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Messages - surfin.mikeg

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Beer Travel / Re: San Diego in May
« on: March 13, 2014, 10:09:59 AM »
I'm a fan of Coronado Brewing; they have a relatively new setup just north of the hwy 8 and 5 junction (not far from Balboa Park).  The tap list is lengthy, tasty.  The tap room is open to the large brew space, and there's a fridge in the back with inexpensively priced 22's.  It's "bring your own food", and there's BBQ to grab a block away.

Has anyone been to the White Labs tasting room?  Curious if it's worth going out of one's way to visit.

Equipment and Software / Re: French Press
« on: March 06, 2014, 10:10:31 AM »
I'll add one wet hop as an IPA garnish, it's fun to bite on when getting near the end of the glass.

Pimp My System / Re: Peltier Cooled Conical
« on: March 05, 2014, 09:12:35 PM »
Do you recommend a parts supplier?  I'm guessing you're beyond CPU peltiers; curious as to what wattage you're at and if there's an inexpensive source for the heat sinks.  Thanks.

All Grain Brewing / Re: BIAB advice
« on: January 22, 2014, 06:27:12 PM »
I have the capability to brew 5 or 10 gallons, cooler mash tun or direct heat mash tun, fly sparge, batch sparge, no sparge and I prefer biab most of the time.
I mash 16# of grain in a $6 bag from the lhbs in 8 gallons of water in a 10 gallon pot and yield 7 1/4 gallons of 1.059 preboil wort.

I'm thinking of trying a few BIAB for a small-batch pilsner (~1g), to see if I can get that clean snappy taste before going for a larger batch.  Do you do anything to filter the mash trub before boiling?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Secondary options
« on: January 15, 2014, 11:32:09 AM »
It's been my experience that dry hopping in the primary will give you a reduced aroma vs dry hopping in a secondary or keg.  I've read from many sources that the yeast cells absorb many of the volatile hop oils you want in the aroma from your dry hop addition.  I've even heard of breweries actually filtering their beer prior to the dry hop to get better hop aromas.

I've heard there's a threshold temp (like 50 degrees) for cold crashing where the yeast will drop out and the hop oils remain.  Is there a way of measuring for hop oils beyond taste?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: 2 Below by New Belgium
« on: January 14, 2014, 10:22:26 AM »

Well, if that's true, luckily you can make it yourself! A friend of mine made a clone that was nearly spot on - all gleaned only from info on the NB website (nice Walt!). Check it out:

Your link is broken, which is really too bad.  I also really liked the 2 Below.  I grow Sterling hops, so I'd like to check out this recipe.

With that recipe, the malt bill does not match N.B.s.  Kinda bummed I can't find 2-Below in SF.

Regarding Fat Tire being decent or not - isn't that a good BJCP American Amber Ale example?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Chemistry of Beer
« on: January 14, 2014, 12:19:01 AM »
I do product engineering for two accredited online schools (i.e., writing software), this is the kind of thing I'm in the middle of daily.  Seems like a prototype product with a lot of promise; it's fun to check it out. 

Initial thoughts:
1. Videos did not play well, I gave up and went to the assessment.
2. I would think an initial assessment would have quite a few more questions. I was 8 for 12 with no chemistry background, couldn't seem to correct the third question.  Building course material and writing exams takes effort, curious to see how well the reading material covers the next exam.
3. Forums and social aspect - we've dropped all of that; it's superfluous.
4. As far as I can tell this is a MOOC, they usually don't survive unless there are paying students in a decent portion of classes. 

It's good to take advantage of this and read up on all the material provided.

Beer Recipes / Re: How do YOU spitball new recipes? Name your process
« on: January 10, 2014, 10:23:02 PM »
My first kit was awful (a gift way back in the day), so I've been putting recipes together ever since.  I split it into two categories:  something to match a style (Doppelbock, Pilsner, Kolsch), or just trying to make an experimental yet very drinkable beer. 

What worked for me when starting was to take something like a Fat Tire clone and just trying different things.  I've also emailed most breweries in my area to ask how they put together specific brews (IPAs, ESBs) and for the most part they're extremely helpful.

IPAs are the test-bed.  As a guideline I limit to 4 or fewer malts and limit crystal malt usage to no more than 5%.  I go through phases, like weaning off of CaraPil and now using MO as a base malt and exploring how to get a maltier profile from that.

I rotate through various hops one by one to get a handle on each flavor and bitterness profile.  It takes time.  Each recipe is heavy on hop usage.  I've been working through the bolder hops like Chinook, Apollo, Nugget, then Cascade and Centennial, then Perle, Willamette, Opal, Saaz, and so on, but trying to keep each recipe simple so the flavor profile is obvious.

I think in terms of n-factorial experimental design, so consider all aspects of input and figure out how to sample along the way.  For example, splitting a batch of wort between 2 yeasts, bottling some when the yeast is finished, then dry-hopping the two batches 2 or 4 different ways, then bottling and kegging.  If I want to go one step further, say trying bourboned-oak or perhaps an infusion (as in garlic + lemongrass + ginger), I'll use flip-top bottles and try it on a small portion of the batch.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Low OG
« on: January 02, 2014, 09:34:45 PM »
How would you describe your grain crush, and how did you measure?  FWIW, it also helps to measure pre-boil as well.

The Pub / Re: New Year goals?
« on: December 31, 2013, 12:45:57 PM »
Anyone else have fitbit?

I only hear good things about that.

New Year goals:

1. need to learn what is "good dub-step"
2. stretch, surf and skate more
3. my homebrewery had a good pace until I transitioned to kegs and dual batches (15g at a time), now I gotta revisit the organization and work-flow.  Seems like I have too much beer on hand.

OK, but again, cara-red is not a crystal malt so if you expect it to act like a crystal malt - yeah, you'll be disappointed. It's like saying "I like CaraMunich better than Munich I" - of course you would if you were expecting the performance of a crystal malt.

You need to use a good percentage of cara-red to get the noticeable color and flavor contributions. Start with at least 10%-15% total grist. I wouldn't recommend using 10-15% of crystal in many beers, so you can see where the difference is starting to lie.

Keith, that is a rather nuanced comment; thank you.  The only reference I can find on the web is here ( 

I look to keep my crystal usage below 5% to be distant from "brown" and "grainy".  That said, I'm curious if you could comment on what happens when hitting the upper limits on caramel usage in recipes.  For example, Weyermann has CaraRed at 25%, and would you formulate something like Briess' C40 usage in a different manner from crystal C40.

Again, thanks.

Refractometer - Only works accurately if I have a uniform wort sample, which takes 3-4 tries.  Feel like I'm making guesstaments instead of measurements.

CaraRed - passing on this in favor of British Crystal malt, it just smells/tastes better to me.


Beer Recipes / Re: Dry Hopping w/ Willamette
« on: December 28, 2013, 08:46:06 PM »
I don't know Willamette enough to comment on the dzlater's question (I don't care for it unless it is fresh).  With 4 really good hop varieties in the kettle, IMHO I don't see the point of introducing it in the dry-hop unless there's some really smooth blend being worked out.

With HoosierBrew's suggestion of using Simcoe and Centennial, that's a really nice combo.  Plays nice together.

dzlater - what did you go with?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: flavor contribution from dry hops
« on: December 23, 2013, 08:33:34 PM »
+1 to getting flavor from dry hopping - it's significant. The larger the amount of dry hops you use, the more flavor and aroma you get. I don't think it's far off to call it 50/50 flavor/aroma.


I really didn't understand how pronounced the effect was until I started splitting my batches to experiment with dry-hopping, one for a single hop and one for a blend of two or more.  IMO, unless it's for a specific traditional style, it's now one of the more important parts of the recipe.  I'll save the more select, fresh hops for it.

I'm just getting into the water quality aspect; they're like two keys for the same puzzle.

The Pub / Re: Whiskey
« on: December 14, 2013, 08:03:37 PM »
Maker's Mark is like the Sam Adams of craft beer. 

Good way of putting it.

I don't think the comparison works, saying that after visiting Maker's Mark in Louisville.  What I observed was slightly more than 75 bourbons on their menu, with some surprisingly unbiased opinion to try bourbons grouped by style.  My takeaway from visiting with them was to appreciate the regional culture and the efforts of individual distillers.   I'm not much of a bourbon drinker but now like to see some variety on hand.

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