Preparation and Pitching
“Cleanliness is next to godliness” – Someone who brews beer
Any sort of contamination on the equipment used will multiply dramatically during fermentation and can result in, at best an off taste, at worst a ruined batch. Everything that comes into contact with any part of the Wort/ Beer/ anything must be sanitised thoroughly. The powdered sanitiser I bought from Wilko seemed to do a good job, but a no-rinse sanitiser such as Star San is a much better option as it means you don’t need to risk contamination by rinsing stuff you have sanitised. Also its less effort, which is always a good thing. Always follow the instructions on the sanitiser.
There are several terms you will oft hear regarding the first stages of brewing. Firstly, ‘Wort’ which is the mixture of liquid extracts and sugar that will eventually become the beer.
Secondly, ‘Pitching’ which is the act of introducing the yeast to the ‘Wort.’ Pitching is an important part of the brewing process and has the opportunity to reduce brewing times, lengthen them or completely kill the yeast.
Typically you want the life of the yeast to be as stress-free as possible, this means pitching at temperatures close to what the yeast is at to prevent thermal shock.
Alongside this people often choose (I chose not to) to re-hydrate dried yeast before pitching, which will help reduce the amount of time for the yeast to become active once pitched as well as hopefully ensuring the most possible yeasts survive. The is optional as it has been shown that even if half the yeasts die there are still sufficient left to complete fermentation.
Re-hydrating Dry Yeast
1. Put 1 cup of warm (95-105F, 35-40C) boiled water into a sanitized jar and stir in the yeast. Cover with cling film/ Saran Wrap and wait 15 minutes.
2. “Proof” the yeast by adding one teaspoon of extract or sugar that has been boiled in a small amount of water. Allow the sugar solution to cool before adding it to the jar.
3. Cover and place in a warm area out of direct sunlight.
4. After 30 minutes or so the yeast should be visibly churning and/or foaming, and is ready to pitch.
Note: Some yeast supplies recommend not to ‘proof’ their yeast – always follow recommended suppliers instructions when it comes to yeast.