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Topics - anje

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All Grain Brewing / First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« on: January 17, 2013, 01:22:07 PM »
I'm gearing up to go all-grain, have a lot of new equipment, and I'm trying to come up with a basic, easy-to-brew SMaSH recipe that'll also give me an excuse to test out the new grain mill. (Yes, it was a good Christmas.)

I'm thinking that I want to make an APA with Rahr 2-row, Cascade pellets, and US-05. Thinking an OG of roughly 1.050 would be good, and I like the mouthfeel I've gotten from extract batches that came out at about 1.012. I have a 40-quart pot (about 15 inches in diameter), a big cooler with a stainless braid inside that I'll preheat, and I'd like to do a single step infusion. Looking to come out with 5-5.5 gallons of wort.

My local water is very hard, but I haven't had an analysis done on it yet.  Alkalinity is reported as being 240 ppm as CaCO3, hardness as 360 ppm, and sulfates as 61 ppm. (Here's a link to the water report, which is semi-helpful.) I plan to get some out of my faucet filter and throw in a Campden tablet (chloramine, yuck), but I wouldn't be opposed to substantially diluting my water with distilled.

Should I follow Palmer's advice and add a small amount of dark malt just to lower the pH, or consider pH5.2 mash stabilizer?

What else do I need to know?

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Equipment and Software / Building a Coleman Xtreme mashtun, advice?
« on: January 05, 2013, 04:16:29 PM »
I'm planning on going all-grain in the near future. Planning on sacrificing a Coleman Xtreme cooler that I've had for about the last 10 years. Still works great, but doesn't get much use camping anymore because we rarely use something so big since discovering dried food.  Not quite sure what the size is off-hand, but I'm going to estimate it's a bit over 10 gallons, and I'll have to mark depths inside soon enough. It's silver, so I'll have to live with the reduced efficiency until I get blue paint, I suppose.  ;)

I'm looking at bulkhead kits at Weldlessfittings and Bargainfittings, but it looks like they're all for spigot holes that are 7/8" or smaller. The hole in my cooler is a full inch in diameter, and the wall is 3/4" thick.  Any recommendations for a cooler with a larger hole like this?

Alternatively, I've read of people inserting 3/8" vinyl tubing right through the spigot on these coolers. That seems like a viable option, but the tubing slides in pretty easily. Does it really not leak with a bunch of hot liquor or mash sitting on it? I'd love such a simple solution, if it's really viable.

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Equipment and Software / Cleanup...
« on: November 07, 2012, 07:51:33 AM »
Bottled a batch last night, scraped out some of the yeast cake for future use. Then comes that annoying time to clean out the buckets and equipment. I threw them in the bathtub and filled them with oxyclean solution. Long-term, I'd rather not have to clean my equipment in the same space as my toilet. 

What do you all do?

Also, any suggestions about that white oxyclean film I get on everything? Even soaking my bottles in a bucket of Starsan (which turns cloudy the moment it hits my water) barely gets it off.  Can I add a bunch of vinegar to the water, or will that affect the beer flavor?

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Kegging and Bottling / Naturally carbing, adjust sugar amount for style?
« on: October 24, 2012, 03:18:50 PM »
I've got an Irish stout in the fermenter and am starting to think about bottling it. This one came from a kit from Midwest Supplies. 5 gallon batch.

Said kit came with a 5oz packet of corn sugar for priming. Am I right in thinking that it's too much sugar and the carbonation will make the beer overly harsh?  I'm currently thinking I should reduce it by about half, but I'd appreciate confirmation from someone more experienced with the effects carbonation has on taste and mouthfeel.

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Equipment and Software / Interesting immersion wort chiller design
« on: October 23, 2012, 02:22:57 PM »
Now that the weather has turned cool enough that I'm not wishing I had space for a chest freezer/fermentation chamber, I'm thinking my next upgrade has to be a wort chiller.  May yet make my own, but I know copper prices have definitely affected the build cost on these.

Anyway, I came across this contraption on ebay. Curious if anyone's tried something along these lines instead of the standard cylindrical coil design?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-WORT-CHILLER-DESIGN-PEAK-EFFICIENCY-/110841991716

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Yeast and Fermentation / Which dry ale yeasts to keep as backup?
« on: October 22, 2012, 09:24:42 AM »
I realize this is an incredibly broad question and varies a lot based on what style I'm trying to brew. The fact is, I'm a beginner messing around with a variety of styles, all ales, and I'd like to be able to have a small stock of dry yeasts in the fridge as backup in case fermentation doesn't start for me for some reason, or in case it gets stuck. Neither has happened to me yet thankfully, but I'm experiencing my typical preoccupation with the fact that the yeast I pitched last night didn't seem to have the airlock going nuts yet by morning. I'd breathe easier knowing I have a few packets in the fridge that will give me a reasonably good-tasting result should I need them.

So what should I get? (I asked the hubby to pick some up for me once before and he returned with a Hefeweizen yeast. I'm not asking him to swing by the homebrew shop near his work again without a few specifics, since clearly the shop was no help to him in choosing something that would be fairly generic.)

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Kegging and Bottling / Bottling bucket spigot contamination!
« on: March 20, 2012, 07:09:14 AM »
Is contamination in the spigot a problem for anyone else? There's definitely some nasty black stuff in mine, which is this model.

I bypassed the problem when I bottled last night by simply racking into a clean fermenter and then bottled using an autosiphon, but I'd really like to figure out how to get the gunk out of the spigot. Otherwise, I've just got a useless bucket with a hole in it, since I clearly don't want to replace the thing after each use.

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Yeast and Fermentation / Determining yeast numbers?
« on: March 01, 2012, 01:22:19 PM »
I've only made a few batches of beer so far (first was quite good, second's still conditioning but seems promising, third's still fermenting), all with dry yeast. From reading here, it seems like one of the modifications I'm going to want to make soonest is to make yeast starters and start pitching them in larger quantities.

So I keep reading that it's important to pitch the correct amount of yeast for a good flavor profile, and I see calculators.  But how do you determine how much yeast you have? I don't have a spectrophotometer in my kitchen, and by the time I'd done plate counts the numbers would change significantly, even if I had the patience and equipment.  Surely numbers vary substantially based with the gravity of the starter wort and any limiting yeast nutrients, so we can't go by volume of a stationary phase culture when the yeast have flocculated, can we?

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Kegging and Bottling / Bottles aren't carbonating.
« on: January 30, 2012, 07:08:49 AM »
I bottled my first batch of beer about a week and a half ago. English pale ale-type, had been sitting in the fermenter for 11 days, with no activity in the airlock for a while. Primed with 3/4 cup corn sugar, dissolved/boiled in 12 oz of water (probably too much), then added to the bottling bucket when a bit cooled.  (I did add it after siphoning in the beer, which was a mistake, but I gently stirred and added it slowly, so hopefully it's well-distributed.)

The bottled beer tastes good, if a little green, and has a bit of a sweet flavor.  (It's no sweeter than Goose Island Matilda, so I'm not too worried about explosions.) Some slight carbonation has formed, but disappointingly little.

I've moved the beer from the bathroom where I've done the fermentation to a closet, which has basically brought it from 68F to 69-70F. Is there anything else I can do? I used Munton's Gold dry yeast -- did it flocculate too completely?

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Yeast and Fermentation / Quick (dumb?) OG, FG question
« on: January 24, 2012, 03:40:57 PM »
If I read OG and FG at the same temperature, do I have to correct for the variation from 60F? Or will they remain accurate relative to each other?

(And why, exactly, is the temperature for this not the standard 20C?)

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General Homebrew Discussion / Strange question -- Lambics.
« on: January 09, 2012, 01:50:38 PM »
Apologies if this is in the wrong section.

My PI is looking for lambics from which we can recover the bacteria for educational purposes. We're hoping to do some 16S sequencing on them and identify the species for a food fermentations class he teaches.

A year or two ago, we attempted this with Lindemans and had no luck.  I'm not certain if they have a pasteurization step in their process, if the bacteria were simply dead, or if it was something wrong with the class' process or media choice.  (We did some of the steps with anaerobic plates and MRS media, as I recall.)

I would appreciate any suggestions for varieties of lambics that would be available or could be shipped to my department at Purdue in Indiana.  (We have a liquor license, though I don't know the details of it.)  Ideally, these would be actual open-fermented products, not recreations of them.

Thanks in advance!

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When you first began drinking beer, what was the first one that became your favorite? 
What then superceded it?

____

Born a Wisconsinite, I started out liking Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss.
Somewhere thereafter, I switched to Leinenkugel's Big Butt Doppelbock.

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General Homebrew Discussion / A few newbie questions
« on: January 06, 2012, 10:58:24 AM »
I'm new and planning to cook my first batch of beer tomorrow, and I hope/believe I have everything I need.  (The kit came with an O2-based cleanser but no sanitizer, so my hubby's supposed to bring some Star-San on his way home, since he has a local homebrew shop near his apartment and my nearest is an hour away.)  Batch 1 is an extract-based Old Speckled Hen clone with some crystal malts that I'll need to boil and un-hopped syrup.

1)  I'm planning on using Wally-world "drinking water" for brewing, since the local water is chloraminated and tastes a bit weird. I see conflicting information -- Do I want to boil the first few gallons that go into my fermenter, or am I safe to dump them in cold and trust that they're sufficiently clean to just pour in before adding my boiled wort?

2)  What's the best way to sanitize? How much can I rely on a spray bottle of Star-San solution and how much do I really need to soak?

Working ahead...
3)  I have 2 cases of 22 oz bottles which I plan to supplement with some used 12 oz ones.  Do I have to worry about amounts of priming sugar given the different bottle sizes, or should that be OK?

4)  What's this I've read about bottling into a few pop bottles to assess carbonation?

5)  What's the best procedure to sanitize all those bottles?  Due to funky water, the dishwasher has a rinse agent in it, so that's out. Do I fill the bathtub with sanitizer solution? Am I better off just capping them all with foil and borrowing my lab's autoclave?

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