Newbie question!

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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Newbie question!

Postby pain devine » Tue Oct 26, 2004 3:13 pm

Ok, now ya'll can show off your beer making knollege and school me...

So, is the only difference between the old-school way of carbonating and the new way a small keg, a bottle of CO2 and a couple of hoses? I only want to make small 5 gallon batches. No, I wont be making more. 5 gallons a month is more than I'll ever drink. But I don't want "Crap" in the beer. I prefer very dark beer, like guiness. I dunno if that matters... although, I don't want a complicated nitrogen setup.

I'm not sure about dealing with the CO2... but I also don't like the idea of sediment in the beer. That sounds gross.
pain devine
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Crash course on carbonation and sediment

Postby jayhawk » Fri Oct 29, 2004 12:03 pm

First, a word or two on carbonating:

"Old school" or natural carbonation is done by yeast. When packaging the beer, you add some priming sugar to allow the remaining yeast in suspension to do one last bit of fermenting. Since the beer is in a sealed environment like a bottle or keg, the CO2 released during this little fermentation is trapped, and therefore dissolves in to the beer and carbonates it.

"New school", or force carbonating, is done by putting beer in a keg, not adding any priming sugar, and then applying pressure with CO2 to the beer. This forces the beer to absorb CO2, and the beer is carbonated.

Now a word on sediment:

Sediment is unpreventable for natural carbonation. No ifs, ands, or buts!

You will also have sediment if you force carbonate unless you do something to remove the yeast prior to putting the beer in the keg. To remove yeast from the beer before packaging, you must add finings (gelatin, isinglass, polyclar). The finings attract the yeast cells in suspension in the beer and bind them in to heavy particles, thus causing them to drop to the bottom. This process takes a little longer as you have to wait a week or two for the finings and yeast to fully drop out of the beer. You can also filter the beer, which can remove 99% of the yeast, but you then may end up with "stripped" beer because the filter can also remove important flavour compounds.

A compromise is at hand:

Use a highly flocculant yeast. This means that the yeast will readily drop out of suspension and therefore will not be transferred over to the keg. Some examples of highly flocculant yeasts that I have used are Wyeast 1968 London ESB and Wyeast 2112 California Lager. Both are great yeasts. Check out Wyeast's website for more info on other yeasts that are highly flocculant. Whitelabs yeast will also have info on this. Flocculation can also be encouraged by colder temperatures. You will not remove all of the yeast, but the sediment layer in the keg will be very small, and hardly noticeable. Once you get a few pints down the beer will be running clear.

Having some yeast in the beer is very benefitial because you are allowing the beer to age. You will be able to experience how the beer matures and refines itself, which is very interesting and enjoyable.

If you want more info on kegging, fining, filtering, or anything else let me know.
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