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Messages - seajellie

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Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottling bucket spigot contamination!
« on: April 11, 2012, 07:01:42 AM »
I have to add my own caution about bottling spigots in here too. I had a bad string of infections that I tracked to bottling spigots. Beer was fantastic going into bottles; then slowly in a Kafkaesque way, things got progressively worse every day after packaging. Same off flavor would develop. Wild yeast I think. This happened over six months of brewing efforts.

I had been cleaning and "sanitizing" the spigots, even trying to pasteurize them, all to no avail. The few times I tried to take them apart, they developed leaks upon reassembly. I'm fanatic about sanitization, but  readily admit to not being a great mechanic and tool person.

I couldn't find spigots that I could sanitize and reassemble to my satisfaction, so I switched to bottling from kegs when I have to do it. N'er a problem since, in four years.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Should I sour a 1.102 gravity beer?
« on: April 03, 2012, 06:02:38 AM »
I think it'd be hard to sour a beer with that much alcohol and IBUs too. Maybe the acetic bacteria could handle it with some O2 but I'd think the lactic would be stopped. I'm curious too how this is managed. Split batches and blending make sense. Probably a good way to go anyway, since the balance of flavors could be tricky. Sounds like an interesting experiment.

Along these lines - since the OP question has been answered - what are the opinions of the value of bulk ageing big boy beers like this in secondary, versus bottling after an extended period in primary (such as 5 or 6 weeks in primary)?

I know the dominant opinion is no secondary, ever, excep for fruit and hops. Are there any contrary opinions out there for beers 1.080 and up? Does secondary with bulk ageing make a huge difference vs. extra time in primary and bottle?

Hey, thanks for the inspiration to search. That floating device is called a cask widge, and you can easily find their .com website.

That particular device doesn't work on a corny, but an inventive homebrewer could tear apart their chain saw or toilet or raid their fishing box easy enough I think.....

Another idea for the OP (that I have yet to try out myself) is to take a really really short dip tube, like from a 3 gallon corny keg. Use that for the first half, and then swap out later for a full-length. Again, personally, I wouldn't do this on a keg that I know I will have around for awhile, because I'd rather get the dregs out asap. Various HBS sell spare dip tubes at varying prices.

Others have also suggested just bending your tube a bit at the end, but I have enough problems just getting the regular tube in and out so I don't go there.

I sometimes use shortened dip tubes for this reason, but also because I usually prefer the taste of my beers after they have completely cleared. I still have the naive opinion that my bottled beers taste better...

But a shortened tube may not be a great solution either, depending on how fast you go through a keg. If it takes you awhile to go through a keg, consider that you are leaving all the settled stuff in the keg all that time, and perpetually drawing off a pint right above or through it. Others probablly disagree, but I think this impacts the flavor and clarity, even if you don't move the keg at all.

So now if I know it's going to take me awhile to drink a particular keg, I just leave a full-length tube in there, and drink the first gallon or so quickly to pull it out. It's not unusual for me to be drinking from a keg a year after packaging, and I'd rather get the stuff out of there quickly as it settles.

At this point, I mostly use the shortened dip tubes when I'm doing primary or seconday in a keg.

I've also toyed with the idea of having some sort of floater in a keg, so that I draw off from near the top of the beer. Maybe I should tear apart the toilet basin today and see what I come up with....   :o

Maybe a fishing bobber would be a better idea!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Wy2206 doesn't like me.
« on: February 14, 2012, 10:26:15 AM »
Here here, I can't allow this yeast to be bad mouthed; it's probably my favorite!

Just teasing - but I do love this yeast. I've probably made 15 lagers with it in the past three years, and the only time I faced any challenges with it was once when it arrived frozen solid. It thawed and still made some very good beers.

I routinely smack the pack six hours or so in advance and pitch it direct to 45 degree wort. Yup, I'm a radical, a yeast outlaw, but that's typically to a 2.5 gallon 1.045 starter extract beer, so there's not a lot of investment in it. I harvest the yeast from there and use standard pitching rates. I've not had a problem with this yeast in any of those cases.

Supposedly, this is the same yeast as WL820. There, I will not argue with you. I've had many issues getting that yeast going, with or without starters.

One interesting thing I find with this yeast is that the start of the keg has an amazing full malt flavor, regardless of whether I'm predominantly using pils, vienna, or munich malt. Then after a gallon or two, that big malt flavor diminishes somewhat. I'd love to know what that's about; perhaps it's the flavor of the yeast cells themselves. I find that possibility intriguing, considering what yeast typically tastes like.

Homebrew Clubs / Re: First Paris Homebrewer Meeting
« on: January 13, 2012, 08:06:21 AM »
Very cool to see this Phil, congrats on starting this up. Wish I were there to join in the fun. I lived in Paris from 1999 - 2003, and I remember well that every time I wanted to have a good beer on tap (that wasn't Guinness, anyway) I had to hop on the metro for many stops and at least one change before I could arrive. Very cool for you to be at the start of what I think will be a ground swell movement. They do love wine more than anything, but with Germany, Belgium, and Spain (one of Europe's largest brewing volumes by country) surrounding them, they can't resist forever!

And yeah, it's hard to live in Paris without having some facial hair. If you're a guy, anyway....

Ingredients / Re: Old Belgian D and D2 syrup: Ales or waffles?
« on: January 08, 2012, 02:27:41 PM »
I really wanted some waffles this weekend, so I waited all week for just one shout-out for breakfast... oh well.

Thanks Denny, I'll give it a try. I'll just make sure that the LHBS is open the day I brew, so that I have a backup plan in case the syrup tastes off at all. I bet you're right though. Something tells me that the sugars in a refined syrup will not oxidize as badly as the various molecules in malt extract do.

Ingredients / Old Belgian D and D2 syrup: Ales or waffles?
« on: January 03, 2012, 11:04:57 AM »
I have some three year old Belgian candi syrup laying about, never been opened. It's been stored at a constant 55 to 65 degrees. Purchased from William's Brewing, packaged by It might be another four months before I get time for Belgians in my brew schedule.

So is this stuff still OK for brewing, or has it possibly oxidized (like malt extract would have) beyond optimal results? Darkening is OK; off flavors are not!

Or should I just pull out the waffle maker and have some great breakfasts instead?


All Grain Brewing / Re: Time to fill up the keezer
« on: November 30, 2011, 05:15:59 PM »
another cooler, another burner, another kettle.

You wanted an excuse, right?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Racking under CO2
« on: November 21, 2011, 09:28:24 AM »
Thanks Adam, good point, and I sometimes do that, though not always. I'm often just too...ah, what's that popularized word, pragmatic... yeah yeah, that's the ticket...

Some folks even blow out the tubes first. I gotta confess, I never have done that and don't think I ever will.

Another confession: I have a sneaky feeling that I like just a tad of oxidation in a lot of the bigger brews I make...

just call me, Robert Parker of beer, champ of micro-oxidation...

All Grain Brewing / Re: Racking under CO2
« on: November 21, 2011, 08:41:02 AM »
This is one of those cases where I can't help but wonder if our love of gadgets and techniques leads us to solutions that are perhaps overkill. Nothing wrong with rigging up a glass carboy, or even a plastic fermenter, to rack using CO2, of course. Mostly, I ferment in kegs anyway and use CO2. But here's what I do when my primary was in glass or plastic.

There is already a blanket of CO2 sitting on top of your beer when it's done fermenting and sitting in glass or plastic. If I'm able to siphon, I'm not really too concerned that oxygen is going to drive down through that blanket of CO2 in one or two minutes, like some sort of invasive aggressive snake, and destroy my beer. I may be wrong, and of course would love to see evidence that this happens, but I just don't experience that in my brews. I'm much more concerned about keeping it sanitary.

I use two holes in the primary lid (in plastic, I had to drill a second, smaller, hole in a spare lid used just for this purpose). In one hole goes the racking cane. In the other, some vinyl tubing attached to a sterile filter, which I blow into. Of course, the holes must be air tight for this to work.

Of course, it's important to purge your receptacle first. I fill it in well in advance with CO2, let it settle so the CO2 sits in the bottom, and then open the relief valve to (hopefully) eliminate the o2. I'm actually much more concerned about potential oxidation in this container than in the racking source, since that keg is filled with oxygen in the first place, whereas the primary is not. I doubt that the Co2 and O2 levels stratify nice and cleanly just to accomodate me, so like others said, I'll often do it twice.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Slightly sour smell, tastes great
« on: November 18, 2011, 07:29:01 PM »
I've experienced a strong sour-like smell from a czech pilsner I was fermenting, and also thought this might've been the OP's issue (nearly 100% euro pils malt in mine). I was doing an open fermentation experiment, and I thought for sure it had a lactic bacteria infection.

But the taste seemed ok at FG, so I kegged. It ended up great (though not different enough from the closed fermentation to merit the worry it caused me). I couldn't detect much, if any, sour odor at serving.

Afterwards I figured the smell must've been the saaz hops mixed with fermentation odors that I wasn't used to smelling from an open fermentation. Now thanks to Jeffy I'll add pils malt to the list of possibilities....

All Grain Brewing / Re: All grain brewing in the winter
« on: November 05, 2011, 06:17:49 AM »
gymrat, my only concern for you and winter brewing, is that it's just not cold enough in Kansas  ;D

Winter in Michigan is my main brewing season, and although it can be a hassle, it has multiple benefits:

a) Super easy to cool off ten gallons of wort to lager pitching temps with even a small chiller
b) Use a cheap pond pump to circulate snow-water through the chiller
c) No fruit flies, and the general airborne presence of microbes is small
d) Which makes it safer to do things like rack to the fermenter outside (covered big shed) and aerate out there, further dropping wort temp
d) My cellar gets down to 50 and stays there for months, so between the fridge and the cellar I have lots of options
e) It's winter, what else am I going to do between shoveling the sidewalk; take up ice fishing again?

I don't really need the outdoor tap, but I usually use it. As others said, keep the hose inside overnight. When you are done with the spigot, close it off and let it drain. Not had a problem in four years of this strategy.

As other have said, if you have a good cooler, your mash temps will hold surprisingly well. My best cooler wrapped in an old Coleman sleeping bag or two hardly drops more than a couple degrees in an hour even at 10 F outside.

On the other hand.. it does take more propane, and I sure could use all that heat inside the house - so I often do what others have mentioned, downsize and go to the kitchen stove depending on mood.

Watch out for ice patches!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Lagers stress me out!
« on: October 26, 2011, 12:33:20 PM »
To ease the stress, my lager "starter" is typically a two or three gallon starter batch of a light gravity style. If I'm really concerned about the yeast (as with WLP820, always) I'll lighten the gravity even a bit more, and allow it to start fermentation a few degrees warmer. The result may not win any competitions, but I get a couple gallons of great thirst-quenching beer, it's hardly more work than making a real starter, and I get a very healthy cake out of it.

Edit: oh right, I'm working from home too.

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