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Call me The Yeast Herder – Part 3

Miss Call me The Yeast Herder Part #1 and Part #2?

Bottling completed, and with only one major mistake, which… knock on wood, I think will be okay.

I tested my bottling bucket with water for complete drainage and found 12-16oz waste that wouldn’t pour out my drainage spout. Combined with what I couldn’t rack from the fermentor, and the sacrifice to the floor gods, and a gravity sample that I also tasted, I only lost 21oz. Somehow I feel like all those things add up to much more than that…..ahhh right the 16oz of water I added for the dextrose boil. Which isn’t 16oz at all but rather 16oz PLUS the volume of 150g of sugar added, which pushes it up to 20oz. That was my major mistake…

First of all, I should point out that my BrewCraft extract kit was from New Zealand and instead of making a standard 5gal recipe, I am making a 6gal recipe or more precisely 23L. (6gal = 768oz, 23L=777oz) My bottling bucket however was only 5 Gallons, and so I knew I’d have to bottle in two batches and split the priming sugar accordingly. Easy enough right?

I added 16oz of water (+dextrose) to the boil. I poured EXACTLY HALF (8oz) into half of the green brew. After bottling the first 12 liters, I poured the rest of the sugar water into my sanitized measuring cup just for kicks…..and stared at the 12oz reading….with wide eyes… Special words, brew day only words quickly came into my mind, but I decided not to panic. Afterall, panic might ruin the bottling!

I quickly ran to my computer and thankfully had left the priming calculator up. I quickly calculated the ratios of the 8/12oz (of dextrose + water) as 0.4 and 0.6, then multiplied that out from 150g. This was 60/90g… Panic began to return, I remembered all the stories of bottle bombs, breaking glass in the night and worst of all…lost beer!

I was shooting for 2.4 units of CO2 carbonation based on the list from the priming calculator site. It suggested that German Pilseners are around 2.5. BJCP told me that German Pilsners were medium/high carb and Czech Pilsners were medium. The list shows 2.5, so I knocked it down one point. After plugging in the numbers (technically I bottled 12L and then 11L, not exactly half) I found that my first half-batch would come in around 2.0 carb and the 2nd half-batch would come in around 2.8.

A great sigh of relief told me that everything would be fine, WHEW!!!! With other beers on the priming calculator site showing as high as 4.7 CO2 units, I figured the bottles were safe from exploding. My first instinct was to dump 4oz just to be safe, but I realized I had the opportunity to split test, so now I’ve had the opportunity to test both a low-carb and high-carb Pilsner.

How do you think I managed to rack from the fermenter directly into my brew bucket outlet?? That’s right, floor god sacrifice! Pull it and plug it and try to avoid splashes!

I now see the advantage of a shutoff valve, or at the bare minimum more than one tube for siphoning. It took me a second to figure out how to transfer the beer to a bucket with a hole in the bottom, but through the hole is the simplest answer.

I estimated 12 22oz bombers (264oz) and 42 12oz bottles (504oz) for a total of 768oz (6gal). However my batch was 777oz at 23L, and I ended up losing only 1 of the 42 bottles to the 21oz loss mentioned above. Not bad. I boiled 6 extra bottle caps and sanitized 2 more bottles than I thought I’d need. I lost 3 caps due to sanitation failure. (Clumsily dropped them on the floor, of course I can use them for next time.) Because I had extras I could easily move on and keep bottling.

I took a sample of course when testing the gravity and it wasn’t too bad. It’s definitely a plain low bitterness beer, but all in all I think it might age well and the carbonation should help immensely. Being new to this I can’t comment if it takes a lot of skill to make a great Pilsner, but I can say that a great Pilsner is far above a simple light watery beer. Pilsner Urquell is one of my favorites, and it has complex notes of honey. These can be VERY pronounced when it’s on tap in the Czech republic, but much less so when bottled. If I make a Pilsner again I’m using honey.

Empty fermenter means……What should I do for my 2nd brew? Definitely something that I manually hop, not sure if I want to mash or not yet. Suggestions?

Call me The Yeast Herder – Part 2

Miss Part #1? Call me The Yeast Herder #1

My beer is bubbling happily this morning, so I guess that makes me lucky as many wait worriedly for the first 48 or even 72 hours before they see any signs of proper fermentation. I can even see a tiny bit of krausen forming through the semi-transparent walls of my white plastic bucket. Maybe my high temp apartment isn’t so bad after all, these yeasties probably think they’re on the deck of a cruise ship headed for the sunny shores of Puerto Vallarta. Well they’ve got a surprise coming, this isn’t a mexican beer, its a Czech Pilsner, they’re headed for the heart of Bohemia.

I’m so hungry for my pilsner to finish that I regularly smell the airlock as it bubbles to see what aromas it might be generating. Too weird? I’m sure all first time brewers do this right? Right?


$6.17 later at Lowe’s… I have a 1/2” MIP barbed hose adapter, a PVC coupling to use as a nut, two O-rings, and a 5gal bucket…

I may regret not getting an actual ball valve to cut off the flow in a beermergency, but I’m planning on doing gravity fed bottling with a spring tipped bottling wand rather than an open ended siphon, so I’m betting on the spring tip to hold the brew in, no valve required. We’ll see if this was a good bet soon enough. The assembled port is fully removable for hyper sanitation if necessary. I even sanded off some rough spots of the tube adapter up to 600 grit so that there won’t be recessed areas for nasties to hide in. The bucket itself wasn’t all that smooth inside, but I’ve read that green beers are rather hard to infect. I’ll just be gentle on it and try to keep scratches down, and be sure to soak it good with sanitizer.


I haven’t seen a bubble for days, I’m sure its time to bottle. What will happen next??

See Call me The Yeast Herder #3

Call me The Yeast Herder – Part 1

Today was brew day and now my 8 gallon brew bucket is slowly beginning to ferment in the closet. I’ve been interested in brewing my own for some time now and finally pulled the trigger. I decided to start out with a very simple one step pre-hopped extract brew. To any doubters, you CAN do this. This is more about my experience than step by step directions, but I might get specific at times.

The brew process was really pretty easy! Easier than I thought, I just made sure I had everything sanitized extra carefully, and that I had a sanitized surface to put my sanitized items on. You’ve heard people talk about insanity? Well this is sanity aka sanitation. I used idophor to do my sanitizing which is a very effective sanitizer that will take care of basically all nasties at only 12.5ppm (parts per million). I also kept a large pot of the leftover sanitizing solution in case I needed to sanitize things I had forgotten. And I did need to at least once, several times actually.

Major Failures

Once my pot got close to boiling, I pulled the extract out of the sanitizing solution and began opening it with the can opener. Now I have two can openers, one has nasty stuff all over the wheel and its almost impossible to clean, no way is that thing getting near my beer. The other one is a simpler mechanism and is way easier to clean. Well it also just so happened it was a complete piece of garbage. I managed to cut maybe 1 inch of the lid and then the wheel started spinning fruitlessly. The pot was about to boil over, my small apartment was heating up fast, I was beginning to sweat, I was losing my grip on the can opener, but trying to keep my cool lest I drip contamination into my precious extract. I didn’t want to turn on the central air during my brew in case it would kick up particulate that might fall into my open bucket later. I toiled and screamed at it to no avail. The words that followed were special words so ungentlemanly that they are reserved only for brew day mishaps and cannot be repeated here. I suppose though, anything that you don’t end up sweating and swearing during isn’t worth doing…but I like to be prepared. I struggled and somehow after about 10min just muscled the top off the extract, ignoring the last 2-3in of uncut can lid. This beer was getting itself made come hell or high water!

Never again! Next time I’m sanitizing one of those tiny wallet sized GI style can openers. If I need to open some extract under fire, I know one of those will pull me through. I’ve also heard that sometimes extract is sold in screw top bottles. That sounds so easy it’s almost cheating……wait what were we talking about, one step pre-hopped extract brewing? Alright well back to it then….

I was very sanitization conscious for this brew because the extract isn’t actually boiled so I wanted to be sure that anything going in my wort was truly uninfected. If you boil a pre-hopped kit it will ruin the hops.

My recipe had me bring 1 3/4 gallons (I did closer to 2gal) to a boil then turn off the heat and add the warmed extract and dextrose. I did have the option to use DME (dried malt extract) instead of the dextrose but I just went with the dextrose because it can be used for priming too. Since I wasn’t actually boiling anything for any length of time, I didn’t want any nasties from my can opener falling into the brew. However, 2 boiling gallons will hold that heat for a good amount of time and I’m sure the soon to be wort was around ~200F while pouring all the stuff in. Even so, I sanitized some bowls to hold the weighed sugar on my gram scale while waiting to be poured in.

The rest of the process went smoothly with no obvious mistakes but that doesn’t mean I’m worry free. Right now my biggest worry is that it’s too warm in my apartment. My instructions say to ferment at around 65-74, and my apartment is closer to 78-80 most days. I haven’t tried running the AC 24/7 yet, and in my new place I’m not sure how expensive that might be. I’ve never had central HVAC before.

I very much wanted to take pictures of the brewing process, but was more concerned about pulling it off so I didn’t end up taking any. There will definitely be pictures later on in the process.

I’m proud to finally say I’m part of the brew club! Sure I’ve made some cider in the past, but I don’t feel like that really counted, it was too easy.

Check out Call me The Yeast Herder Part #2 and Part #3

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