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Messages - tomsawyer

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Does Barrel Aging Increase ABV?
« on: February 23, 2011, 05:45:12 PM »
It seems to be the case for spirits, and to some extent wine.  So this molecular size must be at the root of things.

I did see French oak is less dense/more porous than American oak, so possibly there are qualitative differences in this effect.

Quite an interesting topic.  Whenever I see something that flies in the face of chemistry and common sense, I think its interesting.

Morticai, thats true but I think ethanol always has the edge with respect to the gradient inside vs outside so I would discount this as a reason why water would move faster.  It does explain how you can manipulate things to get the ethanol moving faster than water.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Does Barrel Aging Increase ABV?
« on: February 23, 2011, 05:24:50 PM »
Yes the moecular size was mentioned, and ethanol is 3.5 times the size of a water molecule.  Hard to imagine that oak pores are just in that range where water can escape while ethanol stays behind, but I suppose the range of pore sizes would include those that favor one over the other.  Anybody got a definitive reference for any of this?  I haven't seen anything yet that I'd call scientific.

I will say one thing, these small barrels (6gal & 11gal) do give a bigger angels share than the big barrels, due to so much surface area per unit volume.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Does Barrel Aging Increase ABV?
« on: February 23, 2011, 02:07:31 PM »
Do you have a reference for that?  I find it hard to accept.  Even in low humidity there is still as great a gradient between outside/inside for ethanol as there is for water.  Ethanol is the more volatile of the two, and its azeotrope of 95% ABV is lower yet.  When you distill you move towards the azeoptrope, but you start at something near the original ABV and the ethanol only goes up, not down.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: linking member number to account.
« on: February 23, 2011, 01:31:09 PM »
You logging into the AHA website or this forum?  Click on the title at the top of the page to get to the AHA site.

General Homebrew Discussion / Does Barrel Aging Increase ABV?
« on: February 23, 2011, 01:30:02 PM »
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 / Re: beer Books?
« on: February 21, 2011, 04:27:26 PM »
How To Brew, of course.  Designing Great Beers is a nice book for in-depth coverage of a variety of styles (although not all are included).  BCS has a recipe for most styles and good brewing tips.  I'd also recommend Yeast, a new release that has some of the newer advice you can get regarding ferm temps, starters, etc.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: First Time Judging Beer
« on: February 21, 2011, 03:26:53 AM »
Thanks for all the advice, it helped calm the nerves a bit as I entered my first judging gig.  I enjoyed it and now I understand why the BJCP test is so demanding in terms of time.  Its a lot like the actual judging!  We did 7-10 beers per 2hr session.  The more experienced judges did a nice job of helping me out without trying to steer me one way or another.  I think I did a reasonable job for a first effort, although I will work on developing more positive comments.  The best judges seemed to have those at the ready at all times.  The 1oz per beer was more like 3, I wasn't buzzed but there was a certain amount of fatigue at the end of the porters and Scotch/Irish ales.  I also worried that the beers were served fairly cool and they really changed (for the better) as they warmed.

I'm looking forward now to seeing the judges' comments on my own entries, I think I'll learn some more about judging from those.

All Grain Brewing / Re: fruity tasting pilsener??
« on: February 18, 2011, 01:07:05 PM »
This sounds like a water issue to me.  Lack of calcium and sulfates rounds the flavors and accentuates sweet malt and esters.
You didn't say where you are from, but here in WA, the rain/snow runoff in the spring contains much lower mineral content than other times of the year.  It's pretty amazing how fruity the beers can taste.   Did you have a relatively slow conversion in the mash tun when you brewed this?  I would not be surprised if you said yes.

Ward labs can help you with a water analysis report.  It may be as simple as adding a half a teaspoon of gypsum or calcium carbonate (depending on your water report) to adjust the mineral levels.


I thought it was Cl that accentuated malt.  I do concur with adding gypsum to accentuate hop bitterness.  Supposedly the Czech pils is brewed with soft water though.

Northern Brewer went to Fed Ex some months ago.

More like at least a year ago, right?

Twelve is "some".  But yeah it might have been Jan 2010, I couldn't remember for sure.  I kind of like it because they deliver on Saturday, but I haven't had bad luck with either UPS or Fed Ex.  I try not to order liquid yeast in the dead of winter but thats probably six months out of the year for some of you northerners.

Northern Brewer went to Fed Ex some months ago.

If you track your package online you'll know the day it is delivered.  You could've looked for that one that was left outside.  I'm always champing at the bit and watching the tracking site, when its out for delivery I know about when the driver will be by.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: First Time Judging Beer
« on: February 16, 2011, 01:23:58 PM »
oh, and I don't have a beer with lunch

This just keeps getting worse!

Actually, do any of you find yourself catching a buzz when judging?  Should I be wary of that?  I'm no lightweight but some of these styles can be pretty strong.

As for classic examples, we don't know which styles within a category we're getting so I'd be trying several beers from each category.  I've done quite a bit of homework in the past though.  I'll probably just go with the style descriptions and trust my tastebuds in the end.  There aren't many beer styles I don't like, and I appreciate them all.

All Grain Brewing / Re: EZ Water Calc 2.0 question
« on: February 16, 2011, 01:09:43 PM »
A 90min boil from 6.5gal to 5gal would give you a 30% increase, thats pretty substantial.  I understand that the recommendations are probably based off of base water analyses from the origin of the various styles.  I just think it would be worth switching to final boil levels going forward, its more accurate that way.  Then when we say "my beer has 300ppm SO4" we will know its that and not something between 330 and 390.  With these forums we've got the ability to quickly accumulate data to give us new guidelines.

All Grain Brewing / Re: EZ Water Calc 2.0 question
« on: February 15, 2011, 08:47:08 PM »
Lennie, I don't think that there is a need to calculate the flavor concentrations post boil unless we have post boil data on which flavor concentrations are desirable.


I am assuming the flavor recommendations are for post-boil.  How would they know how much boil-off you are going to have otherwise?  That does vary depending on length and vigor of boil, 20-30% reduction in volume.

I's all about matching the recipe to your procedure.  If you like the bump in efficiency, you can adjust the procedure and recipe to get the fermentability you want.  Maybe mash a little lower for the first step, add a little sugar to dry things out, whatever you like.  Or not. :)

I used to add a little sugar to most recipes but I quit that in search of more malt flavor.  I may try mashing lower but starting at 150 and having it dropdown a couple of degrees during 90min, seems like a pretty attenuative way to go.  At least I was getting FGs around 1.010 with this method, before I tried the no-sparge step mash and/or mashout.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: First Time Judging Beer
« on: February 15, 2011, 06:28:58 PM »
I suppose if I don't over-indulge the night before I'll need less coffee in the morning.  Can't do without at least a couple of cups though.

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