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Messages - bspisak

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Imperial Mild? Really...
« on: February 27, 2010, 10:26:01 AM »
I sampled an Imperial Mild at a brew-in once and was told be the brewer it was a mistake - came out much higher gravity than he was shooting for. It was still good even though I do think it's an oxymoron.


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Lager Question
« on: February 27, 2010, 10:19:57 AM »
Thanks for the answers. Sorry to the OP for hijacking his thread. His question was:

Is it best to cool down in the primary fermentor before racking to secondary or is it better just to rack to secondary after fermentation is finished?  I still have a considerable amount of cloudiness in the beer.

Since this wasn't completely addressed, I'll take a stab at it.  But somebody with more knowledge and experience should chime in. I would rack it now. Simply because there's other things than yeast at the bottom of your fermenter you probably want to get the beer off. Whatever is left in suspension will eventually settle during lagering and will leave you with less of a sediment depth when you rack to bottle/keg so your less likely to suck up anything.  I suppose you can always rack again, too. It doesn't sound like there is any particular reason not to.


All Grain Brewing / Re: Water to Grain Ratio
« on: February 26, 2010, 05:19:41 PM »

I've heard that using a thinner mash benefits lighter lagers in that you don't have to sparge as much and thus minimize extraction of tannins. (Although that only works if fly sparging.)  Anyone have any experience here?

Equipment and Software / Re: Chiller Suggestions
« on: February 26, 2010, 05:14:34 PM »

Immersion chillers use a lot of water. You can recirc ice water, but only after you drop it some and then you need a pump, too.

My biggest gripe about the immersion chiller is that it's in the kettle. I'd like to do a real whirlpool, not just a recirc of the wort to aid in cooling. The chiller interferes with the ability to separate trub (hot break and hops) from the wort. Not as important for ales, but lagers definitely benefit.

Without a CFC or plate, (supposedly - mind you, I haven't tried yet) you can whirlpool while hot (when it's most effective) let it settle and develop a cone, then pump through your chiller to drop to pitching temps. You won't separate cold break this way, but cold break is what has the good stuff for the yeast. Some lager brewers will try to remove some of that as well by floatation or other methods.

Debating a CFC or plate chiller,

Equipment and Software / Re: Vacuum Sealers
« on: February 26, 2010, 05:05:32 PM »

The FoodSaver requires special bags that are channeled which I believe is what allows the air to escape when the bag collapses. I'm guessing that to use mylar and other non-channeled bags, you need a unit with a snorkel.

It seems that the problem with a snorkel bag is that you need to get the snorkel right up against the contents of the bag. That would imply that something loose like hops might get sucked up as the vacuum is pulled.  I'm wondering if the channel bags do a better job or if it's even a problem???

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Lager Question
« on: February 26, 2010, 04:54:58 PM »

I have a similar question, but because my fermentation cycle was different, I'll state it like this:

     How much yeast does one want left in contact with the beer during lagering?

If you rack before chilling, then some of that yeast will not have flocc'ed (especially in less floc. strains like 2565 Kolsch.)  While, if you chill first, more will floc, so when you rack you'll be racking it off that yeast.

My ferm cycle was 8 days primary at 60, 1 week secondary at 60 then crash to 45, wait a few days, then slowly drop to 32.  So the question I'm debating is weather to rack again now that I'm at 45 and have got more of the yeast to floc.


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Oops - Skipped my diacetyl rest. Now what?
« on: February 25, 2010, 03:49:41 PM »

Well, the beer is sitting at 67F now, I'll taste it soon and see if I need to do that.  Thanks for the advice!!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash temperature differences
« on: February 25, 2010, 03:47:06 PM »
How are you generating your steam?

Nothing fancy: a cheap second hand presto pressure cooker. It's not too big, I believe it's a 5 qt model. I was concerned it might not be enough, but I fire it on my big burner and it works just fine. I recently did a mash that required 4 injections with steam (doughin to 120s to 140s to 150s to mashout) and it didn't need refilling. That was a 5 gallon mash.

I used soft 1/4" copper tubing to create a ring shaped manifold with perhaps a dozen 1/16" holes drilled in the top. That goes in the bottom of the tun and connects to a fitting I installed on the pressure cooker with a valve to turn the steam on or off. I didn't even bother with high temp tubing: just bought the only stuff the local HW store had that was rated to 170. I sometimes stays pinched once it cools from the lid closing on it, but I have always got it open and have used it a dozen times now without needing to replace it.

The only thing I need to change is that valve I use for controlling the steam. It gets really hot on top of the pressure cooker and is getting hard to open and close. It's probably not rated to those temps.

Overall, I'm quite happy with this setup. It let's me use a cooler to maintain mash temps and then inject steam to adjust or raise as needed. Even with a single step mash, I can now do a mash out and I haven't got a stuck sparge since. The cost and fab is a fraction of a recirc system as well.

Check out this article:


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Oops - Skipped my diacetyl rest. Now what?
« on: February 25, 2010, 01:32:08 PM »

I understand Krausening in the context of making the same beer back-to-back and using one to start the other. I don't have that luxury (I'm not brewing another Kolsch soon - I already have 3!) but I could create a small starter to pitch. I don't think I'd want to use a different yeast strain though. I'm hoping I can get what I have to go active again. I suppose I could harvest some from the current yeast cake (if I can get to it in my carboy) and make a starter from that.  Hmmm...

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Oops - Skipped my diacetyl rest. Now what?
« on: February 25, 2010, 10:01:09 AM »
Don’t cool down the beer. Even if you do it slowly the yeast may go dormant.

Thanks Kai.  That's one of the things I don't understand about lagers. I thought that dropping the temperature slowly was so the yeast weren't shocked.  That implies that some of them are still active during the lagering period.  Is that dependent on the yeast strain? Do some strains finish earlier than others? If they are active, what are they doing during this phase of the ferm cycle?  Same things as ale yeasts during the conditioning phase of ferm?


Equipment and Software / Re: Vacuum Sealers
« on: February 25, 2010, 12:46:42 AM »
I like the Sorbent Systems VS280. Had mine for almost a year and no problems. Advantage is it will seal Mylar oxygen barrier bags which the seal-a-meal type won't.

I assume the snorkel is what gives the machine the ability to seal mylar bags. Is it hard to pull a tight vacuum on loose things like pellet and leaf hops? Would the channel type bags that FoodSaver uses do better?


All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash temperature differences
« on: February 24, 2010, 09:28:29 PM »
Stirring VS Recirculating? Is one better? I think the motors vs pumps and the effort required are probably equal. So does anyone see a definite benefit of one over the other?

The biggest difference is that stirring alone doesn't allow you to adjust your mash temp. A recirc system usually runs through a heat exchanger. Stirring might in fact benefit a recirc system, though I would think if you have a good tun design, the grain is evenly rinsed by the recirc water, so it shouldn't be necessary.

My stirring setup will be used with a steam infusion system. I decided to go with steam after I saw a recirculation system in action. I wasn't impressed by the temperature fluctuations during recirc: The wort sitting in the plumbing cools when the mash is at temp (and it's not circulating), then the temp in the tun drops a few degrees when it kicks back in. Is that really an issue? Probably not, but add to that all the plumbing required and I decided to go a different direction.

With steam, I can get a pretty good temp rise, on the order of a couple of degrees a minute. Not sure what those RIMS/HERMS folks are getting, but from what I saw of the system I was on, it was much slower. Also, I wonder if those enzymes trapped in the plumbing aren't better off in the mash. For larger batch sizes, the amount of liquid in the plumbing is probably negligible. But, for 5 gallon stiff mashes?

Then there's cost: those pumps are expensive. You can get a windshield wiper motor to drive your mash mixer for $15. (But, I suppose if you've got a pump anyway....)  And you need two temp controllers and stainless fittings for your plumbing.

I dunno, it's probably more a philosophical debate than a technical one. Once you get any system dialed in, you can achieve great results.


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Fermentation/Dry hop schedule for Imperial IPA
« on: February 24, 2010, 08:18:22 PM »

The Pliny recipe is always evolving. Vinnie has played with all kinds of dry hopping schedules. You may want to rack to a secondary to get the beer off the trub as you may have an extended conditioning time.  Personally, I wouldn't dry hop until after the beer has conditioned in the secondary for another couple of weeks, then dry hop.  This gives all those big hop compounds time to blend. It's like making a good soup.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: WLP002 Attenuation
« on: February 24, 2010, 05:51:25 PM »
This should explain what you are seeing:

Excellent read, thanks!  I guess I should have done a fast ferment to see where I should be ending up! ;-)

I have been able to show that 002 and a lager yeast can reach the same FG if both are roused regularly.

So, the questions becomes, "when to start rousing, how vigorously to rouse, how long to rouse, and how regularly to do so?"

I would imagine you'd start rousing after the yeast start to floc. For WLP002, this happens in a few days. But, what happens if I wait to long? Is the viability decreasing because they are no longer actively metabolizing? Is that what Jamil's Pitching Rate Calculator is taking into account (viability based on date) and would this be an accurate model of what's really going on?

I would also imagine that you'd want to rouse as often as possible.  If I could bubble C02 up through the fermenter, I could keep the yeast in suspension for how ever long I wanted. Having to resort to rousing, then it seems like a vigorous rouse over enough time for the yeast to de-floc is required. (More than a swish, less than 5 minutes?)  Does this have any detrimental effects on the beer? Whenever I've roused before, the beer foams up (C02 coming out of solution?)  Is that bad? 


Yeast and Fermentation / Oops - Skipped my diacetyl rest. Now what?
« on: February 24, 2010, 05:15:39 PM »

I made a Kolsch with 2565 with an 8 day primary fermentation at 60F, then racked to a secondary for another 7 days at 60F then took it to 45F to get the yeast to floc. The next step is to slowly drop it to 32F. This schedule was recommended by another brewer more experienced with lagers than I.

Anyway, I somehow dumped my first hydro sample when I racked to secondary and didn't sample it again until now (at 45F.) The problem is, I can taste diacetyl. It's not strong, but definitely there and if it remains at this level, it will not be to my liking. I'm certainly more sensitive than some to diacetyl, so again, the levels aren't high, but detectable and I'd rather have them cleaned up a bit.

So, my question is what to do?  Is it too late to do a diacetyl rest? I brought the beer back up to 65F last night and the yeast were rousted a bit from me moving the carboy. I didn't want to roust too much because I've been told 2565 is a b**** to floc, and that was the whole point of the crash from 60F to 45F. Should I add some yeast nutrient to get them active again?  Or should I have just left it alone?

From what I understand about lager fermentations, the yeast stay active even at lager temps, so should I just drop it slowly to 32F and wait it out?  Will it clean up?  If so, what's the point of a diacetyl rest?  What level of diacetyl do you have to be at before you have to worry about it not cleaning up during lagering?


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