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Messages - mashweasel

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I've never seen brewers report the opposite although I don't say it doesn't happen. Cooler temperatures favor ester formation = fruit. Higher temps favor higher alcohol and phenol production. Thats a general statement but holds true. Yeast strain will usually have a bigger impact and the temps should be treated as relative according to the specific strain. Mean 'fruitier' than or 'spicer' than...

Depending on whether I want more banana or more clove I change my mash. You can also monkey with the yeast count and oxygen number, more of each giving less character. Low temps = more fruit, high temps = more spice.

Diauxic mash (Banana)
Mash in at 5:1
1. 86F, rest 30 min
2. Draw off 75% thin mash into boil kettle
- heat thick mash to 65C, rest 30 min
- add back
3. 104F, rest 30min (maltase)
4. 162F, 30min
5. 176F, 10min

'Schneider' mash (spice)
1. 112F x 8 min (4VG)
2. 128F x 20min
3. 144F x 15
- decoction pull, boil 10min
4. 156F x 20
5. 176 x 10min

A way to 'cheat' to get more banana is to add about 10% pure glucose directly to your fermenter. Do it side by side with one without it. Use the dry Munich strain or 3068 and you'll see for  yourself.

Ill just address the points as we go by briefly summarizing.

Re data access – the ability to access high end journals can get very expensive. What is not expensive, but free is the access to the abstract to any article pretty much ever written. Abstracts definitely don’t tell the entire story but will give one a very good idea of what is in the paper. Its basically a short summary of what was done and the results. Google Scholar is a good tool for the beginner.

Re controls – At the very end of the experiment you make the claim about a starter is better (we’ll get to that later). However, to have an experiment that holds water one always needs an unmanipulated control. If you wanted to test the validity of making a starter then you would need a non-starter control.

Re OG – Both do claim that you can pitch either product into <1.060 wort. However you are doing an experiment for the number of yeast to be pitched and the effects therein. In order to do this one first needs to understand that high gravity brewing is a beast of its own. This was not your experiment which needs to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong, this in and of itself is very much an experiment but not what you

Re fermenters – you are correct. Both fermenters were the same which does take out the effects that the individual fermenter geometry would play. It doesn’t, however, take into account the fermentation kinetics of that much head space and how the fermentations react/behave as such. This is something that is very easy to fix but at the same time this would not in and of itself ruin the experiment.

Re the summary – I’m not being snarky but I understand what you mean so let me explain further. You may have known what you were trying to do but in your summary and presentation it focuses on the difference between pitch rate and nothing to do with using a starter. Moreover, the starter creation is flawed as I have said before. Add to this there was no non-starter control making there no way that one can draw any solid conclusions. Let me put it a different way. What if I was trying to see if it was faster to ‘go by foot’, to ride a bike or drive a car through London in the same manner this experiment is done? I would have the car and the bike only competing. The car finishing the fastest followed by the bike shows absolutely nothing to do with how long it takes to ‘go by foot’. Does that make more sense?

Re ascertaining new knowledge from this experiment – you make a statement I hear a lot, ‘…I learned some things as a result.’ You may very well have learned things as a result but what are those things? One never really every ‘proves’ anything when doing experiments only basically disproves things. Read back through your notes, see what you can find. Go back over my points and see what you can improve. One of the most important things that I haven’t touched on are the number of repeats you did with this experiments. Meaning how many of each did you do in duplicate, triplicate, etc. The reason we do this is b/c single experiments are inherently flawed. Even if you kept everything the same it would have been better to do 2 sets of 3 one gallon fermenters.

Re the ‘its only beer’ theory – If people put the time and energy into doing an experiment, they, just like me, don’t want to be wasting their time. On top of that people brewing beer don’t want to be wasting their time. I very much understand that a lot of this technical knowledge hasn’t been seen by the average home brewer. Any sort of experiment people love. However one needs to take everything with a grain of salt. Does it make sense? Was it carried out well? Etc etc. This may be only beer but don’t tell me that if some dude did an experiment saying that olive oil should be put into a beer and then there is really no need for oxygen that if the beer then went south and wasn’t shelf stable people wouldn’t be pissed! BTW – this last one happened. Research New Belgium olive oil. A dude wrote his Masters on it if I’m not mistaken.

Please keep up this conversation as it helps everyone out.


The points I list are not meant to be comprehensive in the fact that they prove/disprove any data. They are thought points.

Narvin, you have a very good point. I don't give indepth reasons for my points. I will absolutely go over point by point. That is a very good question. Just let me know what you think are the points I should cover and will. NP.

Every single publication offers free abstract's. The links I give show this. Most other publications can be found freely. If not, then a simple email to the person doing the study is all thats needed for more information. Nearly every person I know would email back freely with additional input that can't be read with plain 'text'.

As for the 'doctor' business, I am also one that is much laid back and has, nor will, be called doctor. My title is well earned as is why I use it. Nothing more.

As for the 'good enough' theory of home brewing 'experimentation' that really needs to stop. Nearly all of the points I list are very simple things to cover. Nothing that requires a ton of ability or research. Additionally, I haven't met a single home brewer that compares their wares to commercial products. We can't have it both ways. We can't say that our beers are better than the commercial thing but in the same breath say that we aren't held to any standard of experimentation.

Guys, again, the entire purpose of this post was not to show what I can see that you can't but to offer talking points in hopes that all the home scientists would see these things in future studies that they carry out. Its definitely not attacking the people carrying these out. I applaud these people.

Please continue the conversation and enough with the + (plus) agreements. State your questions. Thats how we all get better. My point rarely comes across the first time through of which I apologize. Kai and I have have had numerous conversations which entail this very thing. When one experiments in a vacuum one learns nothing.

I'm not sure about the reason for this experiment. This experiment, along with a massive number like it (high/low gravity, yeast viability, generation mutations, etc) have been done. Not just done but done in a properly controlled lab setting. Kai and I have chatted about things like this quite a bit. Its a big pet peeve of mine for people to blindly do experiments without doing any basic research to see if anything like this has been done. Kai does a good job of finding original sources and then replicating the experiment to the best of his abilities. I'm not crapping on the effort here boys, what Im still wondering is that how this data is supposed to hold water. The vast majority of studies is not based on subjective analysis rather objective. Samples pulled are tested for numerous things along with being put on an HPLC to determine exactly what the differences are. Meaning levels of ethanol, isoamly alcohol, ethyl hexanoate, etc etc. There are tables that indicate sensory anaylsis of the human palate and the correlation with the amount of some chemical. Meaning that they can correlate the amount of X in a beer to the average human perception of it. My case in point: Patino does some very good work.

Recently Chris White did a good job of summarizing high gravity fermentations of which pitch rate was talked about a lot:

To this specific experiment, in my professional opinion, here are the biggest problems I see. This is not meant to bring down the one doing the experiment but to help them, and everyone else, where small changes can make very large effects:

- vernacular - if one are going to do research use the terms that everyone uses in the industry. Pitching rate is always discussed at millions of cells/ ml not billions/ L.
- yeast age - 52 days is very very old for a slurry even under the best conditions. CO2 toxicity is a big deal.
- yeast count - Assuming number of cells in a 'starter' is an absolute no-no. If one doesn't count the yeast, the experiment can't be done.
- yeast starters - the starters need to be done exactly the same way, same speed stiring, etc etc. Regardless of anything else, they should have at least been done together and then split at the very end.
- Yeast viability -  Irregardless of your actual number you are pitching you have no idea of how viable they are (eg. methylene blue stain). Are you sending in old grannies or soldiers? Very important. Additionally, decanting starters is very hairy in that how much is too much to decant, how much did you lose etc etc.
- Experimental controls - Three beers are needed. An underpitch, an over pitch and a 'correct' pitch. Two beers doesn't give enough variables.
- OG - Its just too high. What would be a yeast pitch rate experiment to one has change, instantly, to a yeast pitch rate of high gravity beers...unless you wanted to do a high gravity experiment but I didn't read that.
- Open fermentation and headspace - It wasn't clear to me if this experiment was done fermenting 'open' in buckets or in buckets with a lid. If they were closed the head space was absolutely massive which could skew the experiment. Books have been written on 'fermenter-head space' specifics.
- Yeast choice - The yeast type makes a massive difference in the outcome of the experiment.
- Sensory evaluation - should have been done using a double blind test and not a triangle test. The double blind takes all of the bias out.
- Format of sensory form - Its much easier to get good data but using a polar type plot for assessing peoples subjective perceptions. Also called a 'spider plot'.
- Data presentation - the data should be presented in a histogram format with the average indicated. This way one can acutal see where each individual lands. A simple sd and T-test would be very easy to do if you did the spider plot.
- Summary of the summary - Using a starter makes better beer. This had absolutely nothing to do with the actual experiment.

Yes this list is extensive but all the points I've listed are not exhaustive. They all need to be addressed for all experiments and not just this one. That's why data is always peer reviewed. Point short, there is nothing I can ascertain from the data presented. There are too many holes for even the smallest assumption to be made.

This is the world I work in. When data is presented its up to the researcher to be able to support it. If someone doesn't show people whats expected for make an actual assumption they we are all living 'blind' and will allow falsehoods to continue and hearsay to continue.



All Grain Brewing / Re: Imperial Mild? Really...
« on: March 17, 2010, 02:47:51 PM »
Imperial only meant that it was brewed for the Imperial Czarist court. Nothing to do with strength per say originally. Many breweries then adopted the name for their strongest beer...the vast majority of the time it was an RIS like thing.

Events / Re: NHC Pre-Conference Events
« on: March 17, 2010, 12:57:42 PM »
I can tell you for sure that the BJCP reception will be that Wednesday night at Summit Brewing co. Food, drinks, mead, etc etc Will be a good time. We are finalizing the details as I speak.


Kristen England
2010 NHC Co-organizer

All Grain Brewing / Re: Imperial Mild? Really...
« on: March 17, 2010, 03:32:43 AM »
The only thing Mild traditionally meant was that it wasn't aged. 'young' = 'mild'. Had nothing to do with strength, roast, hops or anything else. Mild's were commonly +6%. Sarah Hughes is actually an outlier b/c of the massive amount of crystal malt (25%) that goes in and the lack of any brewing sugars. Historical milds never had any where near that much crystal...if any at all.

As for stout, roasted barley wasn't used widespread until the 20th century and then not really until WWII. The only thing that stout meant was that the beer was a porter that was STOUTER at that individual brewery. Meaning Truman's stout might not be stronger than Barclay Perkins porter. Its relative. People seem to fumble over roasted barley still. There are many many stouts made today that have no roasted barley and are thoroughly stout's.

Best tropical are definitely Dragon stout, Lion stout and Jamaica stout. The others are very very hard to get. I know for a fact that the Dragon and Lion have VERY little actual dark roast grains. Mostly colorant and caramel malt. Additionally they use lager yeast in most cases. Jamaican stout is pretty much a cross between Dragon and actual Guinness FES. The dragon is 1% higher in ABV and also about 15pts higher in FG than the Guinness. The difference is very striking not in just numbers but flavor also. However, sitting on a beach in Jamaica, they go down just as fast. :)

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Modern German Brewing Practices
« on: February 24, 2010, 11:32:05 PM »
Kai's right about the secret stuff. Rarely get anything out of a brewery other than numbers like, OG, BU and ABV. I've been to nearly every major German brewery and can't think of one that really gave me any sort of usable info. The majority of the big guys have their malt specially made for them. Its not undermodified in the least. A few big breweries still do decoction. If you want to see what some smaller breweries are doing go on a tour of Franconia and Bamburg. Tons of small guys making an awful lot of great beer. Kai is right in that I've also never seen a German brewery that does a single infusion. I'm sure there may be one out there, probably an alt or something.

As for the Zoigl, it depends where you are how good it is. I've had some great ones and some terrible ones. I've also been to Zoigl 'breweries' that were out of beer. :( Most of them have been pale, 5% abv beers with a lager ferment 6C or so and then a short lager. Some have been hazy, some quite bright. All different.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Chris Colby on malt conditioning
« on: February 10, 2010, 06:00:51 AM »

...w/o publishing how this data was obtained. I.e. the conditions under which the experiment took place which makes peer review difficult.


Amen brother! I should have added this one to the stuff above!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Chris Colby on malt conditioning
« on: February 10, 2010, 04:40:58 AM »
I don't see this as a personality problem but one that has been around as long as home brewing. The vast majority of brewing subjects have been expounded upon at great length in scientific articles, books and journals since the turn of the 20th century. Polish, German, English, French, etc etc. Many great ideas, techniques and science has been done. Over the last 5 years I've seen a massively disturbing (to me) amount of home brewers doing 'kitchen science' repeats of original experiments and claiming them to be their own or in the least feeling they have any type of ownership on the idea or concept. Any repeated experiment in any aspect of science is just that. Its the original owners. Most people like to use a few data points, drop them into excel and have new data. Its not. Its old data missing the vast majority of controls and specific conditions. The part that really turns my stomach is that nearly 99% of this 'science' doesn't even cite a single source, let alone the/a original one. To my point, in Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing and Design: Volume 4 (1977, pg 137), they describe in adequate detail wet milling. Not an original source in the least but I chose this source for two reasons; 1) I was born in 1977 and it was over 30 years ago and 2) The very last sentence of that paragraph is of such critical importance that Im flabbergasted to find it is not mentioned. 'Good cleaning practices...are mandatory to prevent microbial growth'. They arent talking about spoiling of the malt, they are talking about the massive amount of bugs that, once wet, will grow and multiply in that environment.

Point short, if people are going to repeat experiments performed previously, please use proper citations. The handful of you that do use citations, keep it up the good fight but stop treating it so much as your research rather than being the light bearer of the idea.

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