From the HBD Archive
From: polstra!jdp@hplabs.HP.COM (John D. Polstra)
Subject: Re: homebrew tuning
Date: 1989-06-08 17:47:42 GMT

In Homebrew Digest #169, Dave Sheehy writes:
> My taste in beer runs towards the sweeter varieties. I have been unable to
> duplicate the sweetness of the beer at the microbreweries I've frequented.
> I talked to one of the brewers at the Triple Rock microbrewery in Berkeley
> and he said that they interrupt primary fermentation prematurely in order
> to retain a sweetness in the flavor of their beer. I've now realized that
> they must also either pastuerize the wort to kill the yeast of filter the
> yeast out to avoid additional fermentation. I suppose that their beer might
> be consumed quickly enough for the above steps to be ignored and not
> matter much.

I recently took a tour of a brewpub here with the local homebrew club,
and learned how this particular establishment achieves sweetness in its
beers. They monitor the SG during fermentation. When the SG drops to
their target level (chosen for the desired amount of sweetness), they
add finings (isinglass, if I remember correctly) and then quick-chill
the beer. The fast chilling shocks the yeast, causing it to
precipitate out and stopping all fermentation dead in its tracks. (The
finings help speed the precipitation, for clearer beer sooner.) They
keep the beer cold from that point on, so that essentially no further
fermentation takes place. Carbonation is supplied in the aging tank by
CO2 pressure. They don't filter or pasteurize the beer. (This was
interesing to me: they used to filter the beer, but stopped because
they felt that filtering was taking away too much of the flavor. I
sampled all of their brews, and they were crystal clear.)

Now, I can't see any way to make this work if (like me) you're bottling
your homebrew. It could work if you kegged your beer, kept it
refrigerated, and consumed it fast enough.

Here are a few other suggestions for sweeter brews:

1. Add some crystal malt, as somebody else has already suggested. Or,
try using some Munich malt. I've had good luck with that.

2. Use higher mash temperatures. If you're using a step mash, don't
let the mash linger too long at the lower temperature, and don't take
too long in raising the temperature between steps. I am finding that
precise control of temperature *and* time (we're talking minutes here)
really do make a substantial difference.

3. Cut down a little on the bittering hops. Even though that doesn't
change the amount of residual sugar in the beer, it makes it *seem*
sweeter.

4. Try different strains of yeast. I've been experimenting with
the various strains from Wyeast. They produce quite different results.
Wyeast prints a sheet describing the characteristics of each of their
yeasts. You can probably get a copy from your local homebrew supply
store.

5. (Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong on this one.) Try a higher
fermentation temperature. I'm pretty sure that the resulting faster
fermentation will leave more residual sugars. You'll also get more
fruitiness, though. (Not a bad thing for ales, in my opinion. Not even
a bad thing for lagers, if you're willing to throw authenticity out the
window.)

-- John Polstra jdp@polstra.UUCP
Polstra & Co., Inc. ...{uunet,sun}!practic!polstra!jdp
Seattle, WA (206) 932-6482

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