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Topics - rbowers

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All Grain Brewing / Wort Chillers
« on: February 21, 2018, 07:27:30 PM »
I am in the market for a new wort chiller and looking for some general feedback/individual recs.  I have used a shirron plate chiller for years and I think it has runs its course.  The threads are damaged on the wort exit and I am getting leaks/having difficulty getting a nipple/quick disconnect on it.  it also never has quite got the wort down to pitching temps (65F).  Part of this is ground water temp which is in the mid-low 60s usually (better in winter) but it has always left me with an additional process to do to get the wort down low enough.  I have crafted all types of "prechiller" gadgets to get water temp down, tried slowing the exit flow, etc but no fixes I have been particularly happy with.  Now that the plate chiller is likely on its way out I am looking at the copper coil counterflow chiller on More Beer.  Pricey but seems to get great reviews.  An immersion chiller is not an option as the electric heating element will not prevent adequate submersion.

Regarding the copper coil counterflow chiller does anyone have good experience with these?  Are they prone to clogging?

I'd also like to be able to recirc the chilling wort back to the kettle to whirlpool but not sure the flow will be fast enough to generate a whirlpool (certainly is not with the shirron plate chiller).  Not a must have feature but would be nice.  Thoughts?

All Grain Brewing / Water Chemistry Calculators
« on: February 19, 2018, 02:30:36 PM »
I have been trying to dial in water chemistry a bit more accurately and have gotten some conflicting results from brewing calculators.  I have been using Bru'nWater the last several batches and it seems to over estimate the addition of acid (at least in the last batch).  I have looked around at other calculators and the same data entry seems to yield different results.  I have a water test kit and have gotten the following results

Base Water:

Ca++ 4
Mg++ 0
Na++ 20
SO4 0
Cl- 10
Bicarbonate 48
pH 7.13

Brewing tomorrow and have the following grist and goal water profile:
25lb Vienna
0.75lb Spec B
0.5lb Chocolate
0.5lb Carafa II
0.25lb Roasted Barley

Water Goal Profile:

10gal mash water ~1.5qrt/lb.

I guess my question is why is one calculator generating a mash pH with no acid additions of 5.28 and another says it will be 5.53?  I guess it is not a terribly big deal as both are in a decently acceptable range.  Last brew day though I went with the first one, added the recommended acid additions and ended up with a pH of 4.9.  Just trying to get a feel for which one to trust.  Does anyone have any logic to suggest one more accurate than the other?

Yeast and Fermentation / WLP670
« on: January 17, 2018, 05:21:25 PM »
Looking to do the Tank 7 Clone recipe on AHA website and want to use the WLP670 Farmhouse Blend yeast.  Couple of questions:

- Is it appropriate to do a starter with this blend or will that throw off the ratios of yeast within the blend?
- If no starter, is it best to buy 2 tubes of yeast instead or will underpitching create some of the more interesting flavors this beer may benefit from?  OG fairly high at 1.072
- Thoughts on conditioning time with this yeast after fermentation?  Some reviews seem to suggest it really comes alive if given an extra 2 months or so post-fermentation.


All Grain Brewing / Beta Glucan Rest for rye malt
« on: December 21, 2017, 05:40:37 PM »
Going to brew up a rye IPA soon with about 20% malted rye.  Is doing a beta glucan rest a good idea with that percentage?  I was planning on throwing in about 8oz of rice hulls to help lautering.  I use a continuous recirculation HERMS setup.  If doing a rest is recommended should it be the entire mash or just the rye malt or does that matter?  Also any recommendations on water to grist ratio?  I usually go between 1.25 and 1.5 qts/lb but have not used this much rye before.

Beer Recipes / Rye IPA recipe
« on: December 12, 2017, 11:02:47 AM »
I haven't used much rye in the past but definitely like the character.  This is what I have mocked up for a malt bill for a rye IPA I plan to brew soon.  Haven't found much info on Cara-rye so curious if anyone has feedback on that.

6 Gal Batch
10lb US 2 row (69%)
2.5lb Rye Malt (17%)
1.5lb Munich (10.5%)
0.5 lb Cara-rye (3.5%)

Mash around 150 x 60 min.  I haven't planned out the hops yet but curious if this will yield a pronounced spicy rye IPA.
Probably use Northwest Ale (WY1332) as I have some harvested from a recent batch.

Yeast and Fermentation / Keeping cultured yeast/bugs alive over time
« on: November 30, 2017, 11:27:49 AM »
What is the best way to sustain yeast/souring bacteria alive that are cultured up from bottle dregs?  I have grown up a fair amount of yeast and presumably souring bacteria in a series of small flasks by combining bottle dregs and low gravity starter wort with the intention of adding it to a series of beers down the road.  I have already done this with one batch but am wondering how I can keep the culture I grew up from bottle dregs alive over several months.  The cultures were grown up from 2 Russian River and one Wicked Weed bottle.  The Russian River I cannot easily obtain so looking to keep it going if possible. 

I have been feeding it every 1-2 months with fresh low gravity wort after decanting off the spent wort (which tastes pretty good).  Is this ok to leave at room temp and just keep feeding it or should I be leaving them out a few weeks then cold storing in the fridge after each feeding?

Growth/fermentation is obviously happening as activity is seen in the airlock, the wort changes sour, and the yeast/bug cake seems to be increasing with each feeding.  However, are the majority of these cells dying over time?  Would it be better to plan ahead better and pour off some fresh slurry from a storage flask, add fresh wort, and dump that whole new flask in the beer after allowing for 1-2 weeks of growth?

I know to expect the ratios of yeast (brett and whatever sacc may be alive) as well as bacteria to change over time so results won't be consistent but still a fun side project.

Beer Recipes / Critique 1st attempt at English Dark Mild
« on: November 26, 2017, 04:10:28 PM »
Haven't made this style before and using mild malt which will also be a first.  Just looking for any input or tips on ratios as well as planned mash temp considering low attenuating yeast.  Mainly struggling around a balance of mild malt (leaves more sweetness), % of crystal malts and other non-fermentables, a lower attenuating yeast (63-70%), and an ideal mash temp (150 vs 154 vs even higher).  Final goal is an easy drinking but highly flavorable session ale

6 Gal Batch

7lb Mild Malt (89%)
Pale Chocolate Malt 4oz (3.2%)
English Medium Crystal (60-70L) 4oz (3.2%)
Crystal 120 3.2 oz (2.5%)
Black Patent 2.5oz (2%)

EKG 0.85 oz (~19 IBU)
WLP 002

OG: ~1.037 @78% efficiency

Mash at 152 x 60 min, Mash out 168F
Pitch & Ferment 65F x 1 day then rise 1F daily up to 68 and hold until complete

Water Profile: Ca- 75, Mg-6, Na-9, Cl-44, SO4-63, HCO3-49

Read quite a few articles about other potential specialty malts including brown and amber malt but I have also not used those before.  Thoughts?

Equipment and Software / Sanitizing wort chiller/thermometer setup
« on: November 11, 2017, 09:15:15 PM »
I finally decided to install an in line thermometer on the exit of my shirron wort chiller to monitor wort temps during my chilling process.  I have used a shirron plate chiller for years with fairly good success but have always had temps in the high 70s and 80s at the end and had to wait or place the fermenter in an ice bath to get the final temp drop to mid 60s.  Part of this is the ground water temp I use to chill (mid-upper 60s) but I was hoping that adding a thermometer to the line and a ball valve to control flow that I may optimize it further.  So this whole thing is screwed together on a SS t-piece.  PLumbers tape used to stop leaks.  It has quick disconnects to take it off and on the chiller. My question is what is the best way to sanitize this rig?  Taking it apart, re-taping everything, etc is going to be a bear.  Is running hot wort thru the chiller and the rest of the tubing for 5-10min sufficient (running it back to the kettle and then when ready to chill directing it to the fermentor as I turn on chill water)?  Should/Can I submerge the entire thing in Starsan?  Can brewing thermometers be submerged (essentially came from a weldless setup for a kettle thermometer I had lying around)?

MOREBEER sells these rigs already pieced together (I just had the parts left around from prior projects) so I know people use it, just looking for good advice on sanitation.  Thanks

All Grain Brewing / Water adjustment question
« on: October 24, 2017, 09:31:21 PM »
Been toying around with water adjustments and trying to gain more understanding of the various variables.  My water after carbon filtration is a fairly blank canvas: Ca= 2, Mg = 0, Na = 13, Sulfate = 0, Cl= 7, HCO3 = 13.  pH is 7.8.  I recently listened to the Homebrew network podcast series on water adjustments and they describe doing all your adjustments as expected for the mash water BUT NOT adding any adjustments to sparge water, rather adding those salts to the kettle following the sparge and before the boil.  Part of the reasoning on this is a lack of solubility of the salts in sparge water (which I have experienced in previous batches).  To that end I will be adding the salts to get my planned profile to the mash and then tossing in the sparge salts after the sparge into the kettle before the boil.  I am also messing around with BrunWater spreadsheet and it mentions some acid additions.  The mash will require 2.9mL of Lactic acid (88%) to the 6.4 gal mash water to hit pH 5.3 (this calculation accounts for a malt bill for a fairly light colored saison of 6 SRM).  It also mentions a sparge acidification and this gets me to my question:

?If I am not adding the salts to the sparge water should I add the recommended lactic acid to the sparge water?
?If not, should I add it with the salts to the kettle once sparge is completed?

Again, baseline water pH is 7.8 so not abundantly alkaline so tempted to just leave it out but if I do am I missing any benefits of it in the kettle once all is said and done?  I may be too deep in the weeds on this but looking for advice.

Equipment and Software / Spunding Valve
« on: September 26, 2017, 02:25:18 AM »
Been trying to think of an ideal setup to age a sour beer in a corny keg following primary fermentation that would allow a small amount of pressure to remain on the beer (a few PSI) and minimize O2 as well as allow for easy sampling over the planned several month souring/aging process.  I fear with carboys I will have an excessive amount of O2 exposure with sampling as well as a more cumbersome sampling process with a thief several times over the course of a few months.  The idea of using a corny keg slightly pressurized to keep O2 out and ease of sampling with a picnic tap (or similar) and a shortened dip tube came up.  Then I worried about excessive pressure building up as Brett/bacteria works their way through residual sugars if I were to forget to pull the relief valve often enough.  I came across this valve on More which seems to offer a potential solution.  I could set the PSI fairly low (3-5) and any excess CO2 would simply blow off with no risk of O2 entrance.  Does anyone have any experience in a set up like this or does it theoretically make sense?  We are sometimes away from the house for weeks at a time and this would be seemingly a good way to set something and not have to worry about it too often.  Any idea of how Brett and bugs act under a very low PSI head pressure?

Yeast and Fermentation / Sour Primary Yeast
« on: September 21, 2017, 12:28:39 PM »
Looking to brew up the wine barrel sour red recipe in American Sour Beers.  I had originally planned to use the recommended Wyeast 1968 London ESB strain and actually went as far as to get the starter all prepared (1.040 1.5 L on stir plate x 48 hrs at room temp) but now looking at the finished starter it is very cloudy (despite overnight in fridge) and what is normally a nice yeast cake on the bottom of the flask is looking substantially less than normal.  This is my normal process and have never had an issue but also never used this yeast before.  It is described as highly flocculant but seems to be doing anything but that.  Brew day of course is this evening and not many options in near future.  Was going to ferment clean for 5-6 days then transfer with Roselare and some dregs from Russian River bottles I have grown up a bit with small starters the last few weeks.

The wort will be ~1.060, similar to how described in book.  Mash at ~157-158 x 60 min to leave some residual sugars for bugs to work on.

1) Any thoughts on the above yeast starter and its viability?  I suppose I could taste it and take a gravity reading.
2) Back up plan would be to either pitch some Wyeast 1056 I have laying around that was washed from previous batch (I have plenty) or run out and buy another packet of lower attentuating yeast.

The only difference was I ordered the 1968 yeast online, took several days to get here so not sure if it wasn't so viable to begin with.  It is now ~3 months past its original date of packaging.

If I do buy another pack of yeast there will be no time for a starter- is this a concern given the overall plans for this to be a sour beer with lots of highly attenuating stuff pitched later?
If I go with the 1056 should I expect it to be less sour in the end with it's higher initial primary fermentation attentuation or would such a high mash temp likely keep plenty of food (and sour potential) left over for the bugs.

Lots of questions....Thanks

Ingredients / Cryo Hops
« on: August 28, 2017, 12:52:32 AM »
Can anyone recommend the best method to containing cryo-hops/lupulin powder while dry hopping?  I anticipate dry hopping in a corny keg.  Standard hop sock I imagine is way to permeable.  Id seen pantyhose suggested before.  I imagine an actual mesh bag may also be a little too permeable.  I have one of those stainless steel dry hopping tubes but also a little concerned about how fine this powder may be.  Anyone have any experience with these type hop products?  Is dry hopping not even a good idea with this?  Going to throw some in at flameout/whirlpool for an APA this week. 

Equipment and Software / Ss Brew Bucket Thermowell
« on: July 17, 2017, 08:20:13 PM »
Finally committed and bought an Ss 7 gal stainless brew bucket.  Very excited about this.  I also picked up one of the thermwells to install as I will be using a Johnson controller to control fermentation temps. 
Does anyone have any recommendations on where to place it on the brew bucket?  Initial thoughts were on the side but out of the way of rotating racking arm but now thinking maybe in the top is better.  This seems easier and also will allow me to wrap a fermwrap heating element around the outside during the cooler months a lot easier.  It will submerge the probe down to about the 4gal mark if installed up top which seems sufficient as I more or less always will brew 5.5 gal batches.  Any thoughts?

Equipment and Software / Auber Instruments Brew Panel
« on: December 22, 2016, 11:25:48 AM »
Does anyone have potential feedback or review on the electronic brewing system from Auber Instruments (link below).

Continuing to research electronic brewing system options and while this is not quite the definitive system on "The Electric Brewery" site, it may offer what I need (at a more acceptable cost).  The system will be a HERMS 3 tier system using 3 keggles with the PID controller working to maintain the HLT temp with a continuously recirculating wort pump through the HERMS coil- basically just as they do on the electric brewery website.  The MLT temp can be monitored by a separate thermometer with the assurance that the MLT will never overshoot the HLT temp.

The other option would be to purchase a tower of power module from Blichmann to do the same thing however I like having the independent controls for pumps, alarms, etc all on one panel. 

Just curious if anyone had experience with this panel or can comment on things from auber instruments in general,  Thanks.

Yeast and Fermentation / FG still to high
« on: September 13, 2016, 02:40:23 AM »
So I brewed up a large amount of oatmeal stout 3 weeks ago and split the batch across 3 different yeast strains- WLP005, WLP540, and Wyeast Denny's Fav.  The brew day went a little off course with initial mash temp way too high at 159 but we got it down to 152 after a bit and let it sit there for at least 60min.  At 3 weeks all signs of fermentation have long since stopped and the gravity readings are hanging at 1.023-1.024.  OG was ~1.067. 

I plan to recheck it again in a week but assuming I'm at or near the end here is there any way to reduce that gravity a it further?  It's definitely a bit sweeter and heavier than I'd like.  Done some perusing and seen ideas such as Beano (may drive it too far the other way), adding sterile and deoxygenated water, etc but a lot of these don't seem to have a lot of solid support.  Also, I had planned on adding some post fermentation flavor with coffee, cacao nibs, maybe even oak (not all together, but in individual batches).  Any chance any of those will add a drier impression or taste to the beer?

Hoping there is a way to salvage this beer otherwise it's going to take a long time to drink all this heavy stuff.

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