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Messages - topher.bartos

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I started a prototype web application that lets you submit your scores for any of your recipes. If you're interested, go to

If you like it and it's helpful please send the link to other homebrewers.

If you don't like, click the "Feedback" link on the bottom right of the site.

Thanks for your help!

Hey homebrewer,

I was just wondering a few things:

1. What do you do with competition scores and critiques? Do you keep them? How do you organize them? Do you through them away?

2. Is it helpful for you to keep old competition scores and critiques for future reference (to see if you are getting better or getting worse as a brewer)?

3. Does an excel spreadsheet work, or is a notebook more helpful? Why?

Thanks for your help!!

Keep brewing!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I have an idea for home-brewers
« on: January 24, 2014, 09:41:50 AM »
Hey guys,

Thank you so much for your feedback. I think for the most part it was all very positive and that makes me really happy and excited.

1. I have thought about inventory issues and I'm developing ideas to solve that issue. It's a hard issue to overcome. And I'll need some feedback with some solutions that comes up.

2. That is correct erockrph. The software would give a very basic recipe in that style and my algorithm would try to prevent them from editing the recipe into a completely different style. It can't be perfect, but it can evolve and innovate over time.

Thanks again for all your feedback so far. I'm getting excited about this. If you want you can to go to and subscribe for email updates on how things are coming along.

Thanks again,


General Homebrew Discussion / I have an idea for home-brewers
« on: January 22, 2014, 09:15:18 PM »

I'm a life long member of the AHA and I want to take my brewing to the next level. Please believe me that I'm not selling anything, but would love some feedback. If by some off-the-wall chance there is a big demand for something like this, I'd love to complete this creation.

Here is my vision:

And here is my current site:

Also, here is my email if you want to talk in private (hate mail, feedback, love mail, etc.):

Please understand that I'm not selling anything, but interested in feedback about my idea. And if anybody is a programmer and would like to help out, don't hesitate to email me!



Yeast and Fermentation / FYI: Yeast Aeration
« on: May 24, 2013, 10:09:30 AM »
I highly recommend "Yeast" by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff. It talks a little bit about aeration and it references a study that shows that VHG (very high gravity) beers, would benefit a great deal with adding a 2nd dose of oxygen 12 to 18 hours after inoculation.

Here is the study:

I wanted to figure out what the study considered "very high gravity" so, I read the study and turns out a VHG beer is one at or higher than 18 PLATO (1074 OG). I didn't really think 1074 was "VERY" high... oh well...

Adding a 2nd dose of oxygen around 12 - 18 hours will reduce fermentation time by 33% and reduce acetaldehyde and diacetyl production for much tastier beers.

I thought some of you would like to know.

Keep brewing,


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: cold conditioning
« on: April 30, 2013, 02:01:44 PM »
I consistently make clear beer. I'm worried about taste.

General Homebrew Discussion / cold conditioning
« on: April 30, 2013, 12:53:56 PM »
I recently made a Blonde Ale and I just finished bottling it. The BJCP guidelines say that sometimes Blonde Ales are cold conditioned and Kolshs seem to also be cold conditioned as they are in the same category of beers. However, John Palmer in his book says that Cold Conditioning just helps to participate out large proteins including tannins and phenols which is what fining agents do anyway. I'm of course paraphrasing but my question is if one were to use fining agents, in my case I use whirlfloc, is cold conditioning really necessary?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Preboil Gravity off
« on: April 30, 2013, 11:58:04 AM »
Are you taking into account temperature?? Higher temperatures will lower the gravity by a few points.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« on: April 14, 2013, 07:44:11 AM »
This is my makeshift "refrigerator" the water is pretty stable at 58 degrees and it's been less than 24 hours since I pitched the yeast...

It's much better than my apartment temp which fluctuates from 65 to 75-ish... I'm looking forward to a cleaner tasting beer...

By the way, I pitched Wyeast 1098 anybody have any fermentation tips for this yeast strain?

I was trying to brew the Summer Ale (Homebrew of the Week - ) but I put in dark brown sugar and it completely changed the color of the beer... Not very summer-y

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« on: April 11, 2013, 08:57:07 AM »
I found this little gem:

I'm going to try it on my next beer for some temperature control... the last couple beer I've brewed were either phenolic-y or ester-y. I think temperature control is my number one priority, especially since I don't have a refrigerator...

Thanks for the input!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« on: March 03, 2013, 07:14:19 PM »
When I brewed my 1st batch of all-grain 100% pale malt, I got a really astringent beer. I immediately looked at my water.

I got a water report from Ward Labs and realized that my water is okay for brown, porter or stout beers. So, I know how important water is. I just need a good way of checking it based on my water report so I think Bru'n Water is definitely what I'm going to look into for next batch.

Aeration is pretty minuscule on my end. I might pour my wort into a carboy and it bubbles up, but I think I should definitely add more O2.

I've never made a yeast starter. I just throw in some yeast and let it do what it does. I just recently bought Yeast by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff and I realize now that as a brewer I just make food for the brewer. The yeast need to be healthy.

Which brings me to temperature. If I make sure my yeast is healthy and strong with enough O2 and at a temperature that inhibits off-flavors I think my beer would be much better.

So, these things I'm going to be trying in the next couple batches to see what I can produce.

Thanks for the replies! I really appreciate it.

General Homebrew Discussion / A few ideas for better beer.
« on: March 03, 2013, 05:39:10 PM »
I have a few ideas that I personally need to do for better beer. Please send me some suggestions.

1. Aeration system (aquarium pump / stone)

2. Yeast starter (using or wyeast calculator)

3. Cooler fermentation temps (fridge / water tub / lowering my apartment temp, etc.)

4. Bru'n Water / 5.2 pH stabilizer (does this work) / John Palmers Nomograph

I think all these are very important but I haven't really worried about them because I was worrying more about mash efficiency more than anything else.

My question: Should I try these all at once or should I do each one one at a time?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I need a palate
« on: March 01, 2013, 07:54:34 PM »
I don't know if I had a question. I'm just saying I don't believe in my own taste. So, I would like to find some 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th opinions...

General Homebrew Discussion / I need a palate
« on: March 01, 2013, 07:10:50 PM »
My palate needs prepping before I can taste any subtle flavors in beer. I'm not a BJCP judge so I'm not trained in beer flavors and off-flavors, etc.

I know what good beer tastes like, but only when I prep my palate with a wide range of tastes (or beers), is when I can really taste the subtle nuances of beer.

I've been brewing since 2005 and I just started doing all-grain a few months ago and now I'm absolutely obsessed. I just submitted a beer in the NHC for the first time. This will be my very first beer competition. I think I make really good beer for a brand new all-grain brewer. I don't have a lot of control over my fermentation process. I still don't have a good aerator, I don't have a stir plate, I don't have a good way of controlling temperature (YET), but I still make pretty good beer.

Even typing that makes me think that's far-fetched. So, I need a palate. I need somebody to judge my beers and tell me what is wrong with it. I want to become a better brewer. I want to become the best brewer.

Please help a homebrewer out!

All Grain Brewing / Re: My First Batch Sparge
« on: February 25, 2013, 07:45:02 PM »
I might be wrong but just because you get a couple more points from 190F sparge water doesn't mean it's fermentable. Has anybody tried using lower sparge water temperatures and holding it longer before collecting runnings?

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