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Topics - bluedog

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Equipment and Software / Mesh bags for hops?
« on: May 10, 2013, 05:31:39 PM »
I have a question about bagging hops for the boil. I typically use hop pellets and just drop them into the boil kettle. Recently at big brew I noticed a lot of brewers using mesh bags to contain the hops for the boil. I also saw someone using a hop "spider" which was basically a large mesh bag attached to a PVC collar with posts to the edge of the kettle. The hops were just dropped into the bag and later the whole bag removed and the wort drained. My question is there any loss of efficiency or extraction by bagging the hops?

General Homebrew Discussion / Harvest Ale
« on: August 01, 2011, 01:21:28 AM »
OK so what is a harvest ale? Every fall I see this brewery or that brewery has a "harvest ale" out. They are usually something like an American amber - copper/red in color and kind of hoppy with some biscuit or toasty component. Is this a just marketing term? Something to compete with the O'fest offerings from other breweries?

The Pub / My garage fridge
« on: June 30, 2011, 07:44:13 PM »
So my garage fridge is dying a slow death. When I grabbed a beer the other day, it seemed warm so I did what any brewer would do. I got my lab thermometer and took a reading. 50F was a little high for my drinking enjoyment. The controller was all the way down. I could get the fridge checked out but I paid $50 for it and it would cost twice that to get someone over to look at it. Here's the thing I live outside Chicago and if I understand it right some new refrigerators don't work well in the garage with the temperature extremes we have in the midwest. Apparently the freezer doesn't work if the outside temp goes below 10F or something like that. The fridge I have now has separate thermostat settings for the freezer and the fridge. It seems the new fridges have only one controller and could cause a problem. Anybody out there know about this and could shed some light on the subject?

Yeast and Fermentation / Wyeast 5526 - Brettanomyces Lambicus
« on: June 06, 2011, 12:19:56 AM »
Wyeast 5526 is the Brettanomyces Lambicus strain. Has anybody out there used this before? A while back I had a oak aged Belgian that had an awesome tart cherry flavor and aroma and would like to make something similar.The Wyeast description of this yeast states that this strain has that sour cherry character. I'm wondering is there a best temperature for this strain? I have never fermented anything with Brett before and could use some advice.

Yeast and Fermentation / Diacetyl rest - how long is too long?
« on: April 29, 2011, 11:52:22 PM »
Diacetyl rest - how long is too long? I have a lager that is resting at 66F in the primary on the original yeast. I have another one using my lager fridge for primary right now. How long can I let the first one sit at room temp?

Yeast and Fermentation / Belgian saison
« on: March 25, 2011, 05:54:21 PM »
How long should my primary fermentation last for my saison. My OG was 1.070 on March 5th. I am using the wyeast Belgian saison which everything I have read can be problematic. I pitched a starter that had been built up twice with a half gallon each time and pitched only the slurry. My 70 F fermentation stalled right around 1.030 which I kind of expected. I put a heating pad underneath and raised the temp up to 78 F. The airlock is bubbling again and my gravity is dropping. Last summer I did a saison with the French saison yeast and left it the primary for almost a month. The aroma was great and it tasted like I expected but had kind of yeasty aftertaste. Anyway if the airlock is showing signs that active fermentation is happening I guess I just let it go until I get into the single digits without moving it off the primary yeast. I think that this yeast likes warmer temps and maybe with the room temps being around 66 F my fermentation time is going to be longer. I just want those cool saison phenols and esters without the yeasty aftertaste. Thoughts?

All Grain Brewing / Modified batch sparge?
« on: January 20, 2011, 07:43:20 PM »
If my mash tun can hold enough water after my mash has converted, would I be able to add and recirculate the entire pre-boil volume and then drain? I have been fly sparging but Santa brought me a new (bigger) mash tun so I am thinking about trying this out this weekend. Thoughts?

Other Fermentables / Lactose
« on: September 21, 2010, 07:09:46 PM »
Is lactose truly unfermentable? How many ppg would be in a pound of lactose? I am thought about this as I was backsweetening a mead. Instead of adding potassium sorbate first and then honey, couldn't I sweeten with lactose and not have to worry about refermentation?

Equipment and Software / RIMS and false bottom
« on: September 20, 2010, 07:19:23 PM »
I am currently using a RIMS set up for mashing in a ten gallon pot on the stovetop. I like it because I can step mash and have been hitting 75% or better efficiency routinely. However, I have noticed as I start to increase my grain bill my flow rate becomes a trickle. I am using a perforated false bottom in my mashtun. I thought at first it was because of the flow rate being too fast. But now I think it's because of the added weight of the grain compressing the grist. My last brew was 15 1/2 lbs of grain - I could not get it to recirculate as it kept plugging the screen. Again this has not happened with smaller grain bills (10 - 12lbs) even with more than 50% wheat. I am thinking about getting a Blichmann false bottom. Does anyone out there use one with a RIMS and if so do you like it? 

Equipment and Software / Cleaning immersion chillers
« on: September 06, 2010, 04:53:24 PM »
So besides a green scrubber, barkeepers friend, and elbow grease - does anyone have an easier way for cleaning a copper immersion wort chiller?

Zymurgy / Aging beer
« on: July 22, 2010, 03:31:27 PM »
I would like to see an article (maybe Geeks Only) on aging beers/ meads. What I would like to see covered is what is actually happening during bulk aging and bottle aging. How is the product changing and why? Is there a way to predict when the beer/mead will be at peak and when will it begin to degrade? I have asked this before and got responses like - if you don't know what you're doing bulk aging is best, and even it's majic. I am looking for a little more science and a little less fantasy. Maybe someone in the community can submit an article on this subject. Or if there has been one in the past can you direct me toward it. Thanks in advance.

All Grain Brewing / Mash efficiency
« on: June 19, 2010, 03:29:25 PM »
Why does my efficiency go down when I make big beers? I mashed 19 lbs of grain the other day and got 7 gallons of 1.054 wort. I wound up adding DME to the boil to boost my gravity. Doing the math I should have been in the low 1.090's (post boil) with 75% efficiency. So what's going on? I don't have this issue when I make 1.050/1.060 beers. I usually come in higher than I expected with somewhere like 80% effeciency. I have a RIMS set up and fly sparge. I would add extra grain to the mash if I could but my set up is maxed out at 20lbs.
Thanks in advance...

Other Fermentables / bulk aging meads
« on: March 29, 2010, 11:55:02 AM »
Is it better to bottle age or bulk age meads, cysers, pyments etc? It would seem to me that a large volume of mead would take more time to develop the desirable characteristics aging brings versus a small volume. Also, isn't aging a process of oxidation? In theory, if a bottle is sealed no oxygen can be absorbed. So how is it that hot alcohols and "green" flavors become that mellow warming and complex character?
As always thanks in advance

All Grain Brewing / Mash temperature differences
« on: February 14, 2010, 04:33:18 PM »
Hi all,
When I mash I have a floating thermometer in the pot. I will get different readings if I check different spots. My question is if I take a sample of the liquid and the temperature is correct (let's say 152 F) does it matter if the temperature in the grain bed flucuates? I am stirring the grain in the mash tun every 5 minutes or so.

Ingredients / Brewing with Heather
« on: February 10, 2010, 07:20:47 PM »
Can anybody give me some advice about brewing with heather tips? I found a recipe I would like to try, it looks like an 80 /- scottish ale and has 2 hop additions using Fuggles. The heather is two additions and recommends using 1 - 2 cups of dried heather tips. It seems like the difference between 1 and 2 cups of hops would be major.
As always thanks in advance.

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