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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.