Brewing is an art as much as it is a science, and mastering the craft requires a deep understanding of yeast behaviour and fermentation processes. To create exceptional beer consistently, every brewer needs a set of essential skills in their arsenal. In this blog post, we'll explore five critical skills that will elevate your brewing game to the next level.
- The Forced Fermentation Test
- The Forced Diacetyl Test
- Yeast Cropping & Repitching
- Yeast Nutrition
- Harnessing Biotransformation for Your Benefit
To learn more about these skills (or how to perform them!), scroll below and read on!
1. The Forced Fermentation Test (FFT)
A Forced Fermentation Test (FFT) is a powerful tool that helps brewers predict how yeast will behave during fermentation. It involves over-pitching a wort sample and stirring it at room temperature to accelerate the fermentation process. The purpose is to obtain an endpoint faster than the actual batch of beer, which provides valuable insights into yeast performance.
Why is it essential?
- Predicts the likely endpoint of fermentation
- Helps differentiate between yeast-related issues and brewhouse problems
- Identifies potential fermentation challenges early
The FFT is invaluable for brewers looking to troubleshoot stalled or stuck fermentations and fine-tune their recipes for consistency.
To learn more about Forced Fermentation Tests, including how to perform them, check out our Knowledge Base article.
2. Forced Diacetyl Test
Diacetyl, a buttery or butterscotch-flavoured compound, can be a brewer's worst enemy if not managed properly. It's produced as a byproducts of fermentation under specific conditions. The Forced Diacetyl Test is a crucial step in ensuring your beer is free from diacetyl before packaging.
Root causes of Diacetyl issues:
- Premature cooling during fermentation
- Unhealthy yeast incapable of diacetyl re-uptake
- Incomplete yeast nutrition
- Presence of flavourless diacetyl precursor Alpha Acetolactate.
- Contamination by lactic acid bacteria
By conducting the Forced Diacetyl Test, you can prevent Diacetyl-related off-flavours and ensure a clean, butter-free finish for your beer.
To learn more about Forced Diacetyl Tests, including how to perform it, check out our Knowledge Base article, 'Troubleshooting - Diacetyl'.
3. Yeast Repitching & Cropping
Reusing yeast offers various benefits for both brewers and brewery owners. Beyond cost savings, repitching can improve fermentation performance, flocculation, and flavour compound productions — especially in the second and third generations of the strain.
Benefits of Yeast Repitching
- Cost reduction
- Enhanced yeast performance
- Improved flavour consistency
- Decreased risk of introducing contaminants
Mastering the art of yeast repitching can help you brew better beer and manage your brewery's expenses effectively.
To learn more about Yeast Repitching, including guides & videos on harvesting yeast, check out our Knowledge Base article, 'Yeast Repitching and Handling Resources'.
4. Yeast Nutrition
Yeast is a living organism, and providing it with proper nutrition is paramount to achieving optimal fermentation results. Understanding the nutritional needs of yeast, including Oxygen, vitamins, and minerals, is essential for maintaining yeast health and promoting desirable flavour profiles in your beer.
Key aspects of Yeast Nutrition:
- Vitamins — Brewer's wort is typically a good source of vitamins for yeast health, but sometimes wort can vary in vitamin concentration. Namely B vitamins, including: Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Inositol.
- Minerals — Play a big role in the development and metabolism of yeast cells. Examples include: Manganese, Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium, Phosphates, Sulfates, Chloride.
- Oxygen — Very important for both fermentation and yeast growth (although wort fermentation is basically anaerobic).
By paying attention to yeast nutrition, you can ensure healthy yeast populations, avoid off-flavours, and achieve consistent fermentation outcomes.
Looking to stress less about your yeast health? Try Yeast Lightning — a yeast nutrient blend that we've specifically formulated and tailored for the unique needs of beer yeasts.
To learn more about Yeast Nutrition, including guides & videos on harvesting yeast, check out our Knowledge Base article, 'Best Practices - Zinc Addition', or our blog post on 'Turbo Charge Your Ferments with Yeast Lightning'.
5. Harnessing Biotransformation for Your Benefit
Biotransformation is fascinating process where yeast and hops interact during fermentation, leading to the creation of unique flavour compounds. By strategically manipulating fermentation conditions and hop additions, brewers can achieve specific flavour profiles and aromas in their beer.
Tips for harnessing Thiol Biotransformation:
- Selection the right yeast strains — Select yeasts that have been bred or modified for enhanced thiol release (like Thiol Libre), or select traditional yeasts such as Foggy London Ale or Ebbegarden Kveik.
- Hops for thiols — Look to Cascade, Saaz, Calypso, and Perle for high concentrations of bound thiols. Citra, Sabro, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Nelson Sauvin are all examples of hops with high levels of free thiols.
- Releasing hop thiols — Mash hopping is a promising technique for creating more precursor for the yeast to release. In general, getting the hops in earlier in the process (mash hopping, whirlpool, mid to late ferment dry hopping) will help with thiol release.
Tips for harnessing Terpene Biotransformation:
Yeast selection for terpenes — Select yeasts with strong terpene biotransformation activity. This includes traditional yeasts like Vermont and Cerberus, as well as strains that have been bred with those strains as parents (such as Hydra).
- Hop selection for terpenes — Look to Bravo, Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, Mosaic, and Strata for above-average amounts of terpenes.
Releasing hop terpenes — Extraction in the hot side (late kettle, whirlpool) can help with getting terpenes into solution, although some biotransformation of terpenes during dry hopping is also possible.
Experimenting with biotransformation can open up a world of creative possibilities, allowing you to craft beers with distinct and memorable characteristics.
Mastering these five essential skills—forced fermentation testing, diacetyl management, yeast repitching, yeast nutrition, and biotransformation—will empower you to become a stronger brewer with more space to experiment. These skills are invaluable for improving the quality, consistency, and uniqueness of your beer. As you continue to refine your brewing techniques, you'll be better equipped to produce exceptional brews that delight the palates of beer enthusiasts everywhere.
With Escarpment Labs as your partner, you can master your craft like never before. Say goodbye to over complicating your day-to-day brews and leave more time to find the joy and experimentation in your brewing. We invite you to discover the secrets to becoming a stronger brewer, unlocking newfound efficiency and flavour control in every batch!