Simple things that make HB better

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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby warra48 » Tuesday Apr 20, 2010 7:25 am

I'm with Bum.

I use caster sugar, and I prime all my bottles before I fill them.
Never had a problem with them fizzing up, although the first one or two out of the fermenter have a bit of froth, but nothing which spills over.

For me, it's easier to just fill all my bottles, place a cap loosely on it when filled, and use the capper on all of them once all the bottles are filled. It's a bit more like a production line process that way, and saves me some time.
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby Bum » Tuesday Apr 20, 2010 11:08 am

Sorry for putting words in your mouth there, Warra.

We know what happens when we assume...
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby big dave » Friday Apr 30, 2010 11:54 pm

Howdy crew, excellent forum here!

I have been lurking for a while, absorbing the pearls, but, being a brewing neophyte I have a few rudimentary questions. I have borrowed a mates stuff and turned out a few brews thus far, and am enjoying this game. Just bought another fermenter, and I have a very slow cider just about right to bottle, and an ale that's been cooking for a week. This ale is only my 4th homebrew, so really I am just playing about with hops, malt extracts and techniques.

1. Racking - without wanting to reopen any old sores - beyond better clarity, what is the benefit? How careful do I need to be? Do I have to be super careful not to splash or expose the brew to oxygen?

2. Cold conditioning and lagering. If my reading is right, both of these are just storing the beer in cold conditions. Is there much other difference? Coopers excellent ales are bottle conditioned, can lagering be done in the bottle? Is making a good lager more difficult than making a good ale?

3. Storage of ingredients. I live in the sticks in central Vic with no dedicated HBS. There is a health food shop about 20km from my place which sells slightly overpriced kits and bits. I have bought most of my ingredients from there, but I am a bit worried about how old some of it is. I noticed that after I pitched a Safale last week that it was a couple of months out of date, although it was refrigerated and is going very nicely! The hops are on the shelf, but do seem to work ok. They have a very limited range of stuff, but they are as friendly as they are ignorant. Is their stuff safe to buy? How long do malt extracts / specialty grains keep? Do kits go funky if they sit around for ages? Is liquid malt ok if it comes in clear plastic deli-style containers?

Righto, that better do for now. Cheers

Dave
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby Chrisp » Saturday May 01, 2010 12:46 am

Big Dave, Hi and welcome. Glad to see you are enjoying the hobby, just be carfull it does become adictive very qickly. On the post, all very good questions unfortunatly i am not the best person to answer them. I can say that alot of people use craftbrewer to buy there ingredients on line, i though dont know how to put the link on here. The other thing I was going to say was that thebest place to post your important questions is probobly on the main making beer board. Anyway good luck with it.
cheers Crisp
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby rotten » Saturday May 01, 2010 11:36 pm

G'day dave, I second the craftbrewer suggestion. i found out i was paying way to much for hops and went to crafbrewer, got 90g for same price as 15g at HBS, much fresher as well. I'm in same situation as you, in the country. Now i buy malt, hops online, use yeast again (3rd time so far) It's very easy, 1 cup of yeastcake, sterilise fermenter, do your boil or whatever you do, and add yeast at normal pitching temp. Takes off within 3 hrs. will look to buy can extract online if i want to move away from the Coopers Pale Ales I'm doing now.

As for lagers i have one bottled that is 6 weeks old, some in fridge, some in storage fridge (doesn't work) still needs at least another 6 weeks. I'm thinking about racking also although, after tasting a recent brew with descent amount of malt and hops it's not neccasary for me at this stage. I beleive you would need a fridge to store the racked brews in to make it worthwhile. As far as exposing the brew to oxygen, as long as everything is sterile and not too much splashing, from what I have read on here you would be fine.

There are more experienced views out there, i suggest take it one brew at a time and keep trying-improving new techniques.
Cheers
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby bullfrog » Sunday May 02, 2010 12:23 am

G'day Dave,

No need to rack unless you're bulk-priming or lagering. That leads us to your second question;

Not a great deal of difference between cold-conditioning and lagering, except that the first implies colder temperatures and the latter implies longer times. You want to leave lagers to clean up their own eggy smell (lager yeast strains tend to get their sulphur dioxide on like you wouldn't believe) by leaving them, in a whole batch, to let the yeast clear its own ridiculous nonsense up [best to rack off the yeast cake for this as it can take some time]. One can cold-condition an ale from anywhere between 24 hours and a couple of months, and this is done just to aid clarity. Whether lagering or cold-crashing, do it to your entire batch. Your yeasties do a lot better when in an army, as opposed to being split into individual, iddy-bitty squadrons.

Third question, that malt is still okay. Beer only suffers from light stroke after the yeast is added. I do second the advice leading you towards craftbrewer.com.au but you do need to support your local homebrew shop bloke, too. If his stuff works, then grab it--if he doesn't have it in stock, then look online.

My 2 bob.
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby Anna » Tuesday May 04, 2010 1:26 pm

Hi Dave!

The only thing I can add is to check out the "Best Before" dates on the bottoms of any Coopers' cans. I've been having problems with too-sweet brews lately and the expert at Coopers thinks it may be related to old extract. I read somewhere on this forum that you should look for cans that have a "Best Before" date at least 2 years ahead! I've noticed that my local Woolies PA cans only have 1 year on them, so maybe that is in fact my problem!

Welcome BTW! :P
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby leiothrix » Tuesday May 04, 2010 5:36 pm

It's the hops (well, isomerised hop acids) that react with UV to skunk beers. I imagine it wouldn't matter if the beer was fermented or not for it to skunk.

Rob.


Edit: Well, i was wrong:
Riboflavin, a yeast chemical, absorbs light energy with wavelengths of 350 to 500 nanometers (nm). This energy makes the iso-alpha acids release free radicals that combine with sulfur chemicals produced by the yeast, resulting the stinky thiol.
http://news.softpedia.com/news/What-Gives-a-Beer-Skunk-or-Stale-Flavor-56135.shtml
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby big dave » Wednesday May 05, 2010 9:44 am

Cheers guys

I am enjoying this forum. Have taken cruising the site in work down-time, copy and pasting recipes to have a go at. Can't have these discussions at home, my wife (SWMBO/minister for war and finance) doesn't understand beer :cry:

I will have to check out the use-by dates. I was planning to try a honey porter in the next few days. There is a Cascade porter at the wee health food shop we have locally, but I wonder how long it might have been sitting there on the shelf....

Hey Leiothrix, you have me thinking. I use an insulated wooden box with a timer-controlled light globe in the bottom to keep my brew warm at night. Do you reckon that light might cause some mousy flavours. I haven't had to use it until the last few weeks, but the ale I have on it currently has had plenty of time on it! Maybe I should put a layer of cardboard or something between.... :? And it probably wouldn't be an issue with all-malt brews and regular hop pellets would it? :?:

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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby Anna » Wednesday May 05, 2010 9:47 am

Hiya Big Dave! (Minister for War & Finance - yes, that's it! Was trying to remember it for another thread...)

I think I've read somewhere that you need to paint to globe black. Anyone confirm?

Anna
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby warra48 » Wednesday May 05, 2010 2:01 pm

:mrgreen:
Last edited by warra48 on Saturday May 08, 2010 4:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby Chris » Wednesday May 05, 2010 3:52 pm

When I used a hot box, I just put a piece of cardboard between the globe and the fermenter.
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby leiothrix » Wednesday May 05, 2010 5:09 pm

It is UV light that is causing the problems. I don't think incandescent bulbs put out anything in the way of UV.

Fluorescent globes certainly do though, but I think people only use the incandescent globes anyway.

What people have done with the incandescents is put a ceramic pot over the top of it. It stops the light from getting out, gives you a bit of mechanical protection from smashing the globe, and won't burn like paint or cardboard could.

Personally I'll be putting a heat belt in my fridge sometime this winter. It will just hang from the corner. It will be a nice gentle heat, and won't take up any room.

Rob.
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby big dave » Thursday May 06, 2010 6:19 pm

Cheers again!

The light is turned off now, brew is 2 weeks down, so I will leave it alone now until I can bottle on Saturday. I will cover the globe, probably with cardboard - design of the box wont allow a pot of any sort. Will have to fire up the box again when the new honey porter goes down, hopefully also on Saturday. :D
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby big dave » Friday May 07, 2010 9:46 pm

Have worked out something else that makes homebrew better. Closing the tap properly on the bottom of the fermenter after tapping off a sample to check SG.

Drained 80ml off on Wednesday night to measure SG on a 2 week old Fat Yak clone, and it seems like I didn't close the tap properly. :oops: Into the shed today to check how things were going, noticed a very beer-ish smell :? Noticed the floor very wet :shock: Fermenter empty :cry:

Woe is me!
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby warra48 » Saturday May 08, 2010 4:20 am

Never lost a full fermenter, but I have lost 2 to 3 litres of my first run off from an AG brew. :oops:
It sure sharpens up your thinking for next time. :)
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby bullfrog » Sunday May 09, 2010 10:36 am

Closest I've done to that is leaving the fermenter tap open after sanitising it, so that when I was transferring my lovingly prepared porter to it, I inadvertently also transferred some to my kitchen floor. Only lost about 200mL, but that's because the missus had just come in to make herself a cuppa and noticed the dark wort running out of the tap.

Good thing about her being there was that we caught it quickly, bad thing was I didn't have a chance to clean it up before she noticed :P
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Re: Simple things that make HB better

Postby Anna » Monday May 10, 2010 9:02 am

Yep! Been there, done that - on my very first brew! I was told you're not a real brewer until you've left the tap open!
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Re:

Postby kepal » Monday Mar 14, 2011 8:22 pm

50% Mogman wrote:Using liquid yeasts really "cleans up" your brews.
I'm with Carbonator....I don't use dried yeast anymore.

As a brewer of only 35 or so bottled, can you please explain more about liquid yeasts, we have no experience with making yeast or using anything but kit yeast (up until reading today), should we just try dry but better for now?
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Re: Re:

Postby warra48 » Tuesday Mar 15, 2011 1:24 pm

kepal wrote:
50% Mogman wrote:Using liquid yeasts really "cleans up" your brews.
I'm with Carbonator....I don't use dried yeast anymore.

As a brewer of only 35 or so bottled, can you please explain more about liquid yeasts, we have no experience with making yeast or using anything but kit yeast (up until reading today), should we just try dry but better for now?


Nothing wrong with dried yeasts, they work fine.
The biggest problem is underpitching, if you use the 5 or 6 gr packs from under the lid of a kit.

However, the reason many of us use liquid yeasts is that it gives us a much greater variety of yeast, and some very specific style yeasts. That's something you can't get in dried yeasts. For example, WY3068 is a Hefeweizen yeast, and I just don't believe you can get the same yeast characters into the beer from a dried yeast ( no matter that some say they do). One of my favourite ale yeasts is WY1968, perfect for malty UK ales of all styles. I don't think there's an equivalent in dried yeast.
Another reason is that it is much easier to grow up liquid yeasts, and ensure you have a decent amount to pitch. I also save several test tubes from my built up yeast, and use them to grow further starters. Doing that makes it no more expensive than dried yeasts.
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