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.

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