The Technical Edge: Infected Beer? Your Counterflow Heat Exchanger is the Most Likely Culprit

Written by Steve Fried for Pensabrew News

I started home brewing in 1979 and went professional in 1989 when I started working at McGuire’s (Pensacola…. also Destin, FL… Irish theme restaurant/brewpub- Prof. GA) As an extract home brewer from the beginning, I finally experimented with all grain in 1988 and the beer was horrible, my worst ever, and I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I started brewing at McGuire’s that I was to learn my fatal mistake. The heat exchanger had not been properly cleaned and sanitized. My trainer taught me the proper method I’m about to share with you. I credit this technique, which I followed faithfully for 12 consecutive years, for our clean ales. During that time I brewed 1,500 batches of beer, re-pitching the same yeast culture I started with in 1989. I did not re-culture once during that time.

The technique is to run a hot caustic solution in reverse through your heat exchanger followed by a hot rinse. This removes the reddish brown scale that builds up on the plates or tubes. On brew day and after mashing in, I would heat my sparge water up to 200 degrees F and then transfer it from the brew kettle to my fermenter via the heat exchanger, hoses and pumps that would eventually be used to do my heat exchange into the fermenter. Everything that comes into contact with the cooled wort will have been heat sanitized. Assuming you have a clean yeast, you are well on your way to making a clean beer.
Continue reading “The Technical Edge: Infected Beer? Your Counterflow Heat Exchanger is the Most Likely Culprit”

Beer Profile: Sierra’s Ken and Fritz’s Ale

Image courtesy

Style: Stout
Part of the 30 anniversary series at Sierra Nevada

Profiled by Ken Carman

I kind of figured this is what would happen. You combine Sierra Nevada and Fritz the founder of the whole damn craft beer industry, and what do you get? Damn near perfection. Perfect head that holds for quite a while, obsidian black, holds to the side of the glass as if slightly glued there. Hop, roasted barley, roast nose. Wow. I’d hate to have this in competition: so many good brewers would be pushed to the side, nose-wise. Not a ton: just right.

A little bit of a soured mouth sense: are these guys channeling Guinness? Just the right amount of bubble: not heavy… but there.

The problem, if any, is in the taste. This is a stout for those who like stouts and no compromise. Just a bit more of a Extra than a regular Stout. The alcohol is just a bit high. You like this… or you don’t: which to me defines some Extra Stouts. A little less of the roasted barley, more of the dark Black Patent sense than Guinness. I do like this, but I had to take time to adjust: kind of like I did when I first had Guinness Extra in Montreal at Finnegan’s: 1974. It took me a few to fall in love. And by the end of this 25oz champagne-corked bottle I was getting close.

What, no more?

Sniff. Sniff.

If you are beer geekish like me, buy it and make up your own damn mind, No matter what this took talent to do.