Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - el_capitan

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 21
The Pub / Re: Songs you never want to hear again.
« on: January 20, 2017, 08:51:01 PM »
Oh, that's easy.  Crazy on You by Heart.  Terrible song.

I think Heart is one band that could have just never happened, and their absence would not have any downstream repercussions. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Small Batch Brewers - Let's Talk!
« on: January 18, 2017, 05:16:54 PM »
I started with 5 gal batches, scaled up to 10 gal for a few, then dropped back to 3 gal for a year before coming back to 6 gal as my sweet spot.  Small batch brewing was fun though and I still do some that way.

1. What's your usual batch size?    -3 gal, unless I split a 5.5 gal batch into two 3 gal glass carboys.

2. Why do you brew small batches? - More variety, fresher beer, so many recipes and so little time

3. Do you brew, extract, partial mash, all grain?  - AG

4. What's your basic process?  I.E., BIAB, tiny cooler (😉), just stir in the extract, etc.

I actually do use a 5 gal Igloo cooler with a braid for the mash tun.  I use a pony keg as a HLT and boil in my 10 gallon Polarware.

5. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment that you like to use especially for small batches?  - The tiny cooler is key.

6. If you've brewed larger batches how would you comapre the two in terms of effort?  Time?  Equipment needs?  Recipe consistency?  -

For me the smaller batches are kind of awkward for my system for a couple reasons.  Mainly, the HLT doesn't pull siphon easily with volumes under about 3.5 gallons.  I can burp the line a little bit and get it to siphon through, but it's kind of sketchy with near-boiling sparge water.  Also, the temp probe in my Polarware kettle is just a bit too high to read a 3-gallon volume, and the immersion chiller is partially sticking out of the wort, so it's less efficiently cooling.  As for effort, it's pretty much the same as doing a 5 or 6 gallon batch, which is a big reason why I don't do small batches as often.  I'd rather brew a "standard" bigger batch of beer and just bring more growlers when I hang out with friends.  My efficiencies were consistent with what I typically get - 75 to 80%.

7. What am I missing that should be known about small batch brewing?

I don't know what you know, so I can't say what you're missing!  It was a great way to audition a bunch of different beer styles and expand my brewing repertoire a bit.  You can experiment with recipes without such a commitment.  Once the base recipe is kind of fine-tuned, I think it's more valuable to split a 5 gallon batch into two 3 gallon carboys (or pails) and test variables that way (yeast, dry hops, other additions, etc.)

Good luck with the book! 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I offer this for open ridicule ....
« on: January 18, 2017, 03:55:06 PM »
I wonder if the guy cooks?  After all, you can go to a restaurant and get whatever you want to eat.

I'm in this camp.  I enjoy crafting my own stuff - making my own meals, growing herbs and vegetables, making my own beer, etc.  I don't necessarily do it because its cheaper or better, I simply enjoy the process.  There's some reward in that itself - homemade/homegrown.

Exactly.  I've never seen my wife as mad as the time a family member criticized us for trying to grow as much of our own food as possible.  He said, "Not only is it impossible to grow enough food to feed your family all year, think about what you would be giving up by spending your time doing that?  I can go to the co-op and buy any variety of tomato I want, and I don't have to grow them." 

We feel that there is tremendous value in doing things, rather than just getting things.  The process enhances the product in such a way that the time spent is its own reward, because you're doing meaningful work that validates your own life.  I'm all for creative pursuits - making quilts is a huge time investment, but you're creating things that otherwise would not exist.  Our beers are the same way - each one is unique and fleeting, creative products of our careful attention and personal investment.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: Honing Your Skills
« on: January 16, 2017, 08:55:08 AM »
Nice job on hitting those high OG's.  I always have some light DME on hand in case I need to boost gravity on those big beers.  Did you hit your intended volume as well as your OG?  I guess that's the true test, eh?  Knowing preboil gravity will allow you to adjust your boil intensity or add gravity points as needed to hit your intended OG. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Honing Your Skills
« on: January 16, 2017, 07:50:07 AM »
Brewing bigger beers like RIS and barleywine are challenging and probably not representative of how your system works in a regular setting.  I always have low and fairly unpredictable efficiencies with bigger beers.  A simpler beer like a SMASH might help you get to know your system better.  I have really enjoyed a SMASH with Vienna malt and Centennial hops. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Honing Your Skills
« on: January 16, 2017, 07:34:47 AM »
Congrats on getting started with the hobby - it sounds like you're interested in the continuous learning aspect of brewing, as well as the historical and experimental sides.  Cool!

As for measuring water, I picked up a metal yardstick.  It's aluminum, I'm pretty sure.  I measure the volume and gravity of my wort pre-boil.  I had to add water to my kettle a gallon at a time and measure the height change.  With my kettle, it turns out that each gallon add 1.5" of height (I'm lucky it came out so even).  So now I can just dip in my yardstick and divide the measurement by 1.5 to get volume.  Keep in mind that boiling wort expands about 4% from a cool state, so I also tend to multiply that result by .96 to get a true volume. 

Then it's just a matter of  Volume x Gravity = total points extracted.  Compare your extraction to total points of gravity added through grains and adjuncts, and you'll get your efficiency. 

I carefully measure water volumes in a similar way:  First I had to add carefully measured volumes to a plastic water cooler carboy (aka Culligan jug).  Then I marked the level at each gallon with a Sharpie.  I divided out the distance between the full gallon and made incremental markings at each 1/4 gallon.  So I can either pour or rack from those jugs and know how much water I'm adding. 

One great resource for getting started is "Brewing Classic Styles" by John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff.  I have brewed about 20 of the recipes and have enjoyed all of the beers.  This will help you hone your technique while brewing proven recipes.  You should also download the free version of Bru'nWater, which will get you started on water chemistry in an easy way.

I learned a lot (and still do) from spending time on forums like this one.  The Northern Brewer forum used to be really great, but with recent website reboots and shake-ups, a lot of the more knowledgeable folks have migrated over here.  I think the NB forum focuses more on beginning brewers, so you might find that really helpful.  I think this forum tends to push the edge of brewing a bit more, and has a focus on higher-level brewing topics which may not be as useful and accessible for newer brewers.  Still, you won't be ridiculed for asking questions here, so ask away and then get ready for a flood of advice.

Finally, depending on where you live, you might have the opportunity to meet up with other brewers and learn from them.  Northern Brewer has lots of free class options, and they're a good source of info.  You can't always count on the info you get from your local homebrew shops. 

I guess that's enough to get you started.  Again, welcome!  Good luck.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Kombucha
« on: January 13, 2017, 08:10:35 PM »
I brewed it for awhile. It was pretty easy and you can do endless variations in flavor. Eventually I stopped drinking it regularly enough to keep going and got sick of all the fruit flies it was attracting.
I brewed a few batches myself, but I'm not a fan of vinegar at all, and that's really where the acidity is coming from in Kombucha. I have some water kefir grains lying around (similar beverage to kombucha, but less vinegar from what I understand), but I haven't brewed with it yet.

I've decided that as much as I like the idea of alternative fermented beverages, what I'm really looking for is an adult soda-like beverage. I think I'm just going to make my own soda and leave it on one of my taps in my kegerator. I see myself enjoying that a lot more in the long-term.

A few years ago, we bought a case of coconuts.  We drained the coconut water and used it to make kefir with some of the dry kefir grains sold in packets.  It came out really nice and fizzy and tart.  I don't like coconut water plain, but this stuff was awesome.  We scraped out the meat and I think we kind of fermented that into yogurt as well.  Yumm. 

I've had mixed success with kombucha, but it certainly is a fun experiment.  The maple sap idea sounds pretty awesome too.  This year for New Year's Eve, I defrosted a jug of apple cider from this year's pressing and force carbed it for my wife and kids.  That was also pretty killer.  I've been wanting to mix up a keg of mojito for a couple years now - maybe this summer I'll give that a shot. 

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Tips for Bottling from Keg
« on: January 13, 2017, 08:03:43 PM »
I used a home-built bottling gun for a while but always had issues with foaming and wasting tons of beer.  Last year I bought a Blichmann beer gun and have been very happy with it.  About a week after I bought it, NB came out with the Last Straw bottle filler which also looks nice, although I haven't talked to anybody who has actually used one.  So, if you like to bottle beer from the keg for friends or whatever, I don't think you'll be disappointed with a Blichmann.

I'm not a huge sports fan, but I always root for the red-shirt foosball guys.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: My Brew Years Resolution
« on: January 12, 2017, 04:51:39 PM »
Just returned to the hobby.  First thing is to start taking care of everything I wanted to do nine years ago - new mash tun (10-gal) [done], stainless full-port valve and bulkhead on the brew kettle [done], thermometer additions [coming], thermometer construction post-counterflow [next week], and new design for hopback [farther down the road].

I brewed my first beer in eight-ish years in December.  My next is already planned to be the tripel I always wanted.

At this rate, I'll be making and fulfilling resolutions monthly.  Future projects will be to make a brew stand, add a pump, work on recirculation, add a whirlpool, add quick disconnects, and venture toward automation.

I would recommend picking up some WY3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast for your tripel.  Brew the Patersbier from Northern Brewer first to grow up a big pitch of yeast, then go for the tripel.  I've had success with that in the past.  Welcome back to the hobby!

wait, what the heck is happening with bananas?
A fungal disease. Since its a huge monoculture crop, with only one cultivar commercially grown, it may get wiped out.

How the hell am I just hearing about this. That really sucks.

Well, when you factor in the carbon footprint of flying bananas around the world, I don't see it as such a big problem.  IMO, we need to focus on more local food options and especially growing our own food (subsistence farming) as ways to personally combat climate change.  My kids never ate a banana until the past year, when we relaxed our standards a bit.  They get more excited about picking cherry tomatoes and berries from the garden than bananas.  Keep in mind that I'm a tree-hugging Earth Science teacher/hobby farmer, and I'm always "thinking green".

Ingredients / Re: Calypso and Citra for a Pale Ale
« on: January 10, 2017, 02:30:37 PM »
I have a couple ounces of Calypso on hand for some hop trial APAs.  I read some reviews that characterize Calypso as having an "Orange Creamsicle" type flavor, which has me worried a bit.  Maybe the Citra would push it over the edge toward dominant citrus and not so much sweet flavor.  Either way, I'll look forward to hearing your results.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: My Brew Years Resolution
« on: January 09, 2017, 07:37:38 PM »
I'm working on paring down my yeast bank so that I'm brewing with a smaller number of yeast strains on a regular basis, to keep the cultures fresh.  I'm trying to map out my annual brewing schedule in such a way that I'm using each strain at least once per quarter.  If it's going to be longer than that, I need to build an intermediate starter just for yeast maintenance.  I've been playing around with a lot of beer styles for the last couple years, so it's time to focus on the ones I really like and keep the appropriate strains around.

Also, I'm looking forward to trying some of the new dry yeast options coming onto the market. 

I've just now read this whole thread, and agree with a lot of what various folks have said. 

I think the joy of homebrewing can be somewhat lessened by over-analyzation and nitpicking details.  I also think that things like water chemistry are super-important.  So there's a balance to be found here.  I just can't get into LODO because it seems like religious zealotry to me, and that's not my bag. 

I like bourbon a lot, and I am also a huge fan of Denny's BVIP.  I recently brewed my second batch of this and have never had such positive feedback from my friends.  It's exceptionally smooth and balanced.  That said, I haven't sampled many commercial bourbon beers, so my experience is limited to Denny's awesome recipe.

In my opinion, over the last few years, homebrewers have gained access to tons of brewing information and then tend to obsess over the newest and greatest trend (hoppy beers, session beers, LODO, etc.)  It seems like such a race to be the know-it-all, and then the joy is lost. 

Over the last few years, I've gotten to the point where I'm really happy with where I'm at as a brewer and so I've spent less time on the forums.  I still get a lot of solid info from this site, and I appreciate that the community is growing and pushing the edge of brewing.  For me though, the continual obsession with novelty is kind of tiresome. 

Brewing is a rewarding hobby for me, but I also have a ton of other interests and demands on my time, so maybe I'm taking a more balanced approach. 

As for the "a lot of homebrew is crap" mentality, you have to appreciate that somebody took the time to attempt to craft a beer.  If it's not perfect (and is it ever?) I think the best approach is to make some helpful suggestions and thank the brewer for sharing their beer.  Also, share the knowledge.  I teach a couple of homebrewing classes each year, and it's always rewarding just to see new people getting involved with a DIY lifestyle, however they do it. 

Cheers, y'all. 

Going Pro / Re: Can a brewpub give away or sell extra wort?
« on: December 17, 2016, 09:56:19 AM »
Sounds good.  Thanks, Keith.

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 21