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Topics - James Lorden

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General Homebrew Discussion / Getting ready to say good bye for a while.
« on: December 20, 2011, 08:55:17 PM »
As some of you know, I am an accountant and we are quickly approaching my busy time of year (actually it has already begun).  As is the case this time every year, I will be starting a brewing hiatus very soon until the spring.  Have no fear, all the kegs are full and I am well prepared for this time off!  I look forward to rejoining the conversation here in a few months.  Everyone have a happy holiday season!

General Homebrew Discussion / Helles smells like Play-Doh
« on: December 20, 2011, 08:50:44 PM »
I have an unusual aroma in a helles that I recently made  I would describe it as Play-Doh or possibly wet flour (like bread dough before the yeast begin to rise.  I have never come across this smell before and I have made this recipe 3 other times.  In this case there were some strange things that happened on brew day because I was fiddling with my process a bit but fermentation went as expected.

10 gallon batch
95% Pilsner, 5% Munich, 19.5 IBU's from pearle at 60 min , .5oz hallertau at 15min

Shooting for 1.048 OG but ended up with 1.054 (efficiency of 82% due to process changes was higher then expected)

Yeast - repitch of wlp 830 from a 6% oktoberfest, pitched at 46 raised temp 1 degree per day to 50 and fermented for a total of 4 weeks.

final gravity is 1.008 (6.03%ABV) - in previous batches with old process FG was 1.011 for 4.85% ABV.  Fermented in Morebeer cooled conical.

The slightest bit (maybe a few ounces) of star san might have been sucked through the blowoff into the beer (10 gallon batch)

Anythoughts on the play-doh / wet flour aroma?  Thanks guys.

The Pub / Apple : iTunes Match : Review
« on: November 16, 2011, 06:18:51 PM »
Yesterday I signed up for Apples highly anticipated iTunes Match service.  This service takes all of the songs stored in your iTunes library and puts them in the "cloud".  These songs are then available to play back at a high-quality 256-kbps on all of your computers and mobile devices (even if the original song you had in iTunes was of a lower quality).

The idea is great but I have had some compaints since subscribing.

First, I thought that I would be able to stream the songs from match to my iPhone.  This is not the case, after turning match on, your phone wipes all old songs out of memory but when you try to play a song from the cloud it doesn't stream, it downloads to your phone.  You can listen to the song as it downloads, but so far my experience has been that, on a 3G cellular connection, the download is slower then the playback.  I am guessing that the download is slow because the file has been upgraded to a higher quality (larger file).  As such, listening to songs on my ride to work today was very frustrating with lots of breaks in the music.  

Another odd point, this song that downloaded now stays on your phone.  One of the initial reasons I got match was because I wanted to free up some space on my phone by eliminating music.  Now it looks like, if I want the music to play seemlessly, I will need to download all of the songs again.  Whats really odd is that, since the quality of many songs has been upgraded, this will cause me to have even less available space on my phone then I did before!

On the Mac computer I CAN stream songs as opposed to downloading them.  This is great and allows me to delete all of the old songs.  Unfortunatly this is unnecessary - I am not concerned with space limitations on my Mac, it's my mobile devices that are running out of room!

I would point out that in my house I have a great wifi connection and the playback from match on my iPhone is seemless.  This is nice, but unnecessary.  In fact its redundant because in the past when I was at home I NEVER needed to have any music stored on my iPhone (or iPad)!  I could utilize Apples Home Shareing capabilities (which allows you to stream music from your computer to any iOS devices) to achieve the exact same result.  One better, when using Home Sharing, a copy of the song I just listened to wasn't left on my iOS device.

The one fix that I think could make iTunes Match alot better? - iTunes Match has to have the ability to stream to iOS devices and - like Netflix - the stream needs to adjust quality to the speed of the connection to avoid pauses in the playback.  This will allow me to free up space on my iOS device but still give me access to my entire music library. If I want to, I can still download a high quality copy of any of my favorite songs that I feel I want a prestine version of on any of my mobile devices.

Anyone else using match?  What are your thoughts?

General Homebrew Discussion / Suddenly Chill Haze
« on: November 16, 2011, 04:09:40 AM »
Last few brews that I have made suddenly have chill haze.  I have made three recent changes to my process. 1) Using Fermcap in the boil to prevent boil overs 2) fining with gelatin 3) switched from pellets to whole hops.

I don't see any reason why the hops would cause the problem.  The gelatin should be helping get rid of chill haze unless I am just using it wrong, but I've done my research and I'm pretty sure that my technique is sound.  That leaves the fermcap.  Is there any chance that by suppressing the foam early in the boil that this is somehow effecting hot break which may be leading to the haze?

General Homebrew Discussion / Fining then dry hopping?
« on: November 07, 2011, 02:00:27 PM »
There has been a lot said regarding the effec of suspended yeast on dry hop charechter. The theory being that hop oils attach to yeast then drop out.  Because of this, one of the only times that I transfer to secondary is when I dry hop. Today I had the idea that fining with gratin prior to transferring and dry hopping would be an even better solution.  Anyone here try this and have results to report?

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / 5.2 stablizer and partial mash
« on: October 31, 2011, 02:14:29 PM »
When this stuff came out a few years back I tried it but never added it permanently to my process.  I find water additions when doing all-grain to be a fun part of brewing.  Besides, I don't add salts simply for the pH adjustments, there is also a flavor component involved.

When I started doing a few partial mashes this year it occurred to me that I really have no idea what the mineral carryover from the extract is going to be so I hesitate to add my normal brewing salts for fear of not knowing what the ending quantities will be in the finished product.  Also, with the high proportion of specialty malt to base grain in most partial mash recipes I think it's hard to accurately calculate the pH adjustment that salts will cause.

For these reasons above, the 5.2 stablizer is back in my life.  I find tha it is a good product to use when you are unsure of some of the water chemistry variables which often happens during partial mash.

Recently I have helping a friend learn to homebrew.  He has not been satisfied with a few of his early extract batches and keeps talking about switching to all grain and buying new gear.  I have telling him that if he focuses on process that things will turn around.  To prove the point I recently put the all-grain equipment aside and brewed a few partial match brews then I entered those beers in a local competition.  Well wouldn't you know that both of those beers took second place in there respective catagories.

For my friend and other new brewers I would just like to offer support - I also made some bad beer in the past, but it wasn't because I didn't have stainless steel fermenters or the ability to step mash grain.  It was because I wasn't pitching adequate ammounts of yeast, aerating, or monitoring fermentation temps.  The reason that my early extract batches were not great and my current extract batches 10 years later are good is because I have a good process.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying you shouldn't buy fancy equipment (lord knows I have more then I need).  What I am saying is that the reason should be because it adds to your enjoyment of the hobby, not because you think you need it in order to make good beer.


General Homebrew Discussion / Switching to Whole Hops!
« on: October 20, 2011, 05:27:20 PM »
Every year I sit down and look back at my last year in brewing and think of ways to modify my process or to try new things out.  Last year for instance was the year of the filter.  Just about every beer I made was filtered.  It was a huge pain in the but; however, I liked the results.  This year I've decided that I am going to use whole hops in every beer!  I realized the other day that I've been brewing for 10 years now but in ten years and well over 100 batches I've never used anything but pellets.  This year that changes.  I just bought a ton of whole leaf hops from Hops Direct and Fresh Hops and I can't wait to start!  One exception that I may allow is dry hopping.  I will dry hop in the 10 gallon conical with whole hops but I am thinking that when I do 5 gallon brews in a carboy that logistically I still may need to use pellets.

This should be fun - anyone selling a hopback?  Might as well go all in at this point!

Yeast and Fermentation / Interesting Observation wlp 530 vs 500
« on: October 19, 2011, 12:41:53 PM »

So I recently posted this picture of a split batch tripel using wlp 500 and wlp 530.  The recipe is a 1.083 OG all pilsner with 2.5 lbs of cane sugar for 6 gallons at the end of the boil.  The wort was cooled to 64 pitched and each carboy was aerated with 1.5 liters of O2 for 90 seconds measured with a flow meter.  Yeast starters were made side by side and production date of the yeast vials was within a week of each other.  Fermentation started at about 13 hours and was vigourous - see the picture, both were jumping out of the fermenter.  Fermented at 64 and slowly raised to 70 over the first few days.

So here is where we are right now - the WLP 500 is at 1.012 and and the WLP 530 is at 1.036 - neither is currently showing signs of active fermentation.

I have made this recipe with WLP 500 3 times in the past and have won awards with the beer, tastes great in the fermenter right now.  This WLP 530 is a mystery to me, never used it for this recipe before.  I am wondering if this could be a case of that yeast not playing well with the cane sugar addition in the boil - all those simple sugars up front got gobbled up and the yeast tired out before attacking the maltose.  However the WLP 500 just blasted through it (which is consistent with my prior experience).

Now I want to go back and rebrew this beer but add the sugar at mid fermentation and see if the results change.

In the short term I am going to jack up the temp on the 530 to 74 degrees to see if it will get rolling again.  If that doesn't work I will rack the WLP 500 into a corny and create a starter out of the yeast cake to pitch back into the wlp 530 stalled fermentaion once super active.


In the past I've struggled to find some hops come summer time.  This year, now as the 2011 hops hit the shelves, I am considering buying certain hops in volume.  How many people here stock pile there hops?  Who just buys on a just-in-time basis?

It's funny because I only buy base grain by the sack now a days but never any other ingridients even though I brew enough that storage time probably isn't an issue so long as I keep inventory age in mind when planning what to make.

Yeast and Fermentation / Found nice O2 flow meter for disposable tanks
« on: October 11, 2011, 12:40:38 AM »

Been using this for a few batches now and it works good.  I hooked it up online very easy. Most literature recommends 1 liter per minute for 1 minute for most 5 gLlon batches with a .5 micron stone.  This pieces measures from 1.5 l/m to 4.5 l/m.  I have a 2 micron stone and have been using 2 l/m witch seems ok since my stone generates less surface area. Really what I was interested in was consistency and a way to judge aeration in a conical since I struggle to see the bubbles throughout the top opening.

Yeast and Fermentation / wow this baby is jumping out of the fermenter!
« on: October 11, 2011, 12:33:22 AM »

Generally I pitch and cover with aluminum foil for 24 hours to prevent and pressure build up during the initial growth phase then switch to a blow off tube if I think I might need it.  This Tripel 1.084 OG is sitting at 64 after 20 hours with wlp500 in the back and wlp530 in the front decided to take off a little early!  Nothing like a good old fashion open fermentation!

General Homebrew Discussion / Sometimes Supply Outpaces Demmand....
« on: October 10, 2011, 03:56:25 PM »
I love to brew but lately I have been getting ahead of myself...

I took inventory yesterday and right now on tap I have...

1/2 keg of a Union Jack
1 keg of English Brown
1/2 keg of Mild
1 keg of ESB

in the tanks...

10 gallons of Marzen
5 gallons of Obsidian Stout Clone
10 gallons of Trippel

No one in my house drinks beer except me and we don't have a lot of company.

I'm guessing I have about half a year of beer (I think I like to brew more then I like to drink)

If yeast is harvested but not used for a while I wonder if that yeast can be made into a starter, fully fermented, and then saved again.  In other words will adding the saved slurry to a quart or so of wort revitalize the yeast and keep them viable.


Is the opposite true, would adding the slurry to a small volume of wort actually deplete the glycogen of the good yeast in the sample and not provide enough nutrients to replenish the reserves?

Any thoughts?

General Homebrew Discussion / Are crystal malts completely unfermentable?
« on: October 06, 2011, 01:22:12 PM »
If a wort has 50 gravity points from base malt and 10 additional gravity points are added from crystal malt is the assumtion that the real attenuation (not apparent attenuation) going to be 10 points higher then it would have been whithout the crystal?  In other words none of the crystal will ferment?  Or is a certain portion of crystal fermentable?

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