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Messages - leejoreilly

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: try at batch sparging
« on: March 21, 2015, 01:38:54 PM »
From where I sit, it appears that the fly/batch sparge question is really centers around personal preference. There may be some (minor) differences in efficiencies and time requirements, but 1) I'm retired, so I'm pretty much immune to time-based arguments, and 2) this is my hobby, so some inefficiency is perfectly acceptable so long as my enjoyment level stays high. I'm sure I'd feel differently if I ran a commercial brewhouse. Or if there was some evidence that one technique produced measurably better beer. But I don't, and there isn't (that I've seen).

There is one point that does seem to differentiate the techniques, though: the equipment requirements. I do a batch sparge in a version of a Denny-cooler in my kitchen, using two 5 gallon HLT/BKs. My kettles don't have any valves, and I don't use a pump. I usually heat pre-measured water for my mash in one kettle and sparge water in the second (I actually have a smaller third kettle for top-off or additional sparge, if needed). If I were to go to fly sparging, I'd need a pump, some valves, hoses and a sparge arm, or some sort of Rube Goldberg kludge. Not a huge deal, but i would take some degree of cost and effort to switch, and I'm not likely to do so without the potential of a better result.

Nothing against fly sparging; just nothing pushing me toward it.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Gravity/volume adjustment
« on: March 16, 2015, 01:27:11 PM »
Chlorophenolic off flavors are a very common result when folks top off with tap water, more often than infection.

I highly recommend treating all water to remove chlorine/chloramine before brewing with it.  Campden tablets are cheap and effective in this regard.  A half an aspirin-sized campden tablet is effective in removing the chlorine compounds in 10 gallons of water.  A packet is usually only a couple of dollars.


^^^THIS. I have an older, small kettle that I fill and treat with campden, and boil along with my boil kettles (I use two boil kettles on our kitchen gas range). If I need top-off water, it's ready to go. If not, I have hot water for clean-up. Our water has significant chloramine; I wouldn't top off from the tap.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Delaying pitching
« on: March 13, 2015, 02:27:23 PM »
I live in MI and my son is in MD. We've done a few "individual collaboration" brews with a delayed pitching. For example, about this time last year, we each brewed a RIS using essentially the same recipe. He pitched his yeast normally in MD; I brewed here in MI, and after chilling to maybe 80F or so, I racked into a keg, purged with CO2 and stored it in my garage (fairly cool) for a day or two until we drove down to MD with it. There we racked my brew out of the keg into a carboy and pitched. Both beers stayed in MD through fermentation, then were blended and conditioned in a bourbon barrel for a few weeks and bottled. Outstanding stuff that's getting better by the month. We're going to try this technique again with a KBS sorta-clone later this month.

I use the purged keg approach to simplify transport (a fermenting carboy sloshing around for 500 miles didn't seem as attractive as a sealed pre-fermentation keg), but I imagine that I could use it to store the wort here for a few days, too. I probably wouldn't go beyond a few days, though.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Decoction
« on: March 13, 2015, 02:04:40 PM »
I've been under the impression that decoction was a technique designed for mash temperature control in the days before the availability of accurate thermometers. Do you think it may add something to the beer beyond this? Or do you think it's just an interesting technique that's worth trying, but has been supplanted by Thermapens?

If you want towers and don't mind some extra work, you could build the towers into your bar. Then place the keezer nearby and connect it to the tower with beer lines run through flexible, insulated tubing. You'll need to rig a fan to keep cold air flowing through that tubing. Then you have the best of both options.

You could also build the keezer door as a sort of horizontal Dutch door, like two half-doors. Mount the towers on one side and use the other side to access the kegs. In fact only the "non-tower" side would actually need to swing open.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter? Psshhhhhh.... Whatever ;)
« on: February 28, 2015, 01:48:08 PM »
In my experience, Wort WANTS to become beer, and there are few absolutes in brewing. You can make fine beer with minimal concern for sanitation, recipe design, mash times, water chemistry, yeast health, fermentation temperatures, carbonation procedures etc. But each point of increased care and attention adds a few percentage points to your chances of making GREAT beer, and reduces by a few points your chances of disappointment. Sure, you can bag the yeast starter, never use O2 or a stir plate, "sanitize" with tap water, and so on, and still do OK; maybe for a few batches, maybe for a bunch. But I think the odds favor those who take the extra effort along the way.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Brew Weekend 2/28
« on: February 28, 2015, 01:24:36 PM »
I'm not brewing today, but I'll be dry hopping my IPA with some Ahtanum, Amarillo and Huell Melon.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Kolsch kit
« on: February 25, 2015, 02:48:38 PM »
I'd advise leaving it alone for at least another week. After active fermentation, your yeast needs some time to "clean up" after itself by metabolizing some fermentation by-products. My standard is to never touch my fermenter for at least two weeks, and even longer for bigger beers. And visible activity is a poor indicator of continuing fermentation. After a couple of weeks, check Final Gravity with a hydrometer; it's done when you get the same reading three days apart.

Patience, Grasshopper...

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Old yeast slurry
« on: February 18, 2015, 02:57:42 PM »
I had some Vermont IPA yeast that I harvested from a batch of 1.080 FG IIPA about seven months ago. I wasn't too confident that it was still viable, but I wanted to use that particular yeast in a smaller (1.060) IPA this week. So I made a starter Sunday, got a nice krausen by Monday, crashed it and pitched it yesterday, and it was bubbling happily within about eight hours.

I did give the sample and the starter a serious sniff test, and I had some freshly harvested 1056 standing by just in case. But it seems to have come through OK. The proof will be in the tasting.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Extreme Weather Brewing
« on: February 17, 2015, 01:39:04 PM »
Southeastern Michigan is down around minus-OMG this morning ("Michigan" is from the Native American word for "my ears just froze off), and I plan to brew a nice IPA. But I will show great wisdom by combining two of prehistory's greatest discoveries - "Inside" and "Fire". This combination will provide a warm and toasty kitchen in which to practice the zymurgial arts. If I feel the need to commune with Winter, I'll have a beer and wait for the feeling to pass.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What book to read
« on: February 14, 2015, 02:03:09 PM »
While these are fantastic and very detailed ingredient-oriented books, they don't really focus on the brewing process, especially for a newcomer. There are MANY fine "Intro to Homebrew" sorts of books available; I'd recommend Palmer's "How to Brew" or Papazian's "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" off the top of my head. Once you feel comfortable with the overall brewing process and understand ingredients in some context, you could plan to read them in this order: Malt, Yeast, Water, Hops. Actually, I suspect you'll jump around between them a lot.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Starch in Wort
« on: February 10, 2015, 06:26:37 PM »
I haven't done much reading and I hope I haven't come off as taking advantage of the folks here! Good suggestion though. I do own The Complete Joy...and can read Palmer's book online. I have a couple of other recipe based books which I can look at as well.
I suggest reading some of those books AND continuing to ask all the questions you want on the forum.


Equipment and Software / Re: Beer Saver on kickstarter
« on: February 10, 2015, 06:17:46 PM »
It looks functionally similar to the Hermetus opener:

I have one of these and they work well.

Equipment and Software / Re: The ethics of keggles
« on: February 06, 2015, 05:52:57 PM »
I don't get why the keg deposit can be as low as 20 or 30 bucks when the replacement cost is at 4 times that. Charge $100 bucks for a deposit a see how many kegs go missing.

What have you ever rented that required you to put down the total replacement cost as a deposit? For many businesses that would drive off a significant portion of customers.

I guess the only two thing I have rented before were cars and keg shells. I didn't have to pay any deposit on the car, but I did have to give them my credit card and proof of insurance.

You can't find a keg deposit from a craft brewery in my neighborhood for less that $75 (cash), and some are as high as $150 (credit card).

I am not not not saying it is ok to steal a keg, but if the mega breweries were really worried about a lost keg they would raise the price of the deposit.

So are you saying it's okay to steal something if it's not very well guarded or protected?

Equipment and Software / Re: The ethics of keggles
« on: February 06, 2015, 03:16:26 PM »
I bought a couple of kegs off a liquor store years ago... yea, probably 'stolen'. I don't feel guilty about it, they were a bit dented up and from budwieser. I didn't hurt any craft brewery in the process. I don't know why there always has to be ethics around buying used kegs... there is so much illegal stuff going on everyday, much much worse than this and we want to accept the guilt of buying a possibly 'stolen' keg... there are bigger threats out there to worry about.

So when I first read this, it bothered me, but I decided not to reply - too easy to sound like I'm moralizing. But it's kept bothering me, so I thought I'd give the EHall the opportunity to better express him/herself on his/her view of ethics, and hoping that his/her post was, perhaps, hastily and inelegantly worded.

EHall, do you really think that it's acceptable to act poorly (unethically), so long as someone else is acting worse? It's okay to steal a little if someone is stealing more? It's okay to rape so long as someone else is committing murder (yeah, that one was a big leap, but it's the same concept)? In my world there "has to be ethics around buying used kegs" because there are ethics around everything we do, to one degree or another. I recognize that some failings are greater than others, but they're still failings, right?

Well, so much for not moralizing. I feel better now. A little...

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