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Messages - nateo

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Crazy pH drop during fermentation
« on: March 12, 2012, 09:52:47 AM »
I'm evaluating 71B's performance with hard v soft water, and also evaluating K1V, RC212, and Red Star Cote Des Blanc, and Premier Cuvee (with soft water). I plan on doing some more trials later with R2 and BM45, but my LHBS didn't have them in stock.

So far, it seems the pH drop is at least partially yeast dependent. I don't have a way to quantify how I'm degassing. I just swirl it around for about 30seconds. So the varying pH readings I'm getting from the different yeasts might just be operator error.

Also, the one jug with hard water had the closest thing to Krausen of the 6. I'm not sure how the water affected that. Maybe more nucleation sites or something?

I'm only on day 5 so far, but fermentation should be winding down soon. Most of the musts were around 1.010 as of yesterday.

Going Pro / Re: Financials and Investors
« on: March 12, 2012, 05:32:07 AM »
I remember reading about when New Belgium started up. The original guy was convinced that his Abbey ale was going to be huge. He took it to all kinds of festivals and events, and couldn't give the stuff away. Then Fat Tire happened, and we all know the rest of the story.

So it's good to have plans. It's better to have backup plans as well.

In addition to making good beer, you need to make beer people like. I'm frequently surprised by which (IMO mediocre) beers I make that get a lot of positive response, and which beers, that I think are great, don't.

Equipment and Software / Re: Food-grade buckets at Lowes
« on: March 11, 2012, 08:06:15 AM »
liberal republican

I thought those were extinct. Maybe you're just endangered.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Crazy pH drop during fermentation
« on: March 11, 2012, 07:28:06 AM »
Water high in bicarbonates helps this, according to Steve Piatz.  Some add KCO3 to keep the pH in the range the yeast like.  A mix-stir is used when the nutrients go in, to aerate and to knock out the CO2.  Getting the CO2 out will also help the pH stay up.

I think it would take a lot of CO3 to get the pH into the proper range. It took a lot of Ca(OH)2, and that's a much stronger base than KCO3.

I wasn't surprised that the pH dropped, but I was amazed at how far it dropped, and how quickly it dropped. I think a lot of the stuck ferments homebrewers run into when making mead, wine, cider (and maybe beer?) could be due to low fermentation pH shocking the yeast.

I was thinking about how a lot of people add yeast to stuck ferments, and it made me think of locking a puppy in a hot car. The puppy died, and instead of rolling down the windows, you just shove more puppies in there, and hope one of them doesn't die.

Yeast and Fermentation / Crazy pH drop during fermentation
« on: March 10, 2012, 05:36:57 PM »
I'm doing six 3L fermentation trials for mead right now, comparing different strains, trying my hand at Curt Stock's Even-speed-mead method, and also the effect of very hard water on mead. I'll do a more detailed write-up later, but the initial results were shocking.

OG: 1.050
500g honey
2g yeast (properly rehydrated)

A1 - 71B with hard water (400ppm CaCO3)
A2 - 71B with lime-softened water (50ppm CaCO3)

Day 0
Added 0.65g Fermaid K to both
Added 0.30g DAP

A1 pH - 5.9
A2 pH - 5.8

Day 1

Day 2 - SG: 1.030
Added 0.65g Fermaid
Added 0.30g DAP

A1 pH - 2.3. Added 1tbsp+1/2tsp of 5% calcium hydroxide solution, which raised the pH to 3.7
A2 pH - 1.8. Added 3tbsp of 5% lime solution, which raised the pH to 3.8

I degassed the samples by shaking them repeatedly in a mason jar, and also by letting them sit out for a few hours. I calibrated my pH meter was calibrated twice, to 7 and 4, because I didn't believe my results.

I really didn't expect the pH to fall that much that quickly. I'm not surprised at all that most mead fermentations take months to finish, since the must becomes so hostile to yeast so quickly.

Equipment and Software / Re: Food-grade buckets at Lowes
« on: March 10, 2012, 12:14:17 PM »
5 gallon buckets are good for brewing 3 gallon batches.  You brew many 3 gallon batches?

I do, actually. I like making 3 gallon batches when I don't have time to brew outside, and I have to use my regular stove-top.

Also, depending on what yeast I use, I can get away with 15% headspace volume for most British and Belgian yeasts. For true top-croppers I need more like 25-30% headspace. Or you could use a blow-off tube. I also make a fair amount of 8-9 gallons batches that end up with a lot of headspace divided into two 6.5gallon buckets. So for me, 5 gallon buckets are great. YMMV and so forth.

Equipment and Software / Food-grade buckets at Lowes
« on: March 10, 2012, 11:39:42 AM »
Stopped in to Lowes the other day while waiting for my Bobcat tire to get fixed. Noticed rows and rows of white, food-grade 5 gallon buckets for sale. They also had 2 gallon buckets that looked pretty good too. The 5gal were $3.78 IIRC, and the lids were another $1.25 or so.

I love my LHBS dearly and try to support them as much as I can, but their buckets are like $15 each, and they're an hour-and-a-half drive away.

Ingredients / Re: water for Dortmunder
« on: March 10, 2012, 11:23:17 AM »
I've seen some radically different water profiles given for "historic" cities. Those profiles change over time, too. Just because one well in Dublin two hundred years ago had high bicarbonates so it worked for their stout, that doesn't mean you should try to emulate any arbitrary water profile someone listed for a city.

In my experience, trying to emulate water profiles is a good way to break something that wasn't broken. The worst non-infected beer I've ever made was a pale ale with water trying to emulate Burton.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Addition of Raspberries to a lambic.
« on: March 10, 2012, 07:58:04 AM »
I don't have a definitive answer for you, but maybe a couple of things to think about. The acid in the fruit will lower the acid in your wort. How much will depend on how much fruit you add. But yeast gets grumpy if the pH drops below 4, and really grumpy under 3.

Depending on how much the Roselare blend has dropped the pH, you might need to rely on the Brett and bugs to ferment any sugars the raspberries add. I don't have any idea how long that would take.

If it were me, I would wait until the lambic is finished, then ferment the raspberries separately, maybe with a little fresh wort for nutrition, then blend the two to taste. I think you would get a fresher raspberry taste. It's also possible I have no idea what I'm talking about.

I don't think they use oak. I heard they use a different wood, but I might be misremembering. I also remember hearing it has a slightly acetic character. That would be hard to get in pleasantly small doses, so maybe add vinegar to taste after it's done?

I've used some wild yeasts before, harvested from different fruits, and none of them have acted or tasted like Brett, fwiw. The closest commercial yeast in flavor to my peach-harvested wild yeast was WY2565, only the wild yeast flocced a lot better. The wild also had more undesirable fermentation byproducts (mostly higher alcohols) than the commercial one.

When people say "wild yeast" they think of crazy flavors. I'm sure there are some wild yeasts out there that do have crazy flavors, but I haven't been able to harvest any of them.

Ingredients / Re: water for Dortmunder
« on: March 10, 2012, 07:44:38 AM »
It's common for German brewers to use decarbonation by boiling. So whatever amount of chalk they started with in their water, they probably precipitated a lot out before they used it to brew. So I wouldn't add any alkalinity to your water unless it's necessary for your mash pH. I'd just focus on getting the flavor ions where you want them.

Going Pro / Re: How hard is it to be a pro brewer?
« on: March 10, 2012, 07:34:59 AM »
It seems to me the biggest factor in success of a brewpub is location, both having a high-traffic location in the town, and being in a town that cares about good food.

Good beer and good food are only appreciated in certain geographical pockets. Growing up in Colorado, I took good food and good beer for granted. Even the smallish/hickish town I grew up in (Fruita CO, FWIW) had a couple of Thai restaurants within driving distance. Being raised in a culture with an above-average appreciation for food and drink really skewed my perception of how much "average" people care about the quality of what they consume.

Living in Missouri, the situation is completely different. The closest town to me has a population of 14k, and probably 20 fast food restaurants. There are a few locally-owned restaurants I've found to be passable, one that's good but never has any customers, and all the rest are aggressively bad, yet very busy. The beer situation is similar. With a few exceptions, mostly in St. Louis and KC, you can't get good beer in restaurants here. There are a few small outfits trying to change things, but they've only started in the last couple of years, and who knows if they'll be successful or not.

Even if you make the best beer and best food, if your customers don't want that, you won't stay in business long.

Going Pro / Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
« on: March 09, 2012, 07:42:00 PM »
and be ready to work your ass off.

From my experience, that's how you make money running a small business. If you personally work the equivalent of 2-3 jobs, that's 1 or 2 people don't have to pay. That's about the extent of my small business wisdom though. I have no idea how businesses that employ a lot of people make any money.

Unfortunately no one wants to volunteer at tackle stores, so I can't get free grunt work.

Going Pro / Re: Looking into starting a meadery
« on: March 09, 2012, 07:37:11 PM »
At least in my state.
Any equipment that you buy for manufacturing (and brewing is manufacturing) is tax free.
On the other side we have here lovely "personal property tax" that is tax on whatever business owns.
So you purchase a delivery vehicle.
Business pays a sales tax and every year you pay a personal property tax.
Check if this apply it your state.
This is one of unwelcome surprises.

Hmm I'll look into that. I know we have a personal property tax here. I'm surprised WI has a personal property tax, since the land values seem a lot higher there. I don't have any problem with that tax here, because real estate and land are basically worthless here. Everyone (at least here in rural MO) lives in a $5000 trailer and drives a $60,000 truck. So just a real estate property tax wouldn't really raise any revenue.

In any case, the tax burden I've found so far has been much lower than I thought it would be, given the sort of general discourse about taxes in this country. The federal excise taxes are heavily weighted to favor small businesses. Small wineries get a $0.90/gallon discount off the $1.07/gallon excise tax, making it the same tax rate wineries paid in 1991. I don't have any particular problem taxing the high-volume, low-quality macrowineries/macrobreweries at much higher rates. Microwbreweries get similar discounts, though not quite as good. I think it's $7/bbl instead of $18/bbl. IIRC John Kerry introduced a bill to cut that to $3.5/bbl for micros, but I don't think it got anywhere.

Pimp My System / Re: Brew Shed layout advice
« on: March 09, 2012, 05:38:42 PM »
I thought about a worktable or counter. I thought about a portable card table, or a large step-stool or something. The only thing I can think of that I'd need it for would be to hold my hops, whirlfloc, etc. while I'm waiting to add them.

Here in Missouri, the summers get really, really hot. It was about 110* outside for a number of weeks last year. So my "cool storage" room is just going to have an air conditioner. I'm targeting like 70* in there. So it's only cold relative to 100*+.

I've actually never kegged before, but it's something I might look into.

I've put this brewshed project on hold for the time being while I look into getting licensed as a winery. If that goes through, that'll take up all the space I was going to use for brewing.

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