Homebrew Beer Myths

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RichardM

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fury_tea

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It's true as long as the container remains sealed. If you open it for a bit you'll get a little bit of air in there, if you're doing things like dropping a hydrometer in, flicking it 20 times to get the damn thing to put the gravity side towards you instead of the side that shows the new moons and how long until the Stargate opens - well that causes surface turbulence and so you'll get a lot more air in.

If you left the lid open if there isn't any fermentation causing co2 to be generated it'll eventually mingle with air completely - that's why I say it's a "myth" because some people talk about it like your kids could run in and instead of bouncing on the bed go bouncing on the blanket of co2 instead.
I don't know if this is good practice but recently I've been melting a few teaspoons of dextrose in a drop of water and throw that in when I dry hop/take grav readings. The thought being it'll start a little be of fermentation again to scavenge O2 and release co2 into the headspace. Not sure it's strictly necessary but haven't had a "wet cardboard" brew again since I started doing it.
 
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Richard Lander

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The most common myth I come across is that homebrew is somehow poisonous, and will make you "go blind". Around this very wrong concept, a whole collection of other similar myths seem to persist. Several factors might be at work here:

- The erroneous idea that homebrew will contain dangerous amounts of methanol, or other poison, confusing home brewing and home stilling.
- The fact that alcohol is a poisonous, addictive, regulated, intoxicating harmful substance, so it's reasonable to be cautious with it.
- Industrial alcohol can be poisonous, and does kill people from time to time.
- In the UK the historical "effective prohibition" on home brewing, where you technically needed a license that no one ever got, which drove brewing underground, making it unclean/immoral/bad, and this reputation continues long after legalisation.
- The avoidance of duty, while legal, might give the impression that it is somehow "wrong", and ironically, the much greater price for taxed shop booze might somehow give the erroneous impression that the more expensive product is "better".
- The odd and unholy idea, surely a benefit to the commercial firms and the exchequer, that the factory product is "wholesome" and the made at home alternative is somehow "unwholesome".

Considering shop bought booze compared with home made, I compare this with home cooking. Sure, you can purchase ready meals, takeaways, and in the old days, whole meals out in a place that was called a "restaurant", or a "wetherspoons". Also you can make beans on toast from a tin. These are all valid options. But there is another option, where you do a funny old thing called "cooking", and you take various whole ingredients, follow a recipe as you wish, develop experience and judgement with practice, and have a very rewarding creative activity which results in a tasty meal that you can share and enjoy.

Cost comes into it, and home cooking has to be better value than eating out, while a tin of beans might make a cheaper meal than some fancy home cooking, but the cost is not the major consideration, and it ends up as a matter of personal preference. Seems that somehow "home cooking" has collected more of the virtuous connotations than "home brewing".

I am unsure exactly how homebrewing has managed to get this reputation as a unwholesome and second rate product. Seems like a myth to me. Myths can originate from ignorance, prejudice, vested interests, corrupted truths and more. Good call to expose the myths to daylight.
 

JonBrew

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Rehydrating yeast being best, of course, is completely true no matter what those imbeciles at Fermentis have recently half-hinted at.
I had always believed what I'd read Jamil Z and Chris W write about in the Yeast book, and I've head Jamil repeat it on numerous brewing podcasts, that apparently something like up 50% cell death can occur if you pitch direct rather than rehydrating properly prior to pitching.

I remember reading the Fermentis E2U (Easy to Use) stuff that they published a while back and they seemed to suggest they had conducted studies showing that the loss of viability/cell death was fairly negligible with their new E2U yeasts. I get the scepticism around this but I also don't really understand what Fermentis stand to achieve by lying about this. They market the E2U stuff to pro brewers and would surely be risking reputational harm and loss of business by promoting a seemingly inferior method of using their product.

Or is it that, because they give you such a high cell count to begin with in the pack, you'll still hit an acceptable pitching rate and achieve desirable fermentation characteristics even without rehydrating?
 

Drunkula

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Or is it that, because they give you such a high cell count to begin with in the pack, you'll still hit an acceptable pitching rate and achieve desirable fermentation characteristics even without rehydrating?
Without seeing the actual study I think this. On a podcast recently somone mentioned the Fermentis thing and either Chris White or Jamiz said screw that, rehydrate your yeast. If I had unlimited packs of yeast I'd just double up and let them use their dead friends as nutrient, but I don't and I want those suckers to have the best chance they can. They're your workforce, look after them.
 

JonBrew

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Without seeing the actual study I think this. On a podcast recently somone mentioned the Fermentis thing and either Chris White or Jamiz said screw that, rehydrate your yeast. If I had unlimited packs of yeast I'd just double up and let them use their dead friends as nutrient, but I don't and I want those suckers to have the best chance they can. They're your workforce, look after them.
It would be an interesting side by side to do on the home brew scale. I'd be willing to bet that on 1040 OG beer you wouldn't notice a difference but the higher you went in terms of OG it would start to have an impact.
 

Edison

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Lalleman still state on their technical document for their Kveik dried yeast “Our research suggests that pitching LalBrew® Voss directly into wort without prior rehydration will often result in better performance including shorter lag-phase and greater attenuation.”

I used it this way (CML version) for a Short and Shoddy IPA experiment without adding O2 and it came out great, but this is probably the exception and a testament to how virile this strain is that it produces what we expect from it (attenuation, fermentation speed and flavour profile) with possibly a much lower live cell count then expected.

However this is the one and only time I haven’t rehydrated dried yeast in recent years though.

 

Drunkula

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I'd be willing to bet that on 1040 OG beer you wouldn't notice a difference
Absolutely. I reckon there probably is so little difference that I certainly wouldn't be able to perceive it, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a difference and that's what I care about. Data. If there's a chance however small that the increased lag time could cause one batch in 1000 to get an off flavour I'm rehydrating that yeast.

I want to see results like this because "I never noticed a difference" is something I give zero shits about, it's just noise.

I absolutely love just throwing crap together and doing it by eye and throw in the dry yeast, I just don't want that pushed as best practice without evidence. I don't care enough is not a valid agenda. However "It's not the ideal but you'll get away with it almost every time and probably never notice a difference" is valid.

When I've successfully dried the voss I've got I'll absolutely just throw in a few chunks. I baked it to death last time. Ooopsie!
 
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JonBrew

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Absolutely. I reckon there probably is so little difference that I certainly wouldn't be able to perceive it, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a difference and that's what I care about. Data. If there's a chance however small that the increased lag time could cause one batch in 1000 to get an off flavour I'm rehydrating that yeast.

I want to see results like this because "I never noticed a difference" is something I give zero shits about, it's just noise.

I absolutely love just throwing crap together and doing it by eye and throw in the dry yeast, I just don't want that pushed as best practice without evidence. I don't care enough is not a valid agenda. However "It's not the ideal but you'll get away with it almost every time and probably never notice a difference" is valid.

When I've successfully dried the voss I've got I'll absolutely just throw in a few chunks. I baked it to death last time. Ooopsie!
That's really interesting! I would never have thought that the rehydration temperature would have such a big impact.
 

MickDundee

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That's really interesting! I would never have thought that the rehydration temperature would have such a big impact.
Same, I usually just guess the temperature of my rehydrating water - I might try to be more accurate now.
 

Edison

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For the first time yesterday I rehydrated the Lalleman London/English Ale yeast in a 250ml erlenmeyer on a stirplate (only stirring when the instructions state). I managed to fit a water bath between the flask and stirplate and still have the bar rotate happily. Using a disused SS temperature controller to monitor the water bath temperature I was able to hold the flask at 32c during the rehydration by adding boiling water and cool it to 22c slowly by putting an ice block in the bath.

Thats the first time I went this far but it probably sounds more faff than it actually was. Pitched at 1700 and was slowly bubbling the blowoff by 2300 (although this may have been added O2 degassing?). Refractometer showed 10.7 before pitching and 9.7 at 1020 this morning, so, happy yeasties it seems!

Next stage, aquarium heater!
 
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