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Messages - BrewArk

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Hop Growing / Re: Indoor Hops?
« on: March 09, 2014, 03:01:18 PM »
I think that indoors isn't such a good idea.  I have some in a 55 gallon poly drum cut in half.  I made a cage of 6' welded fabric fence with wire going between the two halves at the top.

Last year, I only filled the drums about half way and the plants were very unhappy (they barely grew to the top of the fencing and didn't produce many cones).  This year I filled the pots w/soil.  With the rain & sun we've had here in the bay area, my Magnums are about 3' tall.  I hope to get them trained to go horizontal when they get to the top.

Don't know what I'll do if we get a late frost.

Ingredients / Re: Growing your own
« on: March 09, 2014, 02:51:27 PM »
I only watered when I first seeded.  Let the rain do the rest (hence my problems w/weak stems when the rain arrived late).  My biggest issues have been the lodging and aphids.

I got seed (Bere, Lacey, Excelsior) from sustainable seed last year, before they went out of stock on "malting barley" varieties.  They still have the "excelsior" (, that Fisher's Hombrewer's Garden recommended.  It's not cheap ($4.99 for 25 seeds), but after growing last spring, and this winter, I'll have enough seed for my garden so that I will have some to malt.

Equipment and Software / Re: Thermometer Recommendation
« on: March 07, 2014, 01:50:48 PM »
I've been using an IR thermometer for a while and really like it. It reads temp quickly and accurately, and because it doesn't contact the beer I don't have to worry about sanitization when using post-boil. The drawback though is that it only reads surface temps so everything has to be well-mixed to give good temperatures.

Plus I can use it on my cast iron pan to see when it's hot enough to put my steaks on to cook.

Ingredients / Re: Growing your own
« on: March 02, 2014, 01:50:57 PM »
Is that the Conlon?

My winter barley is lodging quite a bit.  I think I should have irrigated a bit more.  I planted in Nov. and let it go.  When the rain came in Feb it was too tall, and with the added water fell over.  I think I'll stick to spring planting (& just veggies in the winter).

The heads that I do have are not nearly as plump as yours.  Looks like you'll be able to plant again as soon as you harvest.

Look forward to hearing about the harvest, threshing, malting!

Hop Growing / 2014 California Drought
« on: January 25, 2014, 06:04:47 PM »
Yes kids, here in California it has been dry.  It has also been warm enough to fool the plants.  Here's a picture of my Magnums that I discovered are starting to come up today:

Ingredients / Re: malting
« on: January 24, 2014, 01:27:03 PM »
I made the call yesterday.  I put it into the dehydrator at 100°F while I was at work for the day.  When I got home, I raised the temp to 130°F for two hours, then maxed the dehydrator (~160°F) for another 3 hours.

Afterward, I cleaned the chit out of it, in a strainer.  The result looks a lot like Pilsner malt.  Very light.

Since I have some pilsner malt, I may try a side/side this weekend.  The only issue is the logistics of mashing/sparging/fermenting such a small batch.  Assuming that my conversion isn't as good as commercial, I'll probably plan a long mash, maybe a protein rest.

That's my challenge for the weekend. ;D 

Equipment and Software / Re: I've got an idea for an experiment
« on: January 23, 2014, 09:35:50 AM »
Some variables (boiler dimensions, burner output) can be controlled by using the same equipment for the experiment.  Others (water temp, ambient temp, wind velocity) might need to be documented.

If there is a big enough effect, they might be insignificant, but it would be a shame to come to the wrong conclusion if you were sabotaged by another variable that confounded the results.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Brewing with a Thirsty Bear
« on: January 21, 2014, 09:37:15 PM »
Glad to see I'm not the only one who likes to brew in a hat. ;)

The hat's ok, I'm just glad he had pants!

Ingredients / Re: malting
« on: January 21, 2014, 09:15:37 PM »
Neat, altho i was under the impression that barley only put out 1 sprout. I was surprised to see that most of them seem to have 3!
Most of the drawings I've seen have 3-5 "chits" or rootlets.  There's one "acrospire" that will be the indicator of when the conversion has taken place.  So far I don't see much indicator of that.  But, it's early.  :)

Ingredients / Re: malting
« on: January 21, 2014, 08:47:39 PM »
Tonight I've got "good chit":

Ingredients / Re: malting
« on: January 19, 2014, 03:05:44 PM »
Ok, I'm taking the plunge.  Just started soaking a pound of my homegrown barley.  (since some of the same seed is growing in the garden - I'm sure it's venalized enough)

Here it is soaking:

Equipment and Software / Re: Natural Gas Burner Cost
« on: January 06, 2014, 05:14:39 PM »
Have you seen the Edelmetall? It looks identical to Blichmann in design and is a little cheaper.

Three legs instead of four.  Probably enough. ;)

Equipment and Software / Re: Natural Gas Burner Cost
« on: January 06, 2014, 09:47:57 AM »
Don't forget the capital cost of hiring a plumber to set up your natural gas, and the possible inconvenience of being hard plumbed to that gas.  You could pay for quite a few batches with that cost.

Gilda corker (for wine bottles).  In addition to not being very stable when it worked, it broke while corking my first case.  I went back to the old corker that leaves a dimple in the corks but seals just fine.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Manufacturer Preference
« on: December 25, 2013, 09:53:51 AM »
I'd stay away from Chinese @#$% - but that's just me.

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