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Topics - rbowers

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All Grain Brewing / Short higher temp mashes
« on: February 25, 2012, 08:42:54 PM »
I recently looked over Stone Brewing's book that contains a fair amount of their recipes and I noticed some of these recipes call for significantly shortened mash times compared to the standard 60-90 min I'm used to.  Some are as short as 10-20 min at 157F followed by a mash out step.  What are the effects of this?  Will this add substantially to the body of a beer?
I have often felt my beers are sometimes a bit thin despite higher mash temps.  Is this something worth considering or am I merely going to sacrifice overall yield?  Any thoughts?

Yeast and Fermentation / WL 670 American Farmhouse
« on: February 18, 2012, 08:35:04 PM »
Has anyone used this strain before and if so what have been your impressions?  I picked up a bottle for a saison I have planned.  I was curious what anyone thinks about progressively increasing the fermentation temp may yield in terms of flavors.  The suggested temp range is 68-72 but I know a lot of saisons ferment progressively higher.  I was thinking of trying this going up into the high 70s thru primary fermentation to accentuate some of the yeast flavors but not necessarily sure how this yeast may react.  Any thoughts?

Kegging and Bottling / Poor carbonation in a high gravity beer
« on: January 30, 2012, 03:55:55 PM »
I brewed up a belgian tripel back in October that I am having some problems with carbonation with now.  To run a little experiment I split the original batch up into to smaller secondaries (about 2.5gal each).  The first, I kept in the secondary for about 2 months or so then bottled.  To account for the smaller batch I simply halved the priming sugar, prepped in some boiling water, and mixed it in with the beer in the bottling bucket and bottled in early January.  The second part of the batch remains in a secondary with the dregs of some orval bottles- plan to keep it there for several more months.
The first batch's carbonation after 2 weeks was pretty poor.
Is this:
a) not enough priming sugar?
b) too high alcohol content to expect much yeast activity for priming at 2 weeks?
c) something else entirely?

Regardless, if carbonation remains poor at 1 month what is the best course of action?  Do i need to add a little yeast to each bottle or completely empty, add more sugar, and re-bottle?  Suggestions on yeast?

All Grain Brewing / HELP! OG way too high
« on: January 21, 2012, 10:38:06 AM »
Breweing up a All grain bock recipe today.  This is my first effort at a decoction mash.  I had originally plugged in the numbers to beer smith but now realized I used my baseline 65% efficiency as the standard.  Its got abot 14lbs of grain in it, mostly munich and pils.  My pre boil OG is coming in at 1.074 on an 8 gallon volume.  It's boiling now with plans for a 90 min boil.  I suspect the end boil OG is going to be ridiculous.  I was shooting for 1.066-1.07 but no way that's gonna happen after 1.5-2 gallons boil off.  Any suggestions on how to bring it back down?  I assume I could pull off a certain amount of wort and then replace it with water but I don't know how to calculate the amount.  Please help- boiling now. 

Yeast and Fermentation / Storage of a Starter
« on: December 31, 2011, 05:20:20 PM »
So I got ready to brew the other day by starting up a starter with a lager yeast- all went well until my back went out and now brew day has been cancelled.  I don't forsee me lifting heavy things for awhile.  Is it possible to salvage the starter?  This was the first starter I made with my new stir plate and it looks like everything went great- right now its just sitting in my fridge with foil over the top of the flask.  How long can it keep and should I change to an airlock?

General Homebrew Discussion / Will this work?
« on: December 10, 2011, 11:54:31 AM »
So I need a vessel for lagering as my interest has grown in making these beers.  The keezer is full of beer that I prefer not to chill down to 32F for long periods of time but I figure it can serve as the vessel for primary fermentation and some initial chilling to 38 or so.  My efforts at obtaining another freezer/fridge for the garage (this would be #3) have been met with strong opposition by my wife.  So here is my plan:
I am going to get a large heavy duty garbage can, cut some thick long strips of insulation (construction grade stuff) and line the entire inside (sides/bottom/lid) of the can then fill in the gaps with the spray foam insulation (maybe cover it all for good measure).  A small faucet or ball valve will be installed.
This will be filled with ice water into which my carboy of future lager will be submerged and left for 4-6 weeks. 
Obviously changes in ice will be required with draining off water but hopefully not too often ( ambient temps in winter around here are 40F- garage currently sits at 60F but hopefully will be chilling further as winter progresses).
Has anyone tried this?
How often do you think the ice will have to be changed?- I'm hoping that once the carboy is chilled down the cold thermal mass will hold pretty stable with minimal intervention.
Thoughts and suggestions appreciated.

Pimp My System / Tap Handle Project
« on: November 21, 2011, 02:15:44 PM »
Got pretty bored with the standard black tap handles so I undertook a new project to carve some tap handles.  I have the luxury of having a DIY woodworking shop in town and got to use a wood lathe.  Had a lot of fun doing this.

Raw Materials- did away with the hockey puck idea after splitting 3 or 4 of them

Lathe work- lucky enough to have the shop guy show me a thing or two but surprisingly easy to do

Pre Stain

Post Stain- added a little polyurethane for a finish

Top-less handles- drilling the holes in the top of these was probably the hardest thing about all this, not perfect but it will do

New handle top idea was much more simple and in the end far better.  I cut out 4 equal planks of wood, drilled a hole in the bases; rounded out the sharp corners with sand paper and stained them after mounting them on some wood dowels.  I then used some magnetic primer on the fronts to allow for switchable labels to be made- I recommend taping off a square to limit the area for the primer and use at least 3 coats of this stuff, even after 4 coats the magnetic force is still a little weak but will do.  Covered it all in polyurethane and glued them down to the handles.

Finished product turned out well.  The magnetic labels switch out easily.  Got all this stuff at a local craft store.  I used Adobe Illustrator for my first effort at label design- insanely expensive software but you can sign up for a free trial month (I am going to have to find numerous other uses for the software prior to justifying the expense of buying a copy).  Added bonus for the magnetic labels - when not in use the labels can just stick to the front of the keezer.
Let me know what you guys think

Yeast and Fermentation / Using Orval dregs
« on: October 26, 2011, 09:10:27 AM »
My latest batch (a Belgian tripel) is now 2 weeks into primary fermentation and i was thinking of splitting the batch into 2 secondaries and loading one with some Brett.  In lieu of ordering actual Brett yeast online can I use the dregs of a few beers such as Orval?  I've heard about doing this but have never actually tried.  What would be a reasonable amount of bottle dregs (# of bottles) to pitch?  It's only going to be for about 2 gallons of beer for this small experimental batch.  I know it will take at least six months or more but I'm a fan of Orval so thought it will be well worth the wait.  Any thoughts?

General Homebrew Discussion / Secondary Carboys and cool crashing
« on: October 24, 2011, 09:15:23 AM »
Is it necessary or beneficial to place a relatively straight forward beer such as the American blond ale I am fermenting now into a secondary?  I plan on cold crashing it prior to kegging to improve clarity.  Not the kind of beer i feel would benefit much from a secondary.  Would I gain anything by placing it in a secondary for a couple weeks after its been in the primary for 10 days or is it best to just cold crash it in the primary after fermentation is complete and then keg?

General Homebrew Discussion / crash cooling ales
« on: October 04, 2011, 05:46:38 AM »
Does anyone know much about crash cooling ales?  I have a lager in my keezer now lagering for  6 weeks at 34F and wanted to put my two other ales (currently in the primary but likely done fermenting) in kegs and crash cool them to help clear them up.  Can these simply be rapidly chilled down to 34 degrees or is it better to slowly drop the temp down?  How long will they need to cool for- ideally I would just leave them in the keezer, force carbonate, and drink when ready.
Also one is going to be aged on some bourbon oak cubes in the keg for anywhere from 1-4 weeks depending on flavors obtained- can this be done at such low temps or would it be preferable to do this at room air temp and then crash cool?
Are there consequences to having rapidly shifting temps (32-68F) to beers after fermentation is complete?

Kegging and Bottling / Too much head on beer
« on: September 28, 2011, 11:07:07 AM »
I just started kegging and my first beer on tap seems to have an inordinate amount of head (I'm pouring half beer, half foam).  I had the keg force carbonate at about 17 psi for several days at around 50 degrees.  After that time should the pressure be reduced to a certain pour pressure?  Will the beer stay carbonated if I drop the pressure to say 6-10?  I am planning on dropping the temp for my lager (same fridge as tapped beer)- what should I do regarding the pressure setting once it's at a much lower temp, say 36 degrees.

All Grain Brewing / lagerering vessel
« on: September 25, 2011, 08:33:26 PM »
For lagering (this is my frst batch):
1) Is it okay and/or recommended to use a corny keg as the lagering vessel?  Can beer be dispensed from the same keg after lagering is finished?
2) How close to final gravity should I be prior to lagering?
3) Is it best to cool the beer in the primary prior to transfer to the lagering vessel or rack and then cool?
4) If the beer lagers in the keg do I need to periodically release pressure so as not to affect yeast activity?


Pimp My System / Keezer build + some questions
« on: September 13, 2011, 12:41:17 PM »
So I finally got around to it and got to work on my keezer.  Surprisingly simple to do (I am not a handy person) and really had a good time with this. Trying to figure out how to post a pic so they may or may not be included below (suggestions if you can't see them?).  Going to have four taps going hopefully soon (big brew week ahead).  The design was taken off the web and I have to say was incredibly straight forward and easy to do.  A couple of questions:

1) For temp control I have a Johnson digital thermostat controller with the temp probe coming through the wood.  I have seen a lot of other people place the temp probe in a bottle of water- I tried this but there was always a big delay in equalization of the temps and at times the ambient temp would be close to freezing while the water bottle was still above 45 degrees.  Is this ideal or is it better to simply have the probe sensing the ambient and true air temp inside the keezer.

2) This finally gives me some temp control to pursue some lager brews.  I will have room for a carboy for primary fermentation and lagering.  Is there any problem with respect to the other beers on tap in increasing and decreasing the temp over a period of weeks between 35 and 55 degrees to allow for proper fermentation and lagering of future brews?  Outside of not being able to always have very cold beer all the time (which may not be a bad thing for some of the beers) could there be any other problems?

I still need to install a 4 sided manifold to split the CO2 tank across all taps but other than that its coming along well.

All Grain Brewing / Large Starters
« on: September 10, 2011, 12:33:48 PM »
What is the best way to make a large starter?  Planning for a brew day in 4-5 days for a lager batch.  I have one vial of German lager yeast (WL I forget the #).  Is it best to ferment a starter at room temp or at the specified temp ( in this case 45-55 F)?  Is it best to add the same amount of wort as usual, ferment, cool and then add more wort or to just add more wort than usual from the start?  Is it detrimental to the yeast to keep warming and cooling it with each subsequent addition of wort?  Suggestions?

All Grain Brewing / First lager batch
« on: September 09, 2011, 01:05:20 PM »
Going to try a batch of lager this week and haven't been down this path before so looking for a few tips.  The recipe will likely be an Oktoberfest or Shwarzbier (Sprechen Black clone?).  In terms of pitching: Is a starter necessary?  If so at what temp do I make the starter at? 
Is it ideal to pitch the yeast at room temp and then chill to 50 degrees or so or chill first. 
How long does primary fermentation take and what is a reasonable time to lager the beer for?  I am hoping to have it kegged and ready by thanksgiving.
I have a chest freezer (recently turned keezer) that I am hoping to use as the lagering and chilling vessel with the aid of a thermostat controller.  No kegs yet so I thought this would be an opportune time to use.  All suggestions appreciated.

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