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Messages - seajellie

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Equipment and Software / Re: Keg beer
« on: March 18, 2010, 06:42:49 AM »
Yes, nothing like just giving it a try!

In my case, at least, the intent is not to drink beers at 55; just store them non-refrigerated until space opens up in a fridge. It may take months for this to happen, as the times I have available to brew are not always optimal for when I want to drink that beer.

In the absence of any anecdotal evidence Eric, I'd venture a guess that it will be OK. Some of the main culprits in ageing beer are oxidation, autolysis, and contamination. So if the beer is lagered or conditioned before racking to keg (to settle out a lot of yeast), proper care is taken during racking to keg, and the keg is force carbonated, it would seem the results could be at least as good as my old bottled beers turned out. Dr. Bamforth has pointed out that oxidation potential decreases dramatically the colder you can keep the beer. All in all, a constant 55 is one helluva lot better than a shelf in a store.

I'll be doing it this summer in any case.....

Equipment and Software / Re: Keg beer
« on: March 16, 2010, 06:08:13 PM »
I'm interested in others' thoughts as well. I'm a fellow Michigandier whose basement gets up to 65 for a couple months in summer, but is otherwise 48 - 58. I've had bottled beer sit for nearly two years with no problems, even with OG as low as 50. One 44 OG beer was in fact stellar one year later. But there have been failures as well, some showing up 4 - 8 months after bottling. I put that down to quality (or lack thereof) in, quality out. Fortunately, I've not had to dump too many batches.

I'm interested if there's any reason that kegged beer might have a different lifespan at these temps. For example, if you don't prime the keg, and therefore don't reactivate the yeast, does this affect storage at these temps? Or, if you bump up the pressure with forced CO2, does this affect longevity in any way? I could forsee arguments for benefits either way.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Rookie mistake?
« on: March 04, 2010, 10:17:27 AM »
If you get the mini-CO2 cartridge system, be sure to get the "threaded" type. This will allow you to dispense just as little CO2 as you need for each use, and the cartridges will stay useable for quite awhile. The non-threaded type, you get one blast and it's all over. The threaded system will pay for itself quickly. I used these for years before finally going to a real CO2 system (which is completely worth it btw).

This is a good way to purge your carboys in advance, as bluesman noted. Much better to purge first, rather than just clear out the headspace afterwards. Just blast some in, let it settle for a couple minutes, and rack.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Rookie mistake?
« on: March 04, 2010, 09:06:03 AM »
It's already been a week, so this hint is of lesser value than it would otherwise have been: If you're concerned about it, get one of those little CO2 cartridge dispenser systems used by bicyclists to rapidly inflate their tires. Any bike shop will have them; I'd guess you could get the dispenser and some cartridges for 10 bucks or so. Just take off your carboy cap and (gently, quickly) blast some CO2 in there. Let it sit awhile if you want and give it another blast. CO2 is heavier than O2 so allow some time for the O2 to "settle" up top.

Probably though as bluesman said, you're ok. Chances are you had lots of dissolved CO2 in the beer and it will release and blanket your beer.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Fresh cut pumpkin taste
« on: February 15, 2010, 06:25:43 PM »
I've had it twice, tho to me it's "green apple." It was so prevelant that even folks who knew nothing about beer said "smells like green apples!" as their very first comment.

Both times, it aged out, and actually turned into fantastic beer. Took a month or more though. So don't dump it!

These beers were bottled lagers which were kept at 45 to 60 degrees (after a normal lagering period in carboys). So based on that I would guess that keeping the beer at a temperature that the yeast are still active, is a possibly important thing. You should be at an advantage though being in kegs, with a greater healthy yeast concentration available to process this.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: A "modified" starter
« on: February 11, 2010, 06:29:13 PM »
+1 for Drauflassen. I've been doing this for a couple years because of some unusual conditions I have to deal with, and it works great. The proof is in the pudding: The beer has consistently turned out great. And I don't have to mess with starters in advance of brew day.

I never even knew drauflassen was a "real" technique used by those uberlords of the beer world, professional German brewers. I just thought it was some goofy thing I had decided to start doing. Then I checked out Kai's website a couple months ago....

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Fermentation Temp Control
« on: February 09, 2010, 07:50:11 PM »
Basement/cellar, and on the rare occasion a water bath to help.

Basement stays at 48 to 52 degrees for four months of winter, around 62 for most of spring and fall, and tops out at 65 or so for a month or two in the middle of summer.

Can you say lagers; alts and wheat beers; and ales?

Plus it makes a great year around beer and wine storage facility with not too much temp fluctuation, considering how long I want the goods to survive in the first place.

Thanks guys for the info about the temp accuracy when measured on the outside of a fermenter. I've been wondering how well that outside temp reflects the interior of the fermenter, and have built a thermwell myself but not experimented yet. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Brewing less than 5 gallon batches
« on: January 25, 2010, 01:04:54 PM »
A benefit with the kegs in this regard is that you don't have to bother hitting your volume exactly right in order to make the secondary vessel work out, nor collect a variety of different sized vessels (unless you want too), worry about ending up with excess, etc. Before going to kegs, there was always some time spent getting the volumes right to minimize head space in the secondary and accomodate the vessels I had available. I did use the mini CO2 cartridges to purge, but it was always a slightly awkward process.

With kegs and this batch size, it's very relaxing as I know it's always going to fit, and have great confidence in not experiencing oxidation problems given plenty of CO2. So I can focus on hitting the target gravity rather than worrying about volume too much (as I still experiment with methods, it's not always easy to predict my mash efficiency with great accuracy).

The slight variations in volume rarely affect the calculated IBUs by more than +/- 5 IBU, which is the human taste threshold.

I guess we're all always tweaking and modifying our practices along the way, but so far, I think this batch size with kegs has a lot to offer!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Brewing less than 5 gallon batches
« on: January 24, 2010, 10:20:12 AM »
Hey gwilkosz, I brew all-grain, and at least two-thirds of my batches are 3 - 4 gallons in size. I often brew two 3.5 gallon batches in a day, rather than doing one larger batch. I've even done three-in-a-day, but one must be psyched to pull that off.

The obvious downside is time; it takes very little difference in time to brew 3.5 vs. 5.5. But with two-brews-in-a-day, and with organization and preparation, I really doubt that I spend more time per gallon than when I brew five gallon batches.

The advantages (for the dubious) are variety in your available beer, rather than sheer quantity; cleanup may be easier as your mash tun, kettle, etc., can be smaller in size; easier storage given that your gear can be smaller; easier to brew indoors (kitchen stove, although I usually go outside); less weight to muscle brew around (assuming you don't have all the pumps); and best of all, it's cheap to go stainless steel the whole way (I ferment in kegs and transfer with CO2). I was very happy to say bye-bye to buckets and glass. I didn't have to spend a grand on a conical, and I have something that fits easily in a fridge for fermentation. Also, it's easy to run side-by-side tests as a normal matter of your brewing technique, and easier to store your final product (although 3 gallon kegs are pricey, so mostly I use larger ones).

One big disadvantage is the percent loss of wort increases with smaller batches. That is, due to equipment and methods, you may be used to loosing (for example) a quart or two of wort in the kettle and primary and secondary, etc. Obviously, loosing a quart of three gallons hurts more than loosing a quart of five gallons. I routinely use whirlfloc, and man that can hurt to see a cooled kettle filled with "fluff." I do suggest using just half a whirlfloc on a smaller batch.

There are ways to deal with this loss, and I now lose almost nothing from the kettle (this is likely controversial and will take more words and pictures, will try to update later. Basically, cold filtration works, no HSA problems, and you can always use filtered wort as yeast starters or gyle if you are concerned about flavor impacts).

Recently, as I have more free time in the evenings than during the day, I've started experimenting with mashing in the evening, then brewing the next day. In three beers, one of which is now six months old, I've seen no ill effects. Of course, keeping the wort cold overnight can be an issue (not in MIchigan in January, however). Net result is that by noon the next day, I'm done brewing and doing something else!

Sometimes, my second batch will be a partial mash to save a bit of effort, but with a five gallon cooler, a zapap, and a large rectangular cooler, I can easily do two mashes at once. You can even manage doing a double double-decoction, but that is again, something to be psyched for. I suggest not drinking home brew while attempting this! Sometimes, I'll do a big mash in the large cooler, with a smaller mash in one of the other coolers, and do one wort straight from the large cooler, and the second wort as a blend.

I don't have to worry about the storage space issues, but I did brew something like 15 lagers last winter and it was cool to experiment with all those styles. I'm still drinking six of them. There's no way I would've done all that with five gallon batch sizes.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: German Ale Yeast 1007
« on: January 19, 2010, 04:52:58 PM »
Guvna, it's been two months. How'd the sulfuresque alt turn out?

According to the White Labs website, "high" fermentation temps can create a high sulfur level in your beer. So one possibility is that when you overpitched, the excessive quantity of yeast produced a larger exothermic reaction than normal. Your normal cooling methods may not have kept the ferment in the desired temp range with such a big yeast load.

I'd imagine that overpitching itself can cause extra yeast stress, apart from the higher temp. Add the two together, and maybe that's why it happened.

I think that's what happened to one of my lagers. I used most of a previous yeast cake, the ferment took off like a rocket, and the rotten egg smell that pervaded the whole house almost got me banned from ever brewing in the house again...

fortunately, most of the odor wore off and the beer is drinkable. I still have a few left. I'll crash chill them for a month and see if they improve.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: How about least favorite style of beer?
« on: January 16, 2010, 12:36:57 PM »
Any Alt beer that I make! (Three so far.)

I've had Alt fresh in Germany and canned elsewhere in Europe, and thought it was pretty good.

At home though, it's a style that continually challenges me.

My Kolsch-style brews are good, however.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Frozen yeast
« on: January 16, 2010, 08:36:49 AM »
Hallowed, that's great, thanks for the follow up, and good luck with that brew.

I may have this frozen yeast issue again in the future due to winter deliveries, so another data point 'tis good!

I should clarify my previous post. Although the "gushers" I experienced could have been due (of course) to a wild yeast infection, for various reasons I'm suspicious that was the cause. Instead, I'm thinking the gushers could be due to (as a bilogist might say) natural selection due to a bottleneck event. No not the bottleneck I drank them from, but rather the fact that one might think that a large portion of the yeast died off during a weekend spent in ice. The ones that survived could have been merely lucky, or perhaps they had some "special" genetics/characteristics that enabled them to survive in harsh conditions.

It's interesting to note (that I've heard from pros) that priming for bottle conditioning tends to "awaken" the native yeast, and can result in them consuming not only the priming sugar but also some of the residuals, resulting in a dryer beer. Not sayin' this results in a gusher, mind you, just a related and possibly intertwined topic after a possible genetic mutation. Any biochemists and yeast specialists... I would be interested to know if the genetics of a wyeast pack could possibly drift so far so quickly, given such a drastic event that might kill off 95% of the yeast?

Anyway, that's more or less why cold storage of your finished beer could be especially good in this case.

Kai, what hops did you use for FWH in that pilsner that turned out so well?

Me thinks this is like dry hopping, it works better with some hop varieties than others. And as you said, there are likely a number of factors in play. I'd suggest looking at water chemistry, hummulene/myrcene/etc. content of the hops, and of course malts used (for balance). The three times I used FWH and it turned out nice, was with 2% spalt. Four times I did FWH and the results were not good at all; the hops were hersbrucker and tettnang in those cases, at 4.5+%. It would be nice to know more about this as when it works, it's great. At this point however, I'll probably only try it with low aa% because I don't like that lingering bitterness and it's not worth risking a beer.

This subject is probably worthy of a phd!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Frozen yeast
« on: January 05, 2010, 07:45:19 PM »
Last year a Wyeast smack pack sat in a UPS van a mere 15 miles from my house during a frigid weekend. Frustrating... almost made me turn to a life of crime. On Monday afternoon the package arrived and although the smack pack was not frozen completely solid at the time, it was 90% frozen and it could've frozen solid during the weekend. It could've warmed up some during morning deliveries.

Anywho, I went ahead and made a starter which took off fine, and subsequently used this strain in four consecutive beers. The first three turned out wonderful. The fourth, not so good. And most importantly, the beers did not age well. I'm used to getting a good year or more from my bottled beer if they are kept in the 48 to 62 degree range in the cellar, but by eight months most of these beers had turned into gushers. So, I'd suggest doing the starter and keeping those boyz cold when finished!

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