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Messages - leejoreilly

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Ingredients / Re: Tobacco
« on: April 20, 2016, 05:13:39 AM »
So far, I see two camps forming.

Camp "I like tobacco notes in beer if they don't actually come from tobacco"

and Camp Barf.

Neither camp seems to encourage adding tobacco to beer.

Now why does that only strengthen my resolve?

So, if you wanted barnyard notes, would you dry-horse?

Equipment and Software / Re: Brewing Software - Recommendations?
« on: April 19, 2016, 06:34:17 AM »
I started with BeerSmith 1.0 and upgraded to 2.0. I like it a lot, especially for recipe formulation, and the fact that I get a very usable set of instructions in the Brew Steps brew day worksheet. It also has a fairly complete set of additional tools and calculators. I don't recommend its water profile tool - BrunWater is miles better.

On the one hand, BeerSmith is very flexible, and allows you to set up all kinds of profiles, most notably for your equipment and various mashes. The downside is that these profiles require a bit of work to set up and maybe adjust a touch over time. But for me it's been time well spent.

One caveat - any software is just a rough model of the brewing process - some rougher than others. Use it as a guide, not a gospel.

For the first 14-15 years I brewed, I put the fermenter in a large tub of water.  I could ice packs to the water to cool it down or an aquarium heater to warm it up.  I won a lot of awards for beers brewed with that method, but it is labor intensive.  You have to check it a couple times a day for the first 3-4 days.  The good news is that after that temp is less of an an issue.  A couple years ago I used a book advance to buy a chest freezer and temp controller.  Works a lot better and is a lot easier, but a LOT more expensive!  I'd suggest you start with the water bath method, then as you see how the hobby goes you could move to a temp controlled freezer if you thought it was worthwhile.

I live in the Midwest, and I've been using Denny's "tub o' cold water" method successfully for some time now. I've found that ambient temps in my basement stay fairly steady, so that I don't need to add ice packs in winter at all, and maybe one or two one-liter frozen water bottles twice a day in the dead of summer. Once you've done it a time or two, you get the rhythm down, and you don't need to monitor constantly. I can maintain ferm temps around 60-62 easily.

As far as racking to secondary goes, I've found that unless you have a specific goal in mind, like a secondary fermentation from added fruit, or the need to rack off a yeast cake to use it in another fermentation, it's just flat unnecessary and may expose your fermenting wort to possible infection or oxidation.

All Grain Brewing / Re: New to all grain, need help hitting gravity!
« on: March 20, 2016, 07:39:10 AM »
While I fully agree with the recommendations on crush, etc., one area you might want to look at is how you calculate your expected OG. For example, I use BeerSmith 2, and experience tells me that my "Total Efficiency" should be set to around 70% or so, for the 1.050 - 1.070 beers that I brew most often. That number matches my current process well - I used to be down around 62 - 65 % when I first started doing all grain, but improved as I fine-tuned. If I would set my efficiency to 80-85% or so, I would easily read an "expected OG" around 10 points higher than I'm really likely to get.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Brewing Water
« on: March 17, 2016, 06:04:46 AM »
Straight tap water with a campden tab, plus whatever adjustments BrunWater calls for.

A couple of thoughts:

- Careful attention to measurement and process probably affects consistency more than quality. If you are meticulous about brewing a beer that would score 30 points, you'll always end up with a (roughly) 30 point beer (absent judging subjectivity). If you are more cavalier, you could end up with a 20 pointer this time and a 40 pointer next.

- Precise measurement alone doesn't bring much to the party; it's what you do about those measurements that matter. Just measuring pH or gravity doesn't make your beer any different than not measuring it; making any resulting water or grist adjustments will make some difference.

- You should pursue what you enjoy about brewing. You can be a brewing engineer (glorious precision, little deviation) or a brewing artist (glorious deviation, little precision). Or a little of both. It's YOUR BEER, after all.

Ingredients / Re: Chestnuts
« on: February 26, 2016, 07:17:42 AM »
I've never used chestnuts in a beer, but the latest issue of Brew Your Own magazine (March-April 2016) has a recipe for a chestnut beer in an article about craft brewing in Italy.

As far as BeerSmith goes, you can add new ingredients to BeerSmith's data files. I think I'd likely add chestnuts as a miscellaneous flavor ingredient, like coffee, rather than a malt. But I haven't done any research to support this.

Ingredients / Re: Pale Ale hops - something different
« on: February 19, 2016, 07:07:46 AM »
I like the combination of El Dorado and Lemon Drop. Apparently, that's the combo used in Stone's Delicious IPA.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: best fridge for kegging system
« on: February 19, 2016, 07:02:08 AM »
Yeah, mine has a freezer and that's a big plus for me. I have several pounds of hops in there, plus a few packets of "emergency" dry yeast, some brewing spices and six one-liter bottles of frozen water for my fermentation control tub.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 02 level in wort
« on: February 18, 2016, 06:24:13 AM »
I don't worry about "consistent amounts" as much as I do "enough". After proper sanitization, I place the stone just under the surface of the wort, and open the gas valve until I just see a steady stream of bubbles. I then drop the stone to the bottom of the fermenter and move it around. If I still see bubbles, I reduce the flow; no (few) bubbles, just about right. I usually let it flow for at least 90 seconds for "normal" gravity wort; more like 2 - 2.5 minutes for higher gravity. I probably don't get the kind of consistence that you would with a gauge, but I do seems to get enough O2 in there.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Radiating beer experiment
« on: February 14, 2016, 07:09:23 AM »

Code Brown ale...  :-\


I had to go there.

Too much perhaps?  ;D

Uh yea, now I know what not to name my beers.  Back to my original ?, how would you guys go about organizing the tasting session?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I've got to ask - Are you confident that irradiated beer would be safe to consume? Would you warn the potential tasters about it before they consumed it? I have no evidence to the contrary, and I would imagine that med students would have thought of this before I would, but still...

Thanks for the replies! I think this info pretty much determines what my next equipment purchase is going to be for my home brewery. Cheers!

Controlling fermentation temps doesn't always require a full-blown (expensive) fermentation chamber, either. I live in SE Michigan, and our home has a basement. In Winter, the ambient temp in my utility room keeps my ale pail fermenters at about 62 or so (also easy to get the wort down to that temp, as our ground water is in the 50s). In Summer, I put the fermenter in a large plastic tub of water, with a couple of frozen liter water bottles; changing out the bottles a couple of times a day keeps ferm temps in the low 60s.

Equipment and Software / Re: pH Meter: Balancing cost and quality
« on: January 20, 2016, 07:36:19 AM »
I think this is one of those subjects that just depends on the brewer. Kind of like the old Sears good-better-best thing. If you dont think you need a meter, then dont get one. I love mine, but it was a gift. One day I plan to upgrade and regift it. As to colorphast, I found them useless.  Probably wasnt using them right.

All in all, you can make great beer without a meter. But you dont know precisely what your ph is without one.

Jim, I agree, and I think this is generally true throughout the home brewing process. Some things strongly affect the probability that you will make "good beer", like proper sanitation standards. Others will affect that probability less strongly, like using a yeast nutrient. Others may not have a lot of impact on the quality of your beer at all, but are an enjoyable part of the hobby, like knowing precise pH all through the process (once you use BrunWater to get you in the "high probability of good beer" area to begin with). There's stuff that you Have To Do, stuff you Ought To Do, and stuff that you Want To Do, and it's all part of the enjoyment of brewing.

Equipment and Software / Re: Choosing a brew kettle
« on: January 16, 2016, 07:29:05 AM »

On another note, I live in a major metropolitan area (Washington, DC).  There are over 100 breweries and brewpubs in the area, lots of craft beer bars and plenty of craft brews available in grocery stores and specialty beer stores.  I can get virtually any style of beer imaginable within a half hour drive or subway ride from home.  Why the heck would I want to brew my own beer?  Somebody talk me out of this!  ;D

Mike, think of it this way: just because there are lots of great restaurants near you, does that mean you shouldn't cook a meal yourself? There's more than just "drinking beer" involved in brewing; there's all the joy of planning, designing, producing and sharing Your Own Beer. Oh, yeah, also drinking it.

All Grain Brewing / Re: repitching lager yeast slurry
« on: January 16, 2016, 07:23:28 AM »
Denny, Mr. Semantics.  I find I get pretty good separation and it's become part of my process which works quite well.  I'm happy with the results so if it ain't broke....

Oh, I understand that!  But laziness always drives me to understand if something is really necessary and really produces better results.

Laziness is a virtue when used correctly Denny!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

It's not "laziness", it's "conservation of energy".

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