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Messages - mabrungard

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1
Equipment and Software / Re: PH Meter
« on: May 04, 2015, 06:27:44 AM »
I like the Milwaukee 101 and 102 units for their combination of reasonable price and durability. They both use the SE220 probe that is a gel-filled, double-junction pH probe that has proven to be durable and reliable. The gel-filled unit is well-suited to storing in a 1M to 3M KCl solution and that is what I do. My current probe is over 4 years old and shows no sign of aging, but it will someday. With that eventuality, the BNC-type connector means that I can easily select any manufacturers BNC style probe and it will work with my meter. The probe is about half the cost of a new meter and probe, so its worth it.

A probe is useless unless its calibrated and you are sure its reading correctly. Get pH 4 and pH 7 solutions, so that you can make sure the unit is reading correctly. Pour small amounts of each solution into separate containers (bottle cap, shot glass, etc) and check the meter response. Rinse the probe with DI water and blow and/or blot all excess water off before inserting into the next solution. Throw the used solutions away. You can't reuse the solution or return them to their bottles. On top of that, the solutions have limited lifespans and should be replaced about every year.

While I encourage brewers to obtain pH meters for brewery use since they help fine tune and resolve brewing, I also recognize that this is a pricey piece of equipment. Using a program like Bru'n Water helps improve brewing when that equipment is not available, but using both does help you better fine tune your brewing.

You can read more about pH meters and brewing chemistry related topics on the Bru'n Water Facebook page. 

2
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Carbonation
« on: May 03, 2015, 04:55:54 AM »
I use both methods. They both work, but to achieve nice, fine carbonation, it takes 2 weeks for the hydration of CO2 occurs. That part can't be rushed, its chemistry.

3
Ingredients / Re: Malt Color combinations?
« on: May 02, 2015, 05:01:45 AM »
High mash or wort pH will increase beer color. pH is important to quality beer.

4
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Septic Systems and Brewing
« on: April 28, 2015, 02:24:15 PM »
This is a very sore subject with me. Currently shopping for contractors to replace my existing septic which is no longer absorbing the effluent. Now they tell me there are aerators and pumps required and annual inspections required by the county- only 15 grand to top it off!!! I like my existing system all gravity no pumps.

Your reaction is understandable. Unfortunately, septic tanks do not "treat" our wastes. They only keep potentially harmful organisms away from human contact. All the damaging nutrients from our waste just flow into the groundwater and into whatever receiving water is downstream. When its just one septic system in a few acres, the environment tends to be able to handle it. It just doesn't work for the environment when its denser than that.

Sorry for your dilemma.

5
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Septic Systems and Brewing
« on: April 28, 2015, 09:22:55 AM »
As long as you occasionally remove the collected solids from the tank, it should be fine. Some households deliver so little load to their system compared to its volume, that they can go a decade or more before needing the solids removed. If your household loading is high...lots of kids, then you may need to increase your pumpout frequency. The load from brewing shouldn't be too significant.

6
Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Nooner Pils
« on: April 24, 2015, 12:25:14 PM »
At one of my fave beer joints- winking lizard

I prefer to refer to it as the Linking Wizard.

7
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Just for fun
« on: April 23, 2015, 12:54:24 PM »
That is great! I'm sure there are trademark issues, but I won't tell.

8
Events / Re: NHC Thursday night?
« on: April 23, 2015, 12:52:15 PM »
The request for participation to the California breweries went out on the Brewers Association forum today. The request requires that the breweries have a California presence and they receive several tickets to attend the event so that they are more likely to send knowledgible staff. The request specifically tells the breweries that we homebrewers are beer savvy and we like to talk with their staff about beer.

This will not be a repeat of the neutered brewery participation that Michigan made us do.

As mentioned, there are still openings to attend the convention and it is shaping up to be a great event. Make your plans now!

9
Equipment and Software / Re: Conicals
« on: April 23, 2015, 09:12:44 AM »
No hard feelings at all. Steve caught the gist of my message. "significant difference" could be good or bad.

10
Equipment and Software / Re: Conicals
« on: April 23, 2015, 05:59:50 AM »
I bought the SS brewtech 7 gal cronical with the FTS system and have seen a significant difference in the quality of my beer.

I'm sorry to hear that your beer has suffered...better luck next time.

11
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: First sour - fermentation plan
« on: April 22, 2015, 06:24:33 AM »
Wow! Sounds like trouble.

I just finished a Berliner that was created via the handful of malt method that is incredible. There is a lot to be said for using more than a monoculture in your sour beer. Here is what I did:

1.5L of 1.030 starter wort in 2L erhlenmeyer flask.
Pitched with handful of Best Pils malt (whole).
Capped with tightly fitting sheet of aluminum foil (didn't have a stopper to fit the flask!)
Wrapped with heating pad and kept at around 100F.
Smelled pretty funky for a few days
Dusty, chalky looking pellicle formed. Was easily swirled away with agitation.
Became nicely smooth and tart smelling after about 5 days
Final pH: 3.1

Created 5 gal of 50/50 Pils/Wheat wort with single step at 154F
Ran off hot wort into 5 gal corny keg.
Installed keg lid and allowed to cool to 100F overnight.
Pitched entire starter (above) and replaced lid.
Wrapped heating pad and blanket around keg and kept at around 100F
Vented keg daily, lacto does NOT produce much CO2, so the venting was minimal.
Smelled like a sewer...funky for a couple of days.
Cleaned up to a smooth and tart aroma after about 5 days
Final pH: 3.1

Poured soured wort into kettle, produced a huge, dense head.
Boiled the 5 gal of soured wort for 1 hour, wanted to make sure DMS from Pils was gone.
Very fruity, pleasing aroma throughout.
About 10 IBU of early hopping applied.
Transferred hot wort directly into fermenter and allowed to cool overnight
Direct pitched packet of US-05 yeast into fermenter at 68F.
Took about 12 hours to show signs of airlock activity.
Fermented slowly for about 5 days...low pH and low gravity probably the reason.
Finished around 1.010, didn't want to let it go too low since I figured the beer needed a little sweetness to counter the acidity.

Very nice, multi-dimensional flavor, very clean and tart. Met with high regard from my club's National and Master judges. By my palate, this was equal to the Berliner's that I've tasted from Fritz Briem 1854 and Berliner Kindle. Mission accomplished!

I feel that an important lesson here is that it is VERY important to prevent oxygen contact with the bacterial culture since that can invite truly funky and off aroma and flavor. Give the culture time and the lacto will eventually out-compete the other organisms and severely limit their activity via the low pH from their lactic acid production. Note that the keg of wort hit with the lacto starter still went funky, so those other organisms were still lurking in that starter. The lacto still out-competed them and produced a great result.

I've tasted the Wyeast Berliner's at the past couple of AHA conferences and have to say that they are quite bland and uninspiring. This multi-organism starter definitely helps avoid that problem. Those of you that have read the Bru'n Water Facebook page know that you can improve the depth of a Berliner's acid flavor by adding distilled vinegar to infuse a low level of acetic acid that is present in a good Berliner. But I'd say that this 'natural' approach does produce a more pleasing complexity and depth.

By starting with a starter, you can avoid wasting a whole batch of beer. Just let that thing go through it's funky phases and eventually it should develop that pleasing sourness and smooth tartness from lactic acid. As noted, this is not a terribly rapid process, but it does work and the result can be outstanding.

12
Beer Recipes / Re: new Pale Ale
« on: April 17, 2015, 06:24:45 PM »
There could be another reason for the low pH. I've had a similar response from an English brewer using Crisp Amber malt. The maltster calls it a 'roast' malt. But, when the brewer planned the brew with Bru'n Water, he assumed it was a crystal malt. He measured pH and found the mash was a couple tenths low. When he went back and entered the amber malt as a 'roast' malt, the pH prediction was almost perfect.

I guess its possible that this Red malt may have a similar response. Try it as a roast malt and see if the prediction is closer to your observation.

13
Equipment and Software / Re: Thermapen Sale
« on: April 17, 2015, 01:52:02 PM »
You don't have to burn a lot of bucks to get great instruments. The Thermapen manufacturer makes the following thermometers that have virtually the same spec and they cost WAY less. I use both of these:

http://www.thermoworks.com/products/low_cost/rt301wa.html
http://www.thermoworks.com/products/low_cost/rt600c.html

14
Kegging and Bottling / Re: keg conditioning with priming sugar
« on: April 17, 2015, 09:58:22 AM »
It will still take about 2 weeks for the carbonation to become 'fine'. That is controlled by the hydration of the CO2 and it is a time-dependent process. Get the gas in and give it time. In the mean time, you can still enjoy the beer with coarse carbonation.

15
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: distilled water question
« on: April 14, 2015, 03:04:55 PM »
It should be fine to add distilled water to the kettle. It should be free of significant contaminants. I would be cautious if you were added that water directly to the fermenter since there is a remote possibility that it contains microbes.

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