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Topics - qm3k

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Yeast and Fermentation / Building up a starter
« on: September 20, 2016, 11:42:53 AM »
Hi all,

I typically make starters every time I brew, but I've never actually had to step one up.

I am planning to brew a Czech Pilsner, and the yeast I was able to get is a bit old (March 2016, only 19.63% viable according to BeerSmith).

Also according to BeerSmith, I need 467.7 billion cells, so I have a long way to go.

As I'm playing with the starter calculator in the program, it LOOKS like I can make a 1L starter on a stir plate to get the cell count up to 117 billion, so a bit more than a new package of yeast.

My question is, then, do I simply go ahead and pitch the new, happy yeast into another starter as though I'm pitching a fresh package of yeast (another 2.69L on a stir plate gets me pretty close to the recommended pitch rate of 467.7 billion according to the software)?

It seems simple enough, but I just want to make sure I'm not missing something important.


All Grain Brewing / Trouble with hoppy beers
« on: August 14, 2016, 10:12:27 AM »
I have been having trouble with hoppy beers. For a long time I thought I was having a brewing-wide problem, but after stepping away from hoppy beers for a while I have regained my confidence a bit.

I recently brewed the American Pale Ale recipe out of Brewing Classic Styles, and the old problems are back. The beer is very...not beer-like. The biggest issue is that there is no hop character of any kind...little to no actual bitterness, no flavor from the late additions, no aroma from the flameout additions. In looking back over my failures over the years, I actually think that the beers would have been great if there had been any hop character in them...picture your favorite beer with all of the hops stripped out...that's sort of what I'm getting.

The hopping schedule as printed is:

Horizon 13% .66 oz 60 min.
Cascade 6% .5 oz 10 min
Centennial 9% 10 min
Cascade 6% 0 min
Centennial 9% 0 min

When I was brewing hoppy beers well (there was a time), I was NOT using the Horizon addition (I couldn't get them). I am wondering if that may be part of it...I may not like that hop. But that doesn't explain the lack of any kind of character from the other additions.

I have adjusted the water (used Bru N Water's Pale Ale Profile built from RO). I do brew with hop bags, but this never caused an issue in the past. I fermented at 68F.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Ingredients / Underwhelmed by Horizon hops
« on: August 14, 2016, 10:02:54 AM »
I have not brewed a good hoppy beer in years. Stay with me here...

I typically brew the recipes out of Brewing Classic Styles, and it has served me well for a long time. Some of my favorite recipes in there are the American Pale Ale, American IPA and the West Coast Blaster (hoppy amber). The first time I brewed these up they were killer.

Then, I rebrewed...and rebrewed...and rebrewed again. All of them duds.

I have been searching for the reason for going on 3 years now. I finally veered away from super-hoppy beers and made some really good examples (my Cal Common was particularly good) of other styles. So, with a renewed sense of confidence in my brewing ability, I tried the American Pale Ale recipe again. Dud. Total drain material.

The one factor that is different between my successes and failures on these beers is the Horizon hop. When I first brewed the recipes, I could not get Horizon hops in my area, so I was substituting other hops in. When Horizon finally became available, I started using them and following the recipes to the letter.

Is it possible that I simply don't like the results that a Horizon-based beer gives? I find the bitterness almost totally lacking (the recipe should be coming in at 40 IBU, and I am taking into account AA% when I scale the recipe to my system) and the beer tastes very dull (I have messed with the water in about every configuration you can think of. This time I landed at Bru N Water's Pale Ale Profile). I have looked around to see if others have had issues with this hop variety, but no, all I'm finding are articles about how wonderful they are.

Yeast and Fermentation / Pitching rate calculator discrepencies
« on: August 07, 2016, 10:55:05 AM »
Hi all,

I am brewing a porter with an OG of 1.060, 6 gallon batch.

I picked up some older WLP002 the other day...packaged on Feb. 18, and the "best by" date is sometime next week. I have no issues making starters, so I figured this wouldn't be an issue. I bought 2 packages.

The Mr. Malty calculator tells me that I have to pitch at least 5 packages into a 2.96 liter starter in order to get to my desired pitch rate of 250 billion cells.  Beersmith has me getting to the same place pitching my 2 packages into a 1.43 liter starter (both using a stir plate).

I'm confused. Any recommendations? If I have to pitch 5 packages to get a viable starter, I think I may just cut my losses and go buy a fresh package.

All Grain Brewing / Thin, vapid-tasting beer
« on: July 19, 2016, 06:46:45 PM »
Hi all,

I recently brewed an ESB that has had many issues. It has finally settled out into something that's ridiculously light-bodied...has a nice biscuity finish, but no bitterness, and a watery quality to it. I've been drinking it grudgingly, but am ready to dump it.

I brewed the recipe out of Brewing Classic Styles, so I'm assuming that the issue is not with the recipe. I am not a beginner...been brewing for many years. I made an appropriate starter. My OG was right on the button for the recipe. I have toyed around with serving temps and carb levels as well.

I have been messing with mineral additions, but what I used in this beer doesn't seem to line up with what I'm getting. I did find that my thermometer on my mash tun was registering about 6 degrees too low, but that should've had me mashing too high, giving me more body, not less.

Can't figure this out. Any thoughts?

All Grain Brewing / Ridiculously fruity ESB???
« on: July 02, 2016, 06:55:36 PM »
Hi all,

I recently brewed the ESB recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I followed the recipe precisely, adjusting for my mash efficiency. I fermented at 66F.

The beer I ended up with has no hop character whatsoever, and is extremely fruity. I know that fruitiness is a quality of Wyeast 1968, but should it really be this over the top? It doesn't taste like beer, and, again, NO hop character or bitterness at all (should've come to 40 IBU. I did adjust for the alpha of the hops).

I've had issues over the past 2 years of most of my beers not tasting like beer...muddled, dull, fizzy alcoholic liquid is what I tend to get. I've toyed with sanitation, equipment, oxygen levels, pitching rates, fermentation temps., etc. Nothing is fixing this...and what I used to brew was quite good (and, yes, I've gone back to what worked in the past. Doesn't help).

Any advice on the specific ESB issue would be helpful. More helpful though,would be any words of advice from someone who may have experienced a sudden and extended drop off in quality for no apparent reason.


All Grain Brewing / Oxydized?
« on: September 02, 2015, 04:55:13 PM »
Hi all,

This is a follow-up to a post I made a while back. I have been brewing for a long time and was producing good to fantastic beers. Then, suddenly, about 18 months ago, I started producing crap. I looked at sanitation, equipment, water, yeast health and pitching rates, temperatures, etc. I still keep producing a product that doesn't really taste like's tastes very muddled and has an odd aftertaste that I would describe as caramel-like and sweet (although NOT cloying. It's not an attenuation issue, according to my hydrometer) although that's really reaching(unfortunately, I could go down an extensive list of common off-favors and say "no" to each and every one of them).

One thing I want to ask about is oxidyzation...the beer does not taste like cardboard, but I suppose I COULD describe the aftertaste as slightly-sherry-like (please don't get into a debate about how I said caramel and now I'm saying I said, I'm really clutching at straws here). After looking closer at my process, I realize that I have been lazy in one respect where I didn't used to be: purging the keg with CO2 before adding the beer. I've been skipping that lately (yes, I know it's lazy) and just purging the headspace. However, would oxydized flavors set in that quickly....say 3 days after kegging?

Any feedback is welcome...getting super-frustrated.


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.


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