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Topics - erockrph

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16
The Pub / Chocolate stash
« on: January 21, 2016, 06:35:13 PM »
Not only does the cold weather mean liquid yeast is safe(r) to buy online, but so is chocolate. I'm a huge fan of dark chocolate and I got my semiannual binge order in from Chocosphere today. Great site to order high quality chocolate from in the US.


17
Ingredients / Cacao Nibs - taking suggestions
« on: January 21, 2016, 06:29:53 PM »
I just got my stash in from Chocosphere in the mail. I figured I'd add some nibs to my order since they had some in stock from one of my favorite chocolate makers (Domori). The thing is, for as much of a chocoholic as I am, I've never brewed with cacao nibs. I now have half a kilo of high quality stuff and I'm taking suggestions for what to do with them.

I'm looking for ideas that will really let the chocolate character show through, so I'm leaning away from the usual Porter/Stout where there are other roast malts in the mix. Some will probably end up in a small batch of mead. Any beer suggestions?

18
Equipment and Software / Surplus electric heating elements
« on: December 29, 2015, 10:33:29 AM »
I saw this today on AS&S while looking for a molecule kit for my son (I had to explain valence electrons to my 5-year old the other day - figured I'd strike while the iron was hot).

This seems like a good fit for a DIY electric brewing system. Thought I'd share for anyone who might be interested:

http://www.sciplus.com/p/HEATING-ELEMENTS_57207

19
Commercial Beer Reviews / Guinness Nitro IPA
« on: December 24, 2015, 10:15:03 PM »
I bought a sixer of this out of curiosity, having never tried a hoppy nitro beer before. Now I need to find 5 other curious drinkers, or one person who actually enjoys flat IPA. Nitro just isn't a good vehicle for American hops. Even at just 44 IBU, the bitterness seemed a bit rough against the smooth nitro body. Just a clash from every angle, as far as I'm concerned. Can't recommend this one.

20
General Homebrew Discussion / Sanitizer Comparison
« on: November 08, 2015, 08:23:18 AM »
I recently bought some pre-poured agar plates partly for plating some mixed-culture beers to isolate some samples, and partly just to play around. I had a few plates left over that weren't going to be used, so I ran a little experiment.

I streaked 4 nutrient agar plates with dregs from Gueuze Fond Tradition, which was one of the beers I was culturing. I let them sit for about 10 minutes to dry. Then I sprayed each with enough of each test solution to visibly wet the entire surface of the plate. I let each plate sit for 2 minutes, then poured off any residual sanitizer. I then stored the plates upside-down to dry. The plates were stored at ambient room temperature, and the results are from 8 days after plating.

The 4 plates were sprayed with:
-Filtered tap water (control solution, and what I use to mix my Iodophor and Star San)
-Iodophor (12.5ppm)
-Star San
-Bacardi 151 rum (75.5% ethanol)

Water:

Iodophor:

Star San:

Ethanol:


The results are pretty clear. The control (tap water) is the big loser and has a significant amount of growth. The ethanol has a surprising amount of growth. Iodophor has a handful of scattered colonies. And Star San is the big winner in this test with no growth after 8 days.

I have to admit, the results were surprising to me. Coming from a medical background, I am very comfortable with iodophors and ethanol for surface disinfection. Povidone-iodine, aka Betadine, is a very common surgical prep and is an iodophor (iodophors are a class of compounds, by the way). But Star San just is not as broad spectrum (regardless of what my results show), and would never be used in the medical field. It is commonly used in dairy and food-processing, however, and certainly has its benefits.

So what do I think is happening here? First of all, what makes Star-San useful in dairy and food processing is that it doesn't lose its potency in the presence of organic matter the way other sanitizers do. It is also much less volatile than ethanol. That is an important piece, since you need to ensure that your surface stays wet for the entire contact time for the sanitizer in question. And that is what brings me to the last piece - Star San has an added foaming agent. This really helps out in the contact time department.

So what are my personal takeaways from this experiment? The big one is that you can't make up for poor cleaning practices with sanitization. You must have a surface that is clean of all organic materials for your sanitizers to be effective. My second one is that I will continue to use Star San in my brewery, and that I will go back to using it as my preferred spray sanitizer. Iodophor has a 2-minute contact time and no additives to help it cling to surfaces. I think I'll take my chances with Star San. I will still use ethanol when I want broad-spectrum coverage (such as stepping up bottle dregs, where I'm starting from a small cell count), but I will be sure to soak the hell out of any surfaces in question and keep it wet by re-applying if needed.

Edit - finally able to get the images in line

21
Ingredients / Single-hopped beers 2015 edition
« on: October 30, 2015, 05:56:08 PM »
I just brewed another round of single-hopped beers today. Most of these hops had some really nice aroma to them, and I'm really looking forward to tasting the beers in a month or so. I didn't really like how my last batches came out using steeped CaraHell, so I went back to my original recipe of 13 oz Light DME (2 1/3 cups by volume) and 5 oz Munich LME (1/3 cup by volume) in 1 gallon preboil volume. Hops were between 40-45 IBU (calculated as a 20-minute addition) added after the extract dissolved, 15 minute boil, 0.25 oz flameout hops and each will get 1/2 oz of dry hops.

Here's the list of hops for this series of beers:

Vic Secret - a new hop from NZ Australia
Enigma - another new hop from NZ Australia
Armadillo Experimental - an experimental hop available from Yakima Valley Hops
HBC 438 (aka "Ron Mexico") - a new hop from HBC, that is currently only available to homebrewers.
X-17 - a new experimental hop from The Oregon Hophouse, who were kind enough to send me a sample to review. I am really excited about these.

Here are links to my past years' tasting notes:
2012
2013
2014

Gratuitous hop porn:



Edit - I have a bad habit of assuming all Southern Hemisphere hops come from new Zealand

22
Commercial Beer Reviews / Mikkeller Spontanbeetroot
« on: October 22, 2015, 07:52:35 PM »
I've had quite a few of Mikkeller's spontaneous fermentation beers in the past year or two. All of them have been at least decent, and the Spontangooseberry is one of the best fruited sours I've ever had. When I saw the beet lambic, I was torn. On the one hand, all of the others have been good so far. On the other hand, this could just be like drinking pickled beets (of which I am not a fan). Curiosity got the better of me, and here I am.

The beer pours a murky orange-red in appearance, with a persistent ring of white foam. It looks strikingly similar to my mother-in-law's borscht. The nose has lactic and citrus tang, with a solid cherry-pie Brett note. I think I'm getting some boiled root vegetable aroma, but it's faint and fleeting.

On the palate, the cherry pie takes the lead, followed by tangy lactic notes. There are some low horsy/barnyard funk notes, and some earthy beet character as well. I get a bit of that boiled root veggies character as well. I think it read more carrot/parsnip than beet, possibly due to the funk/spice/bitter character from the Brett coming along for the ride. That character seems to be at a low enough level where it melds in without sticking out like a sore thumb. But it still seems a bit brothy to me, pushing things over to the savory side a tad. Acidity is quite tart, but not bracingly so. The finish has some lingering low bitterness, with some lactic and sweet vegetable notes.

My verdict? This is about as good as you could possibly do with a beet lambic, but I don't know if that is saying much. It is a solid B- beer. I definitely get the synergy between the beets and Brett. There aren't any acetic notes to speak of, and that is very important here or else the beer would taste like you're drinking ketchup. But that vegetable character just doesn't seem like a good fit to me. It was low enough here not to detract too much from the beer, but I don't feel like it added much, either. Having said that, I think parsnips, or a spicy carrot cultivar would be interesting in a lambic given my experience with this, possibly paired with ginger.

23
I'll get to the point - this is the best Berliner Weisse I've had, by far. Every BW I've tried always seems to have some flaw - not sour enough, funky kettle-sour off-flavors, too much cereal/grainy character, too strong, too watery, etc. This one is spot-on in what I'm looking for in a berliner.

The color is very pale straw, closer in color to Pinot Grigio than beer. A finger of pure white head sticks around for a short while before collapsing. Aroma is fresh lactic/lemon, with a hint of doughy pils malt. Flavor is bright citrus and lactic tang, with a clean finish that reveals hints of grain. Mouthfeel is light, but there is enough acid pucker to keep it from being watery-thin. The acidity is perfect. It is quite tart, but not down to "instant heartburn" level. It is a perfect beer to put down in mass quantity.

24
Commercial Beer Reviews / Gigantic/3 Floyds - Crescendo of Doom
« on: October 19, 2015, 08:37:30 PM »
I'm kicking into the first of the commercial brews I got from HoosierBrew for Swaptoberfest. This is an IPL collab from Gigantic Brewing Company and 3 Floyds. Color is yellow-gold with a short white head. Aroma is citrus hops with some spicy notes. Flavor is more earth/pine/herbal with a touch of dank/onion. The fruitinees from the nose is much more subdued on the palate. Bittering is moderate for the style. Finish is crisp with some lingering pine resin.

Overall, this is a tasty beer. I don't pick up much on the malt front, and there isn't much fermentation character here to make it stand out as a lager. I find a lot of collab brews to be a bit unfocused, and I get that a bit here. I'm not sure what specific hop varieties they use, but they mention English hops in the kettle and German hops for dry hops. It's a cool idea, and well-executed, but nothing really stands out.

25
The Pub / Did you ever wonder...
« on: October 13, 2015, 04:55:15 PM »
...if brewers ever release a beer as a giant inside joke thinking "I wonder if anyone will actually buy this?"


...and then you slap down your credit card...

26
The Pub / Windows 10
« on: October 06, 2015, 07:15:46 PM »
Anyone else upgrade yet? I just upgraded my PC from Win 7 to Win 10 today. The new Start Menu will take a little getting used to, but we have Win 8.1 on our Surface so I'm a little familiar with it. I loved Windows 7, but I wanted to try out 10 for a bit before upgrading the Surface so I can walk my wife through it.

So far, my PC does seem a bit more responsive. My PC is getting a bit old (Core i7 860, 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM), and my Win 7 install was starting to get a bit sluggish. I've heard that Win 10 was lighter on the resources and my experience so far seems to match that.

Anyone have any pros or cons based on their own upgrade experience?

27
Commercial Beer Reviews / Farnum Hill "Dooryard" cider (Batch 1502)
« on: October 01, 2015, 08:48:48 PM »
It's not often that I have a cider that really blows me away the way a top-notch beer does, but this cider is quite remarkable. Farnum Hill makes some great ciders, but this batch of Dooryard is a standout, even for them.

What really stands out with this cider for me, is that for all the complexity the apple character is always at the forefront. A big turnoff for a lot of dry ciders I've tried is that they seem more like a dry wine first, without much apple behind it. This is definitely apple-first and something I want to put down in quantity

The nose is clean apple, with bright citrus and background notes of pear and floral aromas. On the palate, you get off-dry sweetness with moderate tannins and bright acidity. The acidity is clean citrus, yet soft, and well-balanced by tannin. It almost reminds me of a softer gueuze, minus the funk.

The apple flavor never disappears from beginning to end, with notes of lemonade, passionfruit and SweetTarts coming in and out. The body is fairly thin, but the tannins and prickly carbonation keep it from being watery. The finish is drying, with lingering acidity and apple skin.

I think this batch is in pretty short supply, but if you see this in a NH state liquor store I would snap it up right away. Great stuff!

28
Yeast and Fermentation / Wyeast 2278 for hop-forward lagers
« on: September 22, 2015, 07:51:58 PM »
I've been chasing my white whale for a while now - a hoppy lager that has the malt and fermentation character of a lager but the hop character of an APA. I've never quite been able to nail the balance I've been shooting for, but I think I found the missing piece in Wyeast 2278.

I recently brewed a lager using mainly Red X malt with a splash of Pils, with Mandarina Bavaria and Apollo as my hops, and using 2278 for my yeast. The beer finished crisp and dry, with a nice snap to the bitterness, but the malt flavor still came through and it left some richness in the mouthfeel. As a bonus, it had dropped quite clear on its own after 3 weeks in primary.

Hop flavor isn't as much as I had hoped for, but that might just be from my hop selection (which was primarily Mandarina), and quantities. I'm looking forward to trying this again with some more potent hops and a 80:20 Pils/Munich malt bill.

If you're looking for something different than Chico for an APA, this yeast would probably make a nice choice. Using an accelerated lager fermentation schedule you could have something ready in close to the amount of time needed for an ale yeast. It's probably the best option of all the lager yeasts I've tried for an IPL as well.

29
Ingredients / Brewer's caramel
« on: August 30, 2015, 12:00:30 PM »
I have a couple of bottles of Brewer's Caramel en route from the other side of the pond. I've been wanting to play around with it for a while. Of course, I really have no clue how to use the stuff. Outside of Ron Pattinson's vintage recipes, I can't say I've come across any recipes calling for it. I've always assumed you add it to the boil, although the site I bought it from says to add it to finished beer.

I'm thinking I'd just take a basic brown ale or ESB recipe and go from there. If I can use this post-boil, even better. That way I can split a batch 2 or 3 ways to see what happens with increasing amounts of caramel vs none.

Anyone have any insights or experience as to how I'd use it?

30
Commercial Beer Reviews / Medusa Brewing Company
« on: August 17, 2015, 05:33:53 PM »
I met up with some friends up in Hudson, MA a week ago for a night out. It was my first time in that area, but it's a recently gentrified old mill town with a really promising food scene that is developing. After a great dinner and dessert, we ended up at Medusa Brewing Company. We have a lot of brewpubs down my way, but this was the first nano/taproom style brewery I've been to. The taproom was a decent size and clean & well-maintained. Entertainment was a dude on mandolin playing an eclectic mix of tunes (I don't remember his whole set, but there was some 70's Bowie at one point).

Anyways, onto the beer. They had a really nice selection, with many sessionable brews and only a couple of IPA's (one being a session IPA). I started off with Sir Terry, which is a 3.8% dark mild that goes down really easy. There were toasty/nutty malt notes with hints of fruity esters and roasty chocolate. It was a little more watery than I'd like, but there was enough of a mineral character to dry out the finish and counteract that wateriness. I made a note that it would be killer on cask. I think the carbonation level may have made it seem a bit thin.

My buddy had their 80/-. I didn't take any detailed notes, but it was damn good. I remember thinking that this is what Belhaven must taste like fresh at the brewery.

Then I had Fermette, which is a 6% saison, dry-hopped with Sorachi and Centennial. My friends (who are admittedly not beer nerds like me) all made "the face" when they tried it - "not my tastes". Then I tried it. I made "the face", too. My notes read "Lemony, soapy, meaty. Something went wrong." Soap is almost definitely the hops. I'm not quite sure where the meaty thing is coming from. I always hear that this is an autolysis issue, but any time I've experienced that it's been in an overaged beer and it's been closer to soy sauce. This was more like chicken broth.

Overall, I was pretty happy with Medusa. I will definitely stop back in next time I'm in the area. But man, I wish they would have dumped that batch of saison. They're fairly new (open less than a year from what I've been told), so I hope they learn that it's OK to dump a beer. It's less expensive in the long run to lose a batch of beer than to lose customers.


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