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Topics - rbclay

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Wood/Casks / barrel project questions
« on: December 15, 2013, 03:26:50 PM »
Our group, the Milltown Mashers (Northfield,MN) are buying a couple of used 30 gallon barrels. (From Koval Distillery in Chicago.)
I have some specific questions that hopefully someone here can answer. This forum has always been a useful resource. If anyone has suggestions for other barrel-info resources that would be great too.
Our first fill in the charred barrel will be a RIS. Is it best to have the 6 batches going into the barrel to be the same recipe, or will some variety add to the final beer? Specifically, would it be advisable or not to use different yeast strains among the beers going in the barrel? Similar RIS appropriate strains, but not all the same.
Same question on the first fill of the second barrel. That will be a barleywine. That barrel had
Is it necessary to sulfite (stop the yeast) when you go into the barrel? Is some slight fermentation acceptable OR is that completely unsafe? I'm assuming there will still be an airlock.
Thanks for your help.

Yeast and Fermentation / combining old yeasts
« on: October 18, 2013, 08:17:21 PM »
Just wondering if anyone else has done something like this and what your results were...
I had 3 old (like 2011 old) packs of Wyeast in my fridge. West Yorkshire, Ringwood and London 1028.
Instead of throwing them out or starting each one individually, I put all of them together (without the smack pack wort- just the yeast) into a 400ml OG 1.035 starter and put it on a stir plate. This was just yesterday afternoon. If it looks like it has some growth, I'll step it up to a 1.5L starter.
Planning to make a dark mild with this when it looks like there is a decent volume of yeast.

Yeast and Fermentation / barleywine ferment issue or not?
« on: January 09, 2013, 03:06:24 PM »
I am currently doing a barleywine experiment. Our group split 17 gallons amongst each other from a big brew. I have 3 carboys going with 3 different yeasts.
Stats: OG 1.095, brewed 12/29/12. Fermenting at 62F.
Carboy #1: 2 gallons pitched with 1 pack Nottingham. Current SG 1.024 after 9 days. Krausen has fallen.
Carboy #2: 4.75 gal. pitched with slurry of 1056. SG 1.036 after 9 days. Still has krausen.
Carboy #3: 4.75 gal pitched with slurry of San Diego Super strain. SG 1.042. Krausen has fallen. This is the one I am concerned with...

Krausen is not something I generally keep a close eye on. I do most primaries in a bucket. These are all in glass.

I roused the yeast (swirled the carboys) every couple days. After taking gravity at 9 days and seeing that they had all settled at 62F (actual temp had balanced with ambient- they had been running 64-66 while active just as planned).

I am raising the ambient (with my low-tech but effective method of wrapping with sleeping bags and putting a space heater in the store room where they are) in hopes of keeping them active until complete.

Should I be concerned with the one with the San Diego strain? I have not used that yeast myself, but the guy in our group who brought the big jug of slurry swears by it. In his experience it ferments quicker than 1056 with slightly better attenuation. And he has had success brewing bigger OG beers than this with it. I pitched 1 cup of slurry initially. After 24 hours, when the other 2 carboys were already active and this one wasn't, I pitched another 1.5cups of slurry. I would describe that slurry as thin in comparison to the slurry of my 1056 that I pitched in the other batch.


Ingredients / homemade caramel in brewing?
« on: February 14, 2012, 02:27:58 AM »
at work our Pastry Chef makes caramel by boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk. it is very tasty. of course i am intrigued and want to brew with it. i am thinking it may add the proper lactic qualities, and some caramel sweetness, to a sweet stout. any thoughts? anyone ever try this?

Yeast and Fermentation / NeoBrit stuck fermentation?
« on: December 02, 2011, 04:57:48 PM »
I pushed the envelope for the low end of the temp range for this strain. Pitched at 60F. OG 1052. Brown Porter. Expected a slight rise from active fermentation. I used a starter from a fresh pack and O2 in the wort before pitch. I put the bucket in the cold side of the room where ambient was 60ish. This has never been a problem before. Fermentation started actively as expected. After 9 days it was "stuck" at 1022 and was at 59F. I was fully expecting it to be done. I moved it to a warmer spot. Expected it to drop a few more points. Checked today after another 10 days. Beer is at 66F, but still at 1022. Beer is clear, but still has a good layer of yeast on top that hasn't fallen yet.

I had great results when I did this beer last year at 64 degrees. I thought for sure this one would rise to 64 from activity. Only a 4 degree difference obviously makes a big difference for this strain. Recommended temp range is 66-74. The beer I made last year at 64 was the silver medal winner at NHC and qualified for MCAB at the UMMO. This rebrew is for MCAB next month. Arrgghhh....

I try not to get too caught up in numbers. Just take good notes and repeat my process as closely as possible. Every time I've used this strain (at least 4 times) I've gotten 64-68% apparent attenuation. Right now this beer is at 57%. I'm good with 64%, even though that is lower than the expected range (72-77%) because my experience tells me that's what I get on my system and my beers are good.

Long explanation for my current issue. Any thoughts would be appreciated as always!

UPDATE: It occured to me I am using a brand new hydrometer. So I decided to test it in water. Guess what? It's about 4 points off!!  So I'm going with 1018 as my actual FG. That gets me my 64% aa. I'm good with that.

Kegging and Bottling / accidently priming in a keg
« on: October 31, 2011, 05:30:41 PM »
I like to use the Party Pig dispensing system. Last night I accidently put it together without an important piece (restrictor) in place. My solution was to transfer it to a keg. So now I have kegged beer with priming sugar in it. I usually force carbonate only when kegging.
What setting (pressure) should I use? Let it sit at room temp and carb like primed bottles? I plan on taking this to a party 3 weeks form now so I have some time.

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / mini-mash conversion test?
« on: October 22, 2011, 02:35:17 PM »
i'm doing a large mini-mash, if that makes any sense. adding 50% extracts (3.15# Munich LME, 3# Extra Lt. DME, 1/2# corn sugar) in addition to this grist:
2lbs. Munich
1lb. dark Munich
14oz. Caramunich
8oz. chocolate
2oz. each Aromatic and Carafa II.
my question is this- will an iodine conversion test give a "false" positive when there are specialty grains - already coverted- in the grist? My understanding is the 3# of munich malt needs to be converted. so far, at 30min into the mash started at 156F and now at 150F, an iodine test says it's converted. i'm continuing with a 60min mash, then sparge.
the mash had 1.5G water, sparged with 2.5G water @ 170F to yield 3.25G in kettle at 1028SG.
is this good? according to Palmer's efficiency calculations it's not. 28pts x 3.25G / 4.625 lbs of grain = 19. Palmer says shoot for 27-30. Below 25 is poor. We'll see how many points my OG is off.
Target OG 1069. Actual 1064. I suppose that loss was mostly from the "poor" mash?!?

Yeast and Fermentation / using old yeast
« on: October 08, 2011, 07:07:16 PM »
so i'm trying to revive a couple packs that are old. both are the West Yorkshire strain. one pack 12 months old, the other 8 months old. best estimate is that they have 10-15% viability maybe. i made a 1.5L 1035sg starter. i was planning to pitch just one pack, but then i figured since they are both old i'll pitch both.
i'm using a stir plate. i've only used it a couple times, with slurry or newer yeast. usually have the starter on there 12-20 hours, then cold crash, decant and pitch. always been successful and had a decent amount pitched.
should i expect this starter to take longer since there are so few viable yeast? it has been on almost 12 hours and it really doesn't look like other starters had at this point. i did use fermcap because i've had other starters go over. perhaps that is why the appearance isn't the same - i would expect some visible signs by now.
i did toss a starter once before when trying to revive a really old and previously frozen pack. but most starters have been great.
of course i see now that West Yorkshire is available again as this quarters' VSS release... sounds like a test is in order...

Ingredients / cereal mash for adjuncts in a gluten free beer
« on: August 31, 2011, 11:39:24 PM »
So here's my plan...

I have a share in a local farm. One of the farmers is a celiac. I want to make a good GF beer using as much of their ingredients as possible. Hopefully something I will like as well as celiacs! After much research I decided that a true farmhouse ale is out because I want to be sure I use a GF yeast and the available saison strains are not GF. I decided on Wyeast GF 1272 American Ale. I'll also use some sorghum liquid extract. The local ingredients I'm planning on using are honey, corn, oats and sorghum. And homegrown hops. I also like the idea of using some orange peel and/or marmalade to add some character.

So now to my question... how do I process the corn, oats and sorghum from the field to the kettle with the least hassle? I won't be able to do a true cereal mash since I will not be using any barley or wheat to aid in conversion. I figure I can get away with not drying and mashing the corn, but simply boiling it fresh. This should "release" the sugars, yes? Then cut it off the ears, smash it, steep it, pour the "corn tea" into the kettle.
As for the oats... I am confident I can germinate, kiln (oven roast) and then steep them as well. But do I have to? Can I simply toast them (oven roast) to "release" the sugars? Same with the sorghum? I'm not looking to extract the maximum amount from these ingredients. I just want some contribution to the beer. The sorghum extract and honey will provide the majority of the fermentables. The hops, honey, toasted oats and orange peel should help mask the potential off putting aroma and mouthfeel associated (I am told) with an all sorghum beer.


Yeast and Fermentation / starter with old slurry
« on: March 20, 2011, 09:12:17 PM »
Several questions here...
First time I've harvested yeast to use at a later date. I usually just pitch right on the cake. I have a 800ml (24oz) jar that has settled into 300ml of thick yeast with about 300ml beer that was left on the slurry on top. The yeast was harvested 12/28. It's  3rd gen 1056. I plan to use it in a cream ale OG 1054.
Mr.Malty calculator says I need 600ml slurry based on the date. He says it's only 10% viable. That amount is just slurry- not slurry in a starter, correct? So if I put the slurry I have in an SG 1035 1.5L starter on a stir plate I should be pretty close, yes? I probably won't double the volume so it may be an underpitch, but it should still be enough, yes?
I'm also making a second batch of the same cream ale and using WLP001. That is the exactly the same as 1056, yes? The only reason I'm buying WL is because I got a coupon. Not that there is anything wrong with WL. I have just always been a Wyeast guy. I will make a starter with that tube.
I'm looking at this as a yeast experiment. Theoretically the beers come out exactly the same. We shall see. And it is also kind of an experiment with the stir plate. First time using it. And it's homemade. I figure I'm really putting it to the test throwing 300ml thick slurry in 1.5L starter.

Yeast and Fermentation / Ringwood?
« on: March 05, 2011, 06:03:04 PM »
I use this for Brown Ales and Porters and really like it. Any other suggestions? NB kit for Imperial Mild calls for it also. I was looking for something that might fit a style guideline better than that. Any suggestions?

General Homebrew Discussion / fermometers
« on: February 19, 2011, 09:40:18 PM »
You know- the stick on type that you put on a carboy. I used to think these were pretty accurate. I now think they are junk. I pitched a wort that I thought was 58F, according to the fermometer. I thought I gave it (the fermometer) time to adjust from an empty bucket (ambient temp) to the temp of the wort. After I pitched I decided to temp the wort with my thermocoupler. I got 48F! So I decided to look at my other fermometers. I have one on every bucket and carboy. I HAD 3 EMPTY PLASTIC BUCKETS SITTING NEXT TO EACHOTHER IN THE SAME ROOM. THE FERMOMETERS HAD 3 DIFFERENT READINGS! 62-66F. WTF?
I have a bitter fermenting in the same room. Fermometer on that bucket reads 66F. I temped it with the thermocoupler- yep it was actually 57F! Seriously?!? How can a beer that has been fermenting for a week in a room with an ambient temp of 65F be at 57F?

Of course now I think every beer I ever made fermented at a lower temp than I thought or intended. But I have made some good beers. Some really good. Now I feel like I have to put an asterisk next to all my log book temps!
When I get home I must calibrate my thermocoupler. That is the only thing I haven't done yet. I can't believe it would be off 10 degrees...

Yeast and Fermentation / temp shock?
« on: February 18, 2011, 08:20:11 AM »
I just pitched a rehydrated pack of Safale04 into 5G sweet stout wort OG 1052 I want to ferment at 62F. My target pitch temp was 58-60. My SOP is to oxygenate for 2 minutes and pitch a few degrees below the target to account for a temp rise as the fermentation takes off. This process has always worked well.

Here's tonight's issue: I thought my wort was at 58 by the reading on the fermometer. After I pitched I temped it with my thermocoupler. The wort is 48F. Guess I ran my IC too long. Temp range on the packet says 59-75F. Did I just shock the yeast into submission, or will it be OK? I expect a longer lag time, but I am thinking (hoping) all is OK. Instead of putting it in the corner of the room that is 62F, I am leaving it by the furnace where ambient temp is more like 68. Hoping to get the temp up to 60 quicker. Thoughts?

General Homebrew Discussion / Groundhog's Day!
« on: February 02, 2011, 03:19:29 PM »
Maybe this should go into the "fridgid weather brewing" thread... it will be well below zero when I get home from work tonight and brew. And I will be in the garage!
I almost always brew on Groundhog's Day. Usually a stout. Not always the same recipe. Giving a Hitachino Sweet Stout recipe a shot tonight. Just so happens I grew up about an hour from Punxsutawney PA. If I recall correctly I started doing this when I was a really gung-ho new brewer and thought +20F was balmy for early February in Minnesota. I had just moved here. I was right, +20F was balmy...
I also always brew on Veteran's Day.
Anyone else have any specific dates they brew on?!?

Yeast and Fermentation / secondary temp choice
« on: January 27, 2011, 12:51:49 AM »
I am doing an extended secondary on an English Barleywine. I can do it at 66F, same temp as primary OR 50F in the basement closet. Being that this will be a 2-3 month secondary there is much less chance of an airlock accidently getting yanked by a kid if I do it in the basement.

I am aging half of the 5G batch on bourbon soaked oak cubes. The other half just aging. Primary is done (5 weeks- pitched on a large yeast cake). OG was 1.103. Current SG 1.032. That attenuation is about the same for this yeast as I got for the other 2 beers I made with it (~65%. NeoBrittania). So it may drop a point or two in secondary, but I am not concerned if it doesn't. I purged both carboys with CO2. I plan to use some yeast at bottling to carbonate.
Is there any drawback to doing it at the colder temp?

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