Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Growing Hops in Vermont

Planting the Rhizomes

Boxes on left are 2'X2' made with 2"X8" Pressure Treated Wood. Topsoil fills the boxes about 3-4 inches from the bottom with about 3-4 inches of mulch on top of the soil. Boxes are spaced 5' apart on center. (rectangular boxes on right are for a veggie garden)

Building the Trellis


(4) 16' 4"X4" Pressure treated posts
(2) 44" (approximately) pieces of post
(2) 16" (approximately) pieces of post.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Propagate Heady Topper's Conan Yeast (or from any unfiltered beer)

By Tim O'Leary / Ripton, Vermont

Goal: propagate yeast found in the bottom of a two cans of Heady Topper, to have enough active yeast cells to brew (2) five gallon batches and to freeze some for future use.

This is a step-up yeast starter process. The theory is that just enough sugar at a time allows the yeast to grow at a controlled rate. Too much sugar at one time, stresses the yeast cells = shorter and less productive life. Although I worked with two cans of Heady Topper and had two starters going, the directions below are to propagate the yeast from one can (approximately 150 billion yeast cells) to about 475 billion yeast cells. About 250 billion are needed to ferment one 5.25 gallon clone recipe of Heady Topper. Click here for my blog post about that recipe.

Knowing that the target starting Specific Gravity of the clone recipe Heady Topper wort is 1.073, and using Mr. Malty's Yeast Calculator, 263 billion yeast cells is the target number for a 5.25 gallon batch of beer.

Day One

1. Boil water to sanitize glass growlers, beaker, and funnel for 15 minutes.

2. Boil a wort with 100mL of H20, 10g Golden Light Dried Malt Extract, and 1/8 tsp yeast nutrient, also for 15 minutes. 

3. Wort poured into any sterilized container. I used a glass growler. Cool down to room temperature (~72 deg, F.) before adding the last 25% of a can of Heady Topper to each of the growlers. 

I initially used these airlocks for their cleanliness, but I ended up using foil loosely folded over the top. The primary reason for this change was to allow enough oxygen, even by diffusion, to let the least continue to propagate.

Day Three

Progress along the way

By the morning of Day 3 and with warm inside temperatures at my house (~75 deg. F.), I could shake the container and get a significant exhaust of CO2 and a healthy froth quickly sat on top. This activity is evidence that I started with pretty healthy yeast cells from the can of Heady Topper and more are on their way!

Three or four times, each day, take the growlers out of the dark closet and shake up the mixture to aerate the wort (adding more oxygen into the mixture). Photo above is after the shaking. Photo below is the yeast settled out before each shaking.

Three days after harvest, there was a significant bed of light-tan yeast cells that lined the bottom of the growler.

Day Four

1. Boil more wort: 400mL of H20, 40g Golden Light Dried Malt Extract, 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient. Boil for 15 minutes. Keep covered (even though it's not in the picture) during the boil (to maintain total volume) and after (to keep sanitized).

2. Cover with foil and let cool to room temperature and add to container with starter.

Day Six

After step two, there should be 500mL of wort in the container. Step Three will bring that total to 1500mL.

1. Boil 1000mL H20, 100g DME, and 1 tsp yeast nutrient for 15 minutes (soft rolling boil).

2. Cover and cool, as before, add to the previous 500mL solution for a total of 1.5L. Let rest 3-4 days for fermentation to take place and yeast cells to grow.

Day Nine/Ten

1. Place the container in the refrigerator overnight to cold shock the yeast. Yeast will fall out and the liquid will lose its haze and look like the picture below:

2. Decant slowly (no "glugging": slow, steady, even pour). Keep just the yeast behind. Shake the remaining mixture vigorously and end up with a small amount of very yeasty solution:

Next, let this liquid rise to room temperature and create 3.5L of new wort (3.5L of H20, 350g DME, 3.5 tsps yeast nutrient).

Add yeast solution (pictured above) to the new wort solution once both have reached room temperature.

Day Twelve/Thirteen

1. Fermentation should be complete or very close. Cold shock, overnight, just like before.

2. Decanted, this yeast solution. You should have approximately 475 billion yeast cells. The yeast cell count is based off of starting with approximately 150 billion and using YeastCalc to determine what you end up with. This is enough to use 1/2 of that solution to pitch in a 5.25 gallon cloned Heady Topper batch of beer and save 1/2 to make a frozen yeast bank.

3. If you do not need the yeast bank for future batches, you can scale back this recipe to not include the final 3.5 L of wort. If you do NOT include that, you should end up with approximately 284 billion cells (perfect for a 5.25 gallon batch at a starting Specific Gravity of 1.073, which needs 263 billion according to the Mr. Malty Calculator.

4. To create a frozen yeast bank, I use vials large enough to house a solution whereas 90% of the solution came from about a 100 billion yeast cell slurry and 10% of the solution came from glycerin and 15% of the container was left as head space for the mixture to expand when freezing. I used 1oz sanitized containers and that was a good amount of room. Cool vials in refrigerator before moving to a freezer. Keep in a freezer that does not have defrost cycle. In the future, you can slowly thaw these vials and propagate more yeast. I found this site at www.homebrewtalk.com to be helpful planning and creating a frozen yeast bank. 


Signpost Craft Brewing, "Culturing Conan Yeast"

www.beer-flavored.com, "Culturing Conan"

Home Brew Talk, "Guide to Making a Frozen Yeast Bank"

Clone Recipe for Heady Topper (Alchemist Brewery)

By Tim O'Leary / Ripton, Vermont

This is a clone recipe for an Imperial IPA called Heady Topper from the Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont.

Before you begin, you MUST have or grow a yeast starter from an original can of Heady Topper. This yeast is so interesting and unique, there isn't a good alternative. See links below for more info on Conan Yeast. Click here for a blog on how to do just this.

Ingredients for a 5.25 gallon batch:

  • 11 lbs. 8 oz. - Maris Otter malted barley
  • 12 oz. - Caramalt malted barley
  • 12 oz. - Torrified Wheat
  • 8 oz. - Turbinado Sugar (Pure/Raw sugar)
  • 10 mL HopShot
  • 1.5 oz. - Apollo
  • 2 oz. - Cascade
  • 1.5 oz. - Centennial
  • 3.5 oz. - Columbus
  • 6 oz. - Simcoe

Here is my invoice for enough ingredients for two 5 gallon batches from May 2013 from www.northernbrewer.com:

Warminster Floor Malted Maris Otter - 1 lb. crushed231.75
Simpsons CaraMalt - 1 lb. crushed21.99
Torrified Wheat - 1 lb. crushed21.75
Simcoe Hop Pellets 1 oz.122.25
Apollo Hop Pellets 1 oz.31.50
Columbus Hop Pellets 1 oz.71.75
Cascade Hop Pellets 1 oz.41.75
Centennial Hop Pellets 1 oz.32.25

With shipping included, each batch was $65.

That's a lot of hops for 10 gallons of brew!


Step One: The Mash

1. Measure out grains and sugar for one 5.25 gallon batch:

  • 11 lbs 8 oz Maris Otter
  • 12 oz Caramalt
  • 12 oz Torrified Wheat
  • 8 oz Turbinado Sugar 
  • (Turbinado sugar is sometimes called "pure" or "raw" sugar. Brand name: Sugar in the Raw)

2. Add the grains (not the sugar) to a mash tun. 
Measure the temperature of the grains and mashtun. 
Use  the "Mash Infusion Calculator" at BrewersFriend to calculate the amount and temperature of water to add to add to steep the grains at 150 degrees for 60 minutes.

When I brewed this the first time and used the Mash Infusion Calculator, I had 13 # of grain @ 66 degrees, so adding 4 gallons of water at 164 degrees created my 150 degree mash.

Grains after 60 minutes in the mash tun at 150 degrees.

3. After 60 minutes, drain grains, rinse with 170 degree water to get a total liquid volume of approximately 5.75-6 gallons. Add the Turbinado sugar and bring to a gently rolling boil.

Step Two: The 90 Minute Boil

Hop Schedule...

@ 90 mins:
10 mL HopShot
0.5 oz. Simcoe

@ 5 mins:
0.5 oz. Appollo
0.5 oz. Columbus
0.5 oz. Simcoe

@ 0 mins (end of boil):
1 oz. Columbus
1 oz. Simcoe

Cool wort to 170 degrees. Add the following hops to steep for 30 mins:
0.5 oz. Appollo
1 oz. Cascade
0.5 oz. Centennial
1 oz. Columbus
1 oz. Simcoe

After a 30 minute steep at 170 degrees, cool wort to 68 degrees. Try to have your yeast about the same temperature.

I boil 6 gallons of wort in two pots as it's on an electric range. I, then, have two cooling coils to bring the wort temperature down to pitch the yeast.

After two weeks, add the following hops to steep for 8 days (dry hop):
0.5 oz. Appollo
1 oz. Cascade
1 oz. Centennial
1 oz. Columbus
2 oz. Simcoe

Step Three: The Yeast Pitch

Here are approximately 1 trillion yeast cells: 250 billion in each of the smaller two containers, enough for 5 gallons of this Heady Topper clone brew.
The yeast strain is really important to capture right from a REAL Heady Topper can. It will take close to two weeks to grow the dregs of one can into enough yeast for a 5.25 gallon batch of your clone. Please see another blog post of mine, which is dedicated to this very topic.

1. Pour approximately 260 billion yeast cells into a sanitized carboy. The target starting Specific Gravity is 1.073; MrMalty Yeast Calculator suggests 263 billion yeast cells.

2. Pour the 68 degree wort into the carboy. Adding the yeast first will allow the wort to churn the yeast and really aerate the yeast/wort very well.

After just ten minutes in the carboy, you can see the wort separating.

12 hours after pitching. About 1 inch of foam (also known as "krausen"). Airlock bubbling about once per second.

24 hours after pitching, the temperature in the fermenting tank had risen a full 10 degrees. I placed the carboy in an ice bath to cool back down to 68 degrees.

4. Place a towel around carboy or place it out of the light in a closet and let ferment for 14 days. The ambient temperature of where the carboy is should be as close to 68 degrees as possible.

5. On Day 14, drop the temperature if you can to 58 degrees. Depending on where you live, this might be able to happen in a basement during winter months. If not, proceed at or near 68 degrees. Add the Dry Hops as articulated above in the Hop Bill. These hops should sit in the beer for 8 days before siphoning and kegging/bottling.