IT’S ALL ABOUT WHIRLPOOLING

In my previous post on how to improve the quality of your homebrew, I was giving you the best ways to get better results when making beer at home.  Here is another important step to understand and you will brew significantly cleaner, more professional tasting beer.

You can use this technique regardless of the equipment you own.  You can whirlpool with a simple kettle and a spoon, or you can whirlpool with a brew pump and many different configurations of arms connected to your kettle in a more or less sophisticated way.

What is whirlpooling?

Whirlpooling consists of stirring your wort at the end of the boil consistently in one direction to create a circular motion in the liquid.  As a result, the trub and hop pellets will collect at the bottom of the kettle, forming a cone. This process may be achieved with a pump, recirculating the wort below the surface.

The benefits of Whirlpooling

Faster chilling – By agitating the hot wort around an immersion chiller will greatly improve the chilling process and reduce the cooling time.

Cleaner wort – A clean wort will produce a cleaner beer by eliminating both the hot break and cold break contributing to a hazy appearance. If you use Irish moss or Whirlfloc, you will coagulate your cold break, and leaving most of it out of the fermenter will be easier.

Less risk of DMS – Especially when brewing with paler malt, the longer you wait to chill your wort, the greater the risk of getting

Keeping aromatic components of hops – Bringing down the temperature of the wort rapidly will allow for an infusion of hops below 180F before fermentation, without extracting the Alpha Acids responsible for bittering the beer.  What you will get are fresher, more aromatic hoppy aromas and flavors.  

How to whirlpool

Whirlpooling by hand with an Immersion Chiller

Tools: Spoon

Using an immersion chiller, the easiest method to whirlpool is to use a spoon.  Just stir consistently in one direction in a circular motion, and let the wort rest for about 15 minutes. 

Method: Chilling before Whirlpooling

Since you do not want to oxidize your wort, as oxygen will bind with hot wort – resulting in potential stale beer, it’s a good idea to chill your wort first and to remove your immersion chiller, then spin the wort to create a good whirlpool.  It is easier to stir properly without the chiller in the kettle anyway.

You can also get brewing paddles to be used with a power drill, to do the job effortlessly.  Some paddles will both whirlpool and aerate chilled wort. As opposed to hot wort, chilled wort needs to be aerated, which won’t result in oxidation, on the contrary, it will be a beneficial addition, as yeast needs oxygen to work and grow properly.

Whirlpooling with a hot pump

Tools:

With a pump you won’t have to stir manually.  All the job is done for you.  A brew pump is a pump that can work at high temperatures is a great tool for your home brewery.  You will need a kettle with a faucet.

You may either use an arm over the rim of your kettle, or have 2 ports, one – the outlet, connected to the pump, the other – the inlet feeding the wort, pumped back into the wort.

Method: Whirlpooling while chilling the wort

Using a pump along with an immersion chiller with an arm will cool the wort and whirlpool at the same time in the kettle.

If you use a plate or counter flow chiller, it will do the same job, except that the wort will be cooled outside of the kettle.

Final thoughts

Whirlpooling is another step in your brew day, but it is well worth it. 

The apprearance, aromas and flavors of your beer will be greatly enhanced.

What system are you using to whirlpool you?  Please let a comment.

Cheers and to your health,

Vincent

Not pouring your beer in the proper glassware? You should.

Maybe you’re going to say it’s my wine background … I’m telling you, though, and beer professionals agree with me: using an appropriate glass accord to the beer style makes a huge difference and totally enhances your drinking experience. There’s is only one worse way to drink beer: not using a glass at all.

Let’s look at the

Not pouring your beer in the proper glassware

Every beer drinker has his or her own favorite personal glassware. Newer shapes of glasses are of course popular because they go with the style they symbolize. IPA and Stout glasses are common due to the rise of the “haze craze”, and tulip stems are perfect to express Some prefer to drink out of an old-fashioned dimpled mug (why not?), while the Teku glass is increasingly trendy and the classic nonic pint is always in order. As the number of beer styles and categories have literally exploded, so have the different shapes of glasses. With my wine background, I can only approve of the diversity of options available and the respect shown to each individual beer served today. Serving beer in the wrong glass can totally ruin the experience. Some simple guidelines to enhance your enjoyment. Here are my suggestions:

  • For aromatic and complex beers, such as Belgian Ales, Saisons, Sour beers (Brett). DIPA: TULIP
  • For delicate, pretty beers, such as Kolsch, Pilsner, Hefewiezen, Fruit beers: STANGE or PILSNER GLASS
  • For full-bodied, such as Triple, Quads, Bocks, Imperial Stouts: GOBBLET or CHALICE
  • For most Ales such as British Ales, American or Irish Ales, Brown Ales: NONIC PINT

Ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference, but I believe there’s science behind the shape, size and thickness of the glass that will work best with the profile and characteristics of the beer – HEAD RETENTION, VISUAL APPEARANCE, aromatic COMPLEXITY, and BODY.

So, Get your favorite glass.

Cheers and to your health,

Vincent

THE TOP 5 HOMEBREWING MISTAKES TO AVOID

This man is worried about the homebrewing mistakes to avoid

After your first few brewing experiences, you feel more confident and now is the time to step up your game and understand how to make the best beer you can. Here are the 5 most common homebrewing mistakes to avoid. The good news is that, those are all easy to manage and to correct. Happy brewing, everyone!

1. Not using proper sanitationLack of proper sanitation is the first Homebrewing mistake to consider

I know, you heard that one a hundred times already. The first practice a home brewer learns is how to sanitize. Truth is you cannot use too much sanitation. Yes, it’s probably not your favorite part of the experience, but you can ruin a whole batch of beer with wild yeasts and bacteria. I hope your didn’t have that misfortune happen to you.

Make sure you PLAN AHEAD to have all your equipment ready, cleaned and sanitized when you need it, instead of rushing that step at the last minute and doing it half-way, or without respecting the instructions.

Remember that once your wort has cooled down to 140F degrees, this is when you have to take all the necessary precautions to meticulously protect your wort.

What you should do: Understand how to use your sanitizer properly, at the correct dilution rate, and have all your sanitized equipment ready before you need it. Keep your beer clean and save time!

2. Mashing temperature too high or too low

Brewing all-grain allows you to be creative, to control and to enjoy the process, however you need to understand how the mashing process work. Malt naturally contains enzymes (types of proteins) that are responsible for transforming the starch in different types of sugars during the mashing process. Typically, brewers are looking to extract two primary types of enzymes, Beta-amylase and Alpha-amylase, and should rely mainly on TEMPERATURE to achieve the desired quality of mash. A small variation can produce a totally different style of beer.

Beta-amylase is best activated between 140 and 149F degrees. It produces maltose, highly fermentable. The beer obtained from this mash will be drier/ with a lower finished gravity, resulting in lower alcohol.

Alpha-amylase is best activated between 154 and 167. It produces maltose too, along with unfermentable sugars, such as dextrin. The resulting beer will be fruitier and sweeter/ higher finished gravity, resulting in higher alcohol and/ or under-attenuation.

This means there is a small window to extract fermentable sugars – maltose, sucrose, glucose, fructose – the home brewer has to work with to determine the profile of the beer he/ she wants to make.

OTHER FACTORS THAN TEMPERATURE to be taken into consideration during the mashing process that can affect the proper saccharification of starch in your wort:

  • MASH WATER PH. The ideal target is 5.5. Darker malts have a lower PH, and paler malts a higher PH. You want to measure your mash water PH, determined by the characteristics of the malt, not your brewing water PH. The easiest way to do that is to invest in a PH meter, which you can find for $20 or so. If you are brewing a lager and your brewing water is very soft, you may have to perform an acid rest, between 90 and 128F for an hour or more, or add minerals such as Gypsum. Water chemistry is essential to create great beer.
  • SUBSTRATE CONCENTRATION. This is basically the thickness of your mash. By reducing the amount of water, the increased enzyme density will promote the transformation of the starch up to a certain point. As a rule of thumb, 1.5 pounds of malt per gallon of mashing water will yield an average of 1.035 pre-boil wort, depending on wether your malt is highly modified or not. If Brewing in a bag, count that your grain will absorb about 10% of your mash water.

What you should do: Know the exact temperature at which the beer you are brewing should be mashed. Measure it precisely with your thermometer during the whole process. Managing your PH, and grain density will determine a better wort that will ferment easier, and more completely, bringing all the balance and precise flavors you are looking for.

3. Incorrect use of yeastAmong often overlooked homebrewing mistakes is the incorrect use of yeast

The yeast pitching science is easy to overlook. New homebrewers tend to focus on the steps they can more immediately understand and control – and they should: sanitation, mashing temperature and initial gravity, boil schedule (the fun part). Most recipes specify a recommended type of yeast that comes in dry or liquid form. Yeasts are packages for average 5-gallon batches. If the yeast is viable (fresh), you may assume nothing can go wrong. Dry yeast typically is more concentrated and starts the fermentation in a few hours. Liquid yeast on the other hand takes a bit longer. Eventually, in both cases, everything is bubbling happily in your fermentor. So, why worry?

In reality, to take your beer to the next level, you need to understand how fermentation works. BeerandBrewing.com gives a great description of the 3 phases – the lag phase/ the grow phase/ the stationary phase. After you’ve done all the work to prepare a wort – mashed at the correct temperature to extract the right composition of fermentable sugars and nutrients, reduced it to the right OG (original gravity), the last thing you want to do is to ruin the quality of your beer by conducting a poor fermentation. A clean, healthy, efficient fermentation depends on 3 key elements:

  • Pitch rate – if it’s too low, the stressed yeast will generate undesirable phenolic off-flavors such as band-aid, cooked vegetable, and chemical aromas and flavors. Overpitching can result in lack of character, too clean or beers that are too fruity, estery. The correct pitch rate is calculated by millions of cells/ milliliter/ degree Plato (or gravity). A standard pitch rate could be 0.75 for an Ale below 1.060 gravity, and 1.50 for a Lager below 1.060 gravity
  • Oxygen – it is critical to aerate your work to start fermentation since it’s oxygen-deficient after the boil.
  • Temperature – each yeast strain works in a specific temperature range which you have to respect. The yeast manufacturers will have all the relevant information on their website.

What you should do: calculate the appropriate pitch rate, to do so, use online calculators, when fermenting a Lager or a high gravity beer, learn how to make a starter. Pitch when your wort has reached the right temperature. Finally, make sure you aerate your cooled wort for 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Chilling wort too slowlyChilling wort too slowly is a homebrewing mistake

As I explained in this post, chilling your wort in a timely manner is crucial to make, clean, good beer. You are taking too long, most of the time because you do not have the proper equipment to do the job, or you are not using it efficiently.

Here are the 4 main reasons why wort should be chilled quickly:

  • to prevent oxidation of the hot wort, as it will otherwise affect the taste of your finished beer
  • to prevent infection by all kinds of unwanted bacteria, risking contributing to off-flavors and aromas
  • to preserve the freshness of your hops additions
  • to stop the production of DMS (Dimethylsufide), a sulfury compound from mainly your base-malt that evaporates during the boil. Too much DMS in a clean, pale beer with contribute to undesirable flavors of cooked cabbage or corn.

What you should do: For smaller batches, 3 gallons or less, using an ice-bath, for example, your sink, filled with ice, will work just fine. If you brew 5 gallons or more at a time, you definitely need to invest in a wort chiller. You’ll find a description of the common 3 different types available to the home brewer here, and decide which one is best for you. With experience, you’ll learn how to control chilling water temperature, flow rates, and how the heat exchange surfaces will maximize the process efficiency. The key is to bring your wort from 140F degrees to pitching temperature – i.e. 72F degrees or under in 30 minutes or less.

5. Not allowing your beer to age long enoughOne of the homebrewing mistakes easy to correct to waiting for your beer to be ready to drink

The hardest part in home brewing is not sanitizing, cleaning up … it might very well be waiting until your homebrew is finally ready for drinking. Arguably, certain styles will benefit from more aging than others. Brewers refer to young beer as “green beer”. Flavors and aromas are coarse, and not harmonious.

LAGERS, by definition – in German, the noun Lager means “warehouse, storage place”, the verb Lagern means to store, to keep. So, you get the idea. Of course, cold fermentation requires a longer time, and pale beers, because they are normally more delicate, like Pilsners, definitely need that time in kegs or bottles to reduce potential vegetal notes coming from DMS, and refine the balance. You may want to keep your lager for 8 to 12-week secondary fermention at close to freezing temperature to truly get it a chance to rest and taste right.

STOUTS, HIGH ABV ALES (above 5%) will benefit from aging a month or so. Some people say a month and one extra month for every percent above 5%.

HOPPY BEERS such as IPA and DIPA should be consumed on the earlier side, as you want to enjoy the fresh floral, citrusy, spicy aromas of hops that will deteriorate from the moment it’s carbonated. 2 weeks in the bottle, and 1 week in the keg.

There is no set in stone kind of rule, so I suggest you try your beer every week or every other week after it’s carbonated, and see how your beer evolves.

Final thoughts

There are many aspects of making beer that can adversely impact the result, these are the top 5 homebrewing mistakes to avoid I have personally been able to manage and, hopefully, get better at.  Perhaps another I should mention here is getting too enthusiastic about enjoying the end product of a prior brew day than focusing on enjoying the process of the present brew day, in other words stay as sober as possible.  Believe me, I’m speaking from personal experience and inclination. LOL.

I sincerely hope nobody ruins a batch of beer. After you’ve invested half a day of hard work, you do not want to end up with bad beer, and I hope you find this discussion useful. Let me know what your thoughts are – please share your comments or questions below.

Cheers and to our health,

Vincent

THE 5 BEST SAVORY SPENT GRAIN RECIPES

5 classic savory spent grain recipes to please the beer lover

In an earlier post, I spoke about the nutritional value of so-called spent grain, and why you should re-use this ingredient, abundant at a home brewer’s place. In that article you I gave you 5 amazing recipes for sweet baked goods explaining what kind of spent grain to use, and how to use it, depending on the recipe. In this post I wanted to share with you my favorite savory spent grain recipes that will please any beer lover.  To be served with the appropriate homebrew. Cheers!

Read moreTHE 5 BEST SAVORY SPENT GRAIN RECIPES

6 SIMPLE STEPS FOR GROWING HOPS PLANTS AT HOME

Simple steps for growing hops at home

This year, as part of my homerewing adventure, I have decided to try growing hops plants at home for the first.

These essential plants for the home brewer are not particularly difficult or requiring a complicated technique to grow. Just keep in mind you need a lot of space, as hops can get up to 20 to 25 feet tall and will establish a deep root system. Hops are not invasive, though. You don’t need to be an expert gardener, and producing your own brewing hops will provide you with one more quality ingredient you can control to produce your beer. For years.

Read more6 SIMPLE STEPS FOR GROWING HOPS PLANTS AT HOME

HOW TO USE A WORT CHILLER AND WHICH TYPE IS BEST FOR YOU

How to use a wort chiller that's right for you

Unless your first home brewing kit came with a wort chiller, you probably initially used an ice bath to cool down your kettle just as I did when I started. As you’re becoming a more experienced brewer, you understand that you need to efficiently chill your wort. In this post we’ll discuss how to use a wort chiller the right way, what elements impact its performance, what is the best type of equipment and configuration for you. Mastering the cooling process will make a huge difference in the quality of your finished beer, and make your brew day more enjoyable too.

Read moreHOW TO USE A WORT CHILLER AND WHICH TYPE IS BEST FOR YOU

5 REASONS WHY HOMEBREWING IN TIMES OF CORONAVIRUS IS ESSENTIAL

Homebrewing in times of coronavirus is safe and essential

With most on-premise venues closed because of this viral crisis, our options to enjoy our daily quality beer are – to buy it from the store or to brew it at home. Here are 5 reasons why this the perfect time to make beer at home.

Read more5 REASONS WHY HOMEBREWING IN TIMES OF CORONAVIRUS IS ESSENTIAL

ABOUT THE PURE BREWER

WELCOME TO THE PURE BREWER – THE SITE FOR PASSIONATE HOME BREWERS WHO WANT TO FIND MORE FUN AND PURPOSE MAKING THEIR BEER.

FUN – ENJOYING THE BREWING PROCESS

The more you enjoy the process, the better your beer will be. And the better your beer, the more you will enjoy the process! I want to help you have more fun brewing.

  • Learn about brewing Techniques
  • Find the best books, videos, blogs, and professional insights
  • Discover the facts and recipes behind the world’s classic beers, so you can make your own
  • Read honest product reviews

PURPOSE – ENJOYING THE BENEFITS OF PRACTICING SUSTAINABLE BREWING

You already enjoy the satisfaction of producing locally and consuming locally. I want to help you give your passion a sense of global purpose.

  • Know and support local producers
  • Buy your equipment and ingredients from companies that have fair practices
  • Make a difference to save the environment
  • Save a few bucks finding a deal on brewing supplies here and there
  • The Pure Brewer promotes 1% for the Planet, so anything you would happen to purchase through this site will contribute to saving the environment.

 

LET ME TELL YOU A BIT ABOUT ME

Hi, I’m Vincent – I have worked 25 years in the food and beverage industry, mainly in the wine importing and distributing business in America. I was born in Burgundy where I acquired a passion for tasting and cooking, skills that I have used professionally.

I have been brewing beer at home since early 2019, and I came to realize the amazing value of doing it. Brewing finally gives me the possibility to

1. Be creative

2. Connect and thrive with a vibrant community.

A COUPLE OF THINGS I’VE DONE IN THE BEER COMMUNITY SO FAR

  • In collaboration with a Chicago area microbrewery, Soundgrowler, I have released on the market DuMont, a locally brewed Bière de Garde in the French style.
  • I’m a member of the Wort Club, home brewing club, based in Palatine, Illinois – whose members include talented beer people involved with professional brewing, judging beer in national competitions, and homebrew supply retail business.
  • I have been a Consultant for independent restaurants to promote beer cuisine.

LET ME SHARE WITH YOU HOW I FIND MORE FUN AND PURPOSE IN HOMEBREWING

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

Cheers and to our health!

Vincent

Vincent@thepurebrewer.com

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