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Topics - mabrungard

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Yeast and Fermentation / Methyl anthranilate (Grape Ester)
« on: April 10, 2016, 09:59:55 AM »
Is anyone on the forum familiar with this ester and its formation in beer?

I recently brewed a Helles that had a significant corny DMS aroma and flavor when it was young. Through lagering, that corn has been replaced with a light concord grape flavor and aroma. I'm curious if that genesis was via the DMS?

I've noted that this grape ester shows up more often in German lager styles, but I'm not sure why. Maybe because they tend to be malt focused and not hop focused?

Commercial Beer Reviews / 3 Floyds Yum Yum
« on: April 04, 2015, 05:16:01 AM »
I had a glass of 3F's new Yum Yum APA last night. At first, when they brought over the glass, I was pissed because it was only a 12 oz glass. I figured there must be a reason, so I readied my taste buds.

Pure nirvana. An explosion of well-mannered and balanced hop flavor and aroma. The malt backbone was adequate to support the hopping. I don't know exactly what drives the cost of this beer, but its obviously the hopping. 3F's website says this is a blend of proprietary hops, so they seem to have something special. They call it juicy and I agree. At 5.5%, it is an APA, but in the fashion of the day, they call this a Session Ale. I'm assuming they are referring to a Session IPA since 5.5% is kind of high to be sessionable.

Very fine beer. At the end, I was pissed again, that glass was indeed too small since I ran out too quickly.

Equipment and Software / "Varnish" in Fermenter
« on: January 25, 2015, 11:52:56 AM »
I just noticed an interesting buildup in my stainless conical fermenter.

I thought I had been keeping my fermenter perfectly clean for over a decade, but I noticed prior to my last brew that it had a very light tint on the interior surface. Since I spent days polishing the interior of the fermenter when I bought it, I have always avoided hard scrubbing with scrubby pads. But I have always been thorough in scrubbing the surface with either my hand, thumbnail, or sponge to remove any sort of trub, yeast, or other deposits. It always looked clean and shiny.

So with some 60 or 70 batches fermented in that vessel, I happened to notice that there was a tint to the stainless surface. I used my thumbnail and was able to scrape it off...grudgingly. It was some sort of a transparent, tan coating that I guess could be termed "varnish".

I still didn't want to use a scrubby since that is known to create micro scratches in metal surfaces. So I tried a warm PBW soak. That helped a bit, but I'm pretty sure that it's ~110F temperature was not enough to really activate the solution. I then hooked up my RIMS and circulated the solution at 160F and it further loosened the layer. I could get more off with my nails. Ultimately, I pulled out a white scrubby and lightly scrubbed the surfaces to get all the varnish off.

It's clean now, but I have to wonder if critters may have been lurking in that microscopic varnish layer that may not have been knocked out with sanitizer? Fortunately, my prior beers have been good, but that question has to remain.

While this event hasn't diminished my avoidance of harsh scrubbing with a scrubby since its obvious to me that the micro scratches will eventually become filled with that varnish, I wonder if anyone else has experienced this?

The good news for me now is that I know that I need to perform a substantial PBW cleaning in order to remove something I can't even see, on a frequency a little greater than once in 60+ brews.   :)

All Grain Brewing / Sparging Water Volume
« on: January 03, 2015, 12:14:28 PM »
I've been a fly-sparger for 15 years and have been using ProMash all of that time. Prior to my move to my electric system, my mashing and sparging water volumes have always worked out well...meaning that the final runoff gravity was just reaching the low limit and I'm running out of sparging water. Now after almost 3 years with my electric system, I've come to the conclusion that I probably won't achieve that coordination again. I always have between 0.5 and 1 gallon of sparging water remaining when the runoff reaches the low limit. By the way, I stop runoff at about 3 brix (1.012) to avoid tannin extraction.

The good news is that my efficiency is very good (80% to 90%). The best I was obtaining with the old system was 82%. The bad news is that my pre-boil volume is too low and the starting gravity is therefore too high. It seems that my procedures are extracting most of the sugars early...leaving the grain bed devoid of sugars. I do use a slightly thin mash ratio of about 1.5 qts/lb, but that is not out of the typical range. I don't think that is a problem.

It seems that I need to plan on sparging a volume that takes me down to my runoff gravity limit and then take that remaining sparging water and adding it directly to the kettle to meet my pre-boil volume target. I haven't heard of anyone else doing this, but it seems like it's what I need to do.

Any comments?

Ingredients / Is Wet Hopping BS?
« on: September 17, 2014, 12:40:49 PM »
Tis the season to endure another round of wet-hopped beers. My experience with commercial wet-hopped beers is that they are rarely as well-mannered and flavorful as beers made with dried hops. This seems to be a fad that doesn't have much basis other than the green hops are available, so let's make a beer with them!.

When I think about it, if green hops were better for brewing, we would be using them year-round. With freezing technology, there is no problem in storing wet hops. My impression is that most of the wet-hopped beers tend to have a green, chlorophyl flavor accompanying the hop flavors. I don't find that pleasing. I think there is an advantage to drying hops and using them fresh in that form.

What do others think of wet-hopping? Or am I just full of BS?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Sun King Fistful of Hops
« on: August 26, 2014, 05:27:07 PM »
Well, I'm going to have to say that there may be two masterful breweries in Indiana now...3Floyds and Sun King. Sun King's Fistful of Hops IPA is a wonderfully flavorful hop bomb that still provides a drinkable balance. The current version includes a notable orange flavor to the hopping when the beer warms. Well worth searching for if you are in Indiana. I'm not sure that it's available out of state.

My hat is off to the brewery.

Ingredients / Homebrewing making a mark in the water supply community
« on: September 14, 2013, 05:53:47 PM »
Check this water report out.  Scroll to the last page.

Ingredients / Boiled Water Lab Test Results
« on: June 09, 2013, 07:55:29 AM »
As some of you may have read in the Decarbonation by Boiling thread, boiling reduces calcium content in waters with alkalinity.  All of my engineering texts indicate that the minimum practical limit for calcium content is about 12 ppm.  But those results are always presented in the Lime Softening section.  Since boiling is not a practical method for the large-scale treatment that we engineers typically deal with, there is no discussion on boiling and the practical minimum calcium level for that method.  I have someone else telling me that the practical limit for calcium after boiling is 20 ppm.  I'm not sure that the higher limit is factual.  I'm hoping that there are brewers that have had lab testing performed on their post-boiled water and they will share them here.

Please post laboratory testing results for your water after it was boiled. 


I recently had a question from a Bru'n Water user that has the fortune of brewing with tap water of near Pilsen quality.  He was trying to create a better Pale Ale since his prior attempts lacked 'zing'.  So, he was trying to match the calcium content of the Pale Ale profile in Bru'n Water (140ppm).  He did not realize that for calcium, anything over 50 ppm is good enough.  The only reason that the calcium content on the Pale Ale profile is high is because you have to add a lot of gypsum to deliver the high sulfate that you want. 

If you try and take the Ca to 140 ppm in water with very low alkalinity, the mash pH is likely to be far lower than desirable.  I just did a quick test in Bru'n Water using distilled water as the starting water.  I added epsom salt until the Mg was high enough, then added gypsum until the sulfate was high enough.  Then I added table salt until the sodium was high enough, then added CaCl until the chloride was high enough.  That left me with all the ions excepting calcium near their targets (Ca was at 115 ppm).  That produced a 5.3 pH with a 90% Pale malt and 10% crystal 40 grist.  Its a little low but not terribly so.  If I wanted, I could cut back on the table salt and add baking soda to produce the intended Na content to produce a 5.4 pH.  Either is workable. 

Another option for avoiding an excessively low mash pH is to reserve the Ca and Mg containing minerals from the mash and adding them directly to the kettle.  That avoids the low pH issue in the mash.  As many of you probably know, those hardness minerals combine with phosphate compounds in the mash to reduce pH.  But since those phosphate compounds are also transferred over into the kettle, I figured that this pH lowering effect would still occur in the kettle.  But I was not positive of this, so I posed the question of what the effect of adding those minerals directly to the kettle was to my partners for the upcoming Water book: Palmer, Kaminski, and Delange.  They confirmed that the effect would occur in the kettle. 

You may now be what if the pH in the kettle is driven lower?  Well, a lower than desirable kettle pH also affects several factors in the beer.  The number one factor is that low pH reduces the production of hop bitterness and hop expression.  The more ideal wort pH of 5.2 to 5.6 helps extract the hop alpha acids and other components from the hop matter.  The rest of the factors are not a big deal, but the hop thing is.  So getting the wort pH right is a good thing.  Therefore, maybe the technique of reserving the hardness minerals from the mash is not ideal.  Getting the pH correct in the mash with all the minerals is probably a more ideal way to go.


Ingredients / Bru'n Water version 1.14 posted
« on: April 12, 2013, 02:49:00 PM »
The latest update to the free version of Bru'n Water is now available on the Bru'n Water website.  The main thing that was changed was an update for Acid Malt acidity so that it more accurately reflects its contribution.  The mash pH prediction capability has also been improved.

The free version lacks many of the features of the supporter's version, but its still effective.


Commercial Beer Reviews / Becks Black Sapphire
« on: February 01, 2013, 07:47:20 PM »
I had a bottle of this today and came away modestly impressed.  It is a Pils style, but I felt the maltiness lingered a bit too long and the beer didn't dry very well in the finish.  Maybe a touch more attenuation or a touch more sulfate to help dry the finish.  The hopping was interesting.  The Sapphire hops were pleasant and add a winey character that generally agrees with the maltiness.  Not a bad beer.  I'd have it again, but I'm not sure that it can pass the 3 bottle test...I could not drink 3 of these, but I might be able to enjoy 2 bottles. 

PS: The only thing black about this beer is the bottle.  At least you won't have to worry about skunking in the package.

Ingredients / Rahr Base Malts and Bru'n Water
« on: January 20, 2013, 12:28:01 PM »
As we know from several sources, Rahr base malts tend to produce a mash pH that is a couple of tenths lower than other similar base malts.  I just finished up a brew using a large percentage of Rahr 2-row Pale and was able to verify a corrective input for Bru'n Water that accounts for the higher acidity Rahr malt. 

I recommend increasing the color rating of the Rahr base malt by about 3 lovibond to account for the extra acidity.  For example, for a Rahr Pale malt with a color rating of 2 L, input the color rating as 5 L in Bru'n Water.  That will improve the accuracy of the mash pH prediction.


General Homebrew Discussion / For the Love of Hops Pre-sale for AHA Members
« on: November 13, 2012, 02:00:10 PM »
The pre-sale event for the upcoming book: For the Love of Hops has started.  AHA members get a 40% discount.  Another reason to be an AHA member!

Ingredients / Gratzer Water
« on: November 09, 2012, 10:50:54 AM »
I just finished reading the excellent article on the smoked wheat beer, Gratzer in the Nov/Dec 2012 Zymurgy issue.  Since a Gratz water profile was included in the article, it got my interest. 

As with many water profiles from historic brewing cities, the uninformed use of those water profiles can get you into trouble.  The Gratz profiles included in the article are cases in point.  Of those Well samples in the article, only Well #2 comes close to balancing and it requires an assumption to achieve that balance.  The assumption comes for the Alkalinity.  Unfortunately, it appears that the alkalinity should have been labeled HCO3 instead since the profile does not come close to balancing with 325 ppm (as CaCO3) Alkalinity.  So, the Gratz water profile can be reasonably assumed to have the following profile:

Ca:      121 ppm
Mg:      31 ppm
Na:      32 ppm
SO4:    145 ppm
Cl:       67 ppm
HCO3:  320 ppm

Fortunately in the case of this light-colored wheat beer, trying to duplicate the bicarbonate (HCO3) content is pointless.  That water is far too alkaline to brew this pale beer.  Fortunately, the simple process of boiling the Gratz water would result in the following profile that is more suited to brewing this style:

Ca:       45 ppm
Mg:       31 ppm
Na:       32 ppm
SO4:     145 ppm
Cl:        67 ppm
HCO3:   80 ppm

This reduces the alkalinity significantly and creates Residual Alkalinity conditions that are reasonably suited for brewing this beer.  The article goes on to say that an Acid Rest was used in the brewing.  That should further neutralize the HCO3 and make the water more suited to this pale style and make the finished beer more tart and spritzy.  That effect can be parroted with a minor addition of lactic acid.  I'd say enough acid to neutralize about 20 to 30 ppm of the HCO3. 

This sure looks like an interesting beer.  I love session and smoked beers and this should be something enjoyable.  Try it out with these water recommendations and you should be in the ball park. 

That entire issue was really enjoyable and information packed.  If you are not an AHA member, I can assure you that AHA dues provide quite a return.  Seriously consider joining. 

Equipment and Software / ColorpHast pH Strip Information
« on: October 25, 2012, 02:19:12 PM »
I received this interesting information from a friend of mine who spoke with a technical services representative from EMD, the producers of the ColorpHast plastic pH strips.

The Rep said that to use ColorpHast strips correctly, the strip immersion time must be from 1-10 minutes until no further change is noticed.  He said that this is because of the very low ionic concentrations of what brewers measure, (ie: water/mash/wort/beer).  He went on to say that the quick "Dip and Read" will NOT render a correct pH measurement.  He also confirmed that the strips do read about 0.2 - 0.3 units low at mash temp. So the findings of Kai Troester and AJ Delange about the readings of these strips are confirmed. 

Another thing the EMD Rep mentioned, was that ColorpHast strips have an expiration date of 3-5 years IF they are stored in a closed container with a desiccant (moisture-removing agent).  Apparently the strips are adversely affected by air moisture.   If the strips are not carefully stored and protected, they have a typical shelf life of 1-2 years.


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