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Messages - nathanw

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Zymurgy / Re: Current Issue: Ice Cider
« on: January 07, 2015, 11:34:33 AM »
(Replying late after a web search led me to this post)

I'm glad you liked the article, and I hope you've given it a try.

Boiling does change the game and gives you an entirely different product - as Jimmy K notes, it gives a very cooked flavor, and takes a long time and a lot of heat. One thing I've seen done that's related is to ice-concentrate as usual and then boil down the remaining ice/melt down to a syrup that is added back in. That keeps you from wasting the sugars, but it does bring a sort of caramel flavor to the party, which might or might not be welcome.

Another suggestion I've seen - and I don't know if anyone's done this - would be to use the residue/melt as the strike water for a batch of beer, so you start the beer up a few points (my last ice cider batch, the meltwater measured 1.008) and with a hint of apple flavor.

Events / Re: NHC entry registration - how fast does it fill up?
« on: February 26, 2013, 02:46:22 PM »
There are some technical issues that it would be good to work out (and perhaps those of us who work in the field might be able to contribute to doing so), but the fact that it fills up so quickly, even in spite of the technical hurdles, tells us that there's a bigger problem of capacity. I know this is a regular subject of discussion, but absent the ability to make the competition itself much larger, it might make sense to have some way to allocate entries besides having the ability to sit in front of a computer and hit "refresh" all afternoon. For example, some kind of lottery - give people a week or two to enter and register, and then randomly choose as many entries as possible from among them.

(I'll also be curious to see the distribution of entries-per-person this year. I don't know how much it would help to dial it back from 15 to, say, 5 or 3, but that should be on the table, even if it makes things like the Ninkasi award less sensible).

Hi, folks. The Boston Wort Processors 18th Annual Boston Homebrew Competition is shaping up to have a great set of sponsors and prizes, but not a lot of entries, so your chance to win has never been better!

Entry deadline is Feb. 8th, and it's an AHA/BJCP sanctioned competition. Full information here:

Homebrew Clubs / Re: Alternative voting systems to FPTP?
« on: June 25, 2012, 01:48:53 PM »
How competitive do your elections tend to be, or do you expect them to be? Experience in my club and a couple of other organizations is that the most common situation is essentially drafting people into running for the position and then running them unopposed. Even a two-candidate race, when it comes up occasionally, doesn't have to worry about plurality vs. majority issues. So my take is that this kind of rule is fine, as it is simple and ensures a winner

Don't get into complicated voting systems until you have a problem that you actually need them to solve.

Equipment and Software / Re: Refractometers
« on: November 17, 2010, 08:27:40 AM »
Glass eyedroppers are cheap and can often be found at your local pharmacy. You can take them apart to clean them, unlike the cheap plastic thing that comes with most refractometers.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: USPS shipping- more legal than I thought?
« on: November 14, 2010, 08:37:46 AM »
Johnf: They do exactly that. They cite and link to the DMM's definition of intoxicating liquors, which itself defers to chapter 51 of the IRS code, and then cite and link to chapter 51, which is where our legal status for homebrewing comes from.

bonjour: I'm aware that this is an issue under active development. However, my understanding prior to this was that USPS shipping was much more clearly prohibited; I would like to understand what interpretation of the existing regulations leads to that conclusion. I have no need to ship via USPS and no need to take such risks, but I am realizing that the assertions that it is illegal to ship homebrew via USPS come from sources no more authoritative than this one that claims it is legal. Furthermore, there's a clear way for a misunderstanding to have developed, based on the clear prohibition on the shipment of taxable (commercial) beer via USPS.

I am not an attorney (and I don't play one on TV or the Internet), but I remain skeptical about what now seem to be unexplained assertions about the state of the law.

General Homebrew Discussion / USPS shipping- more legal than I thought?
« on: November 14, 2010, 07:08:27 AM »
In another forum, someone asked the usual question about how to ship homebrew, and got the usual set of answers, including admonitions not to use the USPS due to the illegality. However, one person responded to that by citing chapter and verse of the domestic mail manual, with links, and pointed out that the clauses that prohibit shipment of alcohol specifically refer to the technical term "intoxicating liquors", which for the purposes of the DMM is limited to taxable alcoholic beverages, which homebrew, of course, is not.

This is contrary to what I've been hearing for years. Anyone want to chime in on whether this is true, or if there's another set of technicalities somewhere else that makes it untrue?

Other Fermentables / Ice cider - yeast and other issues
« on: November 01, 2010, 06:18:59 PM »
I'm changing up my usual cider routine this season and trying to make a batch of Quebec-style ice cider (cidre de glace). I'm on my way to having 4-5 gallons of 1.100-1.110 SG concentrated juice made from my local orchard's unpasteurized juice (apple blend unknown, unfortunately). Any thoughts on yeast strain, fermentation temperature, or other issues here? My usual cider yeasts are Lalvin D47 and WLP775; I suspect either of them would do an OK job but probably not a great job.

Equipment and Software / Re: dead mouse in my carboy
« on: September 12, 2010, 02:18:06 PM »
No problem at all. I had this happen once; the real mystery was how it got in (the carboy wasn't in a box or anything, so it would have to have leapt from the wall or fallen from the ceiling - I don't think mice can scale vertical glass).

bluesman - as mentioned above, the probe is secured against the side of the carboy with some insulating foam, as seems to be nigh-universal advice. This setup (the controller is a Johnson A419) has worked fine for chilling the wort to a selected temperature from above and keeping it there (at least, as compared against the LCD "Fermometer" strip attached to my carboys); my issue now is that the "slowly rise to the set point" part, once I raise the set point, is very, very slow.

Ambient is about 75F; I'm afraid of overshoot if I leave it open overnight or while I go to work, and it seems like it would be bad if the freezer starts to run continuously, so I'm looking for a more bounded solution. A light fixture wouldn't be bad; I'll have to see if I have something suitable for dropping in there. And I will steer clear of the CFs.

narvin - the probe is secured to the side of the fermenter with a nice piece of foam and some Velcro(tm), so I think I've got that covered. I know the temperature will rise once fermentation gets going, but I wonder how long it will take for that to happen at that temperature. (the yeast is WLP820, built up into a 2L starter on a stir plate, then crashed to the same 44F and decanted).

I recently acquired a chest freezer and digital temperature controller to free myself from the tyranny of whatever temperature my basement happens to be. I made an ale and it worked fine to hold it steady at 66F. Now I'm making a marzen, and I am following the advice in BCS to chill to do a "modified Narziss fermentation" - 44F, pitch, and slowly raise the temperature to 50F. However, 24 hours after I turned the set point from 44F to 50F, the temperature is still down at 44F. This is great for demonstrating the insulation of the chest freezer, but not really what I wanted for my fermentation schedule.

What are some good ways to warm this up? A second controller and a heating pad would be ideal, but I'm not set up for that. Would putting a pint of just-boiled water in the chamber be reasonable? (6 gallons I want to raise ~3 degrees at a time vs. 1/8 gallon that is ~160 degrees above the ambient temperature).

The Pub / Re: The Demise of TechTalk
« on: August 06, 2010, 03:31:07 PM »
I'm not thrilled with the demise of TechTalk, but TechTalk was always (technically) second-rate in comparison with HBD. My main peeve was a non-standard digest format, which my mailer couldn't break apart into individual messages, as you could with HBD and other RFC1153-compliant digests. The search function was also poor, in comparison to just putting the archives out there and letting Google at them.  My hope is that this move revitalizes HBD, which suffered an exodus a couple of years ago - it had a long outage just as TechTalk was getting rolling.

As for the forum... sure, there's an RSS feed, but it doesn't seem to be full text. That makes it a serious pain to read anything just via RSS. There's also a style issue; the forum lends itself to relatively quick back-and-forth, which requires reading in a particular sequence, and the RSS feed of everything doesn't give you that.

It's also "one more thing". I'm plugged in to email and RSS feeds, with occasional views of facebook and twitter, and given the choice between adding another thing to check and not looking, not looking is going to win.

Finally, I think the slowness of a daily digest has valuable properties. Notably, it's near-impossible to get the head of steam necessary for a flame war, which regular email lists and forums can run out of control before anyone can get a read on it.

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