Mash Out! October 2018

We’re starting a regular column called Mash Out!, a column for all your brewing questions, be it technical or culture. Should I form a homebrew club in my area? Do I need to add tannins and acid to my traditional meads? Our friend Ben Morris will be answering all your burning brewing questions. To submit a question, email with “Mash Out!” in the subject title. 


Q: I just harvested some wild hops growing in my neighbourhood and I’m so excited to make a batch of beer with it. Is there anyway I can tell what kind of hops they are? And how should I use the hops?

A: For the hops, they are probably a Fuggle variant or some other English variant that grew here. You’ll have to make a call based on aroma etc., but there isn’t a way to test for alpha acid. Assume its low: 3-5%. Use the hops at flameout. In a bag. Always in a bag. Wet hops soak up a lot of water and if they are in too long, they can add a grassy flavour.

Q: Help! I made a batch of beer, and it doesn’t look like it’s doing anything. The yeast was fresh, and the fermenting temperature seems alright, but the airlock isn’t moving. Should I dump it?

A: If you can, take a gravity reading. But likely the yeast is dead. You can make a starter from a new pitch and dump it in and it should get going.


2 thoughts on “Mash Out! October 2018

  1. Re: question #2, in my experience (granted, not as much as many), an inactive airlock is often not a good sign of fermentation. If you don’t have a complete seal on the fermentation vessel (eg. you use a bucket and the lid doesn’t seat completely), you might never see much for airlock bubbles, despite fermentation going along just fine.

    1. Good point Shawn. Visibile activity is not a reliable indicator of fermentation, especially if leaks prevent co2 from leaving through the airlock. Temperature, yeast strain, gravity etc will all affect how visible and roiling the fermentation is. If you can, always check fermentation using a hydrometer.

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