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Messages - thcipriani

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Culturing up a pitch from bottle dregs
« on: August 27, 2010, 06:07:56 AM »
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 27, 2010, 05:44:58 AM »
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 27, 2010, 05:31:50 AM »
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 27, 2010, 03:08:21 AM »
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 27, 2010, 02:16:48 AM »
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, 09:25:22 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 26, 2010, 04:57:05 AM »
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 26, 2010, 04:37:38 AM »
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, 05:33:14 PM »
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, 05:04:43 PM »
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.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Does more Ca in the mash = better conversion?
« on: August 22, 2010, 04:42:45 PM »
Fix, Principles of Brewing Science, 1999, pg 5
Calcium ions also tend to afford thermal protection for mash enzymes (Comrie, 1967). IN addition, they continue to interact with malt phosphate during wort boiling, and the ongoing reaction between calcium and phosphate is the primary reason that the pH decreases in the kettle boil. Calcium ions also tend to inhibit color formation during the boil and facilitate protein coagulation. Finally, calcium ions also influence beer fermentation. For example, they favorably affect yeast flocculation and beer clarification during maturation (Harrison et al., 1963; Saltukoglu and Slaughter, 1983; Taylor, 1990)
He goes on to say (on page 6):
A widely accepted rule in brewing is to have calcium concentrations of at least 50mg/L, and values in the range of 100-150 mg/L are very common.
Anecdotally, I've done mashes with water around 20 mg/L Ca++ and achieved 85% efficiency and I've fermented meads with 0 mg/L Ca++ that have achieved final gravities putting them into the dry range from an initial gravity north of 1.100.
However, when it comes to brewing, if you're going to take 4-8 hours of your day to make beer and George Fix and other sources of contemporary beery wisdom have accepted as an axiom that 50 mg/L Ca++ is desirable why not just aim for that as a minimum? Seriously, I'm asking - is there any reason compelling reason, other than anecdotal evidence, that suggests the best beer is made with Calcium concentrations below 50 mg/L or above 150 mg/L?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 22, 2010, 07:52:48 AM »
RA = SRM x 4.5 

This provides an appropriate ballpark target RA for brewing water.

This is ridiculous for so many reasons. First, the relationship between SRM, RA and mash pH is tenous at best. That is to say there is correlation here but most brewing water spreadsheet draw very strong conclusions from this weak correlation. The net effect being that the entire homebrewing community suffers. If Gordon Strong doesn't want want anything in style guidelines about the relationship between RA and beer SRM it's because he's had to taste too many of the salty "Alka Selzer" beers that result from the jump of logic.
Some reading that is worth while about the subject of RA, Color and mash pH:,_alkalinity_and_mash_pH

Second, while I agree that many contemporary sources for RA and subsequent water adjustments are flawed those sources were created by many individuals who have devoted a great deal of time an effort into this work - oversimplifying their work into this equation doesn't serve any purpose except to mislead those people who are ignorant about water chemistry and RA.

One quick example to prove my point. I have a RIS that has a calculated SRM (Morey) of 67. According to your formula that would require a RA of 301.5. In order to achieve this RA (ppm as CaCO3) in my water (which represents a best case scenario since my water has 0 hardness from Ca++ or Mg++) I would have to add 1312ppm CaCO3 which is close to 50g of Chalk in 10gallons of treated water. I brew my Black IPA with water that has a RA of 0 and the mash pH on the last batch was 5.5 - which is on the high end for me. I have no doubt that following this "formula" and using the RA value of 153 and subsequently adding 24 grams of Chalk to my water would have not only put my mash pH out of range it would have made my beer taste like hop-flavored tums.

If people are really concerned with mash pH they have to drop $80 and get a pH meter. If you're concerned with hitting the mash pH correctly every time then you ought to be doing a test mash before your brew day and scaling up your findings (which I don't do because my mash pH needs no adjustment 90% of the time). I'm going to say the one thing everyone hates to see in a forum discussion about water - the vast majority of water needs no adjustment. Brewers that suspect problems with their water are most often misidentifying another problem in their process. Sanitation and fermentation before water adjustment - always! If you want to tinker then build a yeast library not a salt library. I adjust my water to acheive 50 mg/L Ca++ with, typically, equal parts Calcium Chloride and Gypsum. Speaking of which...

The other result from the EZ Water spreadsheet that is flawed is the chloride to sulfate ratio recommendation.  I have never seen this ratio used previously, but I can state that it is not based on any texts or journals that I have reviewed.  It is not a proper indicator of the brewing water promoting a malty or bitter character.

Handbook of Brewing [Ed. Fergus Priest and Graham Stewart] p. 111 - "It appears that, in many cases, it is the relative ratio of the two ions that has the major flavor influence, often irrespective of the accompanying cations."

(note that I haven't read that text either - AJ Delange has, and was kind enough to post this citation here:

The balance is calculated from the millliequivalents of the major cations and anions in the water.  The milliequivalient value for each ion is calculated from the concentration of each ion , the ion's molecular weight and its ionic charge.  The cations and anions should roughly balance if the water report is correct.

This is the problem with trying to achieve many regional water specifications found around the internet - they are not physically realizable because the the me/L of cations and anions don't balance - like at all...but they don't on my most recent Ward Labs report either so whatever...

End Rant.

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