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Week 07: Ninety-Nine Problems but a Beer Ain't One

Ninety-Nine Problems returns after a brief hiatus with this installation featuring advice from Golden Road Quality Assurance Manager Cris Carter. 

What kind of yeast should I begin brewing with? Is there a way to tell what different strains do?
— David N., Montebello, CA

Most homebrewers are no stranger to 001 yeast from producers such as White Labs or Wyeast. The former, also known as Chico or Sierra Nevada yeast is a very neutral yeast with good vigor and low diacetyl production. For homebrewing, it's important to select a yeast with good flocculation characteristics unless you have a refrigeration area to cold crash. Getting your beer clean/bright helps avoid yeast autolysis which is something to always be cognizant about when brewing.  

It's imperative to rack to bottle carefully as to not risk getting yeast in your bottles. Some sedimentary yeast is not a bad thing, but to achieve clarity, it's recommended to rack to a clean bucket or carboy first before adding your priming sugar (if necessary) then moving on to bottling. 

Selecting the right yeast boils down to style and flavors that you hope to attain. A strain such as White Labs' Hefeweizen yeast (WL300) will produce more fruity esters typical of a Bavarian Hefeweizen while WL007, an English ale strain, is a great one to use for brown ales, porters, and stouts. When selecting yeast strains for your brews, controlling your fermentation temperature is critical. If using 001 yeast for an IPA for example, a hot ferment would produce undesirable esters (and we can't have that).  Do your research when formulating your recipe and once you've brewed enough, you may even discover that a variety of strains combined will help get you to where you want your beer to be. 

For a run-down of yeast strains and their characteristics easily available in many homebrew stores and online, check out White Labs and Wyeast

Got a question? Let us know! Feel free to comment or e-mail with any of your burning homebrewing questions and we'll try to answer them! 

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Week 03: Ninety-Nine Problems But a Beer Ain't One

Sanitation is Key: Three Methods to Keeping Things Clean

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Golden Road’s Quality Assurance Manager Cris Carter drops some sanitation advice on us this week for our third installation of this series. When first learning to homebrew, you will notice that sanitation is one of the most important things to learn and practice whether you are a beginning extract brewer or a seasoned veteran. But what types of measures are necessary to create a sanitized brewing environment? What other agents can you use if you don’t have easy access to products or a home brew supply store? We first must delve into the three ways to keep things clean. This is only the first in what will be a handful of posts dedicated to sanitation. 

When brewing at home, there are three cleaning methods you should know:

I. Mechanical: Do you see dirt and residue on your kettle, fermenters, and equipment? Cleaning things mechanically is the good ole’ fashioned physical method. Scrub those carboys well and make sure you don’t have any dirt stuck to the surface of your gear. A little elbow-grease goes a long way in the cleaning process.

II. Chemical: A crucial part of sanitation isn't just making sure you don’t visually see dirt. Chemically treating your equipment with an alkaline material such as Powdered Brewing Wash (PBW) or a mild detergent like Oxiclean goes hand in hand with the mechanical cleaning method. These agents can help loosen and break down dirt and residue found on fermenter walls for example. 

III. Thermal: Heat things up. Heating water to 175 degrees for 5-10 minutes is enough to kill mirco-organisms, active yeast, and bacteria. Boil that spoon, sterilize that ball valve -- don’t skip out on this step if you have any doubt that your equipment may not be clean. In need of sterilizing bottles and small items? The heat from your dishwasher is also a great tool. 


  • Using a chemical agent or base detergent raises the pH and helps kill or inhibit bacteria. However, it is important to rinse these agents well as to not leave any chemical cleaner behind. 
  • If you do not have access to a cleaning agent such as Star San, you can use citric acid or vinegar (acetic acid) -- once again, just be sure to rinse well after soaking as to neutralize the pH. 
  • Bleach is an effective cleaning agent when used in the mildest of solutions, but can often have a lingering aroma. Using bleach also increases your odds of acquiring an undesirable chlorophenolic off-flavor. 
  • In a pinch but want to avoid using bleach? Iodine or Betadine used in the appropriate concentration are effective, tasteless, and widely available at your local drugstore. 
  • A spray bottle filled with (cheap) vodka is a handy tool to sanitize small items and surfaces such as the top of your fermenters, racking valve, etc. Vodka used as a mist is mild enough to not leave a distinct flavor or odor. 
  • Case in point: Sanitize EVERYTHING. (Yes...EVERYTHING -- from the hydrometer you're inserting into your fermenter to take a reading to the spoon you're using in your kettle. Absolutely, positively, everything.)

This is only the first in what will be a handful of posts dedicated to sanitation. Got a question you'd like answered? Have any pro-tips you live by? Feel free to share them in the comments section of e-mail! 


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