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Old 11-19-2006, 02:54 PM   #1
Conno
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Default Yeast and hop suggestions for Dark Oak ale

Hi folks
This is my very first homebrew and I am going to use Sherwoods Dark Oak Ale kit.
However the kit includes a dry yeast sachet and a 18g bag of hop pellets neither of which I am too keen to use. Can anyone suggest an appropriate liquid yeast and fresh hops that I could use instead or should I just use what I got considering its my first shot.
Any help is much appreciated.

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Old 11-19-2006, 03:28 PM   #2
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I would use what you have if this is your first go at brewing.

Liquid yeasts & fresh hops best left to experienced brewers. (No. of Batches > 1) Dry yeasts are very reliable and consistent. Probably less fussy about fermenting temps too. Not all liquids are like this. Fresh Hops, assuming you know they are fresh are OK to use. The only thing is that fresh hops can vary in the bittering capability (within the same variety). The kit ingredients should be ok as along as you know they are not old. The pellet hops that you probably have are usually packed well for storage.

Try the kit as is.... with a little patience I'll bet you will be pleased.

Good Luck.

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Old 11-19-2006, 03:48 PM   #3
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I've gotten to the point that I actually have a strong preference for dry yeast if the proper strain is available. It's just much more foolproof than liquid yeast which is a definite boon in my case.

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Old 11-19-2006, 03:53 PM   #4
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Absolutely nothing wrong with pellet hops, nor dried yeasts. The problems come up when they get too old. It is an extremely good idea to make the kit as-is, unless several pounds of sugar were included. In that case, replacing the sugar with dried malt extract is wise.

Whole hops are better for flavor and aroma, but I've used pellets for both. I've even dry hopped with pellets. Any pellets, plugs or whole hops you buy are probably from the same harvest.

Generally, the term "fresh hops" is reserved for hops that have not been dried. They are only available during the fall harvest & need to be used within 2-4 days of harvest. The extra qualities they add to an ale are nice, but fade within a few weeks. Most parts of the USA, you'd have to grow your own hops to brew with fresh hops.

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Old 11-19-2006, 06:42 PM   #5
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Thanks folks
So your saying dry yeast has an undeserved bad rep. Fair enough I'll give it a try. The reason I ask is I attended a "Start Up Brewing" course at a university recently and they said that dry yeast was not up to the job if you are really serious about brew quality.
Also the hop pellets that I got with the kit are very badly packed and are in no way air tight, if they were I would not have any problem with them as a first timer but I feel the quality is going to be comprimised.
However I hear you loud and clear and I'll go with the kit as is and see what a reasonably intelligent bloke can do with one of these famous homebrew kits.

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Old 11-19-2006, 07:28 PM   #6
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Dry may get a "bad rap" undeservedly, but the fact remains that there are infinitely more liquid strains than dry. If you're doing a basic ale or lager, you can get away with dry...especially with dark, roasty beers such as stouts and porters, where the roasted malts are probably going to cover up most of the complexity you'd get from the yeast anyway. But specific strains can contribute a huge portion of the character and complexity to beers---hefeweizens and belgians are two shining examples. A hefe fermented with safeale won't have any of the characteristic banana and clove notes that are typical with bavarian wheat ales. Also, I recently tried Rogue's new "Monk Madness" ale, which I thought would be an abbey ale. But I looked at the ingredients, and the only Belgian stuff in there was a few of the malts. The yeast? PacMan. A good yeast, but definitely not an Abbey yeast. So when I tried it, it tasted like a really good dark brown ale, but it was anything but an abbey ale.

Personally, since I started using liquid, I've seen a marked improvement in quality, especially where the malt and hop character isn't so huge as to obscure the yeast. If dry yeast came in the variety that liquid did, I'd be using dry exclusively...but I've only seen one or two "specific" dry strains, compared to the hundreds of liquid ones I've seen.

Bottom line: use the dry this time around...and keep some on hand for emergencies and if you're doing a big roasty stout...but use liquid whenever you can.

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Old 11-20-2006, 03:16 AM   #7
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My first extract brew was from a kit, Brewnet Brown ale. The kit came with hop pellets and dry yeast. The batch turned out fine and tasted great. The dry yeast was Safale US-56 which seems to be very hardy and temp tolerant. It also seemed to make a high ABV with most of my batches.
I agree with everyone here, you should go ahead and use what came with the kit. Then if you feel more adventurous and want to make up your own, you can do that by getting the kit again, and substitute the hops and yeast with something else you would like to try.
I'd keep to the hop pellets at first however. They are easy to handle and store better than whole leaf. Also, you might want to ask advice on here as to what hops to try and what schedual to use for them. You could end up with a brew might taste very strange!
As for the yeast: same advice, you could use the same one with the kit the 2nd time around or try something different, but if you want to use something different, ask around on here. The name of the brew sounds like a Irish or Scotish Ale yeast would be good (something about Dark Oak brings visions of Celtic Druids to mind! ).

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Old 11-20-2006, 04:19 PM   #8
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Thanks folks, like I said I'll go with the kit this time good if it turns out to be good I think I'll try a liquid yeast and an appropriate quality hop next time to see if there is any marked differance.
Hey Andylegate seeing as I am in fact Irish and I do have a preferance for dark ales and stouts I think an Irish stout yeast could be a great idea.

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Old 11-20-2006, 04:30 PM   #9
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I've only used liquid yeast once, everything else has been with dry. I like not having to make a starter, yet get fermentation started within five or six hours. I like not having to worry about whether the yeast are viable or not. I like paying a buck for a packet, so I don't have to feel guilty when I don't have the time or energy to properly save and wash my yeast. So far, I haven't brewed batches that required the use of special yeasts.

I was also struck by comments that Papa Charlie made in his interview on Basic Brewing Radio. He basically uses one yeast for everything. He happens to have kept this yeast perfectly clean for TWENTY THREE years. But, he uses the same yeast if he's making an ale, if he's making a lager, whatever he's making. He changes around the malt and the hops, but generally leaves the yeast as a constant across his batches. He knows how it reacts to different fermentation temps, so he considers that when deciding how he will ferment.

Now, it's not a Nottingham or Saleafe 56 that he's using, but to an extent, I'm kinda embracing the same philosophy; I'll just use a clean-fermenting dry yeast and play around with all of the other variables for the time being.

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Old 11-20-2006, 04:44 PM   #10
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Twenty-three years. Wow, that's insane... Good stuff though. Definitely can learn a ton from those Brew Network podcasts/streams...

Anyway, back on topic...

I've used both dry and liquid yeasts. I prefer the dry for simplicity of use and foolproofness (not a word?)...

But for something like a Belgian Wit (where yeast is supposed to greatly effect the taste) I'll go with a Wyeast or Whitelabs yeast.

Just depends what I'm brewing, but dry seems to work well when I've used it. Especially the Seafale US-56 and Nottingham strains I've used.

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