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Topics - gmac

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316
Beer Travel / Anyone been to Costa Rica?
« on: February 16, 2011, 03:27:17 PM »
Headed there next week, are there any good beers that I should make sure to try?  Not a beer destination but hey, if I'm there I should try the local brews right?

317
Ingredients / Crystal vs Cara vs Caramel Malts
« on: February 16, 2011, 10:19:43 AM »
I'm still working on a grain bill and I'm looking over the items available from my supplier and I see a few products that appear to be pretty similar and I'm curious what the differences are and what the contribute to a brew.

Crystal Malt - I think I know this one fairly well and what it brings (body, colour, flavour)
Cara  - I see this a lot on my supplies site with various suffix's.  Cara-pils, Cara-amber.  Is this a trade mark of a particular maltster?  What does it bring?
Caramel Malt - I thought this was another name for Crystal but am I wrong?  Probably.

Just exploring my options.
Thanks
Graham

318
Kegging and Bottling / Too much foam
« on: February 12, 2011, 03:46:38 PM »
I know this has been on here before but I can't find it.  I put 5 gallons of pale ale into a keg on Thursday and had a few last night and they were perfect but today, when we have company over, all I'm getting is foam.  The pressure is probably a bit high but I've lowered it and let off the pressure on the keg.
Any thoughts how to get rid of the foam quickly?
Thanks

319
Kegging and Bottling / Regulator question
« on: February 10, 2011, 04:39:43 PM »
I put my first beer in a keg today and I noticed on my second hand regulator that there was a little hole under the pressure screw that seemed to be leaking a bit when I adjusted the pressure. What is this, is it normal or will I soon have an empty tank?

320
The Pub / Worst Homebrew Ever!
« on: February 09, 2011, 11:23:31 PM »
Maybe this has been done before but what's the worst batch you've ever made?  We're all proud of our successes and achievements but what's the worst beer you've made.  How did it go bad?  What did you do wrong?  

I'll start off by telling you the story of what has certainly been the worst brew I've ever done (although in a weird way, it turned out to be the best I could ever hope for).  

Back in University, about 20 or so years ago, I wasn't that focused on the overall quality of the homebrew I was making.  Quantity and alcohol content were the driving factors.  So, when I went home over the Christmas break, I decided to make some homebrew to take back to school with me.  We weren't allowed to brew beer in our residence although  I did fill my garbage can with potting soil and tried to grow a giant pumpkin but that's off topic....  Now, back then I was usually doing all-malt extract brews with my own hops and whatever other ingredients we decided to add. For this batch I went with a classic recipe - and I use that term very loosely - that my friend and I basically pulled out of thin air.  The beer was called "Count Hannibal Slim's Royal Ace of Spades Oatmeal and Coffee Breakfast Stout".  Hannibal Slim was my buddies Jack Russell Terrier, the Ace of Spades reference was in part homage to the colour of the beer and the classic Motorhead tune we were listening to during the process and the oatmeal and coffee were literally a couple packages of Quaker Instant Oatmeal and a pot of black coffee that we dumped into the brew on a whim.  

Because I was pressed for time before I went back to class, I only had about a week to get the beer done and bottled before I had to get back to failing classes.  We boiled a couple gallons of water, added our malt extract, coffee, oatmeal etc (this was not a mash process, just a straight up addition) and hops and boiled it for an hour, added it to a carboy with water and pitched the yeast.  But, because we were limited on time, and knowing that micro-organisms should work faster under warmer conditions, I kept the carboy at about 90 degrees for the entire brewing process.  After 5 days, we bottled into plastic bottles with table sugar and then I surrounded the hot air registers in my parents house with bottles and draped blankets over them to really insulate them and keep the heat in.

Needless to say, it was the most cidery, off-tasting, putrid beer you can imagine but I drank it happily.  In fact, when one of my female roommates brought her friend over I offered her some too.  Surprisingly, she drank it and even tried to convince me that she liked it.  I was so impressed with this girl who could stomach this horrible brew, and keep it down, and pretend to like it that I ended up marrying her.  So, what was probably the worst homebrew in history was a great litmus test to help me find an amazing women and now, 20 years later she is finally letting me brew beer again.

So that's the worst beer I've made (so far - there's always room for failure).  What about you?

321
Kegging and Bottling / Keg Fridge
« on: January 23, 2011, 07:52:06 PM »
I've only been back into homebrewing for a couple of batches but I remember now one of the big reasons that I quit.  Bottling sucks. 

So, I'm going to put a hole in the fridge downstairs and set up a keg system.  I'd like some thoughts on where to drill a hole, what to do when I've drilled it etc.

I was thinking the side because I assume the door would be hard to open with the lines etc.  Is it safe to drill just anywhere? 

Also, I can get refurbished ball lock corny kegs for $85.  Is this a decent price?  I have a CO2 tank that needs to be re-certified but that shouldn't be a problem.  Assuming it's ok and I can get a regulator and lines, is it worth it or should I just get the 3 keg system with tank/regulator/lines etc?  Cost is $499. 

Let me know what you think because my bottling days are very soon going to be over!!!

322
Commercial Beer Reviews / Leinenkugel's Fireside Nut Brown
« on: January 19, 2011, 09:28:19 PM »
I picked this up the other day.  Wish I hadn't.

Very disappointing beer.  The "nut" taste was reminiscent of hazelnut but was over-powering and very unappealing to my tastes.  To be honest, I only drank half of the bottle and dumped the rest and I don't know when the last time was that I didn't finish a beer.  Just not pleasant.  The label mentions "with natural flavor" so I don't know if they've added some sort of extract to enhance the nuttiness but it was not good.  I drank it from the bottle so I can't comment on colour or lacing.

If you've tried this and you liked it, I know where you can get 11 of them real cheap...

323
All Grain Brewing / Canadian 2-Row
« on: January 18, 2011, 09:32:51 PM »
I'm starting to put together a grain bill for my first all-grain batch.  I was checking out my normal on-line supplier for base grains and they list a Canadian 2-row malt.  The goal is an English style Pale Ale, nothing too overly-adventurous for this first attempt.  So my question is, does anyone know how this malt would compare to Marris Otter English 2-row?  Price of the Canadian is about 60% of the Marris Otter.

324
Equipment and Software / Blow off tube
« on: December 30, 2010, 11:27:16 AM »
Can someone post a picture of how they made a blow-by tube for a glass carboy?  I tried to make a one but fitting I put into the rubber bung was too large and it seemed to expand the rubber too much and it wouldn't stay in the carboy mouth.  I can probably drill out the rubber to make the fitting I have work but is there a better way?
Thanks

325
Questions about the forum? / Book Reviews
« on: December 28, 2010, 09:17:46 PM »
Just a thought but I'm looking to expand my homebrewing library and I wondered what you'd think of a section for beer-related book reviews?  Maybe it can't be done for legal reasons or something, I have no idea but I'd love to see what others have read and what helped them or what they didn't really think was worth the money. 
Thanks

326
All Grain Brewing / Schematic
« on: December 26, 2010, 11:36:57 AM »
Can anyone post a general schematic of an enclosed home brewing system?  I'm looking for ideas and am going to start compiling materials in a week or so (just need some bigger kettles for now but eventually they would go into the system).  I've been checking out the "Pimp My System" posts and they look awesome but it's not always easy to tell where product flows, what are hot zones and what are cold zones etc. 

Some general questions.
What is better, a horizontal system with pumps or a vertical system? 
I'm leaning towards an Igloo cooler type infusion process rather than step mashing just because it seems easier but since I'm starting from scratch, what's better?
I have this crazy idea of incorporating some load cells so that I can weigh grain and water etc as I add it.  Does it need to be this precise? 
In the boiling kettle, would you include a cooling coil as an integral part or have a separate one for immersing?  Is it a pain to try to stir with a coil in that can't be removed?  I can see how it would be but hey, it's one less thing to have to move around.
Aluminum or stainless kettles?  Does it matter?

General advice would be appreciated.  I have the advantage of having a good friend (and main drinking buddy) who owns a machine shop so making/modifying stuff isn't a big deal.  His son is also an engineer so I am sure he can provide some helpful input as well.  Danger in this situation is making something over engineered, not under. 
Thanks
Graham

327
General Homebrew Discussion / Watcha get for Christmas?
« on: December 26, 2010, 09:20:32 AM »
So, anyone else get homebrewing stuff for Christmas? 

I got "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels and a subscription to BYO. 

What did you get (things you bought yourself for Christmas are perfectly fine...)?


328
Equipment and Software / Star San
« on: December 24, 2010, 10:40:59 AM »
I bought some 5 Star - Star San on line and it arrived in a jug inside a sealed plastic bag.  For some reason, most of the direction were smudged off on to the plastic bag. 
So, can some one please give me the direction for mixing this to sterilize equipment.  I need to do a carboy and siphon hose etc today and then bottles in a few weeks.
Thanks.

329
Beer Recipes / Muskoka Cream Ale Clone
« on: December 23, 2010, 09:52:37 PM »
Need some help from my brethren here in Ontario.  I am looking for something that will get me close to Muskoka Cream Ale.  Any suggestions?  Extract is all I've done so far. 
Thanks.

330
Kegging and Bottling / Using "Twist-off" beer bottles
« on: December 23, 2010, 10:44:06 AM »
Again, I tried searching first because I am sure others have asked this but can you use twist-off bottles for bottling homebrew?  I don't care if they twist off or not but I have lots of them and very few non-twist bottles.  I'm slowly building them up but I can only drink so much beer a day although I'm giving it a hell of a good try. 
If you can do it is there a special cap? 
Thanks

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