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Topics - Phil_M

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Commercial Beer Reviews / 5 year old Bigfoot
« on: October 18, 2018, 12:31:49 AM »
Anyone else ever had one at 5 years old?

Cracked my last 2013 open tonight, the next oldest Bigfoot I've ever had was 3 years old. It's been a while since I've done proper tasting notes on a beer, so I'm curious if what I'm tasting lines up with the experience of others. Mostly I just want some assurance that the beer is still good...which would mean my cellaring method works...

Anyway, here goes:


Crystal-clear reddish copper. Thin head that still laces nicely. Doesn't show any legs when swirled.


Best described as cherry pipe tobacco. Honestly the more I smell it the more it reminds me of aromatic style pipe tobacco. Maybe a hint of anise? Or cinnamon?


A touch tannic/astringent...ok maybe more than a touch. Medium body, good bit of drying/puckering on the tongue.


The first thing you notice is a slam of hop tannins, then a slight caramel almost-sweetness. Honestly it's still so bitter it's hard to call it sweet, but there's some there. Then it fades to just bitter...and kinda resolves to almost a pipe bite like tannic thing. Maybe almost anise? Kinda almost a Jagermeister herbal/Anise thing.

The Pub / More Band News for MD Craft Beer Fans?
« on: October 09, 2018, 05:14:15 PM »

While a find the article to have a bit of a distopian outlook on the situation, it does give some insight into just how bad things are getting here...and how that ilk may spread.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Yuengling Golden Pils
« on: July 03, 2018, 04:37:36 PM »
Yes, I know, some snobs still claim Yuengling isn't craft. Whatever.

I'm pleasantly surprised by this beer. It's not low O2, so don't buy it expecting that. However, it is all malt, and quite saaz-y. It's quickly become a favorite. Hoppier than most standard Euro-Pils beers, but not quite as hoppy as Pilsner Urquell. Awesome in the MD humidity.

Commercial Beer Reviews / It's getting worse...
« on: March 08, 2018, 11:26:57 PM »
My local liquor stores are depressing me.

The freshest Sierra Nevada Pale Ale I've found was packaged on December 6th.
Torpedo? November.
Anything Dogfishhead? October, 2017.
Guinness? Well I haven't worked out their codes, but a few are still selling the flying Toucan anniversary cans. The St. Patrick's display at one store still wasn't the current can design, but rather one prior.

I have not been able to find anything from any German breweries that was packaged this year. I did manage to score a 12-pack of Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale bomber that were awesomely fresh, but all the ones I could afford to buy will likely languish on shelves for a few years.

Can't help but think this sort of thing will be what does in many craft breweries. I'm sure much of the blame is distributors that order too much, but still. I can find fresh Yuengling, and Sam Adams products...I'm sure it's different in other areas, but I know around here that's about all that can be had fresh.

The Pub / Multiprocess or Tig?
« on: January 12, 2018, 02:01:07 AM »
Like the title says. Getting ready to take the plunge on a welder, for general home auto shop use, as well as some stainless home brewing stuff.

With that in mind, do I spring for one of the fancy new multiprocess welders? Or just bite the bullet and go all-in on a dedicated big machine?

I've got to say, being in the auto world tig pretty much rules, hence why I'm considering getting the dedicated machine. It'll take more time to learn, but if I can figure it out it's the likely the better option.

Multiprocess means having the ease of mig welding to fall back on if I can't figure out big as well.

Both machines are around the same cost, purely seeking advice here. What would you do?

Equipment and Software / Cleaning Rusty Gear
« on: December 12, 2017, 12:41:04 AM »
I think I know the answer to this, but prove me wrong...

I recently purchased a used 3-vessel system. Overall the system is in great shape, however it was stored in a shed for a while. The kettles have some minor rust but should clean up just fine. The false bottoms are proving to be another story. The minor surface rust on them wasn't an issue, but there was some heavier rust and oxidation on the welds.

I've tried BKF, it's not cutting it. I'm assuming that any and all rust must go, but I can't seem to shift the rust from the weld spots. If it can't be fixed easily, I'll just fab up a new mount and use my SS Brewtech mash tun in it's place.

General Homebrew Discussion / Brewing with Propane in a Garage
« on: November 03, 2017, 07:44:27 PM »
I've finally moved, and I'm thinking of starting back up brewing. Our new home has a nice garage, and I'm trying to decide if I want to build a brewing sculpture that can be wheeled out into the driveway, or just brew in the garage.

I know there are safety considerations with burning propane in the garage, but I don't know any more than that. Getting the moisture from the boil out of the garage will be really important as well, I don't want to rust any of my tools.

Can anyone who's looked at this sort of decision chime in with what they ended up doing, and why?

The Pub / On Technical Articles
« on: August 03, 2017, 06:22:48 PM »
So I stumbled upon this on my regular round of the internet:

Most are aware of my frustration with the way technical information is treated/handled within the homebrewing community. There's a plethora of bad citizen science that's well presented, good "hard" science that's not as well presented, and a wide range in between.

The linked article includes a "Recipe for a Perfect Tech Story". Specifically, it calls out the need to explain why and how the result was achieved, and the need for the article to inspire people to try a complex and technical idea.

IMO, what's missing from the citizen science is a full engineering analysis of WHY we couldn't taste the result, or why the beer finished at 1.XXX gravity. We get the the experiment, but are let with unproven ideas as to why it happened.

Likewise, few of the good and technical sources are at all inspiring. Kunze reads like a textbook. (Well, to be fair, it is a textbook...) "Principles of Brewing Science" by Fix is pretty much a straight technical paper.

In my self-imposed sabbatical from brewing, perhaps things have improved. However, this sort of thing is more of what I would want from Zymurgy and brewing literature in general. And it's clear this isn't the only hobby that has to deal with this issue, it's prevalent in the car world as well. But there I can get the well-presented technical stuff that makes hobbies fun for me. Again, unless things have changed, that isn't yet the case in brewing.

Perhaps as the market/brewers mature, that will change.

General Homebrew Discussion / Bananas and Stale Beer?
« on: July 14, 2017, 11:45:50 AM »
Ok, so this has been bugging me for a while. Many times, with stale but not totally oxidized beer (it doesn't taste like cardboard or sherry yet) I get a definite banana flavor.

I find it's more common in pale lagers, but I do get the same thing from some ales, SNPA being a definite one.

Anyone else ever get this? Or am I just mis-identifying another flavor? We aren't talking Weißbier levels of banana, just kinda enough to know it's there.

Commercial Beer Reviews / What's in your beer fridge?
« on: July 09, 2017, 02:03:16 AM »
Taking a hiatus from brewing means I'm only drinking commercial beer. This isn't without its benefits honestly, I'm revisiting some old favorites, and remembering some styles that I'll brew more often once I'm ready to start up again.

So far, I've got three standbys that I try to keep on hand at all times:

Heineken - Still the best Euro pils readily available fresh. Don't buy it in a bottle, cans only. If you've never had it from a can, you owe it to yourself to try it. Bonus: Better business practices than the AB/Inbev offerings (Becks, SA. FWIW the local Becks brews are brewed in Williamsburg...)

Guinness - Alternates between draught at extra stout. Perhaps more than any other beer, these are what I always come back to.

Yuenging - Not the best compared to many on flavor, still the best compared to the price of the many.

I usually have some "normal" craft beer as well. Right now, it's Dead Rise. Most on here know I'm not big on wacky beers, but I love this one. Still my all-time favorite summer beer. (Still wish they'd knock 0.5% from the ABV.) From the sound of it, Flying Dog is also working towards being a low oxygen brewery, hopefully the don't cut corners.

So what about everyone else? We talk about what we're brewing each weekend, I see this as a place to talk less about specific beers/brands and more as a place to share what we're into overall.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Unibroue
« on: June 20, 2017, 11:04:31 PM »
I know other have a mentioned how great their beers are, but I've only ever had their "A Tout le Monde". (The Megadeth beer.) Which was excellent, but has been hard to find.

Well, the local bottle shop had a 6-pack sample. La fin do monde, A tout le monde, a dubbel, a wit, and two fruit wits.

So far I've only sampled the La fin. I may have a new favorite high ABB beer...

The Pub / What is the Purpose of this Forum?
« on: June 06, 2017, 02:12:19 PM »
I have recently allowed my membership to lapse, and will likely be spending less time on here. (The way I see it, I'm not paying for the forum, so I don't want to "take advantage" of the AHA's graces.) Why did I not renew? Because I feel the AHA, and this forum, are doing home brewers a disservice by not furthering a technical understanding of brewing.

When I first got into homebrewing, this forum was a fantastic resource. Between books I had read/bought, and the AHA webpage, I had the basics down pat pretty quickly. My first extract batch tasted like bananas, and the second was ruined by a rusty dip tube, but by the third batch I was making good beer. (I believe I joined this forum looking for help with that dip tube.) Seeing this as a sign of being capable of successfully brewing all grain, I purchased and electric BIAB system and went to town. I was brewing once or twice a month, and quickly reached the limits of my knowledge.

This is the point where this forum became vital. I'd managed the nuts and bolts of AG brewing, but I was running into issues beyond the basics. Some of my beers had a bad mineral water quality that really detracted from the beers. I learned about managing pH through this forum, got a copy of Bru'n Water, and was able to fix this problem as well. All the while, I was also being schooled on yeast by a member on here. At this point, I felt my brewing was improving at an exponential rate, and I was at least brewing beer that I was truly proud of. Without this forum I'd likely have just continued using 5.2 pH buffer in my mash, and would have probably quit out of frustration.

Now I'm at a point where my brewing has plateaued. I have no desire to start a brewery, but I do want to move on to that level. Before anyone claims I'm moving towards the modern German techniques, I'm not. However, the Germans don't have the market cornered in brewery engineering/science/understanding. The Brits also have done a ton of research, though perhaps less focused on the affects of HSA. This is the sort of information I'm now looking for, yeast management and fermentation systems in particular.

My point in all this is that the main strength of this forum has been the advanced technical help available to members. Recently, many of the members who provided this advanced knowledge have moved on to other forums. An attempt to leveage AHA membership to get access to technical brewing papers was met with disinterest by the AHA. (Though I'll admit, that faced significant hurdles.) The AHA seems happy to just keep evangelizing new brewers, and not really working to provide help for advanced brewing methods.

I've allowed my AHA membership to lapse because I don't see a benefit from it. I have no local AHA member deals. Homebrewcon was a blast last year, but I'm not in a financial situation where access to that on a yearly basis is a perk. Zymurgy is a nice publication, but again in general I feel like it doesn't provide enough advanced technical information. Yes, it could be said that my money helps bring new people into the hobby, but I can also help do that on my own. I will still encourage new brewers to get a membership, the AHA will more than provide the information needed to get to the big leagues in terms of quality. However, if a brewer desires to move on from being a "Brewing Technician" to being more of a "Brewing Engineer", the AHA isn't worth the expense. This saddens me greatly, as this forum was once a place that could provide that function to the few who would want it.

All Grain Brewing / Dealing with Protein/Chill Haze
« on: June 05, 2017, 08:40:07 PM »
We'll see how this goes over...

So, here's the problem: I keep getting excessive amount of chill haze in my beers.

Some background info: I'm currently not using whirfloc, gelatin, or any other clarifying agents. Gelatin is a possible fix for this, but the goal here is to find alternatives. Whirfloc hasn't seemed to make a large difference in chill haze, just how clear the wort is going into the fermentor. This isn't an issue for me, so I haven't been using whirfloc.

I "cold crash" in a keg...when I cold crash at all. My beers are served between 52-55oF, and are still quite murky. Generally I'm using top cropping strains that floc really well, so at fermentation temps the beer brilliant, no discernible haze at all. Chill it to serving temps, instahaze.

While recent Maris Otter batches have had even more ridiculous amounts of chill haze, I'm having the same problem with Rahr pale malt.

Other than gelatin/finings, any other ideas on how to improve this? Letting it sit to settle is also something I wish to avoid.

Other Fermentables / First Mead
« on: May 22, 2017, 12:27:10 AM »
So, I think I'm finally about to jump in.

The local Amish sell keep bees/sell honey, and I've been wanting to make mead from it for a while. As the title says, I've never done this before, so I'm trying to make sure all my ducks are in a row.

I know to use staggered nutrient additions, but I'm curious what others are using.

I'm not sure if I want to just do a straight mead, or add fruits. Strawberries and rhubarb are in season, and I'm wondering if they might work nicely in a mead...though perhaps I'll just stick to plain. Other than those two, there isn't much yet in season.

I don't plan to boil, is any heating required at all?

Yeast and Fermentation / Yeast Vault
« on: March 08, 2017, 02:50:15 AM »
Seems like White Labs is "opening" the vault, releasing all the strains currently available.

Guess I'll finally be getting my Klassic Ale. Also, they're letting folks buy into other strains, even if they haven't been on the waitlist. If anyone has been on the fence, I'd strike now.

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