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Topics - tommymorris

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The Pub / Infections!
« on: August 25, 2018, 03:06:22 AM »
I have now had 3 batches with a wild yeast (I think) infection in the last 3 months. This is driving me crazy. Between that and a batch of Helles Ale ruined by peach esters from US-05, I feel I no longer know how to brew. It’s very frustrating. 

Regarding the infections: the first two had one thing in common: pitching slurries (there was a forth sometime last year which was infected after pitching a slurry). I thought maybe I had some bad sanitation practices in my slurry storage. I recently decided to stop saving yeast for a while and just pitch fresh each batch. On my latest batch I pitched a new pack of MJ M44. Now that batch is infected. That blows up the slurry theory.

Symptoms: bandaid/phenolic, cloudy, krausen slow to drop. The symptoms are the same every time. I have let these beers age and it’s not some mystery flavor that ages out. The bandaid flavor sticks around. I think it is wild yeast.

I had three clean batches in a row (one sucked due to US-05, but, that wasn’t wild yeast). I thought I was back on track.

After the 2nd infection, I cleaned the whole brewery with high test bleach water. I soaked my fermenter with high grade bleach water and then sanitized With iodophor. I had three  good batches in a row.

For this last infected batch: I used Starsan to sanitize the fermenter. I used a brand new bucket. The lag time sucked (60 hours until a krausen).

Beers from 3 fermenters have been infected.

I taste the infection when checking gravity while the beer is still in the fermenter. So this is not a hose problem picked up during transfer to keg.

I have three theories:
1. My brewery is in a closet. I brew outside.  But, I ferment, serve, and store my equipment in an 8x8 closet in the garage. Could spillage and time have led to a large wild yeast concentration in this room? Could there be yeast on my tools or in the air?

2. My fermentation chamber may harbor wild yeast. My last non-infected batch had nasty growth on the fermenter spigot. That batch wasn’t infected but I was alarmed. I cleaned the inside of the fermentation chamber with high test bleach water before that batch. I cleaned again after.

Dark spots on spigot are some growth. It was white going into the fermenter. This batch was not infected and I have not reused that spigot.

3. I move beer from Grainfather (GF) to the fermenter via pump. Maybe that pump or hoses are harboring the infection. Could it be that I am not recirculating long enough at boiling temperatures before moving the beer to the fermenter? I don’t think this is the case. I run the pump recirculating through the chiller during the boil for at least 30 seconds to one minute.  The chilling seems slow, so the beer in the kettle stays above 140F  for at least 5 minutes after starting to recirculate. Am I doing this wrong? The temp in the GF drops pretty slowly. Maybe the temp in the recirculation loop drops faster than I think and I have something growing in there? My GF is relatively new, so, I am still learning. But I have had at least 4 non-infected batches with it. But, all 3 infected batches were brewed on the GF. Also, there is no pellicle. I would expect bacteria and a pellicle if the hoses or pump were dirty.

Plans: I plan to empty the brewery for a deep clean. I also plan to use iodophor for fermenter sanitation. I plan to recirculate through the chiller for 3-4 minutes during boil. Not sure what else to do.


The Pub / This steak owes me money
« on: July 29, 2018, 12:57:58 AM »

Dining for one tonight.

- formerly alestateyall.

Yeast and Fermentation / Mangrove Jack’s M84 Bohemian Lager
« on: July 28, 2018, 08:39:55 PM »
I recently fermented a batch of Amber Lager (SABL homage) with Mangrove Jack’s M84 Bohemian Lager at 54F. The beer came out malty and clean. Fermentation kicked off quickly (less than 24 hours to develop a krausen).  The beer cleared quickly also.

My overall impression, MJ M84 is a nice option for dry lager yeast.

- formerly alestateyall.

The Pub / Anti Short Delay - Chest Freezer
« on: July 16, 2018, 11:32:57 PM »
My fermentation chamber is a chest freezer with Johnson Controls temperature controller.  Although I have had it for 5+ years I have recently noticed it runs the temp lower than I would like before turning off.

I currently have it set at 67. Last night I saw it took the temp down to 65F. I used my thermometer and confirmed the wort was actually 65F. I can live with a 2F swing.

This morning I checked and the temp was 63F. I didn’t have time to measure the actual wort temp.

The temp probe is attached under a folded wash cloth to the side of the plastic fermenter.

One hypothesis I have is that the ASD (anti short circuit delay) is leaving the freezer own and taking the temp farther than I would like below the set point.  I just moved that setting  from 2 minutes down to 1.

Any other suggestions?

I am using cooling cut-in mode with 1* F differential. So, it should turn on at the set point run until the temp drop me 1* F and then turn off. Unless the ASD timer has not expired, in which case it will stay on until the timer expires.


- formerly alestateyall.

The Pub / My new scale
« on: July 14, 2018, 08:53:32 PM »
I am thinking homebrewers are not the target market for my new scale.

I especially love the model number. 

- formerly alestateyall.

Beer Recipes / Beer Mystery
« on: July 11, 2018, 02:05:50 AM »
BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): My beer is much darker than expected and I don’t know why.

I have been perplexed by my last brew. It came out significantly darker than I expected and significantly darker than BeerSmith predicted.

3 gallons, OG 1050
85% 2-Row Pale (Briess)
10% Munich 9L (Avangard)
5% Organic Crystal 60 (Briess)
33 IBU Mosaic @ FWH
0.5 oz./3 gallons Mosaic @ 1
1 oz./3 gallons Mosaic @ steep
Cal Ale slurry

BeerSmith SRM = 7


Some clues:

1. The taste has a bit of burned flavor (smoke or roast.) My homebrew club friends taste this too.
2. I brew with a GrainFather. It could have HSA issues. But, other batches have not been darker than expected.
3. There was a burned spot (caramelization) stuck on the bottom of the kettle after the brew: approximately 1”x3”. It was a bear to get off.
4. I was sober when measuring grains.
5. BeerSmith predicts 9 SRM for reversing the C60 and Munich percentages.
6. I brewed a batch with the reversed grain bill. Picture below. This beer is very young and still loaded with yeast in suspension. This is 85/10/5: 2-row, C60, Munich, ie. I flipped the C60 and Munich from the original.

7. The beer is awesome. Homebrew club wanted more.  Sweet like an Amber Ale with the slight smoke/burn flavor adding a nice complexity. The Mosaic hops are killer.

Any ideas why this beer is so dark?

- formerly alestateyall.

The Pub / Oops
« on: June 23, 2018, 03:17:50 AM »
9,000 barrels of bourbon fall in Kentucky distillery building collapse

- formerly alestateyall.

Homebrewer Bios / Changed username
« on: June 16, 2018, 09:47:02 PM »
In case anyone misses alestateyall, I have changed my username to “tommymorris”.

I used to be a professor at Mississippi State University. It was illegal to homebrew there, so I chose a username that hid my identity. “alestate” was a play on “Hail State”, MSU’s rally cry. I left MSU 3 years ago and homebrew was finally legalized in the deep south in 2013. I am tired of “alestateyall” and henceforth shall be known by my real name.

General Homebrew Discussion / Boil Off Rate vs. Boil Intensity
« on: June 04, 2018, 11:42:39 PM »
Do I care about boil off rate or boil intensity? I brew 3 gallon batches and my boil off rate is 12-15%. If I brewed larger batches the volume lost to boil per hour should remain constant, but, my boil off rate will drop. Doubling the batch size would half the boil off rate. My boil is a simmer.

Similar, question, if I put the lid on while boiling, I will loose less wort to boil off. But, really that wort will evaporate, condense, and drop back into the boil (right?). Didn’t adding the lid increase the boil intensity while lowering the boil off rate? Doesn’t this actually give a false sense of security since the boil intensity is actually higher in this case?

General Homebrew Discussion / Hoppy
« on: May 21, 2018, 11:27:09 PM »
What does hoppy mean? Bitter? Lots of hop aroma/flavor (citrus, floral, etc.)?

I like that Untappd added one word descriptors that users can select to describe beers. You can get a feel for the group think on a beer. For example, Untappd drinkers use the following descriptors for Sierra Nevada Sidecar IPA: citrusy, hoppy, crisp, citrus, and funky. (Note: I don’t get funky for this beer.)

After a while the group think likely gets self-reinforced because users probably select from the short list of common descriptors provided rather than type their own.

One descriptor that comes up a lot is “hoppy”.  Should I check it for bitter beers or hop flavored beers?

PS. Sierra Nevada is so reliable. I love all their beers. Give me Sierra Nevada and Yellow Hammer and I am good.

General Homebrew Discussion / Grain prices at AB InBev
« on: May 13, 2018, 05:32:35 PM »
AB InBev now guarantees the lowest grain prices anywhere.

The prices are quite low. Rahr and Briess base malts are $0.99 and $0.98 per pound.

Yeast and Fermentation / Whoops
« on: May 04, 2018, 02:26:25 PM »
Yesterday, I decided to heat a beer up a few degrees to warm it up and spur the yeast. I forgot about it. This morning it was 104F and fermenting like a boss.

I can’t wait to see how MJ Bavarian Lager yeast tastes when fermented at 104F.

This will be two ruined batches in a row.

Silver lining: I get to brew this weekend.

The Pub / Rockin the AHA Discount
« on: March 14, 2018, 01:00:19 AM »
I recently renewed my AHA membership. I waited until there were free hops: 8 oz. of Amarillo. Score! That beats last year when I got a bunch Simcoe and other hops for a recipe I never brewed. I did use the hops.

Last week I got $2 plus tax off a Stromboli.

Tonight, I saved $12 on beer (happy hour prices anytime for AHA members).

I can’t remember what the year’s membership cost, but, I am making good progress on paying it off.

The Pub / Where to Drink in Huntsville, Alabama
« on: December 02, 2017, 10:15:13 PM »

Beer Recipes / Transferring from a corny keg fermenter w/o trub
« on: August 29, 2017, 03:16:30 AM »
I have been fermenting in a 5 gallon pin lock keg the last few batches. I brew 3 gallon batches, so, the size is perfect. I use a spunding valve to naturally carbonate the beer and then transfer under pressure to a sani-purged keg.

I tried using a cut dip tube. That worked okay, but, I also have tried   using a Clear Beer Draft System ( in the fermenter. The clear beer draught system works well for this application.

Here a couple of pics stolen from Clear Beer's website.

The float keeps the beer inlet above any trub. The float is in the fermenter from day one. I was worried it might get clogged by krausen, but, so far that hasn't been a problem.

The float is stainless steel.

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