Small batch perfection. Ready... Go!!
I've learned how to brew beer. Woot! now i have a lifetime to waste. :tank: I got a Brooklyn Brew Shop Kit. Their mixes are all grain. Small batches 1 gallon. Most of you already knew that.
After tasting the first batch of three i realized there are some things i would like to change to get this great tasting beer everyone says they've been making. I ordered three more of their mixes and want to continue perfecting this new ability. I want to tickle your brain about a few things that i'm thinking of changing with my brew process.
Wort Aeration - Right now i shake my carboy by hand and on the last batch i brewed i used a milk frother to stir in the yeast after i pitched it. After noticing the difference in fermentation activty bewteen the brews i read up on wort aeration. I'd like to know how the health of yeast during fermentation affects taste. I've read about using aquarium pumps or just straight O2 with a diffusion stone. Do any of you have much experience with this on a gallon batch? I'd like to try it to see if it'll improve the brew but not sure if the investment is worth the result.
Fermenter Temperature control - I've read about the importance of controlling the temp during fermentation. On my first three batches i kept the fermenters in the bath tub and kept the door shut for the most part. AC was at 78 and everyonce in a while i'd drop it down to 75. I've read online about the wet t-shirt and fan method and wanted to know if any South Floridians have any experience with this method of keeping temps down. I don't have the time needed to do rotating ice baths. Maybe Gel packs if they're known to last longer.
Secondary Fermenter - The kit I got came with two carboys. At first i was excited that i could ferment two batches at the same time. With reading online i've noticed that other processes have the brewer transfer the beer (sparge?) to a secondary fermenter after the primary stage of fermenting is complete. After asking BBS about it they say it's not really necessary.For such a small batch do you think this will help clarifying the beer? What will it do for taste? My other concern about trying this was about minimizing the beers exposure to the air and what i need to do that. Is the benefit gained worth the exposure to the air?
Filtration - The mixes i use call for pellet hops. I realized that my strainer isn't fine enough to remove the hops completely from the brew before it goes into the fermenter. I think that may have contributed to the slight green in my first batch. I started lining my funnel with several sheets of cheese cloth. As it would get clogged i'd just toss out a layer and continue poruing. I first tried this with my second batch and after reading up on how EVERYTHING must be sanitized i dipped the cheesecloth in sanitizer. I grew concerned about the amount of sanitizer soaked into the cheese cloth so on the third batch i skipped the sanitizer bath. Should i stay away from cheese cloth alltogether? Maybe use a muslim bag instead?
Let me know your thoughts
Wort Aeration - Yeast consume O2 and give off CO2 as they eat the sugars and leave behind alcohol. The CO2 is important as it provides a barrier at the top of you carboy keeping any air born bacteria out of you beer. I believe the best bet is to continue with what your doing I don't see going through the cost of buying pumps and/or O2 cylinder making that much of a difference. Plus the extra time to insure its all sanitized.
Fermentation Temperature - by far the most important you can go to the manufactures web site and they'll list the optimal temperature range for your yeast. I don't live in south florida but I do know the wet t-shirt trick does work. Since you already have it in the tub just add some cold water and a fan. If you want to get into lagers then you'll have to invest in a small freezer and buy a temperature control unit. I've tried the ice bath/t-shirt trick with lagers but it was too stressful trying to keep the temp down for lagering.
Secondary Fermentation - I only do this for dark beers since they need more conditioning time then lighter ones.
Filtration - I've used everything you mentioned then I finally saved up and bought a real brew pot with a hop blocker. I preferred the muslim bag.
I strain the wort twice before I add it to the fermenter. I get crystal clear beer with cold crashing. I like to secondary as there is way to much going on in a small area doing 1 gallon batches. Cold crash, get out as much as you can into the secondary and cold crash again. The beer is basically clear going into the bottles, plus a week in a fridge before drinking, I'm finally getting that commercial level quality clear.
Get an Ice Cube cooler for fermentation temps. Its amazing. You can fit two or even three carboys in them. Fill it with water and add ice packs regularly. I'm up in New England so my basement is 60 degrees right now...perfect, no need for water.
PS-75-78 seems insanely high for fermentation of most ales.
Greatly appreciate the info Bobc and Calichusetts.
I employed the use of a swamp cooler to control the ferment temp.
I think i'm going to use a nylon fine mesh bag to sort out the pellet hops before going into the fermenter on the next batch.
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