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Topics - narvin

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Yeast and Fermentation / Stir plate starter analysis
« on: June 26, 2015, 04:55:27 PM »
I'm making a starter for an IPA, and by popular request I'm doing a methylene blue stain and cell count on it.

Vital stats:

2 vials of WLP 001, expiration date Oct . 5 (produced on June 5)
2.5 L of canned starter wort:
  - Best Pilz malt,  enough calcium sulfate to hit 50 ppm ca, phosphoric acid to mash pH 5.4 room temp, yeast nutrient.
- No sparge, canned wort at 15 psi for 15 minutes.
  - OG 1.045 or so.  Higher than usual but part of an experiment with accommodating yeast to fermentation wort gravities.

I shook the starter for a whole minute, which is an eternity for one this big. 

Put on the stir plate this morning and left it alone.  After 10 hours:

I plan to stain and put on the microscope later, although if the krausen hasn't gone down yet before bed the cell count won't be accurate.

Beer Travel / Lines suck
« on: June 06, 2015, 01:21:55 PM »

Going Pro / The most expensive ingredient in beer...
« on: February 22, 2015, 10:03:42 AM »

I'm all for the lowering of excise taxes for small brewers, but these numbers don't seem to add up.  Any pros have a comment?

Equipment and Software / 15.5 gal stainless fermenter
« on: October 10, 2014, 11:07:52 AM »

Yep, it's a keg. Take the spear out and you effectively have a large stainless carboy.

You can hook up a fancy stainless apparatus for racking/thermowell/airlock on the top if you want since a 2" tri-clamp fits on a Sankey. Some places sell them pre-assembled, but it's going to cost as much as the keg itself.  I just use a carboy cap with a large hose clamp around it and it can hold enough pressure for racking.

Going Pro / Sewer ejector system
« on: October 18, 2013, 03:33:29 PM »
Kicking around some ideas for a nano brewery right now (no, I'm not going to quit my job.  yes, my whole life will be beer.  it already is).  I've found some space that's pretty well located, for an industrial park, and reasonably priced.  One of the odd things is that this warehouse is on the lower level of the back of the building and is below sewer level, so the landlord says an "ejector system" would be needed for waste water.  Any idea if this would be a problem to use with floor drains, yeast, etc?  I've only done preliminary investigation into local codes but none of the breweries around here seem to need any kind of sedimentation tank for their waste.

I also have no idea what kind of build-out allowance, if any, a landlord for an existing building will give for thing like water, waste, and power hookups. Is this something I should push for?  The space seems to have been vacant since 2012... oddly, it was an ice cream factory, so I don't know how they didn't have sewer.

Homebrew Competitions / NHC final round shipping address
« on: June 04, 2013, 09:22:12 AM »
The shipping address for final round entries isn't recognized by UPS or FedEx.  Any ideas?

Equipment and Software / Dead fridge, brought back to life!
« on: May 24, 2013, 11:49:21 AM »
My kegerator stopped working last week.  It wouldn't chill and the only noise it made was a loud click every few minutes.  This is exactly what happened to my last chest freezer that died, which I replaced.  This was a lot worse, though, since I have the fridge built into a larger bar and replacing it would be a total PITA.

I decided to do some more research and it sounded like it could just be the start relay.  I found the right part and ordered from, and lo and behold, it works again.  So if your fridge/freezer won't start and you don't hear any noise from the compressor, you might be able to fix it for cheap instead of throwing it out.

Kegging and Bottling / Gilda corker with belgian corks?
« on: March 20, 2013, 04:41:12 PM »
I was going to fill a Jeroboam (3L champagne) with Geueze for NHC club night but the thing is too tall for my floor corker.  Has anyone used a handheld with Belgian or champagne bottles?  This one seems to be the best of the bunch, since it has an iris.  I figure it will be a pain to get it right, but I only need to do it once.

All Grain Brewing / Bru'n Water weirdness
« on: May 02, 2012, 01:31:10 PM »
After all the discussion about alkalinity in the pickling lime thread, I was playing around with some recipes in Bru'n Water today.  I created a basic test recipe for a beer of about 50 SRM:

12 lbs 2-row
3 lb crystal 20
1.5 lb roasted barley
5 gallon mash (1.21 qt/lbs)

I added salts to get my water to approximate the "black malty" profile, and the mash pH estimate came out to be 5.5.  Great!  But then I scaled the grain and water 3x for a 15 gallon recipe, and the pH estimate changed to 5.3.  Huh?? 

Am I doing something wrong?  I can't think of any reason that the results aren't independent of batch size.  The grain and water were both scaled proportionally, and salt additions scale automatically since they are written in g/gal.

General Homebrew Discussion / Sundays with Gordon
« on: February 19, 2012, 04:36:24 PM »
Thank's to Mr Strong for meeting with our homebrew clubs today.  Of course, going to Max's 72 hours of Belgium is a reward in itself :-)

All Grain Brewing / Water for dark beers
« on: October 26, 2011, 06:07:11 AM »
I've recently changed my thinking on water for dark beers.  I knew that Kai's experiments have shown that roasted malts don't contribute as much acidity per SRM as crystal malts, and I've also lowered my target mash pH to 5.4-5.5 (@20C) as alkalinity/high pH are a major culprit in lifeless beer, extracting tannis and astringency, and other bad things. But AJ DeLange's posts (for example, here) made me consider the possibility that I don't need any chalk in my water despite it's relatively low alkalinity.

I recently made a 40 SRM oatmeal stout with 2.5 pounds of roasted barley in the mash for a 12 gallon batch. Despite an alkalinity of only 48 (and RA of 25) in my tap water, I added no chalk or other carbonates. My mash pH was 5.5, and I wouldn't want it any higher.

One side note is that ColorPhast pH strips were almost unreadable in the dark wort, but looked like they read much lower than the meter. If I had to guess, the strips read around 4.8. With the error, that's still 5.1.  The meter was just calibrated. I'm starting to question whether the ColorPhast strips are really worth using.

All Grain Brewing / Spelt
« on: August 05, 2011, 10:25:55 AM »
I'm going to use about 1/3 raw spelt in my next Saison.  Almost all references I see to any unmalted grain include a cereal mash, but it seems like everything except corn and rice should gelatinize at mash temps.

My plan is just to do a beta glucan rest at 113 and then take it up to 146 or so. Anyone do this before and get bad results?  The spelt will be almost pulverized in a corona mill, like I do with my raw wheat for lambics, so the starches should be easily accessible.

Edit: Also, would it be worth mashing for 90 minutes?

Anyone do cell counts on their starters?  I've started out of curiosity, but the results are different than what I'd expect.

I've been growing up yeast for a 10 gallon batch of Pilsner this week.  The cell counts I'm getting are lower than what I expect based on both the starter size and the volume of yeast I ended up with.  I know these are both guesstimates, and I was wondering if anyone else had similar experience or if my counts just aren't accurate.

Starter specifics:

- Began with 1 vial of WLP830
- Starters contain 1 g/10ml DME.
- 2 stages: 1.6L for 48 hours, then chilled, decanted, and pitched into 4.4L
- Aerated with pure O2 for 60 seconds, fermented on stir plates at ~ 75dF, breathable foam stopper

I chilled the final starter and the compressed cake at the bottom looks to be 200-250 ml based on rough eyeballing.  According to Jamil's calculator using the "repitching from slurry" tab, this should be about 700 - 900 billion yeast cells even if it has a high amount of non-yeast material (break).  This is the amount that his and the wyeast calculator predicted for me as well.

Problem is, every time I do a count I'm consistently estimating that there are 400 - 500 billion cells in the starter. The starter was still on the stir plate and I didn't see a lot of flocculation.  I took a decent sample from near the middle of the flask using a thief, diluted 10x, and counted.  I can post the specifics of my calculation for a Neubauer-improved hemacytomer when I get home if that would help.

Yeast and Fermentation / Wort aeration needed?
« on: December 29, 2010, 08:34:35 AM »
I'm starting to question whether I need added aeration at all for ales.  I make large, aerated, stir plate starters, so I always end up with healthy yeast. For my Belgian beers, I think I get a better flavor profile when under-aerating (and still very high attenuation - 85 - 90% on beers with sugar).  I just made a Porter with WLP002, and other than splashing in the carboy, I did no aeration -- I didn't use my aquarium pump and stone. The result was great attenuation, a clean profile with just a hint of fruity esters, and less work.  I suppose I could get the same result with a smaller starter and aeration, but what's the point?

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