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Topics - gmac

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Ingredients / Using 2-row for lagers
« on: April 16, 2011, 04:20:19 PM »
I'm thinking about doing a lager, not sure exactly what yet but probably a pilsner and I'm wondering if it essential to use pilsener malt?  Besides colour, what is the advantage of pilsener malt over standard 2-row?  I'm not that concerned with it being as light as possible in colour, more concerned with how it tastes and how it works in a batch sparge application. 

I guess the bigger question is what I can make if I buy 55 lbs of 2-row instead of worrying about buying smaller lots of various other malts.  I know I'll need to add a few different specialty grains into my inventory but for now, what would be the most diverse base grain to have on hand?

Yeast and Fermentation / Wyeast 2112
« on: April 15, 2011, 04:10:39 PM »
Is this yeast slow to get going?  I pitched some about 18 hours ago and no activity that I can see.  Not worried yet but I just wondered if this is common for this yeast.
I pitched the yeast from a 3L starter that I prepared from a previous starter.  Visually it appeared to be a pretty good amount based on how much sediment I got when I made the original starter with the smack pack. 
For those of you who've used this yeast, how long would you expect to wait to see some activity?  Just want to know when I can start worrying.  I can't RDWHAHB - no HB on hand.

The Pub / Brew Your Own place
« on: April 14, 2011, 09:33:47 PM »
I went into a local BYO place today because I was told that I might be able to order grain from them.  Turns out they were very willing to order grain for me from their supplier when they order LME and specialty grains so that was positive. Gotta wait a bit but at least I will get 25kg bags of 2-row without the 2 hour drive I was doing before.

But, we got talking about beer, brewing etc and I was so sadly  disappointed to see what they considered a "Recipe".  Basically, every recipe they showed me was:
X lbs LME
X time 2 glucose.
Probably 1/3 LME and 2/3 corn sugar in all of their recipes. They also only used dry yeast and all of the beer was fermented at 68 degrees regardless of whether it was a lager or an ale.  Just so sad.

I did see an interesting way to ferment though.  They had 50L plastic barrels with holes cut in them and then a plastic bag put into the barrel.  The beer was put in the bag and a twist-tie put on the bag.  That's it.  No fermentation lock or anything.  2 weeks in that, filtered and bottled for a week. and you have beer.   Or what they called beer.

Kegging and Bottling / Using a keg as a secondary
« on: April 14, 2011, 04:48:21 PM »
I've seen some posts about this and I'd like to put 5 gals of beer into a keg this afternoon but I have two questions.
First of all, the beer isn't 100% done fermenting yet.  It's slowed down an awful lot and only bubbles occasionally but there is still some fermentation going on.  Is this a problem?

Secondly, what is the best procedure.  I was going to keg it, seal it and give it a shot of CO2 to set the seals and then leave it for a week or so before putting it back on the CO2 to carbonate.  Should I just put it on and leave it on the gas while it settles?  I don't need the CO2 for anything else right now.


Equipment and Software / Hops "Plants"
« on: April 14, 2011, 02:14:09 PM »
Has anyone ever gotten hops in any other form but rhizomes?  I've been looking for hops and the ones I've found either don't ship to Canada or they require an extra payment for a phytosanitary certificate which I understand but don't want to pay.  So, I ordered some Nugget and Cascade hops from a Canadian supplier but they come as "plants" not rhizomes. 
Does anyone know when it would be best to plant these?  I hope they are plants derived from rhizomes or they may be pretty darn small.  Not sure when I would see a cone.

One other question, I don't have a very sunny back yard.  Will they take shade?  I have a lot of trees and I was thinking of trying to train them up some strings hung from the tree branches but if they won't handle shade at all, then I'll have to put them in a sunny spot.  I have one, it's just not that big. 

I am also going to order some Northern Brewer rhizomes from another supplier but he doesn't have any Cascade (sold out).  Is there a minimum distance you need to have them seperated or is it just enough that you can tell them apart at harvest?  The NB will likely go to my friend who has a gazebo that we are going to cover in hops.  May as well make it more valuable.


All Grain Brewing / Watering down beer
« on: April 08, 2011, 01:39:36 AM »
This question will likely seem like sacrilege to many of you but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on adding water to beer after the initial fermentation has slowed.  I don't really want an above normal alcohol content in my beer (normal being about 5%) and I'm looking for a session style beer that I can drink with friends for an evening and not get too loaded or too hung-over the next day. 

My last 3 brews have higher than expected extraction so my beer is a bit higher alcohol potential than I'd like.  Also, I overfilled my carboy today so I am expecting to lose a good amount through the blow off tube.  Can I just top it up with boiled and cooled water after the initial krausen surge is over?  Will this make it too watery?  I am sure that if I had more room to ferment, adding water prior would have been preferred but all I have available is one 5 US gal carboy. 

I used 9 lbs MO, 1 lb of Crystal 40  and ended up with 1.062 OG instead of the 1.058 I got last time.  I really wanted something in the 1.050 - 1.054 range so next time I'm taking the crystal and MO each down 1/4 lb.

Anyway, should I leave well enough alone or should I water it down a bit?

Equipment and Software / Prepping a cooler
« on: April 07, 2011, 04:57:24 PM »
I am using a coleman Extreme cooler, 50 quart I believe and I've got a couple questions on how you guys prep these on brew day.
I have seen posts that say they don't lose a degree in the hour you are mashing but today and last time, I left the thermometer in and both times, the final temp was about 10 degrees below the start temp.  For example, today it started at 154 and an hour later the thermometer is reading about 144.  I'm guessing I'm losing a lot of heat to warm the cooler so I'm wondering what you do.  My brews have been thinner than I've wanted and I wonder if this is part of the problem.

All I've been doing is adding a couple quarts of 180 water and sloshing it around a bit and letting it sit for 5 minutes and dumping it. 

Equipment and Software / Summer Lager Temp Idea
« on: April 07, 2011, 03:33:28 PM »
What do you guys think of this idea?

My house is basically sitting on springs (the water type, not the boing - boing type).  Because of this, I have cold water running through my footing tile 365 days a year.  The water is clean cold and probably drinkable but I'm not going to do that.  What I am considering though is opening the backflow access hatch in the cold room and putting a line in with a small pump that would pump the water into a coil (basically make a cooling coil) that would be big enough to encircle a 5 gal keg.  Then, I'm thinking put the keg into big rubbermaid tub and filling it with water and then putting the coil and carboy into the tub.  Then use the cool water to cool the fermenter down to around 50 or so so that I could lager in the summer without having to come up with a 3rd fridge/freezer (one is for food etc, one is for cold beer).
Just wondering if anyone thinks that this would be possible.  Maybe even hook a temperature controller to the pump so that it only came on when needed.  I don't know the water temp but it's pretty cool.

Just thinking while I wait for my mash to finish.

Yeast and Fermentation / Stepping up a very weak starter
« on: April 07, 2011, 03:21:21 PM »
I'm brewing today and I'm going to pitch a healthy starter of Wyeast 2112.  Last time I brewed, I saved the last 3 litres of my sparged wort for use in a starter.  The OG of this is pretty weak about 1.020. 
I was thinking of doing the following and wondered what you thought or what you suggested.
Once I pitch the starter, I was going to add 1L of boiled and cooled sparged wort to the container that my starter is in.  My intent is to try to culture the remnants back up to a pitchable quantity which I will then wash and store in the fridge for a future batch or pitch right away if necessary (I intend to do another batch before the current one is done).

I've asked about this before and people have said this would work but my question for the day is:  Is 1.020 too low?  I have 2 more liters that I was going to add in a few days to keep building up the population but should I up the OG of that?  Would 3 L of 1.020 be enough?  If not I have some DME I can add to bring it up when I boil it but I wondered if starting off at 1.020 was OK. 
Not that DME is expensive but I figured if this will work, why not.

All Grain Brewing / Hopping a California Common
« on: April 03, 2011, 05:47:32 AM »
This question is hidden in another thread but judging by the lack or responses, I'm guessing it isn't to apparent.

So, I'm hoping to do a California Common tomorrow with Wyeast 2112, 9 lbs MO, 1 lb C40 and Northern Brewer hops.
I'm not that happy with the balance on my last few beers despite not using that much hops.  What would you recommend for good balance with distinct but not dominant hop character? 
I'm considering 1 oz @ 60 (AA7.8), 1/2 oz at 15 and 0 at flameout.  The BJCP guidelines I found on line didn't really give me a lot of direction when it came to hop flavour and aroma, just that it should be fairly bitter.  The last few beers I've done have been pretty bitter and although I like them, my wife is looking for more balance and malt and less hops.  This isn't going into any contest, just my belly.

All Grain Brewing / Thanks Everyone
« on: April 01, 2011, 12:48:10 AM »
I mentioned this in another post but it's sort of buried so I wanted to thank everyone who gave me advice on my first all-grain.  I tried it out last night with some friends and I have to say that I think it's pretty good.  Sure, there's lots of room for improvement but I'm sure that will come with experience. 

In particular I want to thank Denny for all his advice on batch sparging, Tschmidlin for his advice on starters and Euge for his real-time PM advice when things weren't going perfectly.  But also I wanted to thank all of you who weighed in with advice and encouragement. 

Thanks again.
ps.  This beer is a little sneaky.  Goes down very smooth but it certainly crept up on us last night.  Three guys went to work today with headaches.  Must be the water I used...

Yeast and Fermentation / Is this enough yeast?
« on: March 29, 2011, 07:19:03 PM »
This is my first attempt at washing and re-using yeast.  I screwed it up a bit the first time so I went back and re-washed what was left in the jug (it had been kept cold and covered and should be as clean as it was or as any starter I've made so far).  Now I have this at the bottom of a pint mason jar.  Is this enough yeast to pitch directly or should I make a starter?  I got this on Tuesday and was going to brew tomorrow.  It's been kept at about 34F since I washed it.  Please let me know if you think this would be enough.

Beer Recipes / Maris Otter in a Steam Beer?
« on: March 26, 2011, 02:37:39 AM »
Just wonder what Maris Otter would be like in a steam beer?  I've got Wyeast California lager yeast on order, Maris Otter, Crystal 40 and 1lb of Northern Brewer that should be here Monday.  I'm going to do a pale ale but I was thinking about trying a steam soon.  Should I try it with Maris Otter or wait until I can get some 2 row?

The Pub / English Ales - Am I alone
« on: March 25, 2011, 10:05:21 PM »
The more I read the posts on this forum, the more I wonder if I'm in the minority.  So, I have to ask.  Does anyone else out there like just normal, plain old traditional English-type Ales?  I see lots of discussions on high alcohol barley wines but I just don't have a taste for them.  I see lots of talk about American style IPAs with all of their fruity, citrusy C hops which I am fine with and do enjoy on occasion but I certainly can't spend a whole night drinking these.  There's just too much there.  Maybe the hard core lupulin addicts out there can do it but not me.

So, is there anyone out there that just likes a plain old 4 or 4.5% English Bitter or Pale Ale?  

I put this in the Pub because it's meant just as a discussion, not as a criticism of any style or anyones taste.  Something you'd chat about over a beer in a pub somewhere in the world.  Am I alone?  Are there others out there that don't want 11% beer or hops, hops and more hops or am I just becoming a boring old man?  

Yeast and Fermentation / Starter Size Clarification
« on: March 24, 2011, 09:40:47 PM »
When I read posts about a 4L starter or go on Mr. Malty and they are suggesting a 3.5 L starter or something similar, exactly what does that mean?  Is that the amount of yeast produced by pitching into 3L of lower gravity wort and then removing the older starter (beer) and pitching the yeast or pitching all 3L of stuff or do I need 3L of yeast (I don't think this is the case).

Please clarify what this means to you.

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