill, no airlock

Hey all,

I have moved to a new location for 2 years and it will be a pain to buy brewing supplies over here. I'm thinking about cutting some equipment corners but would like to maintain a good quality brewing. I have two questions so far:

1) If I bypass a wort chiller, I risk DMS as the wort will still produce a fair amount of DMS as it cools slowly. Can I boil it a lot longer to avoid this? And how long can I boil it to obviate fast chilling?

2) Weird fermenting vessels: I'd like to use some smaller glass containers as fermenters, but I don't think the tops will fit a normal airlock. Would plastic wrap and rubber bands be a sufficient oxygen barrier? I've seen this recommended with yeast starters, but perhaps because oxidizing doesn't matter with yeast starters since they're never actually drank.

Thanks!

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Old 01-27-2010, 07:44 PM   #2
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I don't know about your first question. Back before I got a wort chiller and I was cooling my beer in a cold water bath, my beers had other issues so I can't tell if DMS was much of a problem. I think DMS becomes significant when you cool your beer with the lid on. If you cool your beer in a cold water bath with the lid off, it's not ideal but it may work.

As for number two, here's a bit of information which may prove to be useful. CO2 is heavier than Air. When your beer is fermenting, a lot of CO2 is produced and a nice layer of it will remain over your beer. So as long as you don't shake the fermentor, that layer of CO2 should remain there protecting your beer. So I don't believe the airlock is absolutely necessary. It's just convenient. Just make sure that enough pressure is released over time. Beer starters have a lot less wort to ferment so pressure isn't usually an issue. But normal beer fermentation releases A LOT of gas. Just keep that in mind.

On a side note, why do you have an issue with obtaining an airlock or blow off mechanism? They do make rubber stoppers with many different sizes.

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Old 01-27-2010, 07:47 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by gyllstromk View Post
Hey all,

I have moved to a new location for 2 years and it will be a pain to buy brewing supplies over here. I'm thinking about cutting some equipment corners but would like to maintain a good quality brewing. I have two questions so far:

1) If I bypass a wort chiller, I risk DMS as the wort will still produce a fair amount of DMS as it cools slowly. Can I boil it a lot longer to avoid this? And how long can I boil it to obviate fast chilling?

2) Weird fermenting vessels: I'd like to use some smaller glass containers as fermenters, but I don't think the tops will fit a normal airlock. Would plastic wrap and rubber bands be a sufficient oxygen barrier? I've seen this recommended with yeast starters, but perhaps because oxidizing doesn't matter with yeast starters since they're never actually drank.

Thanks!
I don't think there is any length of boil that will remove all the DMS. But lots of people are doing no chill and seam to like the results. I've never had a no chill beer so I don't know.

Personally I'd want all my wort fermenting in one large fermenter with some sort of air lock. Having like 10 tiny fermenter would make yeast pitching complicated. I don't know, I guess it could work. what do you do at the end? blend them all back together?
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:46 PM   #4
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It sounds like you're also doing smaller batch sizes (smaller fermentation bottles)?

if so a water bath will cool 2-3 gallons of wort pretty easily, no worry of DMS if you boiled 1 hour (or 90 mins for pils)

I would use balloons or condoms as airlocks vs. plastic wrap and rubber bands. yeast starters don't blow off nearly as much CO2 as primary fermentation, i could see the plastic wrap burping itself off.

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Old 01-28-2010, 01:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gyllstromk View Post
1) If I bypass a wort chiller, I risk DMS as the wort will still produce a fair amount of DMS as it cools slowly. Can I boil it a lot longer to avoid this? And how long can I boil it to obviate fast chilling?
2) Weird fermenting vessels: I'd like to use some smaller glass containers as fermenters, but I don't think the tops will fit a normal airlock. Would plastic wrap and rubber bands be a sufficient oxygen barrier? I've seen this recommended with yeast starters, but perhaps because oxidizing doesn't matter with yeast starters since they're never actually drank.
Thanks!
1. I boil the same. 60 minutes for 2 row and 90 min for pilsner. Lid off. I have never had anyone, including BJCP judges, detect DMS.

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Originally Posted by gyllstromk View Post
2) Weird fermenting vessels: I'd like to use some smaller glass containers as fermenters, but I don't think the tops will fit a normal airlock. Would plastic wrap and rubber bands be a sufficient oxygen barrier? I've seen this recommended with yeast starters, but perhaps because oxidizing doesn't matter with yeast starters since they're never actually drank.
Thanks!
Unless you are going to ferment longer than 3 weeks, oxidation shouldn't be a problem with the method you describe. I don't think I'd recommend small bottles as it would be more chance in something going wrong with one of them and ale pails are so cheap - for that matter better bottles are cheap too.
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:54 PM   #6
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1. I boil the same. 60 minutes for 2 row and 90 min for pilsner. Lid off. I have never had anyone, including BJCP judges, detect DMS.
Are you doing no chill style or do you use a chiller to get things down to pitching temps?
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Old 01-28-2010, 02:01 PM   #7
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It sounds like you're also doing smaller batch sizes (smaller fermentation bottles)?

if so a water bath will cool 2-3 gallons of wort pretty easily, no worry of DMS if you boiled 1 hour (or 90 mins for pils)

I would use balloons or condoms as airlocks vs. plastic wrap and rubber bands. yeast starters don't blow off nearly as much CO2 as primary fermentation, i could see the plastic wrap burping itself off.
Bump @ pin-pricked balloons when not having a stopper on hand
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Old 01-28-2010, 05:44 PM   #8
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Balloons keep whatever air was in the head space prior to fermentation in the head space. A piece of sanitized foil would work better. It lets the CO2 push out the original air but won't let air/dust in.

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Old 01-28-2010, 05:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyllstromk View Post
Hey all,

I have moved to a new location for 2 years and it will be a pain to buy brewing supplies over here. I'm thinking about cutting some equipment corners but would like to maintain a good quality brewing. I have two questions so far:

1) If I bypass a wort chiller, I risk DMS as the wort will still produce a fair amount of DMS as it cools slowly. Can I boil it a lot longer to avoid this? And how long can I boil it to obviate fast chilling?

2) Weird fermenting vessels: I'd like to use some smaller glass containers as fermenters, but I don't think the tops will fit a normal airlock. Would plastic wrap and rubber bands be a sufficient oxygen barrier? I've seen this recommended with yeast starters, but perhaps because oxidizing doesn't matter with yeast starters since they're never actually drank.

Thanks!
Answer to #2: If you are willing to try other fermenters, check with your local bakery. You can get 2-3gal icing buckets with lids often for free. Then you can make a hole in the lid for a bung and airlock. My preferred method is to heat up a socket on the electric stove element. Use a size of socket that will work with your bungs. Leave it on the element for 5mins, then pick up with a pair of pliers and press it on the lid until it burns through. Clean up the hole with a razor blade and Voila! I have found the 3gal icing buckets usuallly have gasketed lids.
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Old 01-28-2010, 05:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyllstromk View Post
Hey all,

I have moved to a new location for 2 years and it will be a pain to buy brewing supplies over here. I'm thinking about cutting some equipment corners but would like to maintain a good quality brewing. I have two questions so far:

1) If I bypass a wort chiller, I risk DMS as the wort will still produce a fair amount of DMS as it cools slowly. Can I boil it a lot longer to avoid this? And how long can I boil it to obviate fast chilling?

2) Weird fermenting vessels: I'd like to use some smaller glass containers as fermenters, but I don't think the tops will fit a normal airlock. Would plastic wrap and rubber bands be a sufficient oxygen barrier? I've seen this recommended with yeast starters, but perhaps because oxidizing doesn't matter with yeast starters since they're never actually drank.

Thanks!
If you are going to do no-chill, you don't want to put it in glass! Part of no chill as far as I can tell (and I haven't done it) it to pour the wort directly from the kettle at flame out into the sanitized fermenter, then seal it up for storage. The heat at transfer helps keep it as near sterile as possible. The thermal shock would crack anything but very expensive pyrex glass.
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