Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Contaminated Fermentor Fix

When in the course of your homebrewing adventures, your equipment can get contaminated. It can be a bummer, especially when it ruins all your hard work to brew a beer. Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world and it can be resolved. Watch this video about how Mike took measures to turn around a contaminated fermentor.

Mike’s Cleaning and Sanitizing Steps

Mike decided to use a bleach solution as a first pass to kill the contamination in his fermentor. He doesn’t typically use bleach as a part of his cleaning and sanitizing practice, but this situation called for an extra step.

Another thing he did was give his fermentor a good cleaning. As Mike told us, this step doesn’t necessarily mean expending a ton of energy. Hot water, a proper amount of Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW), and time can do wonders to clean your equipment. An overnight soak did a good job at cleaning the carboy.

Lastly, Mike used a different sanitizer than his usual Star-San. This time, he used Iodophor as his final step in his fermentor recovery. With the fermentor back in brewing shape, Mike was able to brew his Redemption Best Bitter which was the style of beer that had the phenolic off-flavor that he determined came from the contaminated fermentor.

Thanks for reading. Remember – you too can bring a fermentor back from the brink.

Brew on!

Chill Vs. No Chill SMaSH Showdown

Have you ever wondered about the “No Chill” method of brewing beer where you don’t quickly chill the wort after the boil to fermentation temperatures? Rather, the no chill method calls for transferring your kettle to a cooler environment and letting the wort chill itself via ambient temperatures before racking to a fermentor and pitching yeast. We ran an experiment where we brewed the same beer twice and chilled one beer rapidly and let the other “chill” overnight. Just to make things more interesting, we brewed with Sabro LUPOMAX hop pellets in a one gallon, Single Malt and Single Hops beer format. Check out the results of this Chill vs. No Chill SMaSH showdown!

The Brewing Process

Like I wrote above, we brewed the same beer twice but with just one little difference – how the wort was chilled. Here are the details for both beers:

Grains – 2 pounds (.9 kgs) of Rahr Standard 2-Row malt

Hops – 1 ounce (28 g) of LUPOMAX Sabro hops

Instructions – Heated 2 gallons (7.6 L) of tap water treated with a little sliver of a Campden tablet to 150°F (66°C). Mashed grain in a bag in a cooler for 1 hour. Transferred wort to kettle and boiled for 1 hour. Hops were added during these parts of the process.

0.25 ounces (7 g) at 15 minutes to go in the boil

0.5 ounces (14 g) at 0 minutes to go in the boil (Flameout)

0.25 ounces (7 g) at day 3 of fermentation

Fermented at 68°F (20°C) for 10 days using Fermentis US-05 (4 g). Racked beer to keg and carbonated to 2.5 volumes.

The Triangle Test Results

I tasted both beers and found them to be quite similar. The whole reason for this experiment was to prove that the No Chill method did not affect beer flavor in a noticeable way. Mike concentrated with all of his might and found the one that was different between the three cups presented to him.

If we’re splitting hairs, the beer where the quick chill process was employed we perceived to be smoother than the no chill beer. Mike said that if we didn’t have the beer to compare side by side, we wouldn’t have made that conclusion.

As I write this post, I wonder if we should have been comparing two beers where clarity would have been important. I think that where the chill method would have been easy to pick out from the no chill beer, and it would have been preferable.

Overall, I think the No Chill method is one that you can use in your own homebrewing practices. In terms of flavor for a hop forward beer, there wasn’t any drawbacks to the No Chill beer. You should experiment with the method if you’re looking not to use as much water in your brewing or just want to take time to sleep while your beer chills.

Besides the experiment, these beers were very enjoyable because of the hops. The Sabro LUPOMAX were awesome with lots of tropical fruit and peach! It was a good choice for a SMaSH.

Thanks for reading. BREW ON!

Lotus Hops SMaSH Beer Review

One of the recent issues of BYO Magazine had a list of hop varieties that you just gotta try. One of them was Lotus hops. As per usual, when we want to learn more about a hop outside of reading the short description on the side of the packet, we add them to a simple brew for our own humble analysis.

Watch this video to learn more about this variety as we taste a Lotus hops SMaSH beer!

Lotus Hops SMaSH Thoughts

So this hop had an interesting descriptor on the packet: vanilla. We weren’t sure how that would present itself in the aroma or flavor but there it was. It had a detectable note not unlike what you would find in a good Bourbon. Mike said it was unique and I agreed with that statement.

The other notes we found were candied fruit with some orangey citrus. As it warmed, the impression of a creamsicle did make it into our minds. Even though the days are getting shorter here, the memories of summer were kept alive with this flavor profile.

As for its use in a beer that you want to brew, we feel like this hop can stand on its own. Although subtle, there are enough interesting notes for Lotus hops to be showcased as a standalone hop. Keep the grain bill simple – a light colored base malt with some grains for body like flaked oats or wheat and it would be a stellar warm weather beer.

As for blending, Mike’s suggestion was Nelson Sauvin – these hops are cut from the same cloth and may intertwine well with each other. For contrast, I think a variety that has more pine notes would be a good pair. I think Simcoe hops or Chinook hops would do well with Lotus hops.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Brew ON!

Overnight Mash Cream Ale

These Brew Dudes love their cream ale. Mike brews up a good one at least once a year. Each time, he brings something a little different to showcase. Sometimes it’s a change in hops or an increase in adjunct to the grain bill. This brew features an overnight mash and a yeast strain that he’s never used before. Check out our thoughts on this version of his cream ale – the overnight mash cream ale!

Overnight Mashing

The first thing to discuss is the technique of overnight mashing. Mike was looking to break up his brew day to make the time he had to stand in the brewing area as efficient as possible. To do that, he milled his grains and heated up his water to strike temperature. Once that temperature was reached, he added the water to the grains in his mash tun and then went to bed.

The next morning, he transferred the wort to his kettle and started the boil. So instead of waiting around for an hour for the hot water and grain to do their thing, he let the mash last overnight. He believes the overnight mash is a great technique for the style since the extra contact time makes for a very fermentable wort. The low final gravity of this beer was an indication of fermentability of the wort and the resulting mouthfeel was in line with commercial versions of the style.

The only drawback to the overnight mash is that you need to make sure you brew the next morning! If the probability for you to brew in the near future is high, then gives this technique a try.

Was The Overnight Mash Cream Ale Success?

The other tweak to this cream ale recipe was the use of Lager yeast rather than ale yeast. The SafLager™ S-189 from Fermentis was the strain he used and he fermented at cold ale temperatures. The beer itself was crisp and clean in its flavor. Because it was so lager-like, I didn’t have any trouble picking up that he used a lager yeast strain. I also had the advantage of enjoying his earlier versions of the style so the difference was hard to miss.

Overall, Mike thought this beer was one of his best. I think I still prefer the ale versions of this style with just a touch more esters and a bit more body. As beers go, it was extremely drinkable even if the ABV was over 6%! It has only gotten better with age as it has settled in the keg.

Brew On!

Mike “Tasty” McDole Tribute: Janet’s Brown Ale

Mike “Tasty” McDole was a legendary homebrewer. He was a fixture on the Brewing Network and was featured in Jamil’s Brewing Classic Styles book. He passed away recently and Mike wanted to brew a beer in tribute to him, a beer that is also a tribute in itself. Check out this video for our thoughts on Janet’s Brown Ale – a kit that Brew Dude Mike bought from MoreBeer.

Janet’s Brown Ale Recipe

I got this recipe straight from the MoreBeer site.

Grains

12 lbs 2-Row Pale Malt
1 lbs White Wheat
1 lb Carapils
1 lb Crystal 40L
4 oz Crystal 40L
8 oz Chocolate Malt

Hops

2 oz Northern Brewer – Boil for 60 minutes
1 oz Northern Brewer – Boil for the last 15 minutes
1.5 oz Cascade – Boil for the last 10 minutes
1.5 oz Cascade – Boil for the last 1 minute
2 oz Centennial – Dry hop in primary fermentation, 3-7 days

Details

Hold mash temperature at 153°F for 60 minutes. Recommended fermentation temperature is between 66–68°F. Once fermentation has begun, wait 7 days to add the dry hops. Allow 3–7 days of contact time with the dry hops before packaging.

Our Thoughts

This brown ale was extremely drinkable. It has a strong American hop presence in the aftertaste that sits on top of the woodiness of the Northern Brewer hops.

The color is where you want it to be. There is no mistaking that this is a brown ale.

Mike was intrigued by the use of Carapils since he rarely brews with dextrin malt. The caramel malts and the chocolate malt played well with each other.

It easy to see why this beer was a favorite. For an American Brown Ale, it hit all the notes that you want it to hit, even if it was pushing the high end of the ABV range.

So cheers to Tasty McDole and cheers to Janet too.

Brew on.

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