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Ingredients / Re: Forgot to add whirlfoc...
« on: September 23, 2013, 01:35:21 AM »
It's an amber ale.

Do isinglass and irish moss have the same electrical charge? I'm not worried about the yeast clearing, I used WLP 001 and it settles out fine. I'm more concerned with clearing out the proteins.

Ingredients / Forgot to add whirlfoc...
« on: September 23, 2013, 12:33:46 AM »
It happens. Too busy concentrating on everything else, and I forgot to drop the whirlfloc tablet in the wort at the end of the boil.

Normally I wouldn't think too much about it, but I'm planning to enter this beer in competition. Is it possible to add whirlfloc after the boil? Like if I boil the tablet in a bit of water, then add that to the wort?

Equipment and Software / Larger Decoction Mashes
« on: January 07, 2013, 07:34:45 AM »
I'm considering scaling up from 5 to 10 gallons. I like to do decoction mashes for my hefeweizens, but I'm dreading having to stir twice as much grain. Any tips for conducting larger decoction mashes? My only idea is to use a thinner mash so it will be easier to stir, but I'll have to be sure the mash is converted first since I'll be denaturing a larger portion of enzymes.

On a related note, how are decoction mashes performed at commercial breweries?

Equipment and Software / Re: Small fridge for temp control?
« on: January 07, 2013, 06:44:58 AM »
I had trouble finding a fridge that didn't have the compressor in the back bottom corner, they are very common now. I finally decided to buy one of them and find a way to make it work. I bought a 4.4 cu. ft. Magic Chef off of Craigslist. My 7-gallon plastic fermentor fits well vertically in the fridge. There's room for the fermentor & bubble cap plus a few inches. I also brought my fermentor for a fit-check before buying.

I tossed out all of the shelving including the small freezer door. Even though I'll likely never control the fridge to lower than 60F I didn't want the freezer frosting up. The drink racks on the door came off very easily. It's just a plastic shell held on with small Phillips-head screws. The sealing gasket on the perimeter of the door didn't seat well without the door shelving so I glued it back onto the door.

Now the door almost closes, it stops about an inch from fully closed. However since my bucket fermentor has a slight outward taper, there really is enough depth at the base of the fermentor. The interference is at the top where the lid is wider. Right now I just push the door closed and hold it shut with a luggage strap. The fermentor is canted at a small angle when the door is closed but I don't think that has much effect on the fermentation. Next I'm going to try removing a strip of insulation on the door near the lid to free up a little more space for the door to close. I'm also considering cutting a hole in the side of the fridge to run a blow-off tube through when needed.

Other Fermentables / Re: Over-Spiced Metheglin
« on: February 13, 2012, 06:27:38 AM »
I finally tasted this metheglin after allowing it to sit a year. The spice flavor has definitely faded, what was barely drinkable is now just a tad too sharp. The spice is blending with the flavors from aging quite well so I think it will be ready to drink in one or two years.

Equipment and Software / Re: Mcmaster Carr Shipping Question
« on: November 26, 2011, 11:02:55 PM »
McMaster is geared towards commercial/industrial customers, who favor speed over the (relatively) small price of shipping.

I've ordered brewing stuff (copper tubing, water filter, compression fittings) from McMaster and found their shipping prices reasonable. Given the size and extent of their business I think you can trust McMaster to have fair shipping charges, simply because mail-order is their business and customers ultimately won't tolerate out-sized shipping charges.

However since speed is their focus and their normal customers aren't that sensitive to shipping charges, you can expect some loose shipping practices. I received the water filter and fittings in a box about 4x bigger than it needed to be, with some crumpled up butcher paper thrown in as padding. I order a lot of parts through McMaster for my job so this wasn't a surprise. Sure the box could have been smaller and saved me a little on shipping, but to me the selection & availability make up for it. I spent an afternoon driving around trying to find the right fittings at hardware stores with no success.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Oatmeal Stout mouthfeel
« on: November 17, 2011, 08:08:50 AM »
I have a digital thermometer that I generally trust. I've had thermometer issues in the past but this one seems to be stable. That said I'll check it in ice water and boiling water the next time I set up to brew. I always seem to loose a few degrees when I pour the liquor into my mash-tun, I haven't dialed in how to adequately offset for that yet.

A few more details on the batch might be helpful: 60 minute mash, single infusion w/ mash-out, no sparge, OG: 1.055, yeast: Wyeast 1028 (London Ale). Dark grains were cold-soaked a day ahead of time so I didn't add any salts to the mash.

tomsawyer: I'm not sure what you mean by "give it plenty of time for the glucans to come out". I agree with the other posters that a shorter mash would help limit the wort fermentability, although I'm not sure how mash time would affect beta glucans. Figure 91 in Chapter 14 of Palmer's book shows the active range of beta glucanase cuts off around 120 F, so a normal mash would denature that enzyme and prevent breakdown of beta glucan during mashing. Are you suggesting that the beta glucans need time to soak out of the grain? If so would doing a "rest" between mash-out and lautering do the trick?

All Grain Brewing / Oatmeal Stout mouthfeel
« on: November 15, 2011, 08:06:30 AM »
I'd like to brew a silky smooth oatmeal stout, like Samuel Smith's. My previous batch used 1.5 lbs of flaked oats for a 5 gallon batch, the FG came out at 1.010. I did a single infusion mash at 154F (aimed for 156F but it came in low). Next time I'll mash higher, but is there anything else I can do to boost the mouthfeel?

Use a higher percentage of oatmeal? Employ a protein rest? Alter the water chemistry?

brian-d -

Can you provide more details on the wort volume through your brewing process? You say BeerSmith calculated you should have a 7 gallon pre-boil volume. How much water did you use for mashing and sparging? What did you actually measured in your brew pot after lautering? What was the volume after cooling? Without those step-by-step details we're just guessing at where the lost wort went.

For me, the usual culprit of lost wort after cooling is the hops. How much did you use, and were they whole or pellet? If whole hops, did you bag the hops and squeeze out the wort as the Blichmann hopblocker web page suggests?

If the majority of the wort was lost in the boil then I think boil vigor is the cause. Lower ambient pressure only means lower saturation (boiling) temperature, the heat of vaporization doesn't change significantly. Hence higher altitude means you'll reach a boil quicker compared to sea level but the rate of boiling won't change significantly assuming constant heat input. Regardless of humidity or other external factors, boil vigor is the only variable you have control over so it you're losing volume to the boil try turning down the burner.

Be careful trying to target a specific volume though, you should really be after a target gravity. That depends on your mashing and lautering, the boil is more about concentrating the wort into the gravity you desire. If you end up with 5 gallons of 1.040 beer and you wanted 5 gallons of 1.050 beer, that's not the boil or hops, that's your lautering.

Lastly - I usually end up with about 1/2 gallon less than I expect once I'm done bottling. No matter how many notes and measurement points I take I still can't account for the loss. I suspect it's loss to the trub since that's difficult to measure. Rather than chase my tail trying to eke out the details of my system I usually aim for 5.5 or 6 gallons, expecting I'll end up with roughly 5 in the end.

General Homebrew Discussion / Cream Ale vs. Blonde Ale
« on: September 12, 2011, 01:06:38 AM »
What's the difference between the two? Reading the BJCP guidelines, it seems like a blonde ale is a slightly sweeter, slightly hoppier version of a cream ale. Are there any other differences?

Kegging and Bottling / Smaller than 12 oz. bottles
« on: September 11, 2011, 03:39:06 AM »
I've been making a lot of 1 gallon batches of mead. I'd like to bottle some of the batches, but 12 oz bottles seem a little big. Anyone know where I can find smaller bottles, something like 6-8 oz? I searched around the web but so far can't find anything.

Other Fermentables / Re: Over-Spiced Metheglin
« on: January 26, 2011, 04:43:21 AM »
Lots of good ideas, thanks guys. I'm planning to let the metheglin sit at least 6 months, just to let it mature a little. It can only get better, right?  :)

I haven't heard if the spice flavor will fade with time. This is more of an academic question, the metheglin I have now is too far gone to recover, I think. With beer that's meant to age you can intentionally over-hop with the idea that later on the hops will settle down into the desired range. Is this technique is applicable to mead?

Part of the reason I'm letting the metheglin sit for a while is to find out for myself if the spice flavor will fade. I'll report back with my findings, along with what I end up doing with it. I like that recipe tschmidlin posted.

Other Fermentables / Over-Spiced Metheglin
« on: January 25, 2011, 06:31:32 AM » I over-spiced my mead.

It all started when I made an experimental 1 gallon batch from avocado honey. It came out very dark with a caramel-y taste, so I came up with the idea of adding star anise (black licorice flavor) and making a Jagermeadster. Not really sure where I was going with this but it sounded like a good idea at the time. So I added 5g of crushed star anise (pre-soaked in vodka) to the gallon and tasted it after a week. I've added oak to my meads in the past and it usually takes 2 weeks for the flavor to develop, but this time just a week was waaaay to long. It's funny because I ended up with something that tastes similar to jagermeister, which isn't that drinkable in larger than shotglass quantities. I was hoping for a hint of black licorice, not a slap in the nose.

Now...what to do?
Do spice flavors fade over time, like hops in beer? The metheglin is now off the star anise and sitting in my closet. I'm not in a big rush. Any other ideas on what to do with it? I'm thinking of ways I could blend it (what goes with black licorice?). I could make another gallon of avocado mead to blend with the metheglin and cut the spice flavor in half. Although I might end up with 2 gallons of slightly less-offensive metheglin, assuming the spice flavor won't fade. Maybe make a sauce/marinade of sorts? Again wondering about the black licorice pairing possibilities.

I'm open to any suggestions. This started as an experiment and looks like it'll end that way, so might as well learn as much as I can!

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