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Messages - pfooti

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Beer Travel / Re: Washington, D.C. area and the Delaware coast!
« on: May 21, 2011, 07:40:55 PM »
Don't listen to anybody that advises you to eat Grotto Pizza whilst in DE. I lived there for 5 years and still couldn't figure it out.

On rehoboth beach, there is a great small fish-n-chips place. I think it's called the london underground, but I'm not 100% certain about that. In addition to fantastic fish and chips, they have a battered, deep-fried sausage that's to die for.

Hmm, that's a really good idea. Thanks, I'll give it a shot.

Kegging and Bottling / (California) Bulk glass bottle suppliers?
« on: May 13, 2011, 10:26:34 AM »
Hey forums,

I have a need for 22 oz bottles in rather large supply (not for homebrew beer, but other uses). I'm wondering if anybody has had any experience finding wholesale suppliers who would provide a couple hundred or so bottles. My LHBS (which is very nice) has a pretty good price of $1.00 per, but if I could find a way to drop the per-bottle price to $0.50 or so, my life would suddenly be a lot easier. I've found some wholesalers online, but they tend to be on the east coast and shipping wipes out pretty much all the gains made there.

Bottling my lemongrass-rye cream ale and hopefully brewing the Nutty Man southern english brown from Brewing Classic Styles as part of my brew-through of that book.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Fermcap S
« on: May 12, 2011, 10:47:37 AM »
I'd done some research on Fermcap a while back; my understanding was that quite a bit of it adsorbed to the yeast as they flocculated and dropped (otherwise you'd have lousy head on your beer).

Personally, I don't use Fermcap to control boilovers. You can prevent most boilovers (if you get them a lot) by just turning off the heat when you get to 210° F or thereabouts and holding for 10 minutes. A lot of boilovers occur because the hot break proteins start to coagulate and form a pretty robust foam. After a few minutes, they've formed much heavier clumps and end up just floating in in your wort looking like egg drop soup (another coagulated protein). I used to do long-boil batches on an 8 gallon pot (so I'd fill the pot to 7.5 gallons to get to my proper postboil volume) without anything but a 10 minute hold just before 212. No problem. Since then, I've gotten a much bigger pot, so I'm not too worried about boilover anyway.

On the other hand I still do use Fermcap-S. I toss it in right at the end of the boil (or sometimes directly into the fermentor buckets) to keep foam under control during transfer, aeration, and high kraeusen. I can fill a standard ale pail fermentor with at least six gallons of wort with no fear of blow-off. I use about 25% - 50% of the recommended dosing level and still get really nice foam control. All that translates to about 10% more beer per batch.

I have also seen it claimed (although not empirically proven) that PDMS will actually improve head retention in certain circumstances because you end up losing fewer foam-positive compounds in blowoff during fermentation.

... runs over to google scholar ...

Huh, lookit that. My affiliation with a university means that in addition to the normal journals I subscribe to, I can also get ASBCJ and other brewing science stuff. Good thing I married a chemist, I can even figure out what they mean some of the time. I'll look more into whether anyone has researched the effects of PDMS on the finished beer.

Equipment and Software / Combination Sous-Vide and HERMS/RIMS setup
« on: May 12, 2011, 10:30:46 AM »
Lately, I've been experimenting with sous vide cooking. Vacuum seal the meat, drop it in a cooler with some water (I already have calibrated my cooler, and I have a thermapen). My setup loses some temp over time, so it's really the quickie sous vide that I can do right now: 60 minute steak or eggs, stuff like that. I want to build a regular recirculator.

At the same time, I'm dealing with mash temp control on my current brewing setup. Moving to a bigger system means direct-fire mashing is something of a PITA. I'd rather heat things to strike temp with my gas burners but then move to a set-and-forget electric system to hold mash temps.

Seems like I ought to be able to double up on these things. The hardware needs to accomplish the same thing: hold a liquid at a constant temperature for an extended period of time. I would like some advice before finalizing my design, though. Here's what I've got.

Currently my brewing setup is a 1/2 bbl thing based on 30 gallon pots, direct-fire gas burners. It's a 2-tier system with the HLT high and gravity feeding down into the MLT during the sparge. I have a single march pump for transfers and recirculation. In the three brews I've run on the system to date, I've been able to hold mash temps relatively constant without too much wild swings, but it's a big pain.

I've got a PID, thermocouple, and SSR on order. What I need to figure out is what to hook things up to. I'm also handy enough with wiring and construction that I'm confident I won't electrocute myself or the mash. Right now I have two basic ideas.

Thing one: a direct-heat system. I box up the assembly either as a single unit or maybe split into controller / heater units separately, with a heating element sticking straight out of it. It would look something like this, although probably with a LWD water heater element instead (and like I said maybe have the controller box separate). I could attach this directly to a medium sized cooler for sous vide, or find a way to run wort over the heating elements during the recirculation for mashing.

Thing two: a HERMS getup. I could work with my old five gallon pot and convert it to a HERMS setup. The heating element would be permanently mounted to the bottom of the pot and there'd be a coil for heat exchanging (either copper or stainless, depending mainly on budget issues). When mashing, I'd use it just like a normal HERMS system (although unlike traditional herms getups, I wouldn't be using the HLT as the HERMS vessel). When cooking, I'd just suspend all the food in the water bath itself. Theoretically, I could probably make the coil into a convenient basket shape so it would hold the food bags easily (and keep them off of the hot water heater element.

My current thinking is that the HERMS version is probably more likely to be useful and effective, but the RIMS version would be a lot cheaper and easier to build.

The third way I was thinking about it would be to just build a straight-up RIMS tube thing. I could either circulate wort through it or water. That's also pretty simple.

Advice? Ideas?

Thanks for the advice. I have brewed the Evil Twin (more or less) in the past, it was probably a subconscious influence at least. That's definitely where I first used Pale Chocolate.

I managed to actually *drink* a drake's expedition yesterday. Less mouthfeel than I would have expected based on their description of it. I also like the flavor and aroma of my version more; so I will indeed punch up the late hop additions.

I really like the idea of subbing specB for c120. I ordered some golden naked oats from NB, they probably can play the role that victory plays, I don't want to overdo the toast flavors. I figure on some mix like

75% 2-row
10% munich
5% gnoats
5% c40
2.5% specB
2.5% something black- chocolate 350+, black roast barley, or the like.

Here's one that's a bit complicated.

When I visit the site, I usually hit the "view unread posts" link. Kudos for being the only homebrew forum that has a "mark all posts read" on the unread-list search page, by the way. TBN and NB don't have that, and HBT's is hidden.

On the unread-list search page, however, if there's more than one page of actual new posts, there's a subtle bug that will make you miss posts. If you click a link on page one and then go to page two of the list, the post that WAS at the top of page two bumps to the bottom of page one (were you to go back to page one, it would be there). That's because the "unread posts" list is regenerated when you hit the "go to page 2" link, and that list has one less element in it (the one you clicked on).

In order to work around this, I just start at the last page and move to the first, instead of starting on page 1.

I'd appreciate it if this didn't happen. There are a number of ways to fix it. You can make it a lot less apparent by making the unread-posts page return more than just 10 or so posts per page; 50 per page would mean I hardly ever had to page around. You can make the unread-posts page return in reverse chronological order, so the oldest new posts are on p1. Or you can change the manner in which the unread-posts page is generated to mean "posts made since my last visit" instead of "posts I haven't explicitly marked read yet", or just find a clever way to maintain the search results list while I page around in them without having to regenerate the list each time. Dunno if caching that search instead of re-running it each time saves on database load or not.

The Pub / Re: It's Started Already...
« on: May 03, 2011, 07:18:47 AM »
A while back, when I was a young potato, I investigated venomous snakes and snakebites. I was just starting to get into backpacking and other backcountry activities, and wanted to be prepared. I found this USFS report on snakes, snakebites, and readiness. A few key factors were:

  • Most snakebites (from US snakes) are dangerous but not fall-over-dead deadly.
  • Poison sucking, from a venom extractor or by mouth is pretty much worthless.
  • The vast majority of snakebite victims are male with elevated blood-alcohol levels

It's that last bullet that's most telling. The report actually had the phrase "drunken male yahooism" in it as a reason why that statistic might exist. If I were going to lie with statistics, I'd say that snakes like drunk people. But for truth, it probably helps support Punatic's point: most snakes (not all) aren't all that interested in biting people, provided you leave them alone.

As I understand it, yeast from white labs, wyeast and the like are all extra-carefully prepared and washed down with distilled water at the optimum level of dormancy. In other words, they do some stuff to extend the shelf-life of the yeast. I've definitely heard of some people using yeast that they rinsed themselves and kept refrigerated for months. I tend to use the repitch/washed part of the calculator, but crank up the supposed yeast density only measuring the compact bit at the bottom of the jar.

The Pub / Re: Post your local Gas Prices here...
« on: May 02, 2011, 12:13:22 PM »
$4.30 for a gallon of regular at the station I filled up my scooter at. I had to splurge on the high-octane stuff (4.50 for 93 octane), since the scooter runs on that. On the other hand, I get about 50 - 70 MPG, so I'm not sweating the gas prices as much as other people.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
« on: May 02, 2011, 12:10:23 PM »
Oak Barrel carries wyeast, most strains. Ironically, so does William's Brewing which apparently doesn't have a brick-and-mortar storefront, so whenever I need to order from them, I have to pay five bucks to have my stuff shipped via UPS from san leandro to san francisco. At that point, I tend to order from Northern Brewer just because I feel like I'm getting my money's worth, shipping-wise. But yeah, you should be able to get 1272 from oak barrel.

Thanks for the advice. I guess I wasn't really clear (upon re-reading the post, it's clear I was unclear). I'm not exactly trying to go for a BIPA/CDA/IBA style beer here, but instead an Imperial Red Ale, or maybe an Imperial American Brown Ale.

Specifically; I want something with more roast and raisin notes, but also hoppiness, rather than a dark IPA. That is why I was channeling the Drake's Expedition recipe rather than the Supremely Self-Righteous one (can you tell I'm a west-coaster?)

I'll take a look at the carafa though- that seems like a pretty good idea. I want the flavor of the highly-roasted barley without the extra bitterness that comes from the very black roasts. I'll have enough bitterness with the hop additions, and I've had problems in the past with overdoing the black grains.

Beer Recipes / Imperial Red / Drake's Expedition - Advice needed
« on: April 28, 2011, 08:36:20 AM »
I'm fiddling around with my own take on the IBA/CDA category. This is what I brewed last time:

7 lb American 2-row
5 lb Munich 10L Malt
1 lb Carared
1 lb Oat Flakes
8 oz C 120°L
4 oz Pale Chocolate 200L

0.75 oz Warrior (16.0%) - 60 min
0.5 oz Centennial (10.0%) - 20 min
0.5 oz Simcoe (12.7%) - 20 min
0.25 oz Centennial (10.0%) - 5 min
0.25 oz Simcoe (12.7%) - 5 min
0.5 oz Amarillo (11.2%) - dry
0.5 oz Citra (11.1%) - dry

It worked pretty well, I think. Kind of a beefy american brown ale or riff on the CDA style (but more malty than as I understand the dark-IPA style). I mashed at 152F, hit 1.070 OG, 1.014 FG, and used Pacman yeast. This time around, I'm using 1056 (I'm getting really poor bottle-conditioning with a lot of my Pacman batches) instead. I'd also like to shift the recipe around. I'd love some feedback.

Here are some specific things I'm thinking about:

1) Change the oatmeal. I put that in there because Drakes Expedition Ale has oatmeal (or so they claim). I like it in oatmeal stouts a lot, but I think maybe just shifting to either wheat malt or a bit of carapils would be better. Unsure about this, but I'm mostly putting it in here for body and mouthfeel.

2) Swap the pale chocolate for a darker chocolate malt or a mix of chocolate and roast barley. I like the general taste of the beer, but I feel like it could use a little more roastiness.

3) Definitely change the carared for traditional C40, since I have about thirty pounds of C40 in my garage. Probably reduce the amount added to 12 ounces, since I'm not using pacman anymore (which seems to attenuate better, especially in crystal-heavy recipes).

4) Probably change the hopping schedule to include a 30 minute whirlpool / hopstand with the 5 minute additions. Just recently started doing that, and I like how it works with the late hop additions. Also worth noting that I actually brew on an 18 gallon batch size, but I figured the recipe would be more approachable at this size. So a half-hour whirlpool only drops my wort to about 175F or thereabouts.

5) Might bump down the warrior a tad and bump up the 20-minute additions on balance. More flavor, same bittering. I am worried though about the array of hops used here. That's a lot of different stuff. The beer doesn't taste muddled as-is, but I'm worried that if I mess with it, it will start tasting muddled and kitchen-sinky.

Overall, my goal is to take this beer and push it ever-so-slightly in a more toast-with-marmalade direction. A bit more citrus hops, a bit more roast from the malt.

Equipment and Software / Re: Initial Therminator sanitation
« on: April 24, 2011, 09:46:24 AM »
Yeah, I circulated a medium-strength PBW solution through it for a while before first use. You can bake it (refer to your instructions) to sterilize it, but it's not particularly necessary unless you have a known infection. I just circulate starsan through it (and my whole cold-side setup) during the last bit of the boil for everyday use. Seems to work fine.

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