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Messages - thcipriani

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Ingredients / Re: SRM of Brewers Licorice
« on: September 02, 2010, 10:22:07 PM »
I would think that the brewers licorice wouldn't impart too much color relative to the color of stout - which has already been said. I've never used licorice in a stout, but have noticed it as an ingredient in the past two years NHC 2nd round gold medal stout recipes. Why would someone add licorice - is the flavor it imparts a low licorice-like spicy fruit character or is it entirely different? I've only had licorice candy so forgive my ignorance. I've only had licorice candy and it was awful (judging it as candy it was awful - it may be great judging it as gelatinized stout)

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: September 02, 2010, 10:03:18 PM »
What happens, do some not dissolve?

Most salts will dissolve (with the exception of CaCO3 if the water becomes super-saturated for its pH). It wasn't my intention to be confusing when I said that your water profile is electrically unbalanced - what I meant is that the numbers that you posted here can not actually exist in real water with a reasonable pH. Your water does not correlate absolutely to the numbers for mg/L of ions in your water because it cannot.

Do you remember in chemistry when you'd have to balance a molecule based on its constituent ions electrical charge? That is electrical balance. All water has a neutral electrical charge - therefore every positively charged cation must have an equally negatively charged anion - that's why the formula for calcium chloride is CaCl2 and not CaCl - because Calcium must loose two electrons to achieve a full valiance shell of 8 e- and therefore has a positive charge of 2 (that's why I've been noting Calcium as Ca++). Chlorine, on the other hand, must gain an electron to have a full valiance shell of 8 electrons - and since electrons carry a negative charge that means the ion will carry a negative charge of 1 (since it has gained 1 electron [it's like adding -1 to 0 - you end up at -1 - think of loosing and gaining electrons as adding and subtracting negative numbers). All electrically neutral molecules must have a sum charge of 0 - therefore, since calcium carries a charge of positive 2 and chlorine carries a charge of negative 1 it takes twice as many chlorine ions to electrically balance 1 calcium ion. Water is like that only it's a whole bunch of those cations and anions. Examples of cations in water are calcium and magnesium while chloride and sulfate are anions. the total electrical charge of these ions must equal 0.

Your actual physical water (if we were able to perfectly measure all of its constituent anions and cations) is balanced - the numbers that you posted here as your water report are not balanced.

Water is like Descartes - it exists therefore it is electrically balanced. Starting with the numbers on the water report that you posted will give you a profile that is not "real" water on any spreadsheet because you are starting from something that is unbalanced and almost no spreadsheets out there test for electrical balance before they allow you to adjust your unbalance profile.

Nothing will happen, but you aren't brewing with the water that the spreadsheet has calculated. AJ Delange has a spreadsheet on his site that accounts for balance within a solution (and notifies you of imbalances with regard to atmospheric pressure and CaCO3 super saturation). That's the spreadsheet I typically use when looking at water. It's the Nearly Universal Brewing Water Spreadsheet available at - I'd recommend reading the entire manual for that spreadsheet, available on that site - it's not the most intuitive spreadsheet in the world.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 30, 2010, 09:15:20 AM »
Also, as an aside/tangent, all of the profiles for water listed in Chapter 7 of BLAM seem to be electrically balanced at a reasonable pH with the exception of Achel - which I was only able to bring to electrical balance at a pH of 9.3 - which is not a reasonable pH for water.

thehorse, the profile you provided is also not electrically balanced at a reasonable pH, this is indicative of incomplete or inaccurate data in your source water report. However, event my Ward labs report is not balanced (and it says so right at the top [in cation/anion balance]) - if you'd like to begin to synthesize water profiles you'll likely have to fudge your profile a bit to start with in order to achieve a reasonable result - but it doesn't seem like you have to tweak your profile too much to get it to balance as seen here:

Denver water profile is (in ppm as the ion unless otherwise indicated):

pH: 7.0
Calcium: 27
Magnesium: 7
Alkalinity (as CaCO3): 56.65
Sulfate: 49
Chloride: 18
Sodium: 16

Another aside to calculate RA use a spreadsheet or this formula:

RA = alkalinity - ([Ca++]/7 + [Mg++]/3.5)
All in the same units either as ppm as CaCO3, Meq/L or dH

1 dH = 17.848 CaCO3 mg/L * (Molar Weight of an ion) / (Molar Weight of CaCO3)

(also FYI 1 milliequivalent per liter (mEq/l) = 2.8 dH = 50 ppm)

1 dH Ca++ = 17.848 * 40 / 100
          = 7.1392
27 ppm Ca++ as the ion in dH = 27/7.1392
                             = 3.78194 ppm Ca as CaCO3
1 dH Mg++ = 17.848 CaCO3 mg/L * 24.3 / 100
          = 4.33706
7 ppm Mg++ as the ion in dH = 7/4.33706
                     = 1.614
1 dH CaCO3 = 17.848 mg/L CaCO3 * 100/100 = 17.848
56.65 ppm CaCO3 in dH = 56.65/17.848
                 = 3.17403

RA = 3.17403 - (3.78194 + .5(1.614))/3.5
   = 1.8629042857142857142857142857143 dH

RA as CaCO3 = 1.8629042857142857142857142857143 dH * 17.848 mg/L CaCO3
         = 33.249115691428571428571428571429
         ~= 33.25 ppm as CaCO3
or calculate Meq/L of all ions and multiply by 50 to get to ppm as CaCO3

Here's the Westmalle profile (in ppm as the ion unless otherwise specified):

pH: 7.4
Calcium: 41
magnesium: 8
Alkalinity (as CaCO3): 70.84
Bicarbonate: 91.31
Sulfate: 62
Chloride: 26
Sodium: 16
RA ~= 36.91ppm as CaCO3

Hopefully this info'll help you with your current water question and your future water endevors.

I'd say let it go at 44F until fermentation raises the temp; however, if you're concerned about leaving it at that temp then throw a fermwrap into your freezer and monitor the temp until it gets to where you want it and then remove it. I fermented a belgian in a 7 cu. ft. chest freezer and a single fermwrap kept the temp at 85F when the temp of our house was somewhere in the upper 60s. It's weird to open a chest freezer and have it be much hotter than the rest of the house, but it does prove that these fermwraps work like gang busters. This is the stuff that fermwraps are made of if you're a DIY/save a bunch o' money type of guy:

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Culturing up a pitch from bottle dregs
« on: August 27, 2010, 07:24:10 AM »
I'm convinced. I think I'll try 2% DME in my next batch of starter wort. Currently I've been doing starter wort at about 1.020 (that's actually what I emailed Dr. White about in the first place) and I haven't noticed any problems with yeast health or counts (however, I don't have a microscope [yet] so my "counts" are based on sedimented volume rather than counting in an actual hemocytometer).

Sorry to thread-jack gimmeales - FWIW I was listening to the Brew Strong on Yeast Rinsing the other day and towards the end Jamil was talking about growing up Dutchess from the bottle and he mentioned that he was able to retain most of the original character and balance of the Dutchess critters - I imagine that Fantome would probably behave in the same way.

Also, and take this for what it's worth (which may not be much), I've had success with the Wyeast BC Nutrient - it's zinc content may be less bio-available than servomyces, but it also contains other nutrients that the yeast can use.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Culturing up a pitch from bottle dregs
« on: August 26, 2010, 11:07:56 PM »
tschmidlin, your recommendation of culturing up in a starter using 2g/100mL is interesting. I just had an email discussion with Chris White about ideal yeast propagation and he said, "To really eliminate the crabtree effect, you need to be down under 1.010" which would be about the gravity of the wort you're suggesting. Not to be a thread hijacker but - do you have any experience with yeast that you've cultured with this gravity starter? What has your experience been with cell count and health?

Beer Recipes / Re: New Glarus Crack'd Wheat
« on: August 26, 2010, 10:44:58 PM »
I've heard there's some discussion about (and IIRC a recipe for) this beer in Stan Hieronymus' Brewing With Wheat which is a book I still need to buy. I had this beer at GABF last year and wowza - this is one of the best brewed beers I've ever had. I'd be very interested if anyone had any more specifics on this brew.

Equipment and Software / Re: Quick Question: Blichmann Ball Valve NPT
« on: August 26, 2010, 10:31:50 PM »
316 ss cam and groove couplers of all styles that works better than tri clamps in my opinion

What makes you say that?

I've always thought of triclamps as the standard for sanitary fittings and they're pretty simple to use. Why do you like cam and groove fittings better?

Zymurgy / Re: 2011 Zymurgy topics
« on: August 26, 2010, 08:08:21 PM »
I'd like to see one super geeky issue.
Normally the magazine is full of interesting geeky bits here and there but I'd like to see a complete "Beer by the numbers" issue.

It'd starting with malt analysis sheets and water lab info, moving on to the mash pH and mash gravity tests, then to wort stability tests and propagating yeast and end with fast ferment tests and fermenter geometry.

That's probably my dream issue of zymurgy.

Also, like to see Gordon Strong's recipes - he choose many ingredients that I wouldn't have thought of for a particular style - it offers a lot of insight, I think.

my $0.02

All Grain Brewing / Re: How long will my grain last?
« on: August 26, 2010, 07:16:48 PM »
I think these stackable vittle vaults would be the ideal way to store grain over long periods:

I'm thinking one of these should hold 50lbs. - plus they would make the grain storage look more organized than a few half empty 50lb sacks in a Rubbermaid trash can (which is what I'm currently using).

Other Fermentables / Re: Mead and Potassium Hydroxide (KOH)
« on: August 26, 2010, 02:25:22 PM »
I'd lean towards the carbonate myself.  It would change the pH more slowly.

IIRC, K2CO3 is a weak base and only partially dissociates into K2+ and CO3- and that dissociation is based on several factors including the current pH of the solution and only the CO3 can accept an H+ ion raising the pH (lowering the acidity) while KOH is a strong base that fully ionizes in solution contributing 1M of OH- per 1M of KOH solution raising the pH (lowering the acidity) because of the hydroxide contribution.... I think....

Please correct this if I'm mistaken - I'm no scientist and the information above was pieced together from Wikipedia and Google.

Based on my strong Google skill it seems it would take more K2CO3 than KOH to achieve the same effect on pH.

The only reason I mention any of this is that the BJCP mead guide that I linked to above says:
Excess carbonate can also impart a metallic or soapy note in the flavor. Don’t use more than 5 grams of potassium carbonate when adjusting pH of the must.

Anyone have any experience with this or nuggets of chemistry knowledge to drop? Is 5g of K2CO3 enough to achieve the desired effect? Also, why does the BJCP mead guide have the above quote and also list:
6g K2CO3 or 150ppm KOH (30ml of 2M solution)
as one of the ingredients of the basic mead making process on page 86 of the pdf? Did it actually mean, "Up to 6g K2CO3 based on pH shift during fermentation"?

Edit: 8/31/10 - from lowering pH to raising pH - cause of my dumbness...

Other Fermentables / Re: Mead and Potassium Hydroxide (KOH)
« on: August 25, 2010, 09:57:05 PM »
Ahh... That makes sense. So one would need to check the pH to make sure, and not just blindly add KOH.

That's another good question actually. Both of the sources I posted left me with the impression that KOH was a mandatory addition along with the staggered nutrient additions. Is my inference correct or would I need to take pH readings at 24, 48 and 72 hours and only add KOH if the pH is below 3? Or would I only need to take a pH reading if my final gravity was greater than I wanted and I suspected pH to be to blame?

It raises pH.  Helpful if you find your pH in the low 3's and still expect the yeast to do something.

I saw that Kristen England posted in the 'Jim's Beer Kit' forum that pH was only half of the reason that he used KOH. The quote from the forum is brief and unexplained in the thread:
Potassium (K) really makes the yeast healthy

If anyone cares to expand on why KOH is more desirable than K2CO3 or the like that'd be really helpful information - is KOH's ability to raise pH just greater?

Thanks guys.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 25, 2010, 09:37:38 PM »
thehorse, I am by no means an expert on anything - perhaps especially water, but I can tell you what I would do given your situation.

The best course of action depends on your goals.

If you're attempting to hit a mash pH in the range of 5.2 - 5.8 then I wouldn't do anything to your water. I would go and buy a pH meter or colorpHast strips, dough in, and take a pH reading - if that reading is out of your ideal range THEN add CaCO3 or lactic acid and test again. While brew water spreadsheets can be helpful in calculating necessary additions to reach a certain mash pH no spreadsheet will be right 100% of the time (they are especially prone to error in a beer like a Belgian dubbel where the SRM value is somewhat of a red herring) - I hold no actual answers for what to do to your water to achieve a perfect mash pH every time you brew. All I know is that I know nothing - and that's more than most people can say.

If you're looking to meet minimum requirements set forth by popular opinion then add enough CaCl2 to your water to achieve Ca++ content of ~50mg/L (equivalent to ppm). This will help to shield enzymes in the mash and help certain aspects of fermentation (Fix, Principles of Brew Science pg 5-6).

If you're worried about both of these things I would add enough Calcium Chloride to achieve 50ppm Ca++ as the ion and then perform your mash and check to see if your pH is in the correct range.

If your goal is historical accuracy then I would attempt to synthesize the water of a Westvleteren or another Trappist monastery - all of these water profiles are available in Brew Like a Monk (Chapter 7 has a subchapter devoted entirely to the subject of water for brewing Trappist style beers) - caveat emptor, I haven't checked to see if any of the water profiles in BLAM are electrically balanced.

If I were brewing this beer, given my current philosophy of how I do my water, I would simply add 1 or 2 grams of Calcium Chloride per 5 gallons of water to get my Calcium level to around 50ppm and then check my mash pH against my target range and adjust. If I didn't have a pH meter then I probably wouldn't do anything with your water - just brew the beer and if it tastes off and all the other parts of my process were done well then I might look at water adjustments.

My understanding is that you're using Kai's spreadsheet correctly, and, if you would like to follow that spreadsheet it'd be a route that Kai has put a lot of time and effort into and it is very well researched. However, if you do decide to follow the prescription set forth on the spreadsheet what I said above still applies, check your mash pH and adjust up or down with CaCO3 and Lactic acid (or gypsum or calcium chloride) respectfully.

Let us know what you decide.

The Denver profile is pretty different from the water our here in Longmont - our water makes yours look like Burton on Trent. Lower numbers than Pilsen, it's weird. I didn't even believe the water authority when he said that it was practically distilled - did a Ward labs test and sure enough...

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 25, 2010, 10:33:14 AM »
Would you guys make this addition for the pH shift or leave the pH at 5.0 and just be done?

I would make the adjustment if, while in the process of doing the mash, I had taken a pH reading of 5.0 - Kai's spreadsheet can provide an estimate to get you close to the actual pH of the mash - what the spreadsheet calculates isn't always exact. This is especially true of dark beers.

If you want an exact answer to your question and you have a pH meter or colorpHast strips (less reliable) do a test mash and take a pH reading and then make the decision.

Based on the information you have currently made available I would not make any additions. RA values North of 150ppm as CaCO3 are rarely necessary to adjust pH.

If you provide your starting water profile I may be able to give you a different answer based on my experience, but I probably wouldn't end up changing my answer. Just my $0.02.

Other Fermentables / Mead and Potassium Hydroxide (KOH)
« on: August 25, 2010, 10:04:43 AM »
I just had a few questions regarding the use of Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) in mead. I've seen this suggested in multiple sources:

Really these questions are more requests for confirmation that I'm going about things correctly and that I'm not a total boob.

In any event - what is a reputable source of KOH? I tried ordering 500 g flakes from Cynmar and they informed me that they don't sell chemicals to individuals. Since then I've located this source which is food grade and it's about 4x as much as Cynmar was selling for the exact same price:

I did notice in that picture on Amazon that it says 'minimum 90% KOH' on the bottle - which begs the question, what's the rest and is it OK to add this?

Also a quick question about using the stuff if/when I get it. It's been a while since chemistry - since the molecular weight of KOH is 56.1056g/Mol, to get a 2M solution I would add 112.211g to a container and then add distilled water until the total volume reaches 1 Liter and the subsequent solution is KOH at a concentration of 2M, correct?

If that is correct, does this method scale in a liner way (i.e. if I mixed a 500mL solution with 56.1056g of KOH would that also have a molarity of 2? Or 28.0528g in a 250mL solution?).

After I get a 2M solution of KOH can I just add 10mL of directly to my fermenter or is there an intermediary step?

Thanks in advance for the responses.

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