From the HBD Archive
From: sun!tc.fluke.COM!inc@hplabs.HP.COM (Gary Benson)
Subject: Spiced brews, yeast attenuation
Date: 1989-11-20 21:13:19 GMT

Greetings, fellow homebrewers! It's been a while since I sent anything in,
but I am still an avid reader, and was glad to see our numbers have swelled
to 500! Thanks to everyone for keeping the HomeBrew Digest the high-quality
mailing list it has always been. I have a few topics that I'd like to have
kicked around, and then a comment or two on sanitization...

1. Spiced brews. Lots of people talk about making these for a "Christmas
Ale", and usually the spices one hears mentioned are ginger, clove, and other
such "aromatics". I categorize all the "pumpkin pie" spices as being
in this category (my own catergorization- I have never heard anyone else
refer to these as a family), but somehow allspice, ginger, clove, cinnamon,
cardamom seem related. Since I have tasted, brewed, or could imagine the
results with these spicing adjuncts, I decided not to do my own that way.
Instead, for my "Joulu Vauva Olut" (Finnish for "Christmas Baby Beer"), as
an experiment, I made up a batch of my normal Baby Beer (a porter/stout
style), but added a couple of cups of very strong coffee and two tablespoons of
caraway seed to the boil, about the last 15 mintues.

Starting gravity was 1.050, and after a two-day languorous primary ferment
and a downright somnolent week in the secondary, things seemed pretty much
done, but the SG sat there at 1.025, higher than I have expected, but within
the realm of reason, I guess, given that there were two cans of extract and
and ounce and a half of glycerine. Besides being quite strong in flavor,
this stuff tasted really nummy at bottling time. Seems to be carbonating
nicely, so I can hardly wait for the holidays!

Can anyone tell me if caraway seeds have some sort of yeast downer that
would account for the slow bubbling? I used re-hydrated Edme yeast, which is
usually pretty vigorous for me (I ferment in the hot-water closet, 70 -75
degrees F) Also, are the SG's I mentioned reasonable for the ingredients

2. Others here have mentioned higher-than-expected final gravities, and I
keep remembering one poster who asked if he should just pitch some champagne
yeast when he ran into that...has anyone ever done that? I used champagne
yeast one time, and it was EXTREMELY hungry! It was the only yeast I used
though -- I didn't want to get into two-yeast recipes, I have a hard enough
time with two INGREDIENT recipes! Anyway, the champagne yeast seemed to eat
everything in sight, and left a really dry (not sweet) final product. But is
champagne yeast the answer to incomplete fermenting? When I called my
supplier about this last batch, I was told, that that is just the normal
"body", and that I should go ahead and bottle. While I do not agree that
high alcohol is "what it is all about", still I wanted this batch to have
some kick, but it looks like I'm going to have another great-tasting but low
alcohol drink. Ideas?

3. On sanitation. Like most everybody else, I try for a middle ground
a little short of absolute fanaticism...when I obtain new bottles, I soak
them in bleach water over night, then run them through the dishwasher at
least twice with added bleach. Before bottling, I run them through the
dishwasher again, adding about half a cup of bleach to the water after it
fills. I leave them upside down until almost ready to fill them. I sanitize
all my equipment by soaking 20 minutes in bleach solution (about a
tablespoon per gallon), and rinse with hot water from the sink sprayer.

I have never even rinsed my bottle caps, so maybe I'm just lucky, but I've
never had an infection yet. But it may be the short in-bottle time that's
saved me, too. I bottle a couple of 7-ouncers for sampling at 1-week and
2-weeks to see how things are going, and they are usually going well enough
that when the 1-month mark rolls around, I've already had the first six-pack.
As someone else said, my beer doesn't stay around for the months and months
it would take to drink at a bottle-per-week rate :-)

All the best to you, and don't forget during the upcoming holidays, to

Relax, don't worry, give thanks, and HAVE A HOMEBREW. Here's to you!

Gary Benson, inc@tc.fluke.COM

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