That show sounds awesome. Are you a home brewer? I have been reading up on the subject and am looking to start my first batch sometime at the end of the year.
I would love to meet others in the home brew "business"!
Yes, I do a little brewing at home. I just brewed a couple of batches last weekend, to give as Christmas presents. I hope they turn out OK! I am preparing to add some sugar syrups to a Belgian style strong dark ale I brewed Sunday, an invert syrup I made from turbinado sugar and 0.1% w/w citric acid to hydrolyze the sucrose (~85% or so) into its fructose and glucose components, D2 dark caramel syrup, and a little homemade caramel syrup. I like to add sugars to the primary fermentor so the yeast have a chance to ferment down the wort a bit and so that the wort will have a lower than planned original gravity when I pitch the yeast. They don't have to work so hard at the beginning that way and don't suffer the same degree of osmotic shock in, say, a 1.075 wort than they would in a 1.090 wort if I had added the sugars to the kettle. It also makes it easier to oxygenate the wort if you don't have oxygen and have to aerate by splashing or the like.
Brewing can be a lot of fun, especially if you like to experiment. Winter can be a good time to brew, too, depending on where you live and where you brew. In LA the weather is too warm most of the summer unless you have refrigeration or some other means to keep the fermentation temps in line, but now is OK, even with the (relative) cold. I use a temperature controller and thermocouple probe that goes into the wort in the fermentor, with a heating element wrapped around the fermentor to keep the temp within a degree or so (+/-) of where I want it to be. So far, so good...
Good luck with your first batch. What are you thinking about brewing? What brewing literature are you reading?
Thanks for sharing! I'm still in the research phase -- got a little off track for the holidays -- but I hope to be brewing my first batch next month. I'm really looking forward to all the tweaking and experimenting that's involved in the brewing process. I live in Seattle, WA so the weather is pretty cold now and I'm not sure if I'm going to need something to warm up my fermenter at home since it's around 50 degrees F right now. Did you build your own heating element/temp controller setup or did you purchase one from a brew store? I'm looking to construct my own copper cooling coil to cool the wort after it's boiled, but I don't have anything in place for temperature control during the fermentation stage. Space is also a concern with apartment living, so I may have to time my brewing with the seasons if I don't have enough room for a temperature control setup.
I would love to bounce ideas off of you when I get started, if that's OK with you. It's always nice to get advice from someone who's been there before!
Just brew a Lager... downside is you may have to COOL IT DOWN.
I usually do ales, but I did one Lager I called Parkhaus Versuch (Garage Experiment) because I left the secondary ferment 'lagering' phase in the garage where the temps were mostly in the 35-45 degree F range (still actually a tad high) after a Primary in the basement at around 50 degrees.
Used the Saflager S-23 yeast and it came out very well. As the temps are low again here in the Northeast, I need to get another batch going soon if I can find the time. The Nottingham Ale Yeast (which I like a lot) will also ferment at lower temperatures.
You can make your own equipment on some stuff, but remember one thing: a lot
of the stuff they sell you from the home brew catalogs is overkill. They are
selling the small scale versions of what industrial breweries use - which is
needed for the thousands of gallons they brew. Example: you dont need an
immersion chiller for average 5 gal batches. You boil about 2 gal of wort,
and have about 2 gal of clean, fresh water in your fermenter. Add ice cubes
to equal about the last gallon. Let the hot wort/kettle cool in a sink full
of cold running water for a few min, then dump the whole thing in your
fermenter. That also does an excellent job of aerating. It is really quite
sanitary, assuming you dont have a problem in your plumbing (copper is a
natural germicide). The keys are that ice is fairly sterile and adding your
pitched yeast to the wort at the proper temp assures nothing else can get a
chance to grow.
Also, a fermenter heater may not be necessary. Run a test w/ bowls of water
and a thermometer in a few spots for 24 hr to see where you get a good
range. You can always wrap the fermenter in a blanket. Keep in mind the
yeast can tolerate a good range of temp, and may just need a little more
time to complete the ferment. If in doubt, brew lager.
I'd argue that parial wort boils, as you described (boil ~2 gal., and dilute with water to make 5 gal.) are OK for the first batch or two to see if you like the hobby, but the difference in quality in moving up to full wort boils is huge. The higher sugar concentration in the 2 gallon boil tends to scorch more, doesn't precipitate out as much protein, and messes up the utilization of hops.
The wort chiller also helps precipitate out more cold break protein, which we then try to leave behind in the boil kettle. Chilling with ice water puts all of this protein into the primary fermenter.
true, but I actually like the slight caramelization from a partial boil. The
protiens can be mostly removed with additives (moss/gypsum), and decanting
twice: to a secondary fermenter and then to a bottling container. Then a
good time sitting in the cold, and my beers have decent clarity. I also do
some kegging (old 5 gal soda kegs) and did buy the equipment for filtration
down to 1 micron. For "light" beers this step really needs to happen, so it
was sort of a trade-off as opposed to a chiller and an expensive kettle -
plus the gas bill from boiling 5 gallons for an hour! Besides, we all need
as much protien in our diets as possible!
What did you mean by "messes up" the hops?
Let us not forget that the more implements we use in brewing, the more
chances there are for contamination. A chiller, plus the (?) siphon to get
the wort out of the kettle sans protien could lead to more problems...
I just got back into LA over the weekend after a vacation (that included a fair amount of beer, wine, and scotch tasting) and am catching back up with life in LA-LA-Land. I think you'll have fun brewing beer, and as a chemist you'll also have a grasp of the science behind the process, which always makes it more interesting. You could brew lager, as Robert suggested, and in fact during my last winter in Missoula I just turned down the thermostat and brewed a couple of batches of pilsner with one of my student neighbors whom I was teaching to brew (we did a double decoction mash--a lot of work). I also had some ales going at the same time, and I used electric blankets (set at an empirically-derived value based on temp readings of a water-filled fermentor) and frequent temp readings to keep everything under control. Nowadays I use a Johnson digital controller in conjunction with a thermowell and electric fermentor wrap. This keeps the temps within +/- 1 degree F of the set fermentation temperature and is worth every penny spent. Fermentation temp can exceed ambient temp by a fair amount when the fermentation is really rocking (a lot of pent-up energy there).
My brother, who recently started to brew, made his own copper immersion chiller. I saw it a couple of weeks ago when I was up in the Bay Area (my homeland), and it looked like it would do the job well. I'm too lazy these days to make one and simply bought it online. However, when I first began to brew (in Montana) I would just put the covered cooling tun in a tub of cold water and stir occasionally and the temp would come down to pitching range in an hour or two, and while not theoretically ideal for a cold break it still produced some decent beers (since my original impetus in brewing was to experiment with how ancient ales were made I started off with some pretty primitive equipment). A corollary advantage was the whirlpool effect generated by the stirring--I would siphon the cooled wort into the primary fermentor and trub/hop residue would be left behind.
An apartment can be a tight place to brew, but I can tell you that it is possible. One of the most important things is to have a kitchen-dining area that is carpet-free (I'm reminded of a time when I took a break from lautering a batch and, thinking I had safely clipped the outlet tube, returned to find a couple of quarts of sticky wort pooling on the floor). If you'll be doing extract or partial mash I imagine it will be easier.
Feel free to ask me any questions you may have, and I will do my best to answer. You will get some good responses from people here.
I viewed the existing four episodes in a marathon session over the holidays and I loved it. I actually had a bottle of the B!tches Brew a few months back and it was amazing. I don't think the episode made me appreciate it anymore, but it certainly made me wish I could get some more of it...which I can't. Dogfish Head is one of my favorite breweries, and so far I like the inside look at the "corporate" culture at the company and plan to continue watching, but I could see the whole "we're doing this experimental beer this week" schtick getting old before long. Thank goodness they mix in the side stories like the bad batch of 120 minute. Lastly, I'll pass on the Chicha.
edit: Wow! Big Brother edited the proper name of the product, taken from the Miles Davis album of same name. Let's see if I can subvert his efforts...
Message was edited by: Luke Toney
Luke, Hi, Big Brother here. We have a profanity filter in place that automatically searches for profane words and replaces the offending terms with asterisks. I'll tell you that I got quite an education when I had to review the list of words that we filter against. Oh my.
Miles Davis was one of my favorites Jazz musicians and I really got interested in his electric period when I was coming out of college. I collected and still have most of his records from this period on vinyl. I was really happy to this particular episode, however, I really wish I could have tried the Brew.
I'm with you on the Chica.
Hehe. Yeah, I'm quite familiar with profanity filters. I just think the bot is a poor judge of context. I will say that when I first heard of the show, I was unaware whether the entire series was about Dogfish or whether a different brewery would be featured every week. There are a lot of other microbrewers of whose operations I would like to catch a glimpse. As far as the ******* Brew (now that it's referenced once, I'll let the bot do its job), it is available for purchase on ebay...for a fair upcharge, of course.
I remember seeing B*****s Brew on the shelves a while back. I never bought any for some reason, and didn't even make the connection with Miles Davis. Bummer. I have the live Fillmore recording with that track, too (although the reissue CD, not the vinyl like Big Brother has--cool), so there's no excuse. I did see that episode, though. I've only managed to catch a couple of the episodes, but my favorite was probably the one where the 120 Minute IPA (which I HAVE tasted) had attenuation problems. They had to dump the batch after a lot of troubleshooting, but I was wondering why they never considered adding enzymes to hydrolyze the unfermentables a bit more. It seemed as though the yeast were fine (etc.), which would suggest a possible mash temp problem (e.g. too high). In any case, I've never used enzymes in this regard so there may well be practical considerations I don't know about that would preclude their use in such a context.