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Messages - benamcg

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General Homebrew Discussion / How to become a better recognizer of flaws
« on: January 03, 2013, 05:07:34 PM »
I can't say that my palate is overly sensitive.  I let my wife have the first pint off of every keg to determine whether batches are serve worthy for parties, or if I am going it alone for 10 gallons.  She seems to be able to detect very subtle flaws that I cannot. 

My question is, is this something that I can overcome or rather become better at?  I would like to exercise the palate so that I can detect subtle differences in my own procedures.  I am sure that those who have sat for the BJCP exam became better by preparing for the exam?  Anybody have any study tips that were helpful or techniques?  Thanks in advance.

Ingredients / Need more hop "nose"
« on: January 03, 2013, 04:25:42 PM »
I have been tinkering to beef up the hop aroma of my IPAs lately- without results of my liking.  I really want an overwhelming hop smell, but no matter what I do, there is very little variation.

I have used the same malt profile, usually a Columbus 60 min addition, and then altering one variable, either 1. use of a hop back or 2. dry hop time.  Apart from the 60 min addition, I have removed 45 and 30 min additions from the standard recipe (usually something like Galaxy, Cascade or Zythos) and have instead put these additions at 10 and 5 mins.  I use a hop back (1-2 oz of Cascades flowers) and dry hop with 2 oz per 10 gals for anywhere between 3 and 14 days.  No real difference. 

Any suggestions?  Higher quantities of hops?  Different timings?  Different cultivars?

Ingredients / Re: Dry Hopping research - Interesting
« on: December 06, 2012, 10:12:00 AM »
Great work and an interesting read.  Whereas decreased dry hop contact time and increased aroma, bittering is great, I am not sure that I like the idea of increased astringency.....

All Grain Brewing / Re: stuck sparge
« on: November 18, 2012, 07:42:45 AM »
I have battled many stuck sparges (with a Bazooka), and my advice is:

Dont get greedy with the crush size or impatient with the run-off.  Back off on the crush size and sparge as slow as possible.  You probably aren't brewing 10 BBLs or more, so the loss of efficiency with a larger crush wont kill your bank account.

I think you will find that you can hit 80%+ efficiency with a larger crush size -just by sparging slower (> 1 hr for ~ 25-30 lbs malt, 12 gal).  If you can't wait that long, batch sparge or go to extract brewing.

Ingredients / Re: Ideas for Sorachi Ace
« on: October 14, 2012, 07:56:04 AM »
I had the Brooklyn Sorachi brew at Savor a couple of years ago.  Thought that it was so good that I bought a lot of Sorachi Ace.  I used it in some IPAs but now have abandoned them for good. 

I find them to be overwhelming Dill tasting.  Once you identify Dill as the flavor its hard to enjoy it.  I was disappointed since I remember the Brooklyn brew to be very lemony, not dill (I might have had too many tastings by then.....).  But looking at the description on the hop packaging, it clearly says "dill" .....

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Hop Rocket Randall and Grassy Flavors
« on: August 07, 2012, 06:50:28 PM »
Given the limited responses (and thanks to those that did), maybe I should change my question to:

Is there anyone out that believes that they get anything other than a grassy flavor from their Randall?

If not, I believe that I will try it as a hop back and see what the effects are.  Seems that many posts are positive with regard to using the Rocket as a hop back (e.g. picking up hop aroma).  I am not concerned with filtering/clarify the beer since I have a hop sock like mesh screen in the kettle (pre Therminator).

Kegging and Bottling / Hop Rocket Randall and Grassy Flavors
« on: August 06, 2012, 02:39:25 PM »
I recently purchased a Hop Rocket, and last night was my first attempt using it as a Randall.  I had an IPA, through which I filtered 2 oz of flowers (1 oz Citra, 1 oz Amarillo).  The first and last pints off the keg were incredibly grassy.  I doubt that it had to do with the hop varieties, but maybe a short contact time with the hops? I dont know- I am really disappointed since I bought the device for mainly Randall purposes.  Anybody have a remedy for this issue?  It seems most people's issues are with it are with foaming with seemingly no mention of grassiness.

I say the first and last pints off the keg were grassy because I had 2 pints last night and when I got home from work today I found my four kegs + 20 lbs CO2 tank floating in IPA.....before cleaning everything up, I drew one final grassy tasting pint of the keg. Everything seems to be hooked up properly, even the $30 I spent in Blichmann quick connects.  Seems to be leaking from the bottom clamp. ?  Huge kick to the nuts.  I hope that someone has the answer for how to avoid grassy-ness in the future.

Equipment and Software / FermWrap on Fermenator?
« on: May 15, 2012, 01:37:56 PM »
I currently use FermWraps and glass carboys for raising fermentation temps in my basement during the winter months.  I must admit that this simple system works great, but I love the idea of someday owning a stainless steel conical.  Would the Fermwrap allow you to raise and maintain ale fermentation temperatures on a Blichmann Fermenator or is the wall of the Fermenator too thick to make much of a difference?

Events / NHC 1st Round - Georgia Shipping Confusion
« on: March 19, 2012, 06:50:25 AM »
I just went to UPS to ship my entry to the Georgia regional site.  It seems that either the City or the Zip is wrong.  The zip (30076) is for Roswell, the mail in site is Alpharetta.  The seem to be side by side cities, the problem is the road connects the two towns !!!! I told them to send it to Alpharetta- not sure if my entry will make it.

Equipment and Software / Re: Refractometer FG Calculator (now with PHP!)
« on: January 28, 2012, 01:12:57 PM »
Thanks for the spreadsheet- it definetely helps sort out a bunch of confusion I am having with this instrument.  Can someone explain why a refractometer if only good for pre-fermentation readings. I did not see instructions for only using the refractometer pre fermentation, but now I do notice the "SG wort" label under the specific gravities. Does yeast in suspension bend light that much to throw off the FG readings?

Equipment and Software / Fermwrap and fermentation control
« on: November 03, 2011, 08:53:02 AM »
Can anybody comment on how well the Fermwrap works for maintaining desired fermentation temps:

Also, I was thinking about buying two ferm wraps for my two 6.5 gal carboys (10 gal batches) but use just one Ranco (therefore one probe -  and one thermal well.

The idea would be to place the probe into just one carboy, connecting the two Fermwraps into a powerstrip to the Ranco.  Since the 2 carboys would be very close in total volume, same material, etc.  the temperatures would be fairly close and therefore 2 Rancos would be overkill.  Whaddaya think? 

Equipment and Software / Cleaning a Cold plate and a Therminator
« on: October 29, 2011, 08:10:01 AM »
I haven't fired up the stainless steel draft cold plate in while and I am looking for some advice on what products to use to ensure a solid deep clean.  I only have Star San and Iodine on hand. 

Also, I have seen posts on placing the Therminator in the oven after multiple uses. I have been thorough with my post chilling maintenance, but would like to do a nice invasive nuking of the chiller now that it has been used 10 times or so.  For those of you who bake it, for how long and at what temps?  Any downsides?  Can the cold plate go in too? 

Thanks in advance.....

All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash bed temp
« on: October 23, 2011, 10:02:45 AM »
I totally agree that temperature is critical (I have a friend who all grain brews and yet never takes a temp - he tells me I worry too much!).  As far as calibration I also agree that a 150 calibration would be ideal.  It does seem to be accurate with the lower temps that  can calibrate against.  All I have for calibration purposes are using a sealed container (beaker with plastic wrap) in an environmental chambers at work (75-80 F) or the chest freezer (35 F).  Again, not ideal.  I always thought analog thermometers were fool proof.  I am still puzzled as how three thermometers could have a range of 20 degrees around the 150 mark?

I also agree with the other post that it might not be enough stirring to uniformly distribute the temp.  I think next time I will be more careful with the strike water and avoid having to stir.

As far as whats in the kettle> after recirc. it was flowing clear with 75% efficiency.  Maybe I do worry too much.  I just want to make consistent beers....

All Grain Brewing / Mash bed temp
« on: October 23, 2011, 07:39:09 AM »
Today I had to adjust the mash bed with cool water since the strike was a little hotter than usual (mash bed at t=0 was 160 F).  A while ago I had some issues with the standard lab thermometers (3 thermometers were giving me vastly different readings) so I bought a digital thermometer probe.  The probe is nice since I can monitor different depths of the mash bed. However, today I noticed that I was getting readings between 160 and 140 F depending on the bed.  I stirred the bed on multiple occasions (more than I would like), sealed the tun and waited.  I figured that the bed would adjust to a semi-uniform temperature.  45 mins in right now and it hasnt.  The variability improved somewhat (143-156).  I had never noticed this before, but might have been because I used lab thermometers which cant be buried to different depths while giving a reading. 

So my question is, is there is inherent variability in the mash bed (other specifics: rubber maid cooler, 30 lbs of malt), or is this an effect of fiddling with the strike water.  If there is the inherent problem with differences in the mash bed temp, do you measure temp from a specific location or depth (e.g. middle of the tun, 4" deep) or do you look for an average temp across your measurements to fall into the 150-155 range?   I would imagine that the size (lbs of malt) and shape of the container matter too.

Equipment and Software / Looking for styrofoam containers for carboys
« on: September 09, 2011, 10:06:03 AM »
I was given some used 6.5 gal carboys (a decade ago) that were contained in a two piece styrofoam container.  I imgine it is what they originally were shipped in. I think that they are really handy- never worry about breaking the carboy when setting it down.  Over the years, with water and wort spilling down the sides they have become uncleanable (and down right nasty).  Does anyone know of a place where I could get a new set?

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