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Topics - tomsawyer

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I'm interested in making some hard cider/perry this fall.  I already make wine so I have a small #20 ratchet press.  Will this thing hold up for pressing cider?

Also, I am looking at getting an apple crusher.  Is the standard red Weston crusher a good buy?  Is it robust?  It seems to have a wooden drum and steel "teeth", are the teeth screw heads?  I've never seen one up close to know how it really works.  I saw where you can make a crusher from a garbage disposal, but I'm thinking the manual crusher would work well enough for me.

All Grain Brewing / Kinetics of Conversion With A Thin No-Sparge Mash
« on: March 27, 2011, 12:57:09 PM »
I mashed 6lb of malt with 4.125gal of water, 2.75qt/lb ratio.  The initial mash temp was 152F and it dropped to 148F during the course of the mash.  Each time I would take a small sample for refractometer testing, then stir the mash.  I tested the sugar content every fifteen minutes for two hours and got the following data:
Min      degrees Plato
15           6.5
30           9.0
45           9.8
60          10.4
75          10.8
90          11.0
105        11.3
120        11.3

I mashed out with 1/2gal of boiling water, although this only brought the temp up to 155F.  I got no additional sugars from the mashout addition.

I calculate that I got roughly 86% conversion by 105 minutes, and a preboil efficiency of 74%.

General Homebrew Discussion / Anybody Read Mosher's Tasting Beer?
« on: March 13, 2011, 05:27:36 PM »
I picked this up today, my recent interest in judging made me think this would be an appropriate read.  I also have Evaluating Beer but its from 1993 and I wonder if its not a little dated.  Any reviews of either of these books?

General Homebrew Discussion / Beer Comp Entries Up?
« on: March 11, 2011, 01:36:42 PM »
I've been at this all of two months, but both the KC Biermeisters event and now the Drunk Monk Challenge are both getting record numbers of entries (DMC is supposed to be close to 800).  Is this reflecting a new interest in homebrewing, in comps or both?  Or have they seen steady growth over the last few years?  Just curious.

I see this is coming up next month.  There is a first round comp reasonably close and I could use the judging experience.  Or is it by invitation only?

General Homebrew Discussion / Anybody Going to DMC in Aurora IL?
« on: March 02, 2011, 06:19:30 PM »
I got accepted to judge at the Drunk Monk Challenge, my wife is stewarding.  I know a couple of other people who are judging, anybody from here going to be there?  We'll be arriving Friday night, hopefully in time for the party after the mead/cider judging.

General Homebrew Discussion / Beer in a Week?! Zymurgy article
« on: February 24, 2011, 08:54:23 AM »
Has anybody tried this?  It sounds like a recipe for disaster, on the other hand I can get a best bitter in the keg in ten days but I think its better after another week.

Oh, and its by our own Tom Schmidlin.  Nice stuff Tom.

General Homebrew Discussion / Does Barrel Aging Increase ABV?
« on: February 23, 2011, 06:30:02 AM »
I've got a bet going with a friend on this subject.  He contends that barrel aging increases ABV, but I can't think of any good reason why it would.  I think the observations he's referred to are probably due to whiskey in the barrel staves causing increases by leaching back into beer (similar to swish), I've heard of that incresing ABV by a couple of points.  I'm talking here about using a new barrel or wine barrel where the wine is not much different in ABV than the beer.  Is there a selective mechanism that allows water to escape while retaining ethanol?  I know it doesn't happen that way when you distill.

General Homebrew Discussion / First Time Judging Beer
« on: February 14, 2011, 11:45:04 AM »
This weekend I'm judging for the first time at a competition in KC.  I got my assignments, I'm judging porters, Belgian/French ales, and Scottish/Irish ales.  They don't tell you which particular styles within the category, in advance.  Needless to say I'm excited!  And just a little worried about doing a decent job of it.  I also entered four beers and this is my first time entering beer in a comp as well.  Talk about your rookies.

What do you typically do to prepare for judging a competition?

General Homebrew Discussion / Fining With SuperKleer
« on: February 02, 2011, 08:44:19 AM »
I know gelatin is the most often used fining agent in beer, but there are a number of other products on the market.  I tried fining a rye APA with Superkleer, a two part product consisting of kieselsol and chitosan.  The negatively charged kieselsol (silica gel) is added to the beer and stirred, then after awhile you add the positively charged chitosan and this results in charge interaction and coagulation.  It seemed to work well on this beer, and it cleared within a few days at room temp (60F right now).  I've used this stuff on my wine before, which is why I had it on hand.  You might be able to just use the chitosan since most of the stuff you want to drop out (protein, yeast) is negatively charged.  I think the kieselsol does help speed the process though.

General Homebrew Discussion / Gap in the BJCP Weizens?
« on: January 27, 2011, 04:44:33 PM »
I was checking out the BJCP style guidelines  The weizen has a color range of 2-8 SRM, the dunkelweizen has a color range of 14-23.  I hadn't noticed this before.  Where does a German wheat beer that has a color of 10-12 SRM fall?  Is it "take your pick"?  What other characteristics can I use to decide what category to enter a beer? 

General Homebrew Discussion / Brewing Salts Content of Briess DME/LME
« on: January 24, 2011, 02:50:10 PM »
This came up recently in a discussion of extract brewing and water treatment.  No one seemed to have the answer offhand so I emailed Briess and asked the question.  They were kind enough to reply with the following information:

"We do not regularly test our products for these salts, but we do
occasionally test the water used in our mash. Sulfate is around 63mg/L
and Chloride around 28 mg/L. Since we produce 16 Plato wort (Gravity
1.064), you can calculate that for every 1 Plato increase (Gravity .004)
from extract you use you will be adding approximately SO4=4mg/L and
Cl=1.8mg/L to your brew. The water that we use is of moderate hardness,
but since we make high gravity brews, the hardness will be lower if you
brew a beer below 1.064 using distilled water."

I thought this was good information and wanted to share.

All Grain Brewing / Aging or Getting Used To a Flavor?
« on: January 22, 2011, 03:24:07 PM »
It seems that I always start out a keg with a crticism or two.  Then as I drink along, it starts getting better and better.  The latest was a pils style, the first few beers had a hint of diacetyl (in spite of a generous rest) and was slightly sweet.  Now I'm halfway through the keg (3gal to start with) and its really growing on me.  This beer had a three week lager (including an unintentional freezing) and was super clear right out of the gate.  Now the diacetyl seems to have subsided (if that was what it was) and the beer is just wonderful.

This happens with a lot of different styles so I'm wondering if its just me becoming accustomed to the new flavors.  Not complaining, just wondering why this is the case.  I've read that other people can tell when a keg is starting to kick when it really tastes great.  Is it aging/clearing or just pyschological?

General Homebrew Discussion / Shotgunning a Competition?
« on: January 20, 2011, 09:18:48 AM »
I'm a complete newb at comps, and I heard this term "shotgunning" ahwile back.  I gathered at the time it described someone who had multiple entries in a comp, and that it was frowned upon to some extent.

My question is, what is proper etiquette regarding number of entries for a beer comp?  Or is it really no big deal?  Any other constraints, like not entering more than one of a particular style?

I was going to enter two beers in an upcoming contest, but I have probably four or five that might be worthy (still evaluating, thats tough work).

Kegging and Bottling / Stupid Leaky Poppets
« on: January 14, 2011, 05:18:15 PM »
I moved a picnic tap off my wonderful Best Bitter, and tonight I see a good half gallon of this brew in the bottom of my keezer.  Darn! X10.  Should I be replacing the poppets in the beer out side, or should I be inspecting the metal exterior of that connection?  its a ball lock keg.  I took one out of service not that long ago for this same reason.  Maybe I should buy more picnic taps and take the leaks out of the picture.

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