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Brewing

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Rigil Kent
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« on: April 26, 2020, 13:51:30 PM »

There has been some speculation over the efficacy of instant bakers yeast in producing ethanol elsewhere on these pages. So I'm reporting my results here for what its worth.

2020-04-13

Mixed the following:

10L clarified "sour mash", i.e. that what was left in the kettle from a previous distillation without the nasty bits that gravitated out.
2 L  bottled water.
2.5 kg cane sugar.
Pinch of Nutrifeed (horticultural/hydroponic salts)
Pinch of MgSO4
Vit B tablet
Teaspoon of NaHCO3 as buffer
10g (one packet) of instant yeast.

I've measured the SG using a 10ml A grade pipette and a jewellery scale, and found the fresh mix to be 1.082 kg/L.

2020-04-26

Two weeks hence, the SG measures 1.022 kg/L. The decrease in density is presumably due to the conversion of the sugar into C02 and ethanol via separate metabolic pathways. According to this nifty calculator, I can expect around 7.9% alcohol based on the SG measurements.

I'll let the mash sit for another day or three until the fizzing peters out. Once distilled, I'll update this thread with some more numbers to see if the yield was as predicted.
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brianvds
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2020, 15:59:26 PM »

Not too clear what the "sour mash" is, and all those other arcane ingredients I do not currently have access to. I'm told a teaspoon of Marmite works well as food for the yeast. Someone also told me one should add sugar every day or two, and stir the mixture. I tried that because I think I may have started with too little sugar. I didn't actually measure it; just guestimated a cup or cup and a half per two liters of water, and then added half a packet of yeast. With that mix, after four days or so, the fermentation pretty much stopped.

The resultant drink is quite delicious, particularly when chilled, with a sweet-sour taste. But no bubbles remaining, and it doesn't taste of alcohol. After a few glasses it seems to have a relaxing effect, which is why I estimate the alcohol content at no more than two percent or so, but also not zero. Given that fermentation produces alcohol, and much of the sweet taste of the original is gone, there surely must be some alcohol in there.

Now with a new batch I have managed to extend the fermentation to five days by adding some sugar and turning the bottle end over end to mix two times a day or so. I'll taste it this evening and see if there's any difference.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2020, 18:31:17 PM »

I'm told a teaspoon of Marmite works well as food for the yeast.
That makes perfect sense. What is Marmite if not hydrolysed yeast parts? You're probably giving them a scrapyard full of amino acids in the right ratio.
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brianvds
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2020, 05:45:00 AM »

I'm told a teaspoon of Marmite works well as food for the yeast.
That makes perfect sense. What is Marmite if not hydrolysed yeast parts? You're probably giving them a scrapyard full of amino acids in the right ratio.

Well, the new batch did not taste much different from the previous one. Perhaps a bit too sweet; I think not all the sugars were converted. But once again with a certain relaxing effect. I'll keep at it and see what happens.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2020, 13:01:48 PM »

I have an experiment, bound to fail, but I'm having a go nonetheless...

Mead: Honey, water, some tea, handful of raisins (chopped). That's it, No yeast added. Amounts to just over a gallon. OG: 1.085

I put it in a cool dark place day 1 (Saturday) but found it too cold (got down to 10C). Moved to a more room temperature spot, I guess summer's over. I'm expecting the start of fermentation to take a while.

Fermenting foods I've had much luck this way, but I'm worried, so we'll see how this works out. Will let ya'll know. (Although time-to-drink for mead is months, but I hope at least to have fermentation in about a week).
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2020, 10:38:27 AM »

Here are the results of the distillation based on the ferment described in he OP. Seems that one can achieve around 10% ethanol with instant bakers yeast.

Fraction ID   Volume(ml)   %ABW    Et-OH (g)
Head                  60            60            36
Heart A          1 000           55           550
Heart B          1 000           48           480
Tail                 2 000           28           560
Previous tail added to still               -400
Total out                                         1226
Ferment        12 000        10.2   

However, from the video linked to by brianvds elsewhere, it may be that the concern with bakers yeast is not so much if it will produce alcohol, but rather its effect on the taste of the beverage. I've grabbed a punnet of red and white grapes during my balls-to-the-wall shopping excursion yesterday. Will see if its possible to get an auto ferment going, as in the video.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2020, 11:08:13 AM by Rigil Kent » Logged
brianvds
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2020, 12:06:31 PM »

Here are the results of the distillation based on the ferment described in he OP. Seems that one can achieve around 10% ethanol with instant bakers yeast.

Not me though. After five days the fermentation stops, whatever I do, with no appreciable alcohol in the brew. Mind you, I did notice something strange yesterday. Because there is very little in the way of sediment, I don't mind drinking the brew to the last dregs, and when I drank those I suddenly noticed a very strong taste of alcohol. Apparently all the alcohol goes to sit in the bottom of the container. And this might explain why I'm having trouble: the yeast sinks to the bottom, where it produces a high level of alcohol that ends up killing it. But the higher layers of the brew remain largely alcohol-free.

It might work better if I regularly mix the brew. Next time I'll add a bit of Marmite to feed the yeast, and make a point of mixing every hour or two.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2020, 12:32:28 PM »

It might work better if I regularly mix the brew. Next time I'll add a bit of Marmite to feed the yeast, and make a point of mixing every hour or two.
I did give it a stir every day, yes. Although strictly speaking one shouldn't let air in if I understand the authorities correctly. And you know the distiller is a seasoned authority if his name carries the appellation "Oom".  
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brianvds
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2020, 14:32:35 PM »

It might work better if I regularly mix the brew. Next time I'll add a bit of Marmite to feed the yeast, and make a point of mixing every hour or two.
I did give it a stir every day, yes. Although strictly speaking one shouldn't let air in if I understand the authorities correctly. And you know the distiller is a seasoned authority if his name carries the appellation "Oom".   

Well, I use 2L Coke bottles, which do not let all that much air in to begin with. Anyway, I'll try it out and see. Even with little alcohol, I find the resulting drink quite delicious.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2020, 20:31:04 PM »

Fermenting foods I've had much luck this way, but I'm worried, so we'll see how this works out. Will let ya'll know. (Although time-to-drink for mead is months, but I hope at least to have fermentation in about a week).

It didn't work out that way. Nothing BAD happened to it but it never got fermenting. I'd had a go with some grapes too but also naught. So I added some baker's yeast to the grape juice. Within about a day it was producing CO2, so I pitched a spot of the grape juice into the mead. Now it's bubbling away happily. There was maybe 1 spot of gunkyness on the surface when I found it but I scooped it out and hopefully the ferment will keep stuff from getting worse. "We shall see".

In the meantime I've started a 10l batch of pineapple brew too: I still have booze but it won't last forever, so, why not?

I'm honestly enjoying this. I may have to acquire some copper tube if things keep going like this...
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brianvds
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2020, 05:09:35 AM »

I think I have been using too little sugar. Yesterday I did something I should have done to begin with: took a sip of my sugar solution before adding yeast. And it struck me as rather bland. For the next batch I'll start with much more sugar. I also accidentally added more yeast than usual, and after an hour the thing was positively boiling, with foam pushing out of the bottle. SO perhaps one should also add more yeast?

Don't know, but I'll try that out with the next batch: much more sugar and perhaps a whole 10 g packet of yeast per bottle, rather than only half.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2020, 09:43:53 AM »

Don't know, but I'll try that out with the next batch: much more sugar and perhaps a whole 10 g packet of yeast per bottle, rather than only half.

I think it's the sugar. I doubt you need a whole 10g of yeast per 2l bottle. I use half of that on 10l batches.
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brianvds
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2020, 11:41:42 AM »

Don't know, but I'll try that out with the next batch: much more sugar and perhaps a whole 10 g packet of yeast per bottle, rather than only half.

I think it's the sugar. I doubt you need a whole 10g of yeast per 2l bottle. I use half of that on 10l batches.

I ended up using perhaps 3/4 of a packet, on a solution containing much more sugar. Judged by the amount of bubbling, thus far it is making little difference. I am increasingly of the opinion that baker's yeast will simply not yield more than 2% alcohol or thereabouts, and those who say differently are fooling themselves. :-)
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2020, 14:42:34 PM »

You're not trying to make a Jacuzzi: It should bubble away slowly for a longer time... Not more vigorously. This is why I thought adding more yeast is probably a waste of time. The yeast makes alcohol out of sugars: The more sugar, the more potential for alcohol. No sugar, lots of yeast = no alcohol. Lots of sugar, little bit of yeast = alcohol (yeast multiplies, sugar does not).

Be that as it may, I don't have an OG for the pineapple beverage as I reckoned a lot of the sugar isn't in dissolved form anyway. Luckily for the mead I do, when fermentation slows down I'll take another measurement and can then take a guess at the alcohol content.
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brianvds
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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2020, 17:55:50 PM »

You're not trying to make a Jacuzzi: It should bubble away slowly for a longer time... Not more vigorously. This is why I thought adding more yeast is probably a waste of time. The yeast makes alcohol out of sugars: The more sugar, the more potential for alcohol. No sugar, lots of yeast = no alcohol. Lots of sugar, little bit of yeast = alcohol (yeast multiplies, sugar does not).

Be that as it may, I don't have an OG for the pineapple beverage as I reckoned a lot of the sugar isn't in dissolved form anyway. Luckily for the mead I do, when fermentation slows down I'll take another measurement and can then take a guess at the alcohol content.

Well, I'll have to see how long this one will keep on bubbling. Thus far, around day five, the bubbling pretty much stopped, with very little alcohol present. Adding sugar and regularly stirring seems not to make any difference.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2020, 23:37:57 PM »

Cough.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2020, 07:57:17 AM »

Oooo .... nice. Posh yeast once again available to us mortals.

My brother in law in the western cape makes use of this supplier. He's been swept up in the hobby for a few years now. Makes a pretty decent stout.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2020, 08:33:13 AM »

I have seen videos on YT about harvesting yeast post-ferment and storing it. People of the prepper mindset may choose to perpetuate instead of sourcing going forward.
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brianvds
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« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2020, 10:57:23 AM »

I have seen videos on YT about harvesting yeast post-ferment and storing it. People of the prepper mindset may choose to perpetuate instead of sourcing going forward.

Yes, the products from that Cape Town company are rather on the expensive side.

In the meantime, someone online told me he is mystified by my report of my fermentation just stopping after five days. But he thinks that conceivably the magic ingredient might be raisins. Well, I'll give it a try if and when I can get hold of raisins...
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2020, 11:25:21 AM »

Probably a stupid question but is it receiving sunlight?
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brianvds
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« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2020, 12:21:50 PM »

Probably a stupid question but is it receiving sunlight?

Nope. Should it? Surely not?
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2020, 22:11:27 PM »

No, I wrap mine so it gets none.
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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2020, 15:00:46 PM »

[...] I pitched a spot of the grape juice into the mead. Now it's bubbling away happily. There was maybe 1 spot of gunkyness on the surface when I found it but I scooped it out and hopefully the ferment will keep stuff from getting worse. "We shall see".

In the meantime I've started a 10l batch of pineapple brew too [...]

It is now 10d later. The baker's yeast is still fermenting the Mead quite well. Just bubbling away in it's slow, gradual style it has been thusfar. Any nastyness that could've been there has completely disappeared. There was some "Krausen", but at this point it's all gone and all that remains is the ring it made on the grass and thin, light, white foam being formed by the rest of the fermentation. There's lees forming on the bottom and very, very gradually it seems like the liquid is lightening, but it's still fairly opaque. Then again clarification is only likely to happen a month+ in, if at all.

The pineapple brew seems to be slowing significantly in fermentation now but the bits of fruit bobbing at the top seem to be still fermenting furiously so: I surmise there's not enough alcohol yet to kill the yeast, but the main "body" of the fluid is probably out of sugar. I may add more to help maximise alcohol content until fermentation does stop completely. (I did make up the recipe on the fly so... it's entirely possible). A quick taste test didn't yield an at-all bad drink. Perhaps lacking a bit in flavour, and in need of chilling. I'm considering bottling it (eventually) with a bit of sugar for natural carbonation. That combined with a chill should yield something quite nice.

(Warm beer tastes crappy for a reason, the cold changes our ability to taste certain unwanted flavors)
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brianvds
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« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2020, 17:39:09 PM »

Me, I have kind of given up on high alcohol brew - I'm not that desperate for it anyway. I have now tried more or less anything and everything I could think of. Lots of sugar, little sugar, start with a little and add more, teaspoon of Marmite, regularly stir, don't regularly stir, whatever. The result is invariably the same: after five days the fermentation mostly stops, resulting in a pleasant but very mildly alcoholic drink.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2020, 13:26:24 PM »

Got a 5kg bag of grain from the bird feed section at the local co-op. Since I don't have any hops, I thought it may be a good idea to try and make some whiskey. I'm busy malting the grain at the moment, which is kind of fun. Even more fun was replicating successfully the harvesting of wild yeast from grapes, as in the video linked to by brianvds earlier. I intend using this wild yeast in my grain ferment. So hopefully it will come together nicely. Unfortunately whiskey has to sit around with a block of wood in it for a few months, and then mellow for another year. Sad So it should just about be drinkable when this lock down ends.

I can barley wait.
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« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2020, 14:24:53 PM »

Got a 5kg bag of grain from the bird feed section at the local co-op. Since I don't have any hops, I thought it may be a good idea to try and make some whiskey. I'm busy malting the grain at the moment, which is kind of fun. Even more fun was replicating successfully the harvesting of wild yeast from grapes, as in the video linked to by brianvds earlier. I intend using this wild yeast in my grain ferment. So hopefully it will come together nicely. Unfortunately whiskey has to sit around with a block of wood in it for a few months, and then mellow for another year. Sad So it should just about be drinkable when this lock down ends.

I can barley wait.

Just way too much work, for way too little product. Well, if you're lazy like me.

I'm kind of happy with the brew I now make. Not very strong, but enough to make me mellow. My landlady has tried some. She thinks there is more alcohol in it than I think. Who knows? I have no way to measure it.
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2020, 15:17:12 PM »

She thinks there is more alcohol in it than I think. Who knows? I have no way to measure it.
Perhaps you can use your landlady as gauge.

I've also learned that at the start of the ferment the yeast, a facultative anaerobe, needs oxygen to get its population going. So some frequent agitation is useful in the beginning, until it goes into the fermentative stage.
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brianvds
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« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2020, 04:34:44 AM »

She thinks there is more alcohol in it than I think. Who knows? I have no way to measure it.
Perhaps you can use your landlady as gauge.

I've also learned that at the start of the ferment the yeast, a facultative anaerobe, needs oxygen to get its population going. So some frequent agitation is useful in the beginning, until it goes into the fermentative stage.

I do my brew in 2 L plastic bottles, with the caps not quite tightly screwed on, so there are probably limits to how much fresh air gets in there...
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« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2020, 11:22:17 AM »

FWIW: I did end up with not-bad pineapple beer. But wanted to see how good I could get it, thus "racking" it into a bunch of 2l coke bottles, added sugar for carbonation and cold-crashed. After about a week racked again and put back in the fridge. This left me with a nice, cold, slightly carbonated (need more sugar) beautifully clear, pineappeley (shock), greenish-yellow drink. It's really not bad, has that familiar bitter aftertaste many beers have (lacking in hops... so... no idea why...), and gets a good buzz going for both me and the missus. In a world without legal alcohol, it'd totally liven up a party. BUT it's not actual beer...

I can barley wait.

I did spring for some grains and yeast (edit: and HOPS!) from the brew supply place, while we were still in the dark ages of Lvl 4. They had slim pickings where stock was concerned and I "got what I could" to make what will be "definitely beer": of not any style or recipe in particular other than "what Boogie could figure out are the rough rules for making a beer". Got to me in short order and I went ahead trying to make my first ever actual beer. The process is both fascinating in it's requirements for exactitude and planning, and really fun! AND THE SMELL!!! After brew day missus requested we do it again due to us shooting low on volume for the first batch... and so it was. Fermentation is just about done on the first batch, what I've tasted thusfar is really great, but I haven't had enough to make a call on alcohol level. The color is perfect, it really is "definitely beer", and I'm VERY chuffed about that. I'm expecting 4-5% ABV at the efficiency I achieved. The subsequent batch a tad more. Hoping to work on that..

I was able to, as stock has come in-and-out, been able to acquire more beer making (and bottling) essentials so batch 1 will soon be racked into bottles to carbonate. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Also, I threw some hard cider (apple juice + sugar) into a fermenter a while ago + beer yeast and do expect that to work out brilliantly also.

I'm hooked.

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« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2020, 03:32:48 AM »

I found that if I leave my simple sugar-plus-yeast brew for ten days instead of five, it does after all ferment a bit more, and ends up a bit more alcoholic too, though I doubt if it gets to more than 4% or thereabouts.

Now you can buy again, and my landlady got some bottles of wine. The other day I had a glass or two - and woke up the next morning with a splitting headache. I am clearly out of practice. But I concluded that the liquor industry produces stuff that is way too strong, probably deliberately to make it more addictive. Henceforth I'll only ever drink what I brew myself. I have a feeling lots of people are going to do the same, and the liquor industry has been dealt a permanent blow by the temporary ban. We'll have to see how the tobacco industry will come out of it.
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