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ESB Yeast Test Brew #1

July 2, 2011

Lately the club’s mailing list has been active with people talking about yeast re-pitching.  One member would like to do a side-by-side comparison of beers made with yeast from a tube vs. those made from a re-pitch, ensuring proper pitching rates per Mr. Malty in both cases.  While I was going to put brewing on hold for a while until it cools off, I don’t think I have enough beer on-hand to do that, and I’d like to help this guy out.  To avoid the heat though, I’m going to dust off my 1-gallon jugs and brew batches that are small enough to do inside on the stove (i.e. <4 gallons boiling, < 3 gallons to the fermentor(s)).

As a first recipe to get the yeast for repitching, I’ve decided to re-brew 2 gallons of ESB, but this time I’m not going to screw up the salt additions (at least not in the same way as before 🙂 ).  Instead, I’ll add CaCl2 for the pre-boil step and gypsum in the mash – enough to balance the Cl- from the pre-boil.  This should swing the beer’s balance back toward hops (i.e. make the water neutral wrt hop/malt balance).

As a follow-on, I’ll brew another batch of ESB (probably, though it could be something else) and pitch one half (probably 1 gallon) straight from a pack of Wyeast, and the other half with a re-pitch from this brew using Mr. Malty’s calculator (or optionally this guy’s spreadsheet, though it should be the same).

I’m still trying to figure out if I should just bottle this beer, or put it in a keg.  I think I might put it in a keg with priming sugar and bottle a 6-pack + bomber or two, then let the rest use up the priming sugar and drink it out of the keg.  Although, since it’s only 2 gallons, maybe I should just bottle the whole thing up (though it would still be nice to use the keg, I think as opposed to a bottling bucket).

I’d also like to investigate no-sparge with this since it’s such a small batch for my MLT.  I’ll have to look more into that though, since I already don’t do that well efficiency-wise.

Maybe the follow-on can use first wort hopping also once I can evaluate how the water treatment affects this batch.

Upon further consideration, I’m going to save the no sparge for a later brew.  It’s too hard to guess what to expect from it.  Maybe more accurately, I’ll do a sort of hybrid approach.  I’ll keep my recipe as-is and do a full run-off (maybe along with a thinner mash – which should be OK given the high Ca+ concentration I should have in the mash).  Before beginning batch sparging, I’ll take a sample to see what kind of volume and gravity I can get.

  • By running off all liquid from the basic grain bill, I can determine
  • Gravity points per pound of grain per gallon of water
  • From this, I can calculate the pounds of grain I need to get the desired gravity at the desired volume for subsequent batches
  • (WordPress needs a hierarchical list mechanism)


BeerSmith Recipe / Brewsheet

Brew Day (7/10/11)

  • Overall, it was a pretty smooth brew day and I’m optimistic that the beer is going to be really good (great aroma and flavor during brewing and no incidents to speak of)
  • Re-reading my intro, I now realize I didn’t do the thin mash like I was planning.  This would have been good to get a better feel for no-sparge.
  • Collected ~0.75 gallons of wort @ 1.083 SG as first runnings to simulate what a no-sparge would be like
  • Using Daniels’ “gravity units” it seems that to get 0.75 gal. of 1.083 wort, I could have gotten ~1.4 gal. of 1.044 wort (the expected initial gravity).  So I probably could have just added 0.65 gal. (1.4 – 0.75) extra strike water.  Note:  Since the strike water calculation includes some amount for grain absorption and lauter tun deadspace, I would just add this extra volume, not scale up the strike water addition (i.e. not just double the 7.25 qt. strike water).
  • A quick calculation looks like if I doubled the grain bill and used ~5 gallons of strike water, I could get ~3 (2.8) gallons of no sparged wort at 1.044.  This would require a bigger MLT.  Luckily I plan on picking up a 10 gal. one from Craigslist before my next brew day 🙂
  • Batch sparged 3 times at ~1 gallon each (didn’t follow BeerSmith) and made sure none of the sparges were below 1.01 (IIRC, the last was ~6 Brix or ~1.021)
  • Gravity into the boil was 1.049 @ ~3.5 gallons (80% efficiency) – expected was 1.044
  • Gravity into fermentors was 1.057 (1 point higher than expected) at ~2.5 gallons.  I’m not sure how I consistently get higher efficiencies into the boil.  It should be the same, right?
  • From Mr. Malty Pitching Rate calculator, I found that I could innoculate ~1.4 gallons of wort with one pack of Wyeast manufactured May 9, 2011 (53% viability)
  • Measured and marked the fermentors at 0.7 gallons
  • Ran off into the fermentors twice to make sure I got the right volume (i.e. ran off 0.7 gal to two fermentors), then transferred to 5-gallon carboy where I added yeast, yeast nutrient and aerated.  Realized that I should have saved aeration for after I transferred back to the 1-gallon fermentors, because I imagine I lost some O2 during the transfer (though I still should have been left with at least equilibrium at STP).
  • Since I would have had ~1 gallon of perfectly good wort leftover, I decided to run it off into a 3rd fermentor and use the Wyeast 1056 I had from my Pale Ale and Mild brews.
  • 3rd fermentor also ended up at just about 0.7 gallons
  • Came out pretty pale.  Wonder if it’s related to high Ca+ concentration

Bottle/Keg Plan

Since this is such a small batch and I’d like to be able to evaluate the difference between the 1968-pitched batch and the 1056-pitched batch, I think I’m going to bottle all of this right away instead of mixing it all in a keg.  I figure I’ll still use the keg to make the bottling simpler.  I figure I’ll add the priming sugar necessary for the 1968-batches, transfer them to the keg (using my nifty mostly-closed transfer).  From the keg, I’ll use my keg->bottle setup to transfer to the bottle under CO2 pressure.  Obviously I won’t have to worry about foam-over and all that other junk.  I’m expecting it to just be a cleaner, easier bottling bucket method.  Now, I’ll need to clear what’s left in the keg out so I don’t mix 1968 batch with 1056 batch before racking the 1056 in.  I think I’ll probably do well enough to just fill up bottles until the keg won’t give me anymore (i.e. just gas coming out).  By adding the 1056 batch on top of the minimal amount that’s left over, I probably won’t get too much flavor transfer, right?  We’ll see how I feel at the time.  The best way would obviously be to take the keg out and at least rinse it out.  Finally, any partial bottles left over can be combined and maybe see how a mix of the two tastes 🙂

Alternatively, I could bottle the 1056 as mentioned above and then keg the 1968 and later bottle from the keg once it’s carbonated.  I could of course do it vice versa (i.e. bottle 1968 and keg 1056), but since there’s more (~1.5 gallons) of the 1968, it seems like it would be a better candidate.

All-in-all, I’ll have to think it over and make a decision within the next couple weeks.  Fermentation might be a factor in my decision as well.  For instance, if the 1968 fermentors behave differently, I might want to make sure and segregate them from each other as well to evaluate the differences.


Took off within 12 hours for all of them.  Before bed (~7 hours after pitching) the 1968 fermentors had some foam on the top (about equal between the two) while the 1056 looked just as when I’d pitched.  By morning (~14 hours after pitching), they all had a similar krausen formation, though the 1056 did look a little different – a more consistent foam without the yeast colonies visibly floating on top.  By this time, all the airlocks were bubbling consistently, though none were too vigorous – healthy, but not crazy.

I kept the fermentors sitting in my Rubbermaid tub with about 5 or 6 gallons of water and tried to keep temperature in check with ice packs.  I rotated them out about 4 times in the 18 or so hours after pitching to keep temperature in the 68 F range.  Over the first night, temperature rose from ~68 to nearly 71.  I tried to keep temperature in the upper-60’s until primary had noticeably died down before letting it rise up to wherever it wanted (succeeded in keeping in the 68 – 71 range for the most part).

After ~2 days the 1968 fermentors seemed to have finished (and continued to perform almost identically).  The 1056 would take another day or so, before finally giving way, yet leaving behind a little more evidence of fermentation (more extended time to fully drop the krausen).  I attribute the differences to a combination of the different flocculation characteristics and possibly health and pitch rate.  The 1056 started more slowly and took longer to finish, indicating an underpitch and/or health issue.  The fact that the 1056 took longer to lose the krausen I think is due to the very different flocculation characteristics of the two strains.

Once primary fermentation seemed to have stopped for the 1968 fermentors (~2 days), I stopped worrying about temperature and let it free rise.  After a couple days like this, the temp was staying in the 73 F range.

Bottling (7-23-11)

I essentially followed my initial plan above:  siphon 1968 beer into keg with priming sugar and bottle via keg->bottle (need to think of a better name for that).  After bottling 13 bottles (1 bomber, 12 12-oz.) of the 1968 beer, I had ~1/2 a bottle left and siphoned the 1056 beer with its priming sugar over and bottled it.  I ended up with 6 bottles of 1056 (1 bomber, 5 12-oz.) and 1 bottle that was a mix of 1968 and 1056.

  • 25 g corn sugar for ~1.4 gallons 1968 (2.0 volumes)
  • 15 g corn sugar for ~0.7 gallons 1056 (2.2 volumes).  This was somewhat of an accident, but 0.2 more volumes of CO2 for what will be a more Americanized version seems appropriate.

First Impressions

After bottling, I tasted my hydrometer sample of the 1968, and my was it good!  Really malty with some residual sweetness.  I didn’t notice the hops much, so it will be interesting to see how they come through when it’s carbonated.  This was obviously completely flat, but it was very tasty.  I think this would be an excellent cask beer.

The 1056 beer was definitely different.  Not as much fruity ester and the hops were more prominent.  Overall, not as good as the 1968, but maybe it will improve with carbonation.


The 1968-version of this beer was excellent.  The follow-on brew (Yeast Test #2) didn’t come out as well, but I think that’s more to do with poor carbonation and potentially the no-sparge method as opposed to the recipe.  I think I may re-brew this (with a standard fly sparge) in the near future (as of 9/7/11).


From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews

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