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Messages - kgs

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The Brew is Out There! 

New Years is right around the corner which means so is the era of Resolutions. The most common resolution for brewers? I'm going to brew more! It's also one of the most failed. We're here to give you our tips for fighting the forces that stymie you so you can get back to what we all love - brewing!

Great podcast. My first reply got eaten because of a time-out -- it's that kind of day, woke up at 5 to brew but realized my MT smelled off and instead found myself breaking down hardware and soaking the MT to the rim as well as all hardware in Oxiclean. So I'll write fast!

One more impediment, that comes up in Forum conversation, is physical.  With nearly half of all homebrewers 50 or older ( ), processes that make brewing physically easier, such as smaller batches, automation, pumps, etc., also have the potential to keep more brewers in the game longer, and to attract new hobbyists who for whatever reason don't find moving large amounts of liquid and grain appealing or even possible. The homebrew shops selling those one-gallon kits are on to something.

Drew brought up making mead when he had insomnia. When I wake up with the "committee in my head" chattering away, one method I use for quieting by brain and getting back to sleep is designing a highly accessible brew stand that eliminates heavy lifting, among other goals. The "universal design brew stand" could be an interesting AHA research competition.

Anyway, thanks again for a great episode.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Leak?
« on: September 15, 2018, 04:08:39 PM »
Keg maintenance can suck up a lot of time and effort.

For homebrewers who brew only a few times a year, if completely added up, it's possible that the time spent kegging would equal the time spent bottling. But it's a different quality of time.

To me, bottling feels like a chore and it was a hurdle of chore-dom into an otherwise fun hobby. Kegging seems easier in the drudgework department, but its entry point requires more effort and investment and its problems are more intellectually challenging (leaks, line balancing, avoiding oxygen ingress, faucets, etc.). It can be frustrating to wake up to find that you skipped a step and overnight all the CO2 in your tank went flying out two loose QDs (as happened to me last week), but it's not laborious and messy the way filling dozens of bottles is.

For a hobby, it boils down to what you find satisfying and pleasurable to do. Few of us are brewing because we don't have access to beer.

Kegging and Bottling / Factors for keg carbonation rates
« on: September 15, 2018, 03:52:56 PM »
This is largely an academic question, but it's one I've pondered without points for comparison.

I exclusively keg in 3 and 2.5 gallon kegs, and I "set and forget" the kegs and typically only tap them on weekends, so I'm not really sure at what point they become ready.

It seems logical to me that at the same temp and PSI small kegs would carb up faster (a quantity of gas is being absorbed into a quantity of liquid at a set rate) but it wouldn't be the first time I learned new "beer math." I see a lot of reports of "ten days" for carbing and my hunch is it's more like 7 days or less for me, but there are a lot of variables to consider, including the meaning of "ready." 

I am also curious about the variables of head spaces and wort gravity.

I'm also guessing that two small kegs on the same manifold and regulator will carb at the same rate.

All Grain Brewing / Re: pale malt difference
« on: August 30, 2018, 02:09:56 AM »
I just tasted a gravity & pH sample from my first brew with Simpson's Golden Promise (I know, how did I not get to this before.)  I think I'm in love.
I like the GP from Simpsons over other maltster.

My LHBS started carrying Simpson's Golden Promise over a year ago and I love the flavor in my brews. I was worried it wouldn't get enough use for them to continue, but they tell me distillers like it as well. I recently used it in an ESB, but I've used it in a number of places where it supposedly wasn't the right malt. Made for a yummy if unusual take on California Common.

1.10 is quite high for a red.  A few questions will be asked so let's get some of them out of way right off the bat:

1)  What did your recipe look like?
       1a) what size batch was it?
2)  What temp did you take your OG reading ( after cooling the wort or while still hot)?
3)  Did you do a 3 gallon boil and add in water to top off to 5 gallons?
       3a) Did you stir it really well to avoid stratifaication of the sugars and clear water layers?
4)  Did you check the calibration of your hydrometer in distilled (or at least room temp tap) water?

Those are the first questions that come to mind right off.


2) I took the OG reading after cooling the wort to about 65 degrees.

Hey, look at you getting the temperature down to 65 degrees! That's great.

The beer is probably fine. It took me years to realize that wort (even all-grain wort) needs to be stirred before taking a gravity reading.

You could test your hydrometer (something new to learn while you're waiting for the beer to become beer) but I'm guessing it's just fine too.

Thanks for the info guys!  Really appreciate it.  Particularly the tip about avoiding glass fermenters.

I think I'm gonna start off with this kit:

It comes with:

6.5 gallon fermentor w/ lid & Bubbler airlock
Bottling Bucket w/Spigot assembly
Fermenter's Favorites Bottle filler
5 Gallon Stainless Brew Kettle
21” Stainless Spoon
Siphon, 5 ft. Siphon Tubing & Siphon Tube Holder
Cleaner/Sanitizer - Fermenter's Favorites Oxygen Wash
Bottle Brush

On top of that, I'm also planning to buy a thermometer, hydrometer, and immersion chiller, as it sounds like they're all quite important pieces. I'd like a bigger kettle as well but I'll start with the one in the kit and then eventually probably upgrade to a 10 or 15 gallon kettle.

Are there any crucial pieces of equipment that I'm missing here?

As I think others are suggesting, for your first batch, you could skip the immersion chiller ($50) and chill in the kitchen sink. Buy two bags of ice so that you can be extra sure to get your wort under 70 degrees. Then if you decide you like brewing, you could spring for more gear.

What I'm not seeing on that list is sanitizer. The "Fermenter's Favorite Oxygen Wash" looks a lot like Oxyclean, but how does it sanitize? It's not very much, whatever it is. Personally, I'd throw in a bottle of Star San ($13 from Northern Brewer) and a $1 spray bottle from your local hardware store.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Question about using figs.
« on: August 21, 2018, 07:19:24 PM »
I kegged the brews Saturday, and got my first real taste last night (Monday). I'm having another glass now, and I don't get a lot of fig character from it. Certainly there's a hint of something derived from figs, but it's not the same as eating a nice ripe fig.

Can something be gained from putting the figs in the mash instead of the secondary?


It could be that Celeste figs aren't that intense. Around here figs are in season, and in eating side by side with other figs, Mission figs have the strongest flavor; the others can be very tasty (Tiger, Osborne Prolific, etc.) but don't match the Mission in that deep figgyness. It's also possible Denny's method of heating the figs in a wok brings out the figgy flavor better.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Favorite Beer Drinking Scene
« on: August 18, 2018, 09:49:23 PM »
My favorite scene is from the John Sayles movie, Brother from another Planet. Two alien detectives hunting down the fugitive alien go into a bar and order two beers -- on the rocks.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottling from keg
« on: August 18, 2018, 08:41:26 PM »
I've used nothing but picnic taps for 20 years.  To bottle, I put a piece of tubing through a one hole #2 (maybe 2 1/2) stopper.  The diameter of the tubing is such that it fits inside one of the picnic taps, and and it's long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle while sticking up a few inches above the stopper.  I unscrew a QD from one of my CO lines and use that line to purge the bottle.  I put the end of the tubing into a picnic tap and seat the stopper in the bottle.  I open the picnic tap and the bottle fils about 1/3 of the way before back pressure stops the flow.  I then use my thumb to gently crack the stopper just a bit, so the flow starts again. When the bottle is full, I close the picnic tap, remove the stopper and cap.  Easy, cheap, and effective.

This does sound easy, and simple to get parts for. As a related question, when purging with CO2, I am wildly guessing because of course, it's not visible. For a bottle, would three seconds be about right? And I assume CO2 will float away pretty quickly so I should purge, fill, & cap each bottle at a time?

Kegging and Bottling / Atmospheric pressure and AHA kegging instructions
« on: August 18, 2018, 02:10:52 PM »
AHA's kegging guide states: "Now it’s time to rack beer into the keg. To do this without introducing oxygen, first pull the pressure relief valve on the keg to drop the internal pressure to atmospheric."

Does that mean pull the PRV until the hissing stops? Up to now I have kegged by draining from the fermenter into the keg using a piece of tubing (my fermenters are all modified 5-gallon food grade buckets with spigots) then purging the headspace, and the beer is definitely better than when I bottled. But in the interest of reducing oxygen exposure I'm trying to work up the nerve to try this method.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottling from keg
« on: August 18, 2018, 01:53:41 PM »

.... Also do the "picnic taps" work ok when dispensing beer?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

I have been using picnic taps for several years (since I started kegging) and they work fine. I am contemplating an Intertap keg faucet though for the price, picnic taps are pretty decent.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What's Brewing this Weekend?
« on: August 18, 2018, 02:32:18 AM »
This afternoon a student worker at our university gifted me with half a grocery bag of fresh hops -- he wasn't sure what they were, but the LHBS lady thinks Cascade. I rearranged my schedule to get to the LHBS tonight and prep for an early brew day tomorrow (I'm an early riser, so if I don't have my strike water heating by 5:30 AM I consider myself wasting the day away). The fresh hops are in the fridge in a bag. I'm doing my take on Denny Conn's Wry Smile, something I brewed five or six times a few years back, nearly always with great results. Bittering with Columbus, then a massive whirlpool with the wet hops. Using White Labs San Diego yeast because the LHBS was out of Wyeast American Ale II.

The student worker (who is of drinking age  :) ) is very excited that I am doing this and it may push me into getting a beer gun so I can bottle from a keg, or I might give him a growler. Haven't bottled since I started kegging several years ago. Funny, two weeks ago was my first brew in 14 months and now I'm rushing to do a second! I finally made a brew gear checklist to make it easy to bring my gear from garage to kitchen (I brew 3 gallon batches and use the kitchen gas range).

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What's Brewing this Weekend?
« on: August 10, 2018, 10:35:30 PM »
Finally brewed this Tuesday, on a staycation day, the first time in 14 months. In between was buying a new home, the household move, a bazillion post-move projects and errands, the NorCal wildfires last fall (not too near us thankfully, but definitely an "event" where we ended up sheltering in place for a week), planting 18 rosebushes, stepping up the out-of-state visits to my 90-year-old mom, and a couple months on a low-carb diet to work off the extra pounds from a stressful year.

After a pleasant visit to my LHBS, I brewed a 3-gallon batch of ESB with Golden Promise and a dash of crystal malt and Kent Goldings, and pitched Wyeast ESB yeast. Everything went smoothly. I refreshed myself on how to adjust settings on my Johnson controller and got the fermenter in the little fridge, where it has been fermenting just like it should. I'm looking forward to kegging the batch. I lost an ancient fridge in the move that I used for the kegs so for a bit I'll be doing sequential batches.

I wish I would have skipped extract and started with BIAB. Of course, BIAB didn’t exist then.

PS. I now brew 3 gallon batches. I think you should size your batch based on what you can consume. My wife doesn’t drink and I don’t have friends over a lot to drink. So it’s mostly just me. I take growlers to parties a few times a year.

I brew 3 gallon batches for similar reasons, PLUS, I wish I had known that brewing smaller is physically much easier throughout the brewing process. Moving from 5-gallon to 3-gallon batches was a revelation.

I wish I had skipped my "partial mash" phase and either started with all-grain or gone from extract to all-grain.   I wish I had focused more on temperature control early on, particularly mash temp, post-boil chilling, and fermentation temp.

I mulled over whether I wish I had gone straight to kegging rather than all the bottling I did for six years, but sometimes processes seem easy because you forget what it took to learn how to do them, and kegging is a spendy investment if you're not sure you will be a regular brewer.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Split up brew Day...?
« on: March 19, 2018, 04:04:19 PM »
Agree with other posters - mash overnight with full water volume and skip the sparge. It's a revelation when you try this as it makes the main brew day very quick and simple.

OP has some very experienced brewers responding that they do not do runoff until morning, so take that into account, but I have done no-sparge mashes and run off the mash the previous night and had the kettle on the stove ready to go. I do 3-gallon batches so I boil on the kitchen range, which makes the workflow perfect (wake up and turn on the range before I even get my coffee water going; by the time I'm fully awake, the wort is close to boiling). I haven't noticed any detrimental effects to the finished product.

I always do no-sparge mashes anyway, so no adjustment needed for my favorite recipes. Love the bready fragrance when I get up, and it cuts the brew day in half.

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