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Topics - kgs

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Equipment and Software / Temp control failure
« on: January 18, 2017, 07:42:01 PM »
So I came home tonight (Wednesday) to a distressing discovery. On Monday morning I finished brewing a rye IPA and put it in my Danby fridge with a Johnson single-stage controller plugged into a Brewer's Edge space heater in the fridge. The fridge was unplugged. That night the temp seemed fine -- ca. 66 degrees. Same the next morning. I got busy and did not check last night or this morning--usually I let beers "be" while they brew. I came home tonight and the controller read... 100f. Naturally I quickly unplugged the controller and opened the fridge door. Predicting this won't be my best batch of beer.

The only thing I can think of is I didn't set the jumpers from cooling to heating. The next thing on my list is did the controller fail. (I also checked that I had the "right" things plugged in.) The temp in the house has been in the low 50s to mid-60s, so that's not an issue. I also had the "right" cords plugged in the right places.

I'm headed to a conference tomorrow so I'm mulling over whether to plug the fridge back in, turn it to the highest temp, and let things finish out in the high 50s (no controller, no heater). I don't have the time tonight or tomorrow to test the controller.

Me sad... but, it's beer. I can brew again.

Ingredients / Bru'n Water calculations for a rye IPA
« on: January 07, 2017, 08:34:47 AM »
This is an attempt to calculate water adjustments for a 3-gallon batch of a rye IPA. (No sparge.) I used the pale ale profile in Bru'n Water but took advice to keep sulfates below 150 ppm. For 6 gallons of RO mash water, I come up with 6 grams of gypsum, 1.5 grams of calcium chloride, and 6 ml of 25% phosphoric acid. Does this look right?

Bru'n Water v.4.0   Water Adjustments         
Denny's Wry Smile Half Batch            
Profiles (ppm)   Exist   Mash   Finished   
Ca      0   81   81
Mg      0   0   0
Na      0   8   8
SO4      0   148   148
Cl      0   36   36
HCO3      0   -32   NA
SO4/Cl Ratio            4.1
Batch Volume      3.0   Gallons   
Total Mash              6.0   Gallons   
Mash Dilution      6.0   Gallons   
Total Sparge      0.0   Gallons   
Sparge Dilution      0.0   Gallons   
Estimated Mash pH      5.32   SU   
Mineral Additions (gm)   Mash   Sparge      
Gypsum      6.0   0.0   
Calcium Chloride      1.5   0.0   
Epsom Salt      0.0   0.0   
Mag Chloride          0.0   0.0   
Canning Salt      0.0   0.0   
Baking Soda      0.0   Not Recommended   
Chalk      0.0   Not Recommended   
Pickling Lime      0.0   Not Recommended   
Mash Acid Additions                  
            0.0   (ml)
Phosphoric   25.0   %   6.0   (ml)
Sparge Acid Addtions            
Lactic   0.0   %   0.0   (ml)
            0.0   (ml)

Beer Recipes / Death & Taxes
« on: January 07, 2017, 08:03:48 AM »
Anyone have a recipe that is close to this local favorite?

Equipment and Software / Using a heater
« on: December 29, 2016, 02:10:12 PM »
My winter fermentation challenge is that the fridge I have available for fermenting won't maintain a high enough temperature, particularly at night, even with a Johnson controller. The room it's in doesn't go to freezing, but it is cold enough that the fridge never makes it past the high 50s. I use 5-gallon buckets for 3-gallon batches and have a Danby no-freezer small fridge. Am I correct that I'd plug the fridge into the wall for normal operation, plug the heat source into the controller, and put the heat source on the inside wall of the fridge, with the probe taped as usual to the fermenter with a little styrofoam or other padding over the probe?

I'm looking at this:

Thanks in advance.

Good price, if it does what I need it to do. I'm just confirming this setup.

Ingredients / Bru'n water versus a brewing book recipe
« on: July 03, 2016, 09:49:14 AM »
Sometime soon I will be using RO water and additions for a half-batch (3 gal) of Gordon Strong's Landlord Tribute recipe from Modern Homebrew recipes. It's my first effort at using RO water + additions. The LHBS had 25% phosphoric acid so that's what I bought. My grain bill will be 5 lbs Golden Promise and 1.5 oz debittered black malt.

For a six-gallon batch, Gordon specifies RO water treated with 1/4 tsp 10% phosphoric acid per five gallons, plus 1 tsp CaCl2 in mash, 0.5 tsp CaCO3 in boil.

Working with Bru'n Water, to get my mash water into the "green" (fyi I typically don't sparge) requires I push up the 25% phosphoric acid to at least 1.05 ml/gallon, yielding an estimated mash ph of 5.5. For a 3-gallon batch I mash with around 5 gallons of water, so that would translate to just a little over 5ml phosphoric acid (about 1 tsp). That's a lot more, proportionately, than Gordon recommends. Is that a bad thing?

Adding .25 calcium chloride per gallon to the mash works out ok -- the mash ph stays the same. But adding anything higher than .01 gram/gallon chalk to the boil (with "add hardness minerals to kettle" checked) pushes the estimated ph into the upper limits (orange) range. I am thinking that for this recipe this range may make sense, because the recipe specifies a "minerally" quality--does that seem right?

I'm in no rush, just trying to understand a) this recipe and b) water treatment and c) Bru'n Water. I plan to brew the recipe this weekend with my current process -- using filtered fridge water, no treatment -- then brew it again in a couple of weeks with treated RO water.

I just passed two major milestones in my graduate studies, so I am also thinking "go on, treat yourself to a ph meter." It seems a little odd to make a lot of adjustments and not measure as I go.

Kegging and Bottling / Beer quick disconnect leaking
« on: July 01, 2016, 06:21:47 PM »
It was on the correct post (since I expect that question).  I went into the garage as I was heading to work and saw beer on the floor, then looked in the fridge and saw that beer had been seeping from the top of the QD. I disconnected and turned off gas (simply because I didn't have time to troubleshoot). When I got home, I was relieved to see that I still had some beer in the keg and gas in the canister, so it wasn't a total disaster.

The night before, I had taken apart the quick disconnect and cleaned it before reassembling and attaching. I'm embarrassed to say I had not cleaned the QD before--I only recently realized it could be disassembled. I'm guessing I reassembled it incorrectly--too tight? too loose? I have another new beer line QD in pristine packaging that I'll swap in.

So... when I clean and reassemble this QD... what am I looking for? How do I ensure it won't leak?

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Doctoring an insipid cream ale
« on: June 24, 2016, 05:43:41 PM »
I wanted to experiment with an all-extract cream ale... My process is good, so it's clean, but it's insipid. (Pilsner LME + rice solids + Saaz + Safale05)  I recently did a partial-mash cream ale and I can really taste the difference.

It's been in primary for two weeks. I can keg it this weekend or next, or I could doctor it a bit. That could include adding fruit peel or puree. It's stone fruit season in California, and we're into strawberry season as well, so I could puree and pasteurize some tasty fruit pretty easily--I made a strawberry sorbet last week that really popped. I'm open to fruit flavors -- I've enjoyed Grapefruit Sculpin and (less so) Pineapple Sculpin, and I like Magic Hat Number 9. But I also don't want something I end up spitting out, as I did when I had Anchor's Mango Wheat, where the flavor felt forced.

With my next batch I'm going back to all-grain, but I don't think I want to blend.


General Homebrew Discussion / Is extract brewing patriotic?
« on: April 05, 2016, 08:51:26 PM »
For those of us gathered under the homebrewing flag...

I just listened to the Beersmith interview with Gary Glass. It had a lot of great information about homebrewing trends.

A couple of the data points I kept noticing: more homebrewers are brewing all-grain (often from the first or an early batch) and are brewing less frequently. Also, homebrewing store sales are down (that makes sense, if brewing happens less frequently).

The AHA has over 46,000 members. Also, over one million people brew beer at home. (That's an interesting delta.) If every AHA member added an extract brew to his or her brew calendar every year, that would be a nice bump in sales. Just a thought. I've read Gary Glass arguing for more extract brewing, but I didn't put it together with the larger homebrewing ecology.

Kegging and Bottling / Kegging with less oxygen
« on: February 25, 2016, 11:03:56 PM »
I ferment 3-gallon batches in 5-gallon food-grade buckets. The more I focus on oxygen, the more I realize that my practice of keeping the fermenter closed until bottling time, unless I have to dry-hop or add ingredients, has contributed to better beer. I am also evaluating whether to keep using buckets, at least this size. But for now, since I have beer to keg in 9 days...

How's this look for a oxygen-limited kegging from a bucket to a keg?

* Attach an MFL swivel flare adapter to the end of a piece of siphon tubing
* Sew dry-hopping hops into large muslin square
* Drop hops into sanitized keg
* Close up keg
* Purge keg with CO2 -- push CO2 in, release PRV -- x 3
* Insert tubing into autosiphon
* Insert autosiphon into siphon-sized hole in bucket lid
* Start siphon into 2-cup pyrex, stop at 2/3 cup mark (to fill tubing and get enough for a reading)
* Attach ball lock disconnect to beer-out post
* Attach swivel nut to ball lock disconnect
* Open PRV
* Fill keg
* Purge headspace
* Set pressure and go away for a few days

Kegging and Bottling / Growing the kegging empire
« on: February 20, 2016, 07:48:19 PM »
I was very conservative on my first kegging venture, but instantly "got it." This may be because I had beginner's luck and everything has gone very smoothly, but I am feeling very post-bottle these days.

Because I was conservative, I bought one (3-gallon) keg, a 5-lb CO2 canister, and a Taprite single-body regulator (plus pre-assembled gas and beer lines). I brew small batches so the keg size is perrrrrfect. Sold on kegging, I have already bought another 3-gallon keg from AIH during their Presidents' Day sale and am contemplating taking advantage of the Williams keg sale this weekend on kegs to get one more.

So about regulators. My expectation for the next year or so is I'll have up to two 3-gallon kegs on CO2 at any one time, though with the fridge I have for my kegs (a hand-me-down from my landlord), I could fit three or possibly more. I expect to get busy next weekend and every weekend through the remainder of 2016 with my grad studies, so I am assuming I will brew more than 2015 (three batches) but less than 2014 (not sure, 6-10?). Life could change that, but it's a plan for now, anyway.

I brew different styles; right now I have an oatmeal stout on tap as my first kegged beer, and today brewed a rye IPA (*waves at Denny*), plus have a Belgian tripel in bottles. Should I try using a splitter? Get a dual-body regulator? Get another regulator and canister? What do people do?

Kegging and Bottling / Picnic taps
« on: February 12, 2016, 06:46:23 PM »
So. My first kegging is going preternaturally well. The beer, it is carbonated. It tastes delicious. And I was able to fine-tune the carbonation after it had been in the keg a while. No leaks, no drama. FYI, the keg, CO2, and everything else are in a fridge ca. 38 degrees F.

For the first week I attached/disattached the picnic tap. That became old fast, particularly once the tap and the post got sticky. I'm trusting (!) that the tap won't sprout a leak. But now that it's constantly connected, I have questions.

* Does the line to the picnic tap (4 feet) maintain carbonation? If not, what's the time period for leakage?
* Does the beer in the line get old? Should I pour it off?
* How much beer sits in a typical beer line, per foot?
* Any other good tips for maintaining picnic taps and ensuring a fresh pour, particularly if a pour is every other day? I am using (and will likely keep using) small kegs, 2.5 gal to begin with, probably no more than two (or at most three) at a time. I am looking at Perlick flow-control faucets, but picnic taps are a good value for now.

Kegging and Bottling / Eve of First Kegging
« on: January 30, 2016, 08:00:30 PM »
I have everything ready for kegging tomorrow afternoon. I cleaned and sanitized the keg and its parts, put it back together, stuck the lid in loosely, and put a paper bag over it. I double-checked that the QDs for the gas and beer lines worked. I took the Taprite regulator out of its box and looked at it for a long time, and realized a) it has a check valve so I didn't need to buy one (confirmed when I looked it up), and b) it arrived set fully open at the shutoff valve and at the red center knob -- something good to have realized. I set it to fully closed.

I put the fermenter in my auxiliary (landlord-gave-us-an-old) fridge, set to 42 degrees; the beer had been ca. 60 degrees, and though I wasn't sure about this, it seemed right to get the beer to serving temp and then carbonate at that level rather than keg warmer and cool down. (It's an oatmeal stout so it's pretty happy at a wide range of degrees.)

So tomorrow afternoon I will connect the CO2 tank to the in valve, let it run for 5 or 10 sec, turn off the regulator (at both the shutoff valve and red knob?), rack the beer into the keg, lock the cover, set the regulator to 5 psi, open the shutoff valve, fill the keg's headspace with CO2, then reset the regulator to somewhere between 6.6 and 7.7 psi and listen for the CO2 to stop flowing. I could hasten carbonation by agitating the keg for up to 15 minutes (it's a 2.5 gal keg, so perhaps less time?), or I could be conservative and use carbonation over time.

Here's a really basic question I'm almost embarrassed to ask. The 1995 Zymurgy article says "so I set the keg back upright and disconnect it. After a few hours the beer settles and is ready to serve." Later on the keg is reconnected with the CO2 canister. Then "when you are done serving" it is disconnected. At what point in the process is the CO2 canister connected/disconnected? I had assumed it stayed connected the whole time.

Questions about the forum? / Characteristics of AHA Forum users
« on: January 16, 2016, 07:45:37 AM »
Has there been a study of who uses the AHA Forum and how this parallels or varies from the broader homebrewing community? It's really just idle curiosity. It seems to me to be a mix of homebrewing first-timers and aficionados, but I'm curious about the size of the middle band on the Forum (occasional brewer, non-competitive; not sure what that would be called, maybe casual hobbyist).

Kegging and Bottling / Hose on first?
« on: January 15, 2016, 07:59:36 PM »
(Sorry, it's been a long week.) I'm looking at the following:

Ignoring the gas side of this keg for now, I am wondering about the faucet. In reading about kegging, I keep hearing about cutting hose lines this length or that length (another part of the kegging mystique). I am not saying I am about to purchase this setup, I just find it interesting. So, would this setup work in practice?

(On the gas side, Williams appears to think there is a market for small-batch brewers who don't want to schlep around town trying to refill huge canisters. I have to say that freedom from hunting down CO2 was the first thing that occurred to me.)

Zymurgy / Getting over the complexity bump
« on: December 31, 2015, 12:26:55 PM »
I appreciated the data points about homebrew adoption in "Mr. Glass goes to Washington" (Zymurgy, Jan/Feb 2016, pp. 9 - 11).

First, I wonder if the perception by potential "recruits" that homebrewing is complex is completely addressed by the extract/all-grain argument. All-grain makes a brewing session much longer, but so does the scale of the typical 5-gallon brew. Brewing at half that scale gets around issues that made 5-gallon batches more complex for me: the need to brew outside the kitchen, and the equipment required to do that; the equipment required to chill a 5-gallon batch down to fermentation temps and then maintain it there throughout the process; storage issues; very long bottling sessions; and the stakes of brewing a large batch that could turn out bad or at least disappointing. There is also all the lifting/moving of over 40 pounds of liquid in large, heavy containers, longer cleanup, etc. AHA even has an article on the website making the case for smaller brews:

However, once a brewer decides to go to smaller batches, extract OR all-grain, that means customizing recipes--easy enough to do, with a little experience, but a step up from the kit brews. I'd be curious to know if the homebrew stores that sell one-gallon starter kits see higher hobby adoption by those customers, and what those customers do next (AG, BIAB, etc.). I would also be curious if some customers buying Northern Brewer's 3-gallon BIAB kits are simply doing smaller AG batches with existing equipment.

That said, if encouraging extract brewing by existing homebrewers becomes part of the AHA membership recruitment strategy, why not make extract recipes more prominent in Zymurgy, or establish a "Busy brewer" regular feature, and/or a small (even informal) competition? Or side-by-side recipes, with taste tests? (And for that matter, time tests.) Could the "Commercial Calibration" crew taste the difference between extract and all-grain brews of the same recipe?

Anyway, thanks for good food for thought.

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