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Topics - rbowers

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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.

Pimp My System / Keezer time
« on: August 29, 2011, 08:49:53 PM »
So after months of tooling around with the idea of a keezer I am going to finally take the plunge.  I have a 8.8cf freezer picked out and will be starting shortly.  The one part I am concerned about is regarding the weight put on the hinges.  I'd like to attach the lid to the collar based on most of what I've read making it easier to load in the kegs.  I had plans for an inner collar of 2x6 pine with an outer collar of oak 1x8 to overhang the freezer a bit and give it more of a finished look.  The outer collar would only be on the front and sides so it can open ok.  Is this going to be too much weight and put the hinges at risk?  Also what is the best way to attach the collar to the lid- liquid nails seems to be a common product discussed?

All Grain Brewing / First Wort Hopping/ Black IPA
« on: August 25, 2011, 03:50:53 PM »
Got a black IPA planned for next week.  This will be my first black IPA and I have been reading up on some finer points with regards to hops. First wort hoppping sounded interesting and something I have not done before but there seems to be a debate about how to re-arrange the rest of the hop profile around it.  The recipe (which I am altering to experiment with a FWH) calls for 3oz magnum (60 min), 2oz amarillo gold (1 min), and 0.5oz cascade (0min) followed by additional cascade and amarillo dry hop (2 oz apiece).  Is it best to move all the magnum forward to a FWH vs. a portion.  I plan to leave the dry hopping out of the equation for now.  Should I take a portion of all the additions and move it forward? 
And just to get this right- the hops are merely added to the kettle and allowed to sit with the sparged wort until and then through the entire boil?  Is there a set time to allow them to sit in the sparged liquid pre-boil? The desrciption this process seems to yield, based on my review on the web, is that of a hoppy but smooth beer with elements of blended bitterness and hop flavor. 
Any suggestions, as always, are very helpful.

Kegging and Bottling / Splitting a batch to 2 kegs
« on: August 18, 2011, 01:16:09 PM »
Is there a way to split a 5 gallon batch between 2 5-gallon kegs and still carbonate effectively?  I was hoping to brew a black IPA and age half of it on some oak.  I assume force carbonation is going to be the only way to go?  Has anyone done this? 

Kegging and Bottling / Freezer for a Keezer
« on: August 18, 2011, 07:21:44 AM »
Looking into building a keeper sometime soon.  I am hoping for a 4 corny keg setup with room in the keezer for a 10lb CO2 tank.  A bonus would be extra room to lager a primary 6 gallon carboy possibly at the expense of one or two kegs at times.  Any recs on size/model/brand of freezer to look into?

All Grain Brewing / Saison Brew Day
« on: July 06, 2011, 06:30:24 AM »
Going to brew a saison for the the first time next week.  The recipe is based off a Saison Dupont clone I found.  From what little I have read it seems higher fermentation temp is the way to go.  Using Wyeast 3711 French Saison strain.  Any additional suggestions?  I was also considering dry hopping it to add some additional aroma- the only dry hopping I've done is with high AA hops in IPAs which I don't think is the goal here.  The beer is to be brewed with EKG and Styrian goldings; just use the same hops for the dry hop?   Plan to mash in at 150 I think for 90 min. 

All Grain Brewing / Small Batch Test Brewing
« on: July 04, 2011, 07:43:03 AM »
I was looking to brew a few test batches in smaller quantities to fine tune some things and experiment a bit.  In general is everything scaled down equally in terms of ingredients?  Any recs on adjustments to yeast pitching?  If I use CO2 to cover the beer in the fermenter is their any problem with using my 5 and 6 gallon carboys or is an additional investment needed for a smaller carboy?  Things to consider for hops?  Dry hopping?  Thanks in advance for any suggestions

General Homebrew Discussion / My First Dry Hop
« on: May 26, 2011, 04:42:06 AM »
So I am going to dry hop a APA today and wanted some general recs.  I haven't done this before so a little clueless.  Going to use citra hops at the recommendation of LHBS.  Is there any benefit to placing them in a weighted mesh bag if I plan to transfer back to a clean carboy after 5-7 days?  Is it ok to have the hops simply floating on top of the beer?  Add the hops first then the beer or vice versa?  I assume I maintain the same fermentation temp ~67F. 

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