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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: quest4watneys on February 02, 2011, 02:41:00 AM

Title: What's next?
Post by: quest4watneys on February 02, 2011, 02:41:00 AM
So I got my first Mr. Beer kit brewed and into the fridge and immediately went out and bought a kit that would allow me more versatility (it was love at first sight) :) I used that kit along with an immersion chiller I made with my own two hands (very fulfilling but laborious) to brew my first extract w/specialty grains (Imperial Stout). It's is in the bottles conditioning and by the taste of the sample which somehow found its way into my mouth, it's not bad for a freshman effort. I'm basing that solely on my own experience with store bought Imperial Stouts so it's likely to be a tad bit biased. I made an APA small batch called Tongue Splitter from a recipe I found and it's fermenting quite nicely now. I can't wait to taste that one! I'd really like to try a bunch of different recipes for s***s and giggles before starting the fine-tuning process of any one style. I've got my eyes on a Watneys Cream Stout clone I've found but noticed it has flaked barley and flaked oats among other things. I'm pretty sure these need to be mashed, correct? Should I get into mini-mashes yet or am I too green? If I throw caution to the wind, what kind of additional equipment should I be looking for to start with partial grain brews? You guys have been a tremendous help thus far and I'm certain without some of the advice I've gotten, I'd be cleaning Imperial Stout off of the ceiling and drinking a flat Mr. Beer while signing divorce papers! My fate in is the hands of the homebrew gurus!
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: Hokerer on February 02, 2011, 02:55:58 AM
When I started out, I did one "extract plus steeping grains" batch, then three "partial mash" batches, and from then on, it's been all grain.  You're definitely not too green unless you think you're too green.

When I tried partial mash, I stuck a stainless braid in one of those 2-gallon Coleman drink coolers and it worked great.  You can also just do it in a pot and use a colander to sparge.  Lots of easy options.  The only real difference from steeping is that you add some base malt, you control the temp, time, and water/grain ratio.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: quest4watneys on February 02, 2011, 03:09:49 AM
Thanks! I'll look for some detailed info on partial mash recipes and give it a go!
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: tygo on February 02, 2011, 03:09:58 AM
I've got my eyes on a Watneys Cream Stout clone I've found but noticed it has flaked barley and flaked oats among other things. I'm pretty sure these need to be mashed, correct?

Yeah, those need to be mashed.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: oscarvan on February 02, 2011, 05:04:37 AM
All grain..... YOU CAN DO IT!
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: euge on February 02, 2011, 05:40:59 AM
The mechanics of mashing isn't that hard. But while gathering together equipment it'd be worthwhile to start educating oneself about grain brewing and the approach you want to take. It'll be a wild ride. 8)



 
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: quest4watneys on February 02, 2011, 03:54:58 PM
Any recommended readings or advice to what approach works best?
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: euge on February 02, 2011, 07:14:47 PM
Any recommended readings or advice to what approach works best?

Weeelll.... since you asked... :D

John Palmer's How To Brew (http://www.howtobrew.com/) is a great place to start. Batch-Sparging as a technique is easily done and not too hard to master. You might also consider a single infusion no-sparge. Here's a great source to get started batch-sparging: http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/ (http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/).

My advice is don't get too caught up in the "numbers" aspect of mashing and brewing in the very beginning. Concentrate on getting the wort out efficiently and consistently and you'll find the numbers will fall in line.

You'll have more questions Lot's of them. :) One I would start asking now is about water and your local profile. If you can get a water report it would be optimal.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: quest4watneys on February 02, 2011, 09:55:41 PM
I can get a water profile from my local company. I had read that somewhere and was shocked, first of all to see that I could get a profile but even more by how much control you could take of the entire brewing process!

I can tell you this; I know my water is hard by the white ring left in the pot after boiling water. And it's heavily chlorinated. Enough that I can smell it when I drink from the faucet. Because of the reading I've been doing, I know that's bad so I've used nothing but bottled water so far when brewing. I have a filter that attaches to the faucet but I'm not sure how effective it is at removing minerals although it does get rid of the chlorine smell/taste.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: euge on February 02, 2011, 10:11:47 PM
I can get a water profile from my local company. I had read that somewhere and was shocked, first of all to see that I could get a profile but even more by how much control you could take of the entire brewing process!

I can tell you this; I know my water is hard by the white ring left in the pot after boiling water. And it's heavily chlorinated. Enough that I can smell it when I drink from the faucet. Because of the reading I've been doing, I know that's bad so I've used nothing but bottled water so far when brewing. I have a filter that attaches to the faucet but I'm not sure how effective it is at removing minerals although it does get rid of the chlorine smell/taste.

Building up from distilled water is an option. Or just by removing the chlorine from your tap you might have some good water for stouts etc... This can be accomplished by the use of a campden tablet in the hot-liquor tank. But get the report if you can. And if the bottled is working for you it's probably also good for ambers and browns.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: bonjour on February 02, 2011, 10:44:12 PM
I too, like many others, started with Mr. Beer.
To move to Partial mash all you have to do is "steep" at 150-155 OG, OK, and add some base malt.
All Grain, nothing difficult, you just need some equipment.
Cooler to Mash, chiller (coil of copper), and a Turkey Fryer
There is nothing difficult, but it will take a lifetime to master.

go for it.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: tubercle on February 02, 2011, 11:37:07 PM
Go ahead and start all-grain as soon as you can.

 Its ironic that way back when, all-grain was all that was available. Then due to superior technology LME and DME extract became available and it became the modern and "improved" way to brew.

 Now all-grain is considered "advanced".

Full circle

You're really just getting to where you should have started to begin with.

 Pretend that extract never was invented.

What would you do then?
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: quest4watneys on February 03, 2011, 03:29:04 AM


Building up from distilled water is an option. Or just by removing the chlorine from your tap you might have some good water for stouts etc... This can be accomplished by the use of a campden tablet in the hot-liquor tank. But get the report if you can. And if the bottled is working for you it's probably also good for ambers and browns.

Here's a profile in ppm except where noted.
Alkalinity     220
Ammonia     .46
Calcium        84
Chloride        66
Chlorine        1.4
Conductivity 750
Hardness (as CaCO3) 320
Hardness (as CaCO3) (grains per gallon) 18.6
Iron              .03
Manganese   .02
pH (pH Unit)  7.54
Sodium         42
Sulfate          62
Nickel (ppb)  1.5
Metolachlor (ppb) .10

I too, like many others, started with Mr. Beer.
To move to Partial mash all you have to do is "steep" at 150-155 OG, OK, and add some base malt.
All Grain, nothing difficult, you just need some equipment.
Cooler to Mash, chiller (coil of copper), and a Turkey Fryer
There is nothing difficult, but it will take a lifetime to master.

go for it.

I've got an immersion chiller and a turkey fryer with a 30 qt. stainless steel kettle :)

Go ahead and start all-grain as soon as you can.
Pretend that extract never was invented.

What's extract? ;)
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: bonjour on February 03, 2011, 04:00:11 AM
get a cooler and see this http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/
While I prefer tall yellow coolers with false bottoms (sorry Denny)
this is a cheap, easy and effective way to mash and lauter all-grain
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 03, 2011, 02:04:25 PM
Your water is fairly hard, but the calcium level is in a good range.  The alkalinity is fairly high.  I know enough about water to say that you could make beer with it, after you remove the chlorine.  Read the John Palmer book, chapter 15 has a good, readable section on water.  There you will find the concept of Residual Alkalinity, which is what you need to understand.  There is probably enough information to calculate the bicarbonate (HCO3), but I will let a real expert do that.

Don't let all grain intimidate you.  It is not that hard.  Way back when I did my first one, I said - "Is that all there is to it?".
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: richardt on February 03, 2011, 05:13:52 PM
Keep it simple--Use good water (no chlorine or chloramines) and stick to the recipe whether you do extract, minimash, or AG.

For a year or two my biggest challenge while brewing was that I didn't stick to the recipe.

I'd get "inspired" to try and get fancy with whatever's laying around the kitchen (spices, adjuncts, etc.)

Not all of the beers turned out that great, or, said another way, would have been much better if I'd just stuck to the recipe.

I also took awhile to get the water chemistry issue--it's a big deal.

Definitely spend a few bucks on using better water if your local water profile is awful. 
Many brewers just use distilled or RO water and build up the water profile to get what the style calls for.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: tomsawyer on February 03, 2011, 05:30:30 PM
My first couple of AG batches were a pain in the butt, but after that it was smooth sailing.  I think it was mostly having the runoff get stuck and not knowing how to deal with it.  Couple of tips:
1) After the runoff starts you can lightly scratch the surface of the grain bed with your spoon, this is called raking and it prevents fines from settling on top and slowing the runoff.

2) If (and when) the runoff slows, just re-stir everything and start it again, catching the first bit in a pitcher until it runs clear again.  Pour that back over the top.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: mabrungard on February 03, 2011, 05:42:19 PM
Keep it simple--Use good water (no chlorine or chloramines) and stick to the recipe whether you do extract, minimash, or AG.

For a year or two my biggest challenge while brewing was that I didn't stick to the recipe.

I'd get "inspired" to try and get fancy with whatever's laying around the kitchen (spices, adjuncts, etc.)

Not all of the beers turned out that great, or, said another way, would have been much better if I'd just stuck to the recipe.

I also took awhile to get the water chemistry issue--it's a big deal.

Definitely spend a few bucks on using better water if your local water profile is awful. 
Many brewers just use distilled or RO water and build up the water profile to get what the style calls for.

+1 regarding the need to remove chlorine and chloramine.  That will ruin any brewer's beer.  I wouldn't get too concerned about creating water, but it is a good idea to understand if your water presents problems in brewing some (or all) beer styles.  And even if there are problems, that may just mean that you can't brew great beer with that water, only good beer.  As a brewer progresses, the desire to move from good beer to great beer is typical. 
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: quest4watneys on February 03, 2011, 06:01:54 PM
get a cooler and see this http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/
While I prefer tall yellow coolers with false bottoms (sorry Denny)
this is a cheap, easy and effective way to mash and lauter all-grain


Fantastic article!
Thanks for all the info. I'm sure more questions will be coming!
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: quest4watneys on February 03, 2011, 06:08:13 PM
@mabrungard. Does that water profile look familiar? It's Indianapolis ;)  I noticed your tag line says you're in Carmel.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: mabrungard on February 03, 2011, 08:51:22 PM
Yep, crappy water!  A lot of my FBI clubmates use it, though.  The Carmel water cannot be used for brewing because it is salt-softened by the City. 
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on February 03, 2011, 09:33:04 PM
The Carmel water cannot be used for brewing because it is salt-softened by the City.  

Martin, can you elaborate?  I believe my Minneapolis city water is also salt softened, but my Ward Labs water report indicates that, while fairly soft, it makes for very good brewing liquor. I usually only have to add some calcium or sulfate to achieve most water profiles.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: mabrungard on February 03, 2011, 10:35:04 PM
Minneapolis gets their water from the Mississippi if I understand correctly.  That is probably not near as hard as the groundwater that my city uses as its supply.  The resulting sodium content in the softened water is directly proportional to the hardness of the raw water.  I'm my case, that means that my water comes to my house at up to 250 mg/L sodium!!!  That is not suitable for brewing.  100 mg/L would be pushing it. 

Thus, I have a RO system now.
Title: Re: What's next?
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on February 03, 2011, 11:13:03 PM
Minneapolis gets their water from the Mississippi if I understand correctly.  That is probably not near as hard as the groundwater that my city uses as its supply.  The resulting sodium content in the softened water is directly proportional to the hardness of the raw water.  I'm my case, that means that my water comes to my house at up to 250 mg/L sodium!!!  That is not suitable for brewing.  100 mg/L would be pushing it. 

Thus, I have a RO system now.

250 mg/L -- ouch!  Yeah, my sodium level is only 13.