Taking some shortcuts - what am I missing out on?

Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum

Help Support Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum:

ferretlegs

Member
Joined
2/11/10
Messages
20
Reaction score
7
Hi everyone, haven't been much of a poster over the years but I am a big lurker and generally keep up with the daily threads. I am also a high throughput brewer and usually do 60L AG batches every 2 - 3 weeks or so consistently for the last 6 years.

Over the years I have read many threads and comments with tips, tricks and best practices from some of the very experienced brewers here and obviously try to adopt them where I can to improve my beer. I have to be honest though and say that in order to get the most efficient brew day that I have not gone the extra mile to get what might be a better beer. I would like to quickly describe what I tend to make and how I make it and get some honest feedback about what I might be missing out on by doing it this way.

I generally like to make very simple but (hopefully) quality lagers with 59L batches in a standard 60L old school plastic fermenter. I have a dedicated fridge for good temperature control and 2 x deep freezers that hold 6 kegs each (with temp control to maintain lager temperatures). One of the deep freezers has a gas bottle and lines setup so that kegs are naturally carbonated at serving pressure until they are ready to be moved to the kegerator. From time of moving from fermenter to keg, and through rotation of the two deep freezers to kegerator, the kegs usually are tapped in about 10 to 12 weeks, ie, that is the length of the pipeline end to end. I do not do any filtering, it is just natural settling, and then pouring out about 4 pots to clear any sediment etc. All of my beers seem well carbonated, have a good head, are clear and I do not detect any off flavours so I think my general process is pretty good and consistent. I've never had an infection thank goodness (touch wood!)

My equipment is 1 x small grainfather (35L?) and a fermzilla same size. I basically run both machines at the same time side by side with same recipe on brewday and combine contents into the larger fermenter. I use a concentrated recipe so that even though I only get around 52L wort, I can topup with about 7L water to get my final batch size of 59L. All water filtered to remove chlorine.

In terms of recipe, I usually do something along the lines of 5kg of base malt (either Wey Pils, MO or BB pale ale, or perhaps half/half of two of these), plus some medium crystal to golden up the colour. All of this is multiplied by 2 as I am running 2 machines. For hops I generally bitter to around 24 or 25 IBU, with the 60 min addition being around 22 IBU of that and a 30min addition for the remainder. I use all sorts but I generally come back to saaz, hellartau or cascade, with perhaps some mittlefruh as the flavor component. I generally use 34/70 yeast which I harvest and reuse about 8 to 10 times before starting with another 3 x dry packets into the wort. Sometimes I use slightly less malt and small amount of table sugar (say 300gm x 2 ) with IBU to about 22 if I want to go for a commercial type clone.

Now to the shortcuts where I wonder what the impact of not these doing these things:

1. No mash in or out, just a straight single infusion around 66c, and only for 60 mins. This saves quite a bit of time but I wonder if that 90 min mash in the recipe would make much difference for example. As a side question, because I run two machines I've wondered if I should mash one at say 63c and the other at 69c to get the best of both worlds considering the result will be combined into the same fermenter. Any thoughts?

2. 60 min boil only - same as above, does a recipe calling for a 90 min or greater boil really make much difference? Obviously saves time.

3. I use counterflow chiller from GF to cool the wort to around 23 / 24c when it goes into the fermenter. I know early temp control is very important for lager, but I still pitch the yeast at that temp while the fridge cools the wort down. This obviously saves time and there are logistical reasons (car blocks fridge in garage). It usually takes the fridge about 5 or so hours to get that temp down to 16 or 17 so I wonder if in that time how much damage is really done. I usually ferment at 14c for about a week and then bring up to 19c over a few days, then hold for another couple of days before bringing temp down to 1.5c for about another week before kegging. This early temp issue is what I probably worry about the most.

4. No dry hopping. I know I am paranoid but once the fermenter is sealed I minimise its contact with air basically until its in my glass. Kegs are co2 purged before kegging, long transfer line etc. Am I really missing out on much?

5. No liquid yeast or starters. As I mentioned, I do reuse my yeast, but when its time for a new lot, its always 3 x packets of the standard size 34/70. I use 34/70 as I want a very neutral yeast and clean tasting beer, I've used s23 before and didnt find that much difference but I think 34/70 is slightly cleaner. Does the liquid yeasts make all that much difference?

6. No filtering. As I said its all just natural settling but I wonder if it really would make much difference. To me it seems like twice the gas, twice the keg cleaning and lots of stuffing around when I can just pour half a jug out the day before I want to start drinking it.

All up I have the whole process down to a 6hr timeframe from getting out equipment to putting it all away on brewday. It used to take me all day until I got the process to the point that I am almost always doing something the whole time. It really runs like a well oiled machine and I think the beer I make is pretty reasonable and its certainly very consistent, but I always wonder how much I am missing out on by not doing these extra things. Is it a case of the 80/20 rule where if I am at 80% it will be alot more work to try to improve further?

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and / or comment.
 

MHB

Well-Known Member
Joined
1/10/05
Messages
6,816
Reaction score
4,282
Location
Newcastle
You have left out one vital piece of information, the gravity of your wort, without that most everything anyone could say is guesswork!
If you are making 59L of wort with an OG 1.030, what you are doing probably sux, if the OG was 1.065 we would have to rename you Jesus. Even the yeast pitch is both volume and gravity dependant.

Personally your pitching temperatures for Lager brewing are a bit like fingernails down a blackboard to me (if you are old enough). Large dry hop additions aren’t traditional in German Lagers, some added late to the kettle will add a pleasant aroma and flavour, any of the noble hops and Saaz would work well (Hallertau, Tetnanger, Spalt, Hersbrucker + Saaz). I would add some at flame out (or switch off) and allow them to sit in the whirlpool. Personal taste may change that for different brewers.
Mark
 

raturay

Well-Known Member
Joined
11/4/17
Messages
50
Reaction score
25
I'll only comment on point 6. My usual process is to cold crash to 1c for a few days prior to kegging with the keg being tapped anywhere from two to four weeks. No filtering. With your cold crashing and 10/12 weeks to tapping I wouldn't be throwing out half a jug. Mine is okay from the first glass. Clear and bright (if that's what I'm looking for.) Given the effort we go to - don't waste it:cheers:
Cheers
Ray
 

TwoCrows

Well-Known Member
Joined
10/12/13
Messages
467
Reaction score
160
It looks like you got a good process from mash to glass.



Point 1 I ramp up to mash out from 45minutes into the mash. It helps end the mash and sparges better.

2 60 minute boil is ok for the types of grain we get these days (modified).

3 I would and do pitch dry yeast or yeast trub/ Slurry into a lager @ 16c and hold @ 12c using W34/70 for 10 days or so. Raise to 18c for 2 days and crash chill to 2.5c.

4 I have never dry hopped a lager so no opinion there.

5 Liquid yeast would give you more choice and closer to a style you want over dry yeast. I
don't bother with liquid as it is to fiddley for me, low yeast cell count and building a starter is a must. Because you use trub/slurry over again it maybe worth your time.
Dry yeasts are great and I re harvest them up to 5 times. Some will state that 8-10 is to much, use up to 3 times as you could get yeast decay or infection

6 I have experienced that if you lager at fridge temps for 30-40 days it does give better flavour. I like Munich helles , Marzen and Pilsner and it is more rounded/balanced after 30 days.
No filtering and I normally dump 200 ml to clean the lines of starsan.
I brew a Kolsch if I am low on lager as you get a fast turn around and have something to drink while waiting for your lagers to mature.

Just my 2 cents
 

scomet

Well-Known Member
Joined
4/5/08
Messages
214
Reaction score
107
Location
Mandurah WA
Q1/ Do you like the beers you're making (I'll come and have one)
C1/ Well done on not having an infection
C2/ If it aint broke dont fix it

Cheers scomet...
 

ferretlegs

Member
Joined
2/11/10
Messages
20
Reaction score
7
You have left out one vital piece of information, the gravity of your wort, without that most everything anyone could say is guesswork!
If you are making 59L of wort with an OG 1.030, what you are doing probably sux, if the OG was 1.065 we would have to rename you Jesus. Even the yeast pitch is both volume and gravity dependant.

Personally your pitching temperatures for Lager brewing are a bit like fingernails down a blackboard to me (if you are old enough). Large dry hop additions aren’t traditional in German Lagers, some added late to the kettle will add a pleasant aroma and flavour, any of the noble hops and Saaz would work well (Hallertau, Tetnanger, Spalt, Hersbrucker + Saaz). I would add some at flame out (or switch off) and allow them to sit in the whirlpool. Personal taste may change that for different brewers.
Mark
Thanks Mark, my OG is usually around 1.045 for 59L wort (includes the 7L water added to ferm). I know from reading your previous posts over time that you might have a fit about my pitching temp! I pitch around 1L of reused slurry and have bubbling action start within about 8 to 12hrs. I will definitely give the flameout hops a go for aroma and flavour, what sort of qty would you suggest? Also, do you have any comment on my idea of running one machine at lower temp and one at higher temp to pick up pick up different alpha / beta amylase in each machine before combining into ferm? I currently run them both at same temp. Thanks for commenting!
 

ferretlegs

Member
Joined
2/11/10
Messages
20
Reaction score
7
It looks like you got a good process from mash to glass.



Point 1 I ramp up to mash out from 45minutes into the mash. It helps end the mash and sparges better.

2 60 minute boil is ok for the types of grain we get these days (modified).

3 I would and do pitch dry yeast or yeast trub/ Slurry into a lager @ 16c and hold @ 12c using W34/70 for 10 days or so. Raise to 18c for 2 days and crash chill to 2.5c.

4 I have never dry hopped a lager so no opinion there.

5 Liquid yeast would give you more choice and closer to a style you want over dry yeast. I
don't bother with liquid as it is to fiddley for me, low yeast cell count and building a starter is a must. Because you use trub/slurry over again it maybe worth your time.
Dry yeasts are great and I re harvest them up to 5 times. Some will state that 8-10 is to much, use up to 3 times as you could get yeast decay or infection

6 I have experienced that if you lager at fridge temps for 30-40 days it does give better flavour. I like Munich helles , Marzen and Pilsner and it is more rounded/balanced after 30 days.
No filtering and I normally dump 200 ml to clean the lines of starsan.
I brew a Kolsch if I am low on lager as you get a fast turn around and have something to drink while waiting for your lagers to mature.

Just my 2 cents

Thanks for your comments!
Re 1. I will definitely try the mash out ramp up from 45 mins in - it will actually save even more time as the wort is already starting hotter when I set it to boil.
Re 3. I think I will definitely adopt your pitching and ferment temps as I've been worried the most that I was crossing a line with this one (no more blackboard fingernails Mark!). I thought 8 to 10 reuses might be pushing it but I've been lucky so far in terms of avoiding infection and I always brew the next day after kegging so that the slurry is not sitting idle in the fridge for more than a day.
Re 6. I wasnt sure if 70 to 90 days was too long a pipeline. I assume that hops is starting to wane by then but at this age they taste very smooth and clean, if perhaps slightly plain. Nice idea for Kolsch for quick turnaround, but with a 3 month pipeline I never run low, even with spikes due to mates over the holidays etc.
Thanks again for commenting!
 

ferretlegs

Member
Joined
2/11/10
Messages
20
Reaction score
7
I'll only comment on point 6. My usual process is to cold crash to 1c for a few days prior to kegging with the keg being tapped anywhere from two to four weeks. No filtering. With your cold crashing and 10/12 weeks to tapping I wouldn't be throwing out half a jug. Mine is okay from the first glass. Clear and bright (if that's what I'm looking for.) Given the effort we go to - don't waste it:cheers:
Cheers
Ray
Mine always seems to be gunky for the first pot or two, and pot 3 and 4 are just to make sure. I think its because moving from deep freezer to kegerator stirs things up a bit (I use an overhead electric winch / crane thingy to lift them out) so I pour two pots as soon as moved, then two more pots the next day when its settled again. I never drink the keg the same day that I have moved it. I suspect if I just had a font on the deep freezer I could get away with much less wastage.
 

ferretlegs

Member
Joined
2/11/10
Messages
20
Reaction score
7
Q1/ Do you like the beers you're making (I'll come and have one)
C1/ Well done on not having an infection
C2/ If it aint broke dont fix it

Cheers scomet...
I think the beers I make are reasonable and my friends think they are good, but I still don't feel like I've made anything special. I know there is a perfect beer for me but I havent found it yet, but I will know when I do. I've tried various hop combinations, different grains, yeasts etc. All turn out fine and very drinkable but there is still 'something' missing. You are welcome to come try one if you are in Melbourne haha. I probably need someone who is more experienced and been more adventurous than me in experimentation to help figure out whats missing. I'm generally happy with my process (except for yeast pitch temp which I will now fix) but I don't think I've found the right recipe yet. Still it's always fun to keep looking!!
 

TwoCrows

Well-Known Member
Joined
10/12/13
Messages
467
Reaction score
160
You seem to brew beer that anyone can drink and enjoy.

As far as recipes go

I like mean brews on youtube, each recipe style explains how brewers can change it up to suit their tastes.
Mean Brews - YouTube
 

MHB

Well-Known Member
Joined
1/10/05
Messages
6,816
Reaction score
4,282
Location
Newcastle
Thanks Mark, my OG is usually around 1.045 for 59L wort (includes the 7L water added to ferm). I know from reading your previous posts over time that you might have a fit about my pitching temp! I pitch around 1L of reused slurry and have bubbling action start within about 8 to 12hrs. I will definitely give the flameout hops a go for aroma and flavour, what sort of qty would you suggest? Also, do you have any comment on my idea of running one machine at lower temp and one at higher temp to pick up pick up different alpha / beta amylase in each machine before combining into ferm? I currently run them both at same temp. Thanks for commenting!
Ok, 59L at 1.045 (11.25oP) means you have 6.755kg of extract from 10kg of malt. Assume around 76% available extract in that 10kg means there is 7.6kg of which you got 6.755 into the fermenters. Gives you a hot side efficiency of 6.755/7.6=88.89% call it 89%. Sounds a little improbable as I know large breweries not getting that high a yield. Just rereading the original post you don’t really say what you are using, ~10kg of base malt with some (?) crystal, any sugars or extract?

No matter the exact yield, you are clearly getting very good results. I wouldn’t be inclined to change too much.
Using different temperatures isn’t really a smart idea, if you want slightly crisper beer lower the mash temp a degree or two, add 10 minutes to your mash time.
I suspect you would make better beer faster not using Lager yeast, something highly attenuateive and good at flocking would make a very nice neutral Pale Ale. My first choice would be Nottingham but there are several others that would work. Would I suspect give better results than the way you are using 34/70.

With the late kettle hops, in traditional German lager brewing about 1/4 of the bittering hops would be late hops.
Large element of personal taste but with one of the classic noble hops it would be a good starting point, unlike American brewing, the hops are an element of the beer not the dominant (only) thing you can taste.
Mark

Edit, Sorry shouldnt do maths after drinking, claimed overall efficency is actually ~91%.
m
 
Last edited:

ferretlegs

Member
Joined
2/11/10
Messages
20
Reaction score
7
Ok, 59L at 1.045 (11.25oP) means you have 6.755kg of extract from 10kg of malt. Assume around 76% available extract in that 10kg means there is 7.6kg of which you got 6.755 into the fermenters. Gives you a hot side efficiency of 6.755/7.6=88.89% call it 89%. Sounds a little improbable as I know large breweries not getting that high a yield. Just rereading the original post you don’t really say what you are using, ~10kg of base malt with some (?) crystal, any sugars or extract?

No matter the exact yield, you are clearly getting very good results. I wouldn’t be inclined to change too much.
Using different temperatures isn’t really a smart idea, if you want slightly crisper beer lower the mash temp a degree or two, add 10 minutes to your mash time.
I suspect you would make better beer faster not using Lager yeast, something highly attenuateive and good at flocking would make a very nice neutral Pale Ale. My first choice would be Nottingham but there are several others that would work. Would I suspect give better results than the way you are using 34/70.

With the late kettle hops, in traditional German lager brewing about 1/4 of the bittering hops would be late hops.
Large element of personal taste but with one of the classic noble hops it would be a good starting point, unlike American brewing, the hops are an element of the beer not the dominant (only) thing you can taste.
Mark

Edit, Sorry shouldnt do maths after drinking, claimed overall efficency is actually ~91%.
m
Hi Mark, yes sorry the info I gave you was incorrect. That recipe also had an extra 800gm Vienna malt (x2 for two machines) for that OG. I was actually squeezing replies in during a brew day so I only had small intervals and didn't check my brewing notes properly for the batch I quoted. No way I am Jesus - and besides, that's the wine guy. :)

You will be pleased to know though that for this latest brew I actually fully cooled the wort to 15c before pitching and now running at 12c. Really interested to see how much difference I notice.

Hear what you are saying about Nottingham and to be honest if I don't notice much difference after doing a few more 'full cooling pre-pitch' in the next few batches I might try switching to see what happens.

Will also give the late kettle hops a go next brew. When you say 1/4 of bittering, so you are saying if I used 60gm hops (random number) to get my IBU's then it would be an extra 15gm late kettle. ie. the late hop will not contribute significantly to overall IBU's enough to worry about it?

Thanks for your replies and sorry about making you do drinking maths on the wrong data.
 

Latest posts

Top