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Topics - kcjaz

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All Grain Brewing / 5 gallon batches with SABCO mash tun
« on: February 27, 2011, 11:31:48 AM »
I use a SABCO converted keg for my mash tun and I brew primarily 11 gallon batches.  The way the SABCO mash tun is built there is about 1 gallon of volume below the false bottom.  This means that when I shoot for 1 qt total water per lb of grain the mash ends up thicker because of the liquid below the false bottom.  For example, with 20 lbs of grain, I need 5 gallons (20 qt) of water for 1:1 but what is really happening above the false bottom is 16 qt of water mixed with 20 lbs of grain for a 0.8 qt/lb ratio.  This has never really seemed to cause any problem and sometime I do two infusions with the first one a little thicker than 1:1 and the second one ending up thinner at 1.2 or so.  I use a recirc pump and I've got my process up to about 85% efficiency.  It all seems to work fine at 11 gallons.

I want to brew some half batches (5.5 gallons) but I am concerned about the one gallon volume below the false bottom as it will become a greater porportion of the total volume.  If I use a 1:1 ratio, for 10 lbs of grain, I'll be at about a 0.6 ratio above the false bottom which seems too thick and I would think would hurt my efficiency.  Is all I have to do is bump up to 1.4 to keep at 1.0 above the false bottom?  In other words, not count the gallon of water below the false bottom in my water to grain ratio?  Is the only affect here extraction efficiency?  ???

2
All Grain Brewing / Wheat beer mash schedule
« on: February 17, 2011, 09:43:47 PM »
I am going to brew a wheat lager for my next batch (never done a wheat with lager yeast before).  I was looking at some recipes for wheat beers and noticed that for most German hefeweizen recipes seem to use a multi set infusion mash schedule while the american wheats seem to use a single step (with basically the same grain bill).  My theory for why this is, is because Germans tend to prefer complicated over simple.  ;D  In the end though, what impact does this have on the final beer?

3
Yeast and Fermentation / Reusing lager yeast
« on: February 16, 2011, 10:00:12 PM »
I generally don't try to keep my yeast cultures going and just buy new smack packs each time I brew.  That made sense to me when I was brewing only ales, and only brewing once every 3 to 4 months.  Now though, after getting my brewery set up in a dedicated space in my basement, I'm brewing more often.  I've brewed 4, 10 gallon batches since November and trying to get the cost down by repitching yeast seems like a good idea. 

My basic question is how long can you store yeast?  Is the amount of time the yeast has been stored the big factor or is it the number of batches that the yeast has been used for?  I have some lager yeast that I used for a batch I brewed on Thanksgiving.  I've kegged half the batch but I still have the other 5 gallons in a carboy (secondary) lagering away, with a thin layer of yeast on the bottom.  Could I just transfer the beer off of it and repitch the yeast into my next lager batch?  Should I "wake up" the yeast by feeding it a DME starter and then repitch it?  Does it matter that this is yeast from a secondary not a primary?  I also saved some of the yeast from the primary.  I've been feeding it about once a month by pouring off the beer and giving it fresh wort made from DME.  I was just doing this to experiment and see how much yeast sediment I could get by keeping it active.  Is feeding it periodically necessary or can I just let it sit in the fridge for several months and repitch it into a new batch?

I would appreciate any words of wisdom on this.


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Pimp My System / 3 tier gas/electric indoor 10 gallon brewery
« on: February 08, 2011, 10:06:43 PM »
I'm new to this forum but have been brewing on and off for 10 years.  When I saw the "Pimp My System" category, I thought it would be great to share some pics.  Then I saw the Hammersmith post and felt like a little leager stepping out on to the field in Yankees Stadium...  In spite of that, I've decided to post my pics anyway.  So, here is my basement brewery.  It is still very much a work in progress, and has been rather organic in its development.  Process first, equipment and gizmos obtained to facilitate or improve my process.  The last mod was adding a water heater heating element to the cooler I use as a HLT.  Before that I boiled the water in the mash tun first then pumped it into the cooler before starting the mash.  With the addition of the electric cook top to my work bench, I'm now completely out of our main kitchen on brew day (wife is happy about that).  Exhaust hood works well and vents to the outside.  Next major mod will be getting rid of the propane and converting to natural gas on the two burners.

Here is the link: www.flickr.com/photos/kegeroo/

www.flickr.com/photos/kegeroo/


5
Yeast and Fermentation / Lager Pitch Temperature
« on: February 05, 2011, 11:37:45 AM »
My last batch was an American lager.  Because I brew 10 gallons, I split my batches in half because I don't have a 10 gallon vessel to ferment in.  In one carboy, I pitched the lager yeast at about 65 F and let it sit over night to get going before I put it in the fridge at 45F.  The other half, I let sit in the fridge to cool off and settle before I pitched a starter at the same 45F.
 
The cold pitched half got down to 1.010 faster than the one that was pitched at 65F.  Doesn't make sense to me but that is what happened.  The warm pitched half eventually got down to about the same at 1.011.  Taste wise, the cold pitched half is better.   The warm pitched half tastes a little sweater and not as "clean".  Enough sweater that the small difference in SG was a surprise to me.

It is probably important that for the cold pitched half to note that I racked it to a different carboy before I pitched the yeast, taking it off of the trub that had settled over night.  I'm sure this helps, especially on a lighter beer.

My take away is that starting a lager warm to make sure the yeast gets going, isn't necessary and comes with some negitive side affects.  The beer isn't bad, its just not as good as the beer that pitched at the lager temp.

What do you Lager Veterans do?

6
Yeast and Fermentation / Amylase Enzyme
« on: February 03, 2011, 10:19:13 PM »
I've brewed an American Lager and its finished out at 1.010 SG.  I was thinking of adding some amylase enzyme to see if I could get the gravity down a little more.  I worry about adding potentially contaminated material to by beer and causing a bacterial infection.  Could I mix the amylase enzyme with 100% grain alcohol to sterilize it or will doing so deactivate the enzyme?

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