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Messages - afacini

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All Grain Brewing / Sour mashing technique - how to be precise?
« on: October 09, 2012, 08:08:39 AM »
Over the course of the past few years, I've worked on and perfected a berliner weisse recipe that is pretty delicious. I can definitely share the recipe if anyone is interested.

My issue is this: I've never yet been able to get a sour mash to run successfully. Instead, I've taken the shortcut to add lactic acid at packaging to the tune of exactly 3.75 fl oz (at 88% dilution).

Knowing this, I want to reattempt a sour mash, so that my BW can be "truer." But as I have another go, I want to try and reach this ~3.3 oz of acid to keep the recipe intact. How does one control the sour mash fermentation, and is it possible to gauge the amount of acid produced?

Thanks as always.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: New Carbonation Issues For Me
« on: May 14, 2012, 11:59:59 AM »
How can contamination have that much of an effect?

Wild yeasts/bacteria can ferment out more complex sugars than brewers strains can. It doesnt take much brettanomyces or whatever else to ferment out beer from 1.010 to 1.001. Thats quite a bit of co2 being generated in that little bottle.

This is an actual, good answer. Thanks. I didn't consider the CO2 outputs of wild contaminants. Brain strikes again.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Consensus on racking out of primary?
« on: May 14, 2012, 11:57:55 AM »
Keg-hopping is something my friend does, and he swears by it. I've yet to try one of those, however...

Kegging and Bottling / Re: New Carbonation Issues For Me
« on: May 14, 2012, 11:11:06 AM »
You really should disassemble/clean your spigot every time you bottle. I had exactly the same issue as you're having, and I traced it back to a dirty bottling spigot.

How can contamination at this point have that much of an effect over 5 gallons of beer? It isn't as if the spigot was hiding an extra 2oz of sugar...? Plus, if it's a matter of competition... wouldn't that mean less yeast activity, not more?

And for Mr. Swayze: I've had this problem more than a couple of times. It always comes down to inexact priming sugar measurement on my part. "Ah, that's not enough, look at it! Just drop in another scoop. It'll be fine." Stupid brain.

4-6oz for most beers. The highest successful pitch I've had for priming sugar was 8oz for my steam beer. That was brown sugar, actually. I recommend trying it out.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Consensus on racking out of primary?
« on: May 14, 2012, 11:05:10 AM »
Sounds great, so this seems to be more of a consensus than I thought.

Yeast and Fermentation / Consensus on racking out of primary?
« on: May 14, 2012, 10:40:10 AM »
Common advice is to go with 2-stage fermentation (especially for heavier worts) to avoid having the fermenting beer sit upon the trub. I've read other opinions, which say that there's no harm, and sometimes even added benefits, to have the fermentation take place on top of the spent yeast.

Basically, I would like to know the consensus about this. I have a 6.5 gal conical, so I've been able to get away with a "middle ground" approach (having much less surface area for trub to be in contact). What do you think is best practice?

(This might get filed with the controversial "don't sparge" movement, heh)

Going Pro / Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« on: April 18, 2012, 05:48:37 PM »
I own a business and whenever I post an ad I get a few responses that they will work for me but have no experience.  Which means they have no skills and they expect me to provide the training.
My question to you is what skills do you have that makes you qualified to work at a brewery. Drinking beer isn't a qualification.
What skills do you have? Did you go to college or trade school. Do you really want a blue collar job that is hard work? Brewing is a small part of owning a brewery.
Maybe you change your approach and quit whining about why you can't get a job in a brewery as a brewer. I would put my name on the list at one of the brewing schools and get a degree in subject that is a good fit for a brewer.
Your only 24 and I hired kid your age last year and he couldn't keep up with one of my 36 hour days I get to do on occasion and I had to send him home to sleep while I finished up the job. Brewing like any other blue collar job is hard physical work.
I will be opening a brewery one day but I doubt I will be the brewer, there will be many other thinks like cleaning, welding, remodeling and repairing things that my life long resume will be better suited for.  Todd

In the interest of trying not to sound like I'm whining (thanks for that, by the way)...

I went to a 4-year university.
The only appreciable skills I have towards brewing itself is my limited experience in homebrewing.
Yes, I really would enjoy a blue collar job where sweat + long days = satisfaction. I don't like or appreciate white collar working life.

As I wrote above, I'm trying. If homebrewing like a maniac is the best I can afford (financially / logistically) at the moment, that's what I'll do. When I can, I will see if I can add on a second job working for free in a local brewery. Like you said, however, 36-hour work days don't exactly jive with having to have a day job to pay rent and loans.

Also, I'm not expecting to step into brewing without any sort of formal lesson/experience. Starting a brewery takes so much more than the actual brewing, and I know that. Like you, it probably won't be me behind-the-wheel of the brewhouse. But I want to be ready to pitch in wherever I can.

I'm sorry your 24-year old didn't work out. But assuming that I'm anything like that person is like assuming that, since you own your own business, you're probably greedy. I know, because once I had an experience with a greedy business owner. Side-note: in college, I worked 8-hour overnights Mon-Thurs on top of my doing school during the day.

Basically, this is exactly the kind of response that set off my first post (which is over a month old at this point).

Todd, best of luck opening that brewery. That's why we're all here. I hope the initial part of this post went some length to help (before it got off-track).

Going Pro / Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« on: March 15, 2012, 02:20:44 PM »

Phew. That was longer than expected. I hope it doesn't come off too angry, it's just frustration. I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience the many rude dismissals from industry personnel (equipment manufacturers and real estate folks, especially). It's almost too much to bear sometimes.

I think it's not necessarily meant to be rude.  Just take into account that these people are also doing their jobs, and if you don't have any money they're not going to be terribly interested in spending their time on you.  Come back with some investors and things will change.

True enough. I try to be apologetic and prompt with people whose time I'm taking up with estimate-gathering, etc. It's one thing, however, to be understandably busy and unwilling to talk at-length. It's another to be summarily dismissive and to add passing insults.

Going Pro / Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« on: March 15, 2012, 01:11:56 PM »
I don't mean to sound dickish - so please don't take this the wrong way. But if you still haven't learned to brew all grain yet I feel the compulsion to dissuade you from even considering opening a brewery. There is so much to learn to make a good beer on a large scale and even though extract brewing is a feasible approach it is way more expensive to pull off. Give it a few years before you start making any serious plans. There are way too many breweries starting up now that the dream of opening a brewery is in front of actually learning the brewing process, and in todays tight market that is a sure sign of failure.

Likewise, I don't want to sound dickish, but there is a very thick layer of nay-saying that goes along with wanting to brew professionally. And I'm very, very fed up of running into it at every level. This isn't a blast to your message - not in the least. I understand why you're trying to caution me. This is a vent about my experiences in the past year or so.

Brewing schools are backed-up many years out or are prohibitively expensive. Local breweries aren't interested in even unpaid interns who have a homebrewing-only background (and certainly not outside standard business hours). Funding is non-existent for new businesses in general, let alone startups with the high-risk element and steep startup costs of breweries.

And of course, the cycle: if you don't have the education, you won't get work in a brewery, and if you don't have work in a brewery, who's going to fund you?

The best shot I've got is to brew my ass off as much as I can afford to, refining the same recipes over and over, learning everything I can along the way. In the meanwhile, I am trying to organize a lot of complex information and prepare an ironclad business plan. These things likely take years.

In the US, folks don't get into craft beer (and brewing) until their 20s, which is a hell of a late time to become involved in something with earnest intentions to become a professional. With all the roadblocks -- many of which I admit are products of our economy, the current craft beer explosion, and perhaps even where I'm located geographically -- it's almost too much to even dream about going pro.

But, from where I sit, "f##k that." I'm working a desk job (which I should be thankful I have, even) but it's a classic go-nowhere situation. I have no savings nor a rich benefactor - only a passion for brewing, and however far my hard work and planning will take me. I'm serious about this, but realistic at the same time.

So, with feeling, a large disclaimer to attach to all of my question posts, talks with BA reps, and conversations with industry:
  • I know I need more brewing experience. Schools aren't going to be possible for me.
  • I know the field is hyper-competitive. But Boston is severely lacking in city-produced beer.
  • I am 24. I'm not interested in waiting until I'm in my 30s with children to try such a risky venture. I could be the best brewer in the city, but there's never a guarantee of success.
  • I believe in my abilities to manage the details of a business like this. I have the perspective, however, to ask for help where I need it, and to delegate roles to those better than I when possible.
  • If I look back in 20 years, I don't want to regret not putting my all behind something. I'm not getting it at my desk job, and I want to give this a serious run. I am not going to be intimidated by the things I don't have / don't know, and I'm not going to lazily coast through this point in my life.

Now, just to be sure, I really appreciate your time here on the forums, and your concern about my brewing experience. This isn't a blast-back to you, it's a general vent about what I've run into. (Granted, it may have been more appropriate for a PM, since this was a thread about timeline expectations.) It's also my raison for being here. I've never properly explained myself, mostly because: 1) see the nay-sayings above, and 2) not wanting to go on and on about myself needlessly.

Phew. That was longer than expected. I hope it doesn't come off too angry, it's just frustration. I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience the many rude dismissals from industry personnel (equipment manufacturers and real estate folks, especially). It's almost too much to bear sometimes.

All Grain Brewing / Re: My one hang-up before going all-grain...
« on: March 09, 2012, 01:33:29 PM »
Dang, that seems like a fun build. I can more likely get that built, but still need more storage space. Modularity helps but only to a point.

Also, I am clearly approaching this whole all-grain brewing thing wrong, since I do not own a dog.

All Grain Brewing / Re: My one hang-up before going all-grain...
« on: March 09, 2012, 01:08:37 PM »
Well I just did my first brew, and only days before that finished my brewstand. I guess I put mine together using a modular approach and it need not be "expensive". Of course expensive is different for all of us. Thing that helped me is a friend is a welder, so find a friend that welds or make friends with a welder. Here is a link to my story. I have around $100 into metal + some dollars for burners and regs. Go too Agri supply for burners and regs. That stuff is cover all over out there.

That stuff looks excellent - great job. I lack the materials or storage space for that sort of brewstand, but it is a more distant goal of mine. It almost looks like you could buy semi-cheap metal deck furniture and take a blowtorch to it.

Going Pro / Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« on: March 09, 2012, 12:55:48 PM »
Alright, thanks again everyone. Here's a revised road map... thoughts?

  • Staff - Attorney
  • Staff - Accountant
  • Legal - Incorporation, etc.
  • Real estate - Acquire space
  • Legal - Local food health license, building permits
  • Legal - TTB application, Local application (order depends on local rules)
  • External - Hire architect and/or contractor to plan build-out
  • External - Physical renovations and build-out; equipment installation
  • Staff - Hiring any operational staff (brewhouse, food service if applicable)
  • Legal - Receive TTB and Local licenses
  • Beer - Open for business

So that the goal is to prepare everything necessary while the TTB and local licenses are pending. When you get the go-ahead to brew, that is the last roadblock. Does this make sense?

Going Pro / Re: "The Grand Timeline"
« on: March 09, 2012, 10:45:18 AM »
TTB requires you to supply either a lease that specifically states you will be placing a brewery on the property or a deed showing that you own the property. The TTB also requires a floor plan. And often times, the local health department will want to check over all of that before you start construction.

Thank you! This is very important, something I did hear once but forgot about.

Going Pro / "The Grand Timeline"
« on: March 09, 2012, 10:33:04 AM »
So let's say you have a full business plan written out, got some estimates on equipment, a rough idea of real estate costs (inc. renovations), and a willing investor. The dream!!

Now is the cart-before-before-the-horse question: In what order do you proceed?

For the sake of argument, let's say you can purchase the real estate at any time. When do you do this?

I am aware that TTB is absolutely overwhelmed with requests, as are many local authorities. The process of getting certified and cleared could take up to a year, according to new breweries I've talked to.

So should you go and get your property and proceed on renovations while proceeding with TTB? Or is it a strict one-before-the-other situation?

This is something I'm still not clear about, and any insight is greatly appreciated.

EDIT: My current understanding is this...
Close on real estate--> Submit TTB application --> Receive TTB license --> Submit local app --> Receive local license --> Complete construction, renovation, etc. --> Open for business

It might be easier to just make corrections on this instead. Thanks again.

All Grain Brewing / Re: My one hang-up before going all-grain...
« on: March 09, 2012, 10:29:38 AM »
Use your counter-top and kitchen floor to do a gravity fed tier system for batch-sparging. You'll drain into buckets (grants) which are easy to lift and pour into a kettle on a propane burner outside. Buy or make a wort chiller that you can hook up to the garden hose.

Your extract pot will become the hot liquor tank and will work on the kitchen stove for heating mash-water. You'll probably need to buy at least 15 gallon kettle for the boil outside.

So with this approach, the only part that is outside is the boil? I can see how that works, but with my confines, it will be tricky to move that much wort around.

And going to AG isn't a silver bullet- it doesn't make your beer automatically better.

I know. It's something I want to get into to further my own skills / knowledge, mostly. And it's been a long time coming.

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