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Topics - karlh

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Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Dark Malt extract
« on: April 01, 2010, 06:31:28 PM »
OK... I'm an all grain brewer, and when I did do extract, I always bought pale or wheat extracts and used crystal and other darker malts for color and flavor contributions.  I always went with the greater amount of control on my part.  Now I won 6.6 lbs of Northwestern/Breiss dark liquid malt extract and I would like to try using it for something besides making starters.  The Breiss web page tells me they use Pale Malt, Munich, and Black malt in the product, but emails to Briess failed to get anything beyond a spec sheet as far as relative proportions or flavor expectations. 

Does anyone out there use Dark Malt extract?  My LHBS tells me some people buy it, but he has no clue what their using it for.  I'm thinking of using it to just boost the gravity a bit in a Baltic Porter, but would love to hear from someone familiar with the product. 

Pimp My System / My 3 tier
« on: January 21, 2010, 02:55:02 AM »
My 3-tier system (at 20 degrees) in the winter:

Brewing in summer:

Instead of a conical, I used a Sabco Yeast Brink. The gas in line with a bit of hose works as an airlock.

Yeast and Fermentation / Microscope and yeast counting
« on: December 15, 2009, 03:21:07 PM »
Does anyone out there use a microscope and counting chamber for yeast counting?  I am wondering what the basic equipment and procedures are, what common dilution levels are, and whether it is worth it.  I have a decent microscope, and could very likely be yeast counting tomorrow with cookbook type instructions, but am uncertain whether you collect a sample from the yeast cake and dilute or shake up a starter and sample the liquid slurry.  If you were to do the latter, would you then pitch the entire volume?  Is anyone doing any yeast counting?

All Grain Brewing / To dilute or not to dilute
« on: December 10, 2009, 07:40:15 PM »
I just re-brewed a classic american pils I made last year that is slightly high gravity for the style (OG 1.062).  Last year when I moved the beer over to a keg, I decided to take the 12 gallon batch and dilute it with 3 gallons of pre-boiled water to get a net volume of 15 gallons at a diluted effective OG of a 1.050.  This worked out fine and the beer was great, winning awards in 2 good sized contests, both as a CAP and a standard American lager. 

This year I am wondering whether I should follow the dilution procedure, or stick with 12 gallons of a higher gravity beer.  If so, in what category would I enter it if I put it into any of the contests I am seeing announcements for.  It has an OG of 1.062, approximately 39 (calculated) IBUs of NZ Saaz, with around 20% of the mash a mix of flaked corn and flaked rice adjunct. 

Or should I try diluting with slightly less water?

Is there a definition out there for classic American malt liquor?

Ingredients / NZ SAAZ
« on: November 12, 2009, 03:19:23 PM »
Has anyone used NZ Saaz hops?  I bought a pound a while back and am trying to decide how to use them.  They differ from continental saaz in that they are around 8%AA, and I have seen no good descriptions of their flavor characteristics and whether they even resemble Czeck Saaz. 

I brew 10 gallons and made 17 batches last year (170 gallons).  An approximate raw ingredients cost per batch (og 1.054) is around $25-35, assuming new liquid yeast with each batch and variation mostly due to hop costs.  I reuse yeast often, and grow hops, so my actual costs might be lower for individual batches.  I have never attempted to calculate fuel costs, but also brew with 2 propane burners, and its costs about $20 per tank per fill, and I can only say that I probably have to refill every 3rd or 4th batch ($11-12 per batch in propane, so a GT of $36-47 per batch, less than $5/gallon, or high cost of $0.59/pint). 

I have no knowledge of laws regarding distribution in Illinois.

I am in my current job because I wasn't making money doing something I enjoyed.  Now I go to work every day to make a living, and brew when I have the time because I enjoy it.  If I were brewing for a living, I likely would not be able to brew as much as I like to now because I couldn't afford it.  While brewing is fun, and I enjoy it as a hobby, it hardly seems like a good way to make a living. 

Equipment and Software / Oak Barrels
« on: November 10, 2009, 08:36:20 PM »
I have been experimenting with aging beers in oak barrels.  I got lucky and got three 10 gallon barrels relatively cheap.  With each of them I brewed a few straight beers, and then switched over to sour beer (1 flanders barrel and 2 lambic).  I am interested in whether others are using oak barrels, if and how they are cleaning them, and what their overall experiences have been over time. 

I have seen that the extraction of oak flavors is a greater with new barrels and stronger beers.  As beers are aged in the barrel, each progressive batch takes longer to develop wood/oak character.  After 3 or 4 batches the oak character is greatly diminished and I have seen some sour notes in the beers whether working on it or not.  I have been happy with the results for sour beers, and have started some solera type experiments with my flanders.   

Between batches I typically am cleaning with soda ash mixtures and storing the barrels with a combination of sulfide and citric acid.  I have not tried to take apart a barrel and recondition it, but may eventually try doing this as well. 

Is anyone else out there working with barrel aging?

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