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Messages - Bad Brewer

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Is This A Problem?
« on: April 16, 2011, 02:46:00 PM »
Learn new stuff in here all the time.  It's pretty cool, wish is signed up years ago.  I had always thought, probably because of reading, that recirculating until you had fairly clear running impacted the clarity of the finished product.  I also thought it increased extraction efficiency.

Have almost always done that with all grain, interesting to know that it isn't necessarily the case. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Is This A Problem?
« on: April 16, 2011, 02:27:41 AM »
Boiled it tonight.

I think its going to turn out fine.  It was very (more than typical) cloudy going into the kettle, but when I killed the heat you could see a lot of break material chunking together with clear golden wort in between.  As usual, the march pump and plate chiller mixed everything together.  Used a funnel with a fine mesh screen going into my conical, minimal amount of material captured there.  It was also very cloudy going into the fermentor.

My mash also still hit my predicted efficiency (~70%), my post boil gravity (unusually so) was exactly what I calculated it should be.  I'm rarely that accurate!  And this was without any pH buffer (thought I had some 5.2, but didn't, and realized it only as I was mixing in my grain and strike water), pH was a little high at 5.8-6.0.  Let it mash 90 min.  Single batch sparge, minimal recirc, etc.

It should clear up with a couple weeks time though.

Now to go clean up the mess  :P

All Grain Brewing / Re: Is This A Problem?
« on: April 14, 2011, 10:12:34 PM »
I also see clarifying agents in the future of this batch....  rushing my recirc and sparge, not pulling off the grainbed as clear as I'd like....  ah well, I'll pretend like that's what I meant to do :P

All Grain Brewing / Re: Is This A Problem?
« on: April 14, 2011, 09:40:14 PM »
I was contemplating heating it up to a boil and then shutting it off, covering it (tinfoil or something to more or less seal it, plus kettle lid), and then getting back to it tomorrow.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Is This A Problem?
« on: April 14, 2011, 08:59:27 PM »
A question tengential to the OPs question:

After you finish a mash, how long can a wort sit before the boil?

I've let them sit in my boilkettle for a few hours before with no problems, but today I find myself faced with the possibility of having to wait until tomorrow (24-36 hours) before I can boil.  Life sometimes interupts even the best planning!

I'm inclined to think that since it's pre-boil that this isn't going to be any sort of issue, as long as i can keep my cat from taking a swim in it or some equally catastrophic (pun intended) problem occurs.


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Conical fermenter HELP
« on: April 04, 2011, 11:48:57 PM »
SS is pricey!  Anybody have any thoughts about this?  I've looked at them for awhile now, and my 6.5 gal carboy died in a tragic accident...

I have two 6.5g minibrew conicals.  They work well, as long as you remember to totally disassemble, clean, and sanitize in between batches.  The two valves have plastic threaded connections to the conical, have to use a little common sense in tightening them.  I typically soak all the pieces in starsan for 30 min, including some teflon thread tape, before putting them together.  Then fill them to the top, add an ounce of starsan, let them sit overnight.  Drain and cover the top on the morning of my brewday.

With any conical an important thing to remember, especially with ball valves, you have to sanitize the exterior of the valve before you open it.  Starsan in a spray bottle is what I use.  spray, wait 60 sec, spray it down again, wait 60 sec, take sample or drain trub/break.

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: April 04, 2011, 11:25:34 PM »
So, 24 days, ABV is up to 12%.  That is a little behind where I would have expected it at this point.  Have managed the pH well, it has stayed 3.2-3.7 with no intervention after my initial water modification.  Yeast appear healthy, still have strong activity with constant bubbling.  No vinegar aroma/taste and no signs of bacterial or mold contamination.

But I think I'm going to have to dump it.....

The ethyl acetate aroma, sharp and solventy, is now the dominant odor.  Taste as well.  Overwhelming now that it has dried out some, less honey left to mask it.  I don't think it is salvageable now.

So, the take away is... treat 71B like I would treat the Chimay yeast?  Pitch at 60, don't let it run higher than 62-64?  71B's listed temp range, from Lalvin, is 59F-86F, but two days at 74 seems to have produced an overwhelming quantity of solvent like aroma and taste.  Next time I use this yeast I'll definitely be running it at the cold end!

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 22, 2011, 08:22:03 PM »
Last thought - with the next batch you might try cutting the OG in half.  In addition to being cheaper, a drinkable 8% ABV version would beat the hell out of a dumped batch.  When you think the recipe for the 8% version is perfected, try a 10%, then a 12% and maybe a 14% version.  cheers, j

Yeah, I have made three batches in the last two years with target ABV of 8-10%. (mostly its beer for me, not a lot of wine/mead)  Just straight up traditional meads.  The high gravity/ABV version of this tangerine mead was very enjoyable the first time I made it, was hoping to pass out a few bottles this christmas.  Ahh well, there is still time  ;D  Live and learn, be that much wiser the next time around.

The input is very much appreciated, thanks!

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 22, 2011, 08:12:30 PM »
Yeah, it got O2 additions at 12 and 24 hours, with nutrient additions at both of those points, also nutrients added when at 5 days.  The super high gravity more or less requires it I think.  It has been actively fermenting, constant bubbling for 12 days, started going at about 4 hours after the initial yeast pitch. 

I was planning on adding Lavlin EC-1118 when it hit the 14% ABV mark, maybe I will up my second yeast addition to about 600billion cells, add more nutrient than planned, and do it sooner.  Its sitting at 7.7% ABV now (1.159 to 1.101).

I will definitely keep swirling it a few times a day.

Thanks everyone for the input, I'll keep this updated as it progresses.

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 22, 2011, 02:21:29 AM »
This batch may be toast.  I can't tell for sure yet...

The gravity is still 1.101 (down from 1.159 at the start), so the taste is still extremely sweet, the sugar is overpowering other flavors.  It is still vigorously fermenting, so when it dries out more I will be able to tell more by taste.  It still has a sharp smell, its very hard to determine if the smell is a character of the orange blossom honey or ethyl acetate overload.

I have been digging through old notes, can't find my original recipe or notes, but I found a scrap of paper where I had written down my plan for the next batch of this I was going to try.  I wrote, "primary yeast: use Lavlin 71B instead".  That leads me to believe I hadn't used this yeast last time, so I think I may have used a trappist ale yeast and finished it off with Lavlin 1118.  Looking through notes on the last meads I made, I started them all at 65.

Using a trappist ale yeast last time for this recipe is potentially why I decided to let it run at 74 for 48 hours.  I do that exact same thing with my tripels.

If I have nail polish remover in a week, I'll be starting this over, maybe a little wiser (not really looking forward to dropping another $100 on honey...) in a couple weeks.  Want to put the seasonal tangerines in my freezer to good use.

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 20, 2011, 03:18:00 AM »
You mentioned a must fountain. Is it possible you are smelling a little left over spilled must that has gone to vinegar? maybe under your fermenter or some other peice of furniture? In the blow off bucket? just a thought.

Yeah.  I cleaned up what I thought was all of it, but I went back and moved stuff around and found a small puddle I had missed.  That seems to be responsible for the vinegar aroma.  Good call.

The fermentation still has a bit of a sharp odor, probably excessive ethyl acetate as jaybeerman says.  It was probably a mistake to let it start over 70F.   I'm not 100% sure though, the last time I tasted it (3/17/11) it did not seem harsh or solvent like.

I'll let it finish, its 9 days in and I still have fairly vigorous yeast activity with constant bubbling in the blowoff bucket.  I'll sample the gravity, taste,  and pH again monday.

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 18, 2011, 12:52:14 AM »
I've used 71B in the mid/high 60s before.  I don't have a good record of my process for the last batch of this recipe I made (was a few years ago, before I really considered that detailed record keeping might be useful to replicating results... stop laughing ;D), but I'm pretty sure I let it run in the low 70s for the first 48 hours.  I did the same here, to try and get the yeast off to a good start. 

Perhaps I should have kept it in the mid 60s the whole time.  Hmmmm.... I'm going to drop it from 68 to 64, maybe if it is ethyl ecetate some of it will evaporate off with time. (honestly, my nose is jacked up from the incredible amount of pollen in the air here, so maybe I'm smelling vinegar but its something else).

I'll see how it looks/smells/tastes in a week.

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 17, 2011, 06:46:49 PM »
I'm full electric and indoors, no noticable flies (this is FL though... so that does remain a possibility)

Also reasonably sure it isn't sulfur.  That I wouldn't be as concerned out, yeast would clear it up.

I will not be a happy camper if a fly made it into my must....  that honey was expensive.  Amazing flavor, but pricey.

If it goes to vinegar I will strain it as I dump it (while crying), do a post mortem looking for a fruit fly!

Here's to hoping the problem is a allergy derived malfunction in my olfactory system!

Other Fermentables / Re: High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 17, 2011, 05:57:15 PM »
Ok, so...  I'm a fairly experienced home brewer.  Never won a medal for anything, but I feel that I have a firm grasp on mead making and all grain brewing.  I have made this mead once before with no problems, and have made several others in the last 10 years as well.

I have a batch of it right now in primary, 7 days in, fermentation temps controlled via refridgerator/temp controller.  For the first 48 hours I let it run about 74F, pulled it back to 68F after that.  pH has been perfect, 3.3-3.7 the whole time.  I'm down from an SG of 1.159 to 1.110, blowoff is at a constant bubble for the entire time.

I am confident of my sanitation.

But I might have a problem...  there is a faint aroma of vinegar.  No detectable taste of it, just the smell. 

Everything else seems to be on track, fermenting like mad, nice burnt honey color or orange blossom honey, no visible contamination in the fermentor.

I had one must fountain at 12 hours when I added a second dose of O2.  But I don't think I contaminated it.

Any pro-tips?  Other than wait it out and see what it looks like in another week or two?

Other Fermentables / High gravity tangerine mead
« on: March 17, 2011, 05:45:44 PM »
The recipe:
6.5 gallons total volume
27lb orange blossom honey
1oz sweet orange peel
2 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
8-10lb honey tangerines (seasonal march tangerine)

Boil the starting water, about 6 gallons, add in the orange peel, clove, cinnamon.  Low boil for about 30 min or until your volume is 5 gallons or so.  Add yeast nutrient (I use white labs nutrient and "superferment" wine yeast nutrient, has yeast hulls and is high in DAP) and enough calcium carbonate to lower acidity by ~ 0.05%, boil another 10 min.
(edited to add- consider additional nutrient additions at various time points, usually at 12 hours and then when the yeast have consumed ~1/3 of available sugars)

Cool this to somewhere between 70F and 80F, put half into 6.5gallon fermentor.
(edited to change this- cool to 60F if using 71B, hold the fermentation at less than 64F.  71B will make you a batch of nail polish remover if it breaks 70F in honey, so running it at the low end of its temp range is probably best.)

Pour in your honey, stir well.
(edited to add- oxygenate with pure O2 and diffusion stone for 90sec to 2 minutes.  Repeat O2 addition for 60sec at 12 hours along with additional nutrients.)

Pitch 7 packets lavlin 71B yeast (rehydrate for 15 min per instructions).  This yeast will handle the high gravity of this must with no problems as long as it gets nutrients.  If it doesn't dry out enough, it might stall around 15-16% ABV, then rehydraye and pitch 4 packs of lavlin 1118 and some more nutrients, this will get it to 19-20% ABV usually without problem.

I highly reccomend using a blowoff tube instead of an airlock.  Swirl this once a day for the first week to degass.
(edited to add- swirl at least once a day to keep yeast suspended, until fermentation finishes. )

Once you are close to your desired final gravity, add the tangerines.  Monitor pH closely, the citrus may drop it to low.  Correct with small amounts of chalk (calcium carbonate) as needed.  If you finish fermenting at 3.5 or higher this probably won't be an issue.  Leave the fruit in for about a week, make sure you have a way to sink it (I use muslin bags with a stainless steel weight).  If you want more cinnamon or clove character add them here as well.

Let it sit for another week at least before considering a transfer into a secondary.  Bulk condition for 8 more weeks, bottle, age 6 months, then enjoy.  great for bringing a hint of spring to a cold winter night!  

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