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Old 05-16-2011, 08:19 PM   #1
tonyolympia
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Default Preserving Diacetyl in my Bitter?

I'm fermenting a bitter right now, and need some advice about preserving the authentic English flavor, including esters and some diacetyl.

Initially, I planned to follow the odd Fullers fermentation schedule talked about on "Can You Brew It?" and discussed extensively on this forum: pitch at 63, hold at 68 until 1/2 OG drops, cool to 63, and when the wort reaches 1/5 of OG, crash cool to 43 for 2 days. However, I don't have good enough temperature control for that, and I'm skittish about bottling with any gravity points remaining. (It was suggested to me by someone on HBT that the Fullers fermentation profile involves a final step, warming the beer up to finish out after the rest at 43. However, I listened again to the relevant CYBI episodes, and heard no mention of that.)

So my plan changed: ferment high until FG, hoping that the Nottingham yeast i'm using will produce some interesting esters in my bitter. To retain some diacetyl flavor, instead of following the Fullers schedule, I was thinking that I would skip primary conditioning and just bottle after three consecutive days at 1010.

That would make a total fermentation time of about a week to ten days, at which point I will bottle with 1.5 volumes, going for the "real ale" flavor.

Any thoughts on this plan?

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Old 05-16-2011, 11:22 PM   #2
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I have a bitter going right now (actually, an ESB) but I'm using WLP002 and there's need to worry about not having diacetyl with that gem! I'm more worried I may have too much hahaha
Sorry, I'm not really answering the question but felt the need to comment since I'm also interested in what others have to say. At least it'll give ya a nice










bump.

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Old 05-18-2011, 01:18 AM   #3
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With bitters, the yeast typically makes a significant flavo(u)r contribution.
The only dry yeast that I have found that is suitable for a bitter is Safale S-04, but there are many liquid yeasts from both Wyeast and White Labs. I certainly haven't tried them all, but I have tried WLP002, WLP005, WLP023, WY1098, WY1275, and WY1968 for draught bitters, and they have all been good. For bottled beers (which I don't do very often) I like WLP007, WLP023, and WY1028. Although I like WY1028 for bottled beers, I don't like WLP013.
My draught beers all have very low levels of carbonation (0.75 - 1 volumes CO2), and the bottled beers have higher levels (2 - 2.5 volumes CO2).
I tried Nottingham once for a bitter and it was a disaster. None of the esters that I am used to, but I have used it successfully with other beers.

Hope this helps

-a.

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Old 05-18-2011, 02:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf
I tried Nottingham once for a bitter and it was a disaster. None of the esters that I am used to, but I have used it successfully with other beers.
Thanks, A. When I posted, the wort was already pitched and fermenting. Nottingham was what I had on hand at the time. For my next bitter I will try the Wyeast strains you recommend. I'm pretty excited about working my way through their products.

My question now that my bitter is fermenting is how long to leave it on the yeast for conditioning. I haven't taken a gravity reading, but when it reaches FG, would I retain any desired diacetyl or other interesting flavors if I bottled it sooner than the 2 - 3 weeks I'd normally wait?
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyolympia View Post
Thanks, A. When I posted, the wort was already pitched and fermenting. Nottingham was what I had on hand at the time. For my next bitter I will try the Wyeast strains you recommend. I'm pretty excited about working my way through their products.

My question now that my bitter is fermenting is how long to leave it on the yeast for conditioning. I haven't taken a gravity reading, but when it reaches FG, would I retain any desired diacetyl or other interesting flavors if I bottled it sooner than the 2 - 3 weeks I'd normally wait?
I honestly don't know.
I used to leave it for about 2 weeks in primary, and then 4 weeks in secondary. When I read about skipping the secondary, I did so and left it for about 3 weeks in primary (longer if I get a stuck fermentation which I do once in every 30 - 40 batches), and then keg. I will say that 3 weeks in primary produces a better beer than 2 weeks primary and 4 weeks secondary, but I've never experimented with changing the fermentation temperatures or primary time. The krausen usually drops after 7 - 10 days at 67F, and I keg after 21 days. If the krausen hasn't dropped after 10 days, I would wait another week before kegging (but that has never happened). I check the gravity when kegging. Only once was it higher than it should have been. I still kegged it, but vented it over the next week or so to prevent excessive carbonation. The beer was fine. If I were bottling, I would pay more attention to the gravity, and wait for the gravity to get where it ought to be before bottling, but this has never been a problem. (I only bottle about 3 - 4 batches per year.)

-a.
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