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Topics - gmac

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301
Equipment and Software / Prepping a cooler
« on: April 07, 2011, 09:57:24 AM »
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. 
Suggestions?
Thanks

302
Equipment and Software / Summer Lager Temp Idea
« on: April 07, 2011, 08:33:28 AM »
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.

303
Yeast and Fermentation / Stepping up a very weak starter
« on: April 07, 2011, 08:21:21 AM »
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.
Thanks

304
All Grain Brewing / Hopping a California Common
« on: April 02, 2011, 10:47:32 PM »
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.
Thanks

305
All Grain Brewing / Thanks Everyone
« on: March 31, 2011, 05:48:10 PM »
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...

306
Yeast and Fermentation / Is this enough yeast?
« on: March 29, 2011, 12:19:03 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.
Thanks

307
Beer Recipes / Maris Otter in a Steam Beer?
« on: March 25, 2011, 07:37:39 PM »
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?

308
The Pub / English Ales - Am I alone
« on: March 25, 2011, 03:05:21 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?  

309
Yeast and Fermentation / Starter Size Clarification
« on: March 24, 2011, 02:40:47 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.
Thanks

310
All Grain Brewing / 2nd All-grain - Seems to be getting better
« on: March 21, 2011, 01:16:22 PM »
Did my 2nd all grain today, an amber lager.
10 lbs Pilsener malt
2 lbs Vienna malt
0.5 lbs Crystal 40 (I just couldn't leave it out...)

Mashed for 75 mins at 153 with water adjusted to pH 6.  Mash pH 5.7.  Drained off 14 quarts of 1.072 wort.  Meant to mash for 60 mins but sparge water heated slower than I anticipated.
Sparged with 16 quarts of 180 degree water and drained off 14 quarts of 1.033 wort before it began running very slow.
Boiled 28 quarts for 75 mins with 2 oz of 3.1 AA Saaz hops added at start and 1 oz of 3.1 AA Saaz added at 45 mins into boil.  Was intending to stop at 60 mins but forgot to immerse chiller so boiled an additional 15 mins to sterilize chiller.

After boiling I got 6.5 gallons (23 L) of 1.062 wort.  Based on my calculations, that was somewhere around 89% efficiency.  Could this be possible? I'd be happy if it was but it seems a bit optimistic given that its only my 2nd batch. 

Cooled to 15C and put it in a water bath with a wet towel over it.  Pitched about 1L of Wyeast Czech Pils starter.  Maybe should have waited longer but I wanted to get done and clean up.  Freezer with temp controller isn't working - it's a very old (and mouldy)freezer that I was gonna discard anyway and I've already sourced a newer (free) one - so it's sitting in a 12" water bath with a towel over it.  Probably won't get it down to 50 degrees like that but should be 60 or slightly less, especially if I add ice occassionally.  I considered putting it in the cold room but that is only about 4C and probably too cold to ferment properly. But, that's where it's headed when it's done. 

311
Equipment and Software / What's the best thermometer?
« on: March 21, 2011, 08:42:46 AM »
I have a glass "beer and wine" termometer that I picked up at the local wine shop and I think it's accurate but it's painfully slow to come to temp.  It floats so I leave it in my mash water as it's heating but when I adjust my mash temp, it takes forever.  I pulled it out of the 170 degree mash water, let it cool to about 150 and put it back in and it took about 20 seconds to get to back to temp.  It drops fast, rises slow.
So, when I added my mash water, I was a touch hot and so I added some cold and it dropped to 140, so I added a bit more hot to get it back up and it may have eventually got there.  I gave up and used the kitched thermometer which is celsius and got it to 67C which is about 153F.  This one is very small and hard to read though.  Also, I have no idea how accurate it is although it did correspond with the slow one in the mash water.

Just a bit of a pain to fine tune temps without loosing too much heat when it's so slow.

So, what's the best, quickest, best value thermometer out there for brewing?

312
All Grain Brewing / Help me make a recipe please
« on: March 20, 2011, 11:47:47 AM »
I was going to take a stab at a lager tomorrow.  Here's what I have on hand.  Please give me your thoughts on proportions etc.
10 lbs pilsener malt
2 lbs Vienna malt
4 lbs Crystal 40
(also have 45 lbs of Maris Otter that I wasn't going to use in this brew)
3 oz Saaz hops.

I was originally going to go with just Pilsener malt only and then I started to think about 10+1+1 each of Vienna and Crystal.  Do I need crystal?  I've always used it in ales for body but what do you think here?  Pilsener and Vienna only?  Or just Pilsener and crystal?  Or 8+2+1?  Shooting for around 4.5 to 5% alcohol.  Assume 65% efficiency based on my last batch.

Clearly, I have no recipe or style in mind but my starter is ready and my friend gave me a freezer control so my little freezer is set to 40 degrees.  I was going to wing it but I figured I may as well ask the experts.

313
Yeast and Fermentation / Ale fermented at 62 degrees
« on: March 18, 2011, 12:35:28 PM »
I normally don't screw around with my beer once I have it in the primary, prefering to let things be instead of risking introducing contaminants but I broke down and checked my latest brew and I discovered that the temp is a bit lower than I was expecting.  It has had a wet towel on it and been sitting in a short water bath because I wanted to get it cooled lower before pitching the yeast and I just left it alone.  The temp in the beer, not on the outside of the carboy, seems to be about 62 degrees.  What can I expect from this cooler temp?  The yeast is Wyeast 1318 London Ale III.  According to Wyeast, it should be ok from 64 - 74 so being a bit lower shouldn't be the end of the world, should it?  I checked the temp because it was taking what I thought was an awfully long time to ferment out and this could help explain why.  It's been a week and still bubbling strong.  I didn't take a gravity as I assume since it's bubbling, it's not done so why bother risking it.

314
All Grain Brewing / Water Report
« on: March 17, 2011, 08:40:09 AM »
I was able to track down a water report for our municipal water system.  Could someone please help me interpret the results and what that would mean for brewing?  I think the water is pretty alkaline and pretty hard and thus more suited to dark ales than light lagers but please help me understand what all this means and if any water adulteration is necessary.
Thanks

Edit:  Can't figure out how to attach a PDF, or if that is possible.  Here are some of the parameters, let me know what else I need.

Alkalinity (as CaCO3) - 216
Hardness (mg/L as CaCO3) - 214
pH - 7.8
Sodium - 23.6 (not on the report but communicated so I don't know the units, I am sure mg/L makes the most sense.)
Sulphates (mg/L) - 37
Chloride (mg/L) - 11
Calcium (mg/L) - 38.5
Iron (ug/L) - 169
Copper (ug/L) - 12
Manganese - (ug/L) - 8
Potassium (mg/L) - 1.42
Zinc (ug/L) 10<MDL

315
Yeast and Fermentation / Slow Lager Starter
« on: March 14, 2011, 08:51:40 AM »
I started my first lager starter yesterday using Wyeast Czech Pils (sorry forget the #) and when I checked it before work this morning, it was completely flat.  There didn't appear to be any activity at all except that the yeast had all settled to the bottom. I gave it a good shake but I'm a bit worried that after 24 hours there is no appearance of any activity at all.  I've never used lager yeast before so maybe this is perfectly normal but I'm wondering if the yeast was bad or if I screwed it up in some way.

The starter is 125g of DME in 1.5L of water that was boiled for 5 minutes and then cooled in a water bath.  I don't know the temperature I pitched the yeast at but it was rather cool given the water bath.  I didn't allow the package to swell and don't usually if it's going into a starter.  I usually break the inner bag and let it warm to room temp and then pitch it.  Perhaps I should wait but then again, in this case I would have thought it was bad and discarded it by now given the lack of apparent activity.

I washed my starter container with bleach but rinsed it thoroughly and haven't had problems in the past with this.  I now use Star-San for my brewing vessels but for such a small amount, and given that I had no Star-San available, I went with bleach. 

So, should I just keep waiting patiently and shaking when I'm home or is this one a dud?
Thanks
Graham

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