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Messages - kgs

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What's Brewing this Weekend?
« on: April 02, 2017, 11:41:08 AM »
3-gallon ESB with a simple grain bill and Lallemand ESB yeast. Second time using distilled water + Bru'n Water calculations. First time with the yeast.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Favorite Brew Music
« on: April 01, 2017, 07:41:13 PM »
Today I'm listening to the S-Town podcast while I get my mash on and clean the house. I didn't like it at first but it grew on me (like kudzu, perhaps). I generally listen to news or story podcasts, though I have Pandora channels to fit whatever mood: War when I want to revisit the 1970s, Fairport Convention, old-tyme "wimmen's music," Topp Twins, jazz, whatever. Sometimes it's just me and my head.

Equipment and Software / Re: Temp control failure
« on: January 19, 2017, 12:37:21 PM »
I think the default setting for the jumpers is for cooling and you need to switch the jumpers to use a heating source.  Is this the first time you are using a heater with the controller?

Yes, it is. *Learning commences*

Equipment and Software / Re: Temp control failure
« on: January 19, 2017, 10:55:45 AM »
Sounds like you had the logic reversed on the controller.  You should be able to quickly check that by plugging in a lamp and place the sensor in a glass of water near the setpoint and adjust it up and down with additional hot and ice.

If the temp sensor was just sitting in the air around the fermenter, I doubt the beer got as hot as the air around it in that short timeframe. The batch may not be a goner if it just got into the 70's (depending on the yeast you're using).

With your ambient temps, you may need to cool and not heat during the early phases of fermentation. Just a hunch with no other info.

If pressed for time, I would leave everything disconnected and crack the door on the fridge.  Mid to low's 60's in the house plus a little heat from fermentation may keep your beer in the high 60's during the early and vigorous part of fermentation.

Unfortunately, the probe was taped to the side of the fermenter. That said I am away til next week and will just sit it out at low temps and see what happens. I'll test the controller when I'm home to see if I can replicate the problem (on a small bucket of water, not lovingly-handcrafted fresh AG wort). It looks as if the most vigorous stage of fermentation already happened (through the bucket walls I can see the "trub line" a few inches above the liquid line).

In the four to five years I've owned the controller I have never changed the settings other than to adjust the target temp (setpoint) or occasionally tweak the differential one or two degrees, but obviously reviewing the settings is a good idea, in case I accidentally canoodled with some setting other than setpoint. I plan to get a two-stage controller, though with this lesson, I will test-drive it as well.

Equipment and Software / Temp control failure
« on: January 18, 2017, 07:42:01 PM »
So I came home tonight (Wednesday) to a distressing discovery. On Monday morning I finished brewing a rye IPA and put it in my Danby fridge with a Johnson single-stage controller plugged into a Brewer's Edge space heater in the fridge. The fridge was unplugged. That night the temp seemed fine -- ca. 66 degrees. Same the next morning. I got busy and did not check last night or this morning--usually I let beers "be" while they brew. I came home tonight and the controller read... 100f. Naturally I quickly unplugged the controller and opened the fridge door. Predicting this won't be my best batch of beer.

The only thing I can think of is I didn't set the jumpers from cooling to heating. The next thing on my list is did the controller fail. (I also checked that I had the "right" things plugged in.) The temp in the house has been in the low 50s to mid-60s, so that's not an issue. I also had the "right" cords plugged in the right places.

I'm headed to a conference tomorrow so I'm mulling over whether to plug the fridge back in, turn it to the highest temp, and let things finish out in the high 50s (no controller, no heater). I don't have the time tonight or tomorrow to test the controller.

Me sad... but, it's beer. I can brew again.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Honing Your Skills
« on: January 16, 2017, 09:25:02 AM »
That makes sense. I do have Jamil's book "Brewing Classic Styles," so maybe I'll pick a beer with fewer malts and hops that's also a session beer. Unfortunately, that's not a style I like that much. Is it at least a good sign that I've hit my target OG on the beers I've made so far? Or did I just get lucky? :)

I have kettles, one for water and one for wort, and I have wooden spoons "calibrated" to their volume in gallon markings. From my own experience, I suggest brewing styles you like, and re-brewing a recipe you like repeatedly, which is where I pinned down some areas to focus on. Only introduce one process change at a time (I was terrible at that for years, and I'm still bad about documenting when I make a change). Use decent tools, and test and calibrate them (I just calibrated my hydrometer for the first time in years, and it's at 1.001, close enough.) Gently stir your wort before measuring your preboil gravity. And even if you aren't a joiner, going to  local club talks and tastings could introduce you the "visuals" of a process you have only read about.

My unpopular brewing opinion is in too many craft beers the main purpose of hops is to camouflage flaws in the brewing process.

Long ago, when I was stationed in Germany and living "on the economy," as we said (in a German village), my landlord commented that dry wines were harder to make than sweet wines because the winery couldn't cover up its errors with additions. A bad hoppy beer does sometimes taste like a lot of errors covered by hops.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Glass Disaster
« on: January 10, 2017, 05:58:03 AM »
I have no desire to go back to glass carboys whatsoever. I'm just too much of a klutz :)

Perhaps it would be helpful to add that I've been using the same hydrometer for >100 batches since 1999.  ;)

I....what?!......that's impossible!  :D

If I remember, I'll take a picture later.  It reads 1.003 in plain water at 60 F, so I've had to subtract that for many many years.  I did drop the thing at least twice, but it didn't break.  :)

I'll still never be as awesome as Denny though.  ;D
My first one broke when I slid it back in to the plastic tube it comes in after using it one day. No joke, it hit the thin plastic on the bottom of the tube and shattered. I bought my dual-scale refractometer shortly after that. ;)

My first couple of hydrometers broke in the flask as well. I've had my current hydrometer about seven years. When I put it in an empty flask, I keep my index finger on it and slide it in carefully, moving it down until it is resting on the bottom. Even when the flask has liquid in it, I ease it in. I check it now and again in plain water and it's doing fine. At this point it's the only glass in my process, unless I'm forgetting something, and it's kind of an old friend.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Glass Disaster
« on: January 09, 2017, 08:07:07 AM »
Thanks for all of the answers. I should have known better, and after years of brewing stuff, I forgot how valuable patience is during the process. I think what I'll do is keep my glass for aging/high gravity (I've got a barleywine in one right now.) It sounds like buckets are the way to go. If I didn't have so many beers going, I could use my bottling bucket, but I'll probably need it to bottle at the same time something will need to be in a primary. I hadn't thought of the advantage of having a spigot. Onward and upward...

I use 5-gallon food grade buckets for 3-gallon batches, and recently drilled a couple for spigots, so I have one that is fermenting a batch that I can drain into a keg when it's time. Two advantages of buckets over plastic carboys, which I used for several years, is buckets are much easier to clean, which is not only an ease of use thing but also leads to better sanitation (it's not clean until it passes the finger-squeak test), and buckets are cheap enough that they can be replaced inexpensively. Another advantage of plastic over glass is the weight.

It's so easy to know better and not do the right thing. A couple years ago I was using a knife to try to get plastic tubing off an autosiphon and sliced open the back of my thumb, even as I was saying to myself "I should not be doing this thing I am doing." At least plastic buckets eliminate some of that self-inflicted harm, and I have retired my autosiphon. 

I'm another who ferments in by basement and brews the appropriate beer accordingly. I live in New England and have a deep cellar. I also built a root cellar that brings in cold air from outside. So during the winter I have spots in my house that are 45f (root cellar), upper 50's, low 60s and high sixties. The cellar is still around 60 in the spring and fall. I am too busy to brew much in the summer so I only do a saison or two. This situation has allowed me to put off temp control until I get a chance to build my dedicated brewery.

But if I'm reading this correctly that is temperature control, assuming the temps in those areas doesn't have wild swings. When I lived in a city that was cool but not cold almost all year round and I had access to a garage where temps barely fluctuated most of the year, my ales and stouts came out fine by my personal standards. 

Beer Recipes / Re: Death & Taxes
« on: January 09, 2017, 07:14:36 AM »
I love this beer!

from the Moonlight website:

"Death & Taxes Black Beer

A San Fransico-Style Black Lager. Deceptively light-bodied and highly drinkable. Drinks like iced coffee with a different effect.

Style:  San Francisco-style Black Lager
Alc/Vol:  5.0 %
Yeast:  Lager

All that can be said to be certain in life."

Never tried to clone it, but my thinking is that a Schwarzbier recipe should be close.  Dry finish, a bit less malty than something like Kostritzer?  Malt and bitterness very well balanced.

A Schwarzbier (while tasty) would probably have too much roast flavor. Death & Taxes is a dark lager with a very clean finish but a degree of interestingness, I'm guessing more so than the American dark lager recipe in Brewing Classic Styles. You note that Moonlight describes it as a San Francisco-style lager -- I wonder if that's a clue to the yeast used in D&T. Their tap room is nearby so a "research" visit is in order soon.

Ingredients / Re: Bru'n Water calculations for a rye IPA
« on: January 07, 2017, 09:18:08 AM »
Looks fine. Somewhere between 5.3 and 5.4 should be good. While I prefer the high sulfate of the pale ale profile, its safer to start low and see where your preference lays. The good thing with gypsum, is that you can still dose your beer after fermentation.

I suggest you figure out how much gypsum it would take to bring the sulfate content of a glass of your finished beer from your 150 ppm target to the 300 ppm range. Its going to be a teeny amount. Then add to a glass of beer and mix in. It should dissolve in a minute or so. Taste the stock and gypsumed beers and see which you prefer. Do be careful to keep the carbonation and temperature similar for both samples. The higher gypsum dose should make the beer finish drier. That may be a desirable or undesirable effect, depending on the style, the bittering level, and your tastes. Adding post-fermentation gypsum is especially useful when you've created a beer that seems too full or sweet.

You don't have to accept where the beer finished up, if its too full or sweet.

Thanks, Martin! Good tips overall -- I didn't know I could add gypsum after the fact.

Ingredients / Bru'n Water calculations for a rye IPA
« on: January 07, 2017, 08:34:47 AM »
This is an attempt to calculate water adjustments for a 3-gallon batch of a rye IPA. (No sparge.) I used the pale ale profile in Bru'n Water but took advice to keep sulfates below 150 ppm. For 6 gallons of RO mash water, I come up with 6 grams of gypsum, 1.5 grams of calcium chloride, and 6 ml of 25% phosphoric acid. Does this look right?

Bru'n Water v.4.0   Water Adjustments         
Denny's Wry Smile Half Batch            
Profiles (ppm)   Exist   Mash   Finished   
Ca      0   81   81
Mg      0   0   0
Na      0   8   8
SO4      0   148   148
Cl      0   36   36
HCO3      0   -32   NA
SO4/Cl Ratio            4.1
Batch Volume      3.0   Gallons   
Total Mash              6.0   Gallons   
Mash Dilution      6.0   Gallons   
Total Sparge      0.0   Gallons   
Sparge Dilution      0.0   Gallons   
Estimated Mash pH      5.32   SU   
Mineral Additions (gm)   Mash   Sparge      
Gypsum      6.0   0.0   
Calcium Chloride      1.5   0.0   
Epsom Salt      0.0   0.0   
Mag Chloride          0.0   0.0   
Canning Salt      0.0   0.0   
Baking Soda      0.0   Not Recommended   
Chalk      0.0   Not Recommended   
Pickling Lime      0.0   Not Recommended   
Mash Acid Additions                  
            0.0   (ml)
Phosphoric   25.0   %   6.0   (ml)
Sparge Acid Addtions            
Lactic   0.0   %   0.0   (ml)
            0.0   (ml)

Beer Recipes / Death & Taxes
« on: January 07, 2017, 08:03:48 AM »
Anyone have a recipe that is close to this local favorite?

I think no-sparge makes better beer than any other mashing process, for all beer types. I'll duck and cover now.
I don't think anyone ever said it didn't. I think most people don't do it is because you get lower efficiency and mashtun space is an issue.

Hmmm, maybe you're right. An unpopular method but a popular result.

Small batches again. I have been doing all my batches no-sparge for years now. 8 or 16 ounces more grain? Cheap. Mashtun space? No problem. I looked at the biggest recipes I could find, and as a 3-gallon batch it was easily doable in my 9-gallon mash tun.

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