How To Design Your Own Beer Recipe – Step 6 – Yeast

The easiest way to change your beer around, is by changing your east.  Our blog has quite a few post on yeast in general, so to save your eyes consider this post as a directory to useful information.

When looking at your beer recipe one thing that you need to consider is if it is a lager or an ale.  Lagers are bottom fermenting so they like to ferment at cooler temps (around 55F) while ale’s are top fermenting and they ferment at higher temps (room temp).

If you wanted to brew a lager but you can only do ale’s because of your set up, I would recommend you do a little research on the yeast that might work for you. Normally it will come down to 029, 036 or 060.  These yeast strains are fairly clean leaving what I call, “A faux lager” taste.  They are more crisp.

The biggest thing with yeast is to choose a style of yeast that compliments the style of beer you are making, try to keep it to the region.  Usually there is not just one style of yeast that works for your beer but several, especially when it comes to liquid yeast.  We do have a yeast chart for white labs that has the descriptions of the yeast.

When looking at the yeast chart for white labs you will need to consider flocculation as well as attenuation .

If you really don’t want to get into liquid yeast or because you are ordering your yeast over the internet it may make more sense to have dry yeast.  Here are some dry yeast descriptions.

Yeast is super subjective on what you want to use but I think that the main points for it are just to be flexible and you can make one recipe and use 3 different yeast on it, and it will taste different every single time.

One way to save money per recipe is to culture your own yeast.  We do have a post on how to do it.   It’s the way that I was taught on how to do it.

That said it pretty much covers the main points for yeast.  The next part is the last part to our series on how to develop your own recipe.  We will put everything together and do a few examples of recipes.

 

Final Step

 

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What Attenuation Is In Brewing

When you’re looking at yeast when it comes to home brewing, normally you see a few things about the yeast: 1) Attenuation 2) Flocculation 3) Alcohol Tolerance 4) Flavor Profile.

Alcohol tolerance and flavor profile are easily understood.  We have a post all about flocculation as well.  But what is Attenuation?

Attenuation is normally expressed as a percentage.  It refers to is the amount of fermentable sugars which are converted into alcohol as well as carbon dioxide from yeast.

You can normally make a few assumptions off of the attenuation %.  As a homebrewer you can make a basic assumption, the higher the attenuation the higher the potential alcohol percentage will be, the less sweet the beer will be.

There are more interesting facts about attenuation (that was sarcasm) which you can read but honestly, they are just formulas.  I did however feel the need to put up this post about attenuation because many home brewers are curious about what the word implies.   I hope it clarifies!

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7 Ways To Clear Your Beer

There is no reason why your beer can’t be clear when you pour it into your glass.  While clarity does not affect the taste of the beer, some homebrewers feel that appearance is half the battle.    Here are a few tricks that will help your beer clear up.

Irish Moss

This is an adjunct added at the end of the boil (last 15min).  Take a pinch of it and add.  The way that it works is, it helps coagulate proteins to the bottom.  Proteins add to the haze of a beer.   This does not change the flavor profile of the beer.

Fining Agents (Gelatin)

This is one of my favorites that I use.   You add it into the secondary fermentation and it will literally drag down tannin, proteins, yeast,  making the beer clear.  Do not add this in while the fermentation process is ongoing.  The reason is that it will attach itself to the yeast and make it fall out as well.

Chill Wort Quickly

Ice bath, immersion chiller, counter flow, there is a ton of techniques.  Which ever one you chose, if you end up cooling down your wort quickly it helps the tannin’s and the proteins to cool down quickly and essentially dropping out.  By doing this you make your beer clearer.

Lager Your Beer

Any strain of yeast can be lagered – ale yeast or lager yeast.  By letting the fermentation finish and then bringing it down in temperature, yeast as well as tannin’s will fall out of the beer making it more clear.  If you are bottling you will want to do this after the beer has been bottled if using an ale yeast.  If you don’t the  beer will not carbonate properly.

Use Grain With Less Protein

Certain grains that are used for steeping or in all-grain are going to naturally give you more haze.  Anything that says, “flaked” you can bet that you will have a cloudier beer.  Wheat malt is another one that normally will give you a cloudy beer.  At the end if you are trying to make a clear beer, I would avoid using as many high protein grains as possible.

Secondary Fermentation

We wrote a pretty good blog about them but, secondary fermentation can help as well.  I find that better bottles do a better job when it comes to help clarifying then the glass do (I’m sure there are people who would call me crazy for saying that).  More can be elaborated about them but pretty much the gist is, the yeast will hit the sides of the better bottle and with its design it helps make the beer less cloudy because yeast will fall out.

Yeast Choice

You want to look at the flocculation of the yeast strand.   Flocculation refers to the yeast characteristic of falling out once the fermentation is complete.  The higher the flocculation rate, the clearer your beer should be.  Chose a high flocculation strand of yeast if you want a clear beer.  WYEAST & White Labs both have charts about the flocculation of the yeast which they sell.

 

What I do…

I usually end up just putting my beer into secondary fermentation and adding gelatin to it.  It works every time for me, and it’s kinda cool.  You can actually see the beer start to become more clear as the days go by.  

 

If you know of any that I missed or have a technique worth sharing tell us about it!

 

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Cold Weather And Slow Fermentation And How To Solve It

When the cold weather comes around we start to get the phone calls about how the fermentation is  not starting or being sluggish at first.  Well if it makes you feel any better, it’s usually not anything you did.  Usually around this time of year it’s because of the weather and the cooler fermentation temperatures.

In the summer time you can assume that your ale will ferment around 72-75 degrees.  At the end of July and early August maybe even warmer.  In the winter you can assume that it will be fermenting around 68.  Since yeast is pretty finicky about temperature, this can play a big part in your fermentation process.  Even if your thinking, “But it’s just a few degrees” the answer still remains as, yes it’s a big enough deal to mess with the fermentation.

Temperatures that are in the 60’s can play a bit of a challenge for yeast.  There is a plus though, this temperature range is about as perfect as you can get if you are going for a clean batch of ale.  So as a brewer think of turning this negative with colder fermentation temperature to a BIG positive.  How so? It’s easy.

First I would treat any ale that you are making in the cold months as if it were a big beer.  Think of making a starter, if that isn’t working for you or for what ever reason you don’t have the means of doing that, think about adding yeast nutrient.

Second, I would pick a yeast that does not flocculate that high.  White labs website has a list of all there different yeast strains and how they flocculate.  They will let you know if it is, “High”, “Medium”, or “Low”.  You want to choose one that is low or medium.

Other then being a pretty cool word to say, what is flocculation?  Flocculation is how much yeast tends to clump up.  All yeast strands have this characteristic to it, it really depends on how high or low it is though.  The higher the flocculation rate is, the more the yeast will clump and then sink to the bottom of the fermenter.

When fermenting in cooler temperatures, yeast has the tendency to flocculate even more, which is exactly why your fermentation will get stuck or slow down more in the winter than in the summer.

A solution for winter fermentation issues is usually by rousing up the yeast.  Just shake your fermentation vessel up to try to get the yeast on the bottom of the fermenter kicked back up.  It doesn’t hurt your beer, it actually helps.  Just be careful if you have glass, no reason to lose your beer and a carboy when shaking it up.

Does anyone find that there fermentation problems increase in the winter time?

 

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