A few sanity checks

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lupulus
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A few sanity checks

Postby lupulus » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:12 pm

A few EO year sanity checks to gather some thoughts and relate some experiences

1. Ascorbic acid
- I have been catching up on forums read the last couple of weeks, and read more times that I can count that AA is a "superoxidizer". Despite this being accompanied of a book reference in at least one occasion, the said reference did not elaborate much.
My thoughts based on literature I read:
- It can be beneficial in the mash as shown by the AA oxidase paper of Kanauchi (Bamforth)
- Worst case dehydroAA reduction will convert it back to AA, which will, again, be a great antioxidant; so worst-case (assuming one does not go high enough to affect flavor) it has a sort-of-buffering effect; ie, there will not be extra oxidation as a result of its addition. Admittedly, AA is a "fickle" friend but leads to no harm.

2. Brewtan B
- I have used Brewtan B in the boil - dosed per Ajinomoto/ Foremanek recommendations in many beers during 2017. Unfortunately, in some but not all beers you can taste the tannins (the coming and going of the off-flavor confused me and thus took me a while to isolate the culprit). So, no Brewtan B in the boil for me ever again.
- Given that gallotannins appear to hydrolize during the boil, other vendors (Tannox) recommend using it in the last 5 min. A paper identified 3 min before the EO boil as the sweet spot; maybe that was my mistake but I do not have the time to research this too, and Whirlfloc always worked for me.

3. Boiling process
- I finally settled on a boiling process. It took me a while because with some malts, I was not boiling hard enough leading to some cloudiness. I know all of you are doing something similar :-)
- I am doing 60 min for all beers, 30 min fully covered (peaking from time to time to monitor boilover) and ensuring the temp gauge is at boiling temp; then 30 min uncovered with the immersion chiller. It is about a 7% evaporation in total.
- I find myself collecting the gelatinous hot break during the uncovered boil for no reason (given that I would collect it anyway when I empty the kettle)
- Like a drunk who cannot refuse a free/ cheap drink, despite years of saying that I always brew with Weyermann, I keep accepting free malt or buying very cheap malt --pinky promise will always use W from now on-- I know it is not the only malster who makes good malt but lost the will to tweak my process every time I get a new malt.

4. Spunding valve
- I have had the cheap contraption that a few of you have pictured (no, not yours Nico, that is my Walhalla...), and it does work well for me BUT is foams a little at the beginning. I have not been able to avoid the foam so I just submerge the connection part in iodophor (no disconnect, manometer and regulator above the surface).
- Keep hoping that I will come up with a process that won't allow foam to come up but nothing yet.
- NOTE that it foams because the gas tube is cut to the bare minimum, if not cut I would see beer coming off the valve...
- YES - I know I do not have to fill the keg to the top, but I keep doing it :-)

If you have any thoughts, experiences, please let me know.

Merry Christmas and an awesome 2018 to all !
Ricardo
Ich trinke Bier nur an Tagen die mit G enden , und Mittwochs
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Crunk
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby Crunk » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:49 pm

My process is solid, and I brewed the last 4 batches identically in all aspects to make sure duplication is perfect, and I can honestly say, it is.
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Techbrau
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby Techbrau » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:23 am

Merry Christmas, Lup :) Glad to hear you’re doing well.

I settled on 15 mg/l SMB, 15 mg/l AA, and 30 mg/l BB as my standard mash water treatment. I know I could go lower but the extra insurance provides some peace of mind. I don’t like BB in the boil either.

My grain bills are mostly Pilsner with about 4-7% caramel malt. Carahell all the way up through caramunich or a blend, depending on my mood. I do like what 10-15% Munich or Vienna can bring. I only really like W and Best Malz.

After a lot of experimentation I settled on 64c/30 min, 72c/30 min, 76c/5-10 min. I do not like doughing in lower than 62-64c.

The boil is one of the trickiest things to get right. Very Goldilocks. I am at 6% evap with the kettle lid 90% of the way on for the whole boil (60-70 min, depending on when you start counting). I don’t skim the foam because somehow I got the idea in my head that it acts as a sort of atmospheric barrier during the boil (not unlike a mash cap). I doubt it makes a huge difference.

I am back to either a single 60 min hop addition or alternatively a 60 + a modest 30.

I don’t bother with my spunding valve any longer. I just rack to the keg when there’s enough sugar left to carbonate and keep it sealed.

How are you fermenting? I went back and experimented again with some of the accelerated schedules earlier this year and found that they just didn’t give the results I wanted. Pitch 6c, ferment 9c, rack and spund at 7.5c, and lager at 3c remains the best schedule I’ve used.

Oh, and I’m back to using Wyeast 2124 and intend to stick with it for the foreseeable future :) It’s quintessentially “German” tasting to me in a way no other strain is (probably since such an overwhelming number of commercial outfits use 34/70), and performs optimally for the ferment schedule I like to use.
If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always gotten.
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby mchrispen » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:28 pm

I am with you on the longer fermentation schedule, however, I do find that accelerated with 34/70 actually works out pretty well. I do love 2124... but it can certainly be a sulfur bomb. I find the sulfur lessens with repitch, but it could be my imagination. Of course, the sulfur lagers out eventually. It does seem a bit dustier a yeast for me, so min 4 weeks lagering and somewhere in week 5 is just seems to drop completely bright.
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lupulus
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby lupulus » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:51 pm

BION I have never used 2124 aka 34/70; maybe late 2018, when the yeasts I am using "run out of steam". I have been brewing quite a bit in late November and December using Augustiner, Andechs and Ayinger. Will report by EO Jan. I am also fermenting at 9C (Augustiner takes time to adapt to 9C but by the 3rd gen it is great). I have tried the ramp down but it has been inconsistent for me, so I have been finishing them at around 11-12 C, dropping them to 5C in 2 days, checking carbonation and then spunding them at 5C for 2 days to get them to about 3.1 volumes (3-3.2) which is the pressure I use/need for bottling. I have the unproven theory that the rampdown does work well ONLY when it is done before racking with all the yeast present; once you rack, you need to make sure that you get to final gravity.
Happy New Year !!
Ich trinke Bier nur an Tagen die mit G enden , und Mittwochs
Techbrau
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby Techbrau » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:22 pm

mchrispen wrote:I am with you on the longer fermentation schedule, however, I do find that accelerated with 34/70 actually works out pretty well. I do love 2124... but it can certainly be a sulfur bomb. I find the sulfur lessens with repitch, but it could be my imagination. Of course, the sulfur lagers out eventually. It does seem a bit dustier a yeast for me, so min 4 weeks lagering and somewhere in week 5 is just seems to drop completely bright.


I get pretty low sulfur production from 2124, but it could have something to do with the rest of my cold process. I notice that aeration and pitch rate have a big influence on how much sulfur gets produced.

Nowadays I am only aerating the yeast in about 2-3 liters of wort, and not doing any aeration for the main volume of wort. I am not bothering with pure oxygen - I just put my slurry into a big glass jug with a few liters of wort at 6c and shake it until it’s 100% foam. After an hour has passed the foam has settled back into liquid and I pitch the whole thing and walk away. The yeast cells have the better part of an hour sitting on the film surface of the bubbles with ultra close contact with the atmosphere to soak up as much oxygen as they want. I use a pitch rate of about 1.8 million cells per ml per degree Plato.

One of the reasons I drop to 7.5c before I rack is to clear some yeast out so I don’t have too much in the keg. It does take another couple of weeks at 3c after FG is reached before the beer drops clear, but I’m not using the floating keg widgets. I imagine it would pull clear in less time with one of those.
Last edited by Techbrau on Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always gotten.
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Ancient Abbey
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby Ancient Abbey » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:52 am

My 2017 sanity checks are very similar to all of above.

Yeast and Yeast Management
This is still the single most significant important part of the process.

I've always favored the cold fermentation with lagers, and have subscribed to the mantra that the more delicate the lager, the more disciplined you must be on the cold fermentation profile. I, too, moved moved away from the spunding valve, and instead simply begin dropping temperature at around 2% over EVG, then rack to a keg at 1% over EVG. It results in considerably less yeast in the keg and more in the cake in the fermenter. I have noticed that later generations of yeast begin to drop clearer and faster, which is quite likely due to brewhouse selection since the yeast from the cake is reused and the settled yeast from spunding is discarded. My solution is to use 50% of new cells from a stir plate and 50% of cells from a previous batch. I put back a small sample from every stir plate starter so that I always have a healthy, clean sample to return to should something go wrong. It's not as good of a long-term solution as slants, but I've not had any issue with yeast that gets attention every 6 months or so.

Also, I make batches 2-3L larger than needed for the keg so that I can pitch, let the cells beginning budding and then at 24-48 hours pull off the volume needed for my next starter. This is essentially top cropping for lager yeast, as I am only collecting the live, viable yeast (no trub or settled matter) and the many new daughter cells are present and waiting to be grown up to full size in an aerated, nutrient rich environment. I find it makes consistent and reliable yeast that work well with the Narziss cold fermentation profile, and in theory my pitches can be used forever, as they will always have adequate new cells removed before flocculation occurs to prevent the brewhouse selection typically observed from cone to cone pitching between batches 5-15.

My new system is 50L, so I anticipate doing a lot of split batches and playing around with a lot of lager strains. I've tried most of them with a single batch or two, here and there, but not with split batches with a dialed-in, inert system. I view this as starting with a clean slate. So far, 835 has never let me down and has been a brewhouse workhorse. I have no complaints about the strain itself. But, it's also a hobby, and I enjoy the freedom of not having to brew the same beer the same way every single time.

Malt
Best is best. I try others for fun, but none match the quality, consistency and flavor as those from the German maltsters.

I really like the flavors of the brühmalz better than the karamalz, but they seem much more delicate and perishable and their oxidized forms can be offensive to the palate. If I'm going to brew a beer that will be consumed quickly and without packaging, heat cycling or travel, then I use the brühmalz. Clean peaks theory in recipe development still works for me.

SMB
It is an elegant solution, but not a magic wand. Use it as you would any tool in the toolbox, but it won't correct for other flaws in your process or system. It is very easy to produce matchstick beers, so tread carefully, know your system and ferment accordingly. Fermentation temps and pitching rates can correct for too much SMB in the mash and boil. I find 10-25 mg/L to be adequate.

AA
Ascorbic acid can produce the same effects as SMB, only it requires much higher concentrations, and it can be a double edged sword. That said, it has a place in my mash cocktail, as it only makes sense to me to take advantage of the natural enzymes and mechanisms in place in the malts to utilize AA for preventing oxidation. I find 10-25mg/L to be adequate. In the future, I anticipate sauergut completely replacing AA in the mash.

BB
Brewtan B has a place in my mash cocktail simply for its potential for preventing superoxide formation. I've never been a fan of adding significant amounts of purified tannins during the boil, as I work very hard to prevent tannin extraction during all other phases of my brewing process. I find 10-25 mg/L to be adequate in the mash. If I used tap water, then I would likely use 50-75 mg/L to mitigate the iron and heavy metals from the miles and miles of pipe my water travels to get to me.

Sauergut
This area needs more attention in my brewhouse, but I much prefer the natural, biological solution to acidification over mineral acids. It also brings with it a slew of organic acids, nutrients and natural antioxidants that make it the perfect compliment to SMB and inert brewing methods. Using AA or CA to initially drop the pH in sauergut may be an elegant way to load the SG with antioxidants and prime the pH for lactose fermentation.

Boil
The boil is a fickle mistress. Once you've produced those delicate, fresh-baked, aromatic characters of warm bread, you know how easily they can be lost in the boil. Once the end of boil wort tastes as delicious as the mash wort, then I know I am doing it right. I take my time getting my wort up to a boil, and I like to keep my total evaporation rate single-digits low.

Thank you all for a great 2017, here's to 2018!
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby wobdee » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:31 am

Happy New Year! Nice to hear from everyone again.

I'm also a big fan of 2124. I've tried other strains the last couple years but always come back to 2124. Lately I've been fermenting at 9c which has given me the most consistent results. Sometimes I spund but mostly I just force carb my small batches. This year I plan on changing that around since I have a better understanding of it.

I'm pretty set with 50mg/l SMB along with a little BTB for my modified Braumeister which leaves me around 10ppm sulfites going into the fermenter, the BM isn't the most friendly system when it comes to lodo.

I've tried many malt combos for my Helles but I think my favorite is Best Pils along with 8% Carahell, 20 IBU with a FWH and small 20 min addition. Favorite beer of the year was 100% Red X with 30 IBU mix of Mag/Saaz FWH. I'd be a happy man for the rest of my life brewing only those two beers.
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lupulus
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby lupulus » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:20 pm

Thanks for all the responses. Happy 2018 everyone !!
Ich trinke Bier nur an Tagen die mit G enden , und Mittwochs
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Re: A few sanity checks

Postby Ski » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:31 am

What a gem of a thread! Compact, knowledgeable and highly informative. Thank you all.

Only thing I can add is that I use a pyrex glass pizza plate as a lid during the boil. This lets me see what's going on, so I don't get too timid or too aggressive boiling. It has a small center hole which lets steam escape but keeps the headspace filled with steam. I feel that this helps reduce air contact. I use a constant-temperature control strategy with 0.1ºC granularity to dial in the boil to the perfect simmer.
For the rest, it's pre-boil, SBT as anti-oxidant, haven't tried BTB separately yet, SS mash-cap, 2L SS growler as a Sauergut reactor for acidification in both mash and boil, swapping about 1L each time, stainless everywhere, protofloc @ KO-15, chilling is a pain: 50' SSIC, 100-15º in ~30 mins, gentle drill-whirl to cone up the break, cover and into a fridge for 60 mins for final chilling to 7º pitch, and trub separation. Following Nico's cold schedule, transfer at 4 points remaining into keg and spund. Crash chill to -1 when carbed. Malt from our local maltings, 2206 yeast, but trying 34/70 from Weihenstephan next brew.
I love AA's idea of cropping yeast from the fermenter. So simple, so right! Will adopt.
Hops: using Magnum as my main hop, with Mittelfruh at KO-10, liking it. Will try Magnum only because of its high AA, less vegetation, as per wobdee's München Hofbräu thread.
New Year's Resolution: figure out how to brew Augustiner Hell.

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