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Messages - benamcg

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: 2 weeks on Yeast
« on: January 28, 2014, 11:49:50 AM »
I have a couple of thermawraps on the carboy.  I can't say as I have used them at temps between upper 70s and lower 80s, but assume that they will get the temp to that range.  Is 80 degrees too much?

Yeast and Fermentation / 2 weeks on Yeast
« on: January 28, 2014, 09:28:22 AM »
I currently have a Saison fermenting away in primary with WLP 565.  I want it to finish with a low terminal gravity (target of 1.005).  I was considering a primary for 6 days at 69 degrees, followed by 2 days at 80 degrees.  I have to go out of town after this time (8 days from pitching).

If the 565 does not get it to the desired gravity range I am contemplating transferring to secondary, adding some WLP 001 (rinsed slurry- one of two yeast strains I have on hand) right before I leave town.  My question is, even with a transfer off of the first pitch, do I run into issues of long contact time with yeast?  I wouldnt expect it, but I dont know if there would be an additive effect of contact time despite a transfer and the addition of a new yeast.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Raisins - to Boil or Not to Boil?
« on: January 11, 2014, 09:02:59 AM »
Why not use Special B?  It imparts a very raisin like taste.

Equipment and Software / Universal poppet valves
« on: December 23, 2013, 04:34:08 PM »
Last year I replaced a couple of poppets on the gas side posts of 2 kegs.  Since I was unsure of the keg type I went with some universal valves.  They seal nicely, but don't allow the gas connect to click or sit on the poppet (i.e. you have to press down to carb the keg). It wasn't a huge problem, but more difficult when initially trying to carb the new keg.
After 8-10 months I have now noticed that the gas connects will now click into place.  What is happening?  Were they installed improperly or just needed breaking in?


Equipment and Software / Blichmann QuickConnect Barbs
« on: November 20, 2013, 01:02:57 PM »
Anyone know if you can just purchase the barb portion of a Blichmann QuickConnect rather than the nut + the barb?

I have narrow barb on one now (intended for use on the Hop Rocket as a Randall) that I would like use on the Therminator (1/2" nut is the same) but do not know if the swivel barbs can be purchased separately or if they are interchangeable (I would assume they are).  I would rather not pay $13.99 x 2 to find out they are not.

Maybe the AHA can work on legislation to up the home production limit.  200 gals just isnt reasonable when you live in an area with minimal good beer choices.

Equipment and Software / Re: Thermometer Recommendation
« on: October 22, 2013, 08:46:35 AM »
Since the longevity of my thermometers seem to be less than 1 year.....maybe less than $75?

Equipment and Software / Cleaning a cold plate
« on: October 22, 2013, 08:45:54 AM »
I have a jockey box with a 2 outlet cold plate that needs a quick clean before the next party.  Shortly after each use I take a keg filled with Star San solution and run the lines for a while.  Then I close the tap and let it be until the next use.  I haven't used the box for about 3 months and the lines looked like they had a little white/mucousy appearance inside the lines.  I took all the lines apart and soaked them in iodophor (BTF) and seem to be fine now.  However, since I am dispensing for people other than me, I would like to make sure that I am not going to have party guests with intestinal distress or have any residues affecting the taste of the beer. 

I will probably not risk it and just replace the lines, but the cold plate was also packed with the solution.  I would think that since it is no-rinse Star San that it should be OK, but if it is not OK to store Star Stan for longer periods, any recommendations on cleaning it?  I have BTF, Star San and PBW. 

Any thoughts on what "normal" jockey box maintenance should be. 


Equipment and Software / Thermometer Recommendation
« on: October 22, 2013, 08:35:58 AM »
Anybody have a good recommendation on a thermometer?

I have had issues with the longevity of 2 digital ones, and have gone back to my glass floating thermometer (similar to:   In calculating grain temperature to estimate strike water my digital was reading 85 degrees and the floating 65 degrees (which was closer to the room temperature of the basement.  Using the floater I seem to be able to hit all my target temps, hit my estimated gravities based on a good extract efficiency.  Based solely on this, I am assuming that it is working.

I got away from this exact floating glass one when I had different readings between it and 2 laboratory glass thermometer (similar to  I probably am leaning in the route of another glass one in case this one breaks or to estimate whether it has become somewhat compromised. I would like to be able to check its accuracy with another thermometer or a method around the critical temperatures (50 to 195 degrees).  It seems that the thermometers I have used are either accurate at the lower end or the higher end.

Even though I have had rotten luck with digitals, I love the ability to probe and get a reading.  So, if you think that you have a great digital, please let me know. 


All Grain Brewing / Re: Need help with efficiency with Batch Sparging
« on: October 22, 2013, 08:23:10 AM »
Problem solved (original post)- I decreased the gap size on the mill and was able to hit 74% efficiency (I am happy with this %). 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Need help with efficiency with Batch Sparging
« on: October 08, 2013, 08:37:29 AM »
What kind of efficiencies were you getting with fly sparging? Were they similar beers? Has the water source changed? What's your mash pH like?

As I posted before, most of your efficiency losses are in conversion, not lautering.

Water hasnt changed.  I was getting 75% efficiencies with fly sparging

All Grain Brewing / Re: Need help with efficiency with Batch Sparging
« on: October 06, 2013, 07:53:35 AM »
I pretty much eliminated the deadspace, but still hit the same range of efficiency.  Probably even worse since I did not calculate in the contributions from the veggies (pumpkin).  All in all, not a good session to be trying to dial in the efficiency.

Other factors (too many variables are changing at once):
In this batch, my mash temp got too low due to adding the pumpkin mix (145).  I added a little more water (1 gal or 20% more than the target of 5 gals) to raise the temp bed (got it to 149). Also new, was a 90 min mash, but I doubt that it would affect the efficiency. 

Other than that, I took the advice of (nearly) splitting the run-off volumes evenly and only added sparge volumes that I was to collect for the second run-off.  I felt good about these improvements.  But alas, same end result.  I will keep fiddling to improve the efficiency, but, again, the simplicity and time savings of batch sparging make me not overly concerned- eventually I will figure out the system.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Need help with efficiency with Batch Sparging
« on: October 05, 2013, 02:16:51 PM »
Thanks for the input.  I used the tilt method and got the deadspace from 1 gal down to 24 fl. oz. I will report back after tomorrow's brew day if this cured the problem.  Thanks all!

All Grain Brewing / Need help with efficiency with Batch Sparging
« on: October 05, 2013, 10:06:57 AM »
My first three attempts at Batch Sparging have resulted in poor extract efficiency: 64, 67, and 56% in 12 gal, 6 gal, and 12 gal batches, respectively. The first and third attempts were with a different mash tun (72 qt Coleman Extreme cooler) than the 6 gal batch (Gatorade 10 gal circular).

I have not done anything differently with my crush size (Barley Crusher) since my fly sparging days.  Mash temperatures have been hit perfectly (152 F), each with volumes of ~ 1.3 qts/lb, and mashes are all held for 1 hr. 

At the end of the mash, I slowly open the valve to set the bed, I recirculate until clear, and then crank wide open to drain.  I have calculated that based on where my Bazooka T is connected, I have about 1 gal of deadspace (with grain/solids in there, obviously that volume is lessened, but I would still think that 1/2 gal of wort is trapped in the cooler after each run-off).  After Run-off 1, I add essentially 1 gal more water than what I need to collect (to account for the deadspace) of near boiling water (200- 205 F) to raise the bed to 165-8, stir and wait for 30 mins, then repeat the slow drain, recirc and collect.

For example:
My first run-off on the last batch collected 7 gals (on 28 pounds) for the first run-off.  I added 6.5 gals of water, stirred, waited, etc.  Collected another 5.5 gals for my target of 12.5 gals in the kettle, and only got 56%.

I feel like the process is sound, but if I could guess what is wrong, I think it has to do with something in the second run-off, either the deadspace under the Bazooka T, or how much water is being added to collect the second run-off.  The second run with a 6 gal batch anf a different mash tun was higher (67%) but still not great.  The amount of deadspace in that cooler is much less.

I like the concept of batch sparging and want to get it right.  There has not been any issues with the taste of the beer (as one could expect), and in the grand scheme of things, I could just add another pound of malt to hit higher gravities.  However, I would like to maximize the efficiency of my system to at least 75% and be consistent with it.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Beer Recipes / Re: Oatmeal Raisin Stout
« on: June 30, 2013, 04:44:15 PM »
Special B gives a nice raisin effect

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