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Topics - Tristan

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General Homebrew Discussion / Broke a carboy,.... salvage the beer?
« on: August 04, 2011, 12:33:42 PM »
I hadn't broken a carboy in 9 years and now I've broken 2 in the last 2 months.  There was no significant injury, but in the second case my pyrex had fallen from the edge of the freezerdor and cracked the side of a carboy full of precious IPA.  The break was very clean and didn't appear to generate small shards.  I had just put gelatin in the carboy.  I was able to pour the beer into another carboy in a sanitary manner.

Do you think the beer is safe?  My thought is that any glass particles, if present, will fall to the bottom and become encapsulated in the gelatin.  I am going to bottle that portion and will be racking it to a bottling vessel prior.  It would take terrible luck to get any glass particles through 2 transfers with the final being a bottling wand.

What would you do?

Yeast and Fermentation / Drauflassen/Underpitching
« on: June 14, 2011, 04:45:35 PM »
First off, thanks for bearing with while I work this out.  Maybe this post is just so one of you can come in here and calm me down and tell me to RDWHAHB.  Apologies in advance for my verbose nature.

Drauflassen, anyone use this technique?  Basically, part of the wort is inoculated with yeast then after 24 hours the remainder of the wort is "poured onto" the first part.  Kai explains this method very well on his website.

The reason I did this; I did not have time to make a proper starter and had the opportunity to brew on Sunday.  I've used this technique in the past several times and while the beer wasn't quite the same as making an ideal progression of starters, it was within the acceptable range IMHO.

However, I would typically do this with fresh yeast.  I have a unique situation.  I brewed a Czech Pilsner, 5.25 gallons, OG 1.055.  I pitched a pack of yeast (Wyeast Urquell 2001 - Lager Strain) onto 4L of wort which was chilled to 47 degrees.  Fridge set to 50 degrees.  After 24 hours I pitched this into the remainder of a 5.25 gallon batch, which was also at 49 degrees at the time.  I've done this before with great success.  However, I noticed the yeast was manufactured February 1st of this year right before pitching.  If I had caught this when I bought the yeast I would have not brewed at all, made a 2L starter, then decanted and added another 4L of wort, etc. 

I'm not sure that there is a problem yet, but if there is I'd like to be prepared to implement a solution if necessary. My sanitation is above average.  I would say it couldn't be much better without going to extremes.  What's the realistic time frame for wort to spoil?  I don't want to rush into fixing something that isn't broken.  If fermentation does not begin normally, can I realistically wait to do a proper starter of the optimal yeast strain? I would really like to pursue that option if necessary.  With the clock ticking on the wort spoiling I feel a pressure to make a move now.

I might find that fermentation starts as expected 24-48 hours after inoculating the total volume.  I might find no fermentation activity has take place within this time frame.  I'd like a contingency in place for this possibility.  Any options or feedback at this point would be appreciated.  These are the options I'm considering:

1)  Knowing that I've underpitched, preemptively purchase a fresher pitch of yeast, make a 2L starter and pitch into the entire volume of beer at the height of activity.

2)  Do nothing, wait to see if fermentation kicks up.  If it does not, pitch more yeast.  In this case, either purchase two packs of Saflager w34/70, propeprly hydrate and pitch or purchase the same strain as originally intended and make a proper starter.

All Grain Brewing / Dortmunder Water Profile
« on: June 09, 2011, 03:32:38 PM »
What do you feel is the ideal water profile when brewing a Dortmunder Export?  I've done quite a bit of searching and haven't found any new information.  I'm hoping Martin, Kai and Gordon can chime in on this particular topic.

A bit of background on where I am at with this recipe; I brewed a Dortmunder last year.  I thought the recipe was appropriate and it had the correct flavor profile.  However, it was lacking the "mouthfeel" that DAB has, minerally.  My white whale at this point of the brewing obsession is to be able to really nail this style.

I've been big on water spreadsheets for quite some time and tend to get anal about all the little details.  After reading constantly on the subject, Gordon's new book in particular, I've stopped getting so hyper critical about each detail.  I've started to focus more on just getting the mash pH and sparge water pH correct and then having enough calcium for yeast health.  This has yielded excellent results.  

This being said, I still want to get the water dialed in for this beer.  I don't necessarily think it's useful to try to build the listed water profile for Dortmunder, because I'm not sure what the brewers do with that water in particular.  They may boil before use or some other treatment that alters the mineral content from that which is listed.  I figure I will start by just upping the calcium chloride and calcium sulfate slightly from what I had last time unless I can find someone who has really nailed the water profile and use a similar treatment.

Tentatively, I plan on cutting my tap water with RO water using 9 grams of Gypsum and 8 grams of Calcium Chloride to treat 10 gallons of water to be used during my brew day.  I will use 2.4ML of Phophoric Acid as well, added to the HLT and then just enough Phosphoric Acid to the remaining sparge water to reduce alkalinity.  Here is what the water profile looks like, from Kai's water spreadsheet:

Calcium 117 ppm
Magnesium 1.5 ppm
Sodium 3.0 ppm
Sulfate 142 ppm
Chloride 99.7 ppm

estimated mash pH 5.35

Sorry for the lengthy dissertation.  

Brewed an Oktoberfest (11 gallons) with my buddy Nathan Explosion on Friday.  Everything was status quo.  Ran the first half into my carboy and the second into his.  He tilted the keggle and got lots of the break material.  I oxygenated with 90 seconds of pure o2 like normal and pitched the yeast on Saturday afternoon @ 46 degrees.  Each half had roughly the same amount of yeast added and same oxygen.  Set the controller for 49 degrees.  

On Sunday afternoon, his was blowing off c02 and mine wasn't.  On Monday morning his had low krausen while mine was just beginning to blow of c02.  What the hell?  I've never seen this before.  It seems like his half (with the break material) is 24 hours ahead of my half.  I plan to check the worts later tonight.

Could it be that more break material has somehow reduced the lag phase for half the wort?  I just can't wrap my head around this one!

The recipe is out of brewing classic styles, added a decoction for mash out and got 87% efficiency.  OG = 1.059.  The yeast is Wyeast Hellabock.

Yeast and Fermentation / Counting Yeast Slurry with Hemacytometer
« on: March 19, 2011, 01:57:25 PM »
When you count yeast from a slurry do you sample from the thickest portion, or mix it all up and sample that?

Here is why I ask.  I racked a Munich Helles yesterday in the middle of my Baltic Porter brew day.  Originally, the helles was pitched at the proper rate of 1.5 million cells X 11.25 Plato X 23000ML of WLP830.  The Helles is at FG, 1.010 from 1.045; 14 days into fermentation.  My fermentation was picture perfect.  5 days at 49, krausen started to drop and I ramped to 60 for 5 days, then slowly reduced temperature to 50.  The beer had cleared fairly well for this stage and there was a nice yeast cake on the bottom.

Here is the rub, I had about 2L of beer left after racking to a keg.  I mixed together the slurry and the beer and poured into a sanitized gallon jug.  I had 3.5L by volume.  I mixed thoroughly and took 1ML of that mix and diluted it 10:1 to do a count.  I hoped to determine how much slurry to pitch into my 6 gallon batch of 1.089 Baltic Porter.  My count was 139 cells in 5 squars * 25 * 10,000 times my dilution of 10.  This gives me 69 Million cells per ML of the original mixed slurry/beer.  This seems pretty low.  I had originally taken 1L of this and pitched it into the Baltic Porter after oxygenating.  I realized that this was grossly underpitching, so I pitched the remainder of the yeast cake into the porter.

Each time I mixed the slurry, after a few minutes I saw a nice compact layer at the bottom.  I'm not sure that my mixture is showing a true count of cell density.  Hence the question above.  Is it best to stick a pipet directly down into the bottom of the slurry and obtain the thickest part for counting? 

I feel I made an error in not letting the yeast cake cold crash over night so I could decant the beer and get a better picture.  Am I way off base?  Is it possible that I only got 241 billion cells from the yeast cake?  That seems incredibly low!  I'm guessing my count was way off and I ended up over pitching.  I'd rather do that then not pitch enough.  Either way, it will make beer, hopefully good beer.  Brew day went perfect until the yeast got involved.   ;D

Yeast and Fermentation / Blow off on underpitched APA; Good Sign?
« on: March 15, 2011, 02:17:17 AM »
Based upon counts with a microscope and hemacytometer I pitched around ~130 billion cells into 23 liters of 12 plato wort.  The beer is an APA and the yeast is WLP001.  Based upon the ideal pitching rate of .75 million cells per ml * degree plato I should have pitched ~207 billion.

I pitched at 58 degrees and let the ferment rise under temperature control to 66-67 degrees over the first 24 hours.  My temperature control allows me to hold the temperature within 1/2 degree.  24 hours after pitching high krausen had begun and at 72 hours I attached a blow off tube.

The fermentation has been far more active than previous batches of this APA with WLP001.  I've got a nice amount of blow off.  The only difference is a lower pitching rate, I added yeast nutrient and enough magnesium sulfate to get my brewing liquor to 10ppm.  Blow off; in general is it a good sign or a bad sign?

All Grain Brewing / Adding Magnesium to Brewing Liquor
« on: March 15, 2011, 02:07:38 AM »
My water only has 5 ppm of Magnesium.  I typically dilute with 40-60% RO water when I brew anything lighter than 10 SRM and also for any lagers.  That means my magnesium content is even less.  The last two beers I brewed were identical to beers brewed in the past except I added 2-3 grams of magnesium sulfate to bump up my magnesium to 10 PPM.  One was a Munich Helles and the other was a APA.  They both fermented like "gangbusters" in comparison to previous batches of lagers and ales.

Tonight, I just finished Continental Pilsener by David Miller.  He states that under no circumstances should a brewer add magnesium to his brewing liquor.  However, I've seen advice to the contrary.  For example, Kai, who has a great grasp on water chemistry, lists recipes for building water profiles on his website which include magnesium sulfate as well as the usual suspects.  Despite hearing that a sufficient quantity of magnesium will come from the malt itself, John Palmer states brewing liquor should contain > 10 PPM of magnesium.

What are your thoughts?

Homebrewer Bios / Tristan Laszewski
« on: March 13, 2011, 06:12:36 PM »
I'm Tristan and I'm a homebrewer.  ;D  I'm 28 years old. I live in Wausau, WI with my wonderful wife Danielle and my dog Mauser.   I enjoy brewing a good mix of lagers and ales.  In particular, brewing all varieties of Pilsners and other lagers has been my focus.

Homebrewing started for me in 2002 when Point Brew Supply opened in my hometown, Stevens Point, WI.  My mother actually left the newspaper clipping of the press release on the countertop at home.  I stopped by one day and talked to the owners, Marc and Katina, who prosthelytized homebrewing and patiently explained everything involved.  I took home a box of goodies which included all the usually brewing paraphernalia, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale extract clone kit and John Palmer's "How to Brew."  Marc wrote down his home phone number on a card and told me to call if I had any questions.  This was just a preview of the wonderful people I would meet engaging in this hobby.  

On a sunny afternoon I set out to brew my first beer.  Wort a-boiling in a 15 qt stock pot and windows fogged I was almost swiftly banned from the kitchen at home.  All went to plan.  One good whiff of the wonderful aromas of malt and hops from the airlock was all it took to spark the addiction.  After tasting the finished product my parents agreed to let me back into the kitchen to facilitate subsequent batches.   ;D  In only took a few more batches before I took the plunge and purchased a Bayou Classic and keggle to move my brew day to the outdoor expanses of the family driveway.

In 2004 I moved to Madison, WI for a summer and put homebrewing on the shelf.  Madison offered me a great selection of craft beer which satiated my thirst.  I moved back to my home town the following winter and shortly after, started my career in software training.  In the spring of 2009, my good friend James moved to the area and mentioned he started homebrewing again.  He invited me to come over and brew a batch.  We decided to brew a 11 gallon "clone" batch of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.  I caught the bug hard again and started brewing feverishly.  James helped me set up my all-grain system.  I joined a homebrew club called M.A.S.H (Marshfield Area Society of Homebrewers) in late 2009.  

I had the good fortune of attending my first National Homebrew Conference last year in the twin cities and meeting Kai Troester, John Blichmann, Ray Daniels, Denny Conn, Jamil Z, Justin from the brewing network and John Palmer, one of my homebrew heroes.  

The key aspects that I really enjoy are the chemistry and overall mechanics of the mashing process.   Microbiology is extremely fascinating.  If you told me 10 years ago that I'd have a microscope at home, counting yeast cells and propagating cultures I would have never believed you!  Fast forward to the present after 60+ batches, helping brew a few batches at a local microbrewery, two box freezers, draught setup and a lab and I'm loving this hobby more and more.  

I feel this hobby has really enriched my life and forced me to learn and grow.  Here's looking forward to a lifetime of learning and enjoying great beer.


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