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Messages - leejoreilly

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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.

I like to put blue o-rings on the liquid out posts to make them easy to identify.

And green ones on the in posts. "Green gas, blue beer".

If money is no object I'd still do what I'm doing. Red bottle and a stainless .5 micron wand. Well, right now I have a 2 micron stone on a plastic wand, but when I get rich I'll switch.
Just had a thought when I read your post about a plastic wand. I have a cheap plastic paddle for stirring my mash and I thought...
For those who don't have a stone attached to a wand, they could flip the paddle upside down, run the hose through the hang hole and then put the stone on. Hold onto the handle and the hose together and you've got a wand... cool.

Hey... that's actually a really neat idea. I have a bunch of reusable plastic zip ties that I use around the brewery. I think I'm going to zip-tie my O2 hose to the big stainless spoon that I use for stirring my mash next time around.

I bought a replacement for the interior cane of an autosiphon - the L-shaped plastic wand that you pump to get the flow started. I cut the line a few inches above my stone and inserted both ends in the siphon piece, with the stone at the "bottom". This works well, and the short right angle on top can hang off the side of my pail fermenter without slipping in. I think it was less than $5.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: COCA NIPS
« on: April 05, 2014, 05:52:04 AM »
I'll assume you mean "Cocoa Nips" (I found some VERY interesting but off-subject info by Googling Coca Nips...). I've never used them, but I think they are similar to coffee beans in that they give up flavor during a soak/steep but they don't dissolve. They are pretty much just crushed cocoa beans that have been processed into "almost chocolate".

Equipment and Software / Re: Recipe designer software
« on: April 04, 2014, 05:10:32 AM »
I've used the Brewzor app for my Android phone, but I prefer BeerSmith (v2). It does everything well, supports customization to fit my process and equipment, and has a well-integrated Android app and cloud storage capability.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Drinking Only Homebrews
« on: March 31, 2014, 06:09:48 AM »
I guess you could call me a craft beer drinker rather than just a homebrew drinker. While I enjoy my own homebrew at home, I also enjoy trying new craft beers and old favorites when I'm out. Aside from pure hedonistic enjoyment, I think it also helps to train my palate (in a BJCP style sense), tweak my curiosity and challenge my creativity for new or improved homebrew recipes. I do keep a nice selection of crafts beers at home as well, variety being the spice of a beer-ful life.


If I have a peeve with Beer Smith - it is that the desired ratio is not tied to the system profiles.

I may be misunderstanding your point, Matt, but I think the grist ratio is tied to the mash profile in BeerSmith. You can save multiple individualized mash profiles, so if you wanted, you could have separate thin/moderate/thick mash profiles.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bias in BJCP judging?
« on: March 09, 2014, 09:41:25 AM »
I think it's important to keep in mind that judging is a subjective process performed by mere humans. Even the best of us occasionally will allow their personal preferences to intrude on their better judgement. Or we'll just be flat wrong. That's part of being human. Doesn't mean that we can't pursue perfection, just that we can't expect it.

Additionally, if your personality is such that you have difficulty with constructive criticism, you might be better off not participating in any sort of judged events. Better to just serve your beer to your appreciative friends than risk an easily bruised ego. (Says the guys who doesn't participate in judged events...)

Equipment and Software / Re: Newbie trying to move forward
« on: March 08, 2014, 08:32:33 AM »
I've been brewing in the kitchen for years now, and I have no plans to change, especially after the winter we had in Michigan this year. I use two boil kettles that can comfortably hold more than 4 gallons each, and each gets it's own gas burner powerful enough to get to a rolling boil pretty quickly. I do have a third kettle that I use for top-up and clean-up water, too. Our stove has a vented hood, so condensation isn't an issue. Yeah, the whole house smells like wort for a few hours after brewing, but I consider that a plus! Also, having two boil kettles (which also double as my hot liquor tuns) reduces the load on my back and may even make transferring hot liquids a bit safer. After the boil, I dump the hot wort in a bag-lined fermenter bucket, which allows me to get rid of a lot of trub. I use an immersion chiller in the bucket, which may be marginally more efficient because I don't have to chill the hot boil kettle.

Anyway, the point is, use what works for you and what's available to you. There's nothing magical about any particular source of heat.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bias in BJCP judging?
« on: March 05, 2014, 06:40:27 AM »
I decided to take Alewyfe's suggestion to heart.   It's definitely easier to throw stones than it is step in and attempt to make a difference.  I took and passed the BJCP Entrance Exam today.  Now, I just need to pass the BJCP Beer Judging Exam within the next year.

Excellent! "Better to light a single candle..."

Equipment and Software / Re: PBW 101
« on: March 02, 2014, 09:06:26 AM »
Anyone ever run PBW through an automatic coffee maker?
It sure worked great on the carafe and my nasty old thermos.
I have not used it on the coffee maker, but PBW made an old SS thermos very shiny on the inside.

Our coffee maker needs to have vinegar run through it to dissolve scale. The carafe, I would just use PBW and hot tap water.

I use it in the carafe every few months, soaking overnight. That works terrifically, but I haven't tried running it though the coffeemaker itself.

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