Fifteen Homebrewing Mistakes That One Youtube Channel Taught You

by Karl Updated on November 6, 2021

On this episode of Doing the Most, we’re going to talk about a brew tube channel that’s been misleading you. They’ve been teaching bad practices, giving bad advice, even doing bad math. And to top it all off, they haven’t even been kind to their yeast.

So I hope you don’t mind if we get a little bit real on this week’s episode of doing the most, because we’re going to talk about 15 brewing mistakes that you learned from one particular YouTube channel.

So who is this mysterious YouTube channel I might be talking about? This YouTube channel that teaches bad practices and misinforms? Who could this brazen and shameless channel be that’s teaching you these bad practices? That’s, that’s putting your brews at risk?

It’s us. It’s Doing The Most.

So let’s take a look back in the historical, doing the most archives at 15 things that I presented that are probably not great for your brewing.

#1: pitching a killer factor yeast into a funky ferment.

So we didn’t technically do this one on the show, but we did recommend a killer factor strain in our pineapple to Tapache video. “QA23 would actually be a good choice because of the fruity tropical esters it produces.” If you look at the data sheet, QA 23 is a killer factor strain of yeast.

A killer factor strain is a yeast that releases some toxin that killer factor sensitive yeast are sensitive to. Meaning, if you pitch a killer factor yeast into something where you also have a killer factor sensitive yeast that yeast, the killer factor yeast can kill off the other yeast.

In our tapache video, we recommended QA 23 as a good way to highlight the pineapple flavor, but I never checked the spec sheet to make sure that QA twenty-three wouldn’t kill off the microbes that give you a funky ferment. And so for that, I apologize.

#2: adding sulfites for the first 24 hours.

Now this is like an old school practice where you kind of do a cursory sterilization of your must prior to pitching your yeast. And the first some brews adding sulfites 24 hours before yeast pitch can still be beneficial.

But in our lemon grass video, I sulfited, kind of for no reason, there really was no reason to do that. And I was just still stuck in my old winemaking days, my old country fruit wine practices, and I sulfited my musk.

Now, like I said, sulfites are good for a rudimentary sterilization of your must. They’re also good for helping dechlorinate water, if you’re using a chlorinated water source in your brewing.

And of course like in our blueberry Mela Mel video, they can be good for cold macerations where you hit your fruit with a little bit of hectic enzyme, you also hit it with a little bit of sulfites.

So that way it kind of prevents fermentation from taking off while still allowing your fruit to break down in that cold environment. But for something like the lemon grass mead, we did, not necessary.

#3: yeeting ingredients directly into your mouth.

Sometimes tasting an ingredient is not a bad idea. However, if it’s an ingredient you’re unfamiliar with, you might not want to eat the whole thing.

And on our cocktail video where we made the beer with a chicken in it found in the joy of homebrewing, David just ate an entire blade of mace. Just look at that just right, right down the old gullet. And that ended up making his whole mouth taste like plastic and kind of making his tongue go numb for a little while.

“Don’t eat mace”, not a great idea.

So just, you know, be cautious. If it’s an ingredient you haven’t worked with maybe a tiny, tiny taste before you brew with it.

#4: not discussing food allergies.

You may have caught this one on a recent episode of palate expanders over on my friend man-made meads channel, where we serve each other, a Mead from our archives and we don’t tell each other what it is the other one is going to be tasting.

Unfortunately he and I never thought to discuss food allergies or food sensitivities. And that resulted in him serving me something that had my food allergen in it. This would be a terrible time to tell you that I have an allergy to Kiwii’s, wouldn’t it?

Now, fortunately, nothing happened. Everything was fine. However, it could have been a bad situation. It could have been not so great.

Now I have a friend who has food sensitivities and some severe food allergies. And I actually took some mead over to her house a couple of months ago. And one of the ones I gave her had something she was food sensitive to. And fortunately we discussed everything that was in every bottle as I was dropping them off.

But if we hadn’t, I probably would have served her pineapple, which could have resulted in a trip to the emergency room. Always discuss food allergies and food sensitivities with those you are serving your Homebrew to.

#5: making you scared of DAP.

Diammonium phosphate. On our spooky chemicals episode, where for Halloween week kind of made some fun of the amount of white powders that are involved in home brewing and home wine making.

We talked about diammonium phosphate. And my bag of diammonium phosphate that we featured in that episode was very old. And that’s partially because I don’t really use diammonium phosphate in my brewing.

Because this bag was old it was diammonium phosphate that may contain trace amounts of urea. Urea as a nutrient in your wine or mead can leave off flavors if it’s not all consumed by the yeast.

And there’s some evidence that long-term exposure could have some negative impact on your health. Urea is no longer in diammonium phosphate made for home brewing, but we a little bit misled you in that episode because it was still in mine. Don’t be afraid of diammonium phosphate. Just use it right.

#6: not appreciating the nutrient requirement of kviek.

As all of you know, we’re big fans of kviek ale yeast here on the channel. And we did a whole episode last year, where we talked about why beginner Mead makers should be using kviek yeast in their meads.

The thing we neglected to talk about in that episode is kviek has a very high nutrient requirement.

Sometimes this can mean one and a half to two times the amount of nutrient that you would put for a lesser nutrient dependent yeast.

Now I’m sure if you’re a long-term fan of the channel, you know, to always look up your yeast nutrient requirement before calculating how much nutrient to put into your wine or mead. But there’s a chance there are one or two of you who didn’t know to add extra nutrient. And for that, I’m sorry.

#7: step-feeding honey to your mead.

Now there was a brief window in the Mead making community where this was in vogue, and it was a little bit due to this Ted talk style video, where a professional mead maker talked about how they step-feed their honey for a cleaner and smoother ferment.

In our blueberry Mela Mel video. I did just that. Now I also used some nutrient in that mead, but the first couple of times I racked it I did add extra honey.

Now this did have the effect of keeping the headspace very minimal, but with a proper nutrient schedule, like a Taza 2.0 Taza 3.0, schedule, something like that. I wouldn’t worry about step feeding honey.

Now, if you’re trying to push a yeast like ez1118 up past 18% alcohol, then there is a chance you might want to step feed some honey to continue nudging it further and further up into the twenties. But for a regular mead, anything below 18% alcohol with proper nutrition and good temperature control, you shouldn’t need to step feed your honey.

#8: Viking blood as your first mead brew.

I’m not sure why I recommended this as your first brew, but my Viking blod clone, which is very good by the way. However, it is a complex brew with a few moving parts and it has some flavors in there that will disguise some off flavors. So yeah, there are some flavors in there that will disguise any faults, but that doesn’t really teach you a whole lot about brewing good mead.

And so for that these days, I would recommend your first mead be a traditional sweet mead. That’s that’s my recommendation.

#9: xylitol in your mead.

And this one’s pretty quick and easy. Now we recommend erythritol. If you want a non fermentable sweetener to back sweeten your mead with.

But in our cranberry braeggett video, we used a little bit of xylitol just to give it a touch of sweetness. Now this is mostly fine. However, for some people xylitol can lead to a little bit of a tummy trouble and for dogs, it can be lethal. So we no longer keep xylitol in our house to protect Samantha the wonder dog. And we recommend erythritol instead.

#10: nutrient additions too early.

This occurred in our video for our zesty traditional mead recipe. And yeah, look at that. Look at that young guy there, just throwing some fermado right in at the beginning.

Now for some brews I will front load my nutrient, particularly for session meads, something that’s lower ABV that’s going to spend, you know, four or five days going through lag phase and all the way through fermentation.

But now I am much more firm in my understanding of yeast nutrition for mead. And that’s why I would recommend following a stagger nutrient schedule, which most often prescribes adding your nutrient after the lag phase, after the first 24 hours or so from the time you pitched your yeast.

So for mead like this, that ended up in the 12% or so ABV range and really needed a nice strong yeast colony, right from the get-go, I really should have waited 24 hours before putting in my first addition of nutrients.

#11: heat near pectineus.

Pectineus pectin enzyme. We love it. We use it a lot. It helps break down the skins of fruit. It breaks down those cell structures and helps release color and tannin, obviously juice.

However, in our Viking blood clone video, we took some flack for putting hot hibiscus tea into a must that had pectineus. Now I don’t think there were any problems and doing this, but it’s probably not best practice to show you all pectineus anywhere near a hot adjunct addition. Heat bad for pectineus. Don’t do it.

#12: don’t use weirdly shaped bottles.

In our barley wine beauche video, which I need to brew another batch of that. One of my favorites. But in that video, we use some weirdly shaped bottles because I thought they were really cool. And I learned that starsan would take the screen printed labels off of them. All well and good, really cool bottling aesthetic, whatever, but that brew is bottled conditioned.

And what that means is you’ve got yeast still in the bottle when you bottle it. And what that means is when the yeast settles out in those weirdly shaped bottles, it settles out into the ridges on the side, instead of all in a nice, just thin film and the bottom of a regular bottle.

So that means every time you move it, a little cloud of yeast gets kicked up into the bottle, just use normal bottles and you won’t have that problem.

#13; miscalculating ABV.

Or, you know, generally just trying to be too precise with ABV. On a Homebrew scale, no matter how well you think, you know, your hydrometer odds are a lot of times, you’re not going to actually know the ABV that’s in there. For example, in our capsicum Mel video, the peppers zeffer, not only did we rack on top of blueberry juice, but we also back sweetened with honey. Both of those things are going to change the ABV of the final product.

And a viewer called me out on that, I reran my calculations and it’s still on paper looked like I was right. But the more and more I dwelled on it, I don’t think I was right. And now what does that look like? It looks like the difference of maybe a quarter of a percent of alcohol in the final product.

For me, I don’t really care about knowing whether or not I’m off by a quarter percent of alcohol, but I think it’s a good lesson to really think about what’s going in your brew after your initial ABV calculation. After that first hydrometer reading and understand that anything you’re going to add to it is either going to bulk up your ABV or dilute your product down so the ABV is lower.

My advice to you would be to always just approximate, get as close as you can, but don’t really worry about getting to the tents or hundreds place in your percent ABV.

If your friend says how much alcohol is in that, be comfortable saying about 15%.

#14; using a wine yeast in a beer.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking. Yeast are just yeast, right? Nope. In fact, wine yeast and beer yeast have been selected over many, many generations to do very specific things.

And in some ways not intentionally, wine yeast has been selected to ferment simple sugars. That’s what wine yeast has done. And so that’s how those strains have branched off over the years.

Beer yeasts, like ale yeast, have been selected for a different kind of sugar. In beer wort you have maltose and maltotriose. Those are a different kind of more complex sugar and beer yeasts are great at transporting them and breaking them down into something that can be fermented.

So in our cranberry Braeggett video, I pitched a wine yeast. Just, I don’t even know why I don’t even know what I was thinking or why I did it. I knew that I should’ve pitched an ale yeast. I don’t know if I didn’t have one on hand or what, but I used a wine yeast.

And it worked out probably because there wasn’t a lot of malt sugar in there because we used liquid malt extract and a lot of honey, but don’t do this. If you’re using malt sugars, use a beer yeast like an ale yeast. Heck use, kviek get some clout.

Finally, #15: 71B MLF

So this one actually happened on a live stream where I parroted some outdated knowledge. So, uh, malic acid gets converted into lactic acid. So 71b basically does like, uh, uh, male lactic fermentation. And by outdated knowledge, I mean something that was never really knowledge, it seems like it was always just kind of suspected.

71B wine yeast, converts some malic acid into ethanol.

And usually it won’t convert all the malic acid in your brew, but it will convert some of it into ethanol. On that live stream. I incorrectly suggested that 71 B actually converts malic acid into lactic acid, like a malolactic fermentation culture does. It does not do that.

It uses a male ethanol pathway to eventually convert malic acid into ethanol. And I was just flat out wrong. And what I said, and what’s awesome is our chat straight up called me out on it. And then in the next live stream, a subscriber had actually done the research, pulled a chart for me from a research database. And we were able to actually show what that pathway looks like.

What 71 B does when it metabolizes malic acid is actually converts it to ethanol. The enzyme that’s present with the yeast 71 B actually converts malic acid through this pathway to become ethanol.

But the bottom line is 71B does convert some of your malic acid. And for something that’s nice and rich and fruity like an apple that really relies on malic acid, say for a cider or a sizer, you probably don’t want to use 71 B because it’s in there actively removing part of what makes your brew taste like the fruit that it came from.

But of course, like everything it’s dependent on your palette. But sometimes when folks come to me and they ask me why their cider doesn’t taste like apples, I suggest adding a little bit of malic acid or adding a little bit of apple juice concentrate. That is a carrier of plenty of malic acid. And to every time they come back and tell me yes, now it tastes like apples again.

So just be careful. This is the lesson. That yeast choice is very important. Yeast are not just yeast. Every yeast has its own personality.

And because I can’t help myself, we’ll do a bonus. Bonus round!

Don’t put milk solids in your home brew.

Now I tell you this one, because it’s going to end up on an upcoming episode of doing the most at some point. I won’t talk too much about why milk solids up in these brewing experiments. But the first three batches of this test recipe had milk solids in it. And it was kind of gross. And they contributed way too much lactic acid for my palette.

So I removed that ingredient and went a completely different direction. Now this is all to say that I make a lot of mistakes and I sometimes pick ingredients that aren’t the best choice for a brew, but it’s part of my experimentation process.

And as you all know, I typically brew things at least three, maybe four times, sometimes seven times to get it just right.

So that way, when I present a recipe and I say, this is the recipe that I recommend you try out. I know that I can trust and believe in it. And I know that it’s going to be repeatable for you. But that’s not to say that I don’t make mistakes. Just a lot of times they don’t end up here on the channel.

But when we make obvious mistakes, like the 15 that I’ve already presented to you, it’s pretty obvious to you all out there. And I appreciate when you see them and call me out on it.

Mistakes and failed experiments are sometimes part of the fun and the frustration of homebrewing. But really obvious mistakes should be pointed out because it helps all of us grow.

Now, this could include things like:

  1. teaching people to pour their brew through a siv, which could obviously over oxygenated and spoil people’s brews.
  2. This could include something as simple as putting a rubber band around your racking hose and sticking it into your brew, exposing your brew to all the chemicals and compounds that are carried on a rubber band.
  3. It could be as dangerous as instructing folks to drink a moldy brew instead of dumping it out for their own safety – mycotoxins they can kill you.
  4. Or this could be as dangerous as encouraging folks to bottle things too soon with no microbial stability and put them at risk of having bottle bombs in their house.

If I hear someone in an instructional video on YouTube say they don’t trust corks because they’ve had too many corks blow out of bottles over the years, that’s a sign to me that there’s something wrong there. Because corks have been used for centuries and centuries without issue before modern wine and mead making practices.

But that’s enough soapboxing, all I’m telling you is that brew tubers are fallible and here are 16 examples of my fallibility, and I’m sure I’m going to make more mistakes and say more wrong things in the future.

And what I really appreciate is the community is there to rally when I do say something wrong or do do something wrong and we all learn from it together, and I’m a bit humbled by it. I know this is a fairly niche video, but if you liked it, maybe hit that subscribe button and ring that bell for notifications.

We do a lot of brewing content here on the channel, and we’ve got an Instagram and a website and we’re on Twitch every Saturday. And of course we have a discord server at discord.doingthemost.org.

Until next time, happy brewing, happy learning, stay safe, and Cheers.

Karl S: Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.