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Topics - Phil_M

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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.

The Pub / Good Guy Guinness?
« on: March 07, 2017, 07:57:39 PM »

All Grain Brewing / I feel like a newbie all over again...
« on: March 06, 2017, 01:47:30 AM »
So after being the exception that proves the rule, (I broke Denny's "cheap and easy" method) I bought a SS Brewtech 10 gallon mash tun.

Despite have brewed for several years now, today was my first time brewing on a system with a false bottom. I ended up having a terrible time getting my runoff to the point that it didn't have grain bits in it. In the end I managed to keep a most of it out of the kettle, but sill ended up with some grain particles. I'm not terribly worried, it'll still be beer.

The real issue is how to prevent this from happening again. After taking everything apart for cleaning, found that I'd pulled a large slug of particles out from under the false bottom. I'm not sure if I have the flow rate right when I started my vorlauf, and perhaps this is how so much got under there? How are other folks vorlaufing?

Aside from this the mash tun worked great! Even with my opening the lid 4 times to check the temperature I only lost a degree in a 60 minute mash. The only complaint I have is the included thermometer-it's completely useless. At one point it was reading 137o when my Thermapen was reporting 156o.

Finally managed to get a decent brew day on the books. Irish red for St. Patricks day, turned out 10 points lower than expected but I really don't mind that. (1.032 OG, boil off was way low. Was supposed to be 1.042.)

What I do mind is my mash tun. I've been having issues with lower than expected mash temps, and upped the ante on how I measure temps for this brew...and I lost a whopping 16 degrees. Weather was upper 40's, no wind.

The cooler was about half full. I bought this size cooler with the intent of brewing 10 gallon batches for lower gravity beers, and 5 gallon batches for higher gravity beers. Currently the water supply for my counterflow chiller is not available, so I've been brewing 5 gallon batches so the brew kettle can be carried into the kitchen. There I can use my immersion chiller hooked up to the kitchen faucet.

So did I lose all my heat because the cooler wasn't full enough? I'm honestly not sure that's all it is...temps fell from 156 to 140 in about 50 minutes.

General Homebrew Discussion / Diacetyl
« on: February 02, 2017, 12:50:38 PM »
I swear the more I research this topic, the more I dislike the BJCP and the typical American craft beer snob.

In my ongoing efforts to brew British styles more authentically, I've been working on trying to figure out more on diacetyl being appropriate. So, I went to and ran a search:

Most of the hits are on lagers, that's fine. Usually on how to reduce diacetyl. OK, that's what I'd expect for a lager...

Then I start seeing that Ron mentions several German lagers having diacetyl, and notes that this seems to be a good thing. Fine, but try getting that point across to some...diacetyl isn't evil, and I don't think it deserves the "allergic" response many have towards it.

I guess this is a rant. But I feel better now, so there's that. I'll stop buy and grab a pack of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale on the way home tonight and enjoy my diacetyl in peace.

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