My first LODO trial: Helles

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maoru

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After reading up on the theory and practice of LODO brewing, I decided to try a couple process changes. So long as I'm using controversial techniques, I also incorporated another technique that many have scoffed at and dismissed: use of olive oil in place of yeast oxygen.

Last week I made a pale ale using standard BIAB techniques - my house standard recipe with self-dried Opshaug Kveik. The only change is that I re-hydrated the flakes with warm water, one drop of olive oil, yeast nutrient and a tiny bit of sugar. It's about to go on tap... though it's taking longer than normal to finish fermentation in the keg. I'm hoping the lack of yeast oxygen brings out the hop freshness more. This is an interesting test to me because the Kveik is third generation, self-dried and under-pitched (7g dried), so oxygen is supposedly very important. My previous batches I used an oxygen wand before pitching yeast.

Then, I purchased a nitrogen tank ($115) and regulator ($50) and hooked it up to my stainless steel aeration wand. Yesterday, I brewed a Helles with my new process. I put the N2 bubbles in my kettle (DigiBoil) as I started slowly heating to strike temperature (500 W). I also added a couple grams of yeast (lallemand kveik) and sugar. It took about 1.5 hours to get to yeast-death temperature of 120F, so hopefully with the yeast and nitrogen sparge it brought down dissolved oxygen all the way. I sprayed the grains with Starsan to get some pH adjustment, which helped keep the hulls more intact. After a 45 minute mash, I heated to 168 and removed the bag, squeezing gently and without splashing. Nitrogen aeration (oxygen sparging) continued until I reached a boil, and bubbles turned on again at flame out. One kind of cool thing about this technique is that it forms a solid nitrogen foam layer on top (especially after boil), which acts as a mash cap, in addition to displacing oxygen. The agitation from N2 bubbles alone also seemed to help the stainless immersion chiller a bit. Once cooled to about 82F, I transferred to my fermentor (gently with a hose), and pitched the yeast (S-189). I purged the headspace with CO2 and sealed it up at 5 psi (for temperature drop). I pitched yeast at 11 am, and by 9 pm there was a solid layer of krausen on top, and it was ~65F @ 4 psi. This morning it's up to 15 psi, still in the low 60's in my basement.

Recipe: Bürlimann Helles

Water: 0.25 tsp. each CaCl, Epsom, & Chalk (Sacramento tap water to Zurich profile)
Grain: 7# Pilsner, 0.75# Vienna, 0.25# Munich
Hops: 0.75 oz Tahoma FWH, 0.5oz Tahoma @ -5 min
Yeast: S-189 rehydrated for 10 minutes with a drop of olive oil, sprinkle of sugar and warm water
O.G. 1.045 (I was going for 1.052 but efficiency was lower than usual)
 
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I look forward to hearing about your progress. I am making good beer, but am also losing the fresh hop aroma and flavor due to some level of oxidation. Keep us posted!
 

Bilsch

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I put the N2 bubbles in my kettle (DigiBoil) as I started slowly heating to strike temperature (500 W). I also added a couple grams of yeast (lallemand kveik) and sugar. It took about 1.5 hours to get to yeast-death temperature of 120F, so hopefully with the yeast and nitrogen sparge it brought down dissolved oxygen all the way. I sprayed the grains with Starsan to get some pH adjustment, which helped keep the hulls more intact.
It's actually not necessary to waste the nitrogen during the YDO since the yeast are really quite good at removing the dissolved oxygen. At temperatures nearing 100F it will be zero DO in 30 minutes or less.

This is the first time I have heard of anyone using sanitizer to adjust pH or to condition grain. Besides phosphoric acid Starsan contains dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid which is a detergent surfactant. If you are going through the effort to brew low oxygen it's probably best to keep other alternative flavoring compounds to a minimum.
 
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maoru

maoru

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It's actually not necessary to waste the nitrogen during the YDO since the yeast are really quite good at removing the dissolved oxygen. At temperatures nearing 100F it will be zero DO in 30 minutes or less.
The N2 is in place of using metabisulfite to scavenge and mash cap during the mash and while chilling. I removed the nitrogen wand during the boil.

This is the first time I have heard of anyone using sanitizer to adjust pH or to condition grain. Besides phosphoric acid Starsan contains dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid which is a detergent surfactant. If you are going through the effort to brew low oxygen it's probably best to keep other alternative flavoring compounds to a minimum.
Yeah, I did look that ingredient up, however, I think the amount was pretty low in my system overall compared to some people's "don't fear the foam" attitude. The real truth is that I needed a water spray bottle to wet the grains, that one was the only clean one I had, and I didn't want to do a multi-step mash to get my acidity. I don't have acidulated malt on hand. For my pale beers I just use 4 oz grapefruit juice.
 

Bilsch

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The N2 is in place of using metabisulfite to scavenge and mash cap during the mash and while chilling. I removed the nitrogen wand during the boil.

Yeah, I did look that ingredient up, however, I think the amount was pretty low in my system overall compared to some people's "don't fear the foam" attitude. The real truth is that I needed a water spray bottle to wet the grains, that one was the only clean one I had, and I didn't want to do a multi-step mash to get my acidity. I don't have acidulated malt on hand. For my pale beers I just use 4 oz grapefruit juice.
First let me say it's nice to see people trying out the lowox method and I'd like to help you come up to speed with the process. Ok so the yeast DO process is used to scavenge the dissolved oxygen in the strike water, which you already know how to do. The metabisulfite's job is to remove any oxygen that enters the mash from mixing the grain with the water. You see there is a lot of adsorbed O2 in and on the grain and even if you have removed all the dissolved oxygen in the mash water, once you add the grain there will be a spike in DO and that is meta's job to mop up what comes with the grain. Meta also protects you from any DO that enters during the mash and ramp to boil. The trick is to have enough to protect you from mash in right through to boil. Although it's not a big deal to have extra since that will be expended during the oxygenation before yeast pitch. Yes you really should oxygenate since it's been discovered that the oil thing actually never worked. Yea it sounded good but was a flop.

As for lowering the pH of your mash.. besides acid malt there is phosphoric and lactic acids which are available at any decent homebrew shop for pennies a dose. Please consider these as opposed to fruit juices which are quite flavorful and easy to pick out in the finished beer.
 
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maoru

maoru

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First let me say it's nice to see people trying out the lowox method and I'd like to help you come up to speed with the process. Ok so the yeast DO process is used to scavenge the dissolved oxygen in the strike water, which you already know how to do. The metabisulfite's job is to remove any oxygen that enters the mash from mixing the grain with the water. You see there is a lot of adsorbed O2 in and on the grain and even if you have removed all the dissolved oxygen in the mash water, once you add the grain there will be a spike in DO and that is meta's job to mop up what comes with the grain. Meta also protects you from any DO that enters during the mash and ramp to boil. The trick is to have enough to protect you from mash in right through to boil. Although it's not a big deal to have extra since that will be expended during the oxygenation before yeast pitch. Yes you really should oxygenate since it's been discovered that the oil thing actually never worked. Yea it sounded good but was a flop.

As for lowering the pH of your mash.. besides acid malt there is phosphoric and lactic acids which are available at any decent homebrew shop for pennies a dose. Please consider these as opposed to fruit juices which are quite flavorful and easy to pick out in the finished beer.
Oxygen cannot go into solution when the liquid is already saturated with gas. By saturating with nitrogen, the oxygen is unlikely to go into solution from the grains, and if it does, it will be replaced by the continual nitrogen saturation. If you ever try to carbonate aerated water, it's very difficult. Commercial soda makers always de-gas the water to make it easier to carbonate.

Fermentis has said oxygenation is not necessary for their packets because the yeast already has the reserves it needs to grow. Please back up the claim that olive oil a flop - many people say the same about low oxygen mash. I think people are just doing it wrong - if you pitch oil into the beer it floats on top and has very little to no prolonged contact with budding yeast. I mix the olive oil in with the yeast while it's rehydrating, so that it can get nice and cozy. That is similar to how it was done at New Belgium - they likely had a corny keg full of yeast, and it was added there.

I didn't use grapefruit juice for this Helles for exactly that reason. In my pale ales it blends with the hops so well, and it's such a small amount. I have never tasted any grapefruit in the finished beer. Seems silly to me to buy citric acid, extracted from citrus, when I have a heavily loaded tree in my backyard.
 

Birrofilo

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Oxygen cannot go into solution when the liquid is already saturated with gas. By saturating with nitrogen, the oxygen is unlikely to go into solution from the grains, and if it does, it will be replaced by the continual nitrogen saturation.
[...]
Fermentis has said oxygenation is not necessary for their packets because the yeast already has the reserves it needs to grow.
[...]
Please back up the claim that olive oil a flop - many people say the same about low oxygen mash.
[...]
Seems silly to me to buy citric acid, extracted from citrus, when I have a heavily loaded tree in my backyard.
For what I know, separate gases dissolve into the liquid until each of them reaches their own saturation point. E.g. you might have a lot of CO2 dissolved in the beer, and the beer will still be able to acquire oxygen from air. Also, I suppose you normally don't reach "saturation" with gases. You can push in a lot of CO2 inside beer and after that, you can push in more CO2 (and or more O2 on top of that).

Fermentis dries their yeasts with nutrients, so that they say the yeast doesn't need oxygen. That, I think, it's true within a limited definition of "needs". In my limited understanding I mumble that if you put oxygen the cells will use oxygen first to produce sterols. When oxygen is over (which means after a day or so) each subsequent generation will have a thinner and thinner outer membrane, until reproduction is not any more possible. Adding both nutrients (by Fermentis) and oxygen allows, I suspect, more generations, and healthier yeast.

Regarding the olive oil flop, I associate myself in your request. For what I know, there is no conclusive evidence in either direction. In my unproved hypothesis, when oxygen is depleted, which happens fast, cells can use the olive oil to produce more sterols, so again oxygen + olive oil is better than oxygen only.

One of the reasons why people use citric acid (more commonly lactic acid and phosphoric acid are used) is that, being "titled", it's easy to dose precisely. Besides, lactic acid and phosphoric acids have advantages that citric acid doesn't have. Lactic acid can provide a buffer during fermentation which prevents pH falling too much (assisting the natural buffer in the wort); phosphoric acid is totally undetectable in the beer at any amount. Using fruit juice is a lottery because you always undergo the risk of detectable unwanted flavour. Citrus is a wonderful fruit to be used alone and anywhere, but I wouldn't put it on my pizza, so to speak, because my orchard is generous ;-) YMMV
 
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maoru

maoru

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For what I know, separate gases dissolve into the liquid until each of them reaches their own saturation point. E.g. you might have a lot of CO2 dissolved in the beer, and the beer will still be able to acquire oxygen from air. Also, I suppose you normally don't reach "saturation" with gases. You can push in a lot of CO2 inside beer and after that, you can push in more CO2 (and or more O2 on top of that).
I'm not an expert on the topic, but nitrogen sparging is a commonly used method for removal of dissolved oxygen. Dissolved gasses absolutely affect each other in a solution. Something about total vapor pressure and partial pressures - Daltons law and Henrys law. You can read some about it here, or here. Another method that would be really interesting to try is ultrasonic agitation - this machine could be used as a mash tun, handling degassing, heating, and it would speed up the mash. But nitrogen seemed like the easiest way to test this out, and I might use it for cold brew coffee this summer.
 

Birrofilo

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@maoru

I see your point. I think that the proof is in the pudding though. We have a user in this forum, whom you will recognize immediately, who loves pontificating on each subject of which he has a good equation knowledge, and no real life experience whatsoever.

Do you mean that I can de-oxygenize wort by using a cylinder with nitrogen and an aquarium stone? That would be certainly interesting and I would investigate the subject further (but please no equations! Real practical experiences). The second link is interesting because it is understandable, although it only deals with deionized water, but I don't understand two things: 1) which was the original ppm content of the water (it isn't stated!?). The table at page 212 is quite unclear to me. Why different numbers for the same treatment in minutes? Why "sonication" gives 6.2, a totally off number, for 30', to abruptly fall at 0,67 at 60 minutes? And what are those other 30' and 60' values?

The ultrasonic cleaner is something which is in my buying list as it is a device used for "artificial aging" of distillates (I have more than one hobby ;) ). If I have to deoxygenate water, the yeast method appears to me to be the faster and easier.
 
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maoru

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Do you mean that I can de-oxygenize wort by using a cylinder with nitrogen and an aquarium stone? That would be certainly interesting and I would investigate the subject further (but please no equations! Real practical experiences).
Yes, nitrogen sparging is commonly used in winemaking (see more here). Although I did just read this, which is somewhat concerning: "Sparging, while effective at removing oxygen, could potentially remove some positive volatile aroma compounds." I can say I didn't smell much coming from my Helles mash, but it wasn't completely free of aroma either. But it definitely wasn't as strong as a normal mash.

The ultrasonic cleaner is something which is in my buying list as it is a device used for "artificial aging" of distillates (I have more than hobby ;) ). If I have to deoxygenate water, the yeast method appears to me to be the faster and easier.
Or if you need one more reason to get one, it can also speed up malting your own grain.
 

Bilsch

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Oxygen cannot go into solution when the liquid is already saturated with gas. By saturating with nitrogen, the oxygen is unlikely to go into solution from the grains, and if it does, it will be replaced by the continual nitrogen saturation. If you ever try to carbonate aerated water, it's very difficult. Commercial soda makers always de-gas the water to make it easier to carbonate.
The reason bubbling nitrogen through the water removes oxygen has nothing to do with displacement but instead equilibrium. Inside the N2 bubbles there is (hopefully) zero oxygen and in your water there is some amount. Therefore in an attempt to reach equilibrium, diffusion will force some of that O2 in the water into that N2 bubble which escapes to the liquid surface. This action slowly reduces the DO until the amount in the water is equal the amount in the nitrogen bubbles. At which point the universe is happy.

Only 2 factors, pressure and temperature, effect a gas's solubility in solution, not other gasses.

My original point was that using nitrogen for deoxygenating is a slow process and consumes a lot of gas while yeast DO is cheap and fast.
 
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maoru

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My original point was that using nitrogen for deoxygenating is a slow process and consumes a lot of gas while yeast DO is cheap and fast.
Thank you for the explanation - the partial pressure equation of Henrys law makes a lot more sense considering the pure food grade N2 inside the bubbles. But I think you're missing the point of the N2 in my process. I'm using it in place of metabisulfites and mash cap, to continuously drive off O2 during the whole mash and chilling process. During the boil, water vapor is doing that work.

I don't have a DO meter, but I think nitrogen sparging is quicker than you think. Some of the links I put above describe it to be effective in minutes, or at most an hour. I'm using a 0.5 micron stainless aeration stone, at a low flow rate which resembles a gentle boil in the kettle. I actually had a double take when I turned the heat off because I thought it was still boiling.
 

Bilsch

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But I think you're missing the point of the N2 in my process. I'm using it in place of metabisulfites and mash cap, to continuously drive off O2 during the whole mash and chilling process. During the boil, water vapor is doing that work.

I don't have a DO meter, but I think nitrogen sparging is quicker than you think. Some of the links I put above describe it to be effective in minutes, or at most an hour.
Dont get me wrong, I’m all about people trying/testing new things in their system and process. It’s just that what you are doing has already been well tested in systems that do have in process DO meters. It’s been found that nitrogen in the mash to protect from oxidation damage if of little utility. The reason being oxygen is not just a bubble stuck to the grain particle but instead adsorbed into the starch and husk material. Also molecular O2 is stuck (literally due to Van der waals forces) to all surface areas of the grain. It will only come out/off again because of the force of diffusion driven by the oxygen free water trying to reach equilibrium with the amount of O2 in the grain. At mash temperatures, malt antioxidants (your fresh beer flavor) scavenge that O2 up very quickly.. before you could possibly remove it through nitrogen sparging. Your only hope here is another chemical oxygen scavenger in solution picking it up first. There is a lot of complicated competing chemical reactions happening in the mash and it takes a while to get a decent understanding of it all.

Nitrogen sparging times you are reading about are using a contactor system or packed columns with an order of magnitude greater surface area and far longer contact times then is possible with just a stone bubbling the gas in a kettle.

You seem like a guy that is really diving into the technical aspects of lodo brewing. You may be better served by other more specialized sources of information on this topic.
 
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maoru

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I look forward to hearing about your progress. I am making good beer, but am also losing the fresh hop aroma and flavor due to some level of oxidation. Keep us posted!
I have both beers on tap now. Neither suffered any off-flavors or under-attenuation due to lack of oxygenation. The Opshaug was slower than normal to finish fermenting, F.G. of 1.013 in 8 days, and the Lager (S-189) finished in 10 days to 1.009. The pale ale has bright hop freshness (Centennial+Simcoe); the flame-out hops fermented with the beer and I dry hopped in a bag in the keg (transferred on day 2 while fermentation was slowing down).

In the future, I'm going to try this FermStart Yeast Rehydration Nutrient from CellarScience instead of olive oil. It claims to have the correct amino acids and sterols, which should in theory reduce or eliminate the need for oxygen.
 
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An update. It seems there's more complexity with gas sparging during brewing. AB InBev has reportedly experimented (or implemented?) a no-boil process where CO2/Nitrogen sparging just below the boiling point replaces the vigorous boil entirely. This means the sparging can drive off DMS, and since I'm doing it from 180F (when DMS is created) up to 212 on both sides of my boil, I should be getting extra "boil time". I only boiled for 30 minutes anyway, but combined with the sparging it may be equivalent to a longer boil as far as DMS goes.

Another consideration is that nitrogen is actually a yeast nutrient, though I don't know if yeast can pull it from dissolved gas. Scott Janish has pointed out that nitrogen depletion leads to DMS during late fermentation. How much of the "splashing" wisdom is to increase dissolved nitrogen as well as oxygen? In any case my dried yeast certainly didn't mind my oxygen-free and nitrogen-saturated wort.
 

beersk

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An update. It seems there's more complexity with gas sparging during brewing. AB InBev has reportedly experimented (or implemented?) a no-boil process where CO2/Nitrogen sparging just below the boiling point replaces the vigorous boil entirely. This means the sparging can drive off DMS, and since I'm doing it from 180F (when DMS is created) up to 212 on both sides of my boil, I should be getting extra "boil time". I only boiled for 30 minutes anyway, but combined with the sparging it may be equivalent to a longer boil as far as DMS goes.

Another consideration is that nitrogen is actually a yeast nutrient, though I don't know if yeast can pull it from dissolved gas. Scott Janish has pointed out that nitrogen depletion leads to DMS during late fermentation. How much of the "splashing" wisdom is to increase dissolved nitrogen as well as oxygen? In any case my dried yeast certainly didn't mind my oxygen-free and nitrogen-saturated wort.
Interesting data points. Good to hear your beers turned out.
 

Holden Caulfield

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Another consideration is that nitrogen is actually a yeast nutrient, though I don't know if yeast can pull it from dissolved gas.
Yeast do not use N2 as a nutrient.

"Nitrogenous compounds play an important role in winemaking. They serve as nutrients for the growth and metabolic activity of the yeast during fermentation; and as proteins, they also influence wine stability, particularly in white wine.

Quantitatively, next to sugars, nitrogenous compounds are the most important nutrient substances found in grape must. Ammonia, which exists as ammonium (NH4+) ions in must, and amino acids are the predominant nitrogen-containing compounds that are utilized by yeast. On a dry weight basis, about 10% of yeast weight consists of nitrogen. All the nitrogen used in building cellular material (population 108 cells/ml) during fermentation is taken up from the must. It is therefore important that the must contain sufficient amounts of nitrogen to support a healthy yeast population during fermentation."

Source: Nitrogen Metabolism During Fermentation*
 

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