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Messages - thcipriani

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All Grain Brewing / Re: RO water pH
« on: September 25, 2010, 12:30:15 PM »
It is atypical for a mash pH to come in that low using distilled water and that malt bill.

While it's not impossible for the mash pH to be that low using that grain bill it is improbable.

First, the pH of RO water is a) unimportant to brewing by-and-large and b) is often lower than what people typically quote (7) since CO2 from the atmosphere will dissolve into RO water.

Second, I don't believe the pH strips you are using are adequate to test the pH of your mash. the pH 4-8 strips are strips with which I am unfamiliar, but the 4.6 - to 6.2 strips are likely the precision labs pH 4662 strips that my LHBS sells.

The reasons I believe these strips to be inadequate for mash testing are
a) Your strips are of unknown accuracy - the EMD strips have shown that they have an error that causes them to read 0.3 pH units lower than the actual pH of the solution - the precision labs strips (which are much cheaper than EMD colorpHast strips, if we're using price as a quality determinate) may very well have an error of which you are unaware. Furthermore, the color index on the Precision Labs would indicate that the accuracy of these strips is +-4 which is not adequate for any brewing application, IMO.
b) The gradation of color on the precision labs is not adequate for one to draw any strong conclusions. A color gradation of yellow to brown is not a range in which definitive conclusions could be drawn. Viewing a strip under a tungsten bulb vs a florescent bulb could very well make the difference of .8 of a pH unit.
c) I've actually had the Precision Labs strips change colors in their sealed container, and not to a color that would indicate that there was excess moisture in their container, rather a color that would indicate the strips had dried out. The strips start as a very vibrant yellow and when I looked at the container after having purchased the strips 6 months prior the strips color pad (for lack of a better term) was a very pale almost white.

Having said all that, I think the best course of action for your water when brewing pale beer would be to cut it down with some RO - just like you're doing and add back some calcium in whatever way you see fit. When you don't have a pH meter it is difficult to get your mash pH in the right range because you don't know when you're there. My only recommendation is to NOT add additional alkalinity (like chalk, baking soda or calcium hydroxide) to your water until you have an accurate means of measuring pH. Your mash pH is more likely to be too high than too low.

Beer Recipes / Re: Halloween beers
« on: September 24, 2010, 11:52:12 AM »
I was using a transfer pipette that wasn't graduated so I couldn't tell you in mL, but I used 6 drops in the 6oz sample to get to the right color, I imagine this will be very variable and would change depend on the beer you were attempting to make red (or brown or opaque black).

Sinmar doesn't impact flavor very noticably (I've never noticed any flavor impact) - the mouthfeel seemed a bit more slick on the sample last night but that hasn't been my typical experience with Sinmar and it could just be that the IPA has changed a bit since my last sample. Or, more likely, it could be the result of the sickness I'm battling.

Beer Recipes / Re: Halloween beers
« on: September 23, 2010, 09:05:36 PM »
Just for S&G I grabbed about 6oz of IPA from the keggerator, a bottle of Sinmar from Weyermann (which is liquid Carafa II - essentially [fun face: Sinmar - from Latin, meaning without bitterness]), and a transfer pipette.

I started adding Sinmar a drop at a time until I had what I think is very close to red; however, it's not a blood red - it's an amber red. It's the red that you see in Irish Red Ale or American Amber - it's amber somewhat copperish color red. Also, I think hitting the amount of red I hit by adding Sinmar drop-by-drop with carafa in a recipe would be pretty impossible. I'd say red food coloring would be your best bet for that fake Halloween sort of red - Sinmar would be your best bet if you're just trying to make a fairly red beer.

Sticking with a Halloween theme, Jamil has a clone of AleSmith’s Evil Dead Red which he dubbed "Evil Twin" which he uses to illustrate late-hopping. Recipe available here:

All Grain Brewing / Re: Who does late mash?
« on: September 23, 2010, 08:48:23 PM »
In the current issue of Zymurgy (September/October 2010) Drew Beechum wrote and article entitled "More Beer From Your Brew Day" which mentioned the late addition of specialty grains to your mash tun as a method of obtaining two beers from two separate runnings of your mash tun - a pseudo parti-gyle.
Instead of using the blended runnings, adding more grain can bump the second beer's character. "Capping" [sic] the mash entails a small addition (0.5-2 lbs) of crushed malt added and soaked for a few minutes before the sparge is resumed. Common additions include color malts alike crystals and roasts to boost SRM and malt perception.
- Drew Beechum, "More Beer From Your Brew Day"

Also, in 1999 George Fix on HBD was quoted talking about the late addition of the liquid from separately cold-steeped specialty malts to the end of the boil. He is quoted as having said this method was designed to, "maximize the extraction of  desirable melanoidins, and at the same time minimize the extraction of  undesirable ones":

I hate it when I get logged out after typing a post and have to re-type it. It's bologna - BOLOGNA!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile for Oatmeal Stout
« on: September 23, 2010, 08:26:08 PM »
As a practical anecdotal aside. I used to treat my water in the mash tun and the boil kettle exclusively. In the mash I'd add all the salts I'd need to get my calcium up (since, around here, we have zero calcium in our water) then, after taking a mash pH, I'd add acid or CaCO3 to get my pH in the right range. After that I'd add salts to the boil kettle to keep my Calcium ppm level where it was given the dilution. I was taught that you calculate ppm of calcium based on the total amount of mash water and then add calcium to the kettle to derive the same concentration of calcium based on the amount of additional sparge water you've used.

This method may be the right way to do it; however, I don't use this method today. Now I treat all my brewing water in bulk before brew day. Then I adjust in my mash tun if need be.

You can build most water before brew day using most salts, the major exception being chalk. Water becomes saturated with Calcium Carbonate very easily check out the solubility chart here:

You can dissolve chalk in your brewing water for the purposes of authenticity or pH (IMO only if you've brewed the beer before or have done a test mash) pre-brew day, pre-mash using the process outlined here:

However, outside of an attempt at pure authenticity, I don't think I'd go to the trouble as you'd probably see the chalk fall right back out of solution as soon as you began to heat your water. If you've decided that you need to add Calcium Carbonate to your water it's probably best to attempt to dissolve it in your mash using an amount appropriate to your total mash volume. My $.02 - worth about as much.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile for Oatmeal Stout
« on: September 23, 2010, 07:56:23 PM »
Quote from: mabrungard on Today at 10:22:48 AM
While chalk does contribute 105.8 ppm Ca, it also provides 158.4 ppm of CO3 (not HCO3).  The equivalent concentration of HCO3 is 322 ppm.  1 ppm of CO3 is equivalent to 2.033 ppm HCO3.  Although the chemical formula for chalk (CaCO3) says that its supplying CO3 to the solution, at the pH of typical drinking water, all the CO3 is immediately converted to HCO3 in solution. 
II know that carbonate chemistry in water in the presence of CO2 is complex, and I can't claim to really understand it, so I'd be glad to see an explanation of that statement.
Martin is referring to the concentration of CO3 expressed as an equivalent weight of HCO3 - this is the same concept as when you see on a water report your alkalinity expressed as "as CaCO3". That refers to the total sum of all alkalinity in your water expressed as an equivalent weight of CaCO3 - this helps determine the electrical balance of cations and anions in a given sample of water.

To express the concentration of a substance as an equivalent amount of substance you first find the mg/L (or ppm - they are equivalent measurements) concentration of the substance for which you are attempting to express as an equivalent weight of another substance. For the example above the concentration of CO3 is 158.4.

Then you must find the equivalent weight of that substance, in the above case the substance is CO3. The equivalent weight of a substance can be derived by dividing a compound's molar mass by the number of positive or negative electrical charges that result from the dissolution of that compound (or, more conveniently, just Google search, "Equivalent weight of x" and you can usually find it). In the case of CO3 the gram equivalent is 30.004 (roughly).

After finding the equivalent weight of the first substance you must find the equivalent weight of the substance in which you'd like to express the concentration of the first substance. In the case of HCO3 the equivalent weight is 61.016. Also, as an aside, CaCO3's equivalent weight is 50 - in case anyone was wondering.

Once you have all of these numbers the math is fairly easy:
A mg/L * A equivalent weight/B equivalent weight = ppm of A as B

The above example works like this:
158.4ppm CO3 * (61.016/30.004)=322.121530462605 ppm CO3 as HCO3

All Grain Brewing / Re: A little help with my Water Report
« on: September 19, 2010, 07:07:23 AM »
I brew AG, add Buffer 5.2 to all batches, Campden / Water filter for chlorine & batch sparge.
I'd be wary about the Buffer 5.2. The one thing that is known for certain is that there is some blend of monobasic and dibasic sodium phosphate that make up some portion of 5.2:
Which means you're going to be adding a hell of a lot of Sodium to every beer at the recommended dose of 5.2.

Also, if the only constituents of 5.2 are the phosphate salts (which seems like a safe assumption when you read phrases like, "5.2 is a proprietary blend of food-grade phosphate buffers" on Five Star's website) then 5.2 would not be a very effective buffer.

Monobasic sodium phosphate has a pKa of 7.2. In general a substance's buffer capacity is maximized at that substance's pKa. At a substance's pKa ±1 the buffering capacity of that substance is 33% less effective than at a substance's pKa. So monobasic sodium phosphate has a pKa of 7.2 and its effective buffer region is 6.2 to 8.2. According to Wikipedia (which is a great site that is highly accurate all the time and always will be forever) a blend of monobasic and dibasic sodium phosphate has a buffer region of 6-7.5 ( I don't think it's unreasonable to say that a buffer composed primarily of "food grade phosphate buffers" would be a buffer that would not be effective at a pH of 5.2. Chemistry 101 does not support Five Star's claims.

HOWEVER, if 5.2 is a buffer solution that is made with phosphates as a constituent with other buffers then it may work, although, anecdotally, I've yet to hear a scenario where someone with a reliable means of checking pH (a calibrated meter) has said that it works in both a Stout and a Pale ale. I'd be surprised to hear from that person.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile for Oatmeal Stout
« on: September 19, 2010, 06:27:15 AM »
This thread is great - we started with water that doesn't exist and a beer with an unknown SRM and we've figured out salt additions to achieve a mash pH with an accuracy of 1/100th of a unit. I see no problems with this logic.

Equipment and Software / Re: BernzOmatic O2 Flowmeter
« on: September 14, 2010, 05:35:02 PM »
Anyone have any thoughts or experience with using one of these:

in conjunction with a little red cannister?

All Grain Brewing / Re: A little help with my Water Report
« on: September 14, 2010, 05:14:51 PM »
That's odd. Even with those 2 numbers my calculations are a bit off of Ward Labs' - I got 6.210/5.818. I was using Nitrate As Nitrogen and SO4 as Sulfur, just like they do so beats me where I'm off. Either way you'll have to fudge your profile a little to glean any real insight.

Anyway, to your original question. I plugged in your numbers and I think a good place to start your adjustments for pale beers would be adding 4 grams of lime and 5 grams of calcium chloride for 5 gallons of treated water which should enable you to precipitate enough CaCO3 to brew a reasonably pale beer while keeping your Calcium levels high. Although I'd still recommend checking the pH in the mash and adjusting with acids based on the reading on your pH meter. My feeling (very scientific, I know) is that after adjusting with lime and CaCO3 you won't have to adjust your pH except for very pale beers.

Let us know how it turns out for you.

Equipment and Software / BernzOmatic O2 Flowmeter
« on: September 14, 2010, 08:55:16 AM »
I have the standard oxygen setup available from any of the major homebrew stores - it hooks to the red bernzOmatic O2 cylinders from the hardware store. I was wondering if anyone had been successful in finding a flow meter that worked with this setup or if anyone had any cheap way to upgrade to an O2 system that included a flow meter? Thanks.

All Grain Brewing / Re: A little help with my Water Report
« on: September 13, 2010, 10:27:21 PM »

looks like there is a slight cation/anion imbalance in your water report (you should see Cations/Anions, me/L at the top of your report - it should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 6.1 / 5.5 - but I could be off since I didn't get the Potassium or Nitrate levels from your report). This is typical of the quality of Ward's Labs reports. None of this is important...


Your water has a RA of 155.88 using Ward labs numbers, if we screw around with those numbers to balance Cations/Anions by upping the level of alkalinity until we reach 255 ppm as CaCO3 to bring the "water" to electrical neutrality the RA is around 185.88 ppm as CaCO3. The pH shift of a mash that uses your water and 100% base malt would be +0.31. That is to say if you brewed a 100% base malt beer with malt that was similar to the malt Kolbach used in his RA experiments in the 40s and 50s you might end up with a mash pH of almost 6.

Fortunately the hardness in your water is mostly temporary hardness and can be precipitated either by boiling and then removing the precipitated CaCO3 or by treatment with lime as outlined here:

Zymurgy / Re: 2011 Zymurgy topics
« on: September 09, 2010, 10:40:51 PM »
I would like to think that we could all agree that a "Ubiquitous AHA Forum Members in Banana Hammocks" issue would likely be what we'd NOT like to see in 2011.

Equipment and Software / Re: A Better Siphon
« on: September 09, 2010, 10:35:49 PM »
Quote from: tygo on August 21, 2010, 07:22:45 PM
Anyone use one of these?

Any thoughts on the product?
That's what I use, I love it.  It's super easy, and the stainless racking cane doesn't break.
+1. If you remove the sterile inline filter and use co2 at like 1psi (of course only in stainless and in better bottles - not glass) and you attach a liquid out (which would now act as a liquid in) to the end of the siphon hose you've made a complete, co2 blanketed, closed transfer system. The day I set it up was the day I stopped worrying about potential introduction of either o2 or bacteria.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the old classroom standard heat sterilization with an oven method as outlined here:

as well as in other, likely more appropriate, sources.

I've heard it makes bottles more fragile, although I've never experienced it.

Clean your bottles with soap and water, final rinse with distilled water, cover opening with tin foil - bake at 350F for 2 hours - that's sterile. Plus it's cheaper than star san (if you've never taken intro econ and learned about opportunity cost).

Bonus points for pressure canning starter wort and antiseptically pouring into sterile e-flask - my yeast don't out-compete because they've never had to.

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