Topic: Mr Wizard

Troubleshooting Chart

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Key: “X”: For beers made with malt extract, “AG”: For all-grain beers Problem Causes Fermentation does not start Inadequate amount of yeast pitched Wort too hot (yeast stunned/killed) Wort too cold (yeast


Converting starches

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One of the most important aspects of measuring anything is to understand what is being measured and how the measuring device works. The iodine test indicates the interaction between iodine and the


How long to secondary ferment

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  Many beers, especially big beers such as imperial stouts, mellow with extended aging in the secondary fermenter. It is usually best to place the secondary in a cool place for extended


Bottling Temperature

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If this beer was properly fermented, it should have been completely fermented before you chilled it. The most reliable method to know whether a fermentation is done is to compare the specific gravity of your batch to that of a forced fermentation on the same wort. A forced fermentation is basically performed by taking a


Brewing Pale Ales

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  Unfortunately I don’t have much information to digest from your question. All I know is that you have no luck brewing pale ales and I seem to be your last resort. The name of my column may imply that I am sort of psychic, but to be honest I am just an ordinary person


Higher Alcohols

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Before you dump your mead down the drain, please read my answer! The aroma you describe is the distinctive scent of ethyl acetate. This nail-polish smelling compound is the most common acetate ester found in beer for one very simple reason; ethyl acetate is formed during fermentation when ethanol is enzymatically coupled with the acetate


Bottle Bombs

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This question has a rather short, but important answer. Most breweries in the United States use “one-way” glass bottles for packaging. These bottles are lighter in weight compared to returnable bottles and are not intended to be used more than one time. Since the bottle filling and capping process can stress glass bottles, especially these lighter weight types, one-way


Bottle Conditioning Lagers

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Since you are new to brewing lagers, I would focus 100% of my attention to primary fermentation and how the yeast behaves when fermented at cooler temperatures. Ale brewers are accustomed to having aggressive behavior during primary fermentation and the aroma coming from the fermenter is usually quite nice. Lagers are a different creature all


Outdoor refrigeration

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The refrigeration cycle is pretty nifty and its development began in the late 1700s. The earliest use of commercial refrigeration occurred sometime in the mid 1800s by, you guessed it, breweries. The refrigeration cycle is pretty, well, um, cool, and has four main parts to the cycle. The cycle begins by compressing a refrigerant gas,


Ramping Up to a Boil

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n a very general sense the time required to bring wort to a boil can cause problems when the time is too long. Holding hot wort for extended time periods leads to heat-related chemical changes, generally termed “thermal stress”. But in a more practical sense this is not normally associated with waiting for the kettle


Adding Extract to Make Big Beers

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I love this idea for a number of reasons. The first reason is that many malt extracts seem to be less fermentable than the preference of my palate. If you open a


Mash pH Importance

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Mash pH is extremely important. Enzyme activity is a function of pH and all enzymes are only active in a relatively narrow range around their optimum pH. In the case of mashing, there are two enzymes of particular importance; alpha and beta amylase. The optimal range for alpha amylase is pH 5.6–5.8 and the optimal


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