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Kegging and Bottling / Added a faucet
« on: April 06, 2014, 01:22:53 PM »
So, when I built my kegerator maybe three years ago I thought to myself, "I won't need more than 3 taps".  Well, considering that my 7.2 cf chest freezer kegerator efficiently holds 6 ball locks, I realized that adding another faucet would provide a more hygienic solution in comparison to using a picnic tap inside the kegerator when I wanted to add a fourth beer to the "currently on tap" list.

I placed the new faucet on the side where it would not interfere with moving kegs into or out of the kegerator.  Also, I can interchange that faucet with a nitro tap when desired, and it will be nice to have it separate on the side at that time.  When I do that, I will drill one more gas line hole through the wood collar to pass the beer gas tubing through it to reach the keg holding beer to go onto nitro.

The main thing I wanted to share is that I was very happy with the results from using a combination caulk/adhesive (available in caulk gun tubes) to attach the mounting board for the new single-faucet drip tray, and leaving a caulk bead of it around the exterior edges of the mounting board.  This will prevent liquids (beer, sanitizer, etc.) from dripping in behind the mounting board which would have made it hard to clean, and prone to bacteria growth.  It took a bit of patience as the adhesive began to set, to ensure it hardened in place, and used a level to keep checking that the mounting board remained level until it set hard, which took about 2 hours.

I had previously used the same all-purpose adhesive/caulk (I used Polyseamseal brand) to seal the open edges in a foam-insulated picnic cooler lid that I cut out when building a jockey box to hold ball lock kegs.  So I knew it would work for this application and provide a very strong adhesive bond.

Before I attached the mounting board to the kegerator, I added 4 coats of polyurethane to it and added the drip tray mounting screws.  I couldn't find beechwood to match the front faucet panel, put purchased a short light-colored board of poplar which looks good.

I also replaced a 5 lb co2 tank that provided gas to my 4-way manifold, with a 15-pounder with two leads off of the regulator.  The second lead is a short line with a gas quick disconnect that I can use to purge kegs, etc, easily without having to lift them into the kegerator.  The other 15-lb co2 tank I use to carbonate kegs and/or to serve beer at a different psi and one of its leads goes through a secondary regulator.

Here it is:

Last weekend I kegged and same time added keg dry hops to an IPA I had made 2 weeks earlier.  After racking into 2 corny kegs (10 gal batch), there was +1 quart extra, uncarbonated beer, to which no dry hops had been added. 

I wanted to get a feel for what dry hopping would do for this beer.  So, I carbonated the extra quart of beer with a Carbonator Cap (my first time using one), and then infused some of that with some dried whole summit hops, removed with a mint julep spoon, and squeezed additional hoppy beer through the spoon into my glass after the spoon was removed.

It made a tasty beer into a very tasty beer, of course still in need of conditioning.  The process helped me anticipate what my finished kegged beer will taste like.  It also was timed so I could have revised my dry hop addition in the kegs, although I didn't feel that was needed.

Next time I will just cold steep some (preferably whole) hops in any extra uncarbed beer, strain it, and then carbonate via the Carbonator Cap... a much better approach.

The Carbonator Cap is a great tool, that I never thought about much as to how it can be used to dial-in dry hopping rate, and even dry hop combinations for the bulk of your batch.

All Grain Brewing / Found good buy on bulk malt storage bin at Costco
« on: February 19, 2014, 05:26:48 PM »
Not sure if these are available nationwide - I purchased today here in Spokane Valley, WA, in the pet food section.  They are rated to hold up to 54 lbs of dry pet food, measure 14.8" x 18" x 23.8", 69 qt / 17.25 gal, and come with castors (optional to put them on) and a heavy duty plastic scoop. 

As you can see, it easily holds a 55 lb full bag of malt, and is of decent but not super heavy duty clear plastic -- appears to be strong enough to fill with malt, although I plan to stick pretty close to the rated weight.  The seal grommet is not rubber, rather appears to be small cell weather stripping, but matches well and covers the rim.  It is very lightweight and I think the castors work well enough when fully loaded, especially on a smooth floor.  Very competitively priced here.  I paid $15.79 + sales tax.  And made in USA.  I'm going to get one or two more tomorrow - beats lifting Rubbermaid tubs, and seal is considerably better, although not stackable like Rubbermaid tubs.

I'm trying to guess why my brewhouse efficiency dropped for this weekend's batch of IPA.  I got an OG of 1.061 and expected 1.067 to 1.069.  One screw-up was adding sparge water too hot and after stirred for a minute it was at 170F.  I normally come in around 165 - 167F sparge temp.  Although I stirred it to a lower temp quickly I was thinking that maybe the remaining saccharification/conversion had already been halted by the denaturing temperature.

I also need to start adding my phosphoric acid addition prior to heating the hot liquor and sparge water.  I've been getting away with adding a less-than-calculated (in Bru'n Water) amount of the acid to the hot liquor immediately prior to doughing in, and directly to the sparge prior to stirring.  No more of that.  What I'm saying is that my fairly average 73% brewhouse efficiency on this brew is probably due to missing the desired pH range for the sparge and not so much due to the too hot sparge.  I checked pH for the mash and it was ok at 5.5, but I neglected to check pH on either the sparge, or the pre-boil full volume that I believe Martin has said should be around pH 5.2 - 5.4 for lighter beers.  Since I started adjusting my water for the sparge as well as the mash with Bru'n Water I've been averaging 80% brewhouse efficiency for ~1.065 beers.

I also brewed on the spur of the moment and had a bit of hurried ambiguity estimating some of the malt colors, so might have gotten the SRM wrong.  As usual, for my high bicarbonate tap water I used a combination of gypsum, calcium chloride and phosphoric acid to try to get in range for pH, based on Martin's Bitter Yellow profile, which I came very close to except with higher calcium (93 ppm).

Still, I'm curious if anyone has estimated an approximate brewhouse efficiency loss for too hot of a sparge.

Sorry if this post is wandering a bit all over the map.

Ingredients / Bine Ripened Summit Hops
« on: January 18, 2013, 11:09:50 PM »
I was gifted with more than 6 lbs (yes, pounds) of bine (vine) ripened just-picked whole flower summit hops last season.  I gave most of them away but vacuum-sealed around one pound and put them in my freezer.

I have heard that they are an aroma hop, that they can contribute an orange-y flavor, but sometimes suffer from an onion-y flavor contribution.

Can anyone recommend a good use for Summit hops, and maybe some Best Management Practices for getting the good without the bad from them?


Beer Recipes / (Cherry Chocolate) Oatmeal Robust Porter
« on: January 18, 2013, 07:50:39 PM »
I recieved a PM requesting the recipe, and since there was a delay in getting this brewed, I thought I would solicit for comments on it, that I had posted I was going to brew I think last weekend.  What do you think?

Oatmeal Robust Porter

A ProMash Recipe Report

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal):        11.00    Wort Size (Gal):   11.00
Total Grain (Lbs):       25.75
Anticipated OG:          1.063    Plato:             15.37
Anticipated SRM:          38.2
Anticipated IBU:          37.2
Brewhouse Efficiency:       75 %
Wort Boil Time:             60    Minutes


   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
 31.1     8.00 lbs. Marris Otter                    Great Britain  1.038      3
 27.2     7.00 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row)              America        1.036      2
  9.7     2.50 lbs. Munich Malt                   Germany        1.037      8
  7.8     2.00 lbs. Chocolate Malt                America        1.029    350
  7.8     2.00 lbs. Flaked Oats                   America        1.033      2
  3.9     1.00 lbs. Crystal 20L                   America        1.035     20
  3.9     1.00 lbs. Crystal 60L                   Great Britain  1.034     55
  2.9     0.75 lbs. Black Patent Malt             America        1.028    525
  1.9     0.50 lbs. Aromatic Malt                 Belgium        1.036     25
  3.9     1.00 lbs. Wheat Malt                    Germany        1.039      2


   Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
  5.00 oz.    Goldings - B.C.                   Pellet   3.17  33.4  60 min.
  1.45 oz.    Fuggle                            Pellet   4.75   3.9  15 min.
  2.00 oz.    Goldings - B.C.                   Pellet   3.17   0.0  0 min.


  Amount      Name                           Type      Time
  1.50 Unit(s)Whirfloc                       Fining     5 Min.(boil)
  1.25 Tsp    Wyeast Yeast Nutrient          Other     10 Min.(boil)


Fermentis US-05 American Ale

Mash Schedule

Mash Type: Single Step

Grain Lbs:   25.75
Water Qts:   38.00 - Before Additional Infusions
Water Gal:    9.50 - Before Additional Infusions

Qts Water Per Lbs Grain: 1.48 - Before Additional Infusions

Saccharification Rest Temp : 155  Time:  60


Recipe should use EKG rather than US Goldings, but I'm subbing with hops I have onhand.

With a nod to Jamil's Black Widow Porter, which is what I based a lot of this recipe on.

I like the creamy head of an oatmeal stout and have a bunch of flaked oats on hand so incorporated them into the recipe.  I will be toasting them at 300F in a pan in the oven with occasional stirring until lightly browned and nutty smelling.

5 gal =  straight recipe

5 gal = will get chocolate and cherries in secondary, after at least two weeks in primary ramped up to steady 65-66F. 
For 5 gal beer, use 1/2 lb low fat, unsweetened chocolate powder that is stirred in with cherries
when pasteurizing them for 20 min at 160F.  Leave on cherries/cocoa for 10 days. 
Use minimum of 2 lbs cherries per gallon of beer, and I will also be adding ~10 oz. "Tart is Smart"
natural tart cherry juice concentrate since I have it onhand.  I haven't decided if I will bother
pitting the cherries - probably not.  I will use frozen Bing cherries I picked and froze last summer.

Two to three weeks maturing in the keg in the 35F kegerator should serve as a diacetyl rest.

Yeast and Fermentation / Unusual beer turnaround after ferment temp spike
« on: December 09, 2012, 11:13:58 PM »
I made 10 gallons of a Falconer's Flight Pale Ale at the end of July, and ended up pitching US-05 considerably warmer than usual, at 70F and put the beer in a 66F basement bedroom.  Luckily that temp held for at least a couple days.  However, after that 2 days I left the state for a family reunion at which same time the outdoor temps spiked, making the ambient basement temps also rise.  When I returned five days later the beer room was 68-69F, and the beer was smelling really estery - no surprises there.  And it was due to pure laziness.  I could have sanitized my thermowell and thrown the two primary fermenter buckets into my temp controlled fridge.  Anyway, when I returned I smelled the gawdawful stinkiness, but knowing that it had been at least 48 hrs before the temps spiked, I decided to try to save the beer thinking it was esters rather than fusels that were the problem.  Ten days after pitching the yeast I added dry hops in bags and left the beer on the yeast cake to clean up while dry hopping at the same time for another ten days.  I then removed the dry hops but left it for maybe another week on the yeast cake.  Not exactly sure how long because in my disgust I quit taking notes.

So, after 4 - 5 weeks in primary it was still stinky and I dumped 5 gallons, and the other 5 gallons I put into a keg, purged it, pressurized it, and left it for 4.5 months at (edit) ~65F, i.e. cellar temps at my house.  After another couple weeks at mid 30'sF in the kegerator, the beer is drinking great although it still has just a tad of an estery smell that doesn't affect the taste.  The hop flavors are clean and complex, and it is definitely not headache beer.  Now I wish I had not dumped half of it.  At least I had the sense to know that since the first 48-60 hours were within reasonable fermentation temp range, that logically this beer had a chance, regardless of being stinky at the time.

The moral of the story is 1) trust that initial sensory perception is not the final determining factor when questioning potential for saving a beer after a ferment temp fault, and 2) don't ever stray from your best management practices, in this case using temp control when it is available.   :-*

General Homebrew Discussion / disposing of yeast cake
« on: November 24, 2012, 05:41:08 PM »
This might sound like an entry level question, but after years of doing it my way I still wonder if there are any good alternatives.  After racking from primary bucket into keg, bottling bucket or secondary, I wash out the remaining sediment in my bucket down the basement utility sink drain, and hose a lot of water, usually hot, down the drain after the yeast sediment to ensure it all gets down my pipes to the sewer without building up in my drain pipes.  Do you do the same, or do you have another solution?  The way I do it is time saving and easy, but it does require quite a bit of hot water.  Thanks!

Beer Recipes / Gluten Free ale experiment (w/pictures)
« on: July 28, 2012, 12:38:42 PM »
Yesterday I brewed my first gluten free beer, for a friend, and I did a partial mash.  Here is the recipe, and then some notes and pictures.  I minimized the sorghum percentage to hopefully avoid twang and not have an overly sweet beer, and of course in the search for QUALITY.  The jury is still out as to what comes of it, since my mash efficiency appears to have suffered.  Next time I will probably just do extract with rice syrup, sorghum syrup, Belgian candi sugar and hops, like Deschutes' GF Pale Ale, to save hassle and fears on efficient conversion.  I've never even tasted a gluten free beer!  Any thoughts?

Salish Sea Tropical Ale

A ProMash Brewing Session Report

Recipe:       Salish Sea Tropical Ale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal):         5.50    Wort Size (Gal):   5.50
Total Grain (Lbs):       11.50
Anticipated OG:          1.066    Plato:            16.11
Anticipated SRM:          15.8
Anticipated IBU:          28.9
Wort Boil Time:             60    Minutes

Actual OG:  1.064   Plato: 15.67

Actual Mash System Efficiency: 58 %


   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
 34.8     4.00 lbs. Rice Syrup                    Generic        1.040      0
 17.4     2.00 lbs. Oats, Malted                  Great Britain  1.035      1
 13.0     1.50 lbs. Mighty Tasty Cereal           America        1.030      2
  8.7     1.00 lbs. Belgian Dark Candi Syrup D2   Belgium        1.032    160
  8.7     1.00 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)           America        1.040      1
  8.7     1.00 lbs. Flaked Oats                   America        1.033      2
  8.7     1.00 lbs. Sorghum Syrup 45DE            America        1.035      3


   Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
  0.70 oz.    Amarillo                          Pellet   6.27   6.4  First WH
  0.70 oz.    Amarillo                          Pellet   6.27   6.1  17 min.
  0.50 oz.    Citra                             Whole   13.70   4.3  5 min.
  0.50 oz.    Rakau                             Pellet  11.20   3.9  5 min.
  0.50 oz.    Citra                             Whole   13.70   4.3  2 min.
  0.50 oz.    Rakau                             Pellet  11.20   3.9  2 min.


  Amount      Name                           Type      Time
  1.00 Unit(s)Whirfloc                       Fining     5 Min.(boil)
  0.50 Tsp    Wyeast Yeast Nutrient          Other     10 Min.(boil)


Fermentis US-05 American Ale

Mash Schedule

Mash Type: Single Step
Heat Type: Direct

Grain Lbs:    5.50
Qts Water Per Lbs Grain: ~1.80

Saccharification Rest Temp: 149  Time: 100M

Total mash volume: ~3.25 gal

Mash Notes

Boiled the cereal in 2 gal water for 25 min. to gelatinize.  Added 1.5 gal
water and heated/stirred to 154 and added milled oat malt, corn and flaked
oats plus 2.5 tsp of amylase powder.  stirred on stove top keeping it 147 -
 151, more on the low end, for 70 min.  Because it was very cloudy, I added
 another tsp amylase 1/2 way thru.  Poured thru zapap, scraping bottom with
 spatula, and then rinsed with 1.75 gal 170F water.  Still very cloudy and
not very sweet, although iodine test showed it was converted.  Still, I add
ed the remaining 2 tsp of amylase from container and stirred at ~150F for a
nother 25 minutes, after having added FWH addition of amarillo.  Checked io
dine test again (ok), and still didn't taste very sweet, but went ahead and added
 the sorghum syrup and all rice syrup and topped up to 5-gallon boil.  Tota
l amylase used ~2.5 Tbl!

Fermentation Notes

Chilled with Immersion Chiller down to about 74F, and strained thru strainer into fermenter bucket.
  Added 1 gal water to hit 5.25 gal wort at 1.064 OG.  Very viscous wort.

Used just 1 packet US-05 after aerating with o2 for 1.5 minutes, stirre
d in after 10 minutes.

Pitched around 70F and put in wine room @ ~67F.  Airlock activity after 11 hours.

Tasting Notes

With calculated 58% efficiency of mash, I'm expecting a starchy beer.
 I should have measured with narrow range hydrometer for accuracy of OG.
Depending on actual pppg of Mighty Tasty Cereal (I guessed) I might have had better efficiency.

D2 added at 10 minutes.   

Primary Fermentation: 14 days @ 66 degree
s ramped to 68F last 4 days.

Ingredients minus flaked oats and hops (I omitted the malto dextrin on the right since I don't think I'll need it)

Cereal boil to gelatinize

Stovetop mash

Zapap insert (thanks Charlie P!)

Spent grains after sparge/hot water rinse

Viscous wort

It seems that keg dry hopping should provide the freshest hop flavor into the glass, although, if done within the cold temps of a kegerator (mine is at 33F), it obviously must take more days to extract the hop flavor, as compared to when done in a room temperature fermenter.  I use sanitized nylon hop bags in the keg, that I can remove when I choose to (so hops don't impart a grassy flavor from being in there too long, etc.).  Assuming we are not talking about more than a couple ounces of hops per keg, are there any reasons to dry hop at room temps in a fermenter  rather than in the keg?  Thanks!   

I am always looking for efficient ways to shorten my all-grain, +10 gallon batch brewday.  Therefore I've been adding my IC with 20 minutes left in the boil, without any water in it - just connected hoses.  My thought is, this way, it takes less time for the wort to get back to a boil after immersing it in the kettle to sanitize it, and I can complete my boil more quickly.  Is there any danger of bursting the coil by doing this, rather than running water through the connected hoses and IC before immersing it?

As regards a different lesson learned, I found that tipping it upside down to drain it after the boil is done and hoses are disconnected, it doesn't always drain well, and if left outside in the unheated garage it can freeze and burst the coil.  So now I keep it stored in my heated basement.

All Grain Brewing / FWH's - minimum pre-boil addition timeframe
« on: January 29, 2012, 05:28:37 PM »
So that your FWH addition doesn't end up like a 60 minute bittering addition, how long before the boil starts do you need to add the FWH charge?  I realize that the hops are meant to go in the wort right after the mash/sparge runoff is collected in the kettle (or right after the mash runoff...).

The thing is, that I got a little absent-minded today and only added my FWH charge so that they were in the heating wort for 10 minutes before the wort reached a boil.  The chilled wort hydro sample tasted delicious so I know I'm in the clear, but I'm just curious if anyone has any experience with this.

oops - I guess this belonged in the General Homebrewing section.

Yeast and Fermentation / WY5335 Lactobacillus starter - how hot?
« on: January 07, 2012, 02:50:24 PM »
I posted this on NB Forum with no response and thought I'd try again here...

I've read that different strains of lacto perform best at different temps, and that the higher the temp within range, the more sour it will get, preferably between 110 - 120F, especially if culturing raw malt. I am not culturing my starter from raw malt, just from WY5335.

To make a starter, I pitched a packet of WY5335 into 1/2 gallon of unhopped wort at about 118F, but an hour later, after checking Wyeast's website where it said that their product's temp range is 60 - 95F, I turned it down to 91F.

I want it good and sour, but clean. Based on your experience or knowledge using WY5335, do you recommend that I hold it at 91F until I pitch it in two days, or crank up the starter temp again, to say 112F? Currently I am heating it wrapped in a heating pad hooked up to a temp controller set to 91F with a 1 degree differential. I also purged the small headspace in the 1/2 gallon growler with co2, and tightly covered it with folded over sanitized tin foil.

I will split the starter in a couple days between two 5-gallon carboys each full of mash/sparge runoff boiled briefly and then cooled to 90F. I will use the sour worting technique and keep the inoculated runoff at 90F for probably 3 days... until it gets pretty sour, and then boil it with hops, chill, and ferment as usual with US-04 to make an Oud Bruin. Half will also get tart cherry juice concentrate at least mid-way into primary fermentation.


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