The Brewing Process
My William's Liquid Yeast arrived already swollen.
What should I do?
on how much it is swollen. If it is puffy but you can
still feel the inner nutrient pack, the yeast is fine -
go ahead and break the nutrient pack. Once the nutrient
pack is broken, you will see your puffy pack grow
larger, indicating it is ready to use. On the other
hand, if the yeast arrives fully swollen and you cannot
feel the inner pack to break it, please check this link
or call us between 8-5 Pacific Time at 800-759-6025
(press option 4).
I made my wort, but the yeast has not swollen yet. What
should I do?
is a big problem, because until the liquid yeast pack
swells, you do not know for sure if it is active. You
can gamble by adding the yeast pack that has not
swollen, hoping the yeast is active, or substitute a
pack of good quality dry yeast. If you add a pack of
liquid yeast that is not swollen, you have about a 40%
chance of saving the batch, if you add a fresh pack of
dry yeast, you have about a 90% chance of saving the
wort from infection, although the resultant beer will
not have the cleaner flavor imparted by the liquid
yeast. Leaving the wort for several days without adding
yeast will always result in bacterial infection and a
sour flavor, so ordering more yeast from William's
will probably not save the wort, especially liquid
yeast, which needs to be started once it is received.
Overnight delivery of yeast is very expensive, as
overnight air charges start at $17.00 for a letter sized
line - add the yeast you have, and hope it turns out
okay. If you happen to have good dried brewing yeast on
hand, add this also, but it is not worth the overnight
delivery charges to get fresh yeast, as even the 24
hours the wort sits without yeast is probably too
long. Next time, make sure you follow the
directions on the pack and wait till the pack is swollen
before making up the wort.
My William's Liquid Yeast was popped 4 days ago and
first question is what temperature the yeast pack has
been since the inner nutrient pouch was broken? If it
has been over 65° F, leave it for an additional 3 days,
placing it in a warmer (ideally a steady 75° to 80°
F.) location. It must swell to at least 1 ½ "
thick in 7 days or it is defective. See warranty
information on the pack for free replacement
My William's Liquid Yeast was popped 7 days ago and
it has been over 65° F. (a steady 65° F, ideally 75°
to 80° F.) call the special toll free number on the
pack between 8-5 Pacific Time weekdays for warranty
replacement information. If has been cooler than 65° F.
place it in a warmer area and wait an additional 4 days
My William's Liquid Yeast has only risen ¾ of an
inch. Should I use it?
a healthy ferment inside the pack is needed to start
your wort, and the sign of a healthy ferment is a pack
that has swollen to at least 1 ½ " thick. If your
pack only rises to ½ or ¾" of an inch after 7
days, do not use it, see this link,
or call the toll free number on the pack for warranty
My William's Liquid Yeast pack is swollen tight and I
cannot brew today. How long will it last?
a pack has swollen tight, the yeast remains in the peak
active state for about 2 days. If you cannot brew in
this time frame, refrigerate the pack, and it will last
an additional 5 days. Keep in mind that if you
refrigerate the pack, it will become less active, and
harder for it to start a full 5 gallons of wort, which
increases the danger of bacterial infection in the beer.
The best thing to do in this case is to make a yeast
starter to reactivate the yeast (see the yeast starter
section directly below).
Should I make a yeast starter, and how should I do it?
yeast starter is simply a miniature version of the main
ferment, and its purpose is to give inactive yeast a
chance to activate and multiply. The starter must be
sterile, as any bacteria in the starter will grow faster
than the yeast and ruin your beer. It is always a good
idea to make a yeast starter, as the amount of yeast in
liquid and dry home brewing packages is always less than
optimum for 5 gallons. However, yeast starters take more
time, and must be done carefully, as a carelessly made
starter that contains bacteria will become a bacteria
starter, and will be worse than if you did not make a
starter at all. If you have the time, and are very
careful, make a starter, otherwise, use the swollen
William's Liquid Yeast pack as soon as it swells, or
use dry yeast.
make a good yeast starter, you will need a 1000-3000
ml (2000-3000ml flask for 10 gallon batches) Erlenmeyer Flask, 2 tablespoons of malt extract in
dry or liquid form (dry is easier to measure), and a
heat resistant foam stopper to fit your flask (see
William's Catalog under yeast culturing).
you will need to start the William's Liquid Yeast
Package by hitting it to break the inner nutrient pack,
and then waiting for the pack to swell, which takes 2 to
7 days. Once the pack is swollen, prepare your starter.
make a yeast starter for 5 gallons of wort, add 2 level tablespoons of dry or
liquid malt extract to 300 ml of hot water in a 500 ml
or larger heat-resistant Erlenmeyer Flask, shake to stir
and place it on a stove (preferably gas) or in a large
microwave (double this amount to pitch 10 gallons).. Heat until the boil just starts and then turn
off the heat to avoid a boil over which will rise.
Repeat this 3 times (until the boil no longer produces a
boil over), and then place a heat resistant foam stopper
this link) in
the mouth of the flask and boil one more time for about
30 seconds to sanitize. Watch carefully to make sure the
nutrient does not boil over during this final boil.
the flask cool until it is body temperature or lower
(minimum 70° F.) with the stopper in place to filter
out incoming bacteria. Shake the swollen liquid yeast
pack, and cut off one of the top corners. Pour the yeast
mixture into the starter bottle, averting your breath,
which contains bacteria. Once the mixture is poured in,
replace the foam stopper. Let the starter sit for 1 to 3
days at 65°- 78° F. until you see a thin white layer
of foam form on the surface, and a white sediment of
yeast deposited on the bottom. You will also see rising
bubbles in the starter, indicating it is ready to pitch.
Once you see the signs of an active starter, make your
wort and pitch within 48 hours. Your beer should start
within 8 to 24 hours, and have less danger of bacterial
infection (assuming your starter is clean) than beer
made straight from the liquid yeast pack.
Can I use yeast in a bottle of home brew or commercial
brew to make another batch?
can, although without a microscope and cell isolation
equipment, it can be a bit risky, as you never know
exactly how pure the yeast in the bottom of the bottle
is. A good general test is to taste the beer in the
bottle, if it is clean without sourness or yeasty
off-flavors, the yeast in the sediment is probably good
enough to use, assuming the bottle is not too old (over
3 months) and the yeast is still alive. Obviously, it is
safer to do this with domestic craft brews and your own
home brew than with imports of uncertain age. Remember
that many imported ales with yeast sediments are
fermented with a different strain than the one used at
bottling, the bottling strain chosen primarily for its
good settling characteristics.
start yeast in a bottle of beer with a yeast sediment,
pour off the beer, and then pour the sediment into a
yeast starter. Wait 1 to 4 days for it to start (see
above for yeast starter instructions).
I added dry yeast two days ago and nothing is happening.
What should I do?
first question is, what is the temperature of the wort?
If it is below 65°F. warm it up to 70° F. or warmer
until the ferment starts. Otherwise, if it is above 65°
F, try to warm it up to at least 70° F. Keep in mind
that some dry strains, in particular Whitbread Ale
Yeast, are much slower starting than others, and can
occasionally take 3 days or longer to start.
I pitched my yeast at 100° F. Is it dead?
not, particularly if it is an ale strain. Keep the wort
at a minimum of 65° F. for 3 days and it should start.
If it is a liquid lager strain, it could be dead, but
give it three days anyway to see.
How should I set my malt mill when crushing grain?
it to the point where all the kernels are crushed. This
is best done by opening it up, and then closing the
adjustment screw until you reach the point where all the
kernels coming out are crushed.
I am taking an iodine test and it keeps changing color.
What is wrong?
the iodine test is generally reliable when using pale
malt (use tincture of iodine available at licensed
pharmacies), it can be less than reliable when mashing
with wheat malt or adjuncts. If the iodine keeps
changing color, and you have mashed for over an hour at
150° - 158° F., leave the mash for another 30
minutes. If the iodine still changes color, go ahead and
start sparging, as you have converted all the starches
you can with the available enzymes, and you will
probably still get a good extraction rate.
When do I take a pH reading when mashing?
a pH reading when you first strike the mash, just after
you have mixed the grain with the hot strike water. This
is best done with a pH meter, as paper strips are hard
to read, particularly when the color of the mash stains
the paper. The ideal pH for mashing is 5.0 to 5.5. To
lower a mash that has too high a reading, use food grade
88% lactic acid (sparingly, use 1 drop at a time and
then recheck); to raise a mash that is too acid, use
calcium carbonate (no more than 1 teaspoon of the
powdery chalk in a mash for 5 gallons). Be careful when
handling lactic acid, as it is hazardous.
line - if the water you use for brewing has a neutral pH
of 7.0, you probably do not have to worry about the pH
of you mash. Adding the grain during the strike will
reduce the intial pH from 7.0 to 5.0 - 5.5.
Does it matter what pH my sparge water is?
the pH of your sparge water is not going to make or
break your mash, for maximum sparge efficiency, the pH
of sparge water should be 5.8 to 6.0
When do I add gypsum when mashing?
predetermined amount of gypsum is added to the strike
water before the mash is mixed. Generally, 1 to 3
teaspoons will be plenty to harden the water and lower
the pH slightly with strike water of 30 to 120 PPM total
Single temperature or multiple temperature rest mashing?
generally recommend single temperature (infusion)
mashing for the beginner, as all William's grain malts
are modified enough to convert fully at a single
temperature rest of 150° - 158° F. held for one
hour. Multiple temperature rests can help eliminate
protein haze, although they generally do not result in
more extract. For more on multiple temperature rest
(decoction) mashing, see the New Brewing Lager Beer, by
Gregory J Noonan (William's catalog #B41).
How do I do a partial mash?
partial mash usually involves mashing 1 to 3 pounds of
grain as a supplement to a malt extract brew. A partial
mash is often employed so grains that must be mashed
(such as flaked barley or vienna malt) can be used in an
make a partial mash, you will need to use at least 50%
crushed pale malt, as it will provide the enzymes needed
to convert adjuncts such as flaked barley, rice, or
corn. Mix the crushed pale malt with the adjunct in a
pot on a stove, and add ¼ gallon of 175° F. water per
pound of grain used. Stir thoroughly to mix, and use a
thermometer to keep the temperature at 150° - 160°
F. for 1 hour (you will need to do a lot of stirring and
using the stove burner for short periods).
1 hour, the mash will become sweet and loose some of its
stiffness. At this point, ladle or dump the mashed grain
into a lauter tank. Run 3 gallons of 170° F. water
through the grain and into your boiling pot. Discard the
grain after this sparging process, and use the runoff in
the pot as your starter, bringing it to a boil and
adding malt extract and hops to complete the wort. For
more on mashing, see
How do I use grain when brewing with malt extract?
grain like crushed crystal or roasted malt must be
steeped before the boil when using malt extract, as the
husks in grain, if left in the boil, will impart harsh
tannin flavors. The best way to do this is to put the
crystal (caramel) or roasted crushed malt in a muslin
bag, tie off the end, and put it into your boiling pot
as you are heating up the water for the boil. Let it
steep like a big tea bag, removing it when the water
comes to a boil. Discard the steeped grain and then add
the malt extract and hops to the boil. The only grains
that can be steeped are those without excessive starch
content, like crystal malt, chocolate malt, black patent
malt, and roasted malt. Other malted grain, like brown
or pilsner, will become gummy with starch when steeping
(not much flavor or extract will be obtained), and may
add starch haze to the beer.
When making an extract beer, how many gallons should I
boil 5½ gallons when making a 5 gallon batch. You can
get away with as little as 2½ gallons (add cold water
after the boil to make 5 gallons), but the beer will be
darker due to the more concentrated boil, and the danger
of boil overs will be greatly increased.
Should I add all malt extracts, dry and liquid, at the
start of the boil?
add all malt extracts and sugars if used, at the start
of the one hour boil.
Should I worry about pH when using malt extract to brew?
pH is much more of a factor when mashing, and the pH of
your water will not noticeably affect the final beer
when using extract (as long as it is close to the
neutral 7.0 level).
When do I add gypsum when using malt extract?
gypsum to the water before you add the malt extract.
Generally 1-3 teaspoons is fine for a 5 gallon batch,
each level teaspoon raising the total hardness of 5
gallons by about 163ppm. Many brewers claim you need to
add some gypsum (3 tsp per 5 gallons) to bring out
the hop flavor of highly hopped IPA styles.
Why boil for 1 hour? Why not just boil for a few
boil of one hour may seem excessive, but it is vital in
producing beer with a well-developed hop character and
stable, clean flavor. Short boils as specified by some
beginner kits do not allow the beer to develop its true
stability and hop character.
is as much an art of shaping as of mixing. Malt and hops
are not merely combined in hot water to form wort, they
are boiled vigorously for 1 hour, ridding the malt
through collision and coagulation of its raw haze and
off-flavor causing proteins, and evaporating excessive
aromatic hop oils while converting insoluble hop alpha
acids into clean dissolved hop flavor. Like a lengthy
slow simmer develops the flavor and texture of a
delicate sauce, a vigorous boil shapes the flavor and
polishes the look of beer.
How can I avoid a messy boil over?
all brewers have experienced a boil over at one time or
another, and usually more than once. The danger of boil
over is greatest when the pot first comes to a boil, and
becomes unlikely after 5 minutes of boiling as the
solution loses surface tension.
avoid a boil over, boil as many gallons as you can
(ideally 5 ½ gallons - a half gallon will boil off
during the hour) and watch the pot like a hawk when it
first comes to a boil. When you see the foam rise, stir
the pot vigorously, and turn off the heat (easier on a
gas stove). It helps also to blow on the foam to quell
its rise. Turn the heat back on and watch again, when
the malt foam rises again, repeat. Keep doing this
(usually 2 to 4 times) until the pot develops a normal
rolling boil without foaming.
I live at a high altitude. Should I do anything
different when boiling?
is no need to adjust boil times for high altitudes, boil
for the usual 1 hour period.
Do I need a wort chiller?
do not need a wort chiller, although it is a great help
in reducing the time it takes for wort to cool. Faster
cooling times mean you can add the yeast sooner,
reducing the time the wort sits without the protection
of a fermentation produced C02 blanket. If you don't
have a wort chiller, try putting the boiling pot
(careful, it is heavy and hot!) into a cold water bath.
See the section on brewing in warm Summer weather below
for more on this.
How do I get the wort off the trub sediment and into a
best way to get it off the trub is to use a siphon. Fill a siphon hose with clean
water, dip one end in the cooled wort and place the
other below in a fermenter. The water in the hose will
start the siphon without unsanitary mouth contact.
Siphon until you start sucking up heavy sediment (a
little trub can get into the fermenter without hurting
What happens if some of the trub sediment gets into the
silty trub is hard to avoid, and you will always get
some into the fermenter. Try to avoid getting the
thickest sediment into the fermenter, by quitting
siphoning when there is 1 to ½" of trub left in
the boiling pot. Excessive trub in the fermenter has
been linked to coarser-tasting beer and a shorter shelf
life, although a little will not hurt the flavor, and
has even been found to encourage yeast growth.
I added the yeast two days ago and nothing is happening.
temperature must be at least 65° F. for the yeast to
start, even if you are brewing a lager. If the
temperature is below 65° F., warm the wort and wait an
additional two days. Otherwise, if the temperature is
above 65° F., wait an additional two days, as some
yeast strains, are slower than others,
particularly when a starter has not been prepared in
advance. For faster yeast starts in the future, prepare
a yeast starter (see section above).
Do I need to add yeast nutrient?
making an all malt beer, from extract or from grain, the
answer is no. Malt contains a full variety of yeast
nutrients, and additional yeast nutrient is not
necessary. Yeast nutrient is only necessary when you are
making wine or a mead, or when malt makes up 60% or less of the
total fermentables in wort, such as some Belgian ales
with a lot of added sugar.
My liquid yeast pack smells like rotten eggs when
is nothing wrong. Yeast, particularly lager strains, can
produce sulfur smells when fermenting, so do not throw
the pack out!
I added the yeast 4 days ago and nothing is happening.
make sure the temperature has been at least 65 F. for
the past 4 days (even for lagers). Extreme temperature
drops and rises will hinder the start of fermentation.
If the temperature has been warm enough, you may need to
add more yeast, if the beer does not start after the 5th
day. See section 5.7 for information on making a yeast
starter, which will help eliminate this problem in the
My airlock bubbled for a day or two and then stopped.
is normal behavior in brewing, particularly for ales,
and especially in warmer conditions. The bulk of the
ferment occurs in a day or two, and the remaining
ferment is so slight that it is often easier for the gas
to seep out of the sides of the fermenter (when it is
plastic) than to push up the water in the airlock. If
you take a gravity reading, you will find that the beer
is at or near its expected final gravity. Treat this
batch like a normal batch, and ferment for the
recommended 10-14 days.
My fermenter has overflowed the airlock. Is the batch
not. This is due to an extremely active ferment, and is
more common with higher gravity ales in warmer weather.
This overflowing will last for 8 to 20 hours, and then
subside. Clean up the airlock and replace it on the
fermenter. It may become clogged again, depending on how
long before the overflowing subsides.
is usually not a great danger of bacterial infection
during this vigorous period, because fermentation
produced C02 is being rapidly generated, shielding the
beer from bacterial contamination. Carbon dioxide (C02)
is heavier than air, and forms a blanket over the
fermenting wort. Bacteria will suffocate in a C02
the future, to avoid this situation, place the fermenter
in a cooler area, or you might try switching to a glass
carboy with 4' of 1" interior diameter blow off
My house gets warm in the Summer. How can I brew good
can brew very drinkable beer even if your temperatures
average 78° F. during the Summer. The key is to brew
only ales, as lagers are impossible at warmer
temperatures. Try to brew in as cool an area as possible
(a steady temperature is also very important), and use a
water bath to help control the temperature if you do not
have a spare refrigerator and a William's Controller
make a water bath to help buffer temperature extremes,
put the fermenter in a large laundry tub, adding water
until the fermenter is immersed at least 1/3 of the way.
Once filled, the water bath will assume the temperature
of the beer inside the fermenter to within 1 degree
after an hour. Placing a thermometer in the bath gives
an accurate and easy to consult temperature reading of
the fermenting beer.
water bath controls fermentation temperature, buffering
rises caused by fermentation (yeast action can raise the
temperature by 9°). A tray of ice will provide about 2°
of cooling in a typical 5 gallon fermenter - water
bath setup. Some brewers place a T-Shirt over their
fermenter in a water bath; the water wicks up into the
cotton shirt and evaporates, cooling the fermenter by 2°
to 3°. Placing a small electric fan pointed at the
water bath (on a timer to go on during the heat of the
day) will result in additional cooling.
What temperature range can I ferment ale yeast?
ferment all ale yeast strains, liquid, dry and wheat
beer yeast, at a steady 60° to 65° F. If you cannot
maintain this narrow range, ferment at close to it as
possible. The warmer the temperature, the more flavor
yeast will contribute to the beer. This becomes
objectionable at temperatures over 78° F. Temperatures
below 60° F. will result in slowed or stopped
fermentations, so try to keep ales from dropping below
60° F. during fermentation.
What temperature range can I ferment lager yeast?
ferment at 52° to 57° F. If you cannot ferment at this
narrow range, ferment as close to it as possible. Keep
in mind that unless you make a large (1 quart) yeast
starter, you will want to start your ferment at 65° F,
and then cool it down by 8° per day to reach the
desired 52° to 57° F. range. Temperatures over 65° F.
will result in much stronger-flavored lagers that taste
more like an ale than a lager. Do not ferment below 52°
F., as ferments will be extremely slow and may stop,
depending on the strain of yeast used.
My airlock has been bubbling for 3 weeks. What should I
check to make sure the temperature is high enough for
the type of yeast being used - 52° F. or higher for
lagers, 60° F. or higher for ales and wheat beers.
the temperature is warm enough for the type of yeast
being used, take two specific gravity readings in 4 days
to determine if a stable final gravity reading has been
reached. Record the first reading, and compare it to the
second. If they both are identical (indicating a stable
final gravity has been reached), and a reasonable
finishing gravity has been reached (consult your
recipe), the beer is safe to bottle. If not, let the
beer sit for another 7 days and recheck. Beer can bubble
on for months after it has finished fermenting, so do
not rely on the airlock, rely on the hydrometer.
beers are fermenting for periods of 3 weeks or more, it
is always a good idea to transfer them to a secondary
fermenter to get them off the yeast sediment. This will
allow the beer to settle and clear without the
potentially negative effective of a large yeast cake on
the beers final flavor.
When do I take a hydrometer reading?
hydrometer is employed twice while brewing: to determine
the starting gravity, a good indication of the potential
alcoholic strength of the beer, and later when the beer
has finished fermenting, to determine if the beer has
reached finishing gravity and is safe to bottle.
find the starting gravity, the first reading is taken
after the unfermented beer (wort) has cooled and before
the yeast is added. The second reading should be taken
after the beer has fermented for at least 10 days and
the airlock has largely stopped bubbling to determine if
the finishing gravity has been reached. For more on
using the hydrometer, see Bill Moore's Home Beermaking
My starting gravity is way too high (or too low). What
a malt extract beer when less than 5 gallons is boiled ,
the problem usually stems from not adequately mixing the
top-up cold water with the wort. Typical results will be
very low (or very high) hydrometer readings. Cold
water and hot wort are a little like oil and water, and
must be vigorously mixed for at least a minute to blend
the hot sugars into the cold water. Once mixed,
you should get an accurate reading. Keep in mind that
you also need to take a reading at 60° F. for accuracy.
Spin the hydrometer before you take a reading, to get
all the bubbles off the glass sides.
There are things floating in my beer. Should I worry?
beer is not spoiled, what you are seeing is coagulated
protein flocs from the boil rising due to the bubbling
action of yeast. This is more likely to happen when a
lot of trub has been transferred from the boiling pot to
the fermenter. To minimize this in the future, reduce
the amount of trub that gets into the fermenter, by
careful siphoning of the wort from the boiling pot to
the fermenter. Using Irish moss and a little gypsum in
the boil will also help settle out unwanted proteins,
making siphoning easier.
There is a fine white dusty film on the surface of the
is a mold, caused by airborne spores dropping onto the
surface of the beer. It generally will not hurt the beer
or cause off-flavors, and will reappear in each bottle
after bottling. This beer is not ruined, and you should
go ahead and bottle it (tasting the beer before bottling
is always a good idea to make sure it is not sour). To
avoid this mold in the future, shield your fermenter
from airborne drafts, or maybe move it to a different
My beer smells like sulfur (rotten eggs). What is wrong?
the ferment, many beer yeast's, particularly lager
strains, give off sulfur compounds. This is not a
problem and your beer is not spoiled. As the ferment
proceeds, the amount of sulfur smell will decrease, and
sulfur smell will not be present in the finished beer.
Lager beers and wine ferments give off the most sulfur
When should I transfer my beer to a secondary fermenter?
after the head produced by the primary fermentation has
dropped back into the beer. This is generally after 5 to
8 days in the primary fermenter. Keep in mind that the
bulk of the ferment takes place in the primary fermenter,
and the secondary fermenter is used primarily as a
settling tank, to clear the beer by sedimentation before
bottling or kegging.
Should I use one fermenter or two?
recommend that beginners use just one fermenter, to
minimize beer handling and the chance of contamination.
Once you have brewed a few batches, we recommend you try
a primary and secondary fermenter - usually a Siphonless
and a 5 gallon Better
Bottle or glass carboy (although a Priming Tank
with the Siphonless lid and airlock attached will
work as a secondary). This is done to encourage yeast
settling and to minimize the effects of the large yeast
sediment in the primary fermenter producing off-flavors
which might taint the beer. This is more crucial in
light flavored delicate beers than in heavy stouts and
How do I know if my beer is ready to bottle?
to twelve days after adding the yeast, the beer will
probably be finished fermenting and ready to bottle.
Before bottling or kegging, it is necessary to take 2
hydrometer readings in 4 days to make sure the final
gravity has been reached.
a sanitized hydrometer into your beer and spin it to
dislodge any bubbles that may distort the reading. The
reading is taken at the point where the stem emerges
from the beer. Take the first reading and record it.
Wait 4 days and take a second reading - if it matches
the first, and a reasonable finishing gravity has been
reached (consult your recipe), the beer is safe to
bottle, assuming fermentation temperature was high
enough for the type of yeast used.
Do I need to sanitize bottle caps?
at William's, we do not sanitize bottle caps, as we do
not believe they put the beer at risk. If you want to
sanitize bottle caps, soak them briefly in diluted
Brewer's Edge Cleanser or iodine solution, and then
rinse before using. Oxygen absorber bottle caps should
not be sanitized before use - just use them out of the
bag. This is what the large brewers do.
How do I artificially carbonate keg beer?
can be done in full sized Beverage Systems using
Cornelius-type kegs, but not in Mini Keg systems. To
inject carbonation, fill a 3 or 5 gallon keg with beer,
and attach a gas line. Refrigerate to 45° F. or lower
(beer will not carbonate at warmer temperatures), and
turn up the gas to 25 PSI. Leave for 3 days.
3 days, turn off the gas and pull the top ring on the
keg pressure relief valve to release the excess head
pressure. Turn back on the gas and set the dispensing
pressure to 3 PSI. It make take several hours for the
beer to settle down after releasing the top pressure, so
be patient. After 6 hours, the beer should dispense
smoothly, and be carbonated.
Will the yeast sediment in my keg beer be a problem when
long as the keg is not moved, the yeast sediment will
remain on the bottom of the keg. The first glass or two
to be dispensed from a keg system with Cornelia-type kegs will be
yeasty, but then the area around the pick up tube will
free of yeast, and the remaining beer will dispense
clear. If you plan to move your keg beer, see 5.45 above
to reduce the yeast sediment.
How much corn sugar should I use for a bottled batch?
4½ ounces of corn sugar for a 5 gallon batch. This is
approximately ¾ of a cup, but it is best to weigh it
out, as corn sugar can vary in bulk from lot to lot, and
it depends on how it is packed into the cup. Over
carbonation caused by measuring errors can be dangerous,
and can lead to personal injury. Always make sure the
beer has finished fermenting before bottling by properly
using a hydrometer.
How much corn sugar should I use for a kegged batch?
3 ounces in 5 gallons by weight. This is approximately
½ a cup, but it is best to weigh it out, and corn sugar
can vary in bulk from lot to lot, and over carbonation
can be dangerous, and lead to personal injury. Always
make sure the beer has finished fermenting before
bottling by properly using a hydrometer. For a
single 1.3 gallon mini keg or Tap A Draft Bottle, use ¾ of an ounce per keg
I am putting half the beer in Tap A Draft Bottles, and half in
bottles. How much sugar do I use to carbonate both?
beer always has a lower carbonation level than bottled
beer. Use 1.80 of an ounce for 2.5 gallons going into
bottles, and 1.50 oz. for the 2.6 gallons going into the
Tap A Draft bottles. . Weigh out the amounts to ensure accurate
carbonation levels - do not rely on volume
measurements, as excessive carbonation in mini kegs or
bottles can be dangerous and lead to personal injury.
Always make sure the beer has finished fermenting before
kegging by properly using a hydrometer.
Can I prime with malt extract instead of corn sugar?
although the results can be less consistent, as malt
extract, unlike corn sugar, varies in fermentable sugar
content. To prime 5 gallons of beer for bottling with
dry malt extract, use 5 ½ oz. by weight, or 1 ¼ cup by
volume. Measuring by volume is not very accurate, and
can lead to over carbonated beer which can be dangerous.
For syrup extract, use 6 ½ oz. by weight. Mix the dry
or syrup malt extract with 2 cups of hot water and boil
for 5 minutes before stirring into the beer (you do not
need to let it cool before adding).
Can I prime with honey or molasses instead of corn
although the results will be less consistent than when
using corn sugar, due to the varying strength of the
syrup and varying fermentable sugar content. Use 6 ½
ounces by weight, and be prepared for lighter than
normal carbonation if the honey or molasses is thinner
than 80% solids.
Can I prime with brown sugar instead of corn sugar?
use the same amount by weight (4 ½ ounces) per 5
gallons. You probably will not notice any difference in
Can I prime with fresh wort instead of corn sugar?
this is called krausening. You need to use enough
(approximately 1 quart of 1.042 specific gravity wort)
to raise the gravity of the finished beer by 3 or 4
points (from 1.040 to 1.043 for example). Stir in your
fresh wort until the gravity rises by this amount. Keep
in mind the wort must be freshly made up and sterile, as
wort that has been sitting since the start of the brew
(even if kept in the refrigerator sealed) will have some
bacterial contamination. This is due to the fact that
boiling for 1 hour does not kill heat resistant bacteria
spores, which grow after a few days in freshly boiled
wort. This is not a problem in freshly boiled wort, as
the boiled bacteria spores will be dormant for long
enough to let the yeast start and gain dominance before
the bacteria can get going. The only way to truly
sterilize wort is to pressure cook it at 250° F. for 20
minutes. This higher temperature and pressure is
required to kill bacteria spores.
Can I prime with maple syrup instead of corn sugar?
first dilute the maple syrup with 50% boiling water, and
then stir into the beer to raise the gravity by 3 - 4
points (see above). You will probably not notice any
difference in flavor with this small amount of maple
syrup compared with corn sugar.
My beer has been bottled for 3 weeks but is flat. What
mostly likely cause of low or no carbonation is too low
a temperature after capping. The yeast in beer needs a
steady temperature of 65° F. minimum for 7 days to
carbonate, and works better at 70° - 75° F. If the
beer has been kept in too cold an area, move it to a
warmer area and let it sit for an additional 9 days
before checking again. After moving it to a warm area,
shake all the bottles vigorously to rouse the yeast and
get it back in suspension (do this every 3 days after
moving). This will help the yeast eat the carbonating
corn sugar and produce carbonation.
My beer has too much carbonation. What is wrong?
is most likely caused by bottling before the ferment has
finished. If the over carbonated beer tastes good, pour
it into a pitcher first to let the excess gas escape
before pouring it into a glass.
the future, always take two hydrometer readings 4 days
apart to determine if the beer has finished fermenting,
assuming the temperature is warm enough for the type of
yeast you are using. Take the first one after 12
days of fermentation, and the second 4 days later. If
the second reading is lower than the first, take another
reading until you get two that are the same.
My mini keg is bulging. What is wrong?
beer is over carbonated. You can sometimes relieve
excess pressure by pushing a dull kitchen knife under
the rubber bung until you hear hissing. This is a
dangerous situation, and gloves and eye protection
should be worn when dealing with a swollen keg. See
My keg beer seems under carbonated
beer, whether commercial or home brewed, always has less
carbonation than bottled beer. If your keg beer seems
really flat, try adding carbonation (this does not work
on a Tap A Draft) by turning the pressure up to 25
PSI for 1 to 2 days while the beer is refrigerated. This
will force more C02 into the beer. After a day or two,
reduce the dispense pressure to 3 PSI and remove the
excess head pressure by pulling on the relief valve on
the center of the keg.
your Tap A Draft System beers seems under carbonated, the
only thing you can do is place the bottle in a warmer area
and hope the yeast reactivates to further carbonate the
keg (shake the bottle to facilitate this . In the future, be sure your kegs are kept in a warm
area (a steady 65° F. minimum) for 9 days after
sealing, to help the yeast work to eat all the priming
The head of my beer dissipates as soon as it is poured.
short lived head can be caused by a lack of carbonation,
over carbonation, lack of malt content, or most
commonly, beer glasses with an oily or soapy film on the
glass. To test if your glasses are 'beer clean',
take one and scrub it with salt and water. Then fill it
with beer and see if your head retention has improved.
If not, the problem could be with the carbonation level,
ingredients used, fermentation temperature, aging, and
carbonated beers tend to loose their heads quickly, as
do beers fermented at very warm temperatures (75° F. or
higher). Make sure you are using the freshest hops you
can find, as oils from fresh hops increase head
retention. Check the malt content - if you are using
less than 6 lbs. of malt extract (or 9 lbs. of crushed
grain) per 5 gallon batch, you might want to increase
the malt content of the beer. Adding a pound of wheat
malt or flaked barley (mashed beers only) will also help
with head retention.
My draft beer is foamy. How do I adjust it?
using a full sized Beverage System with Cornelius-type
kegs, just turn down the dispensing pressure (the screw
in the center of the regulator) and release headspace
pressure by pulling on the keg pressure relief valve
located in the center of the lid. Do this until the beer
settles down (wait 3 hours after releasing the headspace
pressure). Other causes of too foamy draft beer can be a
too short tap hose (the tap hose should be at least 4'
long to allow the beer to settle down after it has come
out of the keg fitting), and serving beer at too warm a
temperature. When you hose is 4' or shorter, make sure
it is 3/16" inner diameter, as 1/4" inner
diameter beer hose does not provide enough restriction
of the flow to prevent foaming.
My beer has a haze that forms when chilled. What is
is chill haze, formed by proteins that coagulate into a
visible haze when the beer is chilled. Chill haze does
not affect the flavor of beer. It will settle out
naturally if you keep the beer refrigerated for 4 to 6
weeks. For those with less time or refrigerator space,
chill haze proteins can be largely removed from the beer
before bottling by using Silica Gel (William's product
My beer has a white layer on the bottom of each bottle.
What is this?
white layer is yeast, and is present in all home brewed
beer that has been naturally carbonated by the action of
the yeast eating priming sugar. Although it will not
hurt you, and is full of vitamin B, it does taste
yeasty. Decant the beer off the yeast sediment into a
glass to avoid picking up the yeast sediment.
How long does beer last when bottled or kegged?
will last for years, but is usually only fresh for 1 to
3 months. The exception to this is extremely strong
beers like Barley Wines, Strong Ales, and Belgian Triple
styles, with starting
gravities over 1.070, which will mellow and mature for
years is stored in a cool dark place (ideally 55° F).
Other beers, particularly wheat beers and light ales,
tend to reach their peak 2 - 3 weeks after bottling or
kegging, and then start to lose their fresh aromatic
quality after 6 to 8 weeks. For the longest shelf life,
store beer refrigerated. Beer will last about the same
amount of time, whether stored in bottles or kegs.
My beer tastes cidery. What is wrong?
likely too much (over 30% of the total fermentable sugar
content) adjunct sugar was used. Try brewing with less
corn or other sugar next time. To completely eliminate
the cidery flavor, try brewing with 100% malt (either
extract or grain). A cidery flavor, when the beer is
heavy in malt content, can also be caused by a bacterial
My beer has a sour taste. What is wrong?
tastes are invariably caused by bacterial infections.
The most common bacterial infection starts when the wort
is cooled and before the yeast has started, because once
yeast starts, it produces bacteria-suffocating C02 gas.
reduce the danger of bacterial infections in the future,
make sure all your equipment is sanitized, avoid
airborne bacteria by brewing in an area that is not
exposed to drafts or dust (furry or feathered pets are
notorious for spreading airborne bacteria through dust),
and try making a yeast starter, to reduce the lag time
before fermentation starts.
My beer tastes thin. What is wrong?
can be caused by a lack of malt dextrins in the beer,
which is usually the result of insufficient malt
content. Beers made with large amounts of corn or other
sugars invariably taste watery. Try adding more malt
extract or grain to the next batch. A thin flavor can
also be caused by a bacterial infection, while is often
accompanied by higher than anticipated carbonation
My beer has a metallic or medicine-like taste
is usually caused by a wild yeast or bacterial infection
(see sour taste above).
My beer tastes yeasty
can be caused by the stirred up yeast sediment on the
bottom of the bottle or keg. Try to decant the beer with
the next bottle you open, to avoid the silty yeast
sediment. This can also be caused by wild yeast, or a
poor quality strain (some dry yeast strains produce a
yeasty flavor). Try switching the type of yeast used on
your next batch. Finally, a 'yeast-bitten' flavor
can be caused by too high fermentation temperatures. Too
high for lagers is over 65° F., too high for ales is
over 75° F.
My beer has a burnt flavor
can be caused by burning the malt extract on the bottom
of the pot. If this has happened, you might also notice
black flakes in the wort after the boil. In the future,
turn off the heat on your boiling pot when you mix the
malt extract in, and mix it thoroughly (until all traces
dissolve from your stirring spoon) before turning the
heat back on. This is easier to do with a gas stove!
What size sparge arm should I get for my mashing system?
one that is at least 1" less in diameter than your
mash tun so the arm can spin.
Can I use an aluminum pot for brewing?
is best not to use aluminum for brewing, as aluminum
reacts with acids in wort. This can lead to off-flavor
formation, and some believe the trace amounts of
aluminum which end up in the wort are not good for you,
although this has not been proven. It is best to use
stainless steel or enameled steel when brewing.
How large a boiling pot do I need?
you plan on only doing extract brewing, a 5 gallon brew
pot will suffice, although a 7 gallon or larger will
make your life easier, as you can boil the entire 5
gallon batch, which results in less danger of boil overs
and less darkening of the beer.
Cache Cooker (Outdoor Burner) Questions and Answers
Where is the temperature control on your Q20 Low
Pressure and E53 High Pressure Burners? On the burner or
on the hose?
The low pressure burner Q20 has a gas adjusting
valve near the burner, while the high pressure burner
E53 has one on the end of the hose, next to the propane
tank connection. The low pressure Q20 burner allows for
a finer range of gas adjustment, which is needed when
mashing. The high pressure E53 burner is best for wort
boiling, as it will bring 5 gallons to a boil in under
20 minutes (compared to under 40 minutes for the Q20 low
What type of gas fittings are on both burners?
Both burners feature the current barbecue style safety
fittings, and will fit current 20 lb. tanks sold in
hardware and home center stores.
How long does a standard 20 lb. propane tank last?
On average, the Q20 Low Pressure Burner will run for 15
hours on a 20 lb. propane tank when turned up, while the
E53 High Pressure Burner will run for 4 hours on a 20
lb. tank when turned up fully. Keep in mind you usually
back off the gas after the wort begins boiling, so your
fuel consumption will probably be quite a bit better
than these figures.
I want to hold the temperature at 150 F. for an hour
when mashing. Which burner should I buy?
Get the Q20 Low Pressure Burner. It features a
much finer degree of gas control than the E53 High
Pressure Burner. Keep in mind you will have to adjust
the heat quite often, and stir the mash, as the burners
do not come with any sort of thermostat.
Plastic or glass, what type of fermenter should I use?
short term beer contact (under 3 weeks) plastic works
well, and has the advantage of being easier to handle
and clean. Better Bottles, made from non porous PET
plastic, are the exception to this rule, and can be used
for long (3-6 month) fermentation and storage times. Plastic can be used for both primary and
secondary fermentation, as long as the total contact
time of the beer with the plastic is three weeks or
less. For long term lagering of beer, use a Better
Bottle or glass
carboy, as glass and PET plastic is completely non porous, and has the
advantage of giving you a good look at the fermenting
beer. Many brewers compromise by using a plastic primary
fermenter (like the William's Siphonless), and a 5
gallon Better Bottle or glass carboy as a secondary.
How do I sanitize your Q38 and Q34 Foam Stoppers?
can be cleaned by soaking them for 10 minutes in dilute
Iodophor or Brewer's Edge Cleanser. Then squeeze them to
dry. There is not need to sterilize the stoppers, as the
steam rising during the boiling of the yeast starter
solution or media will kill any bacteria present.
Should I get a Tap A Draft a full sized Beverage System?
A Draft systems are great for brewers who want to try out
draft beer and have limited refrigerator space. However,
they lack the durability of a full sized Beverage
System, and do not allow you to carbonate beer (or soda)
by C02 injection.
you want a permanent system with maximum flexibility,
and have a spare refrigerator, get a full sized Beverage
System. If you want to experiment with draft beer and do
not want to invest a lot at the start, Tap A Draft
Systems are a good way to go.
How long do Mini Kegs last?
6 to 12 uses, depending on how well you care for them.
They are steel with a lacquer-lined interior, and will
eventually rust at the seams or where a dent occurs.
Cleaning thoroughly after use, using Keg Lube on the lip
of the bung sealing hole, and letting them dry
thoroughly will extend their life closer to the 12 uses
than the six. You will know a Mini Keg is rusting when
the beer gets a slight metallic taste, or by peering
through the bung hole with a small flashlight for spots
Can I use twist off bottles?
off bottles can be used in a pinch, but expect
occasional failures to seal, which may ruin a few
bottles of beer. This is because the sealing lip on a
twist off is very thin, giving the cap less area to
seal. In addition, the glass is thinner and weaker,
leading to more chips. It is always best to use
non-twist off bottles when brewing.
How can I remove labels from beer bottles?
dilute Brewer's Edge Cleanser or PBW cleanser. Use eye
protection and gloves for safety when mixing any
cleanser. Soak the bottles for 24 hours or longer,
until the labels start to lift off the glass. Some
labels, particularly waterproof foil labels, are very
hard to remove, but many commercial labels will just
lift off the glass. Rinse thoroughly when done.
Are oxygen barrier caps worth the extra cost?
depends on what you are using them for. Oxygen barrier
caps absorb the oxygen out of the bottle headspace. This
can help preserve hop aroma in lightly flavored beers,
and is recommended for beers bottled for competitions.
Keep in mind, however, that most commercial brewers do
not use oxygen barrier caps, and great beers can be
capped with regular bottle caps!
Can I bottle beer in mason jars or wine bottles?
Beer must be bottled in glass designed to hold the
pressure, which are beer bottles, soda bottles, or
champagne bottles. Using wine bottles or mason jars is
an invitation to disaster, as they will explode as the
carbonation builds after sealing.
Can I carbonate William's soda extracts with yeast?
this can result in dangerous exploding bottles. The
problem with adding yeast to soda is the carbonation can
be very uneven, depending on temperature, yeast strain,
and more. If the yeast eats too much of the sugars, the
bottles will explode, conversely, if the yeast decides
not to eat the sugar, the soda will be flat. For safety,
we recommend that soda be made only in Beverage Systems
and injected with C02 to produce carbonation.
My cider is cloudy after 2 months. Is this okay?
yes. Cider can take a long time to clear (3-6 months),
so keep it in a cool dark place (55° F. is ideal) so it
can continue to settle out.
My wine or mead has stopped bubbling after 15 days. Is this
wine or mead is probably fine, assuming the fermentation
temperature is at least 68° F. The bulk of mead
fermentation occurs during the first two weeks. If you
are concerned about the progress of fermentation, take a
hydrometer reading. It should be 1.040 or less (probably
much less) after two weeks.
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