From the HBD Archive
From: Ruth Mazo Karras <RKARRAS@PENNSAS.UPENN.EDU>
Subject: Technique
Date: 1992-06-09 21:06:21 GMT

After reading the Digest for some time, I thought I should
solicit advice on what I might do next to improve my technique.
In short, there are a number of thing that I plan to do sometime,
but I should like your thoughts on what will give me the best
return.

First, this is what I now do: the day or more before
brewing I start Wyeast and eventually make a 750 ml starter with
light dry malt extract (or sometimes I repitch from the secondary
and avoid the starter) and I also boil 1.5 to 2.0 gallons of cold
tap water (it's quite soft in Philadelphia) and then freeze in a
block; on the brewing day I bring about 4.5 gallons of water to
around 170x F., turn off the heat, add 6.6 lbs. NW malt extract
syrup, stir to dissolve, start heating again and bring to a boil,
add hops at one or more times, and boil for 60 to 90 minutes or
until volume falls to about 3.5 gallons, cool from 212x F. to
about 170x F. by putting the pot in a sink of cold water and then
cool to yeast pitching temperature by adding the 1.5 to 2.0
gallon block of ice, pitch yeast into the pot and let stand one
to two hours, rack wort off of the settled trub into a carboy or
plastic fermenter while waving the siphon hose to aerate the
wort, fit a fermentation lock, ferment two to three days until
kreusen falls and then rack to a carboy for a one to three week
secondary fermentation, rack to a plastic fermenter with priming
sugar (preboiled corn sugar), and then bottle. Sometimes I bring
crystal malt or other specialty grains to 170x F. in the brewing
pot and then skim it out before adding the malt extract syrup.
Sometimes I treat my brewing water after the boil with Burton
water salts (for pale ales) and sometimes I add .5 tsp. of Irish
Moss at the end of the boil.

Among the things I have considered doing to improve this
technique are: (i) use an immersion wort chiller so that I could
do a full boil instead of using the block of ice (this will help
when I get ready for all grain, too), (ii) use a bottle of oxygen
to aerate the wort before pitching, (iii) use a 7 gallon carboy
instead of a plastic fermenter for primary fermentation (where
can one get a 7 gallon carboy?), (iv) use kegs of some sort
rather than bottles (this would make life easier, I think, but
shouldn't improve the beer) and (v) use a larger volume of
starter, say one liter.

What of these items would you do, and in what order? Is
there something else that I should do? Perhaps wait longer
before racking the wort off the trub into the primary fermenter?

You may answer to the list, or directly to me at
RKarras@PennSAS.UPenn.edu, as you choose. I will summarize to
the list useful comments. Thanks!

Chris Karras

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