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Messages - leejoreilly

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1
Equipment and Software / Re: Stir Plates
« on: June 27, 2015, 07:54:13 AM »
A stir plate is an unnecessary expense.  Your money is better spent on other gear.  Perform an advanced search using my user name as the poster and "stir plate" as the search term, and you will discover why a stir plate is little more than home brewing snake oil.

While I agree with Mark that a stir plate may not be "necessary", I also feel that it is certainly convenient, and at the very least does no noticeable harm. I have one and have gotten excellent results from it (which I admittedly might have gotten from the "shake it and walk away" method, too). And brewers love toys, so that's a plus. I recommend http://www.stirstarters.com/

2
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: What makes a lager a lager?
« on: June 27, 2015, 07:41:28 AM »

You wouldn't use a neutral ale yeast in a hefe wort and call it a hefe?

You would if you are Widmer Brewing.
You are the brewer you decide what you want. Sometimes we just get hung up on stereotypes.

I agree; it's your beer, call it what you want. But to be TECHNICALLY correct, I'd say a lager has to be fermented with a lager yeast. You can certainly brew a "lager-like" ale, but it's not technically a lager. Heck, you can call it a Chardonnay, if you like.

I have now split my limit of hairs for the day...


3
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Purging Keg
« on: June 23, 2015, 06:03:48 AM »
I would say it's a best practice, but won't kill your beer.

I agree the Steve. Like many aspects of home brewing, there are "best practices" and "good enoughs". If you look at the subjects that occasionally cause some controversy here on the forum (stir plates, rehydrating, various sanitation details, aeration, etc.), most fall into this category. The best practices give you the best chances of making great beer, but the you may get by on "good enoughs" for many, many batches without a problem. The odds are with the best practices, though.

4
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Temperature for priming sugar solution?
« on: June 23, 2015, 05:53:53 AM »
It's been a long time since I bottled, but I've always thought that cooling the priming sugar solution wasn't necessary. Since the volume of sugar solution (maybe a cup or so) is so small compared to the 5 gallons of beer the temperature of the beer+solution will stabilize very near the beer's original temp without affecting the yeast needed to carb. Just toss the sugar solution into the bottling bucket, rack in the beer (which mixes in the sugar) and go.

5
All Grain Brewing / Re: When to FWH?
« on: June 21, 2015, 08:15:12 AM »
I put them in my kettle just before first runnings, then don't change anything from my normal process. This means proceed straight on to the batch sparge, then right to the burner to start heating up for the boil.

+1

6
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: First brew, need advice.
« on: June 11, 2015, 05:58:33 AM »
I am still unsure if the iodine solution I use for sanitation will affect the taste of the beer after a quick rinse, so I decided not to drop the hydrometer into the fermenter itself.

First off, welcome to the obsession and the forum!

I have two bits of advice for you. First, ditch the iodine-based sanitizer and get some StarSan; it's easy to use either by dipping equipment in a dilute solution of it or putting some of the solution in a spray bottle and dampening surfaces with it. In those concentrations, it has virtually no taste, and you don't have to wait for it to dry. Second, get in the habit of tasting your hydrometer samples (another reason to avoid the iodine stuff); there's lots of sensory info for you in how your "young" beer is progressing flavor-wise.

7
All Grain Brewing / Re: Westvleteren Beer Color
« on: June 10, 2015, 04:41:30 AM »
Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't dark candy syrup just basically table sugar plus some water, heated to a certain temperature to caramelize to the desired color?

8
Ingredients / Re: BrunWater lactic acid additions
« on: May 26, 2015, 01:54:50 PM »
I'm pretty sensitive to the taste of lactic in the finished beer, so I limit my total input to under 4 ml or so.
I'm more sensitive to the aroma, which is why I changed to phosphoric.  My LHBS gets the 75% version, so amounts are pretty close to the same (I use Bru'nwater to calculate amounts), but no real impact on aroma/flavor.

I've gone to phosphoric, too, but I'm using the 10%. I've heard that the 75% is strong enough to be borderline dangerous. I don't ever really need to use that much, so the weaker (safer?) stuff suffices.

9
Ingredients / Re: BrunWater lactic acid additions
« on: May 26, 2015, 05:07:06 AM »
With Bru'nwater, it basically assumes you're dialing it in correctly beforehand.  You shouldn't need to adjust on the fly unless you've entered your water values incorrectly (or the water company has made seasonal changes to their treatment).

I agree with Toby, that Bru'nwater assumes you get it right, first shot. But if for some reason you don't, I think you could estimate the effect of "sneaking up" on your desired mash pH in Bru'nwater by increasing the lactic dosage slightly on the "Water Adjustment" tab and seeing what it does to estimated mash pH in the "Adjustment Summary" tab. That should give you some feel for how much additional lactic it'll take to drop your pH by, say, an additional tenth of a point.

I'd advise waiting until 15-20 minutes or so into your mash to measure your pH so that you see the full effect from your grains. Also, I'm pretty sensitive to the taste of lactic in the finished beer, so I limit my total input to under 4 ml or so.

10
Ingredients / Re: Water adjustment approach?
« on: May 07, 2015, 05:06:00 AM »
I've found that our Michigan tap water is a pretty good starting point for brewing. I add some campden tabs to get rid of chloramines, and then fine-tune according to BrunWater - usually fairly minor additions depending on style and grain bill.

11
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Coming....Now What?
« on: April 25, 2015, 06:25:14 AM »
I know I'll need a couple of quick disconnects, and some lines as well. Why are there so many options here?
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/couplers/balllock.shtml


Do you also need some sort of clips or clamps for the gas/ beer lines?

I use hose clamps on my gas lines because I initially turn the pressure up to about 30 psi to seal the keg and jump-start carbing. Probably belt-and-suspenders, but that's what us anal guys do. I don't use them on beer lines, since they only see serving pressure.

12
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Cold Crashing
« on: April 25, 2015, 06:04:47 AM »
I go from the fermenter straight to a keg, into the kegerator to carb and cold crash at the same time.

13
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: try at batch sparging
« on: March 24, 2015, 03:16:39 PM »
If changing won't make better beer, why change? Great question!

At some point this question might come up. If person A is doing something that works great for them, why would person B be so adamant that person A should change? Especially if person B has nothing riding on it and will never try person A's beer. If A is struggling and looking for a remedy, I get it.

And I believe kludge is in the eye of the beholder guys. Just sayin...

I agree with you Jim.  My responses to Lee were based on his assertions that pumps and a sparge arm are necessary to continuous sparge, and that anything short of a complex setup when continuous sparging was a kludge. 

Mark, I think we're on the same page. My point was only that I'd have to do SOMETHING different to perform a continuous sparge - either acquire some additional equipment or what I was terming a "kludge", or both. My definition for "kludge" in this case was some (relatively) inelegant rearrangement of existing equipment in my kitchen to support a continuous sparge via gravity feed. And if that effort wouldn't be likely to result in better beer, it would be simply for the experience of trying something different.

To that point, do you think that either sparge method makes a significant difference in the beer, at homebrew scale?

14
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: try at batch sparging
« on: March 23, 2015, 06:13:59 AM »
If I were to go to fly sparging, I'd need a pump, some valves, hoses and a sparge arm, or some sort of Rube Goldberg kludge.

I continuous sparge in my kitchen without a pump or a sparge arm in the cold winter months.  In fact, I have never used a pump to continuous sparge, and I have been continuous sparging since 1993.  I place my hot liquor back (HLB) on my counter.  My mash/lauter tun (MLT) rests on a chair, and the vessel in which I collect runoff sits atop an insulator on my kitchen floor.  While nice to have, a sparge arm is not a "must have" when continuous sparging.   All one needs to do is maintain the liquid level in one's MLT such that it is about an inch above the top of the mash bed, which is easily accomplished by running tubing from one's HLB into one's MLT and adjusting the HLB and MLT flow rates such that they match.  The end of the tubing from the HLB can be left danging in the MLT.

I'm sure it would be do-able; kludgey, maybe, but do-able. My major argument against the process change is based more on inertia - if the change won't result in better beer, why change? I can see some value in trying it just for the sake of the experience, but that's not a huge impetus.

15
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: try at batch sparging
« on: March 21, 2015, 06:38:54 AM »
From where I sit, it appears that the fly/batch sparge question is really centers around personal preference. There may be some (minor) differences in efficiencies and time requirements, but 1) I'm retired, so I'm pretty much immune to time-based arguments, and 2) this is my hobby, so some inefficiency is perfectly acceptable so long as my enjoyment level stays high. I'm sure I'd feel differently if I ran a commercial brewhouse. Or if there was some evidence that one technique produced measurably better beer. But I don't, and there isn't (that I've seen).

There is one point that does seem to differentiate the techniques, though: the equipment requirements. I do a batch sparge in a version of a Denny-cooler in my kitchen, using two 5 gallon HLT/BKs. My kettles don't have any valves, and I don't use a pump. I usually heat pre-measured water for my mash in one kettle and sparge water in the second (I actually have a smaller third kettle for top-off or additional sparge, if needed). If I were to go to fly sparging, I'd need a pump, some valves, hoses and a sparge arm, or some sort of Rube Goldberg kludge. Not a huge deal, but i would take some degree of cost and effort to switch, and I'm not likely to do so without the potential of a better result.

Nothing against fly sparging; just nothing pushing me toward it.

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