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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: liquidbrewing on August 19, 2012, 10:42:56 PM

Title: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: liquidbrewing on August 19, 2012, 10:42:56 PM
It's not a major change, but the last thing I've done is only using distilled water for my sanitizer.  I know this is not a big thing, but I was wondering what the last thing big/small, that you guys did that you feel helped your brewing. 

Sound off!
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: tygo on August 20, 2012, 12:09:18 AM
Hmm, good question.  My actual brewing system has remained pretty static for awhile now.  I guess the last thing I did to upgrade was to add a couple of stirplates to my arsenal.

I think the next thing I'm going to work on is getting a pump to help me move the wort around and to whirlpool when chilling.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: tonyp on August 20, 2012, 01:42:13 AM
i recently purchased an aeration stone/wand and I saw a def improvement in fermentation speed
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: erockrph on August 20, 2012, 01:50:17 AM
I've started using my swamp cooler even when ambient temps are in an OK range. I find that this helps keep the initial spike in temp under control as fermentation takes off.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: sparkleberry on August 20, 2012, 01:54:48 AM
i got a chest freezer and tcd. loving the results. for my recent birthday i picked up a grain mill and o2 wand but haven't had time to use either yet. hoping next monday! and i just read about starsan and distilled water here today so i'm totally doing a small batch tomorrow when i brew. excited to hear this helps it stay good longer!

cheers.

ryan
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Pinski on August 20, 2012, 05:30:33 AM
Refractometer; makes it much faster to take readings during the brew session.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on August 20, 2012, 12:30:43 PM
Learning about water/mash chemistry and applying what I learned to my process.  Now I always hit my desired mash pH and my water flavor profiles really help my beers shine.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: davidgzach on August 20, 2012, 12:53:18 PM
Bought a mix-stir.  Sure beats a whisk for aerating!

Ha!  No pun...... ;D

Dave
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: jamminbrew on August 20, 2012, 12:58:23 PM
Making starters. I am impressed with how quickly I get activity in the carboy... Usually less than 1 hour.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Jimmy K on August 20, 2012, 01:19:31 PM
Adding a water filter to my brew stand.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: beersk on August 20, 2012, 01:26:50 PM
Learning more about water chemistry, for me, was also a big step. 
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: davidgzach on August 20, 2012, 01:56:31 PM
I have to say though that the most recent upgrade that has had the biggest effect on my brewing is converting my chest freezer in to a lager fermentation vessel.  I can now ferment 4 lagers at a time which is awesome.....

Dave
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: euge on August 20, 2012, 02:24:23 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: davidgzach on August 20, 2012, 02:32:26 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.

Euge, that is a great idea.  How many bottles does it typically take?  I assume just a good spray of StarSan?

I was about to buy a pump to make a recirculating ice bath.  Just saved me $100 and a lot of time......

Dave
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: nateo on August 20, 2012, 02:53:13 PM
Big change - chest freezer/controller for fermenting.
little change - quit trying to emulate water profiles, took a minimalist approach to water treatment.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: phillamb168 on August 20, 2012, 02:56:42 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.

Great idea! I guess I would just be worried about the plastic melting. Do you not have problems? Perhaps the thermal transmission through the plastic helps prevent that sort of thing?
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Kaiser on August 20, 2012, 02:56:56 PM
Bought a mix-stir.  Sure beats a whisk for aerating!

What I found to work well for aeration is to shoot O2 into the headspace of the carboy, close and shake. I can easily get to 8 ppm O2 with this method. Another shot and I can get to 10-12 ppm. I found that more repeatable than the O2 stone. But the problem is that it foams a lot and that foam makes adding yeast suspended in 1-2 l wort difficult.

Kai
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: denny on August 20, 2012, 03:02:03 PM
Adding a pump to do recirculated chilling.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: davidgzach on August 20, 2012, 03:06:27 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.

Great idea! I guess I would just be worried about the plastic melting. Do you not have problems? Perhaps the thermal transmission through the plastic helps prevent that sort of thing?

I'm assuming he's using the IC to get it down below 80F and then dropping in the ice bottles.  Euge?
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: euge on August 20, 2012, 03:27:00 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.

Great idea! I guess I would just be worried about the plastic melting. Do you not have problems? Perhaps the thermal transmission through the plastic helps prevent that sort of thing?

I'm assuming he's using the IC to get it down below 80F and then dropping in the ice bottles.  Euge?

That is correct sir! In the winter the IC will get the wort down to 65-ish. But the rest of the year I drop in 10 sanitized frozen bottles at about 90* and let it sit until desired temps are reached. I can get 6 gallons down to 45* easily; then drain the wort off the bottles and rinse them afterwards.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: AmandaK on August 20, 2012, 05:01:40 PM
Fermentation temperature control was my big one when I first started.

But really, paying attention to what I'm doing, taking notes and making smart recipe decisions have been a big help. (Thanks Designing Great Beers!)
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: beersk on August 20, 2012, 07:51:57 PM
Big change - chest freezer/controller for fermenting.
little change - quit trying to emulate water profiles, took a minimalist approach to water treatment.
Agreed on the water profiles. Started using only calcium chloride on most beers, just as you have.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: kmccaf on August 20, 2012, 08:35:53 PM
Using Bru N' Water to get my pH dialed in. I just started this, so I'll just have to see if it works.

I have also started using less crystal malt, and have been boiling the first gallon of run-off to half a gallon. I feel this has been improve the malt profile significantly.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 20, 2012, 09:30:31 PM
Last year Brunwater. The year before the chest freezer with temp control. Adding hops at flameout and whirlpooling helped improve some beers.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: denny on August 20, 2012, 09:45:30 PM
I have also started using less crystal malt, and have been boiling the first gallon of run-off to half a gallon. I feel this has been improve the malt profile significantly.

You don't feel like they give you different results?
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: kmccaf on August 21, 2012, 02:15:32 AM
I have also started using less crystal malt, and have been boiling the first gallon of run-off to half a gallon. I feel this has been improve the malt profile significantly.

You don't feel like they give you different results?

Ha, I posted that, and thought I should have elaborated, or at the very least rewritten it into two sentences.

Oh, I am looking for different things from both of them. Using less crystal/specialty malt has meant that I spend more time justifying the presence of each ingredient. This I believe has given me a better malt profile, as it doesn't taste so muddied, and it is also giving me a better idea of what each malt is bringing. Boiling the first gallon down gives me a darker color (which is something that I personally like), and also helps get a boil quicker on my fairly weak stovetop. Otherwise, I suppose I should do two batches and gauge how it affects my tastebuds, as I recall a thread where this topic was being discussed, and the results seemed dependent on the individual's taste. Perhaps in the near future: same recipe, one where I don't boil down the runnings, and the other where I do.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: punatic on August 21, 2012, 02:35:21 AM
I went from a chiller to a condenser.
Title: Re: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Kaiser on August 21, 2012, 02:49:04 AM
I went from a chiller to a condenser.

Elaborate.

Kai
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Alewyfe on August 21, 2012, 03:37:20 AM
Using Brun'Water and reading Martin's, AJ's, Kais and Noonans work re: mash pH has helped me to actually start to understand what I'm trying to do with my water. Results today with a newly purchased pH meter indicates that I am getting very close to desired pH using Martin's spreadsheets. Results in recent competitions indicated that my attention to water was netting better beer.

Thinning my mash to 1.5ltrs/# has increased my efficiency from around 70 to 75%. Todays batch of ordinary, using the tighter controls the pH meter afforded has given me another 10% increase in mash efficiency. (what ever will I do with all the extra beer?)

Also got a pump earlier this year which has helped get wort chilled faster. Also like it for recirculating mash to vorlauf...beautifully clear wort into the kettle.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: DrewG on August 21, 2012, 01:32:33 PM
Extending my cold crash to about a weeks time w/ gelatin a needed. Getting nice clear beers, even the heavily dry hopped ones.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: bluesman on August 21, 2012, 01:42:30 PM
There are two changes that I've recently made.  I'm now using a 5L flask for making my starters which makes it a lot easier to produce starters.  I boil the starter wort right in the flask then chill and pitch. I've also started using pure O2 for my beer.  I need to find an easy way to measure the amount of O2 going into the wort.  The never ending process of improvement.  :)
Title: Re: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: punatic on August 21, 2012, 02:14:04 PM
I went from a chiller to a condenser.

Elaborate.

Kai

One is used for cooling, the other for phase change.
Title: Re: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Pinski on August 21, 2012, 02:28:54 PM
I went from a chiller to a condenser.

Elaborate.

Kai

One is used for cooling, the other for phase change.
What, are you working on a patent professor?  ;)
Some details would be really interesting.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Kaiser on August 21, 2012, 03:16:45 PM
I need to find an easy way to measure the amount of O2 going into the wort.  The never ending process of improvement.  :)

That is an interesting one. Many times when using the sintered O2 stone and an O2 tank I thought I aerated enough just to find out that the O2 level in the beer was only 50% of what I wanted. I have collected some data on aeration techniques and resulting O2 levels and was hoping to find a pattern, but I haven't gone back to that data yet. As outlined above I found the shooting O2 into head space and then shaking method fairly repeatable.

I don't think its practical for brewers to invest into DO meters. They are rather expensive. The less expensive one I have has a probe that don't fit into the neck of the carboy and I have to take a sample to test it. But it's useful for figuring out what oxygenation techniques work best.

Kai
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: weithman5 on August 21, 2012, 03:24:47 PM
i built my electric kettle.  working on a cross flow heat exchanger.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: punatic on August 21, 2012, 04:42:05 PM
I have a Hach HQ40d meter that measures DO using LDO technology. The LDO probe fits inside of a carboy mouth.  However, I do not like to contaminate the probe on a regular basis with the sticky mess that is cooled unfermented beer wort.  I too have found that filling the headspace in the carboy with oxygen and shaking vigorously provides an acceptable level of DO in the wort.  Certainly more so than using just ambient air.  I prefer this method because it is less messy and no airstone is needed.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Kaiser on August 21, 2012, 05:03:17 PM
I have a Hach HQ40d meter that measures DO using LDO technology.

I had to look up LDO technology and found this nice presentation on the top of the Google search: http://www.ncsafewater.org/Pics/Training/SpringFling/SC2009/SC09_Presentations/WW.M.PM.1.00.Moss.pdf
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: mabrungard on August 21, 2012, 05:03:31 PM
Its good that Carl is using a LDO unit.  I think its similar to the RDO units in that the probe does not consume oxygen to measure it.  Other oxygen meter probes do consume oxygen and you can't rely on their measurements in a closed environment since the oxygen is constantly consumed.  Any oxygen consumption in our fermentation would be due to biologic action if you are measuring with LDO.  I'd love to have one of those LDO units and experiment with it!   
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: gmac on August 21, 2012, 05:26:35 PM
Refractometer; makes it much faster to take readings during the brew session.

+1  No more trying to chill wort to check gravity prior to ending the boil. 

Other change (but not the last) - using starters but that's old news since I'm sure everyone uses starters these days.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Kaiser on August 21, 2012, 05:32:31 PM
Its good that Carl is using a LDO unit.  I think its similar to the RDO units in that the probe does not consume oxygen to measure it.  Other oxygen meter probes do consume oxygen and you can't rely on their measurements in a closed environment since the oxygen is constantly consumed. 

I'm using a DO meter that has a membrane and consumes DO. But that only means that your sample has to be sufficiently large such that the DO consumption doesn't impede the desired accuracy. It also means that the sample needs to be flowing around the probe until you see a stable reading. I can get stable readings with 150 ml sample size and the accuracy we brewers are looking for is +/- 0.5 ppm at the most.

The same is actually true for pH meters. They also consume acid but the amount is so small that it can be neglected. You notice this when the pH starts to creep up when sample is not being moved around the probe.

Kai
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: punatic on August 21, 2012, 07:24:51 PM
Once you've gone over to LDO you'll never look back.  My YSI DO meter has been sitting unused on the shelf for over 5 years now.  I've been thinking that it might make a good boat anchor...   ::)
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: dllipe on August 21, 2012, 08:41:26 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.

I've thought of using frozen soda bottles.  I live in CO and my water temp out of the hose is mid 70's right now so my IC will only cool down to about 80-85 after 20 minutes or so (5 gallon batches).  I've had to close it up and put it in one of my fridges to bring down to pitching temp but that actually takes longer than you would think.

How many bottles do you use?
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: rblack90 on August 22, 2012, 04:49:33 AM
Definitely starters and temp control. Fermentation is key to great beer!
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: kgs on August 22, 2012, 01:18:05 PM
Built a hop spider. LHBS folks told me that this would dramatically impact hop utilization. Brewed the same hoppy beer back-to-back. Second batch is as hoppy as the first, and there was less gunk.

Upgraded to a Thermapen. Much faster readings and useful outside of brewing.

Looser mashes, less sparging. I can start to really taste the malts. Also saves time.

Added a March pump. Still incorporating it into the process, but so much less work for mother!

For my last dry-yeast beer (a stout) I rehydrated the yeast. I've been a sprinkler, but kickoff was so fast and healthy, and attenuation was so good, I'm going to keep doing this.

Goals: add fermentation control; add a refractometer.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: euge on August 22, 2012, 01:18:16 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.

I've thought of using frozen soda bottles.  I live in CO and my water temp out of the hose is mid 70's right now so my IC will only cool down to about 80-85 after 20 minutes or so (5 gallon batches).  I've had to close it up and put it in one of my fridges to bring down to pitching temp but that actually takes longer than you would think.

How many bottles do you use?

Ten 20oz for 6 gallons.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: bluesman on August 22, 2012, 01:42:57 PM
I need to find an easy way to measure the amount of O2 going into the wort.  The never ending process of improvement.  :)

That is an interesting one. Many times when using the sintered O2 stone and an O2 tank I thought I aerated enough just to find out that the O2 level in the beer was only 50% of what I wanted. I have collected some data on aeration techniques and resulting O2 levels and was hoping to find a pattern, but I haven't gone back to that data yet. As outlined above I found the shooting O2 into head space and then shaking method fairly repeatable.

I don't think its practical for brewers to invest into DO meters. They are rather expensive. The less expensive one I have has a probe that don't fit into the neck of the carboy and I have to take a sample to test it. But it's useful for figuring out what oxygenation techniques work best.

Kai

Interesting thoughts Kai. Thanks!
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: michaeltrego on August 22, 2012, 03:19:41 PM
What I found to work well for aeration is to shoot O2 into the headspace of the carboy, close and shake. I can easily get to 8 ppm O2 with this method. Another shot and I can get to 10-12 ppm. I found that more repeatable than the O2 stone. But the problem is that it foams a lot and that foam makes adding yeast suspended in 1-2 l wort difficult.

Kai

How long do you pump O2 in the headspace to estimate that all the air has been pushed out?  I think I'll try this on my next batch, but will pitch the yeast in before shaking to avoid the foam issue.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: coastsidemike on August 22, 2012, 03:36:31 PM
My process changes are to taste everything from start to finish (starter, grain, mash, wort, & the different stages of fermentation), simplify where possible, & keep in-use carboy's in like-new plastic trash-containers.  I add cooling/heating to water inside the carboy containers to control temp.  Overall, putting carboy's into something makes them easier to manage & store.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Kaiser on August 22, 2012, 05:16:54 PM
How long do you pump O2 in the headspace to estimate that all the air has been pushed out?  I think I'll try this on my next batch, but will pitch the yeast in before shaking to avoid the foam issue.

No exact science here. I just blow a 2-3 s shot of O2 from the O2 regulator into the wort.

But I just thought of something I might try next time:

Use a hose to blow the O2 under the wort surface. This should create foam. Once the foam reaches the carboy neck the the air has been purged out and I'll close the carboy and start shaking. The O2 dissolved in the wort should depend on the head space to wort volume ratio and the wort temp. I'm using 5 gal carboys, so this may not be as practical for 6 gal carboys due to the larger head space and possible over-oxygenation.

Kai
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: michaeltrego on August 22, 2012, 06:01:50 PM
How long do you pump O2 in the headspace to estimate that all the air has been pushed out?  I think I'll try this on my next batch, but will pitch the yeast in before shaking to avoid the foam issue.

No exact science here. I just blow a 2-3 s shot of O2 from the O2 regulator into the wort.

But I just thought of something I might try next time:

Use a hose to blow the O2 under the wort surface. This should create foam. Once the foam reaches the carboy neck the the air has been purged out and I'll close the carboy and start shaking. The O2 dissolved in the wort should depend on the head space to wort volume ratio and the wort temp. I'm using 5 gal carboys, so this may not be as practical for 6 gal carboys due to the larger head space and possible over-oxygenation.

Kai

Sounds like a good option - thanks Kai
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 22, 2012, 06:29:49 PM
Just tried a second pass of grain through the mill with my last two batches.  Efficiency increased as might be expected.  One batch wasn't very clear even after extended vorlauf, so I will await the completion of fermentation to see what this brings.  If it is merely a greater amount of trub, then I don't know if I will continue the practice; if it is good beer, clear and a negligible amount of additional trub - then it will become standard operating procedure.  (I want to easily harvest yeast).
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Kaiser on August 24, 2012, 12:55:29 AM
But I just thought of something I might try next time:

Use a hose to blow the O2 under the wort surface. This should create foam. Once the foam reaches the carboy neck the the air has been purged out and I'll close the carboy and start shaking. The O2 dissolved in the wort should depend on the head space to wort volume ratio and the wort temp. I'm using 5 gal carboys, so this may not be as practical for 6 gal carboys due to the larger head space and possible over-oxygenation.

I did some math on this and with a head space of 1.5 l and 17.5 beer volume, which is a pretty small head space, you'll end up with about 25 ppm DO. This is for filling the head space with O2 and shaking until so much O2 dissolved that the head space pressure is too low to push more O2 into the wort.

25 ppm oxygen may be good for a high gravity beer, but is way too much for normal beers. So the technique of purging the head space with O2 by creating foam with the O2 is not all that practical.

Kai
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: beersk on August 24, 2012, 01:10:33 PM
But I just thought of something I might try next time:

Use a hose to blow the O2 under the wort surface. This should create foam. Once the foam reaches the carboy neck the the air has been purged out and I'll close the carboy and start shaking. The O2 dissolved in the wort should depend on the head space to wort volume ratio and the wort temp. I'm using 5 gal carboys, so this may not be as practical for 6 gal carboys due to the larger head space and possible over-oxygenation.

I did some math on this and with a head space of 1.5 l and 17.5 beer volume, which is a pretty small head space, you'll end up with about 25 ppm DO. This is for filling the head space with O2 and shaking until so much O2 dissolved that the head space pressure is too low to push more O2 into the wort.

25 ppm oxygen may be good for a high gravity beer, but is way too much for normal beers. So the technique of purging the head space with O2 by creating foam with the O2 is not all that practical.

Kai
Well fooey...
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: punatic on August 24, 2012, 02:20:32 PM
I've been doing it wrong?
All those beers turned out pretty good.  Maybe because I just blow the oxygen into the headspace and shake well.  No underwater delivery or bubbling.  That's too messy.  The same reason I don't use an airstone.  Plus using an airstone always seemed like a good way to infect the beer to me.

I learned in my biology class in high school that bubbles from airstones in aquariums aren't the main mechanism for dissolving oxygen into the water.  The water/air surface is where that happens.  The airstone bubbles create a current in the water that exposes more water to the surface, which allows more gas to dissolve into the water.

Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: gymrat on August 24, 2012, 02:33:41 PM
I bought a nice strainer for pouring wort into my fermenter from the kettle. Now I don't have to use hop sacks anymore. Also bought an RV hose so I don't have to run in and out of the house with a pitcher to fill my water kettle.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Joe Sr. on August 24, 2012, 02:38:35 PM
I've been doing it wrong?
All those beers turned out pretty good.  Maybe because I just blow the oxygen into the headspace and shake well.  No underwater delivery or bubbling.  That's too messy.  The same reason I don't use an airstone.  Plus using an airstone always seemed like a good way to infect the beer to me.

I learned in my biology class in high school that bubbles from airstones in aquariums aren't the main mechanism for dissolving oxygen into the water.  The water/air surface is where that happens.  The airstone bubbles create a current in the water that exposes more water to the surface, which allows more gas to dissolve into the water.



The last change I made was moving to O2 instead of using an aquarium pump.  I can't say that I've really noticed a difference.

My last BDS did ferment out to like 1.006 though, and it's wicked strong, so perhaps perhaps I'm getting different results.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: coastsidemike on August 24, 2012, 02:42:51 PM
I bought a nice strainer for pouring wort into my fermenter from the kettle. Now I don't have to use hop sacks anymore. Also bought an RV hose so I don't have to run in and out of the house with a pitcher to fill my water kettle.

Is the mesh fine enough to filter pellet hops, and if so would you know what size mesh or what kind it is?  Gracias.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: weithman5 on August 24, 2012, 04:22:42 PM
i use the very fine 8 inch stainless strainer from pampered chef.  stops almost everything
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: dllipe on August 24, 2012, 07:29:55 PM
My last change in procedure was to eliminate two pumps from my regular brewing activities. I got rid of a sub-pump used to recirc ice-water through my IC in the warm-weather months and the march pump for general recirculation and transfer of wort.

Now I just use frozen 20oz PET (soda) bottles to chill the wort down to ale or lager temps. Have found it to be more effective and just as fast if not quicker in cooling the wort down to desired pitching temps!

Through these changes I have accomplished savings in time and effort and have removed the need to make ice, and use a cooler/bucket, two pumps and corresponding hose. I no longer have to move, hook-up or clean these particular pieces of equipment. Also there has been a reduction in mess and spilled wort or water.

I've thought of using frozen soda bottles.  I live in CO and my water temp out of the hose is mid 70's right now so my IC will only cool down to about 80-85 after 20 minutes or so (5 gallon batches).  I've had to close it up and put it in one of my fridges to bring down to pitching temp but that actually takes longer than you would think.

How many bottles do you use?

Ten 20oz for 6 gallons.

Thank you.  I'm going to try it.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: narvin on August 24, 2012, 09:46:30 PM
This is an interesting topic, and it's also interesting that O2 has been mentioned here.  I switched to pure O2 last year for a couple of reasons:

1) Ease of use - I was tired of waiting 20 minutes with an aquarium pump.  I was definitely tired of shaking, and I didn't feel like dealing with other apparatuses.

2) Oxygenating lagers - I wanted to get above 8ppm, which was claimed to be the upper limit using air.

So, is my beer better?  I can't tell.  The point was to maintain ales exactly as they were before, since over-oxygenation could change the character of estery beers like Belgians. I haven't noticed a difference in the ales, but I also can't say that lagers are any better.  But it's sure easier and faster than an aquarium pump.

I think my biggest change in the past year was focusing on keeping pH down even lower than before - mash pH of 5.4 or so for lagers, and 5.5 for ales.This means phorphoric acid in all strike water, lactic acid or acid malt in light lagers, and almost never using chalk since I rarely see a mash pH of a dark beer get lower than 5.4.  I even acidified the wort in the kettle for my last pilsner to 5.35 with more lactic acid.    This has definitely had a positive effect on my beer.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: liquidbrewing on August 25, 2012, 01:03:53 PM
Thanks for all the responses! 8)

I realized I just started filtering my water with a carbon filter too, forget to add that to the original post.  Haven't had any finished beer from brewing with it, I've got a RyeIPA and  Blackberry Wheat in the fermenter right now.

Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: nateo on August 25, 2012, 01:49:07 PM
2) Oxygenating lagers - I wanted to get above 8ppm, which was claimed to be the upper limit using air.

I thought solubility of O2 was temp dependent. I've read if you chill the wort to lager fermenting temp you can get 10ppm O2. I'm not sure what the max O2 solubility is right before it freezes, though. Wort gravity should affect solubility as well, but I think temp is a bigger factor.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: lazydog79 on August 25, 2012, 02:13:42 PM
I would say my best overall change since I started brewing was going with a chest freezer and controller.  Lately, it has been to start using Bru'n Water (THANKS MARTIN!  ;D) and being more mindful of chemistry.  It has caused a lot of fluctuation in my efficiency, but I have some procedural steps I need to nail down to get some consistency back.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: gymrat on August 25, 2012, 02:28:24 PM
I bought a nice strainer for pouring wort into my fermenter from the kettle. Now I don't have to use hop sacks anymore. Also bought an RV hose so I don't have to run in and out of the house with a pitcher to fill my water kettle.

Is the mesh fine enough to filter pellet hops, and if so would you know what size mesh or what kind it is?  Gracias.

Yes it is. And I don't know what size the mesh is. This is my strainer
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/stainless-steel-strainer-10-1-4-diameter.html
The description says single mesh but it looks double mesh to me.

(http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll171/homersimpson_album/IMG_7819.jpg)

(http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll171/homersimpson_album/IMAG0221.jpg)
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: punatic on August 25, 2012, 05:08:04 PM
I use one of those for straining fruit out of my melomels and fruit beers.  I like it because I can sanitize it in boiling water.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: euge on August 25, 2012, 05:49:10 PM
I like to use an all-steel china-cap which is also easily sanitized .

(http://faculty.kutztown.edu/friehauf/beer/china_cap.jpg)

I would bend that loop of wire downward so the mesh-strainer can't slip back (it can easily happen) and dump hops, etc in your strained wort.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: richardt on August 26, 2012, 10:47:14 PM
Both strainers look nice.  It is all about having enough surface area.  If the mesh is too loose, it doesn't clog (good), but it doesn't strain much either (bad).  If the mesh is too fine, it quickly clogs, or "blinds" (bad), but it strains very well (good). I use the extra-fine mesh (bouillion) SS china cap strainer as a pre-strainer prior to using the funnel with the fine nylon mesh screen.  A simpler and more cost effective way may be to use a sanitized 5 gallon paint strainer bag inside the fermentor and then carefully lift it out after transferring the wort.

The most beneficial change in my procedure has been learning about and modifying my water profiles.  Lots of internet searching and reading (and re-reading) to better understand water chemistry.  I really like Martin's water profile tool and have found it to do a great job with estimating salt additions (I use RO H2O as my base water) and pH.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: mpietropaoli on August 27, 2012, 01:27:39 AM
I have to say though that the most recent upgrade that has had the biggest effect on my brewing is converting my chest freezer in to a lager fermentation vessel.  I can now ferment 4 lagers at a time which is awesome.....

Dave

How do you ensure that each lager is at the right fermentation temp?  I have a chest freezer and johnson controller, but if I insulate the probe and tape to the outside of one fermenter, the compressor kicks on if the yeast starts getting too aggressive until the FERMENTER temp gets down...thus while I have room for two, my Johnson (heh) is only able to monitor the temp of one. 
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Jimmy K on August 27, 2012, 12:59:11 PM
But I just thought of something I might try next time:

Use a hose to blow the O2 under the wort surface. This should create foam. Once the foam reaches the carboy neck the the air has been purged out and I'll close the carboy and start shaking. The O2 dissolved in the wort should depend on the head space to wort volume ratio and the wort temp. I'm using 5 gal carboys, so this may not be as practical for 6 gal carboys due to the larger head space and possible over-oxygenation.

I did some math on this and with a head space of 1.5 l and 17.5 beer volume, which is a pretty small head space, you'll end up with about 25 ppm DO. This is for filling the head space with O2 and shaking until so much O2 dissolved that the head space pressure is too low to push more O2 into the wort.

25 ppm oxygen may be good for a high gravity beer, but is way too much for normal beers. So the technique of purging the head space with O2 by creating foam with the O2 is not all that practical.

Kai

But isn't it unlikely that you'd get all that O2 into the wort anyway?
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: davidgzach on August 27, 2012, 01:05:14 PM
I have to say though that the most recent upgrade that has had the biggest effect on my brewing is converting my chest freezer in to a lager fermentation vessel.  I can now ferment 4 lagers at a time which is awesome.....

Dave

How do you ensure that each lager is at the right fermentation temp?  I have a chest freezer and johnson controller, but if I insulate the probe and tape to the outside of one fermenter, the compressor kicks on if the yeast starts getting too aggressive until the FERMENTER temp gets down...thus while I have room for two, my Johnson (heh) is only able to monitor the temp of one.

I'll bring the newly brewed lager just below the fermentation temperature in the chest freezer using an IC and then ice bath.  I typically ferment all my lagers at 50-52F so I'll bring the new one to 45F, pitch 45F yeast and let it rise to 50F in the chest freezer.  I have a separate fridge for lagering so it works quite well.

As for the probe, I have it in air, not taped to the fermenter.  You need to account for 1-2 degrees but it is manageable.

Dave
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: Greg A. on August 30, 2012, 09:34:33 PM
But the problem is that it foams a lot and that foam makes adding yeast suspended in 1-2 l wort difficult.

Kai

Any suggestions for pitching dry yeast when there is an excess of foam after shooting some O2 in and shaking it?  I had about 2 inches of foam when I was done.

I typically use liquid yeast, and I figure that would sink through the foam and into the wort because of weight, but I had some dry sitting around and figured I would use it.  It just ended up sitting on top of the foam and once the foam subsided, the yeast turned into what looked like a gooey yeast cake on the surface.  This was in the carboy so I really didn't have much that I could do to break it up properly.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: morticaixavier on August 30, 2012, 10:31:15 PM
But the problem is that it foams a lot and that foam makes adding yeast suspended in 1-2 l wort difficult.

Kai

Any suggestions for pitching dry yeast when there is an excess of foam after shooting some O2 in and shaking it?  I had about 2 inches of foam when I was done.

I typically use liquid yeast, and I figure that would sink through the foam and into the wort because of weight, but I had some dry sitting around and figured I would use it.  It just ended up sitting on top of the foam and once the foam subsided, the yeast turned into what looked like a gooey yeast cake on the surface.  This was in the carboy so I really didn't have much that I could do to break it up properly.

try rehydrating the dry yeast in warm water next time. then it's just like liquid only more so. but it will probably be fine, if it is in contact with liquid it will rehydrate it self eventually.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: andyi on August 30, 2012, 11:41:44 PM
Adding lactic acid to the mash.
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: The Professor on August 31, 2012, 01:34:03 AM
There were a few aha! moments for me along the way over the last 41 years.

BUT....Most recently (since joining this forum) it is definitely the batch sparge...especially after I actually  started doing it correctly. :o

I'm now consistently getting 84-86% efficiency from my grain.  I was saving a boatload of money on beer already by brewing all grain (ie, 20-30% of the price of commercial beer);  the batch sparge has increased even that margin quite noticeably.

You can teach an old dog new tricks.
(from one old dog to another, thanks Denny!)

But I still stubbornly cling to my secondaries.  ;D
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: punatic on August 31, 2012, 06:06:02 AM
Uh huh... A bitter clinger!
Title: Re: What was your last change in your procedure that you feel was beneficial?
Post by: denny on August 31, 2012, 04:02:15 PM
You can teach an old dog new tricks.
(from one old dog to another, thanks Denny!)

You just made my day, Al!