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Old 03-28-2011, 03:55 PM   #1
jfowler1
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Default I completely underestimated role of oxygen

About 2 months ago, I decided to purchase the oxygen kit from Williams Brewing. I have been brewing for a little over two years, and had been really happy with how my process was coming along, and in general, happy with my results.

I pay close attention to sanitization, and I am obsessed with digital temperature control and pitching rates. The only hole in the program was a lack of proper oxygenation; but how much of a difference could it really make? I never had problems with long lag times, or under attenuated beer, so I figured the "splashing wort around in the carboy" method I was using was fine. More than anything else, curiosity propted my purchase.

Well, I just bottled my Dry Stout on Saturday (2nd time brewing the same recipe). It was the first beer to test the merits of 60 seconds of pure oxygen through a 2 micron stone, as suggested in the Jamil/White Yeast book. Four weeks after pitching, I bottled up two cases, and siphoned a bit extra into a pint glass for sampling.

I found myself sitting in my garage; completely shocked. It was BY FAR my best beer to date. Usually I would have a sample on bottling day, and think, "a little green", or "it'll be fine once a couple flavors meld", but this stout was unlike any of my other 25-30 batches. It tasted perfect, right out of the carboy. I wish I had left more behind to sample. This batch crossed the line between BEER and HOMEBREW. This was a BEER. I am even thinking about sending a few bottles into the NHC, and seeing if a a judging panel agrees.

I just wanted to share my findings because the importance of oxygen in a healthy fermentation can not be overstated. The results spoke for themselves.

Has anyone had a similar Eureka! moment from a process change?

Joe

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Old 03-28-2011, 04:40 PM   #2
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Has anyone had a similar Eureka! moment from a process change?

Joe
Yes, fermentation is everything.

Figuring out that you can make a beer that tastes good a few weeks after you pitch the yeast by properly managing fermentation is the Eureka moment that separates the top homebrewers from the rest, IMO.

Not that great beer isn't made occasionally by RDWHAHB methods but you are figuring out how to make it consistently.
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Old 03-28-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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I need to look into some better oxygen management. Right now I only shake the buckets up after sealing them. I do let the wort splash while draining and stir vigorously in the brewpot while chilling.

I have been hit by a 1.020 bug on my last couple brews that I think may have partly to do with not enough oxygen. And my beers have not been very great until 6-8 weeks after brewing. I would love to get that number down to 4 weeks. It would really help my pipeline.

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Old 03-28-2011, 05:07 PM   #4
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Has anyone had a similar Eureka! moment from a process change?

Yeah, going from splashing & aerating using the small plastic diffuser at the end of the hose to using a diffusion stone and oxygen has made a big difference in the quality of my beer.

The other process change that I made and noticed a difference with was using washed yeast (along with oxygen). Normally when I have used new smack pack + starter I get a fairly strong and rapid fermentation. Using successive generations of washed yeast has yielded a much smoother and longer fermentation period and (I feel) better tasting beer for the most part.

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Old 03-28-2011, 05:20 PM   #5
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Has anyone had a similar Eureka! moment from a process change?

Yeah, going from splashing & aerating using the small plastic diffuser at the end of the hose to using a diffusion stone and oxygen has made a big difference in the quality of my beer.

The other process change that I made and noticed a difference with was using washed yeast (along with oxygen). Normally when I have used new smack pack + starter I get a fairly strong and rapid fermentation. Using successive generations of washed yeast has yielded a much smoother and longer fermentation period and (I feel) better tasting beer for the most part.
Putting a False Bottom in my kettle. Was shocked to see how very little trub ended up in my fermenter. At first I thought something was wrong it was such a dramatic difference.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by remilard View Post
Yes, fermentation is everything.

Figuring out that you can make a beer that tastes good a few weeks after you pitch the yeast by properly managing fermentation is the Eureka moment that separates the top homebrewers from the rest, IMO.

Not that great beer isn't made occasionally by RDWHAHB methods but you are figuring out how to make it consistently.
+1

Proper fermentation means everything in brewing. Adding pure O2 just ramps it up a notch for the yeast to begin their jobs.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:30 PM   #7
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Putting a False Bottom in my kettle. Was shocked to see how very little trub ended up in my fermenter. At first I thought something was wrong it was such a dramatic difference.
which? how? what? where?

i'm getting a keggle this weekend. i haven't figured out dip tube/false bottom yet....
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:34 PM   #8
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which? how? what? where?

i'm getting a keggle this weekend. i haven't figured out dip tube/false bottom yet....


Not sure that would work in a keggle but something like it would.

The hops collapse onto the top of the FB and create an incredible filter for the trub.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:57 PM   #9
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Putting a False Bottom in my kettle. Was shocked to see how very little trub ended up in my fermenter. At first I thought something was wrong it was such a dramatic difference.
A dramatic difference while staring at your fermenter on brew day, but was there an actual difference in the quality of your final product. I only ask because most of what I've read is that trub and hop debree in the fermenter doesn't matter much. I ferment the entire thing and clarity in the end is never an issue, so I'm interested to hear if you actually got a better tasting product with this change.
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:02 PM   #10
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A dramatic difference while staring at your fermenter on brew day, but was there an actual difference in the quality of your final product. I only ask because most of what I've read is that trub and hop debree in the fermenter doesn't matter much. I ferment the entire thing and clarity in the end is never an issue, so I'm interested to hear if you actually got a better tasting product with this change.
I didn't realize the difference until I racked out of my bucket into a keg.

"What the hell happened to my yeast cake?!?!?!?!?"

It was about 1/4" thick and almost completely white. I was used to 1/2" to 1" thick cakes. The beer seems "cleaner" and is very clear going into the keg as well as coming out.
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