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Messages - kgs

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: ibrewmaster iPad app
« on: November 24, 2010, 06:14:11 PM »
I use Beersmith to formulate my recipes and schedules, then good old pen and paper in a brew log during the brewing process.  I find it faster than trying to type on a virtual keyboard, and I don't have to worry about anything happening to electronics while brewing.  When I have downtime I type all my notes and stuff into Beersmith for historic purposes.

Yes, that's my workflow too... don't want sticky fingers on the iPad, anyway. :-) But I have used the iPad as a cookbook during cooking and find I really like that (e.g. if I'm using an Epicurious recipe--then I don't have to print it out), and during brewing I'm not recording anything that can't go on a post-it.

My bigger issue is that I almost always have my iPad with me when I'm out and about, and leisure/waiting time is a great time for tinkering with recipes. I have brewpal but find it limited.

Zymurgy / English Barleywine (Dark) recipe in Nov/Dec 2010 issue
« on: November 23, 2010, 09:22:29 PM »
This recipe calls for 1.5 pounds of "Wheat." I am sorry to be such a n00b, but is that wheat malt, or flaked wheat? If I see "wheat" listed, can I usually assume one or the other?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Small batches.....
« on: November 23, 2010, 04:16:18 PM »
Got the digital scale..... but why use all the yeast? The pack I used for my first batch was for 5 gallons.... or do they come in different sizes?

For dry yeast, I've been going by the assumption that a little extra dry yeast can't hurt, and once a packet is opened it will degrade fast. I did ask my LHBS once about over-pitching and was told it's impossible to over-pitch. Not sure about that but feel that pitching twice as much isn't harmful, and it's easier/more sanitary to pitch a whole packet than to dry to split it up.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Small batches.....
« on: November 23, 2010, 03:46:51 PM »
For now I'm working off kits/recipes from allegedly reliable sources. BUT I have some ideas I want to try out. Now, trying something and finding it doesn't work and chucking it is one thing. Finding out it doesn't work and chucking FIVE GALLONS of it is another thing.

How do people do small batches? Does one simply divide the recipe by five and then ferment in a growler? What do you do with the rest of the yeast, hops that comes in quantities made for 5 gallon batches.....?

"Think small" defines my homebrewing operation. Most of my 20-odd brews have been small batches (2 - 4 gallons) both to make it easier on me physically and to experiment/learn. I use a digital scale to measure out hops, which I would do anyway--I store the rest sealed tight and frozen (thinking of getting one of those sealers), though I'm considering upgrading to a more precise scale ( possibly ). I use the full amount of yeast, and I  make a starter if I'm using liquid yeast. BrewSmith software is helpful for scaling, though a spreadsheet works well too. Depending on the size of the batch, I ferment in either a 3- or 5-gallon Better Bottle carboy. I mash in a 5-gallon mash-tun, and boil in an 8-gallon kettle. I even bottle about half of each batch in 7-ounce splits. If the batch is small enough, I can even boil it on the kitchen stove.

Depending on what you're after, you can still brew a full batch and then split it into carboys which get different flavors/dry-hops/yeast/etc (wish I had done this before I used fenugreek in an entire 5-gallon batch... glad I did this in my gingered-ale experiment).  But brewing small has its advocates. I figure if I can spend all day on a meal that will be devoured in less than an hour I can spend an afternoon making 3 or 4 sixpacks of beer.

If you go to an LHBS, if they do a double-take at your recipe (which they will if they're paying attention), just explain it's for a small batch.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I feel guilty
« on: November 23, 2010, 01:26:49 PM »
No need to feel guilty...just think of it like this: had it fallen into the hands of someone less honest than you, it might have zero chance to return to it's rightful owners.
If anything, you've proven that you care enough to do what's right...

Exactly, what you call feeling guilty I call feeling responsible. Good for you.

General Homebrew Discussion / ibrewmaster iPad app
« on: November 23, 2010, 01:21:19 PM »
Anyone here tried this app yet? I've been using Brewsmith on my old PC at home, but at work we are increasingly a MacBook/iPad environment, and I have been encouraged to use my iPad for personal use.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: First Brew.....
« on: November 22, 2010, 02:28:27 AM »
Well, two hours later......( I know, patience Grashopper) bubbles, the little "hat" still sitting down on the tube..... so I tapped the airlock...... thought it was going to hit the ceiling..... we HAVE fermentation!!! I can see the water moving down, minutes away from the first beer fart..... this is COOL! Meanwhile the barn still smells like a brewery..... LOVE that smell.

I also love that smell. Nothing smells quite like that.

after my very first brew, the folks at the LHBS asked me what I thought of the odor. I said it was wonderful. I think I passed a test ;-) The fragrances associated with brewing--from mashing through boiling to fermenting--are luscious, like breadbaking but more complex. 

Equipment and Software / Re: Good thermometers?
« on: November 21, 2010, 04:16:16 PM »
I use a Proaccurate Digital Thermometer that is a great value. It is quick reading and reliable.

Same here. Calibrates easily, too.

Just a tiny bit of "research" (at the moment I am quaffing a Pliny the Elder bottled on 11/11/10... the only thing better would be Vinnie coming to my house with a keg), and I'm going to cross my fingers and buy the grain and yeast for an oatmeal stout to brew Thanksgiving morning, since we're going to a church member's house so I'm not cooking this year. Ye olde alewife plans to sit on the deck and read while the stout brews.

Why fingers are crossed: I want to toast some of the oatmeal and our oven has been on the fritz for weeks with KitchenAid people delivering the wrong part, blah blah blah. I could do it on the range but I doubt it would be that even. All said and done, I'm glad we had planned to go elsewhere for Turkey Day... I'd be in knots if I were waiting for a working oven!

It's not optimal but sometimes I recap the big bottles and finish next day. And some of those big brews are deceptive. Alcohol bite is so well hidden then you look at the label... :o

I also recap--part of the joy of being a homebrewer is being able to do that at a moment's notice :)

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: And the "Learning" continues....
« on: November 16, 2010, 01:28:11 PM »
Technically, those aren't mistakes, they're slips and lapses. You know what to do, but you end up not doing it (like me leaving off the inner part of the airlock several batches ago). To me it's interesting how many of these stories involve leaving out the yeast--a critical component of fermentation, but one that appears several hours into a very involved task.

I too do not BUI (and I brew alone) and yet I have still caught myself about to pour hot water in a mash tun with a ball valve set to full open, etc. I wonder if it's a case of a complex task performed just frequently enough to establish a routine but not quite frequently enough to gain the muscle-memory to perform it automatically when our mind drifts elsewhere for a moment.

Anyhoo, I recommend checklists -- in your case, with pictures and equipment manifests  ;D   

I'm downloading the mp3.

I like beer that doesn't get you bombed after 2 pints. And as homebrewers we can brew as strong as we want. I'm sure everyone goes through their high alcohol brew phase. Pretty much stay below 12.5 brix now except for the rare brew like an IPA.

Session beer's where it's at IMO. +1

Just put this show into iTunes so I can listen to it on my walk tomorrow. Agree with all points made above. There's a lot to be said for quaffability.

When I do enjoy a higher-gravity brew, I appreciate when it's a smaller quantity--I have two cases of 7-ounce bottles I use for this purpose. It annoys me that some very good beers are sold in humongous bottles. 22 oz of barleywine? I don't think so.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Perking up a pumpkin brew
« on: November 13, 2010, 12:33:44 AM »
Actually, I almost never drink decaf anyway -- not that I don't like it, it's just that after I have my cup of regular Peet's at home, I then have herbal tea at work, out of habit. But you got me thinking, because the purpose of using decaf in this batch is to make it possible to enjoy coffee + beer, which I would only be able to do if I make beer my breakfast beverage (which is kinda hard-core). No doctor has put me on a caffeine-limited diet, but I have found that the second cup of coffee (or its equivalent in sodas, etc.) is what keeps me up at night.

According to Wikipedia, decaf has a lot less caffeine -- it's not caffeine-free, but in most cases it's much less than half That's what I'm going for: not completely caffeine-free, but not a jolt, either.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Perking up a pumpkin brew
« on: November 12, 2010, 10:55:26 PM »
I have been thinking that my next brew session would be an oatmeal stout with (decaf) coffee and vanilla. Or maybe cacao nibs and vanilla.

Don't use decaf! decaf is almost always made from inferior beans so the price can be inline with the full caf and it still has caffeine, just less, about half as much. Unless you can find a decaf that is significantly more expensive than the regular from the same roaster it's just not worth it. go ahead and use regular if your going after the pure flavor.

I was planning to use Peet's:

Their decaf coffees are quite tasty. Due to what my doctor calls the "a-word" (aging) I cannot have more than one cup of the real thing, and Peet's decaf actually makes me think I'm drinking real coffee.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Perking up a pumpkin brew
« on: November 12, 2010, 09:07:28 PM »
Sounds great.  So you're happy with how it's been tweaked?  No need to revisit hopping?

Just for fun, try a drop of vanilla extract in a pint and see if you like it.  Penzey's or some other good extract, not artificial stuff.

Yep, no need to revisit hopping! This advice thread has been great.

I actually tried a drop of vanilla in a sample last week... not bad. (Using a high-quality vanilla paste.)  Divided on whether I want it in this beer.  However, I have been thinking that my next brew session would be an oatmeal stout with (decaf) coffee and vanilla. Or maybe cacao nibs and vanilla.

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