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Messages - benamcg

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All Grain Brewing / Mash pH
« on: January 17, 2015, 09:34:38 PM »
I just moved to a new area and am trying to adjust to the new water.  I bought a pH meter and found the tap to be at 7.8!  I do not know the exact make up of the water.  The municipality doesnt have a detailed water report

So I am left to tinker with adding different amounts of gypsum to get to a mash pH of 5.2.  Without knowing anything about Ca, Mg, hardness,etc. around what range should my Gypsum additions be?  Are we talking ounces (e.g. 1-5 oz per 12 gals water) or pounds (e.g. 1/2 - 1 lb per 12 gals water)?

Well, I forgot to put the temp probe back in the chest freezer after cleaning it out and placing new kegs in.  So, 12 hours later, I have found frozen yeast slurries in 1 qt Ball jars.  Are they goners?  I have taken them out to allow for them to return to basement temperatures (55-60 F) before returning them the chest freezer (if they are OK).  My gut says that I have reduced some of the viability.  I imagine the beer will be fine once it acclimates.

Equipment and Software / Better Bottles and Fermawraps
« on: November 01, 2014, 06:10:03 PM »
Just put a hairline fracture into my 2nd to last 6.5 gal glass carboy.  It might be time to switch to a Better Bottle system.  My only concern is the ability to use a FermaWrap with it.  I dont have a dedicated fermentation chamber, so using a FermaWrap to bring temps up to ideal ranges and maintaining it is essential.  Anybody have an experience with 1) Better Bottles in general and 2) the use of a FermaWrap with it?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 09, 2014, 07:48:11 PM »

I've noticed that this process seems to yield the quickest fermentation starts and the most vigorous fermentation--as opposed to a straight 24 hour stir-plate run with a pitch directly into the wort from the stir-plate.  Based on feedback here (thank you!) i think i'm on the right track!

Why do you suppose that this yields a faster fermentation than the straight pitch?  (Honest question/mere curiosity, not being an ass) I would think think that warm it up and activating the yeast, crashing it, re-activating would be stressful, whereas a straight pitch would be a ramp up in activity under similar conditions.   

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: 2 weeks on Yeast
« on: January 28, 2014, 06:49:50 PM »
I have a couple of thermawraps on the carboy.  I can't say as I have used them at temps between upper 70s and lower 80s, but assume that they will get the temp to that range.  Is 80 degrees too much?

Yeast and Fermentation / 2 weeks on Yeast
« on: January 28, 2014, 04:28:22 PM »
I currently have a Saison fermenting away in primary with WLP 565.  I want it to finish with a low terminal gravity (target of 1.005).  I was considering a primary for 6 days at 69 degrees, followed by 2 days at 80 degrees.  I have to go out of town after this time (8 days from pitching).

If the 565 does not get it to the desired gravity range I am contemplating transferring to secondary, adding some WLP 001 (rinsed slurry- one of two yeast strains I have on hand) right before I leave town.  My question is, even with a transfer off of the first pitch, do I run into issues of long contact time with yeast?  I wouldnt expect it, but I dont know if there would be an additive effect of contact time despite a transfer and the addition of a new yeast.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Raisins - to Boil or Not to Boil?
« on: January 11, 2014, 04:02:59 PM »
Why not use Special B?  It imparts a very raisin like taste.

Equipment and Software / Universal poppet valves
« on: December 23, 2013, 11:34:08 PM »
Last year I replaced a couple of poppets on the gas side posts of 2 kegs.  Since I was unsure of the keg type I went with some universal valves.  They seal nicely, but don't allow the gas connect to click or sit on the poppet (i.e. you have to press down to carb the keg). It wasn't a huge problem, but more difficult when initially trying to carb the new keg.
After 8-10 months I have now noticed that the gas connects will now click into place.  What is happening?  Were they installed improperly or just needed breaking in?


Equipment and Software / Blichmann QuickConnect Barbs
« on: November 20, 2013, 08:02:57 PM »
Anyone know if you can just purchase the barb portion of a Blichmann QuickConnect rather than the nut + the barb?

I have narrow barb on one now (intended for use on the Hop Rocket as a Randall) that I would like use on the Therminator (1/2" nut is the same) but do not know if the swivel barbs can be purchased separately or if they are interchangeable (I would assume they are).  I would rather not pay $13.99 x 2 to find out they are not.

Maybe the AHA can work on legislation to up the home production limit.  200 gals just isnt reasonable when you live in an area with minimal good beer choices.

Equipment and Software / Re: Thermometer Recommendation
« on: October 22, 2013, 03:46:35 PM »
Since the longevity of my thermometers seem to be less than 1 year.....maybe less than $75?

Equipment and Software / Cleaning a cold plate
« on: October 22, 2013, 03:45:54 PM »
I have a jockey box with a 2 outlet cold plate that needs a quick clean before the next party.  Shortly after each use I take a keg filled with Star San solution and run the lines for a while.  Then I close the tap and let it be until the next use.  I haven't used the box for about 3 months and the lines looked like they had a little white/mucousy appearance inside the lines.  I took all the lines apart and soaked them in iodophor (BTF) and seem to be fine now.  However, since I am dispensing for people other than me, I would like to make sure that I am not going to have party guests with intestinal distress or have any residues affecting the taste of the beer. 

I will probably not risk it and just replace the lines, but the cold plate was also packed with the solution.  I would think that since it is no-rinse Star San that it should be OK, but if it is not OK to store Star Stan for longer periods, any recommendations on cleaning it?  I have BTF, Star San and PBW. 

Any thoughts on what "normal" jockey box maintenance should be. 


Equipment and Software / Thermometer Recommendation
« on: October 22, 2013, 03:35:58 PM »
Anybody have a good recommendation on a thermometer?

I have had issues with the longevity of 2 digital ones, and have gone back to my glass floating thermometer (similar to:   In calculating grain temperature to estimate strike water my digital was reading 85 degrees and the floating 65 degrees (which was closer to the room temperature of the basement.  Using the floater I seem to be able to hit all my target temps, hit my estimated gravities based on a good extract efficiency.  Based solely on this, I am assuming that it is working.

I got away from this exact floating glass one when I had different readings between it and 2 laboratory glass thermometer (similar to  I probably am leaning in the route of another glass one in case this one breaks or to estimate whether it has become somewhat compromised. I would like to be able to check its accuracy with another thermometer or a method around the critical temperatures (50 to 195 degrees).  It seems that the thermometers I have used are either accurate at the lower end or the higher end.

Even though I have had rotten luck with digitals, I love the ability to probe and get a reading.  So, if you think that you have a great digital, please let me know. 


All Grain Brewing / Re: Need help with efficiency with Batch Sparging
« on: October 22, 2013, 03:23:10 PM »
Problem solved (original post)- I decreased the gap size on the mill and was able to hit 74% efficiency (I am happy with this %). 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Need help with efficiency with Batch Sparging
« on: October 08, 2013, 03:37:29 PM »
What kind of efficiencies were you getting with fly sparging? Were they similar beers? Has the water source changed? What's your mash pH like?

As I posted before, most of your efficiency losses are in conversion, not lautering.

Water hasnt changed.  I was getting 75% efficiencies with fly sparging

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