Home > Brewing > Turtlecove Brewing – Tour Part 2

Turtlecove Brewing – Tour Part 2

I continue my whirlwind tour of the Turtlecove brewing process in this post. Apologies in advance for the lack of organization. If I was writing a how-to book I would have failed. Nevertheless, I wanted to document a few of the tools and processes I use at Turtlecove to craft my beers.

Racking the Beer to Secondary Fermentors

One of the interesting and sometimes confusing science facts about the brewing process is that sometimes we are trying to dissolve oxygen into our beverage and at other time times we are trying to prevent or limit exposure to oxygen. During the mashing process, beer is exposed to air but we do attempt to move it “gently” to limit the dreaded “hot side aeration” boogie man. During the boil, oxygen is driven out of the wort making the media a rather difficult place to flourish when the yeast are pitched. It is at this point, after the wort is cooled that brewers add oxygen to the media so that the yeast will add with “go forth and multiply”. We want to the yeast to reproduced rapidly and oxygen is needed for this to happen efficiently. Brewers typically only do this once at the beginning of the initial fermentation because it is the anaerobic metabolic process of fermentation that allows the yeast to derive energy from the sugar with alcohol and carbon dioxide as some of the recognizable metabolites. So the wort is oxygenated, the yeast bloom, the oxygen is pulled to zero and fermentation begins rapidly.

Turtlecove Primary Fermentors with Blowoff

Here is my latest 10 gal batch of Rye Pale Ale in the chest freezer which has been modified for use as a fermentation chamber. The tubes coming out the top allow for the release of carbon dioxide lest the carboys explode. Obviously the beer isn’t frozen rather a temperature controller allows me to cool the chamber to the optimum fermentation temperature for the selected yeast strain. For ales this is typically 64-68°F and for lager strains 45-55°F. I should add that this is not the only temperature range where the yeast survive rather this is the optimum temperature to make beer which one would wish to consume. Yeast will survive at much higher temperatures but the metabolites and fruits of your fermentation would not be desirable to drink.

After about 7-10 days if all has gone well, your primary fermentation will have been completed. Please note, this is a grossly overstated factoid and this completely depends on many factors. One doesn’t judge completion by days rather it is judged by the beer. But for the ales that I like to brew and the yeast I like to use, I can usually count on about a week in the primary. At this point I like to move the beer off the settled yeast floc and in to a clean carboy. This is also an excellent time to add any adjuncts to the beer which is very commonly fresh hop cones (dry hopping). Dry hopping adds an amazing nose to the beer but it also adds essential hop oils that add an amazing flavor. Brewers grow to love hops whereas folks that have only consumed beers from the beer isle at Publix are often woefully ignorant of what hops even are. This is not their fault, I blame the beer industry for this shameful lack of education. Fortunately we now live in a time of revived interest in this 5000 year old beverage and the craft beer movement has provided an opportunity to fall in love all over again.

Racking to Secondary  IMG_3628

Racking the beer is not without some level of risk. The beer is exposed to additional oxygen using the siphon method to move it. The good news is that plenty of yeast are still alive and this process will tend to wake them up and get another (but much smaller) fermentation going. This secondary fermentation will help remove the excess oxygen that was inadvertently added during the racking. If this still worries you, there are ways to prevent exposure, remember it is up to the brewer to spend as much as their wives will allow in the quest for that “Best in Show” medal. This RyePA can safely reside in secondary for weeks but I wouldn’t leave them much longer than a month or two. During secondary the yeast will finish, clump (floc) and fall out of the solution thus clearing you beer. Your adjunct flavors will also infuse into the beer and all the simple sugars should have been consumed from the wort. At this point you’re ready to bottle or keg the beer. Both have their advantages but brewers will tell you, kegging is easier.

Cornelious Kegs for Storing Homebrew

Once the beer is finished and ready to consume, it is important to prevent and or limit exposure of the beer to oxygen. A beer that is handled properly will last indefinitely. I routinely consume home brews that are 2 to 3 years old and as a rule, they are lovely. Some beer styles hold up better than others and like wine, some styles are meant to age and others to be consumed fresh. All will have a dramatically longer shelf life is kept cool and carbonated and free from exposure to air. Embarrassingly the kegs above have some mold and dust on the outside but experience has shown that it is what is on the inside that matters. One shot from the garden hose and these babies are ready to serve.

Turtlecove Taps

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

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