Monday, March 9, 2009

3 Simple Homebrewing Tricks

If you don’t use or haven’t heard of these techniques, I highly recommend adding them to your regimen of brewing ideas. They sound primitive but I use them regularly with excellent results. Also, check out a more recent posting with additional tricks at "3 more easy homebrewing tricks" posted in November of 2009.

A.) The mighty spray bottle. A very helpful and simple tool to have at your disposal is a common household spray bottle filled with distilled or filtered water.Keep it filled and nearby when the wort is coming to it’s initial boil. As the foam rises a couple inches, spray a heavy mist of water on the top which will effectively knock the foam back down into solution. You will have to spray periodically at the onset of the boil. Using this technique, you may be able to eliminate the
awkward need to
adjust your temperature down as a way of preventing boil overs, of course, it depends on your heat source and/or how vigorous you want the boil. When the boil is stable and underway, your done with the sprayer until your next brew.

B.) Food grade disposable bags for yeast salvage and easy clean-up. I re-use my yeast at least half a dozen times and sometimes more which in itself is a easy brewing trick but what I want to share here is the idea of using disposable food grade bags as a liner and yeast harvester in your fermenter. One of the most important things to consider when salvaging yeast is reducing the amount of exposure to contaminating bacteria and wild yeasts during the process of transfer and containment. This means handling the yeast as little as possible. I ferment in an open container of sorts. My fermenter is a large plastic container with an open top like a bucket. It is actually a 13gal. Liquid malt extract drum that I got from my local home brew store . I cut the top off to easily transfer wort for fermentation. The trick here is that I line the inside of the fermenter with a food grade disposable bag. After inserting the bag, I tape the top edge in a couple of places to the top of the drum to hold it in place so that when I transfer the chilled wort from the boil pot, the weight of the wort doesn’t drag the bag in with it. After fermentation is complete, I rack the beer into my secondary (in this case a corny keg) and prepare to salvage the yeast. The process is as follows:

  1. lift bag containing yeast out of fermenter
  2. lower bottom of bag into a bucket of water/sanitizer solution for a couple of minutes
  3. lift bag out of solution and let solution drip off for several seconds
  4. hold sanitized bag full of yeast over a previously sanitized jar (quart sized)
  5. perforate bottom of bag with sanitized knife and let yeast drain into the jar
  6. cover jar of yeast with foil and place in fridge until needed
  7. dispose of bag and excess yeast You now have a large yeast starter for your next batch of beer and no need to clean your fermenter. I have used this technique many times and teach the process in my home brewing school in addition to the traditional ways of yeast salvaging.

C.) Wort aeration made easy. Finally, an effective way to aerate your wort without having to ‘rock’ carboys or hook up air pumps is to transfer the wort between sanitized buckets several times. This means pouring the wort from a height of several feet into another bucket. Here’s what you do.

  1. After the wort is cooled to pitching temperatures, drain or pour into one or two 5 gallon buckets depending on the batch size.
  2. Then pour the wort back into the boil pot, or another sanitized bucket.
  3. Then repeat this step two or three times.
  4. Finally pour into you fermenter. Your done.

I hope you’ve taken away from this post some useful information. There are a lot more ideas like this out there. If you’re willing the share, leave a comment below to help others with their brewing endeavors. And remember to sign up for email notice for new posts. Cheers!


BF said...

About saving your yeast: do you worry about keeping the yeast in the dark? e.g. when the light goes on in the fridge? or are they less sensitive to light when they're dormant in the fridge than active in the wort?

Anonymous said...

I don't worry about the yeast. They can be in the light or dark as long as they are cool. They will usually be healthy enough to re-pitch for several weeks without needing to be invigorated with new wort.

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