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Topics - tomsawyer

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All Grain Brewing / Rice Hulls?
« on: January 14, 2011, 02:42:15 AM »
Do these work for you?  I've used them and never thought they did anything but soak up more wort.  I don't get many stuck mashes, and if I do I'll just stir and vorlauf again.  I also have good luck raking the top of the grain bed.

General Homebrew Discussion / Swirling The Contents of Your Carboy
« on: January 13, 2011, 01:32:12 PM »
I am a self-confessed yeast rouser.  When I see a lovely 4" krausen on a fermenting wort I just have to go rouse it by swirling the carboy.  I don't agitate wth caviation but the cicrcular action is enough to get the settled material off the bottom and moving.  I didn't used to be so moved to partake in this practice, but in switching from buckets to carboys I now have a great visual that triggers my OCD.

I know htat rousing yeast can be a technique for getting better attenuation in big beers, but do you think it has any negative (or positive) effects on an average beer? 

General Homebrew Discussion / Frozen Lager
« on: January 07, 2011, 11:44:32 PM »
I'm just using a smal firdge to lager, and after a few days of not opening it the temp dropped below 30F and apparently that was enough to freeze my two German lagers.  Does this do irreperable harm?  I have the corny kegs out thawing and will put them back after adjusting the thermostat (knob with numbers).

General Homebrew Discussion / Da Vinci Syrup for Fruit Beer
« on: January 07, 2011, 05:14:13 PM »
My wife likes fruit beers and its something I brew now and then to keep her happy.  They are kind of unstable though, you invariably get a second fermentation and while thats going on they are yeasty, and when its over some of the nice aromas are gassed out.  I actually have a cream ale I'm brewing now, that I'm going to dose with fresh strawberries and put in my serving fridge to prevent refermentation.

We had some Da Vinci sugar-free raspberry syrup in the cabinet and when I poured her a hefe I thought it would be interesting to add a touch of this.  I'd used it once before on a Berlinner Weisse and enjoyed it.  Well she really liked it so I now have a good way of making her fruit beer while keeping the base beer drinkable as well.  I also think that since its sugar-free, you could add it and bottle or keg and it would remain stable.  It tastes quite a bit better than extracts I've used.  There are a lot of flavors of these syrups too.

All Grain Brewing / Batch Sparging With Distilled Water?
« on: January 07, 2011, 05:05:21 PM »
I did this for the first time a few days ago when I brewed a cream ale, so I don't know if there was a negative effect.  I used my tap water and salts for the mash, but didn't have bottled water until my wife got home from the store.  I wanted the final salt levels to be what I'd already added so I batch sparged with the distilled.  My rationale was that the mash still had salts in the bound water, so I wouldn't leach tannins.

Any experiences or advice concerning this approach?  Obviously it would have been safer to blend the  tap and distilled for both mash and sparge.  I'll report back when I taste this batch.

General Homebrew Discussion / Dornbusch's Advice for Alt?
« on: January 01, 2011, 01:56:12 PM »
I've now read his altbier style book written in '98 and noticed he espouses some dogma that is now being questioned (eg, hot side aeration.)  I have a couple of questions regarding his advice, that I was hoping to solicit opinions on.

First, he spends a good deal of time emphasizing the need for a protein rest, and lays out some good reasoning.  I have been under the impression that today's malts, even the German malts, are well-modified and as such no longer need to have this protein rest and that it can even be detrimental.  Is this the case, or should I be doing a protein rest for this style?  Not sure how much German malting methods have changed in the last twelve years.

Second, he mentions the need to lager on yeast.  I have been reading that people typically keg and force-carb prior to lagering, which would seem to be at odds with his advice (although he does call for racking a time or two during lagering).  I am doing a diacetyl rest on my alt right now (low 60's after 10 days at 56F), should I lager the primary or rack to keg and lager in that?  His reasoning seems less intuitively appealing on this, since the idea of yeast doing much metabolism at 40F and lower seems unlikely and reduction of gasses like H2S would occur slower since the solubility of gas is greater at lower temps.

I'm not badmouthing this book, in fact for a style book it has a lot of excellent information on general brewing (mash pH, calculating SRM/IBU) as well as great info on alts.  Just looking to do the right things to get a nice altbier.

General Homebrew Discussion / How Do You Balance Late Additions?
« on: December 23, 2010, 02:41:30 PM »
I know to use AAs to calculate IBUs for bittering, but in another thread it was mentioned that the super high-alpha hops have a lot of oils in general and can overpower other hops from a flavor/aroma standpoint.  I'd never considered that there might be concentration effects in late additions.  When I use combinations of hops for the 15 and 5min adds, its generally just equal amounts.

My question is, do you adjust the amount of each according to AAU, or do you look up total oil content, or do you just use amounts based on taste experience?  And do you think certain combinations are good simply because they are similar AAs along with complementary flavors?

General Homebrew Discussion / First Pull Off My Solera - Pull #4 Update
« on: December 23, 2010, 12:12:47 AM »
Last March I bottled a zin wine that I had in an 11gal Hungarian oak barrel, and decided that I'd try to make this into a solera.  I added some fresh-brewed wort, some lambic blend, and periodically added some dregs from a few commercial lambics/krieks.  Today I pulled 3gal out of this barrel.  Its just 9 months old but the beer has some complexity and no major flaws.  Some tartness, a nice funk and a distinct sherry note that is obviously from the wine residue.  I'll bottle the beer tomorrow using champagne style bottles and corks.  I refilled the barrel with some beer newly fermented with Roeselare and topped it up with a 3mth-old lambic brewed from a Boon Oude Kriek dregs that was already quite tart.

This pull was bound to be good, as time goes on it'll be an open question whether this method produces an interesting and tasty wild brew.

General Homebrew Discussion / Picking This Year's Pale Ale Hop Blend
« on: December 21, 2010, 01:12:16 AM »
Last year ('09) for late additions I used a blend of Sorachi Ace, Simcoe, Amarillo, and Columbus.  I mostly bittered with Magnum, and those were some some tasty APAs.

This year I used Summit, Centennial and Citra for my late additions, and switched to Chinook for bittering late in the summer.  I don't think I've made an APA that I really liked as well as last year's blend.  Its more harsh yet lacks depth of flavor, I think it is maybe a lack of piney flavor that I'm missing.  I'll be ordering up a new batch of hops for the coming year and I'll probably go back to some of the varieties I enjoyed in 09, possibly keeping Chinook as my bittering hop since my last purchase is still fairly fresh.

What are some of your favorite blends for APA's?  I'm considering my options for the new year.

General Homebrew Discussion / Help Me Tweak My Hefeweizen
« on: December 18, 2010, 06:18:37 PM »
I am closing in on what I want in my recipe.  I have the right sweetness and a nice balance of banana and clove.  What I am now wanting to eliminate is a bit of tartness.  It might be bitterness, I'm not sure.  I only used around 18 IBU of Tettnanger (60 and 15min additions) so I don't know if this is it.  I use Best wheat malt, not sure if this is a source of tartness.  The yeast is WY3068 starter, fermented around 64F using swamp cooler/ice bottles.  I now have a temp-controlled fermentor if that would help.  I  have upped my crystal malts to 9%, not sure if a little more sweetness would cover the tartness.

I should mention that our favorite hefes are Ayinger Ur-Weisse and Schneider Edel Weisse.

Any suggestions on what to do to remove this last little flaw in my hefeweizen?  The wife likes these so I have a real interest in getting this recipe right.  Thanks in advance for suggestions.

All Grain Brewing / Flavor of Fat Tire/2 Below, Which Malt?
« on: January 04, 2010, 12:00:01 AM »
I bought some New Belgium 2 Below awhile back and loved it.  Then I had a Fat Tire (my first) and it tasted like a slightly weaker version of the 2 Below.  Both beers have what I think is a distinctive chocolate flavor to them.  I read where Fat Tire is brewed with Munich and Victory malt though, no chocolate.  Is the flavor I'm getting coming from the Munich malt?  I haven't used much of it, and not in a Belgian ale.

All Grain Brewing / My First 1.100 Beer
« on: December 24, 2009, 11:05:04 PM »
I set out to make a big beer since my RIS and barleywine supplies from last year's batches are getting low.  This time I came up with more of a DIPA, although I htink with age it'll drink like a barleywine.

The grist for this 2gal batch is:

4lb Maris Otter
1lb wheat malt
1/2lb Victory
1/2lb Biscuit
1/2lb rye malt
1/2lb Crystal 60L
1/8lb Caramunich II
3/4lb sugar

Mashed at 150F-148F for 90min, batch sparged.

The hops schedule is:

2oz Magnum 90min
1oz mix of Willamette, Centennial, Summit and Cascade added at 15,5 and FO.
Did a 30min stand after flameout.

Yeast was a US05 yeast cake from a previous 3gal batch.

Everything went well enough, I hit 1.100 OG on the nose and got my 2gal.  It went in the fermentor a week ago, I used a swamp cooler and ice bottles to keep the ferm temp in the low 60's.  After six days the krausen had dropped so I brought it upstairs to warm it so it would attenuate to the maximum extent.  Out of curiosity I checked FG today, it was surprisingly low at 1.015.  I'm glad it isn't underattenuated, I was worried about using so much Victory and Biscuit (I didn't know they weren't considered base malts).

I tasted the SG sample and its hoppy to ay the least, very bitter with a citrusy flavor.  It has the characteristic mouthfeel of a rye beer, thick and slippery.  The alcohol is noticeable at this point, guess I have to expect that.  I tried to detect diacetyl and/or fruity esters and didn't find any although in this hop bomb it's tough to find anything else.  It'll be very interesting to see what carbonation and chilling do to the flavor of this beer.

I'm going to let this sit another week and bottle late next week.  I'm half-tempted to keg just to get it "to market" faster, but this is no keg beer so bottling seems the only reasonable course of action.

Anyway, just wanted to crow about my first 100 beer, and my best attenuation of a big beer to date.  Fred Bonjour's website was a big part of the success of this aspect of the brew.  Cheers!

Yeast and Fermentation / S23 Lager Yeast from Fermentis
« on: December 24, 2009, 05:07:36 PM »
Anyone have experiences with this yeast?  Ive heard only bad things about it so far.  I bought two packets and was going to brew a few lagers this winter, but I'm growing up some WLP830 now because I'm kind of scared to try S23.  I really don't want a fruity lager, I went through that last winter with the Brewferm lager yeast and it was a big waste of time.

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