Apr 2, 2012

Yeast Experiment: Episode 1

A lot of things go into making a good beer.  There is the obvious - the malt and the hops; there is the process and procedure - how long did you mash/boil/hop, etc.; there is the cleanliness and sanitation - no funky bugs in the beer.  All of these can be tweaked one way or another and changing just one thing will give a different tasting beer than before.

Working on recipes, one often wants to improve or change a little piece to see what happens.  And one of the difficulties is having to brew an entirely new batch of beer to change one hop addition or to mash four degrees higher.  But, there is one ingredient that can be used several times from one batch of wort.  And that ingredient, is yeast.

Yeast, arguably, is the most important ingredient in beer.  Without yeast, one does not have beer at all.  And, to be honest, it isn't really an "ingredient" at all, but rather a living organism that takes your sugar-sludge and turn it into delicious beer.  And each yeast gives off different esters and flavors; each one eats a certain amount of sugar; each one produces a certain amount of alcohol.  The yeast has tremendous influence over the final product.

This is where we get into the yeast experiment!   I brewed up a six gallon pot of American pale ale and divided it into three separate fermentation vessels as opposed to just the one.  The outcome, hopefully, will be three different beers with three different alcohol levels and three different flavor subtleties.

So, for the fermentation, carboys are a nice option, but I was making three two-gallon batches of beer and my carboys are all five to six gallons; I wasn't sure what the extra head space and air would do.  I instead went to the local grocery store and purchased three 2.5 gallon jugs of water.  They are food grade plastic (obviously, since water was in them) and when the spout is ripped off, the hole is a perfect fit for an airlock.  I wouldn't want to age a beer in these plastic jugs, but since this beer will only ferment for a week or so, I figured I would be ok.

Once two gallons of wort were in each fermenter, I pitched one of three yeasts.  I went with White Labs 051, Wyeast 1968, and Wyeast 1450.  I labeled the fermenters (brilliant idea!) and threw them in my fermentation fridge for temperature control.

I'll have another post in the future grading and commenting on how the beers taste and note whether my yeast experiment was a success.


PS - I have to note that I had this post all ready to go and it was fabulous.  Stellar.  Literally the best post in the history of blogging.  Literally.  But then, for some reason, when I opened it up last night, the page was blank.  So, you are the unlucky one because you had to read this instead of that other marvelous piece of beer blogging.