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Topics - gmac

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Beer Recipes / Would this taste like crap?
« on: September 26, 2013, 07:56:09 PM »
Told a friend I would do a brew with her next week but I'm low on base malts and may not have time to get more.

5 lbs Vienna
5 lbs wheat malt plus rice hulls.
1/2 oz Simcoe at 10
1/2 oz Citra at 10
1/2 oz Simcoe at flameout
1/2 oz Citra at flameout.

She likes hops but not bitter. Thinking a late hopped wheat beer with pronounced hop flavour and less bitterness.

Hop Growing / Freezing Fresh Hops
« on: September 13, 2013, 08:09:07 AM »
I have a good bunch of Cascade ready to harvest but I won't have time to dry them all properly nor time to make enough beer to use them all.  Can I freeze them after picking or will this cause too much vegetal character when I thaw them for use later?

Equipment and Software / Using Sanke Kegs
« on: September 04, 2013, 07:48:00 AM »
Does anyone here use Sankey kegs instead of cornies?  I have about 10 cornies and I'm always finding a vent that leaks or a keg top that won't seal properly or some other little PITA with them.  I know most people use them and I do appreciate the ease of cleaning but I'm wondering if I would be smarter to just go buy a bunch of slim 1/6th or even some 1/2 bbl kegs.  It's not like they ever leave my house.

But, my question is really about how you clean, sanitize and fill these.  I am sure you can remove the spear and do it through the keg opening but I'm sure that would be a real pain and would likely end up with damage over time.  So, for those few commercial brewers here, how do you do all this with a sanke.  I'm understand that additional manufacturing may be needed to make these work. 

I guess I'm just curious if anyone is successful using Sanke kegs.

Beer Recipes / Should I just give up on lagers?
« on: September 01, 2013, 08:21:22 AM »
I've made some pretty good beers if I do say so myself.  Won some medals, had some really nice reviews from folks and generally been very happy with my ale brewing.  But man I can't seem to have any luck at all with lagers.  I don't know what I am doing wrong.
I've made some that are OK, but never a really nice crisp refreshing lager that I would want to make again or have on hand for the summer months.  I've tried again them a long time, I've tried drinking them fresher as in a kellerbiere style, nothing really seems to hit perfectly.

My process and ingredients are basically mostly Weyermann Pils malt (I use Weyermann because the distributor is close and I can get it for a decent price compared to most other malts and even though some may prefer other types, it can't be that bad since it seems pretty widely available).  I may add a touch of Munich depending on the colour I want and what I have on hand.  That's about it for malts.  I only do single infusion batch sparge because I don't have the equipment for decoction mashing and I'm not to the point where I think it necessary as I have far too many other issues with my lagers to worry about that yet.

Water is 50% RO and 50% tap (I have fairly hard water although I don't know the complete chemistry profile yet.  Getting a water test is on the list to do ASAP.  There is no chlorine/chloramine in my water as we are on a well.  The water does have a small amount of hydrogen sulphide which is slightly detectable by smell when filling the kettle but never detectable in the taste of either the water or the beer and my understanding is that this boils off anyway.

I've tried WLP830, 833, Wyeast 2035 and Mexican Lager (forget the #).  The last one I made was using 3 vials of Mexican lager in a 5 gal 1.045 wort as a starter for a larger lager brew.  I wasn't expecting it to be perfect as it was meant as a starter but I ran into new problems. This one has a very medicinal phenolic character and is obviously infected with something.  Made me mad because I wasted 3 vials on one beer!  I need to order new yeast so I'm open to suggestions.  I want to have just one go-to lager strain and WLP833 looks like it may be my first choice but is it the best "overall" strain?  I know it's malty but is that what I want in every case?

My fermentation temp is set at 48F in my freezer.  I check the temp of the water in the thermowell to ensure it is close to 50F and I assume the fermenting beer will be 1 to 2 degrees warmer which should put it right at 50F.  After fermentation ceases, I bring the beers out into the basement for a D-rest at 65 or so for about a week and then back into the cold.  I have never had a D issue that I could perceive.

I've tried using adjuncts in the form of both flaked corn and minute rice in the 20% range in an effort to lighten the body etc.  Hops are either Hallertauer, Saaz or Tettnang depending on what I have available and what my whim is.  I've been trying for something in the 30 - 35 IBU range in order to put it into the German pilsner range. 

So, I know you can't tell me what I'm doing wrong because you haven't had the beer but I'm just getting very frustrated with my lack of success with lagers.  Not sure what to do aside from giving up and just doing ales.  But, I would like to do some lagers this fall and winter in order to have them lager for next spring.  I even have a dedicated beer cooler set at 2C that I can lager them in. 

Please feel free to give me any thoughts or advice you may have. 

Other Fermentables / Pears - how ripe?
« on: August 22, 2013, 08:42:57 PM »
How ripe (soft) do I want to let pears get before juicing them for pear cider ? 

And any yeast recommendations? 

Ingredients / Would Mosaic work with Centennial?
« on: August 16, 2013, 06:18:49 PM »
I've got some of both and am thinking of an APA for Monday.  Would these two play well together?

Yeast and Fermentation / White Mould Issue
« on: August 09, 2013, 09:05:59 AM »
A while ago I asked a question pertaining to star-san and if I should switch up my sanitizer.  The consensus was no. But, for a long while I've been having this strange, thin white mould start to show up on my beers, particularly if they are left for a while without being kegged.

Today I went to keg an EIPA that I have which has been sitting in the bucket for some time now.  I just didn't have fridge or keg space available to deal with it. When I opened it I saw the white film so I thought I'd ask some questions and take some pictures.

Now I've had this before and I've gone ahead and drank the beer and I'm going to do the same with this one.  There seems to be no off-flavour, no detectable odour or any other real issue that I've seen.  I do siphon out from below and leave the last inch or so in the keg though to minimize bringing this film into the keg.  I have not seen it in a keg that has been in the cold.

I did try something else.  Several months ago I had a vial of WLP Mexican Lager that was past it's due date and I tried stepping it up to make a starter.  Along the way I noticed the white mould starting so I didn't go any further with it but I did leave it to see what happened.  This photo is about 4 months worth of growth.

Sorry for the lousy quality but cell phone through glass doesn't work well.  The starter has no real smell even after all this time and the mould just sits there in a fluffy head of mycelium.  This jug was washed thoroughly, star-san rinsed and the vial added, that's all. 

I'm going to probably dump all my plastic buckets but I get this in glass too.  I think that it's just in the air everywhere and with enough time it starts to show up.  I do know that I need more kegs so I can get it into kegs and into the cold faster but I'd like to get rid of it entirely if I can.  It doesn't matter if I use a fermentation lock or just tin foil over the carboy mouth but I always use a fermentation lock on buckets with either vodka or rye in them.
Any one else ever see this and any thoughts on what to do?

Yeast and Fermentation / First Stir-plate Starter
« on: August 06, 2013, 12:33:52 PM »
I am doing my first stir plate starter today and I was wondering a couple things.
My normal process is just to put a 2L starter in a gallon jug and shake once in a while until the krausen is clearly done, cold crash and pitch.  This normally takes me 3 or 4 days depending on the yeast.  But, with a stir plate, does the yeast finish quicker?  And how do you know it's done?  I'm assuming that the constant agitation results in no visible krausen because the CO2 generated is de-gassed pretty rapidly and this you don't get that big head of krausen but am I wrong?  I did a 2L starter in a 2L flask so I hope I'm right or I'm gonna have some serious spillage.

BTW, first time using WLP013 London Ale.  Major foamer when I tried to get it into the flask.  The CO2 in solution blasted out resulting in a lump of yeast foam that was darn hard to get out.  First time that I've had this problem although I expect it's happened to others before.

Pimp My System / My system needs pimping
« on: August 02, 2013, 07:13:06 AM »
I bought a 150 qt cooler and 30 gal boil kettle and I've been trying to do some bigger batches (20 gals).  But 30 lbs of grain with 45L - 60L of water gets heavy.  So, this is how I've been doing it but it's a pain in the arse moving stuff around.  I like batch sparging and for now I want to stay on that platform but does anyone have any other suggestions for ways to set up a larger batch sparge system?
Here's what I've been doing so far.  It works but it's clumsy.

The Pub / Lemonade
« on: July 27, 2013, 08:01:02 AM »
So this is as far from brewing as you can get but I'm actually pretty happy.
8 cans of frozen concentrated lemonade, a bottle of 100 proof absolute, a chunk of ginger and enough water to fill my 3 gal cornie.  Put it on at 30 PSI. 
Just vodka and lemonade but having it on tap makes it so much cooler. 

All Things Food / Pickles and other fermented foods
« on: July 23, 2013, 07:07:09 AM »
I'm making a batch of kosher dills today and I thought maybe we should have a pickle thread.  Since we moved, this is the first time we've been able to have a big garden and although the weeds have been a problem, i'm looking forward to pickling cucumbers, hot peppers and green beans.  Plus I over planted my tomatoes big time so I'm going to be needing some good salsa recipes and I may even try tomato juice but we shall see.
Anyone else have anything going into brine or vinegar these days?

Equipment and Software / Star-San Dependence
« on: June 24, 2013, 03:02:52 PM »
I've been using Star-San exclusively now for a couple years.  I'm starting to wonder if I should try a different sanitizer in order to avoid any sort of resistance development with the bacteria in my system.  I have a keg of IPA that has a distinct phenolic flavour reminiscent of smoked malt and it must be an infection but I can't say for sure that I did everything perfect when I kegged the beer so I can't really blame the sanitizer.
Do you rotate your sanitizer?  Should I try iodophor or something different just to keep the bacteria guessing?

Ingredients / Hop stand bitterness
« on: June 17, 2013, 09:23:57 AM »
I've been doing some heavy late hop additions and leaving them stand for about 30 mins before chilling. I'm finding a lot of extra hop bitterness that seems much greater than I anticipated. Does anyone else have this issue?  Should I chill down a bit first and then hop?
Last batch wad 10 gals and I added a 3 oz blend of Pacific Jade and Galaxy. Beer tastes good but very bitter and a bit rough which doesn't surprise me given the Galaxy.

Beer Travel / DTW actually has one good beer!
« on: June 03, 2013, 03:26:04 PM »
I fly through Detroit a lot and the beer selection in this airport, where I write this right now is terrible. But I just discovered the Heineken Lounge has Brooklyn Lager and Bell's Two-Hearted in bottles. Its a small positive in this huge negative.

Beer Recipes / German Pils - hop and malt questions
« on: June 03, 2013, 10:32:40 AM »
I'm going to do a 20 gal batch of German pilsner (or as close as I can get) but I've got a couple questions.  I was thinking of the following:

30 lbs Weyerman Pils
5 lbs Vienna malt
75 g Magnum @ 60
100 g Hallertau @ 10
WLP Mexican Lager yeast (3 vials pitched to a 5 gal generic "lager" for a starter then all of the yeast harvested for this beer.  I'm sure that some would suggest 830 or 833 but I like the Mexican Lager, seems very clean in the few lagers I've made.)
I'm looking for a crisp beer that fits into the upper end of the bitterness range, maybe in the 35 IBU area.
My usual efficiency is about 80% although I've not done 20 gals at once before. 
Water is planned to be 1/2 RO and 1/2 tap.  My tap is fairly hard although I don't have actual #'s in front of me. 

My questions are:  Will the Vienna make it too sweet?  I don't have Munich on hand so I'm going with the Vienna unless you all talk me out of it.  The other option is 100% pils (I have cara-pils and C15 on hand but I assume crystal has no place in a pils).  I am looking for a bit of complexity which is why I would add Munich if I had it on hand.

Are the finishing hops enough?  Should I mix them up with other hops or do more additions.  I have Tettnang and some older Saaz on hand.  Was considering 50/50 Hallertau/Tettnang at 10 and maybe the same amount again at flameout. 

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