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Topics - rbowers

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1
Equipment and Software / Sanitizing wort chiller/thermometer setup
« on: November 11, 2017, 02:15:15 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

2
All Grain Brewing / Water adjustment question
« on: October 24, 2017, 02:31:21 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.

3
Equipment and Software / Spunding Valve
« on: September 25, 2017, 07:25:18 PM »
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 Beer.com 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?

4
Yeast and Fermentation / Sour Primary Yeast
« on: September 21, 2017, 05:28:39 AM »
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.

So:
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

5
Ingredients / Cryo Hops
« on: August 27, 2017, 05:52:32 PM »
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. 

6
Equipment and Software / Ss Brew Bucket Thermowell
« on: July 17, 2017, 01:20:13 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?

7
Equipment and Software / Auber Instruments Brew Panel
« on: December 22, 2016, 04:25:48 AM »
Does anyone have potential feedback or review on the electronic brewing system from Auber Instruments (link below).

http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8&products_id=539

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.

8
Yeast and Fermentation / FG still to high
« on: September 12, 2016, 07:40:23 PM »
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.

9
Equipment and Software / BrewEasy Water Volumes
« on: August 21, 2016, 02:21:05 PM »
Need a little help from anyone who maybe has worked on a brew easy system.  I am going into LHBS tomorrow to brew on their Breweasy system and give it a test ride before considering purchasing one down the road.  I have an Oatmeal Stout recipe planned but was curious how calculations for water volumes work on that particular system.  Should I just default to the BIAB settings on beersmith or is there a more specific recommended ratio of water to grain recommended?

10
Ingredients / Dry Hop saison and IPA
« on: March 19, 2016, 05:22:28 PM »
About 8-10 months ago I brewed two large batches of saison and IPA.  3.5 gallons of each was set aside and I threw in some Brett Trois and Lambicus.  The beers have now been sitting in my basement for a long time and actually both survived a move.  I was thinking of dry hopping both to liven things up but was looking for recs on particular hops to do it with.

The saison had Perle and Saaz for bittering.
The IPA had amarillo/columbus/simcoe equally mixed through various additions.

I am betting the flavor and certainly aroma additions they were originally brewed with are pretty well muted by now.

The brett has added some different flavors at this point and some nice funk. 

I have Wakatu, Nelson, and Citra lying around.  Never used Saaz to dry hop with but may go nice with the saison.  If anyone has any thoughts on this I am all ears.

11
Kegging and Bottling / Tap lines and turbulence
« on: October 03, 2015, 08:58:15 AM »
Continuing to battle bad pours on my tap lines with excess head.  It's been an ongoing issue- I've tried lower pressures, longer lines, etc and still seem to have trouble.  I'm replacing the tap lines now (it was time) and considering having them run along the collar of the kegerator kept in place by threading through a series of eyelet screws.  In the past the lines have been coiled up and kept coiled with a zip tie.  The coil had about a 10-12 in diameter.  Could that coiling be leading to additional turbulence and foam? 

I was at a conference recently where a speaker recommended a 38F serving temp and carving and serving at 14PSI with ~7ft length lines.  I was told if I can see bubbles in the line the pressure is too low.  Anyone else have suggestions on this.

12
General Homebrew Discussion / Lactic acid and ph adjustment
« on: August 09, 2015, 07:52:26 AM »
Going to brew my first Berliner weisse today and had a question about using lactic acid to adjust pH.  I will be souring the wort with L. Brevis for 4-5 days and boiling again prior to adding the primary yeast.  From what I've read, it seems to be suggested that the pH of the wort is lowered to 4.5 or so prior to adding lactobacillus to facilitate its growth as well as prevent other nasty bacteria from taking hold before the pH can be lowered by lacto. 

Is there any way to calculate how much lactic acid (88% strength) to add to ~11 gallons of wort to get the pH down around 4.5?  I guess I don't know my starting pH yet (assume 5.3-5.5 maybe???) which I'm sure affects the answer.  Just looking for additional advice.  Is this just kind of a "test and see" type thing?  What's a good increment to start with?

13
Yeast and Fermentation / Lactobacillus and starsan
« on: August 07, 2015, 12:26:58 PM »
I had a lacto starter all set for a Berliner Weiss brew day for next week.  I had some star San solution in the airlock and it appears (after placing in fridge to keep) that some star San was sucked back into the starter.  Knowing that starsan is an acid based sanitizer is there any reason to think adding a small portion to the starter by accident will annihilate the lacto which probably was already in an acidic solution from the lacto fermentation?  It was about a 1.75 L starter.  Concentration of the starsan solution unknown- just eyeballed it.

14
Yeast and Fermentation / Lacto Souring
« on: July 18, 2015, 03:59:30 PM »
Planning on brewing a Berliner Weisse and souring using lactobacillus brevis.  I wanted to try kettle souring (well actually "fermentor souring"), tossing a starter of pure lacto into the wort for a few days until appropriate sourness obtained.  It sounds like getting a really oxygen deplete environment is best for this part and I contemplated doing this in a CO2 purged corny keg.  My question is: should I expect significant CO2 buildup?  Will it be enough to simply burp the keg every 12 hrs or so?  From my research is sounds like L. Brevis can be heterofermentative and produce both alcohol and CO2, just not sure how much.
 Benefits to doing this in the keg would be easy sampling (just put a picnic tap on keg) to hit the sourness just right.  I'm not looking to make some co2 bomb in the garage though.  Any thoughts?
Also is there any benefit to boiling after the lacto is done to sterilize wort?  I don't mind some continued acidification/souring of the wort to go along with the primary sach fermentation.  Can't think of any other reason to do this step.

15
Beer Recipes / Hefe + Berliner Weisse big batch
« on: May 20, 2015, 11:34:04 AM »
I get less and less time to brew these days so when given the chance I have been trying to get two batches in.  This is easiest to do if I can brew two batches from one base beer.  Lately I've been contemplating a Hefeweizen/Berliner Weisse combo.  Both can have similar malt bills.  I would boil the entire batch briefly, pull off the Berliner portion after minimal hopping, then continue on with a full boil for the Hefeweizen.  This would result in a lower OG for the Berliner and a higher one for the Hefeweizen which would fall in line with typical characteristics of both styles.  Has anyone else done something similar or have comments on if this can work.  I'm also open to other combo suggestions.  This would be my first attempt at either style.

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