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Topics - skyler

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1
Ingredients / Funny Stuff in Package of Hops from Hops Direct
« on: May 20, 2017, 03:11:35 PM »
I noticed a bunch of weird poop-like material in my 1-pound bag of Ekuanot hops. It seems like it might just be hop resin, but I am pretty curious if anyone knows what it is or if anyone has seen this before.


2
Equipment and Software / pH Meter
« on: April 19, 2017, 07:18:54 AM »
I'm in the market for a new pH meter and would like some recommendations. Price and ease of use are my main concerns.

I used to brew with a friend who owned a pH meter, but it's been a few years since then and while I have been using Bru'n Water to adjust pH, I haven't actually been measuring. Nothing came out bad, but my most recent IPA (90% 2-row, 6% carahell, 4% acid malt - a small amount of 10% phosphoric acid was used in the sparge water, too) seems a bit more acidic than necessary and appears to have extracted less than expected from the hops and CO2 hop extract. My suspicion is that I should have used 8-10 oz of acid malt instead of 12 oz, and that the acid malt in the mash might have made the phosphoric acid unnecessary in the sparge water. Water was soft Portland water treated with a campden tablet to run off chloramine, then I added just enough gypsum and sea salt to increase the calcium to 60 ppm and get a 3/2 sulfate/chloride ratio.

Clearly I need to be testing my pH.


3
Ingredients / Sacchra 50 in a Red IPA
« on: March 17, 2017, 05:47:00 AM »
Hi guys, I am looking into this Sacchra 50 grain. I have done some serious digging and I just haven't been able to find enough info to build a recipe with. Supposedly the grain behaves in between a Munich malt and a Crystal malt. It's color is 50L and Great Western claims that it "doesn't get in the way of the hops" and recommends it for a "Red IPA." The tricky thing is that it takes 12-15% to actually make a beer red. If this were a regular crystal malt, that would be an insane amount to add to an IPA. Has anyone brewed anything with just Sacchra 50 and base malt? What percentage should I use?

I was thinking either I'd go 12% in a ~1.066 malt bill with just domestic pale ale malt and sacchra 50 or I'd use ~6% and maybe ~2% carafa/blackprinz for color.

4
Ok guys, I delayed my brewday because of a cold one weekend, then a stomach flu the next weekend. Now I have this 1.043 OG English Golden Ale fermenting at ~67º F with a first-generation pitch of Imperial A09 Pub (purportedly the same as 1968). I pitched the yeast at 65º F at 2:30 pm yesterday.

I had active fermentation and a three-quarter-inch layer of krausen this morning. I know this is a fast strain, but what are the chances the beer will be ready to keg Thursday night (in order to force carbonate Friday morning before work)?


5
Yeast and Fermentation / Dry Yeast for Bohemian Dark Lager
« on: February 13, 2017, 01:54:27 PM »
Hey guys, which dry yeast would you recommend for a Bohemian Dark Lager? My instinct is to just go with W-34/70, as it is reliable and pretty good with malt-forward lagers, but I have read positive remarks about about S-189 and I know Mangrove Jack's Bohemian Lager purports to be an authentic Bohemian Lager strain (and it is available at my LHBS).

MY favorite beer in Prague last summer (by far) was Kozel Cerny. And, pretty consistently, I found the fresh dark lagers of Prague (especially the unpasteurized "tank beer") to be superior to both the other Czech beer offerings (pale lagers of varying strengths and amateurish American-style IPA offshoots, with few exceptions) and to other regional dark lagers I have had.

Having done some research, I am determined to brew something similar, though I rarely brew lagers. I know I can get liquid forms of some of the legitimate Czech yeast strains, but I would prefer to use a dry yeast, as I find building a giant starter annoying.


6
We've all done it - ordered that seasonal IPA variant (black IPA, rye IPA, Northeastern IPA, etc) thinking it may be interesting. Sometimes we are offered something great (2010 Wookey Jack and Sublimely Self Righteous come to mind) and sometimes it's just a way to market a new beer that costs less to brew for some reason (using up old hops, often).

Seasonal and one-off products are always going to trend towards "hit and miss" territory. They are unproven, often experimental, and they are not a product that the brewery has declared worthy of year-round production. Still, one expects a level of consistency from the same product produced a different year. A craft beer consumer expects Wookey Jack to taste roughly the same in 2017 as it did in 2015. After all, Pale 31 tastes the same, doesn't it?

But something I have noticed is that many of these beers that have become seasonal rotations or year-round brews have greatly worsened recipes since they first came out. In some cases, hops have been swapped out or reduced. In other cases, we are given essentially just dry porters called "CDA" or or strangely-balanced strong pale ales called "RyePA with some kind of M. Night Shyamalan-style twist (personally I hate it most when dry hops are replaced with a fruit or vegetable in an "IPA").

This trend towards making things slowly worse after they have developed a following is nothing new to the beer business or the restaurant industry, for that matter. The reason you don't see Bob's Big Boy or El Torito in your neighborhood anymore? Corporate leadership sought profit growth through cost reduction, leading to an increasingly inferior product that eventually got abandoned by its customers. The same thing happened to a number of once-iconic beers like Ballantine Ale and Henry Weinhart's lager.

I have found that the IPA variant has become ground zero for quality drift in the craft beer sector (though sometimes, even flagship beers like Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA and Double Mountain's IRA get nerfed by recipe changes).

Example: I remember the instant that I decided I liked Black IPA and that it wasn't just a gimmick or a way to make cloudy beer look more presentable. It was in 2009 and I drank a glass of Hopworks Secession Black IPA (now called Secession CDA). This was a Simcoe/Amarillo IPA that was pitch black and had a subtle chocolate complexity from Carafa II (I asked the brewers and they told me). I recently had a pint of this same beer (first keg of the season) and it tasted like a thin, slightly hoppy porter. Having spoken to some of the brewery staff, I know they switched to a domestic malt "that they already use in other beers" instead of Carafa (I think black patent) and they switched hops a few times (I assume it's now a blend of leftover hops rather than a consistent recipe, but no one would confirm that). The color has gone from black to cola-like (though it tastes roastier than it did before) and the aroma has shifted from A+ IPA to B- American Porter. The balance is all off and it now seems like "Black IPA" would be a poor descriptor (they do call it a "Cascadian Dark Ale," FWIW).

Why are breweries seemingly unable or unwilling to maintain quality with these seasonal beers? Do they think customers don't notice? Do they assume that people with discriminating tastes only order their year-round products? Are hop prices continuing to rise at an unmanageable rate? I just don't get it.

Is this a nationwide thing or just something here on the west coast?

7
Yeast and Fermentation / Yeast Strain and Beer Color
« on: January 19, 2017, 03:49:03 PM »
I made an IPA recently and split the batch into two fermenters, one with US-05 and one with Danstar London ESB. The color difference is startling. On the left is the ESB yeast. On the right, the US-05. How? And, fwiw, the US-05 (darker one) tastes hoppier and fresher, but both are fine beers.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

8
The Pub / Spelling and Grammar
« on: October 25, 2016, 01:14:25 PM »
Sometimes the issues with English conventions and usage in these forums feels like an itch I can't scratch because I don't want to be a jerk and tell people their spelling sucks. So I decided to scratch that itch here by showcasing a few common errors on these forums in the hopes that a few of my fellow homebrewing enthusiasts will notice the next time they use the wrong "your." Please feel free to add to this list.

Lose ≠ Loose. Your loose grip on spelling will make me lose my mind.

Your = belongs to you, You're = you are. You're unfortunate if your K-12 education didn't teach you this rule.

Pallet = the wooden shipping platform that gets carried by a fork lift. Palate = a person's appreciation of taste and flavor, among other things.

There's = there is, There're = there are. There're many reasons why you should learn proper English contractions, but there's always one dummy who forgets how to contract.

Now, for some advanced level punctuating:

1. That one brewer's stout was tasty.
2. Those two brewers' porters were both good.
3. Mr. Jones's amber ale was only mediocre.

Apostrophe Source: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/621/01/

Ok, you can all hate me now.

9
Ingredients / Chocolate Rye Malt
« on: October 05, 2016, 10:59:10 AM »
I posted this in the "recipe ideas" category, but perhaps this is a better spot for it. I am only really looking for feedback regarding the chocolate rye malt, but nothing is really set in stone here.:

I got inspired to brew a brown ale that is something of a blend between Denny's Rye IPA (Wrye Smile) and Tasty McDole's Janet's Brown Ale, except a somewhat lower gravity (~1.060). In part this idea came about from my also wanting to use up my 2015 hops. I decided to go for a malt bill of:

20 lbs GW 2-row
4 lbs   GW Rye Malt
2 lbs   Bairds Dark Crystal (75L)
1 lb    Bairds Extra Dark Crystal (130L)
1-2 lbs Weyermann Chocolate Rye Malt (245L)

The hop bill is:

US Mount Hood   5.4 %   60 g First Wort Hopped
US Apollo           18.0 %     10 g 60 Min From End
US Cascade   9.3 %   90 g 10 Min From End
US El Dorado   12.0 %   60 g Whirlpool
US Columbus   13.8 %   60 g Whirlpool
US Cascade   9.3 %   60 g Dry-Hopped
US Columbus   13.8 %   30 g Dry-Hopped
US El Dorado   12.0 %   30 g Dry-Hopped

Though I may not dry hop half of it (I am thinking of fermenting half with S-04 and putting it on Nitro, then dry-hopping half and fermenting with an American yeast and putting it on CO2)

If I'm looking at just color, then 1 lb of the Chocolate Rye gets me to a nice 21 SRM - dark enough. But I haven't used this malt as the sole roasted malt before and I was wondering if I should push it deeper - is the flavor contribution of the Chocolate Rye so mild as to necessitate more (like Midnight Wheat)?

10
Beer Recipes / How much chocolate rye to use?
« on: October 05, 2016, 07:15:54 AM »
I got inspired to brew a brown ale that was something of a blend between Denny's Rye IPA (Wrye Smile) and Tasty McDole's Janet's Brown Ale, except a somewhat lower gravity (~1.060). In part this idea came about from my also wanting to use up my 2015 hops. I decided to go for a malt bill of:

20 lbs GW 2-row
4 lbs   GW Rye Malt
2 lbs   Bairds Dark Crystal (75L)
1 lb    Bairds Extra Dark Crystal (130L)
1-2 lbs Weyermann Chocolate Rye Malt (245L)

The hop bill is:

US Mount Hood   5.4 %   60 g First Wort Hopped
US Apollo           18.0 %     10 g 60 Min From End
US Cascade   9.3 %   90 g 10 Min From End
US El Dorado   12.0 %   60 g Whirlpool
US Columbus   13.8 %   60 g Whirlpool
US Cascade   9.3 %   60 g Dry-Hopped
US Columbus   13.8 %   30 g Dry-Hopped
US El Dorado   12.0 %   30 g Dry-Hopped

Though I may not dry hop half of it (I am thinking of fermenting half with S-04 and putting it on Nitro, then dry-hopping half and fermenting with an American yeast and putting it on CO2)

If I'm looking at just color, then 1 lb of the Chocolate Rye gets me to a nice 21 SRM - dark enough. But I haven't used this malt as the sole roasted malt before and I was wondering if I should push it deeper - is the flavor contribution of the Chocolate Rye so mild as to necessitate more (like Midnight Wheat)?

11
Commercial Beer Reviews / When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 15, 2016, 10:35:19 AM »
At 32, I am lucky to be young enough to have grown up with craft beer, but old enough to have seen how that industry has developed and shifted over the past 10-15 years. I remember when witbier seemed like a new and cutting edge beer style. I remember when the word "imperial" was on every label. And I remember when a bunch of breweries that are still around were "hot" and worth a trip out to wherever to visit. Some of these breweries sold out, then got ruined by their corporate overlords (Mendocino Brewing), and some went under, but some are still around, still making the same beers that made them famous, but I don't see them on tap in great beer bars anymore and I don't hear anyone talking them up anymore. Of course, plenty of the "hot" breweries of 2005 are even hotter now (Russian River comes to mind), but I wonder about these beers that I used to get excited to drink - that were a regular purchase for me ten years ago, but now seem so old fashioned.

Here's an incomplete list: North Coast Brewing, Lost Coast Brewing, Mad River, Rogue, BridgePort, AleSmith, Anderson Valley, and even Bear Republic (okay, Racer 5 is more common than ever in the bay area, but this brewery hasn't had a "hot" beer release in a decade, AFAIK).

Does anyone have any idea why these breweries seem to have lost their mojo? Is it us (the consumers) who have changed? Are they resting on their laurels? Have they just found a sustainable formula and stuck with it?

12
Ingredients / Balancing "New New School" Hops for Hop-Forward Beers
« on: March 12, 2016, 11:51:20 AM »
A post a while ago led to a discussion about blending El Dorado with CTZ. Then I drank a 100% El Dorado IPA at a local brewpub, followed by an "experimental IPA" that has continued my curiosity about the newest generation of American hops.

Other than Mosaic, which I think tastes and smells like Simcoe mixed with Amarillo and CTZ (a glorious combination), most of these newest varieties of hops have seemed odd to me. Calypso, El Dorado, Azacca, Belma... the list goes on. Last night I drank an IPA at a brewpub that I know to make great IPAs, and this new "experimental" IPA tasted like French lavender candy. I imagine there were so many of the newest new school hops in it without the dank, herbal punch of something like CTZ or Simcoe to balance it out. I appreciate the high oil content in these hops, but they seem imbalanced on their own.

So I want to know if I can make better, bolder hop-forward beers with these newer varieties of hops in blends, or if I should just stick to the tried and true. Can I get something really special by mixing the perfume-candy of El Dorado and Calypso with the Cannabis-Grapefruit punch of CTZ? Should I be pulling out the Apollo to balance out the Belma? How is everyone else utilizing their newest new school hops?

I am tentatively planning an Apollo/El Dorado/CTZ (2-2-1) DIPA to see if mixing dank with candy gives me what I'm looking for.

13
Ingredients / CaraFoam and CaraHell vs CaraPils and C10
« on: February 25, 2016, 04:16:54 PM »
I am working on putting together a "Blonde IPA" inspired by Pfriem. I would like to mimic the malt flavor I get from the carahell, but get a lighter color. Is carafoam the closest thing? My software shows me I can get 3.8 SRM from 5.5% carafoam. I have used the malt in the past, but not as the sole specialty malt, so I am a little concerned.

14
Ingredients / Question About Grain Storage
« on: January 01, 2016, 12:17:28 PM »
My wife and I bought a house last summer, and I've been storing grain in the garage. Previously, when I lived in apartments, th grain was stored in whatever temperature it was in the apartment. This meant the grain was stored generally no colder than 58º F on a cold day when I was at work and no warmer than 85º F on a hot day because we had no air conditioning. It has dawned on me that my garage gets below freezing from time to time here in Portland - and that I am now storing my grain at a much colder temperature. Should I be concerned?

15
Commercial Beer Reviews / Stone Pale Ale 2.0
« on: June 22, 2015, 12:34:24 PM »
As a lukewarm fan of Stone Pale Ale, I was looking forward to the new version, assuming it would be hoppier, drier, and maybe lighter in color/abv. I was wrong on all counts. Anyway, here's how it would go down if I was judging this one in a homebrew comp.


Poured from bottle

Aroma - mild orange and grassy hops, sweet malt, lightly fruity (from hops or yeast) 5

Appearance - Deep gold/light amber, clear, thin head 3

Flavor - Biscuit and sweet malt upfront, then excessive bitterness. Not very hoppy, but there is a distracting slight orange and herbal hoppy quality reminiscent of orange juice from concentrate. Maltier and less aromatic than 1.0 and simultaneously too bitter and too sweet without striking a balance between the two. 6

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body, nice carbonation. A bit big for the style. 3

Overall impression - This doesn't taste like a more modern or updated pale ale, but like an amateurish attempt at showcasing Mandarina Bavaria. Fermentation character seems clean enough, but otherwise this beer is unbalanced. I suspect the malt base would make for a pleasant beer if it were much less bitter, but the bitterness combined with low hop aroma makes this very fresh bottle taste like it has spent the past two years in the back of the refrigerator. 4

Score: 21/50

This as a replacement for the overpriced-but-delicious Stone Pale Ale 1.0 is very disappointing. Yuck.

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