hist-brewing: Beginner questions and answers.

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Tue Jun 29 13:00:28 PDT 1999

Mark writes (responding to Thomas):
>Plactic water bottles are not a good idea.  It can allow gas transfer,
>as well as get scratched easily.  Scratches will not get fully
>clean/sanitized and WILL harbor spoilage bacteria.  Locate a supplier of
>GLASS carboys.  Look in brewing magazines for mail order or contact your
>nearest homebrew supply place.

These two reasons to not use plastic fermenters keep coming up and being
repeated.  In the HBD they have pretty much been exhausted.  The fact is
that gas transfer (oxygen, specifically) is virtually nil over the course
of a normal ale fermentation (about a week) and usually it is ill-fitting
lids on plastic pails that is to blame for oxidation.  While it is
technically true that plastic fermenters do get scratched and can harbour
bacteria and wild yeasts, we are fooling ourselves if we believe that
we are making sterile wort.  *ALL* wort contains wild yeasts and bacteria
and the key really is to minimise their contributions so their products
are below taste threshold.  By this, I mean: pitch a lot of yeast!  As
long as you pitch a lot of yeast, you shouldn't have any trouble with
the few million nasties that you might pick up from a scratch in the
fermenter.  A far more likely source of infection is the spigot of
your bottling bucket if you don't take it apart to clean and sanitise
between batches.

>There is no reason not to blend different strains of yeast.  Many
>commercial yeasts are actual blends of 3-6 different cultured yeasts.
>think German and Belgium yeasts.

True, but if you come up with a great beer, you'll never be able to
duplicate it.  Commercial yeasts are typically either a single strain
(99.9%) or a blend of dozens of yeasts and bacteria, not individually
cultured (e.g. Rodenbach).

>Malt extract will not provide an adequate amount of nutrients for yeast
>to grow.  I suggest adding a measure of yeast nutrient or yeast hjulls.

I don't know where you get your extract, but this is ancient history.
Modern, name-brand  extracts are all-malt and you should have no problem
with them without resorting to yeast nutrients.  Save your nutrients
for meads, which really do need them.

>If you are still an extract brewer versus being an all grain brewer, I
>suggest steeping speciality grains to get additional and better flavors
>versus using canned extracts.

Agreed... but for their first batch, let them keep it very simple.  I
recommend hopped extract and no specialty grains on the first batch.


Al Korzonas, Lockport, IL
korz at brewinfo.org

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