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Messages - surfin.mikeg

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All Grain Brewing / Re: 16000 rpm motor for grain mill
« on: December 10, 2013, 01:16:04 PM »
16000 rpm is fast enough that the spindle design and diameter of anything attached to it needs to be taken into consideration.   I use something like this to bring rpms down to safer levels:

Ingredients / Re: Post your water report
« on: December 07, 2013, 04:35:48 PM »
This is a Ward report for softened well water; the location is about 15 miles south of San Francisco, in a hilly section about a half-mile from the ocean.

TDS Estppm 538
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm0.90
Cations / Anions, me/L8.2 / 8.2
Sodium, Na186
Potassium, K< 1
Calcium, Ca < 1
Magnesium, Mg< 1
Total Hardness, CaCO37
Nitrate, NO3-N5.8 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 10
Chloride, Cl 199
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 92
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 75
Total Phosphorus, P 0.04
Total Iron, Fe< 0.01

From taste, most of the Sodium and Chloride is from the softener.  I appreciate this thread as it's challenging me to learn water chemistry for brewing but really to get a grasp of the house well water as well (for things like skin care - need to drop the Ph).

Brew-wise, my darker beers taste great, my IPA hop aroma fades within 2 months, and I've never had a crisp snappy taste on anything like a Pilsner.  The one local pro brewer who has similar water is diluting half with RO and adding gypsum, advising to read up and use Bru'n Water.  The numbers make sense when using Martin's spreadsheet, it's nicely done.

Asking openly: 

What's your process for measuring mash Ph and adjusting?  Do you measure when the grist is added and/or adjust over time?

Decarbonating by boiling:  any advice on how long or how hot to heat the water?  My water heater puts out quite a bit of what looks like baking soda when I clean it, so I'm wondering if it makes sense to start decarbonating using the heated water as a source.

Many thanks.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Thermometers?
« on: December 02, 2013, 10:42:02 PM »
I use one of these for the mash temps.  You can toss the probe into the middle of the mash and leave it with a lid on:

Thermapen for everything else. 

Ingredients / Re: Apollo hops
« on: November 18, 2013, 10:45:32 PM »
I just made a 10g batch, a whole-hop Apollo IPA, but with half of it dry-hopped with Apollo and the other half dry-hopped with Cascade.  The hops are a year old, I picked them up from HopsDirect and forgot about them.  The all Apollo has a notable apricot taste to it, not too far off from a Chinook but kinda more interesting if not complex, and nowhere near 'dank'.  The one with Cascade is really well balanced on hop flavor; seems like a great match.

The house IPA hop schedule I'm working on does not to go for bitterness (45 IBU/1.070 OG) but is heavy towards the end with hop additions.   Dry-hopped with 3.5 oz in each 5g.

The only hops I've had trouble with are Willamette pellets, they just kinda steadily went to that 'dirt' flavor over time.  To your question, I'd rather stick with more predictable hops for the dry hop (Centennial, Cascade and so on), but love this one in the boil.

The Pub / Re: Gotta brag just a leeetle
« on: October 27, 2013, 07:40:55 PM »
Congrats man. I entered the same competition and took a first and a third in the Pilsner category and a first in Light Hybrid.

Is Thirsty Bear in San Fran going to brew your beer and if so are you going there when they make it? My wife and I went to Thirsty Bear 5 years ago when we were on our honeymoon, nice place. If you go check out The Monks Kettle while you are there.

Congrats again. Nice to see other organic brewers out there.

I'm not sure about the logistics of the brew at thirsty bear. I hope I get to be there. Heck I want to lug sacks of grain of stairs and shovel wet spent grain out of mash tuns. I'm gonna polish my much boots in anticipation (is there a special kind of polish you use on rubber much boots)

Congrats on your win, this is a big deal.

I frequent Thirsty Bear; they always appear to be friendly and accommodating to amateur brewers.  I'll keep an eye out for your beer there, can't wait to try it.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Low really low
« on: October 26, 2013, 04:19:06 PM »
Denny is his own feeler gage. I like that method. Go by what it looks like, maybe a small adjustment here and there depending on the grain

You're making grist, not gaps.  All I care about is the grist.  FWIW, I set the gap on my mill over 10 years ago, and it never changes no matter what grain I'm using.

It's both grist and gap - I made my crusher and can quickly rebuild/tune it, but I need a reference point.  I like the DIY hacking aspect.  Less $$$, more learning.  I still need to try Ph adjustments (the next "step up"), but for me the gap and crush quality is the most obvious factor in efficiency.

Obviously you and others have more experience than I, but it's what I'm observing in efficiency.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Low really low
« on: October 25, 2013, 07:41:13 PM »
That's the nice thing about having your own mill. Get a decent set of feeler gages and keep track of where it is set. I use a sharpie and mark the side of the mill what the gap is set for. I also use an overnight mash (start about 11pm in a square 'cube' blue cooler, and start draining it about 6-7am).  I can't remember when I didn't hit my numbers.

it's been said before - if you're lacking a feeler gages, use hotel room cards or whatever, but something thinner than a credit card. 

For me, getting the gap setting right is the key.  Double crushing grain has not resulted in notable increased efficiency, nor crazy lautering.  Maybe I'm missing something, but that's what lands its with the setup I have.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Gordon Strong
« on: October 22, 2013, 09:10:30 PM »
Would the BJCP consider a method of getting good experienced feedback on submitted beers in a non competition format? It seems like it would be a great way for rural brewers to grow their skills and knowledge without having to take up space at a competition. I'm planning to send a couple to a friend who is a judge, but I think this would be great for all of us. Seems like BJCP could make a few bucks in the process.

This one is important for me as well.  The insight I get from people who really know both beer and styles is highly valuable.  I'm not opposed to competitions; I'm looking for ways to get critical feedback. 

Half my recipes are for fun (the house IPAs), but I am trying to land styles with my own recipes to see how well I understand and execute (say a kolsch or pilsner).  It keeps me in check with the learning curve.

Thanks Gordon!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: lager starters?
« on: October 21, 2013, 11:42:28 AM »
This yeast (Wyeast 2206) just seems too slow at temps below 52, so I figure the starter should not ferment in a fridge but be at room temp. 

Making a 5G batch for the purpose of yeast harvesting will be a new milestone, thanks again for everyone's feedback.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: lager starters?
« on: October 20, 2013, 10:12:49 PM »
That's so obvious, thanks!  I didn't see it.

Yeast and Fermentation / lager starters?
« on: October 20, 2013, 08:18:38 PM »
How do you put together a strong stater for lager yeast?

The background to this question is that I recently did a 2L starter of Wyeast 2206, bavarian lager.  My first lager where I've had good temp control (6 gallons of doppelbock, ~1.080).  From what I'm reading, the starter should have been a yeast cake of 3/4 to 1 inch in thickness that corresponds to 5L of starter. 

That's a big starter for me.  If I understand correctly, the process for building that would be something like so:

2L starter:  65 degrees, 2 days
cold-crash and decant: 1-2 days
add 2L more of wort:  65 degrees, 2 days
cold-crash and decant: 1-2 days
add 2L more of wort:  65 degrees, 2 days
cold-crash and decant: 1-2 days
brew, pitch at 50+ degrees

Am I over thinking this? I'm at day 8 after pitching, 53 degrees, and the batch still has krausen with a full flocculation.  Not that there is a problem, just curious as to what people do for a stater in the context of colder fermentation.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: combining old yeasts
« on: October 20, 2013, 07:59:41 PM »
I've done this and have had it not turn out well.  I suggest tasting before pitching.  Its easier to simply buy fresh yeast.

Equipment and Software / Re: Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Boil Kettle
« on: October 04, 2013, 10:25:28 AM »
My kettle has a nice 'tea-colored' staining in it.  I just give it a scrub to remove any trub after the brew and put it away to dry. 

Same here. Very easy to maintain.

I use both and keep the light stain. For scrubbing out the boil lines, steel has been easier to clean.  It comes right off where the alum requires a bit of scrubbing.  Just a data-point in the discussion.

Equipment and Software / Re: Directly heating Erlenmeyer flasks
« on: October 01, 2013, 08:13:37 PM »
Is it necessary to prepare starters with a full boil?  Avoiding the flask boil-over is hard to manage, and realizing I never thought to use a smaller burner.  Seems like sanitation-wise being above 180 is necessary, and thus holding in the 195-200+ degree range should be more that sufficient.

Ingredients / Re: Dry hopping
« on: September 26, 2013, 09:21:29 AM »
When its time to bottle I line my bottling bucket with a paint strainer bag to catch any hop debris that passes through the siphon. I then let it sit for a couple of hours to let a lot of the fine particles drop below the level of the spigot. This keeps most of the hop debris out of the bottles.

That last bit of hop debris:  I bottle that as well, as it'll settle. After a month it's one bottle that's got a strong hop profile.

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