Hello Pico Brewers! I want to share with you some of the practices I use after the brewing cycle is complete. These tips will help to ensure you’ll be drinking delicious Pico brewed beer each time.
Two aspects of fermentation to always keep in mind are: time and temperature.
Yeast needs time to complete fermentation. Removing beer too soon off the yeast can result in undesirable flavors like sulfur, green apple, or butterscotch. Allowing the yeast to take its time to munch through the sugars to produce CO2 and alcohol are two crucial roles of yeast in the beer making process. A third thing to remember is the maturation of flavor. Yeast plays a part in making your beer taste the way it does and in most styles accounts for up to a third of the beer flavor profile. So, allow your yeast to do its thing in its own time while keeping in mind that some beers take longer to ferment than others. For example, big beers – or those beers with higher gravities like Not-Yetie and Chin Curtain – need more time to finish.
The other important part of fermentation is temperature. For almost all ales, too cold a temperature and the yeast will take a nap and do its job much more slowly and sometimes not finish fermenting the wort at all, resulting in a sweet, under-attenuated beer. Too warm and the yeast will stress itself out reproducing and die at a much quicker rate. This will result in a beer that produces fusel alcohols, which cause headaches and hot burning in the back of the throat or sulfur and butterscotch aromas and flavorings.
We will tackle lager fermentation practices in a future post but in the mean time for your next batch remember to keep your attention on time and temperature – during and after fermentation – with these simple steps:
*Cool your wort as quickly as possible in an ice-water bath or overnight on the kitchen counter.
*Whisk your wort with a clean spoon or whisk to get some oxygen into it. Overnight cooling leads to a vacuum wherein all of the oxygen is sucked out. Yeast desperately needs oxygen to reproduce. Pitch the yeast and whisk/stir one more time. A 30 second burst should do the trick. Most ales ferment best in the 64 – 70F range.
*Allow the beer to ferment. The best rule of thumb is 10 days and all is well. With higher gravity beers, wait two weeks. Trust me on this!
*After fermentation, carefully move your fermenting keg to the refrigerator. This is a step called Cold Conditioning. Allow the beer to sit for two or three days at the colder temperatures so the yeast drops (flocculates) to the bottom of the keg. You can also dry hop at this stage or prior to Cold Conditioning.
*After Cold Conditioning, move the fermenting keg to the Pico for racking (or, transferring the beer to the serving keg). It’s extremely important to remember at this stage to not rock the keg. You do not want to rouse the yeast back into suspension. Let those yeasties lay at the bottom of the keg. If you should happen to bang the keg or it gets shaken, simply place it back into the refrigerator for another 24 hours to have everything settle out.
*Transfer you beer to the serving keg, put on the CO2 regulator and carb that beer. Beer carbonates much more efficiently at colder temperatures.
*The last step is the most important – drink your beer!