Part Three; yeasts

First off, apologies for the lack of posts. College started up again and I've barely had time to rack my brews, let alone post. Actually I dont have time to post now except for that in a stroke of genius, this particular guide is applicable to my homework. Score! so without further mumbling..

The Brewguide! Part Three, in which a landscape of glass and juice are colonized by a tiny fungal empire..and it's a good thing!


First, a look at Yeast. I actually didnt mean to capitalize it there, but you see it's just so important that the mind lends it a certain amount of honor. You see, yeast has everything to do with this process, from the carbonation and taste to how much alcohol is in it. Yeast is a tiny fungal organism that can be seen forming on the outside of grapes, berries and grains in what appears to be a thin dusty film. Yeasts have evolved over the years with the plants they hang out on to digest and make use of that plant's sugars should the skin of the plant become breached. It's certainly not implausible to imagine that some grapes left on the vine too long or punctured by some bumbling animal might actually ferment out into wine all on their own due to the yeast on the skin of the wouldent want to eat or drink this as it would be lacking in age and might possibly be a host to other mold and bacteria.

A word about bacteria- bacteria is in fact not always a bad thing. Certain german styles of beer called Lambics (and many other non-alcoholic goods like Sourdough and so on) depend on free floating bacteria to gve them their style's characteristics. Bacteria is like a wild card, and sometimes you win big, but most of the time and in most geographic regions, you lose out. 'lose out' in this sense involves throwing out your whole batch of brew. That sucks. So be carefull, and follow the sanitation guidelines I laid out earlier in the guide.

Now. Yeast needs three things. Sugar, water and oxygen. All three of these things must be measured and controlled to ensure proper fermenation, and a variation in one of them can make a difference between the quality and style of the finish. In general, you want to introduce oxygen into the mix only once; in the begenning at the same time that you add your yeast. Sugar is generally supplied by the starches and natural sugars in your ingrediants, or added to the juice in the form of dextrose (corn sugar), honey, molasses or any number of the exotic sugars available though the 'net and your local homebrew store. As for water, I reccomend buying and using spring water as it is good quality and free of contaminates. If you use your own tap water, make sure it is good tasting and clean. If your water tastes funky, it will be magnified and carry out in your brew. It's also a good idea to boil your water if you are using tap, just in case.

Yeast is generally referred to by the style of brew it makes. Here's a list of a few types. There are of course many, many more strains, but these are the yeasts I will be using in this guide later on.

Dry wine yeast/champagne yeast; This yeast is very tolerant of alcohol and will survive long enough to eat more of the sugar in the brew, thus making for a higher alchohol, 'dry' tasting drink with high carbonation.

Coates de blancs ; this yeast is good at fermenting non-grape wines, and tends to leave behind a fruity or floral aroma. Ferments out to a 12 or 14% alcohol by volume (abv) if left to its own devices.

Ale/cider yeast; This yeast works fast and ferments out to a lower alcohol percentage. Nottingham is traditional and popular

Mead yeasts; Honestly I usually use a wine yeast, like Lalvin ec-1118. There are several companies making sweet and dry mead yeasts that I havent experimented too much with yet.

So. I reccomend buying a few packs of yeast for different things to just have on hand. Yeast in packs are relatively cheap and keep well in the fridge/freezer, and if you have yeast on hand you can be as spontaneous as you like with your brew. That desert island yeast is Lalvin ec-1118.


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