Sunday, January 31, 2016

Brewery (I mean home) Repairs

My hobby has been abated for a few weeks because of a lack of climate control in the basement, where I do ales in winter.
But tonight I have a well made Amber starting up in the downstairs bath.
This was made possible by the new heater I had installed yesterday.
New upstairs too.  And fresh AC units.
The whole story would bore you more than you already are, but lets just say that a perfect storm of 20-year old HVAC units, a somewhat lax attitude toward fixing the basement and an unusual Nashville snowfall led to a cold house, an uncomfortable family and a big overdue expense.
The new outdoor units look pretty nice, though.
And I'm looking forward to brewing in comfort with the new vent installed in the garage.

Good Beer To You.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Yeast and Bottle Caps

Last week I decided to bottle my Brown Ale and sanitized a batch of bottles without checking to see if I had caps first.
 Cleaning nearly all of my flip tops was frustrating but at least now I have a set of crown tops ready for the Bock that's going to be ready next week.

Now for the more serious mistake.

I often save the healthy trub from the bottom of the fermenter when I package my beers and use it a few more times to save money.
Also, the pitch will be really good if you use it within a short time.
I'll re-pitch California Ale yeast 4 and sometimes 5 times before I get too worried that it's dirty or tired.
If I really wanted to explore this aspect of brewing right now I'd get a microscope and "wash" the yeast, re-using it indefinitely.
I'd have a small lab.
On the lower left of this photo you can see the clear glass growler that contains last week's 1056 I harvested from the Brown.
I noticed it when I reached for a beer to celebrate my efforts on today's just finished IPA.
Of course, I began to wonder what yeast I actually pitched after chilling the wort.  After some detective work I have determined this to be the 4th use of 1056 I last pitched on November 22nd into a Pale.  Before that I used it in an Amber and a Blonde.  I have great hope for this beer despite the circumstances.
Although I am taken aback by the string of challenges and failures of the last six months, they only cause me to re-double my efforts and learn from these painful mistakes.
Don't get me wrong.  The IPA will probably be just fine.  That yeast, although 7 weeks old, will probably start right up and make a great beer.
But I've learned a lot in the 15 years I've done this.  One principle is that the reduction of variables, balanced against the cost of that reduction, is a key contributor to success.
If I am lucky enough to get funding for a small brewery in my neighborhood I am going to need a methodology that reduces beer production to a set of tasks that, properly repeated, will yield a product of consistent and reliable quality.
I think I have my process down pretty well.  I just need to pay a little more attention to my own rules and procedures.
Peace, Love, Beer.