Priming a beer is the process of adding sugar during the bottling process in order to carbonate the beer. You can bottle condition and carbonate your beer by priming it at the time of bottling with a specific amount of sugar. Using approximately .5 teaspoons ( ½ tsp) of priming sugar per 12oz bottle will provide adequate carbonation for most beer styles.
Typically you will want to prime your beer with corn sugar (dextrose). It is critical that your beer completes its fermentation prior to priming and bottling, as residual fermentable sugars can create excessive pressure in the bottles and cause them to explode. It is also critical that the yeast is still viable so that the priming sugar is converted to CO2 in the bottle, and you do not end up with a flat and overly sweet beer. As in all aspects of brewing, cleaning and sanitation is always paramount. Take special care to ensure that your bottles and caps are clean and sanitized prior to bottling.
Racking is the process of transferring beer from one brewing vessel to another. Beer is typically racked utilizing a racking arm, racking cane, or racking tube. The beer is either pumped from one vessel to another, or a siphon or CO2 tank is used to create a positive or negative pressure and gravity is used to rack the beer.
A wide selection of home brewing beer racking accessories can be found here:
Hop resin is a sticky compound formed in the lupulin glands of the female hop flower. The resins of the hop flower are composed of alpha and beta acids and are chiefly responsible for the bitterness and hop aroma found in beer. Additionally, alpha acids found in the hop resins function as a mild antibiotic and work as a preservative in beer.
Mouthfeel, or the mouth feel of a beer, is the mouth’s perception of the body of a beer and is typically described as light, medium, or full. A beer’s body is formed from the residual proteins, minerals, salts’ and unfermented sugars that remain in the finished beer. The body of a beer is perceived as viscosity or thickness by the mouth. Each style of beer has a coinciding expectation for mouthfeel, and beers are rated on that expectation. For instance, a lager or pilsner should have a light body, and an imperial stout should have a full body if brewed correctly.
The lag phase is the period of time in which yeast adapts to the new fermentation environment and undergoes significant reproduction. Depending on the state of the yeast (reactivated, chilled, or dried), health of the yeast cells, variety of yeast, amount of dissolved oxygen available in the wort, temperature of the wort, and amount of available fermentable sugars, the lag phase may last anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. The lag phase begins as soon as the yeast is introduced into the wort and very little CO2 or alcohol is produced while it is active.
The shorter the lag time, the better, so that the desired yeast has a chance to take control of the wort before unwanted bacteria or wild yeast strains do.There are several ways to decrease your lag time, including:
Creating a yeast starter
Rehydrating dried yeast
Keeping your yeast and wort at the correct temperature when pitching the yeast and continuing to monitor temperature until the lag phase has ended.
Well-aerating your wort so that the yeast will have enough oxygen available.
Pitching enough yeast for the gravity of your wort.
Original gravity or OG is the specific gravity reading of a beer’s wort prior to having the yeast pitched for fermentation. The original gravity reading is important because it gives the brewer an idea of how much sugar is available for fermentation and what the approximate alcohol by volume will be once fermentation completes. The original gravity reading also permits a brewer to calculate his or her brew house efficiency to determine what percentage of starches and sugars were extracted from the grain bill used to make the beer. Typically either a hydrometer or refractometer are used to take the original gravity reading.
Below is the photo of a hydrometer which is used to take original gravity readings.
Oxidation is the degradation or modification of beer when it comes in contact with oxygen or an oxidizing agent. Oxidization in beer is inevitable and occurs in beer at all times regardless of how it is stored. That being said, there are ways to diminish the rate of beer oxidation.
A good rule of thumb is to prevent oxygen from coming in contact with your beer whenever possible. The only time that oxygen should intentionally be introduced to a beer is when aerating or oxygenating wort prior to pitching yeast, and, in rare cases, to facilitate a souring process. Great caution should be taken when transferring, racking, kegging, and bottling beer to avoid splashing it or exposing it to more oxygen then is necessary.
When possible, fermentation vessels, kegs and bottles should be purged with CO2 prior to and after having beer transferred into them. Heat is another factor that impacts oxidation, and, whenever possible, beer should be stored cold to reduce oxidation rates and to preserve its freshness. Another way to help slow the impact of oxidation is to keep bottles and fermenters shielded from sunlight.
Beer that has been oxidized typically has a stale or paper-like taste. In darker beers, you may also smell or taste sherry notes.
Infusion mashing is the process of regulating mash temperature by injecting heated water from the hot liquor tank into the mash tun at specific times.
When conducting a step infusion mash, differing temperatures and quantities of water are infused in the mash tun from the hot liquor tank at specific intervals or steps in the mash process to control sugar conversion and extraction.
When conducting a single infusion mash, the room temperature of the grains is compared with the desired mashing temperature and mash water volume. The hot liquor tank is then preheated to the appropriate temperature and the mash water is infused with the grains all at one time. The mash is maintained at a constant temperature until the mash out or sparging sequence begins.
RIMS or the recirculating infusion mash system is a mash infusion system that either utilizes a pump to recirculate the fluid in the mash over a secondary heat source (outside of the mash tun) to maintain the mash temperature, or constantly recirculates the mash onto itself while direct heat is applied to the mash tun to regulate temperature. The fluid is pumped at a rapid enough pace to keep the temperature of the mash at an equilibrium and prevents the wort from being scorched or overheated.
A hopback or hop back is a small hop-filled vessel, typically made of copper or stainless steel, that is placed between the brew kettle and wort chiller, or brew kettle and fermentation chamber. It is highly recommended that you place the hopback between the brew kettle and chiller if an external chiller is being used.
If the beer is chilled, then the wort flowing over the hops will be far less effective at extracting the resins and oils from the hops. If the temperature of the wort is under 170° F, the alpha acids will not isomerize, and no bitterness will be imparted on the wort. The aromas extracted from the hops will be diminished as well.
Whole hops are typically recommended or required for using most hopbacks, as pellet hops are more prone to clogging, and a good deal of the particulates from pellet hops will end up in your fermentation vessel. In addition to adding hop flavor and aroma to your wort, a hopback is also a valuable tool to filter the hot break and or cold break from your brew kettle to your fermenter. As the wort passes through the hopback, the hops will work as an organic screen, capturing many of the larger protein and particulate masses that enter it.
Below is the Blichmann Hop Rocket that I use when a hopback is needed for one of my beers.
Home brewing hopback/hop back, Blichmann hop rocket
Diacetyl is a naturally occurring compound formed during fermentation and has a perceived butter or butterscotch like flavor that is undesirable in most beers. It is important to note that other ingredients used in beer production, such as caramelized grains, may impart a somewhat similar flavor, and the two should not be confused.
Although Diacetyl is tolerated or even expected in some beer styles, recent research has shown that at very high levels and under the right conditions, it can be toxic. The good news is that diacetyl is typically only present at very low levels in beer and can be greatly minimized if certain protocols are followed.
One way to help reduce diacetyl in your beer is to clean and sanitize equipment properly because certain undesirable bacterias produce diacetyl. Another way to reduce the diacetyl in your beer is to pitch a sufficient quantity of healthy yeast and conduct a full fermentation and conditioning cycle prior to cold crashing or kegging your beer.
Yeast is responsible for creating and removing diacetyl at different stages of the fermentation process. Yeast creates diacetyl early in the fermentation process and breaks it down towards the end. If you did not pitch enough healthy yeast to complete the fermentation, placed your yeast in stasis, or destroyed your yeast before the end of fermentation, then you may end up with higher then desired levels of diacetyl.
If you happen to be fermenting a lager, a process known as a diacetyl rest (which requires a fermentation temperature increase) may also be helpful in reducing diacetyl in your beer.
Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on earth, and the primary content in a beer’s trub. Cellulose is unfermentable, tasteless, and odorless. It is a solid, and much of it will drop out of the beer during primary fermentation, where it sinks to the bottom of the fermenter and helps to form the trub bed. The primary contributors to a beer’s cellulose content are fibrous materials like grain husk and hop leaf.