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Topics - goudron

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Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / First Time In Glass Fermenter
« on: September 06, 2012, 01:40:03 AM »
On Labor Day I brewed a dark stout.  I played with a partial mash, it was really not much more than steeping grains, but I added some stuff to my distilled water to get used to worrying about water chemistry.  It was kind of silly because I had no pH meter to use, and my grainbill was very small with lots of water, so hopefully I didn't do more harm than good.  It was also my first full boil, I started at 4 gallons and boiled down to 3.  I also had my first boil over shortly after adding the DME (first time not using liquid extract too), but it wasn't too bad as this was also the first time I brewed in the garage with a turkey fryer type setup rather than on the kitchen stove.

All that was fine.  Since I only had 3 gallons, I thought it would be better to use my 5 gallon glass carboy to ferment in instead of the larger plastic bucket.  I got up to about 1.066 when all was said and done, and I tossed in some nottingham WP039 yeast around 9 PM and 70F.  When I came home from work for lunch on Tuesday, I was impressed with the vigorous fermentation - temp up a little to 71.  The airlock was all bubbly and there was a generous layer of trub on top.  Today at lunch, it was much the same story, but it was 75F.  Nice evidence of fermentation, but perhaps a little warm for this yeast.  I have a blanket around the fermentor to keep light out.  Tonight though, the bubbler is rather calm in comparison.  All the trub appears to have dropped out of site, and temp is back down to 72.

I've never seen the fermentation before, is it normal for all the bubbles on top to drop down after just a couple of days?  I suppose gunk gets pushed to the top and when it hits a certain density it just drops down.  I just wanted a sanity check.  This is normal, right?

Beer Travel / Going to Belgium, France, and Turkey
« on: January 26, 2012, 01:34:35 AM »
Sales of the product I make (organic ink for screen printing on glass) is growing a lot in Europe, so my friendly European corporate counterparts are paying my way to visit some customers over there with them.  While I am over there, what should I absolutely not miss - from a beer tasting/brewing perspective?  So far I have stops in Brussels, Paris, and Istanbul.  I haven't ever been to another continent, so I may be preoccupied with other things, but if I had to guess, I will probably spend some time drinking somewhere along the way.

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« on: January 23, 2012, 11:18:55 PM »
In my first kit I had some chocolate and caramel 120L grains to steep.  I did that in about 3 gallons of distilled water.  After searching around about water chemistry and steeping grains, I think I will try a similar recipe, but steeping the grains in about 2 qts of per pound of grain.  I will also add some minerals to the distilled water, and add the same ratio of minerals to the distilled sparge water.

I understand that the grains should help keep the pH in line and keep from getting nasty flavours from the grains (can't remember from what atm - tannins?).  I used the EZ Water Calculator spreadsheet found here: and discovered my pH was really low on my first kit.  Maybe it won't taste too bad, we'll see.  My first kit will have to taste really bad for me not to like it.

My question is, since the grains are not going to be in the wort when I add hops and extract, do I need to treat my 3 gallons of boil water with the same minerals as I will with the grains and the sparge water?  Does the danger of off flavours from poor pH control go away when the grains themselves are removed?

General Homebrew Discussion / Friend Decanted From Fermentor
« on: January 23, 2012, 12:41:22 AM »
A work buddy of mine lost his racking cane, and couldn't get his siphon going without it, so he decided to decant his beer out of the fermentor into the bottling bucket.  He gave me a couple of bottles to sample.  It's a raspberry ale of some sort.  It is cloudy, but it doesn't seem to hurt the taste - would this cloudiness be cold break proteins or just gunk from the trub?  Also, the beer is overly fizzy.  No bottles exploded, but it makes a head in the bottle when you open it, and creates quite a head in the glass.  What would be the cause of this?  Too much priming sugar?  Incomplete fermentation prior to bottling?

EDIT: Forgot to mention the beer *tasted* somewhat strongly of alcohol, but I don't think his gravity was off.

General Homebrew Discussion / 1st Kit, fermenting kind of cold
« on: January 16, 2012, 11:05:23 PM »
I spent yesterday brewing my first kit, Brewer's Best Red Ale.  I boiled for longer than intended as I was waiting for the hot break, but never saw it after 20 minutes, so I just added hops.  Never looked like I was going to boil over (didn't use the lid so I guess that helps).

After getting it into the fermentor, and equilibrated, the temp showing on the themometer on the side of the pail is only about 57F.  I noticed a bubble on the airlock at lunch time - around 16 hours after pitching.  Now it's 21 hours after pitching, and there's a bubble about evry 15 seconds.  Seems slower than I expected.  Should I move it out of the basement to an upstairs closet, or just let it go slow like this?

Also, I used distilled water for this, and following instructions in John Palmer's "How to Brew" I preboiled the first 3 gallons.  I could not just let that 3 gallons sit in the fermentor, it needed cooling, and I actually just got it down to 70 F by the time I finished my boil.  I think next time I will preboil the night before.  Does everyone preboil the extra water not in the wort?

Yeast and Fermentation / Yeast Wars?
« on: January 13, 2012, 03:05:17 AM »
Still reading through How to Brew.  There are plenty of different yeasts.  John Palmer suggests using 2 packets of yeast to ferment with to endure there's plenty of yeast.  I haven't come across any mention of using 2 different yeasts though.  If one yeast gives so and so characteristics, and the other gives such and such, do you end up with such and so, or does one yeast outdo the other, or do problems ensue?

From How To Brew section 6.1:

Lag time:
refers to the amount of time that passes from when the yeast is pitched to when the airlock really starts bubbling on the fermenter. A long lagtime (more than 24 hours)...

How much of lag time is actually time that passes before fermentation starts rolling, and how much time is spent filling up the head space of the fermentor?  How much pressure needs to build up for a regular airlock to bubble?  I guess not too much.

What this really got me thinking about is how much head speace should be in the fermentor relative to the amount of wort.  How much is too much space?  I'm wondering because I plan on making 5 gallons to start, and I'll use the 6.5 gallon fermentor, but I'm guessing I will later gravitate to smaller batches to compare different variables head to head whenever possible.  Is 20-25% of the fermenter being head space ideal?  That would make 3.85 gal a good batch size to fill a 5 gallon carboy, right?  I'm guessing the headspace could be smaller, but that too much headspace is bad.

Does the exposed surface of wort as a proportion of wort volume make a difference?  ie, if I had a wider 6.5 gallon fermentor that's half the height of the standard plastic pails will that produce a noticeably different beer?

I'm waiting to get paid to buy a kettle bigger than the 8 qt stock pot I have on hand, and I'm reading up.  I have a few questions.

1. I've been reading through "How to Brew" and it's definitely more enlightening than other references, but I got to section 5.4, hops measurement, and it says:
The gravity of the boil is significant because the higher the malt sugar content of a wort, the less room there is for isomerized alpha acids.

So why don't we boil the water and add hops while gravity is low, boil X amount of time before adding extract?  If the hops would make everything way too bitter, couldn't you just use less hops?  I'm assuming there's a good reason why everyone doesn't do this.

Next, I've read all about how secondary fermentation is not usually necessary, but I also have the 5 gallon glass carboy (feels like I ought to shove a u into that word) with my Christmas kit.  I like to experiment with variables, so what I'd *like* to do with my first batch is this: ferment 5 gallons in primary until the airlock slows down.  Then bottle a few, rack 1/2 of the remainder in a secondary fermentor, and leave the rest to sit in primary.  I also read though that lots of headspace in secondary may be a problem, and I suppose the same may be true of primary?  My intent would be to bottle from both primary and secondary the same day a week or so later.

2. is this just asking for trouble, and assuming it is, how much trouble?

3. My basement is around 60 F - is that too cold to condition beer after bottling?  Everything says 65-75, preferably the low end, but what happens when it's too low?  Takes longer to finish?

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