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Messages - leejoreilly

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: My reason for signing up here...
« on: August 14, 2014, 07:48:55 AM »
There's a difference between being dependent on software and using it to make the process easier and more enjoyable. I'm sure I can do all of the relevant calculations on the back of a cocktail napkin if necessary; it's not that difficult, but it's sure ain't fun (for me). But I use and appreciate BeerSmith because: I don't HAVE to do the math; the program keeps my equipment and process standards available for me; the program accesses the details of a wide range of possible ingredients for me; I can change a recipe in seconds and see (roughly) what the outcome is likely to be; the program gives me a series of brew steps that simplify planning and executing my brew day; the program keeps my brewing history available in useful and easily retrievable format. All of this is certainly possible manually, just as it is possible for me to get to my homebrew store by walking the ten miles there and back. I understand the joy of manual effort, but I also appreciate being able to focus on the parts of brewing I enjoy more than the drudgery of the calculations. YMMV.

All Grain Brewing / Re: age in 15 gal rye barrell
« on: August 11, 2014, 02:23:59 PM »
I've had plenty of success with oak cubes soaked in my liquor of choice. It's a whole lot easier than messing with barrels

Yeah, but not NEARLY as cool...

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Aging vs. lagering for ales
« on: August 07, 2014, 06:45:21 AM »
I seem to recall a rule of thumb that says that chemical processes tend to double in speed for each increase of 18 degrees F. Since the process behind aging is mostly chemical (as opposed to bottle conditioning, which has a biological component), this rule might apply.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Water
« on: August 06, 2014, 06:55:32 AM »
I use my plain old ordinary municipal tap water. It tastes fine and my beers taste fine, so I don't question it.

I think that, after mastering a few basic techniques like sanitation, mashing/sparging, hitting fermentation temps, etc, most brewers are producing "pretty good" beers. Improvement beyond that point will be subtler, and require smaller, more detailed changes - the brewing equivalent of the law of diminishing returns. That's sort of where I am with water additions; my beer is pretty good (sometimes better than that), and I think I have the basics down, but further improvement may come from paying attention to mash pH, and making a few (minor) mineral and acid additions (to my municipal tap water). I have to admit, I'm excited just by the prospect of developing new expertise, but I also look forward to continually improving my beers. I guess at some point I'll be satisfied, and if that's where you are, that's great. But, in the mean time, I'm enjoying the process as much as the results.

I just want to congratulate myself for displaying the maturity to avoid making a "size of equipment" joke.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: New to HomeBrewing
« on: July 25, 2014, 05:48:32 AM »
All good advice above. One thing to consider early on is whether you want to use glass carboys or not. Some folks swear by them, others prefer to avoid handling heavy slippery glass containers in favor of plastic carboys or pails. Better to decide early than to have to change out later. I'm in the "no glass" camp; I ferment in pails and on the rare occasions that I need a secondary, I use a keg - no problems.

I agree that most stoves may have difficulty handling the heating of a large a single container (e.g., hot liquor tun or boil kettle) of water/wort. But if you prefer to brew indoors, I've found that my gas stove handles two 4 gallon kettles just fine (plus a third for top-up/clean-up water), so weather is never an issue for me. Just a thought. And it's a bit easier to hump around the 4 gallon weigh than 7 or 8 (absent a pump).

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Aerating Wort Techniques
« on: July 24, 2014, 05:32:14 AM »

I have never had an infected batch - which isn't proof of best practices - but here is what I do:

One of the first things I do on a brew day is get things sanitizing.  This means the stone (permanently attached to the stainless tube) sits in Star-san for about 4 hours.  When I get ready to Aerate the wort I always start the oxygen flowing while it is still in the Star-san.  This forces the Star-san through the stone.  When I see oxygen coming out I swing it into the wort.  Afterward I immediately submerse it again in the Star-san.

My process is very similar, except I don't keep my stone in the Star-san more than a few minutes. My stone isn't on a stainless rod, either. My system came with the stone at the end of a flexible hose; I cut the hose and patched in the inner tube from an auto-siphon to simulate the stainless rod. The stone is on there really tight, so removing it for baking would be an issue. But no infections (**sound of knocking on wood**)

All Grain Brewing / Re: Regal Pale Ale
« on: July 12, 2014, 05:49:47 AM »
I GOTTA get a flame decal for my Thermapen!

So no styles are presented and you walk into a construction themed brewpub and your choices are:
Jumping Jack

None have descriptions because that would cause them to be stylistically something. What do you order and why?

If they described the beer as a light lager...boom...there's something you recognize as a style. I mean when you homebrew you make stylistic decisions even when you aren't shooting for style. You choose yeast, which cause the beer to hone in on a style, hops - style, water treatment - style, etc. Now no one has to meet or even come close to a style, but to say their should be no styles is a bit absurd.
Exactly. Styles help you know wtf you're getting.  Obviously if you're a BMC guy you have your go to beer (which is clearly Gravel in this case).  You could just go in there and order your Gravel... but if you happen to like different kinds of beers... Good luck ordering a beer... You're going to have to talk to the bartender forever and hope and pray they have tried those beers...

Yeah, I agree. The Style Guidelines serve two primary functions. One is to set comparison standards for those of us who want to be involved in brewing competitions. This calls for more precise and technical specs. The second is to provide the beer-drinking public with a common vocabulary. While less precision is necessary for this, it does let us order a beer with some confidence as to generally what we're going to get, and to discuss beers with some clarity (no pun intended).

I just kegged a Scottish Light 60 Shilling at about 3%; should be easy to get it down to maybe 2.5% or even lower and still have some character.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Manufacturer Preference
« on: May 23, 2014, 07:19:45 AM »
I have three new kegs (all came with my Beer Meister).  One is made by AEB in Italy and the other two are made by American Cylinders in India.  I just got started kegging, but so far, the AEB keg was great.  I was just getting one of the American Cylinders ones ready for a batch this weekend and while they are heavier and therefore feel more solid, I needed a rubber mallet to get the disconnects to lock in place.  Once I got them on, repeating the process became easier (I can push down hard, rotate them a little and push down on the locking ring of the disconnect).  I'm hoping that these aren't going to be a problem...

Try a bit of keg lube - make it a LOT easier.

Storage and calibration are critical to the performance of pH meters. I just posted a summary of my recommendations for storage and calibration on Bru'n Water's Facebook page. Visit there to pick up some guidance.

Martin, thanks for the input; that helps a lot. So reusing the solutions after calibration is out. Do you have an opinion about a minimum amount of solution to use to calibrate? Specifically, would an old White Labs vial be sufficient, do you think?

Equipment and Software / pH Meter Calibration Solutions and Storage
« on: May 11, 2014, 10:35:55 AM »
I just bought an MW101 pH meter, and I plan to get serious about my water treatments. As part of the process, I'm going to have to keep the meter calibrated, of course, and the testing/buffering and storage solutions aren't cheap. I'm thinking about using a couple of old White Labs vials to hold the testing solutions while I calibrate. Does anybody see an issue with calibrating in such a relatively small container? Also, can I cap the vials and reuse the calibrating solutions again? If so, would you recommend limiting to a specific number of "reuses"?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: To clone or not to clone
« on: May 08, 2014, 06:18:08 AM »
I guess in my mind, trying to brew a clone or "in the style of"... for me is an exercise in learning my ingredients.

I agree. I tend to use a recipe (or a group of similar recipes) as a jumping off point and then adjust version 2.0 to my taste. A couple of moths ago I decided I wanted an IPA similar to Bell's Two Hearted. I started by finding a few "clone" recipes, all similar but with subtle differences, and sort of "averaging" them for my first pass. It was good, but didn't have quite the malt balance to the hop bitterness that I so enjoy in the Bell's. So I toyed with the grain bill and mash temp, and V2.0 is now my house IPA. Clone it, then personalize it.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: local brew shop
« on: May 07, 2014, 06:34:30 AM »
It's not unusual for a brick and mortar store to be a bit more expensive than their on-line equivalent, but I find I judge on more than just price. My LHBS has everything you'd expect it to have - a good selection of grains, yeasts, hops and equipment - at prices a touch higher than Rebel or Midwest etc on line. They do provide lots of good information and guidance, mostly to newbies just getting started. For me, a big reason why I continue to support them as much as I can is that they have provided a great deal of support to my local homebrew club. This support includes a 10% discount for all current club members (bringing prices closer to their on-line competitors); they host a couple of Big Brew days each year in their parking lot and provide power, water, tents, etc.; they host a couple of our monthly club meetings on-site each year; they have recurring educational sessions on brewing subjects; they are generous with give-away swag at our semi-annual club parties. Plus, they're nice folks. It's worth it to me to support them.

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