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1st post - Hello and noob-ish help
 
 
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camsna
Root Beer Fan
Root Beer Fan


Joined: Jul 04, 2011
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:53 pm    Post subject: 1st post - Hello and noob-ish help Reply with quote

Well, hello all! I'm so glad to have found this place. I've read it just about up and down and am impressed by how warm, friendly, and helpful the discussions are -- certainly a rare find among web forums anymore. So hello!

I thought I'd be polite and introduce myself. It hardly seems polite to walk into your online house and start yelling questions! My name is Cam. I'm a homebrew noob, I suppose. I've done a bunch of reading and a little trying. Can't wait to produce a root beer that tastes great and share it with my friends and family. I'm from Southern California. I'm recently married (about a year and a half) and, though I'm a bit old to have just done so, just graduated with a B.A. in philosophy. I start grad school in the fall.

Onto the 'noob-ish' help bit. So, I've tried two batches of homebrewed root beer. I'm brewing in a 1-gallon glass jug. My recipe, I think, is okay to begin with. I'm just using Zatarain's extract to get used to the brewing/fermenting process. Eventually, I'll strike out into my own extracts. I just wanted to avoid - since I'm JUST starting - pouring my money into a bunch of roots, oils, and barks only to end up with flat, weak tea Smile

Anyhow. Two batches. The flavor has been almost good. The first batch was flat, but I think it was on account of opening the jug every 12 hours to test the carbonation level. The second batch I kept my grubby paws off until testing time. 4 days in a tepid dark place, 1 night in the fridge. The flavor is getting there, but not quite desirable. Here's the recipe I used:

1 Tbsp extract
1/2 C table sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp (dry) ale yeast
Enough filtered water to make a total 1/2 gallon brew

There were two less-than-desirable properties of my brew. 1) It was not sweet enough. I reckon that's easy to remedy -- add more sweet stuff. 2) The yeasty taste was off-putting.

So, what do y'all recommend? Is it possible to carbonate with yeast without the brew tasting, y'know, yeasty? Any neutral-tasting yeast? Am I forced to force carbonate? I will, if that's what necessary. But brewing is just so much cooler, especially with this old whiskey jug Smile

For my next batch I'm considering making a full gallon (less air space to fill with CO2, so hopefully a quicker carbonation). But I don't know what to do about the yeast. I'd love it to taste less yeasty, but I fear that adding more sugar and/or yeast will only encourage yeast proliferation and result in more yeasty flavor, but less sugar and/or yeast will decrease yeast proliferation, but require longer fermentation and result in more yeasty flavor.

Sorry to have been so needy from the get-go, fellas Wink. But thanks for all the information that's here. I hope to someday be a contributor and not just a burden!
  
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kguske
Site Admin
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Joined: Jun 27, 2003
Posts: 341
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, camsna, and thank you for the introduction!

You'll likely get some sage advice from the experienced brewmasters - unfortunately, I am not...

However, carbonating with yeast pretty much means you'll have a yeasty flavor. Remember that the yeast needs sugar to carbonate, so if you replace yeast with force carbonation, you might not need to increase the sweet stuff as much...
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Bottoms up!
Kevin Guske

“So here’s a tribute toast with root beer in hand to you and the many mugs of suds along your happy trails.” --Charles Wysocki, artist and root beer fan, 1928-2002
  
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steveb
Root Beer Fantasizer
Root Beer Fantasizer


Joined: Mar 19, 2010
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Camsna - I am not particularly experienced, I've tried about twenty batches so far. I tried like heck to get rid of the yeasty flavor, but never could so I switched to force carbonation. The set up is very easy, but yeah, not as cool as "brewing" with yeast. The easiest way I found was to make my own carbonation caps and use 1 or 2 liter plastic bottles. Once my recipe is perfected, I wouldn't mind trying to keg and/or bottle it so the presentation is better. I think I have the instructions on the carbonation caps if you are interested.
  
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camsna
Root Beer Fan
Root Beer Fan


Joined: Jul 04, 2011
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies, gentlemen! I appreciate them greatly!

I think I've discovered the same thing. No yeasty means no yeast.

Steve - I'm real interested in the instructions for carb caps. I spent a day researching kegging/refrigerating/etc. I think I'll eventually do that. But, like you, I want to hone in on a recipe first.

But, yeah, it looks like force carbonation is the way I'ma have to go.

Thanks again!
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steveb
Root Beer Fantasizer
Root Beer Fantasizer


Joined: Mar 19, 2010
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cam - ok - I couldn't find the exact instructions, but it's not too difficult. You will need some valve stems, (yes - for tires) which can be bought in an auto parts section of a store, or you can see if a tire store will give you some used ones. Drill a 1/2" (or the size just smaller than 1/2") hole in the center of a 1 or 2 liter bottle cap and pull the valve stem through it so it fits really snug. Might have to pull it through with pliers. When you are ready to fill the bottle with CO2, squeeze out the excess air from the bottle...makes more room for the CO2. Some brewers use a CO2 tank and fill the bottle via the valve stem by using an air chuck hooked up to the tank, and you can regulate the pressure.

I went a little cheaper (for now) and am using a bicycle tire inflater that uses the small CO2 cartridges (food grade) all of which I purchased on Amazon. I read that normal CO2 cartridges may contain trace amounts of oil??? so I thought I wouldn't take a chance.

After you charge your bottle, shake it vigorously...it will compress. Charge, shake, repeat. It may help to have your root beer cold prior to charging as I understand it will absorb the CO2 better than when it is at room temp. I have had great results, but have not had any luck in developing foam this way...alas, my recipe is still in the development stages.

Since we are both working on our recipes, it would be great to keep in touch to hear how you're doing and to help each other out.

Holler if you have any other questions, -Steve
  
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