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Messages - smkranz

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Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« on: March 31, 2016, 02:01:27 PM »
I've got a bunch of these bottles. I've used them in the past for a Saison, and never got the corks to "mushroom" out and able to be twisted out by hand.

I'm not certain what carb level I targeted, I think it was 3-3.5. Should I up the carbonation level? Is there some trick to getting the corks to work right? I don't want to push the carb level up too high, I'm not quite sure how much the bottles can take.

Here's a photo of a Belgian Dubbel of mine which is corked/caged (on the right), next to a bottle of Lost Abbey.  I've been using Belgian corks/cages sold at MLHBS for a bunch of years, and I use a "champagne" floor corker with the plunger set at the depth which leaves enough cork stick out.  The "mushroom" effect looks slightly less than the commercially bottled, and I try not to over-carbonate. 

They are pretty snug and more difficult to get out than most commercially corked beers, but not all.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Homebrew at festivals
« on: March 24, 2016, 10:40:52 AM »
Our club conducts a homebrewing demo tent at an annual microbrewery festival.  The festival is held on private grounds, but they charge admission and sell tokens for beer samples.  As such, the festival host obtains a one-day license from our County liquor board.

We have asked, and been declined, for permission to serve small samples of homebrew to visitors at our demo tent.  Festival host tells us that the liquor board has said "no".  Pains in the ass...they could very easily allow it within the scope of the festival's license.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer comp "fine print"
« on: March 23, 2016, 04:37:23 PM »
None of that would bother me.  Just their lawyer talking.  Our competition's winning beer is also brewed for commercial sale.  We don't have that exact disclaimer in our rules, but our local liquor board wanted us to include the statement that the winning homebrewer gets no financial benefit from the commercially brewed beer.  And the commercial brewery needed us to say that the name of the winning beer was subject to their approval.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: bottles for NHC
« on: February 14, 2016, 04:01:03 PM »
Raised letter bottles are nowhere discouraged or banned in the rules.

1. What kind of bottle is required?
Beer, mead and cider entries must be in sealed, food-safe containers that meet these criteria:
  • Hold a minimum of 10 ounces (296 ml) in volume.
  • No more than 2.75 inches (7 cm) in diameter and no more than 9 inches (23 cm) in height, to ensure that they will fit in standard longneck case box slot.
  • Must be free of ink, paint, or paper labeling other than the competition entry label. Obliterate any lettering or graphics on the cap with a permanent black marker.

Greetings.  I'm already set up with a 10 gallon BrewEasy.  Since you hypothesized why you've received no responses after only 2 days, here is my $.02:
  • I went to your listing out of curiosity, and because I usually take a glance at all boards that have new posts since my last visit.  Hardly a voyeur...I know you meant that humorously, but some folks might take it as off-putting, for your 2nd post on a social media forum ::);
  • Yup, most people looking are probably not local for pickup;
  • Since you asked, it seems that you are asking a fairly premium price for used brewing equipment which has no warranty.  Part of why some folks are willing to pay a premium (me, at least) for Blichmann gear is the warranty and service that comes with a Blichmann purchase.
  • A few pictures would help your listing.
  • Many potential buyers might be wondering why you are selling after only 5 batches.

Good luck.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Pump
« on: January 22, 2016, 03:54:42 PM »
Now I'm curious about this Teflon thrust washer, will have to take mine apart this weekend and check it out. I've ran 400+ batches through the pump, mash recirc, pumping to the kettle, as well as the (rare) pumping through the heat exchange coil in the HLT and don't notice any poor performance. In fact, pumping to the kettle I typically have to throttle back or it's like a high pressure washer coming out of the ss wand on the end of the hose that I use to transfer.

It seems to me that the little Thrust Washer acts as a low-friction spacer between the impeller and the face of the housing.  When my pump started acting out a few years ago after many batches (making noise and seizing), I took it apart and as I remember it, the thrust washer was gone, presumably chewed up and spit out.  No idea what caused it.  I never run the pump dry, and never let it try out with wort still inside.  I bought a bunch of them from Williams Brewing, kept what I thought I might possibly use in a lifetime, and gave the rest to my LHBS for a wee bit of credit there.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Pump
« on: January 21, 2016, 10:44:51 AM »
I believe the SS head on the Chugger is interchangeable with the March pump's body.  Got my stainless Chugger on the way out of the NHC a couple years ago when they were getting rid of the stock they had brought at a great discount.  The stainless head is why I currently use the Chugger on my BrewEasy system, no worries about cross-threading the fittings.  As for the motors and guts of the pumps, I have never really compared them side-by-side.  Both of them just work.

Equipment and Software / Re: The Beer Bug?
« on: January 20, 2016, 07:00:44 PM »
Just stumbled on this. BeerBug has anyone used it.

I bought one at the 2015 NHC and think it is pretty cool technology.  Whether it's worth $200 to monitor your fermentations from anywhere, is totally a personal decision.  I also bought the optional external temperature probe which measures wort temps from deep inside the wort.  I must say that among the batches I have used it on, there have been a couple of times where I've seen temperature changes on the BeerBug which alerted me to temp control issues which I was able to adjust.

It does have quirks.  My Bug developed a battery charging issue which the developers quickly repaired.  I'm also a teensy tiny bit concerned that if the company were to fail, the lack of its cloud service to collect data would render the BeerBug pretty useless.

Here is the current Saison I have my BeerBug on.  (Yes, I ramp my Saisons up into the upper 80's).  It's completely done and I don't have the external probe plugged in on this batch, but it'll give you an idea of what you can monitor remotely.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Pump
« on: January 20, 2016, 06:03:37 PM »
This might seem like a silly question, but I want to make sure before I buy all the wrong fittings or have to buy more fittings... In order to clean these guys, do you just load the brew kettle up with some oxi-clean solution and just pump it through then rinse it with water the same way?

Pretty much.  I have both a March 815 pump and a Chugger with a stainless head, and they both work equally well.  I recirculate a hot PBW solution through the pump and plate chiller to clean them after each batch.  But it's a good idea to take the head off the pump once in awhile to inspect and clean the gasket and impeller.  There is also a small nylon washer in there that can wear's called a thrust washer.  Good idea to keep a few on hand.

Equipment and Software / Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« on: January 08, 2016, 08:23:04 PM »
I have the 10G gas version as well, but haven't started using the software to control the Tower of Power. Have you figured out the rise time on the system?

If you mean how quickly the system can raise mash temp in a step mash, I haven't specifically timed it but depending on which orifice size you use, and the size of the mash, I'm sure it could do a couple degrees per minute.  Without the TOP controller, I went slower with a lower flame under the kettle, to avoid over-shooting.

Equipment and Software / Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« on: January 08, 2016, 07:46:17 PM »
You haven't had any issues with the final product that you could attribute to the BrewEasy process? Adjustments that you  had to make, other than projected efficiency?

Thanks for answering.

Nope, don't think so.  Efficiency, and water volume was really the only thing to dial in...and water/pH adjustments which I think are reflected in my last batch.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Happy Brew Year - Happy New Beer
« on: January 08, 2016, 07:16:15 PM »
Sunday's Brew Year Saison.  Part of it went to top off a 15 gallon brett Saison barrel, the rest is humming right along in my conical:

WLP565 yeast is knocking it out.

Equipment and Software / Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« on: January 05, 2016, 09:10:49 PM »
Bumping the thread because I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on a BrewEasy system.

How are the beers coming out? Everyone has talked about the process and the system, but the bottom line is does it make great beer?

Of course.  I count about 18 batches that I've brewed on mine.  The last six or so were done with a Tower of Power controller added, and I love it.  But it's no different than any other system, in that it only makes wort as good as your ingredients, recipe, and attention to mash parameters allow.  Then it's still up to you to control the fermentation parameters for your chosen yeast to do its thing.

This weekend's brew was a good 8 hour day, but it was a lengthy mash, and I also lost about 15 minutes looking for and measuring out my first hop addition when the timer went off (and which I neglected to do in advance), and couldn't find the ones I wanted.  I used the Top Link software to send a continuous-rising 1:50 mash profile to the TOP controller from 113-162° (with a 10 minute rest at 148) then a mash-out at 168.

BTW, Sunday's Brew Year's Saison saw a calculated 72% efficiency which was much higher than my usual 64%.  It might be the water adjustments I made for this batch with the help of Bru'n Water, and the extended mash over a wide temperature range.  (Recipe is 75% Belgian Pilsener and 25% Munich malts...never used Munich in a Saison before but I had it on hand and was looking for a little more color and malt flavor, so WTF.)  Gravity is down from 1.066 to 1.022 after just two days, with a combination charge of WLP565 and Belle Saison yeasts.  I've been ramping it up from 68° at pitching to a current 80, and on its way to 85 tonight.

(The ambient temp graph is erratic because I'm not using the BeerBut's immersion temperature probe.  My Ranco temp controller is controlling a heater that surrounds my fermenter, but the BeerBug is exposed to room temp air so it's not showing the actual wort temp.  (I'll eventually drill another hole in my conical's lid that lets me add the BeerBug's temperature probe at the same time I'm using the Ranco and a thermowell.  The gravity and alcohol graphs tell the picture.)

Equipment and Software / Re: Blichmann Breweasy reviews
« on: December 17, 2015, 07:52:17 PM »
SO today i brewed up a 10 gallon batch of my house IPA and must say after some dialing in and advice from here it was a much better brew day!

I used the 1.5gpm orifice and the volume between the MT and BK stayed perfectly even throughout the mash with a really nice recirculation! temperature maintained perfectly through the mash as well with just a few degrees difference between the TOP and the actual mash required once temps stabilized.

No stuck sparge but only hit 62% efficiency on the mash so I think I am going to try and crush a bit finer and have some rice hulls on hand for the next batch.

Once dialing in the boil off and losses from the kettles and tubing I hit my volumes just about perfectly and have two buckets in the ferm chamber holding 11 gallons of pitched wort, pretty happy camper today!

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Growlerwerks
« on: December 17, 2015, 07:39:50 PM »
Why lead with no association with growlerwerks is odd but ok. I am a verified amazon purchaser. I am the one who has the YouTube video of the $130 growler that has mars, off center tap, the cap doesn't really screw in properly  and even with great care taken it doesn't hold pressure. Not to mention how the goose neck is assembled doesn't match the selling photo. But i just thought I would share so other people don't get sucked in. I have a replacement coming that is arriving today. Hope that'd more useful
Yes, it's definitely more useful to know that you are a purchaser rather than someone just bashing the product with only second-hand knowledge.  I appreciate the clarification.

I understood the risks of pre-purchasing a new, yet-to-be-built product.  I'm hoping the production version of the 128 growler turns out well.

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