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Messages - kgs

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691
Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Overshot my OG
« on: January 26, 2011, 12:20:00 PM »
One other thought: weigh your ingredients when you get them home. I started doing that after one batch seemed about a pound off. You can always adjust quantity based on what the weight of ingredients are. I think it's just a case of the LHBS being a little casual depending on who is working there, since the weight is likely to be a little off in either direction, whether it's hops, grains, or DME.

As noted in an earlier post, I also watch the LHBS folks like a hawk, but I still weigh when I get home. My hops were actually well over the 1-ounce measure per packet last time.

692
Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Partial mash question
« on: January 20, 2011, 07:14:06 AM »
It seems that a lot of folks are hesitant to make starters when first getting started, but they really shouldn't be.  You can put together a top-of-the-line setup for 2 liter starters for under $20.  That pays for itself pretty quickly vs. $5 - $6 each for extra smack packs or vials.  If you're not using the Mr. Malty calculator, a general rule of thumb is that you should be using 2 smack-packs or vials for ales with OGs over 1.060, and double everything for lagers.
What goes into your top of the line setup for starters for under $20?  I don't see how you get there for that little. 
Granted you don't need to spend $100, but $20 seems low.
Maybe 'top-of-the-line' was a little too strong a phrase.  I certainly didn't include a stir plate!  However, you can get a good new 2 liter Erlenmeyer flask for $18.  Aluminum foil works, but I use the foam plugs (around $1 -$2).  I didn't include cost of DME or yeast nutrient as 'equipment', as I consider them as supplies.  Main point is that making starters is neither difficult nor expensive.

I have made starters in a 1-gallon growler. If you're not using a stir plate, wouldn't almost any glass container work ok? Agreed, also, that starters are much easier than new homebrewers realize. Dry yeast is a good way to start out, though, because it's harder to introduce contamination with dry yeast. When you're troubleshooting your first few batches, it helps to have a minimum of trouble spots to isolate for issues such as "where did that infection creep in" and "my beer taste funny."  (Not to suggest that you won't turn out perfect beer from the git-go... ;-) )

693
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: US-05...Best Deal?
« on: January 20, 2011, 06:54:22 AM »
If you didn't want to go quite that far, try pricing out an order of 20 or so packets on one of the mail-order sites with flat or low shipping rates for small items. Williams discounts dry yeast in quantities of 12 or higher, so it's $2.65/packet plus $6.50 shipping to my zone, anyway. So for 40 packets:

Products: $116.00
Discounts: $-10.00
Shipping: $6.50
Tax:    $0.00
Total:    $112.50

Personally, I find that focusing on improving my efficiency has given me an extra dollar or two in savings per batch, and I go through phases (make liquid-yeast starters, use dry, repitch, etc.). But it's your money!

694
Also, as a meta-observation to OP, I once again highly recommend the Basic Brewing DVD series. They're reasonably-priced and well-made, and a picture is worth a thousand words. Their (free) podcasts are great, too. James Spencer understands how to produce radio shows and gets right to the point in a friendly, humorous, but always "safe for work" manner.

Their new DVD for new brewers:

http://basicbrewingshop.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=26

695
A 3 gallon batch of bitter and then an RIS for my 100th batch. I've also got an IPA that's about ready to bottle. Yep, 100 batches and I've bottled them all.

Congrats! This is a bottle-cleaning weekend for me, so I'll be ready to bottle my second batch of Amarillo APA next weekend. Probably another month before I brew again, with one thing and another.

696
Tip for filling spray bottles with Star San: put the water in first, and then add the Star San with a measuring spoon. That way it won't fizz up while you're trying to fill the bottle. Be sure not to add too much Star San; don't just pour it in, *measure.* I remember hearing the manufacturer of Star San on a podcast say that adding too much is as bad as adding too little.

I have gone from filling entire carboys with Star San (wasteful of both Star San and water, plus awkward) to doing a lot of spritzing or at most relying on a gallon or two of sanitizer to do the job. Before bottling, I sanitize the spigot, put it in the (clean) bucket, put a (sanitized) baggie over the spigot with a rubber band, add a gallon of Star San, and push the Star San through the (clean) autosiphon. The tubing I use to transfer the wort to the bucket becomes the tubing I attach to the bucket and the bottling wand.

I don't use Iodophor because it stains and because I read somewhere that Star San is easier on the environment. I may be wrong on that last point, and if so, I am sure I'll find out very quickly!

You didn't bring up bottling (yet :-) ) but I find a Vinator sanitizer filled with Star San (again, put the water in first) is the easiest way to sanitize bottles; I drain the bottles in a clean dishwasher. (I have a not-safe-for-forum nickname for the Vinator which other lady brewing friends find hilarious.)


697
Equipment and Software / Re: Smaller food-grade buckets
« on: January 17, 2011, 12:44:25 AM »
Check out your local grocery store's bakery and/or talk to your grocery store manager. 
Their frosting often comes in perfectly sized food-grade HDPE buckets with lids that they throw out when whey are empty.
All you got to do is ask.  Price is right, too! (Free).

Awesome idea! Thanks! Reduce, reuse, recycle!

698
All Grain Brewing / Re: Coolers for All Grain Brewing
« on: January 16, 2011, 01:30:40 PM »
Has anyone seen the cooler cheaper than $40 for the 70 qt?
I think I paid around $35 with free shipping through Amazon. That was about 6-7 months ago.

Amazon has it right now just under $40 with free shipping. Their prices for items tend to bobble up and down. I saw some on sale at the end of summer... kind of long to wait, though!

699
Equipment and Software / Smaller food-grade buckets
« on: January 16, 2011, 11:01:43 AM »
Has anyone seen food-grade buckets with lids that are smaller than the typical 7-gallon size? I do small batches and currently use a 5-gallon Better Bottle fermenter, but for ease of use am considering a move back to food-grade buckets for most quick-fermenting beers. A 4.5 or 5-gallon bucket would be perfect. I could drill the airlock hole myself.

Edit: I just did a Google search (duh...) and found buckets like this:

http://safetycentral.com/5gacoplbufda6.html

So I may have answered my own question--food-grade is food-grade--right? (Note: it is possible to buy a blue bucket. Just sayin.) Now to measure the lid hole on my existing bucket...

700
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Glass or Plastic
« on: January 16, 2011, 10:55:16 AM »
Plastic. I moved from buckets to Better Bottle and am contemplating a move back to food-grade buckets (with a separate question in the equipment forum). It has been useful/fun to watch the fermentation process, but to get the wort into the BB I transfer it into a bucket and then into a BB anyway, and as others have noted, buckets are easier to clean. If it's easier to clean it's likely to be cleaner. (That said, warm water and an OxyClean clone cleaner work miracles.)

I am a sissy girl and can barely lift an empty glass carboy, so a full one would have to sit wherever I filled it. :)

One last thing about buckets: less chance of getting light-struck. For my BB fermenters I use an inverted grocery bag with a hole punched in the bottom (after one time when someone left a light on in a closet I use for fermenting), but again, a bucket takes care of that.

701
A rainy week suddenly turned sunny and mild, so I'm doing a repeat of Fred Bonjour's late-hopped Amarillo APA and bumping it all the way up to 3.5 gallons (big for me :) ), plus bottling the first batch. Also serving my Peet's Decaf Oatmeal Stout with some Dungeness crab while the season is still upon us.

702
At a conference in San Diego last weekend, where my "research" included Stone Vertical Epic, an imperial stout by Lost Abbey, and a couple others. Bottling my Amarillo APA next weekend.

703
Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: New to brewing and have some questions
« on: January 04, 2011, 06:33:02 PM »
In the meantime, buy some commerical Belgians to compare your brew to.

We call this "research."

704
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottle APA today, or in 13 days?
« on: January 03, 2011, 09:22:30 AM »
I brewed Fred Bonjour's Amarillo APA on 12/26. I took my first reading today and it's 1.013, right on the money (and tastes amazzzzzzing). I can bottle tomorrow, 1/3 (8 days fermentation), since my day job starts up again on 1/4, or can keep it in a cool place (60/62 f) until my next chance to bottle, which due to my commute and business travel is Saturday 1/15.

I usually give beer the benefit of the doubt and let it sit in a fermenter rather than push the bottling, but this one seemed to ferment out fast. Is it possible this is ready to bottle tomorrow?

I don't like to belabor my opinion but this is Fred's Amarillo Pale Ale? With you describing your initial results it sounds like it's ready to go. A beer with a SG of 1.046 ferments out in a couple days. And 8 days is a solid primary fermentation. Two more weeks on the yeast isn't going to improve the beer at all IMO. A bigger beer yes, but you could be evaluating your bottles by the 15th.

An interesting experiment would be to bottle a few and see if there's an appreciable difference. Fred's recipe says age for 28 days. It doesn't say primary but he very well could have meant that.

Belaboring (or should we say chiming in!) is welcome, Euge--that's what the Forum is for. It is Fred's Amarillo APA and it did go from 1.046 to 1.013 in those 8 days. I didn't take an interim reading (don't like to mess with the carboy that much, and with small batches, too many measurements leads to serious attrition :-) ). But I had the sense when I tasted it that it's done, and from visual observation, it seems to have been in the same place for several days.

I would be surprised if Fred meant primarying this APA for 28 days -- feels wrong for this beer -- though it's his recipe, of course.

For those following, this is what we're discussing:

http://beerdujour.com/Recipes/AmarilloPaleAle.htm

The catch for me is it's this afternoon or wait til the 15th... those are the cards life is dealing me (I originally planned on leaving it in the carboy til the 15th, but was surprised by how "done" it tasted yesterday).

705
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottle APA today, or in 13 days?
« on: January 02, 2011, 10:34:34 PM »
The 15th it is.  Thanks all.

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