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Topics - Kaiser

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The Pub / I'm f***ing pissed at my own stupidity
« on: April 04, 2011, 08:58:55 PM »
I lost my domain name b/c I didn't renew in time. I was busy otherwise during the last few weeks and didn't even think that this could happen.

Hence none of the e-mails you sent since 4/1 got to me. I only noticed this b/c e-mails in my outbox didn't get sent.

I already registered, but I may think about some other .com name instead.

The wiki and content is not lost, just all the old links to my site. At some point Google will catch up and a search for braukaiser should get you to the new location.

WTF!!! I really didn't need this.


Ingredients / Updated water calculator
« on: February 26, 2011, 08:32:12 PM »
I finally finished overhauling the water and mash pH spreadsheet that I have been maintaining. I started this work a few months ago when I realized that even the "basic" interface was not as intuitive as I thought it was. It seems nobody wants to enter salts as ppm even though that makes the addition independent of the water amount.

Here is what I changed:
* rearranged the basic interface into water, grist, salts&acids, report and necessary salt additions. This should be more intuitive.
* changed the treatment of undissolved chalk such that it only contributes half its calcium since it contributes only half its alkalinity. Chalk's solubility in mash seems to be limited and what does not dissolve and contribute to a rise in alkalinity should not contribute calcium ions either.
* salt additions can now be made in g and mg/l. You can select the unit
* the salts to be added can be reported in g and tsp. The latter is useful if your scale breaks down or you don't own one yet.
* lactic acid and phosphoric acid are supported. How out there is using hydrochloric or sulfuric acid? I could add this as well.
* water boiling has been added to the "advanced page". This was easy to add since I already supported lime treatment
* I added pH shift estimations for the major water treatment steps

This is what I kept:
* The basic and advanced pages are still there. Anything entered in the basic page will automatically carry over into the advanced page. The idea is to support a wide variety of users
* the basic formatting remained ion order to better support its use on mobile devices
* I avoided macros or the use of fancy functionality in hope that this spreadsheet can be supported by mobile devices
* the SRM based mash pH prediction is still there.
* support for SI and US units. Under the hood it uses SI units almost exclusively.

I plan to add grist based mash pH prediction. Not so much because it is much more precise than the SRM based prediction but because you don't have to enter the %roasted value, which I admit is a bit ambiguous and not that easy to grasp.

I gave it a fair amount of testing and when updating it I made sure to reuse as much of what I already had in order to reduce the number of bugs that were introduced. I was also tempted to password protect the content but then I noticed that when you open a password protected Excel file in OpenOffce you are not asked for a password when unlocking pages. So much for security :). But the pages are still protected in order to avoid accidental changes to the formulas.



All Grain Brewing / I finally completed my article about mash pH control
« on: February 26, 2011, 07:56:10 PM »
It took much longer that I thought it would take. Not only because I took a break from brewing and writing about it for a while, but most importantly I wanted to write an article that is well supported by brewing experiments and close observations of mash pH in batches of beer that I brewed over the last year. All too often get brewers caught up in the theoretical aspect of water and mash chemistry with the aim to calculate everything with the best precision possible. But what is commonly overlooked is that measurements are not precise enough to require this precision and, what is mots important, malt’s reaction to pH changes is not that predictable anyway. To capture that aspect experiments are necessary.

The objective of this article was to give the advanced brewer an insight in the major factors that affect mash pH and how it can be corrected. Based on experiments it also gives guidelines that allow the estimation of mash pH changes based on the water profile, water treatment additions or mash additions, without focusing too much on this aspect. Those are largely based on mash pH experiments I conducted including the data published in The effect of brewing water and grist composition on the pH of the mash.

With this article I also released a updated version of my water calculator. But more on this later.

Click here: Mash pH control


Beer Recipes / Edel Hell
« on: February 16, 2011, 08:08:37 PM »
Here is the recipe for a Helles that I'm currently enjoying. I decided to use a grist of Pilsner malt with some Vienna to give it a more golden color. I also paid attention to flavor and aroma hops since many Munich Helles do have a slight hop aroma. In fact, even most modern Oktoberfest beers do. Finally I fermented at 46 F and used a maturation rest at ~ 70 F. I'm not sure which steps made how much of a difference, though.


You may want to check out the latest episode of Basic Brewing Radio. Chris Colby and I discuss the results of a listener’s experiment which targeted the question: “How long do you have to mash”.

Yeast and Fermentation / More giant yeast colonies
« on: February 06, 2011, 08:41:05 AM »
I took pictures of a few other giant yeast colonies that I grew a while back. Those pics have been added to the list of our club's yeast bank:

WY3068 grew the colony that looked most interesting:

If you don't know what this is about, check out my earlier post on this:


All Grain Brewing / Calcium and Magnesium and their effects on mash pH
« on: February 01, 2011, 09:18:05 PM »
I finally got around to test calcium and magnesium additions to the mash and how they affect the pH:

I have evaluated the effect of calcium and magnesium on the mash pH before when I investigated the pH effects of various waters (The effect of brewing water and grist composition on the pH of the mash). This time I repeated these experiments but didn't add the calcium and magnesium salts before dough-in but after dough-in. I was wondering if there is a difference or if I could repeat my observations.

The experiment set-up was fairly simple. 7 glasses were filled with 160 ml distilled water and heated in a ~75C water bath. 7 40 g samples of Rahr 2-row were weighed and milled separately with a ~0.75 mm mill gap resulting in a mash thickness of 4 l/kg. Strong calcium chloride and Magnesium sulfate solutions were prepared. The mash samples were doughed-in 3 min apart from each other. Each of the mashes had an initial mash pH of 63-64 C. 5 min after dough in different amounts of either the calcium brine or the magnesium brine were added. One mash remained unchanged. 15 min after the salt addition a sample of the mash was removed, cooled and its pH was recorded. Another sample was taken 60 min after the salt addition.

The results, along with data from previous mash experiments, are plotted in the chart below:

The first observation is that the distilled water pH for the Rahr 2-row is surprisingly low for a pale malt. I also observed this when I used this malt before. The earlieexperiment used pilsner malt which had a more typical distilled water mash pH of 5.7 and 5.8 respectively. Another observation is that magnesium is less effective than calcium in lowering the mash pH. A fact that is already known from the residual alkalinity equation where magnesium hardness is seen as half as effective in neutralizing alkalinity compared to calcium hardness.

As the calcium content increases the achieved pH drop gets smaller which suggests that the curve is approaching a saturation. However, this matters little to practical brewing since the amounts of calcium needed to drop the pH that low by far exceed the recommended amounts. At 42 mEq/kg, for example, the calcium content of the water in a 4 l/kg mash is already 212 mg/l. 50-150 mg/l is the recommended range for brewing water. In case of magnesium 40 mEq/kg mean ~110 mg/l magnesium in the mash water. This is way more than the magnesium levels commonly found in brewing water. Since magnesium is not as effective as calcium anyway it would not be a good choice for lowering the mash pH anyway. If the salts are only added to the mash water, their "flavor active" concentration can be spread over the total water volume used to brew that beer which will reduce the overall impact.

To put this in perspective ~2.1 g of gypsum (calcium sulfate) needs to be added for every kg of malt in order to drop the mash pH by 0.1 units. If we assume that for the average 12 Plato beer ~7.5 l water are needed for every kg of malt, this gypsum addition is equivalent to a water calcium increase by 65 mg/l and a sulfate increase of 155 mg/l.

For calcium chloride only 1.8 g are needed. The calcium content gets bumped by 65 mg/l (when spread over all the water even though the calcium is only added to the mash) and the chloride content gets bumped by 115 mg/l.

There is little change in between the 15 min and the 60 min pH measurement.

This write-up can also be found on my blog, which I recently moved to a new location and blog engine:

All Grain Brewing / A simple model for pH buffers
« on: January 24, 2011, 06:45:01 PM »
This is something I started working on last June before I took a break from writing about brewing science. I finally completed this short article which demonstrates pH buffers using a simple model of vertical pipes that are filled with water:

A simple Model for pH Buffers


All Grain Brewing / mash pH changes over time
« on: January 07, 2011, 10:50:37 PM »
Here is an interesting pH behavior that I observed today when I was testing the behavior of phosphoric acid additions:

These were 6 test mashes mashed at about 60C. various amounts of phosphoric acid were added 5 min after dough-in. Mash pH was tested 20 and 60 min after dough-in.

What is interesting is that during the mash the mash build up a stronger buffer. I.e. the amount of added acid had less on an effect on the mash pH after 60 min (~30 mEq were needed for each kg of malt and a drop of 1 pH unit) than it had at 20 min (only 15 mEq/(pH*kg) were needed. After doing the initial pH measurements I thought something was wrong with the amount of acidity I contribute to the phosphoric acid since I was expecting 30 mEq/(pH*kg) but then I had the 2nd pH tests and they made more sense.

I don't know if this is something that is unique to phosphoric acid. Previous experiments, that evaluated the effect acids and bases have on the mash, were not set up like this one. But the ones that tested pH at different times show the same trend. A mash buffer strength of ~30 mEq/(pH * kg) is what I was expecting from previous experiments. I'll have to pay attention to this effect in future mash experiments.

In practical brewing you may have seen that the initial test of the mash pH was much lower than expected while later tests would have shown an increased mash pH. In fact I have seen changed of mash pH during mashing w/o the addition of acids or salts. But the extend of the pH change was not always the same. It is very much possible that it takes some time for the pH active substances to be released during mashing, which is why I think getting your mash chemistry correct at dough-in and thus preventing the need for pH corrections, has its merit.


Yeast and Fermentation / WLP002 Giant Colony
« on: January 06, 2011, 08:12:21 PM »
Also posted here

Ever wondered what would happen if you let a yeast culture on agar grow? The result is called giant yeast colonies which in the past have been used to distinguish yeast strain. Differences in metabolism, flocculation characteristics and genetic stability lead to differences in the appearance of the giant colonies.

So I wanted to give it a try myself. Brewing Techniques featured a nice article on that topic which pointed out that the growth medium needs to be much thicker than the thin agar medium that is commonly used for Petri dishes. Not having deep mycological Petri dishes I used 4 oz canning jars. The growth medium was regular strength brewing wort solidified with agar. The BT article suggests using gelatin but that didn’t work for me, likely because I forgot about the advice not to autoclave the gelatin.

The agar surface was inoculated with very small amount WLP 002 (English Ale) yeast and allowed to grow for a few weeks at about 15-20 C (60-68 F). The result is shown below.

Apparent are “growth rings” which are considered typical for highly flocculent yeast. Another interesting feature is the wedge shaped change in yeast appearance. This is likely caused by a mutation that happened to a cell at the tip of the wedge which caused it and the cells originating from it to grow differently than the other cells in the colony.

While growing giant yeast cells has little application in practical brewing it is one of those fun things that can be done with supplies that I have in the brewery anyway and I also plan to gow and document the giant colonies of other strains in my yeast collection.


Equipment and Software / wort aeration with perforated pipe
« on: December 28, 2010, 09:07:16 PM »
On the last batch I tried aerating my wort with a perforated pipe. I only got to about 4 ppm O2 and had to supplement with pure oxygen. Here is the complete write-up:

Wort aeration with a perforated pipe


All Grain Brewing / Haze issues with a bag of Maris Otter malt
« on: December 23, 2010, 08:07:09 AM »
I have this bag of Fawcett&Sons Maris Otter pale malt and every beer I brew from it is hazy. I just looked through my notes and I always noted that I was fairly cloudy after 4 or more month which forced me to fine it with gelatin.

This is the malt spec:

Maris Otter Pale Malt
Maltster: Thomas Fawcett & Sons
DBCG: 79.9%
MC: 3.6 %
DP Linter: 52
Total protein: 9.56%
SNR: 37.9 %
Homogenity 97.8%

I noticed the low modification index (SNR) and the 1st pair of beers was a APA where I brewed one with single infusion and the other one with a 30 min protein rest at 54 C followed by a single temp sacc rest. Both beers came out cloudy.

Then I brewed another 2 beers but I use single infusion mashing for both beers and added gelatin later.

I forgot about this for my last beer with this malt, an EPA, and the beer is cloudy again. My original intentrion for this pair of beers was to compare closed to open fermentation. While I’ll still do that I’ll also give the next beer a more intensive mash. A decoction mash with a 30 min protein rest at 48 C, sounds about right.

The haze is not a yeast haze. I looked at it under the microscope. It’s comprised of very fine particles that are a bit less than 1 um in size.
I’m able to brew clear beers with all the other malts I have used before and this malt is puzzling me.


Yeast and Fermentation / Does WLP002 develop a large Kraeusen?
« on: December 21, 2010, 09:16:33 AM »
I was counting on that and on day 3 it hasn't happened yet?  I only have about 1 1/2 in of non yeasty head.

This is the first time I'm using this yeast.


Homebrew Clubs / Technical brewing education in brewing clubs
« on: December 21, 2010, 08:43:39 AM »
How do you guys do it?

Our club, Brew Free or Die, is looking to add more educational activities to our club life. The two options that are currently debated are having a short presentation at club meeting or having a dedicated meeting for brewer education.

The first option doesn't give much time for educational topics since most of the meeting is for socializing and not everybody is interested in the educational part. The 2nd option is seen as running the risk of splitting the club since members may only attend one and not the other.


All Grain Brewing / Measuring high gravity worts
« on: November 27, 2010, 06:15:04 AM »
In Reply to: Tom's post in the Sparge Arm thread:

Get yourself a small graduated cylinder, then dilute the wort with an equal amount of water.  Multiply the refractometer reading by 2, and bob's your uncle.  It will be cheaper than buying a high gravity refractometer, $7.50 from morebeer.

I believe the dilution has to be done by weight. E.g you need to mix 50g of wort with 50g of water. I'm not completely sure for SG. But I'm sure for Plato since that is a weight based extract measure.

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