Friday, 27 November 2015

Easy Home Yeast Banking - and a Video!

Wow, two videos in as many weeks - that has to be a new production record for me! This time around the video is on my most requested topic - an easy to implement home yeast banking system. The video outlines a method, based on the use of slants, to store yeast for future use. Managed carefully this method will allow the average home brewer to easily maintain stocks of up to 2 dozen strains with minimal cost or effort.

Because of the length of the video, and the presence of multiple separate methods, I have provided written instructions, below, to complement the video.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

At long last, a new video!

A frequent question I receive here on my blog, and on other forums, is what microscope I would recommend for home use. This is a difficult question for me - I'm a medical researcher by profession, with microscopy representing the bread and butter of my lab (a bit of eye-candy from my labs work can be found near the beginning of the video). While on the surface this would appear to make me an ideal person to offer advice on microscope selection, alas, its not really true. Because I work with research-grade scopes (which are very pricey) I'm not really experienced in the cheaper, consumer-grade microscopes that are cost-effective for home use.

So in lieu of a video recommending specific models, I've instead put together a video discussing features to look for, along with comparison images to give you an idea of what the various features add to a microscope.

Also, I apologize for the crummy audio; I'm experimenting with screen casting as a way to speed video production (which, in my case, is excruciatingly slow), and haven't quite figured out how to properly balance my mic.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Triple-Recipe Update

I've somewhat fallen down on the blogger job - I'd done three brews in the past week and not one blog post about any of them.

In my defence, the first two batches barely qualify as either brew-days or recipes...enter this years ciders!

The recipe for both is dirt-simple:

Cider #1: This is the classical cider that I've brewed 3 times in a row now (last years recipe) - 20 L of fresh-pressed cider, 3 g potassium metabisulfate, 5 g of yeast nutrient, 3 tsp pectic enzyme and 1 packet Nottingham dry yeast. The process is dirt-simple:

  1. Add metabisulfate, let sit ~4 hours
  2. Add yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme, let sit overnight
  3. Add yeast, let ferment ~3 weeks before transfering to secondary
  4. Age until ready, typically 6 months.
Cider #2: Take the recipe for cider #1, drop the yeast and split everything else in half (its a half-batch). In place of Nottingham, pitch a Belgian yeast (Fermentas T-58, this time around). Everything else is the same. The hope here is to get an effect similar to mulled cider, but without the addition of spice.

Learn-To-Brew IPA
The third brew, brewed this Saturday, was a hop-bursted IPA which I brewed at my brewing clubs annual learn-to-brew event held at Forked River Brewing. For some reason I decided to go whole-hog on this beer - water additions, sparge acidification, whole hops, and so forth. But because this was a learn-to-brew event most of that (except the hops) got missed during the brew-day, so it may not quite end up where I wanted it. Regardless, its a pretty simple (and good smelling) brew:
  • 6 kg Canadain 2-row malt
  • 450 g Caramunich II
  • 230 g Victory malt
  • 85 g (3 oz) Centennial whole-hops, 15 min whirlpool
  • 85 g (3 oz) Citra whole-hops, 15 min whirlpool
  • Enough of a bitterning hop (N. Brewer), 60 min in the boil, to get the beer to 65 IBU
20 L final volume at 1.064. Mash for light body, use burtonized water, adjust mash pH with lactic acid, irish moss @ 15 min to help clear.

Of course, to replicate this beer add the salts to the boil, rather than to the mash/sparge, forget the irish moss, and boil for ~68 minutes, all while forgetting to take photos of the brewing event because you're too busy teaching new people to brew yakking with anyone who drops by your mash tun.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Tasting Notes - Training Wheels CPA

Even the dog comes running for some CPA!
So the Training Wheels Canadian Pale Ale has been kegged for a while (truth be told, I'm probably near the bottom of the keg). So how did it turn out you ask? It's pretty good!

The goal of this beer was a beer that was easily enjoyed by both the "big-3" beer drinker and the more craft-orientated brewer. To achieve that end I employed a middle-or-the-road approach to a pale ale; a more interesting malt profile than is the norm for a hoppier pale ale, but then modestly hopped with a mix of citra & centenial.

This combination makes for a pretty good beer - its not going to wow a true hop-head, and it may be a little more than a BMC drinker is used to, but it should keep drinkers in both camps happy...I know its been keeping me happy as I wait for other beers to mature.

Here's the breakdown:

Appearance: Copper coloured and quite clear. Pours with a dense white head that last for the pint.

Aroma: Hop aroma is present but subdued. Because I know what went into it I can pick out the citra fruit notes and the centennial resinousness, but I think that most people would simply say it has a modest new-world hop aroma. Along side that is a wonderful malt aroma - a clear malt/sweet note that is nicely balanced by the hops.

Flavour: The flavour of the beer is pretty good - up-front is a nice maltiness; somewhat sweet, but not excessive. The hop flavour is more subdued than I had expected; a bit of the citra/centennial fruitiness squeaks through, but the resin character of the centennial is pretty much missing. The bitterness is present, but not overt - the balance is definitely towards maltiness, rather than bitterness, but the flavours are balanced. The aftertaste is a mix of malt sweetness and mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: This was brewed to be a medium-light bodied beer, and that's where it falls. The low mash temp made for a pretty fermentable wort, but the Caramunich II made sure a bit of body remained. Its not bone-dry, but its definitely on the drier side of the spectrum. The beer is refreshing, and leaves the drinkers mouth well whetted after a sip (or chug).

Overall: I achieved my goal - a beer that both a BMC drinker and craft-orientated drinker could both enjoy. That, of course, means that there are some compromises. Personally, I'd like a little more bitterness and hop fact, this beer leaves me with a hankering for a hop-bursted, high-bitterness, IPA. Which, thanks to an 'accidental' over-ordering of the citra and centennial hops, will be happening this weekend at my brew clubs annual Learn 2 Brew event!

And if you're in the London area, you should come by and check the event out: