From the HBD Archive
Subject: Re: Newbie /
Date: 1992-05-13 15:28:00 GMT

> 1. I am using a single-stage fermenter. Pros/cons? Seems
>to work great, with no necessity for transferring to another
>container part way through the process.

If you're making ales and their fermentation is complete within two or
three weeks, then single-stage is probably best -- I personally, feel
that there is less to be gained from two-stage on such short ferments
and the increased risk of infection and oxidation is not worth it.
For longer ferments, lagers, very high-gravity ales and slow yeasts
(such as my Orval-clone and my pseudo-Lambic), I use two- or even

> 2. I have a book called "Home Beermaking" by William Moore.
>It appears that he recommends pouring the hot wort into the fer-
>menter and cooling there. I usually cool in the pot, then
>transfer. Any comments?

Yes. Aerating wort over 80F will most certainly oxidize the wort. What
you want is aeration not oxidation. The result of oxidizing the wort is
darkening and sherry-like or wet-cardboard aromas and flavors in the
finished beer. My beer improved considerably when I began chilling before
aeration. You're doing the right thing by cooling quickly. Another
reason for cooling quickly, is that as the beer cools, while it is
between 212F and 140F, DMSO is being converted to DMS. DMS will give
your beer a "cooked corn" or "cooked vegetable" aroma. Remaining
DMSO will be used up by your yeast and will not be evident in your
> 3. Speaking of transferring, should I pour the whole pot
>into the fermenter, "sludge" and all, or should I attempt not to
>dump in that stuff? What is it, anyway? Is this the hot/cold
>break stuff I've been reading about?

Leave the sludge. It's called trub, in general, and yes it's hot and
cold break. Hot break is cooked proteins and is created during the
boil. Cold break is clumped proteins which coagulate as you cool the
wort. I've read that yeast ingests the trub and produces additional
fusel oils/alcohols from them.

> 4. I have cooled the wort 2 ways: by sitting it in a bath
>of cold water, and by simply letting the pot sit overnight. Haven't
>had any problems with contamination either way, with about 20 batches
>under my belt. What are the pros/cons of using a wort chiller? Seems
>like a huge waste of water, and living here in the West, that's of

As soon as the wort drops below 160F or so, it is fair game for wild
yeasts and bacteria. The quicker you cool, the sooner you will be
able to pitch and therefore, give your yeast a head start over the
wild yeast and bacteria. You will always have some wild yeast and
bacteria in your wort and thus in your beer, but if the "good,"
cultured yeast you pitch eats up all the sugars, then there's little
left for the bad guys to eat. Minimizing DMS (see above) is another
reason for cooling quickly.

> 5. Miller also recommends boiling the priming sugar with water
>before mixing it in. Is this necessary? I've always just dumped it
>into the brew before bottling, with find results.

Boiling is a good idea to kill any bad guys. Once the beer is fermented-
out, the acidity and alcohol level and antiseptic qualities of the hops
are often enough to keep bad guys at bay, but I just boil it and it
gives me one less thing to *potentially* worry about.
> 6. Does anyone have any guess on whether our mile-high altitude
>has any effect on the specific gravity? Can't remember my high
>school chemistry. I tried a recipe this weekend and have a 5 degree
>higher starting gravity than expected.
Water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes. This fact would
skew decoction mashes by a few degrees down and would require compensation.

Robert writes:
>I have read lately of people pitching their berries along with the
>aroma hops. I will try this approach in a couple of months, when the
>berries are ripe!

The advantages to adding both fruit and aroma hops after the initial
fermentation is over are:'

1. Increased alcohol level and decreased pH are a less-hospitable environment
to nasty organisms, and

2. The intense CO2 bubbling during the initial ferment tends to scrub the
aromatics we want (from the dryhops and fruit) out of the beer.


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