From the HBD Archive
From: hplabs!rutgers!fluke.com!inc (Gary Benson)
Subject: Polstra, Lager, Steam Beer
Date: 1989-07-26 21:35:53 GMT

Greetings --

Last weekend on the counters of two local homebrew shops (Libert Malt Supply
and the Cellar, both in Seattle) were copies of a single-page newsletter
called "Noggins". I had never seen it before, but it looks to be put
together specifically for area homebrewers. The issue I read extended
congratulations that I wanted to pass on to the readers of the HomeBrew
Digest. A regular contributor here, John Polstra, took a third place in the
Munich-style Ale category in the AHA competitions! According to the article,
John is a member of a local club, The Brews Brothers, another member of
which took a first place in Pale Ale I believe. Just wanted to pass that
along, and ask if John would post a little about the Brews Brothers, maybe
the prize-winning recipes (and some hints on technique!)

In a recent Digest, John was urging "florianb" to start using liquid yeast,
saying that it was the single most important contributor to his brewing of
fine beers. I'd be curious to find out other secrets to his success. I am
relatively new to homebrewing, and while my brews are usually better than
commercial decoctions, I can't yet call anything I've done a "fine beer".
But then I've only ever used dry yeast...

My last brew was my first attempt at a lager. I do not own suitable
refrigeration equipment, so I was hoping the cool Washington State spring
would cooperate. It did for a time - about 2 weeks of nearly continuous 55
degrees F in the garage, but just as activity was slowing down, it turned
warm (65 at night, 70 days). My timing was getting tight -- I was leaving on
a 2-week trip. I cleared out my food-fridge and put the carboy in there for
about 1 week at 40 degrees, then bottled. Now, after 1 month in the bottle,
there is a distinct sour component to the taste. Any ideas why? It was an
all-extract beer: OG 1060, FG 1020 (in fact, it was 1020 the whole time it
was in the secondary). It tastes and smells fresh, but I wonder if during
the 65 - 70 degree period I somehow got an infection? This is not a "cidery"
taste, just sour. A side note: a local micro-micro brew called Kuefner Brau
(which may be out of business by now) was VERY sour tasting the 4 times I
had it. It was kind of hard to get used to, but not really offensive when
the beer was REAL cold.

Anyway, right now I'm 24 hours into my first try at a "Steam Beer", and
wanted to check on something I was told...that this type of beer uses lager
yeast, but at ale temperatures. Is that correct? Are there other things that
differentiate Steam Beer? What kind of fermentation time am I likely to
experience -- like ale or like lager? The primary took off like a shot (Red
Star lager yeast started in 1 cup of wort plus a tablespoon of corn sugar).
But now, a day later, it has slowed down to one bubble every few seconds.
Last night, I couldn't keep water in the S-shaped airlock I use - the gas
was pouring out so fast. Is this thing going to be over before I have time
to go to the secondary fermenter? With this kind of activity, would I do
better to just forget the carboy and use a single-stage fermentation?

I am NOT worried, mind you. Even my limited experience tells me that it is
very difficult to do anything really *wrong*, that things usually work out
well as long as I maintain a reasonable level of sanitation and don't try
to rush things. This newsgroup has been invaluable in learning these
important lessons, and as usual, I thank all who contribute and especially
Rob Gardner, our fine moderator.

Gary Benson, inc@tc.fluke.COM

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