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Topics - skyler

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Ingredients / Eureka - the best new hop since Mosaic
« on: February 08, 2018, 06:42:13 PM »
I’ve been feeling pretty “meh” about most of the newest round of hops. I experimented with El Dorado, Vinnie’s Special, Ekuanot, Calypso, and a few others. They all struck me as “not hoppy” and unbalanced. I even had a not-easy time blending them. Nbd, I stuck with simcoe, cascade, mosaic, citra, galaxy, and other pre-2012 hops. But 2016 eureka was on sale at yvh when I was already buying other stuff, so I tried a pound.  Score.

This is the best new hop I’ve tried in a long while.

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The Pub / Giving Back a Rescue Dog
« on: February 08, 2018, 01:10:44 AM »
Man, today has been pretty rotten. Two weeks ago we adopted an adult dog from a rescue. He looks like a corgi, but with a German Shepherd head - 50 lbs but very short. They told us he was a basset hound mix and that he was crate-trained, potty trained, leash trained, and good with cats, children, and other dogs. We immediately realized he wasn't crate-trained, leash-trained or potty trained, but we were okay with it until he really settled in and we saw what kind of dog he really was.

Long story short, he bit my 15 year-old cat a couple days ago (she's okay because I reacted immediately), then yesterday he bit me hard without warning because I tried to nudge him into his crate. This morning after our morning walk he bit me repeatedly and growled and snapped at me when I approached him after he refused the command and treats to enter his crate. The rescue woman took him back today and now we're grieving.

All Grain Brewing / No-Sparge Partigyle
« on: January 10, 2018, 04:16:14 AM »
I've been doing some Hochkurz No-Sparge batches lately, and have enjoyed the convenience and ease of experimenting with step mashes when I forgo the sparge. But I am getting about a 15-20% efficiency drop, which leaves me wondering how effective of a partigyle I could try. The idea would be to fill the tun with a second full boil volume of water immediately after draining it of the first batch's sweet wort. Then I would drain the cooler tun about 90 mins later when the first beer has chilled and gone into the fermenter. Is there anything wrong with this plan?

General Homebrew Discussion / When a LHBS Gets It Wrong
« on: January 06, 2018, 02:29:02 AM »
Are there certain little foibles about your LHBS that tick you off? What are the things your LHBS doesn’t do that you wish it did?

I went to an LHBS today that has three choices of British pale malt (which is awesome), but carries only domestic caramel malt, Munich malt, and Vienna malt. And they weren’t “out;” they just don’t carry imported caramel, Munich, or Vienna malts. To add salt to the wound, they also don’t carry oxygen tanks or epsom salt (I know I can get those elsewhere, but I go to the LHBS expecting to overpay and one-stop-shop (or else I’d buy everything online). Gears officially ground.

I mean, I’m very LHBS-blessed. I live within two miles of two decent LHBSes, one of which is excellent. And there are a half-dozen other options within 30 miles. But man is it frustrating to wade through rush hour traffic to be so disappointed.

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Beer Recipes / Dunkel
« on: December 31, 2017, 10:16:09 PM »
I want to do a Munich Dunkel and wondered how this looked to everyone:

60% Weyermann Munich II
18.5% Best Pilsner
15% Bohemian Dark Malt (essentially a 7L Munich)
3.7% Melanoidin Malt
2.8% Carafa Special II

1 oz Sterling @ 60 mins (16.6 IBUs)
.5 oz Sterling @ 20 mins (5 IBUs)

Hochkurz Mash (45 mins @ 144F and 45 mins @ 158F)


M84 Bohemian Lager Slurry

Ingredients / Gold Rush Toasted Pale Malt
« on: December 10, 2017, 04:50:59 AM »
Has anyone brewed with this ingredient? I haven't been able to find anything about it, but it sells for $75/50 lbs at my LHBS ($15 more than golden promise and twice as much as GW malts). 

Ingredients / Weyermann CaraRye
« on: December 02, 2017, 11:03:34 PM »
I didn't see a ton of information about this malt before I brewed with it. I assumed that it would be more or less similar to regular crystal malt, with perhaps a bit more body or a slightly different flavor. I was wrong - cara rye is the boldest biscuity specialty grain I have ever used (even more than special roast).

I brewed a rye amber ale (77% domestic pale ale malt, 12.2% rye malt, 6% cara rye, 3% melanoidin malt, 1.8% chocolate rye), and it had the boldest biscuit flavor I have ever had in a beer. I mean, like a bold "fat tire" sort of whole grain cracker flavor.

Several months ago, I brewed a rye brown ale with a similar grain bill (twice the chocolate rye and with regular crystal malt instead of cara rye). Since that beer wasn't particularly biscuity, I am convinced the cara rye is the difference-maker here. Anyway, the beer is technically very good if you like that biscuit flavor. So, ymmv, but I thought there should be something searchable so that other people are appropriately informed about this grain.

Has anyone had any similar or different experiences?

All Grain Brewing / Hochkurz No-Sparge
« on: December 01, 2017, 04:02:43 AM »
My system was set up with 10-12 gallon batch-sparged batches in mind. It's a 17-gallon kettle and a 70 qt cooler. However, lately I have been brewing more 5-6 gallon batches, which has led me to trying out the "no sparge" method, since I had extra space in the mash tun. Anyway, I got the idea to try a hochkurz mash since I noticed that I was waiting longer to heat up my strike water and because I recently had success with that process for lager brewing. The trick has been water chemistry - I am using brunwater to calculate the strike water, then calculating the complete water profile.

I am using about 1.35 qt strike water per lb of grain for the first rest, then the rest of the necessary water for the second rest.

The goal is 144F for 40 minutes, then 158 for 30. Since I have less water to heat up the first time, the net added time is maybe 5 minutes from a standard no-sparge and 10 minutes from a standard batch sparge. I'm still determining what, if anything, this adds to my beers, but I am getting good attenuation. Does anyone else do anything like this?

Yeast and Fermentation / Transatlantic Goldilocks Yeast
« on: November 16, 2017, 06:37:55 PM »
As someone who brews mostly British and American styles, and transatlantic hybrids (like an off-style brown ale or porter), I have used lots of different yeast strains and experimented with temperatures (fermentation and mash) and adjuncts to determine which strains do American and English styles how I like them. After I settled on 1968/002/A09 as my favored English strain and pacman/A18 as my favorite American strain, I found it annoying/expensive to maintain two different strains. I often split batches between liquid strains and dry strains, and I do feel like US-05 is a worthy and convenient stand-in strain for a dry IPA and that s-04 is great for dark british and American styles when fermented very cool. This led to trying out various "goldilocks" strains like 007, 051, Conan, and 1311.

A15 (Anchor ale yeast) makes a great malty or balanced American style and is fine for a British dark beer or a pre-2010 style American pale or amber ale, but I don't love it for a dry, hoppy beer. Additionally, I find it to have a narrow ideal temperature range (62-66, imo) and it is less reliably fast or flocculant than other options. I use imperial strains because they're local and I like the increased cell count.

A38/wy1318 (hopworks/ne breweries) is a great yeast for English styles, and fine for the trendy ne IPA style, but I haven't gotten it to be attenuative enough for certain styles of IPA. I like it enough for a red ale or stout or anything under about 1.060, though. It clears fast and fully, and it works at a fairly wide temp range (60-68 F).

A09 (Fuller's/Deschutes) is an incredible and versatile yeast, but it doesn't excel at anything dry and big - though it's my first choice for a session IPA or most English styles.

A04 (Conan/Vermont) is actually my least favorite American strain for IPA. I had better luck using it for brown ales and porters. It was hard to get it to clear. The mouthfeel was great, though.

A01 (Stone) ostensibly this is the ideal dual-use strain, but I found some issues. While it makes a good IPA because of the citrusy esters (even at cold temps), it has been far more dry than I would like and I didn't like the flavors it contributed to my dark ales or bitters (too citrusy). In side-side tests, I preferred US-05 for IPA and S-04 for a bitter. It is also less flocculant than advertised, ime.

So, my conclusion is that the best Goldilocks yeast is A38, with the caveat that I would still use US-05 or pacman for an IPA over 1.060.

And I think 007/A01/1098 shouldn't be called "dry English" or "British," but that "San Diego Ale" or "Southern California Ale" would be a more appropriate name.

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Kegging and Bottling / Keg Conditioning with Sinamar
« on: October 22, 2017, 05:20:55 AM »
I typically brew 11-12 gallon batches and split them into two fermenters. Most of the time I'll use different yeasts or dry hop differently or something.

But I had an idea for a new experiment, and wondered how to make it work. I want to brew an American brown ale, keg one half as-is, then keg-condition the other half with enough sinamar to take it firmly into porter territory. I figured I could just add the sinamar to the sugar and water that I boil to prime the keg, but it is unclear to me how much fermentable sugar is in 4 oz of sinamar. Is there enough for me to concern myself with, or should I just treat it like an unfermentable adjunct?

I thought some of you guys would be interested in reading about this beer that I am drinking right now in my hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Anyway, Guinness Bright. This was poured from a can and it is a regular CO2-carbonated beer.

A: Tart and roasty, similar to cold filtered coffee (not cold brewed). No heat. Slightly fruity, but no more than cold coffee, so really that is the dominant aroma. No hops. No caramel. Nothing really other than an acidic coffee-like roasty-fruity aroma.

A: Black and crystal-clear. Maybe 5 SRM lighter than regular Guinness. Maybe the same color. Tan head that lasts about a tenth of a second. 

T: Smooth, balanced bitterness, leaning towards sweet. Mild flavor with a low-level Hershey's chocolate aftertaste. Flavor is pretty simple: sweet and slightly tart, with the same savory "soy sauce" quality that I get from regular Guinness and attribute to the partially soured mash.

M: Light-medium body, like a mass-produced Pale or Amber Ale.  Not creamy. Not sprightly. Moderate carbonation.

OA: This is a fine porter or stout, but nothing to write home about. It would be for someone who finds Black Butte Porter "too roasty and hoppy" and who wants a beer to taste like cheap coffee. It's not for me, but it really isn't bad. It is certainly unique. The tartness is pretty bold for a mass-produced beer of any kind. I wouldn't order one in a bar, but I don't hate it.

I ferment using a freezer set to a temperature typically 6º F cooler than my target fermentation temperature. This has never ceased to get me within 2º of my target fermentation temperature. However, I pretty exclusively brew ales, and mostly all using the same 4-5 American and British yeast strains (Chico, Pacman, BRY-97, S-04, and 1968). I tried my hand at a pale lager for the first time in a decade of brewing (5.5 gallons with S-189, 5.5 gallons with MJ Bohemian Lager) and got active fermentation rolling at just 2º warmer than my ambient temperature. This means I am 4º below my target temperature of 52º F. I adjusted the temp control to let it get a few degrees warmer, but I am wondering if lager yeasts tend to produce less heat during fermentation than ale yeasts do. Does anyone have experience with this?

All Grain Brewing / Fauxhemian Pilsner Water
« on: June 10, 2017, 06:25:20 PM »
Tomorrow I am brewing my first pale lager in 10.5 years of brewing. My plan is to brew something resembling a Bohemian Premium Pale Lager, but taking a couple liberties. For one thing, I am not decocting nor using European base malt. I am taking (minor) liberties with the hop schedule, too. For the water, I am trying to keep it relatively similar, but maintaining sufficient calcium for brewhouse performance.

This is based on additions to my municipal water source in Portland, OR, so there could be some differences in what I get from what I am planning on starting with. FWIW, the guy in the LHBS recommended adding just enough calcium chloride to get 20-25 ppm calcium, but I think he thought I was trying to brew EXACTLY to style.

I have this water profile right now:

CA: 40 ppm
Mg: 1 ppm
Na: 33 ppm
Sulfate: 44 ppm
Chloride: 84 ppm
Bicarbonate: 9 ppm

Does this seem generally appropriate for what I'm looking to do? Should I reduce the sulfate or alter the chloride/sulfate balance?

And, FWIW, this is my recipe (for 12 gallons):

"The Unbearable Lightness of Beering"

90% Gambrinus Pilsner
6%  Carahell
2%  Melanoidin Malt
2%  Acid Malt

10 mL HopShot @ 60 mins (~27 ibus)
1 oz Sterling @ 30 mins (~7 ibus)
1 oz Czech Saaz @ 5 mins (~1 ibu)

Hochkurz Mash (batch sparge)
144º F for 40 mins
158º F for 30 mins

~1.052, ~35 ibus

Split batch, half fermented with 2 packs of S-189, half with 2 packs of Mangrove Jack Bohemian Lager, both at 50º F.

Lagered at 34º F for 6+ weeks while I'm in Asia.

Yeast and Fermentation / Imperial A43 Loki Yeast
« on: June 03, 2017, 05:43:05 AM »
Ok, so, I bought a can of this yeast believing that it would be some sort of "normal" ale yeast, since its number is "A43" and "A" indicates British and American ales with Imperial. I realized before using it that this was a "farmhouse" strain, so I tried it in a basic strong bitter wort (20# pale ale malt, 1# wheat,  1.5# C40, and 1# corn sugar 1.051, ~35 ibus, mashed at 151F for 60 mins).

Anyway, I pitched cooler than expected (58F), but visible fermentation began at 62. I let it finish at ambient in my garage during a warm week, so the top fermentation temp was in the high 70's or low 80's. The high temperature was recommended from the few sites where I could find details. Then I cold crashed and kegged it with some biofine.

My opinion: the aroma and flavor are somewhere between a hefeweizen and a trappist yeast, and not in a great way. There's a ton of clove and a little pepper. Maybe I should've gone with a simpler recipe (I split it and the other half got Fuller's yeast, fwiw), but this just ain't great. I have about 750 mL of slurry saved, but I don't think I will use it. This is a niche yeast, and I think it would taste best in a low-gravity wheat beer. I wouldn't consider it saison-like.

Ingredients / Funny Stuff in Package of Hops from Hops Direct
« on: May 20, 2017, 10:11:35 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.

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