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Brewing TV - Episode 4: Open Fermentation


Original postdate: May 28, 2010

- Secrets of Open Fermentation
- Time to Brew: Topless Hefeweizen (open fermentation, of course)

In this episode, learn the ways of a wise open fermentation with yeast-Jedi Jeremy King. Then we apply Jeremy's knowledge as Dawson brews a "Topless Hefeweizen" (ooh la la!).

Take your top off, leave the lid off, go uncovered... it's all good.

 Jeremy on - Better Brewing through Chemistry

Jeremy on - 2 Things the literature says you should do that you shouldn't

Jeremy on - Five things to do with Cherries

Open Fermentation article from BYO

Dawson's Topless Hefe recipe

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Reader Comments (15)

During the entire home fermentation portion of this episode, I had this overwhelming sense of dread as I was watching. I know open fermentation is a tried and true method of brewing, but I'm just not sure I could do it! I laugh at myself for it, but I just kept thinking, "oh man, he's gonna rack that and there'll be a dead spider come flying through the tube", or a cat would be sitting on the counter batting at the bubbles :D If I were to do this, I would be tempted to use one of my large mesh bags to just as a dust/bug/cat cover. Please post, or note in a future episode, how this turned out!

May 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHalf Moon Brewer

I like the bit of comedy in the introduction!

I liked this episode, probably because I was intrigued by some brews we sampled from Upright Brewing how employ open fermentation in a lot of their beers.

May 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrav

Love the music and the parrot lights.....banana and cloves also good....does it taste like that?

May 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCHIP'S MOM

AWESOME!! A way to get a hefe with MORE esters?!?! Yes, please! I may have to give this a go... thanks for making it look easy!

Also, the "Jeremy On - Five things to do with Cherries" link in the Extras leads to a dead page... I really want to know what Jeremy does with cherries!

May 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSean

Sean try this link: http://northernbrewer.blogspot.com/2010/03/cherry-chevapravatdumrong.html
If you continue to have troubles viewing this page, email me!

May 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

That link is fixed - thanks ya'll.

June 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterBrewing TV

Thanks for fixing the link! Sorry if I seemed pushy lol, I just really like cherries.

Question: Would there be a benefit to purging the fermentation bucket with CO2 before adding the wort and pitching? That way, a nice blanket of CO2 is sitting on top of the beer and will provide some microbial protection before the CO2 from fermentation gets the job done.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSean

Jeez, Sean ... you are one cherry-loving pushy dude! I can respect that, I like cherries too.

Re: purging. That's a good idea. If you have a keg system or a CO2 cartridge gun ... sure, why not? Extra insurance won't hurt, especially as the weather warms up.

June 3, 2010 | Registered CommenterDawson

the link has an extra couple of - - dashes at the end of the hyperlink. simple fix to get it changed. I Will now take my bucket and better bottle downstairs after brewing tomorrow and compare the two fermentations. one closed one open (same batch). Hooray for experimentation!

June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrett Silver Begani

I was disappointed because of unfulfilled curiosity. How did the topless hef taste in contrast to your previous closed ferms? Very nice video work and your explanation and discription throughout was excellent. I am going to split batches and try this w/ my own recipes.

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterderf

@ derf - please see Episode #6 for the tasting notes on this batch.


July 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterDawson

I am trying open fermentation right now (with a belgian pale ale). I'm wondering if it's absolutely necessary to rack it to a secondary vessel. Could you just put a lid on the bucket after a few days of open fermentation?

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobby

@Robby - It seems like it wouldn't be necessary per se, although some Belgian breweries that use open primaries (I'm citing Orval and Westvleteren specifically) rack to a closed vessel when attenuation is reached. Ditto at least some open-fermenting Weissbier producers. And in British breweries that open-ferment, racking or "dropping" serves to rouse those flocculent English ale strains and make sure they attenuate properly. YMMV, listen to your beer, as Fred Eckhardt would say, and then do what it tells you to. Let us know how it goes!

May 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterDawson

@Dawson - Thanks for the info. I suspect that on a homebrew scale, it might be "ok" to just put a lid on the bucket after a few days. However, I'm now leaning towards moving to a secondary: (1) because it will help rouse the yeast, as you suggested above, and (2) because it will get the beer out from under that krausen scum that has been sitting around in the open air.

In the later video with the tasting notes for this beer, I see that you suggested splitting a batch and doing half open, half closed. This is exactly what I did with this batch, so at some point, I'll be able to do a back-to-back comparison.

Thanks for the inspiration. It's a cool process, and not nearly as scary as it might seem.

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobby

I just found this site and really enjoyed this episode. I had no fear in what you were doing for this is the way my great grandfather used to brew, though he used a crock with a tea towel cover till fermentation started and he kept it behind the gas space heater they had. His went straight from crock to bottle with only an occasional popped top. I've never tried true brewing like this...yet...but i like that the idea of open brewing is coming back into main stream.

June 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Gray

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