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Messages - Greg A.

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Have you purchased brewing software?  How about reading Designing Great Beers?  There is nothing wrong with kit brewing at all.  But if you feel like you are cheating, then learn how to create your own recipes and read up on the styles.  I've found it to be the most fun part of the hobby and now have over 100 different recipes in my rolodex.  Maybe try one kit from each style you like and then learn how you can tweak it to your taste.

Dave

I own Brewsmith (and have used it for each of the batches previously).  I also own and have read a majority of How to Brew, Designing Great Beers, and Radical Brewing.

Brewing the kits and getting a sense of how they taste and altering the kits in the future seems like a decent way of learning.  I just feel that what I've been brewing is just not that great and I want to be better.  I guess by purchasing a kit, I at least know that the people at NB know it to be a good kit and anything that happens after that point is all on me.

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General Homebrew Discussion / Need to overcome irrational fear of kit beer
« on: November 08, 2012, 10:30:02 AM »
So I have brewed 10 batches so far.  First was extract, the other 9 were all grain.  All of them were recipes I found online or in Brewing Classic Styles and then just ordered the ingredients. 

I have ordered ingredients a few times from Northern Brewer and started looking at their all grain kits (my first extract kit was from NB).  They seem very appealing.  Some get good reviews and the price is right.  It also allows me to stop worrying about the recipe so much and just get to brewing and nail down those processes.

But...I still have an irrational fear that this might be cheating.  Anyone else feel that way?  Has anyone brewed kit beer and found it worthy of submitting to a competition?

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But the problem is that it foams a lot and that foam makes adding yeast suspended in 1-2 l wort difficult.

Kai

Any suggestions for pitching dry yeast when there is an excess of foam after shooting some O2 in and shaking it?  I had about 2 inches of foam when I was done.

I typically use liquid yeast, and I figure that would sink through the foam and into the wort because of weight, but I had some dry sitting around and figured I would use it.  It just ended up sitting on top of the foam and once the foam subsided, the yeast turned into what looked like a gooey yeast cake on the surface.  This was in the carboy so I really didn't have much that I could do to break it up properly.

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Equipment and Software / Re: Tired of crappy therm and hydrometer
« on: June 21, 2012, 11:17:17 AM »
I bought one of these thermometers to give it a try.  They claim:
"Each thermometer is tested and calibrated in our exclusive triple accredited/registered ISO/IEC 17025:2005, A2LA accredited laboratory against equipment whose calibration is traceable to NIST"

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00551O8V6/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: dogfish tv show
« on: May 28, 2012, 05:25:42 PM »
I found the show very interesting and wish it had kept going, because it certainly got people interested in craft beer.  Although the show was a bit "formulamatic," it was still pretty good.  Basically Sam cruises around looking for extremely exotic ingredients, then brews a test batch, then they brew a production batch, there's "a potential issue" for a little dramatic effect, then the show ends with everyone drinking a beer and being happy.  A little cheesy, maybe, but how many people do you think went hog wild over the beers they featured in the show?  Even I have drank two bottles of b****es Brew (and still keep one on display).  Although to be fair, I would have probably bought BB even without the TV show.

Still, the show certainly introduced a lot of people to craft beer, and the skill and craftsmanship it takes to create it.  I like the show a lot better than some (?) of the other beer shows I've seen where they mostly go around and get drunk.  ::)

We need more beer shows on TV, good ones.  ;D

Another oddity related to the show was that it sparked extremely heated, ridiculous love/hate discussions on "certain beer related websites."  ::) ::) ::) ::)

ETA: LOL at the word filter zapping the name of the brew

(?) I've definitely seen one show where they go to great bars, then don't bother explaining much except how much they're going to drink.  BORING.  Although it's been a while so I can't remember the name of it...

Sounds like the show called "Drinking Made Easy"

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Equipment and Software / Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« on: May 23, 2012, 08:06:49 AM »
Once I add an acid, such as lactic acid, the balance is thrown off and I might end up with a cation level of 6.9 meq/L and an anion measurement of 4.5.  This leaves the cells yellow now (row 12 Finished Water Profile). 

I guess this is a two part question, one about the use of the software itself and one about water chemistry for brewing.  In the case of the software, do the cation/anion columns on the Water Adjustment sheet for the finished water profile mean anything in terms of the quality of the final water makeup or is it mainly for determining the validity of the original water report?

Secondary question that might need to be asked else where is if as a brewer, should I try to maintain a balance between cations and anions when making water adjustments to have a positive effect on the outcome of the beer.

Ah, now I see the dilemma.  Greg, you are right.  When you add an acid on the Water Adjustment sheet, the bicarbonate is neutralized by the Hydrogen proton into water and CO2.  The problem is that for most of the acid choices listed in Bru'n Water, the acid anion is not added to the anion total when the hydrogen proton is added.  That is where the "imbalance" is created on the sheet.  That imbalance does not exist in reality since that acid's anion is added to the water.  Since anions like lactate or phosphate aren't of much interest in our brewing, they weren't listed in the simplified cation and anion listing in Bru'n Water.

As an aside, if you select either sulfuric or hydrochloric acid as your acid on the Water Adjustment sheet, you will see that the cation/anion balance is maintained since Bru'n Water does calculate either the sulfate or chloride ion addition and includes that in the anion total. 

Good catch on this pecularity of the program.  I'll add a note in the program that adding acids may cause an imbalance, but its nothing to worry about.

Second question: No, the cation/anion balance is relatively meaningless on the Water Adjustment sheet since when adding any of the other minerals and SOME acids, the added cations always equal the added anions.  If the original water was balanced reasonably, the finished water will also. 

Secondary question: There is no easy way that you can add just a cation or anion to water.  The ionic salts we use in brewing always are balanced.  You will always add exactly the same number of milliequivalents of the cation as the anion. 

RDWHAHB
 

Thank you for answering this for me! I'll definitely relax and have a few home brews now!  Love the program and learning the science behind it.

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Storing Yeast Starters?
« on: May 22, 2012, 01:58:16 PM »
I've got a big two weeks of brewing coming up with a laid back work schedule and my wife and kids leaving town for 2 weeks thus leaving me to attend my hobby.  I am going to try and cram in 5 batches so I'll be set for months.  I've been planning this for awhile.
In preparation I was hoping to get my yeast starters ready a week or two ahead of time.  2 batches will require sizable starters (big baltic porter and dunkel).  The other 3 will be smaller beers.  Is there a way to store starters for a week or two?  Perhaps placing them in cleaned and sanitized bottles and capping them?  I could then crack them open as needed.  I only have two starter flasks.  Suggestions welcome.

If you're going to store them for 2 weeks, it might be beneficial to decant them the morning of brewing and add some fresh wort to get them active.

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Beer Recipes / Re: Farmhouse Ale help
« on: May 22, 2012, 09:34:06 AM »
After last year's experiments, here's my thoughts:

I think with the CaraVienne, the munich and the vienna you're going to make a very toasty noted beer. If that's what you're aiming, then go forth.

On the yeast - here's how I always have success with my Belgians - start cooler than you want to ferment at: say 65F - healthy pitch - then let it free rise. In the case of the 3726 I wouldn't go much higher than 75F and one of the things I really learned last year - don't try to force the temp up with a lot of external heat.

Do you have a recommendation for allowing it to free rise and hit the temp that you're aiming for in the end?  Do you keep the ambient temperature of your chamber a constant temperature and just let it rise (and perhaps fall) as it wishes?  I do not have much experience with belgian yeast strains but I want to learn more since these are my favorite styles. 

What would you do if you have a strain that has a range of 66-72 degrees and you want the yeast to free rise from 66 up to 72 and then maintain 72 for a couple of days?  Any tips?

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Equipment and Software / Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« on: May 22, 2012, 08:11:13 AM »
I am doing the adjustments on the Water Adjustment sheet.  In this case, when I enter my water report on the water report input sheet, let's say both the cation and anion levels are 4.3 meq/L each, so the cells for cation and anion are green on the Water Adjustment sheet (columns I & J).  Now when adding mineral/salts I can keep that balance and the cells remain green.  Once I add an acid, such as lactic acid, the balance is thrown off and I might end up with a cation level of 6.9 meq/L and an anion measurement of 4.5.  This leaves the cells yellow now (row 12 Finished Water Profile). 

I guess this is a two part question, one about the use of the software itself and one about water chemistry for brewing.  In the case of the software, do the cation/anion columns on the Water Adjustment sheet for the finished water profile mean anything in terms of the quality of the final water makeup or is it mainly for determining the validity of the original water report?

Secondary question that might need to be asked else where is if as a brewer, should I try to maintain a balance between cations and anions when making water adjustments to have a positive effect on the outcome of the beer.

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Equipment and Software / Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« on: May 19, 2012, 06:46:49 PM »
I noticed when altering my water profile in this tool, that my base profile without adjustments has green cells for cation and anion but when I start adjusting the profile with salt and acid additions, then the balance is thrown off and the cells are no longer green (yellow cells, cation: 5.3, anion: 4.3).  Should I be trying to make adjustments to create a balance between these ions?

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Ingredients / Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« on: May 14, 2012, 12:00:04 PM »
greg that seems about right.

You are correct about everything you said. My personal preference for a Saison is one with a little bit of bite to it. just my preference! Your way may be more to your liking keeping to the sulfate to chloride ratio balanced.

thanks for your help.  I plan on brewing many of different saisons in my course of finding some decent personal recipes.  I am sure I will try bitter to malty variations throughout the process.

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Ingredients / Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« on: May 14, 2012, 11:26:23 AM »
Using this water profile, heres what I'd do.

Ca:   37.8     
Mg:   13.6     
Na:   10.1     
Cl:   20     
SO4:   29.9     
CaCO3:   108     

The calcium and sulfate is a bit low for a Saison for me. I'd add some Gypsum to get to 50 ppm of Calcium, wherever your Sulfate is at that point is probably ok.

The carbonate level is pretty high for a Saison, for an amber or brown ale I think you'd be at the perfect level for you ph.  Since your beer is pretty light, you're going to want to either add some form of acid or Acidulated Malt. Bru'n Water and Kai's water calculator I've found to both be very accurate for estimating ph and the amount of acid needed to get your ph right. For a saison, I'd want it a little bit tart, so shoot for a ph of 5.2. Im guessing about 3% of your grist as acidulated malt would get you there.

By adding more sulfate, wouldn't this cause the Saison to be a lot more on the bitter side?  The current chloride/sulfate ratio is starting to lean towards the bitter side as it is.  I thought with a dry beer, bitterness is actually enhanced a bit and comes through more.  The calcium is indeed low, pretty much for any beer I would want to do. I would like any beer that I create to use water with >50ppm Calcium. I think I'll need to start experimenting with additions to any beer I brew, not just a Saison.

I just tried Kai's water sheet to add to a comparison with Beer Smith, Bru'n Water, and Palmer's spreadsheet.  Seems that in all spreadsheets if I want to have a PH of around 5.3/5.4 (room temp), and have calcium above 50, and a balanced chloride/sulfate ratio, then these adjustments seem to be consistent in all of them:
CaCl - 1.0g (mash and sparge)
CaSO4 - 1.1g (mash and sparge)
Lactic Acid - 1.1ml (mash only)

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Ingredients / Re: Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« on: May 11, 2012, 02:37:44 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
I'll still adjust the water to add more calcium, using either gypsum if I want more sulfate, or calcium chloride if I want more chloride. With that said though, the water is good enough that you could just brew with it as-is. The campden tablet would still be cheap insurance.

That's great to know. Do you usually need to do anything for pH adjustments?
I'll use phosphoric acid if I need to adjust the pH. I know we've brewed a few batches where due to the grain bill and salt additions, the pH was acceptable without adding acid.

I was only wondering because if I take the suggestion of not adjusting the water with any salt additions, then I worry that perhaps my pH will be a little higher than acceptable for this beer.  There is barely any crystal in it and the rest is just base malts.

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Ingredients / Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« on: May 11, 2012, 02:33:53 PM »
i live out west of chicago but our initial water sources are the same.  i have used charcoal okay with success. now i also add campden.  every beer without one of these has had a medicinal taste, and i attribute not doing this to a crappy showing at the first round nhc

I have some tablets but haven't used it yet. How much do you use? Do you just add it to the water the night before?

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Ingredients / Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« on: May 11, 2012, 02:13:02 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
I'll still adjust the water to add more calcium, using either gypsum if I want more sulfate, or calcium chloride if I want more chloride. With that said though, the water is good enough that you could just brew with it as-is. The campden tablet would still be cheap insurance.

That's great to know. Do you usually need to do anything for pH adjustments?

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