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Topics - mugwort

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General Homebrew Discussion / Dry-hopping sours successfully
« on: October 02, 2014, 11:03:45 AM »
I've mentioned my more general dry-hopping issue in another topic, so I won't go into that here.  What I want to ask is, are there special considerations with regard to dry-hopping sours?  Can factors like increased acidity speed up or harshen hop character extraction?

I'm wondering this because of my most recent dry-hopping experience with a tart wit (lacto/brett/pineapple/passion fruit).  I put 2 oz of fresh-smelling Nelson Sauvin pellets in a very fine mesh bag with some marbles and then added that to a keg holding a little over 2 gallons of tart wit.  I kept the keg between 55 and 65 degrees for four days before removing the hops, occasionally swirling gently to assist contact.

When I opened the keg to remove the bag, I found that I had not tied the bag sufficiently and some sludge had emerged from the bag.  Dealing with some particles is not a big deal.  I line a large goblet with a fine mesh bag during the pour and then slowly lift the bag from the glass to retain any hop particles as the beer filters through.

What bugs me is that in addition to wonderful gooseberry notes from dry-hopping, there is an obtrusive hop pellet character present--that powdery green smell that meets the nose when you crush a pellet.

I've given the beer a few cold weeks to clarify. Many particles have settled and the off-flavor is less prominent.  Unfortunately, as time and gravity tone down the rough edges, the delicate dry-hop aroma is fading as well.

I feel like the bag breach was only part of the issue, but there's no way to be certain.  Really don't want to dry-hop my next long-aged sour, only to bring about excessive or unfavorable hop extraction.  Time to do some more reading and research.

Anybody decided to forego dry-hopping in favor of putting it all in at whirlpool?  I am doing more and more IPA flameout and chilldown additions these days and really liking it.  Super aroma and flavor.

What I'm not liking are the results I tend to get dry-hopping.  Along with the desired hop aroma, I always get some level of detectable "vegetivity" that comes along with it.  Think about what you smell in addition to the lovely oils when you crush and rub a (non-stale) hop pellet.  It's that green "pelletiness" I keep encountering but haven't yet come across a good descriptor for it or a reliable way to avoid it.

Like a number of others, I've found shorter and warmer additions reduce vegetative character.  I've recently done 3-4 days at between 60 and 70 degrees and things have been better.  But I would love to eliminate it fully.

Anyone dealt with this problem or have any suggestions?  I'm tempted to go back to leaf but those are getting harder to find organically.

While dry-hopping isn't that tough, I find it a hassle, considering the hops tend to over-share.  I won't miss the additional step(s) of dry-hopping, especially if I can achieve say 80% of the end-product hoppiness with additions made during my wort chilling time.

I'm wondering if this is some good pragmatism or simply veiled sour grapes.

Yeast and Fermentation / Trying the new Wyeast seasonal sour blends?
« on: August 22, 2014, 10:48:43 AM »
Anybody using/loving the new Wyeast seasonal sours, particularly the 3203 De Bom or the 3209 Oud Bruin?

Interestingly, they're advertising their sour-making speed, advising no initial aeration, followed later in the fermentation by oxygen addition.

Equipment and Software / UNI-STAT III vs Ranco ETC-211000
« on: August 20, 2014, 11:04:43 AM »
Just noticed the UNI-STAT ad in the latest BYO.  I am thinking about automating my fermentation temp control very soon and was wondering...

Any experience-based opinions/observations regarding the UNI-STAT III as a cooling/heating controller, especially as compared to the much-lauded Ranco ETC-211000?  Ease of use, functionality, reliability, etc. 

The prices and features seem to be comparable.  The UNI is claimed to made in USA.  Anybody mind making a bit deeper compare-and-contrast than that?

John Blichmann is as near to a homebrewing engineer saint as one can get, so please be advised this is not an attack--merely a question I keep asking myself, so I thought I'd quiz the forum.

Why are the boilermaker brewpot bottoms so silly thin?

Yes, the pots are notable for their stiffness and durability as well as build quality and features at an incredibly light weight.  True and true.  But why no sandwiched core to distribute direct fire heat and minimize scorching?  That's worth a little more weight in my book.

I can't tell if the generation 2 pots are thicker, but they don't advertise their bottoms as having any enhancement.  Bummer.

I thought I could get away with doing the adjunct portion of my wit in my false-bottomed Blichmann, heating it carefully through the ranges. 

But by the time I hit the low 150's, I could smell evidence of scorching.  I was running a pretty gentle flame and was stirring occasionally, but the porridge made its way through the slots and charred on the thin-walled bottom.  I do love the build quality and features of the Blichmann 20-gallon kettle, but the bottom is ridiculously, inexplicably thin.

Anyway, there was an obvious burnt toast smell and taste at that point.  Not overwhelming but definitely bothersome by the time I called it quits on the heat.  Thank goodness I remembered Charlie at that point.  I proceeded to relax, realize what's done is done, and opened up a homebrewed saison.

Over time and process (adding the rest of the pils for conversion, boiling, adding the zest and coriander, etc.) the burnt component seemed to diminish or at least push out of the way.  By the time I tasted the gravity sample, I could imagine it wasn't there.  But who knows?

I'm hoping the burnt notes provide nothing more than an extremely subtle complexity once fermentation is complete.  Wishful thinking and lessons learned are all the hope I have at the moment for this batch.

Anyone had a good flavor recovery from a grain scorching experience?

Equipment and Software / grain crush issue with Monster Mill 3
« on: June 09, 2014, 09:10:47 PM »
I'm about to write Monster Brewing with a question about the performance of my recently acquired 3-roll mill, but I thought I'd put the same questions to the experienced crew on this forum as well.

I am having an issue achieving a finer crush with my new MM3 2.0.  As instructed on the provided sheet, I ran my first brew with the mill at factory setting (approximately .045"), and using a 1/2" corded DeWalt it mowed through the grain effortlessly.  Mash drained quickly, without a hint of sluggishness but efficiency suffered (about 65%).

So for my next brew I thought I'd adjust the gap tighter for a more thorough crush.  As suggested in the documentation, I put a tic mark to indicated the default gap before loosening the set screws.  Facing the mill from the drive shaft side, I turned the adjuster a small amount (5 or 10 degrees maybe) to reduce the gap to a little over a .035".  I turned the knob on the other side a corresponding amount in the same absolute direction, and then confirmed with a gauge that the gap was the same on both sides of the roller.

To my surprise, the crush came out as coarse as before I adjusted the mill.  At this point I figured out why.  The bulk of the grain was now channeling through the fixed gap side instead of through the adjusted gap side.  No matter what gap I set below and up to .045", the majority of the time the grain was directed though the fixed rollers rather than the rollers with the adjustable gap.  Due to this behavior, I was forced to double crush the all the grain.

My question is, how can I get a tighter-than-default crush on this mill?  There must be something I'm missing here.  I don't understand why the grain flow keeps switching between the two roller paths.

Anyone else have any experience with this?

Kegging and Bottling / Taking it from the top (of the keg)
« on: February 07, 2014, 06:45:55 PM »
Interesting for those with a scarcity of time or patience...though I don't feel the need to get one.

Maybe this would be ideal for kegs which will be moved to and fro events or otherwise disturbed.

Now all we need is some sensor in that floating contraption that ascertains the volume and wifi's it to your tap app.

I just love the future.

Been waiting awhile for this to replace the plastic Carbonator I have, which has been leaky from day one.

Just about everybody experiences it--buying something promising and exciting, only to realize it's mostly crap.

Many of us then try to pretend that we like the item or are at least somewhat ok with the purchase.  Slowly the facts of the matter begin to intrude but we try to reason them away.  This wrestling can go on for a while but usually ends in some kind of acceptance.  At least this is what happens to me.

I'm not looking to start a trash talk topic but we should be able to pull off some constructive criticism and/or therapy.  If need be, you can choose to be less than brand-specific but hopefully still share a past disappointment and cautionary tale.

What are your brew purchase regrets and how did you move past them?  Or are you still saddled with the item and looking for a solution via advice from your fellow brewers?

It's the day after Thanksgiving and I hope you all shared it and your homebrew with family and friends.  Between my Black Friday "need more stuff" thoughts, I'm going over what I'm truly grateful for in homebrewing.  It starts a little shallow but hopefully gets deeper.

Even though one can homebrew on the cheap, I'm grateful that I don't have to.  There's enough money to possess most of the brewing/serving equipment I desire.

I'm grateful for beer-loving friends who have opened my mind to new styles (thanks Chad) and for those who have taught me so much about brewing (thanks Mike).

I'm grateful for a hobby that provides a consumable canvas for unlimited creativity and a striving towards excellence (whatever that may be).

I'm grateful for the good health to be able to consume my creations and for the continued wisdom and willpower not to indulge just because I can.

I'm grateful for my wife, her love and support, and her continued willingness to taste even the most crazy of my creations.  I never cease discovering that I am truly blessed.

I sometimes marvel at the extremes of practice and opinion in homebrewing that come up on this forum and elsewhere.  While a lot of the info can be hearsay and guesses, it's surely a good thing to have a wealth of differing experience informing the discussion.  I'm amazed at and grateful for the ideas I pick up reading the contributions.

What comes to mind today are home draft systems and the vastly different upkeep schedules people maintain.
I put draft maintenance behavior on a continuum, one end occupied by those who flush their lines weekly, take apart their taps for cleaning  frequently, and are generally draft sanitation obsessed.  The other side is held by those who seem to believe less is more or at least good enough.  Kegs are refilled and keg after keg go on with nary a line cleaning.

Neither of those extremes is for me.  Most of us are in what I think is the healthy middle.  Within that, there's a wide variety of beliefs and practices among homebrewers influenced by numerous sources.

So I'd ask, how thoroughly and often do you clean your taps, lines and kegs.  And why?  How does your setup and situation influence your regimen?

I'll start with my workflow.  It seems to work well for me but I am continually open to other practices and philosophies.

I brew small split batches, feeding a squad of 3 gallon kegs.  Depending on the quantity and style of the contents, a keg will last between 3 weeks and maybe 9 months.  Rarely do I switch kegs until blown since I have decent tap capacity.

Each time a keg blows I rinse it out, add a hot water PBW solution to shake and soak and then pump out through the line.  I follow this with BLC/LLC in hot water through the line which seems to eliminate stubborn yeast deposits that resist the PBW/Oxyclean.  Then a hot water rinse, shake and flush and it's time to pump StarSan through, leaving in for a few minutes of contact time and then allowing to clear from the keg while blowing the lines clear.  Now both keg and lines are CO2-flushed and ready to go.

Doing this when each keg blows for the last couple years I've only run across one real problem...a spout leak from a Perlick 525 SS faucet that developed in the middle of a keg dispense.  Started as a post-pour dribbling that made me think I wasn't pushing the handle back all the way, and later evolved into 2 or 3 pints on the floor before I noticed it.  I switched out that tap and plan to disassemble and clean/check washers.

Anyway if you survived that wordy intro, I'd love to hear what you do, especially if it's unique or innovative.  Also, are there any common practices that you believe unnecessary or even detrimental?

Anyone have experience with combining olive oil and a bit of crude aeration when pitching the yeast?

I often carboy-shake my lower gravity ales (<1.045) simply because it's easy.  When I move the carboy around on one of those potted plant rollers, getting a sustained, cascading slosh is no trouble.

Well I thought I'd combine that carboy shaking with a drop of olive oil to service a higher gravity wort (1.075).  Super easy but is there sufficient aeration or benefit to combining the two practices?  Of course just getting and using an O2 canister, valve and stone wouldn't be too tough but I do like the lo-tech approach.

Experience with or an informed opinion regarding?  Thanks and cheers!

From "Take Two: Reusing Homebrew Yeast", page 58, BYO Sept '13

"Some homebrewers will reuse the yeast cake in its entirety, transferring a fresh batch of wort directly on top, into the old fermenter.  This is a terrible idea and is contrary to everything we know about proper sanitation procedures.  They will argue that they have never had an issue with this method.  My response:  If you haven't had an issue yet, it's just a matter of time."

Anyone else read the article and find the above a little odd?  I'd like to know why this is such a bad idea but can find no direct answers upon rereading the article.

I understand there are some good reasons to choose not to rack wort onto the cake of a just-finished fermenter.  Such reasons tend to mirror those pertaining to reusing yeast in any circumstance--if it has undergone excess stress, is mixed with too much trub or hops, is too old, is infected or suspected of, etc.

As for sanitation issues inherent in the reuse of a fermenter and cake, I fear I'm at a loss.

General Homebrew Discussion / What were your gateway beers?
« on: January 11, 2013, 03:05:54 PM »
I'm not going to call craftbrew drinkers enlightened, or aleightened rather, but we're on our way.  It's a journey, not a destination.

So, what were the gateway beers that helped to get you to a higher plane of flavor?

For me, it was Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve that lifted me from my collegiate-era 40oz King Cobra dabblings (the Cobra being traditionally consumed with a loaf of french bread to provide that maltiness lacking in the beer).

Adding Samuel Adams Stock Ale into the mix helped me understand the appeal of bittered ales.  Took an unfortunate, but thankfully brief detour with Rolling Rock after college before coming around to the Trader Joe's line of Fat Weasel and Black Toad ales.

Learned a bit about oxidation from the many dusty brews stocked at TJ's at the time (circa 1995).  Fell in love with ales of oh-so-dark color via the sweet and rich Mackeson Triple XXX Stout.

Around the same time, I was lucky enough to taste Blind Pig IPA at Vinnie's Temecula brewery and at that point I knew there was no going back.  A true wortshed moment for me.

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