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Topics - a witty man

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General Homebrew Discussion / Odd "nutty" taste in dark beers??
« on: March 23, 2014, 08:48:47 AM »
I used to be able to brew really nice dark beers, but lately (past few batches) I've had a consistent peanut type taste in my porters. Its rather unpleasant. I've included two recipes below, thinking it might be ingredient related -- specifically, could this attributed to Pale Chocolate malt? Thoughts would certainly be appreciated!

Porter1 (1.057 OG, 11 gallons):
Amt    Name    Type    #    %/IBU
19 lbs    Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett) (3.0 SRM)    Grain    1    74.7 %
2 lbs            Roasted Barley (Thomas Fawcett) (609.0 SRM)             Grain    2    7.9 %
1 lbs 7.2 oz    Pale Chocolate Malt (215.0 SRM)                    Grain    3    5.7 %
1 lbs              Black Malt (Thomas Fawcett) (660.0 SRM)                    Grain    4    3.9 %
1 lbs            Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                                              Grain    5    3.9 %
8.0 oz    Caramel Malt - 120L (Briess) (120.0 SRM)                      Grain    6    2.0 %
8.0 oz    Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)                      Grain    7    2.0 %

Porter2 (
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
20 lbs                Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Bairds) (3.0 SRM          Grain         1        79.5 %       
2 lbs                 Vienna Malt (4.0 SRM)                                    Grain         2        7.9 %         
14.6 oz               Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)                          Grain         3        3.6 %         
12.0 oz               Midnight Wheat (550.0 SRM)                          Grain         4        3.0 %         
12.0 oz               Pale Chocolate Malt (215.0 SRM)                     Grain         5        3.0 %         
8.0 oz                Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)                            Grain         6        2.0 %         
4.0 oz                Black Malt - 2-Row (Briess) (500.0 SRM)          Grain         7        1.0 %         

All Grain Brewing / Poor mash efficiency on paler beers? (Water Chem?)
« on: October 29, 2013, 08:04:30 PM »
I've been trying to figure this one out. On most amber and dark beers I have my recipes dialed in at 72% efficiency, and can nail the numbers (calculated from Beersmith and Bru'n Water). When I brew paler beers, however, my efficiency drops by about 10 points.

Here's the latest grain bill:
6 gal batch; 7.81 gallon boil

10 lbs Maris Otter
5 lbs Wheat Malt
1 lb. Crystal 20

Anticipated pre-boil grav: 1.060
Actual pre-boil grav: 1.048

I got a water report in the spring of 2013, and I've been using Bru'n Water to calculate my water additions. On this one I used the "Yellow Bitter" as a guide. Here are the overall numbers I got after doing additions of Gypsum, Epsom Salt, and Lactic Acid to both the mash and sparge water:

59 Ca
30 Mg
33 Na
134 Sulfate
61 Chloride
-9 BiCarbonate
RA (according to Bru'n water) = -67

I checked my pH using colorphast strips throughout the mash, and it was a steady 5.3.

So, I'm stumped. I mill my own grain, so LHBS is not a factor. Admittedly, I am trying to figure out this water stuff on my own, referencing some books (including water by Palmer/Kaminski), so I have a feeling it has to do with that.

Any insight as to why I may be getting low efficiency on pale beers only would be appreciated! Thanks all.

Over the last year or so I've fallen hard for 100% Brettanomyces ferments, and have done a bunch of brewing with WLP 644 Brett B Trois. I do realize that this is trending, and I turn here with the hope that there is a vast support network to answer all my questions!

I've also been doing a bit of culturing from bottles. One of my latest has been Evil Twin's Femme Fatale Brett (100% Brett IPA). In scouring the internet (10+ minutes on the google), I have not been able to determine what strain this is. I'm guessing its the Brett Trois (Drie) strain -- the same as WLP644? Does anyone know for certain?


Homebrew Competitions / Judging at 2nd round NHC
« on: February 06, 2013, 09:20:56 AM »
I'm a relatively new judge (recognized rank w/ only 1 point), and am excited to be attending my first NHC this year. At this point I'm planning on judging for the second round of the Competition on Thursday, but am wondering if this is realistic.

In selecting judges for the second round, are less experienced judges passed over for more experienced judges? Or is the competition always in need of more judges, regardless of level?

Wood/Casks / Jim Beam --> Allagash Curieux --> ???
« on: October 13, 2012, 09:57:12 PM »
5 other guys and myself are purchasing a Jim Beam barrel that Allagash used to age their Curieux (a tripel). They only used it once, and the beer was in there for 8 weeks (according to the Allagash website). My question is what we should think about brewing to fill the barrel with. We were considering an imperial porter or Russian Imperial Stout, but I'm wondering how much oak and bourbon character will be around after a batch of beer has already gone through it.

Thoughts or opinions? 

Yeast and Fermentation / Brett C and a 1.011 Saison?
« on: September 28, 2012, 07:55:00 AM »
I have 10 gallons of a saison that is pretty much done fermenting (sitting at 88* and 1.011 gravity for a couple days now). I'm going to keg half of it as is (it does taste good!), but was considering adding some Brett to the other half. I used the WL 565 Belgian Saison I for my primary ferment, and OG was 1.065.

I'd like to get a bit of a gentle fruitiness rather than the musty horsiness that some of the brett strains throw. I'm wondering if brett clausenni will give me these attributes? Also, at 1.011 is there enough left for the brett to work on? I'm willing to be really patient with this -- 6 months to a year if necessary.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Equipment and Software / Burner for 3 gallon boil?
« on: September 21, 2012, 10:43:01 AM »
Our homebrew club, the Albany Brew Crafters, are planning on brewing a extract / partial boil batch at a local bar for Learn to Homebrew Day on November 3rd. I'm looking for a portable stand-alone type burner to boil 3 gallons of wort, and am wondering if anyone has any suggestions. I think it needs to be at least 1100 watts to get 3 gallons to boil, according to these calculations:

Water Volume (lb) x Temperature rise (°F) x 1 Btu/lb°F= Heat required
(3gal x 8.34lb/gal) x 150*F x 1 = 3496 BTU or ~ 1025 watts

Am I correct? And does anyone have any suggestions regarding burners? We'll most likely be brewing inside.

Homebrew Clubs / Club Activities and Learn to Homebrew Day (11/3/2012)
« on: September 12, 2012, 08:54:42 AM »
What are some of the club activities that clubs have planned surrounding Learn to Homebrew Day?

We're milling around a couple ideas, including advertising an extract brewing demonstration at a popular local beer bar, but are looking for other options as well...Any ideas?

Our Albany, NY club is off to a strong start -- founded in May 2012 and we already have more than 20 attendees at the monthly meetings. We have a "free" tier of membership where you can attend meetings and participate in tastings, etc., but cannot get any of the benefits of group buys, club brew sessions, etc. We're trying to entice more members to sign up for a full membership ($35 a year, prorated), and want to really start pushing the benefits of a paid membership, which will allow us to do more cool stuff.

Initially we will be approaching a few homebrew shops in the region to see if we can work out a discount program with their shop. I'm curious as to how other clubs have navigated their relationship with homebrew shops in their region. I know that this can be a beneficial relationship for all parties: we get people stoked to brew and show at our meetings, the discount keeps club members brewing money local, and the local shops benefit from increased sales. Is there a step here that I am missing? If we are collecting $35 for dues, should a portion of that money go to shops as a kickback for the discount?

Another question: We are fortunate enough to have three shops within a 45 mile radius. Should we work with a single shop, or try to work a discount with all three?

Finally, what are some of the other "relationships" that your club has with local businesses? (Do you get a discount at any pubs or bars with your membership? Discounts on co2 fills? Carpool lane privileges when on official club business?)

Although I can brew some pretty good beer, and have been in active in a few clubs over the years, I'm new at this leadership business! Thanks for the replies.

Kegging and Bottling / Beer Gun w/ highly carbbed beers...
« on: May 09, 2012, 07:49:54 AM »
I went to bottle my saison from the keg last night, and was having a hell of a time getting my Blingmann beergun to pour without foaming up the neck of the bottle. Most of the bottles I filled would be considered "low pours." Not ideal, to say the least. I'm sure others have run into this problem, and hopefully someone has a good solution -- I'm thinking something in my process should be adjusted. Here's some of the info from my procedure last night:

- Saison carbbed @ 3.5 volumes
- CO2 input to beergun @ 3psi
- CO2 input to keg @ 3psi
- 6 ft. line b/w keg and beergun - the one that came w/ the gun (should it be longer?)

I did notice that a lot of co2 was coming out of solution in the line between the keg and the beergun, and I tried to fill the bottles quickly to limit the accumulation of foam in the line.

So, what are some of your strategies for bottling highly carbbed beer with the beer gun?

Homebrew Clubs / Albany, NY (Capital Region) Club
« on: March 23, 2012, 09:15:08 AM »
A group of us are forming a club in the capital region of New York. First club meeting will be in May, details to follow soon (I'll update this thread).

Anyone have good (creative) name suggestions? So far the top suggestion is "Sons of Zymurgy."

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