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Topics - qm3k

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All Grain Brewing / Frustrated beyond belief
« on: July 02, 2015, 01:58:14 PM »
Hi all,
I'm not sure if anyone will be able to help, but I'm at my wits end, so I figured I'd ask. I've been brewing since 1998. Suddenly, last summer, everything I brewed was crap...not one beer that was drinkable. I took a break and came back to it last month. Sure enough, same thing...right out of the gate, I got a drain-worthy beer.

The end product tastes very muddy...that's the only word I can use to describe it. No crispness, almost a heavy body, regardless of mash temp. It simply doesn't taste like beer. I have looked at my cleanliness and sanitation, I have gone from treating my water to using different water to making no changes at all. I have backpeddeled any equipment changes that I had made, and I have been vigilant about fermentation temp change. Still getting muddy, heavy tasting "beer." I also find that I can really taste the alcohol, which I know is a symptom of too-warm fermentation. However, I keep my fermentations steady in the mid 60s, so I'm not sure how that could happen.

I know that I MUST be doing something different if I was making good beer and then suddenly stopped, but I can't think of a single variable that I haven't considered. Has anybody else ever experienced this type of sudden slump, and if so, how did you work through it.

Yeast and Fermentation / Switching to O2
« on: June 05, 2015, 12:07:16 PM »
Maybe this should go in the general topic category, but it has to do with oxygenating my wort prior to pitching my yeast.

I have recently switched from aerating with an aquarium pump to pure O2. I use a bottle of oxygen that I get from the local hardware store without any kind of flow meter (just the canister, a regulator, a tube, a filter, and an aeration stone).

About how long should I let the oxygen flow, and should it be a fast flow, or one that produces smallish bubbles from the stone? I simply don't want to overdo it.


General Homebrew Discussion / Whirlpool and final hop additions
« on: June 05, 2015, 09:49:14 AM »
Hi all,

I've been brewing for a long time, and one thing that has confused me for that time (apparently not enough to ask, say, years ago) is the timing of my final hop addition. I manually whirlpool at flameout with a spoon and let it settle for about 20 minutes before chilling. I have traditionally tossed in my 0 minute hop additions before I do this. However, I know that in order to get the most out of these final hop additions I should be chilling as quickly as possible. My beers tend to have lower hop aroma than I would like, and I'm pretty sure that having the final addition sitting in a pot of near-boiling wort is the culprit.

Would I get a better result from tossing the hops in AFTER the 20 minutes that I allow the wort to settle out? It's obviously still pretty hot, and I would basically start the chilling process immediately. However, I'm not sure whether the temperature drop during the 20 minutes would counteract what I'm trying to accomplish.

Also, if anyone has a better way to whirlpool, I'd love suggestions. I have built whirlpool arms and such and have never been happy with the results.


All Grain Brewing / About to destroy my immersion chiller...
« on: July 31, 2014, 12:31:33 PM »
Hi all,

I am constantly in awe of those who claim that they can get 5 gallons of wort from boiling to pitch temp in 15 minutes with an immersion chiller. I am using one right now (25 ft., copper, fitted with a whirlpool arm) rigged up to two pumps (one to recirculate the wort, one pumping chill water through the coil. It started as ice water and has risen to about 65 degrees). Wort is stuck at 74 degrees. It has been nearly an hour. Not sure what I can do about this now...what's the magic trick to keep this part of the process more time-efficient?

All Grain Brewing / Overtreated water?
« on: July 12, 2014, 01:09:53 PM »
Hi all,

I recently brewed an amber ale that has an odd aftertaste and mouthfeel to it. It isn't bad, exactly, just odd. I have pored over lists of off-flavors and can find nothing that comes close to describing what I am tasting. I did treat RO water (my water sucks), and am wondering if I overdid it. What would a beer taste like if I over-treated the water (just general impressions are fine here...I know that without knowing all of the additions I used it would be impossible to nail down exactly what I over-used)?


Yeast and Fermentation / Wyeast 3068
« on: July 12, 2014, 01:07:02 PM »
Hi all,

Just brewed a hefeweizen and it looks like I'm going to get a disastrous result. It's a pretty standard grain bill, 50/50 wheat and pilsener malts. I used Wyeast 3068, which I have used to great success in the past on this recipe. I got a little nervous when my starter smelled like rotten eggs. I am not used to that smell from this yeast, but the manufacturer specs list it as a possible odor, so I figured that I wouldn't worry about it. I probably should have dumped it...

I fermented it at 62 degrees, and after a few days, I opened up my fermenting fridge to check on it. The smell nearly knocked me over, it was so strong. It did finally dissipate, but it is still present, and there is next to no banana/clove aroma. I pulled a taste sample, and the beer is super-watery, barely any banana or clove, and a definite sulfur note.

I have been brewing since 1998, so I am not a beginner, and have made quite a few hefeweizens with these ingredients and this yeast strain. I should stress that I am aware of the importance of sanitation practices and, as I have said, I have brewed great hefeweizens in the past. I am inclined to chalking it up to getting a bad yeast culture, but I hate to blame the ingredients if there is something in my process that may have gotten away from me. Has anyone had these issues with this yeast strain?


P.S. The culture was relatively fresh, only about 2 weeks old when I got it. I did, however, get it through the mail.

All Grain Brewing / Dramatic swings in mash efficiency
« on: July 04, 2014, 10:36:48 AM »
Hi all,

I recently made a few equipment changes to my system and am having trouble with my mash efficiency.  I know that there will be a period of instability until I brew more with the new equipment. I have brewed 2 batches so far and have had a very large variance in my mash efficiency...72% for the first, 66% for the second. I expected my numbers to be a little wonky for a while, but that's a pretty big spread.

I switched my MLT from a 10 gallon Polarware and false bottom to a Blichmann 10 gallon Boilermaker with AutoSparge and false bottom. I used to get 75% consistently with my old system. Has anyone had similar drops/variances with that equipment?

The beers I brewed were an amber (72%) and a hefeweizen (66%).

If it isn't the equipment change, where should I be looking in my process to get things more consistent?


Ingredients / Massively high AA German Hallertau?
« on: June 27, 2014, 12:45:16 PM »
Hi all,

Just got a shipment of ingredients for my Hefeweizen this week. I have brewed this recipe many times and have always had great success. I also always got an ounce of German Hallertau hops coming in at between 3.5-5% AA. This time, imagine my surprise when I opened up the box and pulled out a package of German Hallertau with a whopping 14.1% AA. Anyone else run into this? I can get the correct IBU in the beer by using a scant .22 oz, but this seems way out of profile for this hop type.


Beer Recipes / Bourbon stout without a barrel
« on: June 26, 2014, 01:32:54 PM »
Hi all,

I posted in this area last year as I was concocting my double IPA recipe and got some great feedback...turned out a killer beer!

This summer's project is to construct a bourbon stout recipe along the line of Bourbon County Stout. I do not have, nor would it be practical for me to obtain, a bourbon barrel. So, I am looking for ways to impart the bourbon flavor into the beer. I have seen recommendations to simply dose the beer with straight bourbon, and I have also seen a recommendation to soak oak chips/cubes in bourbon for a month and use them in a secondary. Any thoughts on these methods, or any other suggestions?

Also, and this may seem like a remedial question, what type of stout would you recommend as the base beer (dry, sweet, etc.)? I'm thinking dry, but feedback would be helpful.

I will post the recipe for feedback as I construct it.


Ingredients / 2 row vs. Pale malt
« on: September 05, 2013, 08:21:02 PM »
Hi all,

My local homebrew shop has both 2 row malt and Pale malts. What are the difference between these, if any? Are they interchangeable?


Beer Recipes / The Great Double IPA Project
« on: September 05, 2013, 06:27:41 PM »
Hi everyone,

I am about to delve into formulating my own recipe for a double IPA. I have brewed a few from pre-existing recipes and would love to put my own stamp on it.  There are a few pieces of information that I would love to have before beginning my experiments (picture mad scientist of your choice here).

There are two hopping methods that I have seen mentioned on occasion that I would love to know more about: mash hopping and first wort hopping.

I am assuming that mash hopping is adding an addition of hops directly to the mash, although I am not really sure at what point I should do this...the whole 60 minutes, 30, 10, 3, etc?

I am not clear on what first wort hopping is at all, so an explanation of the process (or a link to one) would be great.

Beyond the processes themselves, however, I am interested to know what sort of flavor and aroma characteristics I can expect from either process. I am not in any way wedded to using these methods in this recipe, but having the info will help me create just what I want.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.


All Grain Brewing / Mash recirculation
« on: May 12, 2013, 11:49:48 AM »
Hi all,

I have been toying around with doing a continuous recirculation on my next mash. I have the tools necessary to pull this off (pump, etc.) but it's a far cry from a actual RIMS system. I have been brewing for a long time and would like to start working toward repeatability in my product. I use a direct-fired mash tun rather than a cooler and do prefer it for many reasons, but holding the mash temp can be challenging. I am thinking that a RIMS type system would help in this regard and would allow me to keep the mash temp more steady. However, with my current setup I would still have to do a lot of this manually. I have no temperature controllers or automated burners.

He anyone tried recirculating the mash while monitoring the temp and manually firing the burner when needed, and has this allowed you to maintain tighter control over the mash temp? Any advice would be appreciated.


P.S. I always manage to get a fine beer out of my current process. I simply want to start reducing certain variables so that I can repeat results from batch to current mash temp swings don't harm the beer in any noticeable way, but as it is I'll never be able to duplicate the result from batch to batch.

General Homebrew Discussion / Chilling wort in the winter
« on: December 23, 2012, 06:19:48 PM »
Hi all,

I am an all-grain brewer and typically brew outside. I live in Nebraska, so I usually shelve my kettles during the winter and twiddle my thumbs waiting for the thaw. I have decided that this year I will suck it up and brew anyway...however, chilling my wort poses a bit of a problem. I'm a bit nervous about running a hose in sub-zero temps (although friends tell me that as long as I put the hose away afterwards it shouldn't be an issue). I use a Blichmann Therminator to chill.

Does anybody have any ingenious solutions for outdoor chilling through a counter-flow chiller in the winter time (I can't use my isn't set up to take a garden hose or even an adapter...this is the basis for a future home-improvement project, but that's a ways down the road)?

Anyway, any ideas would help.


P.S. Yes, I know I could move it inside, but the time involved in boiling on a stovetop is a real turnoff. Plus, since my sink is not an option for chilling, it really isn't a viable solution for me.

Beer Recipes / Playing with Porter
« on: October 14, 2011, 04:15:41 PM »
Hi all,

This post may be a bit convoluted, so please bear with me...there is a method to my madness.

I am preparing to brew for my very first is for a local brewery and there is only one requirement -- I must brew a porter of some kind.  I have several weeks and plan to brew several times in order to dial in my recipe and get it just right.

I am a pretty experienced brewer and have been producing some really good beers recently...trouble is, I tend to be a pale/amber/wheat fan, so that is what I brew.  I don't have a lot of experience with darker beers. I also build my water from RO with the help of John Palmer's spreadsheet -- the water in my area is pretty horrid.  You don't so much drink it as chew it (extremely hard).  To make things worse, the municipal water supply is drawn from 2 separate rivers, and the source can change hourly, so getting a reliable water report is tough.

I am pretty conservative when it comes to water additions, but I have managed to get good profiles for an IPA, amber, and a German Pils...all have turned out well.

Now I will get to the point (finally).  The last beer I brewed was an oatmeal stout, and, as usual, I built the water from RO to a
generic Dublin profile (seemed like a good place to start, and I am aware that I have to take water profiles with a grain of salt).  The beer ended up rather disappointing...not drain-worthy, but disappointing.  While I can taste a good beer underneath, with all of the roasty, full characters, it is rather insipid and watery.  The fermentation was active off flavors that I can detect, and the attenuation was spot on (I got my expected F.G.).  I mashed at the temperature recommended by the recipe (I don't remember off hand what it was, but I stuck to it).  Head retention is also pretty crummy.  I haven't had these issues with my lighter colored beers.

I am wondering if anyone has any pointers about brewing darker beers so that I can avoid this type of issue when I work on my porter. 

Thanks for enduring the ramble.

All Grain Brewing / I'm just too efficient ;)
« on: September 12, 2011, 11:08:14 AM »
Hi all,

I am in the process of brewing a German Pils, and although I know it's a tricky style, I am having one problem in particular that I would love to correct.  The recipe I used was apparently calculated at 70%, and I am finally ready to state officially that I consistently get 75% efficiency.  Therefor, I am halfway through a 90 minute boil, and my the wort gravity is 1.050...the top end of the style guidelines (at least in BeerSmith).  I don't want to stop the boil yet, though, since the wort is 100% Pilsner malt and need to drive off the DMS...and I haven't added my late hop editions anyway.

Is there a quick way to figure out a dilution to bring the O.G. down?  I know that this style requires careful attention to attenuation and I don't want to mess it up by starting 5 points too high.


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