The second extract batch went smoother and quicker than my first one and the brewing process was much more relaxed and enjoyable. The biggest improvement in the process was changing my sanitiser from sodium metabisulphite to iodophor. The sodium metabisulphite requires 1 hour of air drying to work, iodophor just requires 1-2 minutes of contact time, so it’s a hell of a lot more convenient to work with as you can sanitise on the fly instead of having to carefully plan your sanitisation in advance.
A significant difference in the process this time was the yeast preparation. Last time I rehydrated dried yeast, this time I had some yeast harvested from the last batch so I had to make a starter for it the day before. By the way, I found some helpful videos on a website called billybrew.com for how to harvest yeast and how to make a yeast starter.
So here’s the new improved process:
Day prior to brew day
- Make a yeast starter – Typically 200g of LME or 160g of DME made up to 1L, boiled and cooled. Add yeast & starter to a sanatised container, shake, cover loosely and leave to ferment.
- Prepare plenty of ice
- Print out recipe and double check all ingredients
- Make sure equipment has been cleaned:
- grain bag
- fermentor lid
- tap washer
- airlock grommet
- Put water for steeping grains on to heat up in brew pot (typically 4L)
- If steeping grains have not already been milled, measure out and crush the steeping grains. My method for crushing is to place small amount of grain on flat baking tray, cover with plastic bag and pound with pestle. (I found this more effective than trying to roll them as they’re hard little bastards). Another approach is to use the blender.
- Add crushed grain to muslin bag. When the steeping water is at 68C (+/- 3), add grain bag and set timer for 30 mins. Dunk up and down a few times during this time.
- While grain is steeping, put on another pot with 4L of water to heat up to 68C for sparging the grains.
- Also while the grain is steeping, measure hops out in separate quantities for each hops addition. Place dry hops quantity back in freezer.
- After the grain has been steeping for 30 mins, lift out the grain bag. Drop grain bag back into the pot of sparging water. Add the sparging water to the brewpot and bring it up to a boil.
- While water is coming up to a boil, place jar/can of LME in some hot water to soften.
- Add the LME to the brewpot stirring constantly. Rinse can with boiling water and bring total volume up to 10L. Stir well to make sure LME is fully dissolved and make sure none sticks to bottom of brew pot.
- Return to heat and bring up to a boil, stirring regularly. Watch for hot break, then set timer at 60 mins and add first hops addition.
- During next 60 mins, add the additional hops additions at the appropriate times.
- While boil is in progress, heat up some water in another pot for boiling up the remaining malt extract and fermentables (to sanitise) and place can/jar of LME in hot water to soften. Add the fermentables to the pot, bring up to boil and boil for 5-10 minutes.
- Put water and ice in sink for cooling brew pot and second fermentable boil pot. Place secondary boil pot in sink to cool and then when the main boil is complete, place the brew pot to cool. Occasionally lift out the pot and mix the ice water around in the sink and add more ice as needed.
- Sanitise equipment:
- pyrex measuring jug
- fermentor lid
- tap washer
- airlock grommet
- Wort should be cooled enough within 30 mins. Check that temperature is around 30C or under. Place strainer over top of fermentor and pour in the wort. Stir well with sanitised spoon and check that temperature is down to around 20C or at least no more than 24C. If not, place fermenter in fridge and wait until it is.
- Take a sample for measuring OG with clean sanitised jug. DOH – I always forget this step!!!
- With the lid on and finger over airlock hole, place fermentor on lap while seated and give it a good shake to mix and aerate.
- Pitch the yeast. Tighten lid on fermentor, put some sanitising solution in airlock and insert airlock.
- Place in brewing fridge and, if neeeded, cool further to fermentation temp (usually 18C) and let fermentation begin.
Target 18C +/- 2C. Monitor temperature. If temperature reaches 20C, turn on fridge for awhile to bring back to 18C.
Dealing with blowouts: The airlock hole on my fermentor lid is small diameter and probably not suitable for setting up a blow off tube. So I just let it blow through the airlock, then, after it calms down, remove, clean, sanitise and replace the airlock.
Dry hopping – after 1 week open lid and toss in dry hops in a clean and sanitised bag.
Ferment in primary for 2 weeks. Check SG on day 12, 13 and 14 to confirm fermentation is complete.
Cold Crash & Fining
I usually cold crash for 4-5 days and then bottle, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s better to skip the cold crash and keep the temp fairly constant right through to the bottle conditioning in order to not interfere with the cleaning up job that the yeast are doing in the conditioning phase.
Geletin finings can be added to chilled fermenter. Add 1/2 tablespoon (1.5 teaspoon) gelatin to 1 cup of cold water in a clean sanitsed saucepan and let sit for 20-30 minutes to bloom. Heat up to around 75 C (take care not to boil) and hold at that temp for 15 minutes to pasturise. Gently add to fermenter.
- Make sure dishwasher has been run – will use dishwasher racks for draining cleaned sanitised bottles. Clean up kitchen sink counters with bleach solution.
- Prepare priming solution:
- for 23L batch: 150g of dextrose or 140g of table sugar (approx 3/4 cup). Or calculate with an online priming calculator.
- Add sugar an boiling water to pyrex jug up to 2 cups, cover with cling film and microwave to boil and sanitise
- Cool priming solution in ice water
- If harvesting yeast – boil 2L of water and put in ice water to cool
- Fill sink up with iodophor solution and sanitise stirring spoon
- Clean and sanitise fermenter tap and bottle filler
- Take FG sample – BEFORE ADDING PRIMING SOLUTION!
- Pour priming solution into fermenter while stirring gently – leave for 1/2 hour
- Figure out how many bottles needed and Sanitise bottles in iodophor solution
- Also sanitise 3L container for yeast and a funnel, if harvesting
- Start bottling
- If harvesting yeast, add the 2L of sanitised water to the fermenter to mix up the yeast, pour into the sanitised 3L container and put in fridge to settle.