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Topics - hmbrewing

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1
Ingredients / Whole hops advice
« on: April 30, 2015, 04:20:24 PM »
Hi...getting ready for big brew tomorrow and looking for some quick advice on using whole hops.

I usually use a hop spider on brew day but tomorrow is my first time using whole hops. Anyone have any experience using whole hops with a hop spider?

Good?  Bad? In different?

2
All Grain Brewing / The End of the 60 minute mash???
« on: February 02, 2015, 10:59:02 AM »
Hi! Just recently had an in depth discussion with a local brewer who also has a degree in micro biology yada yada some other degree too. Anyway...very smart. He's doing research and experimentation for a local malt company and said that 60 minute mashes will become a distant memory (if not on their way already). Apparently, the malts that are now available to us are now so well modified that you can achieve full conversion in 15 minutes or less. This includes Briess malts, who I understand will be completely discontinuing 6 row malt as 2 Row has become so much more efficient/well modified. With his last few batches he only mashed for 15 minutes at most and achieved full conversion and great efficiency! The only word of caution he gave to me was to be sure I did an iodine test prior to draining to confirm full conversion, which I always do anyway. So yes - on my next batch, I will surely be testing this. And if I achieve full conversion and it doesn't nick my efficiency I will most likely never look back as I'm not one to get stuck in a routine just for the hell of it. I love trying out new theories and ideas! Anyone else out there hear about this?

3
Equipment and Software / Another Fermentation Chamber
« on: January 01, 2015, 01:33:57 PM »
After close to five years of brewing I finally decided it was time to build a fermentation chamber. I currently have a saison fermenting away. Here are some pics:

All buttoned up:



Cooling chamber:



Cooling chamber open:



Fermenting chamber:



Ferm chamber open:



Control unit:



I built the controller directly from plans that were posted on the AHA website a few months back.

The insulating panels themselves are 1" rigid foam. Yes....this is thin however I get away with it because I am not dealing with wild temperature swings. It is then all wrapped in OSB.

This is my second beer that I have fermented in here and it has been holding temperature like a dream. I have also been able to slowly ramp up the temperature of the saison that is currently in there with amazing precision.

So far so good.

4
Equipment and Software / Another Fermentation Chamber
« on: January 01, 2015, 01:32:22 PM »
After close to five years of brewing I finally decided it was time to build a fermentation chamber. I currently have a saison fermenting away. Here are some pics:

All buttoned up:



Cooling chamber:



Cooling chamber open:



Fermenting chamber:



Ferm chamber open:



Control unit:



I built the controller directly from plans that were posted on the AHA website a few months back.

The insulating panels themselves are 1" rigid foam. Yes....this is thin however I get away with it because I am not dealing with wild temperature swings. It is then all wrapped in OSB.

This is my second beer that I have fermented in here and it has been holding temperature like a dream. I have also been able to slowly ramp up the temperature of the saison that is currently in there with amazing precision.

So far so good.

5
Kegging and Bottling / Prime Dose Review
« on: December 20, 2014, 06:57:47 AM »
Hi Everyone,

Not a frequent poster here, but I've decided to post a review of Prime Dose Carbonation Tablets. When I was considering purchasing these tablets I couldn't really find much in terms of detailed user feedback. So I hope this may help a few of you who are on the fence. I purchased a bottle of Prime Dose a couple of months ago with the intentions of using it in a stout. I ended up fermenting about 5.50 gallons and wanted to keg the first 5 and bottle the rest. I thought it would be a great way to quickly and easily bottle the roughly leftover .50 gallon. Here is my experience.

Prime Dose has the tagline of "carbonate like the pros!". Cost is $20 per bottle for 200 tablets. Your usage rates for normal carbonation (roughly 2.4 volumes if I had to guess) is 2 tablets per 12oz bottle and 4 tablets for 22oz bottle. You simply drop them into your bottles, fill with beer, and cap. Super simple.

Kegging/Bottling Day:

After kegging my first 5 gallons I then sanitized roughly 6 bottles. I have a spigot on my fermenter, so I was easily able to attached my bottle filler to the fermenter. Right before I filled, I dropped 2 tablets into each bottle, fill and cap. Again, super simple. Almost immediately, the tablets opened up and began to release the sugar and yeast. So far so good! I ended up with 5 full bottles and placed them in my fermenting room at 70 degrees.

1 Week Later:

Time to check on those bottles! I grab one and notice something very weird and strange floating on the top of the beer? It does NOT look appealing at all. Then I realize - it's the gel cap from the tablet. You have to be kidding me. After some google searching I see that there are other users who are also experiencing this. Supposedly, the company that manufactures these claims they had a problem in 1% of their batch where the gel caps would not dissolve completely. Only 1%? Really? I work in manufacturing and I know exactly what that means - it's either 10% or it's the entire lot. They are definitely down playing the number of tablets affected. Just my opinion so don't hammer me about it. After some continued searching I see that some users are vigorously shaking the bottles in an effort to get the capsule to fully dissolve. At this point I have nothing to lose, so back down to the fermentation room for some vigorous shaking! I shake all 5 bottles. No more gel capsule! They seemed to have dissolved! Or so I thought.

An additional week later:

Time to crack open a bottle (after it had been refrigerated of course). Prior to opening, I do not see any signs of the capsule. So I open it up and pour it into my glass - just to watch a gelatinous mess plop right into my glass. Absolutely disgusting! It didn't dissolve at all - instead - it just sank to the bottom. What the hell. So, I grab a strainer and proceed to pour my beer from one glass, through the strainer, into another glass. There it is sitting in the strainer - a gelatinous goo that almost looks like a newborn jelly fish. Yuck! Talk about being turned off. I could NEVER pour this beer for a guest and expect them to drink it after they see what plops out of the bottle. At least - not until I've filter it through a strainer.

OK...so...I got that out of the way. You get the point. They have a problem with the gel capsule that needs some serious fixing.

Carbonation:

Newborn jelly fish aside - I actually found the carbonation level to be developing nicely. It had only been 2 weeks and I do know that these capsules take a little longer. But from what I could tell - you could see how evenly and nicely the beer was carbonating. So they got that right for sure - whatever the mixture of sugar and yeast is - it works and I can tell that these tablets will give very consistent and repeatable results each and every time.

Taste:

The beer is delicious and from what I can tell, the tablets have NOT affected the flavor in any negative way at all. No off flavors, no excess sweetness - nothing - nice and clean.

In summary: the only flaw is also the BIGGEST flaw - the capsule not dissolving properly. Whenever I crack open the remaining bottles, I will have to pour it through a strainer. Luckily, this beer can take the extra frothiness that comes from that. Not sure it would be OK to put an IPA through that. If I offer up the bottled version to a guest - no way I can pour it in front of them. It'll come with the caveat of "sit right here and wait while I pour it for you". That's actually tougher than you think as many guests like to follow me to my beer room to check things out. Or - maybe I'm the only one to drink the remaining 4 bottles seeing as how it'll be on tap shortly anyway. Yeah...that's probably the answer.

I am now stuck with 190 tablets of which I have NO intention of ever using again. That's a shame - because so far this product is definitely delivering on the promise of "consistent and repeatable levels of CO2".

Back to boiling priming sugar on my stove. A technique which has never let me down.

Cheers!

6
All Grain Brewing / Oops...Session IPA
« on: March 24, 2013, 09:11:57 AM »
About 4 weeks back I brewed up what was supposed to be a Double IPA. Had a couple of brew friends over and next thing you know, I space out. First, I sparged at a temp of 152 as opposed to my standard 165 - 168, then, I cut off the sparge too soon and leave a gallon and a half of sweet sweet wort in the mash tun! Result? A 1.045 Double IPA. I thought - I'll cut back the hops - make it a pale. Then I think - forget that - I already messed up once - let's push it further. I add ALL the hops as if it were pushing 1.08. 6 ounces TOTAL including the dry hopping! What a sin! You can't do that! You have to back off on the hops! Hogwash!

End result? An absolutely delicious 4.5% IPA with loads of hop flavor and aroma. OH! and no, no secondary - four weeks in primary, then straight to the keg. I even dry hopped in the primary.

Every now and then it's good to break the "rules". And a session IPA seems to be a cardinal sin in the brewing community. All I can say is: I'm drinking it now and couldn't be happier with the flavor! Cheers!

7
Ingredients / Vanilla Beans
« on: June 27, 2012, 09:43:37 AM »
Greetings! I'll be brewing Mr. Denny Conns Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter this weekend for a festival in October. I plan on adding the vanilla beans after primary fermentation is complete, but was thinking of adding them right to the primary bucket. Just looking to eliminate the step of transferring into a carboy. Any thoughts on this?

8
Yeast and Fermentation / Porter FG 1.02
« on: August 11, 2010, 04:49:28 PM »
Hi All - I brewed a True Brew Porter over 2 weeks ago. "Visible" fermentation lasted about 4 days. After that I saw no activity in the air lock but decided to leave it in the fermenter for a total of 2 weeks. After 2 weeks I took an FG reading and it was 1.02. Seeing as how the instructions said to expect an FG of 1.014, I decided to wait it out a few more days and took 3 more reading (each reading 1 day apart). All of the readings were 1.02. Convinced it was done fermenting I decided to bottle, especially because porters are known to come out a little higher in the end. Well, I opened one up after 3 days and of course it was a gusher. This happened with my first batch, but after the bottles had time to condition they properly carbed up. Even though, I still can't help but feel like maybe I had a stuck fermentation on my hands and didn't realize it. My main question is this - is 6 points off on the FG a big deal?? Could I potentially have exploding bottles on my hands??? Thanks!

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