Shortly, I have 8 full days off work! I booked the time originally so that I could go to the World Time Attack Challenge event in Sydney, which a few of my mates have competed in over the past few years. It’s always a good weekend of racing and shit-talking with the guys and of course working on fast-cars. Anyway, this year there was some rule changes, and now the guys aren’t running (one is rebuilding his entire car, the other is a soft cock).
Work’s been hectic for the past few months and I’m looking forward to having a few days off and getting a couple of double batches in fermenters. Currently, I have NO HOMEBREW! Except the double batch of dodgy Rye IPA I brewed which was underpitched – thanks 1272 – and doesn’t taste any good. Just tastes estery and crap, it didn’t get to the proper FG, and just tastes bad. I don’t think it’s infected, I don’t get any of the usual issues. Lag time was 3 days, which is far far too long, and I am certain I didn’t pitch enough yeast after the starter of 1272 I did erupted like a volcano and left the best (and most) of the yeast on the floor. Seriously, it was like thick peanut butter.
So I’ve got a few strains of yeast in the fridge now ready to go for the brewing over the next week. WY1272, WY3068 so I can bust out a double batch of a traditional Hefeweizen and WY1469 because I’d like to get some lower ABV Bitters or something like that into some kegs. Tomorrow I’m also getting two packs of WY1026 Cask Ale yeast and two vials of WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast – my absolute favourite yeast – which is kickass for IPAs. The Cask ale yeast is for a Barrel Mocha Porter project I’m involved with along side a few of the guys from SABC.
As part of this – I need more fermenter space. I have two fridges currently, however one has been my hop freezer/lagering fridge, but now that my lagers have been bottled, entered into comps and the remainder of the kegs consumed, the fridge is now only being used for hops. So, I’m going to purchase a small freezer, and use that for my cold storage for hops, and reclaim that fridge as a fermentation fridge.
To do that, I either need to wire up my second STC1000 (which I can do) or finish my damn RasPi controlled fermentation controller. That may be a tall order to get the software developed and tested by next weekend – and I will be on holidays afterall – so STC1000 may have to do!
I’ve also had my nose in the ‘Yeast’ book by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff. I already knew yeast health and quantity is vitally important to quality beer (I have the results to show for it!) but I genuinely thought this 1272 starter would be OK with the amount of yeast that was in it – even though I know I lost a lot out the top. I know now that it really wasn’t OK. I’ve now realised I need to to KNOW i’m pitching the right amount of yeast – and that means doing cell counts. Ebay has a number of microscopes available at reasonable prices, yeast don’t need a million times zoom, so what I can get for a couple hunge will do the job. Will also need a hemocytometer – which is essentially a slide with a grid on it which allows you to count the yeast cells. Based on known quantities of liquid and the count of the cells in the hemocytometer you can work out exactly how much yeast you have.
Also, because of that ‘incident’ I have been considering how I will do starters. I’ll stick to doing the first step on the stir-plate in a 5L flask (for a double batch I usually make about 3L of wort) but when I want to do another step that is when the shit hits the fan (or floor in this case). I was talking to Carty over at SOBS Blog who’s been working in the Campus Brewery about what they do for commercial pitches. They do their first step in an aerated Corny keg. That made a lot of sense, and I usually have a spare Corny around. So, when I want to step up again, I’m planning on looking at doing it in a Corny. The plan is that it can then have the gas post with a gas disconnect used as a blowoff tube, running into a cup of sanitiser, and a sanitary air line hooked up to the beer post. They then run sanitised air into the culture so that it has oxygen for generation of yeast cells. Leave it two days, to ferment out and drop back into the spent-wort, then transfer to either the batch of beer itself, or to a sanitised glass flask if I want to decant the spent wort.
Either that, or I’ll look for some larger (10L?) vessels with a flat bottom that will work on a stir plate. Perhaps a shaker plate is the go? Perhaps I’m going overkill, again?!
Anyway, a big week coming up. See how much I can get done.