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Messages - gmac

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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?

I'd be fairly cautious about St Johns wort. I know little about it as a herbal medicine but I know in the natural herb state that it causes hyper-sensitivity to sun and increases the likelyhood and severity of sunburn.  It's a noxious weed where I live because cattle that graze on it end up with badly burned noses and udders where they aren't protected by hair. I am sure you don't want your wife to end up with burnt udders...
Maybe in herbal medicine form they overcome that or the dose is low enough that its not a problem but I'd check it out pretty thoroughly before I put some in beer where the could be any risk of over-dose.

Zymurgy / Re: Charlie's gluten free recipe....
« on: February 08, 2011, 09:43:27 AM »
Please keep us up to date. I've got a friend in the same boat and if this works for you, I'll be giving it a try.

The Pub / Re: Man jewlery
« on: February 08, 2011, 09:36:44 AM »
Can't do it. Used to wear a wedding ring but I took it off because it drove me nuts. Reach for a beer - clink, open a door - clink just hated it. Took it off 10 years ago and found out that I was still just as married without it. Nothing else for me ever, just not my style.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Fridge
« on: January 30, 2011, 03:20:25 PM »
I got 4 used ball-lock 5 gal kegs and a used 2 gauge regulator for $160.  The kegs are pressure tested and have all new o-rings but they do need a good scrub both inside and out.  They still smell like soda syrup a bit and the outsides are quite dirty. Inside they look good but like I said, they need to be cleaned.

So, what's the best product and procedure for giving these a thorough cleaning?  I'm not thinking about sterilizing (I assume I can use StarSan for that...?), just what would get them good and clean.  On hand I have TSP, soap, baking soda, etc.  I do not have Oxy-clean but I could get some I guess.  I know bleach is a no-no.


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: using bottled water
« on: January 29, 2011, 10:20:58 AM »
Does the chlorine evaporate during a full boil?  My water is chlorinated but I haven't noticed it to be overwhelmingly "bleachy" in character.  Getting bottled water just seems to add yet another thing to do in the process.  It's not impossible but I don't live in an area where I can easily get large volumes of bottled water.  Our small village has a municipal water system but not a store that sells anything bigger than 1 L bottles.

Is it the end of the world to use tap water?  I know that leaving it sit over-night or running a fish tank bubbler through it will remove a lot of the chlorine.  Is this good enough?

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Fridge
« on: January 23, 2011, 09:23:32 PM »
$85 for a ball lock keg seems to be quite expensive; Midwest has them for $32.95 plus shipping. Keg Connection has good prices on regulators plus $7.99 flat rate shipping.

Good luck!

Thanks, that's what I was wondering.  If found some on-line, fairly close to where I live for $40 each (if you buy 4). May not be quite as "refurbished" as the others, although the claim to be, but I'm fairly handy so I think I can tear one down.  Wasn't sure if it was a "buyer beware" situation where cheaper could ultimately be more expensive but since you're seeing a comparable price, that makes me feel a bit more comfortable.

Thanks for the advice so far.  All good as always.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Fridge
« on: January 23, 2011, 08:01:28 PM »
Wait, as usual am I over complicating things?  Should I just have a picnic tap on a hose and curl it up inside the fridge when I'm not using it?  This is in an unfinished basement so it doesn't have to be fancy, just effective.  I've been reading some of the other posts and I think I may be better with the tap left inside the fridge and go cheap with a picnic tap.

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!!!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Schematic
« on: January 20, 2011, 12:16:08 PM »
I've purchased my 52 L Coleman Extreme and the braided hose for the washing machine but I couldn't really find anything that would be a suitable fitting to connect the two and put a valve on the outside.  I know I read in another thread what someone did but I can't find it.  So, what parts do you recommend for putting it all together? 
Ideally, I'd like to find a piece of threaded tubing that I could put a gasket and washer on both sides and tighten it into the drain hole  but all I could find was regular black gas fittings or galvanized.  I'd prefer stainless or brass (thoughts?).  Pex fittings looked promising but expensive and I've never used the stuff.  Worse case, I solder some fittings onto a piece of copper tubing but I'm sure there is an easier way.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Canadian 2-Row
« on: January 20, 2011, 12:10:44 PM »

I exclusively use Prairie Malt from Biggar, SK, Canada.  If it is good enough for Sierra Nevada, it is good enough for me.

For some reason, I remember reading somewhere that you lived in Canada.  Are you sure that there isn't any patriotism at play? :)

But, since I also live in Canada, I'll openly admit that I'll pick Canadian malt first, all else being equal. 

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...

All Grain Brewing / Re: Canadian 2-Row
« on: January 19, 2011, 09:14:04 PM »
Thanks.  My intent is to add some crystal to the mix for body and flavour.   I'll look for "pale malt" as recommended as well.  Once I get the grain bill figured out, I'll get you to double check my math etc. 

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.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Schematic
« on: January 12, 2011, 09:41:10 AM »
Please explain "seasoning" aluminum.  I did my last couple in aluminum.  I have to buy a couple new pots and I'll buy stainless if I can afford it.  I know it's better but price is a factor.

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