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Topics - erockrph

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Commercial Beer Reviews / Sinebrychoff Porter
« on: August 18, 2012, 08:45:01 PM »
It's been years since I've had one of these, but I saw one at the store down the street from me and had to pick it up. Every bit as good as I remember. Full and rich without being heavy. Big rich flavor with a faint acidity (not sure if this is soured at all, but I definitely get a touch of lactic that really smooths this out). It's amazing how balanced this can be while being so rich and roasty at the same time.

Damn close to perfection as far as Baltic Porters go. I'll even take this over just about any RIS out there.

All Things Food / Mozzarella
« on: August 15, 2012, 05:43:42 PM »
I'm planning on making my first batch of mozzarella cheese soon and had a few questions for any cheesemakers on the board.

My local dairy sells unhomogenized milk (still pasteurized, though). Would this be any better than plain old homogenized whole milk?

If whole milk makes better cheese than reduced-fat, would it be even better still if I fattened up my whole milk with some cream or half & half?

Is there any specific type of salt that works best for salting the curd? Do I need something fine like pickling salt, or is kosher salt ok? Would there be any benefit to using a nice finishing salt like fleur de sel or Maldon?

Thanks in advance.

Other Fermentables / How much fruit for a batch of cider?
« on: August 08, 2012, 09:52:59 PM »
I'm thinking of trying my hand at brewing some raspberry cider this fall. Anyone have any recommendations on how much fruit to add per gallon of cider? I want to stock up on some golden raspberries while they're still available to keep in the freezer until cider season.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Saison Voisin
« on: August 08, 2012, 07:23:40 PM »
This one is a little weird for a saison in that it has a caramel character that seems a bit out of place in the style. Still, I'm surprised at how low the reviews for this beer are at RateBeer and BeerAdvocate. Aside from the caramel, I think this is a pretty nice saison. There is a nice resinous hop thing going on that balances that thin saison body and keeps it from being too watery in the mouthfeel. The bitterness is nice but very smooth and there is a nice pepper kick to it.

Maybe I haven't had enough good examples of the saison style, but I'm pretty happy with this beer. Anyone else have an opinion on it?

General Homebrew Discussion / RDWHAHB works once again
« on: August 02, 2012, 09:07:18 PM »
Last Thursday I brewed my first high-gravity beer - a Belgian Barleywine (cross between Koenigs Hoeven Dubbel and Thomas Hardy Ale) clocking in at 1.110 OG. I've heard so much about needing to be really careful with taking care of your fermentation for beers in this gravity range. I've had a few nailbiter moments this past week, but in each case I chose the RDWHAHB approach and it paid off.

Day 2 - my airlock is bubbling at a decent clip. Fermometer reads 68. Looks good to me. 8 hours later, airlock is going berzerk - fermometer reads 73. Crap! Way higher than I wanted to see. Should have expected this, but I didn't. RDWHAHB - rigged up a swamp cooler with several frozen water bottles.

Day 3 - 8 hours later - fermometer now reads 65. Now I'm starting to worry if I brought the temp down too fast and may end up stalling out the yeast. Airlock is still chugging along, albeit a bit slower.

Day 4 - Airlock activity has slowed way down. Starting to worry a bit more about the yeast. Rouse the fermenter and let it sit in the swamp cooler another day (but don't change the ice so the temp can creep up)

Day 5 - No airlock activity whatsoever. Dammit. RDWHAHB - rouse again and take the fermenter out of the swamp cooler.

Day 6 - Still no airlock activity. Crack the lid on the bucket and take a peek - no krausen whatsoever. Looks like a bucket of motor oil. Didn't have time to take a gravity reading, but I'm really thinking it's stuck at this point. Still, I RDWHAHB since this is a bucket and fermentation could still be creeping along without seeing much airlock activity.

Start thinking of contingency plans: Do I get a vial of WLP099 and get a starter going? I was going to reserve a gallon to pitch Brett into - do I just Brett the whole batch now? Do I need to put my Brew Belt on ASAP? Decide to RDWHAHB and reserve judgement until I get at least 1 gravity reading.

Day 7 (today) - The moment of truth. Various calculators are giving an estimated FG in the 1.024-1.028 range. I figure there's no way I'd get there from 1.110 with only 4 days or so of steady fermentation activity.

The sample reads: 1.029 - and the gravity sample is tasting damn good. The sweetness level is just fine as-is, so even if it doesn't drop another point I can live with it. Didn't pick up on any significant fusels either, so the early excursion to the mid-70's seems like no harm/no foul.

Lessons learned: A) RDWHAHB really works and B) WY1762 is a beast of a yeast

Yeast and Fermentation / Harvesting and using yeast from a slurry
« on: August 01, 2012, 11:39:16 AM »
I'm planning a brewday in the next few weeks where I will be brewing many 1-gallon mini-batches of Pale Ale to test out a bunch of hops that I haven't tried yet. I'm figuring on 0.8 gallons of approx 1.050 wort into the fermenter for each batch.

I was planning on making a fairly big starter and pitching a measured amount of slurry into each batch. I've never done that before - do I just crash chill the starter, decant off all the starter liquid, then measure out how much I need from the yeast cake? I crash my starter in a 1-gallon food grade bucket, so I can just reach in with a sanitized measuring spoon and scoop out what I need. Mr Malty says I would need 14 mL of yeast per batch, so I was just going to use 1 measuring tablespoon (15mL) per batch.

Does that sound right? Any other suggestions or tips?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Ommegang Biere de Mars
« on: July 30, 2012, 09:07:20 AM »
So after my horrible Saison Dupont experience (see my other post), I had to dip into something else in my cellar to try to make up for it. I cracked into my bottle of Ommegang Biere de Mars (Batch #2 - October 2008), and it was really, really good. The Brett character was just phenomenal. Big Orval-like cherry pie with a touch of funk. I want to go back and buy them out, but I am a little concerned about long-term storage. I literally untwisted the cage twice and the cork exploded out and bounced off the ceiling. Still, I think beer that good is worth the risk to me...

Commercial Beer Reviews / Saison Dupont
« on: July 30, 2012, 08:51:04 AM »
Is there any way to get one that doesn't reek of skunk pee? I finally caved and sprung for a bottle a little while back, despite my reluctance to buy green-bottle beer. My whole kitchen reeked the second I opened the bottle, and I could only choke down two sips before I dumped the whole damn thing. I'd love to try a fresh, unskunked bottle sometime, but I don't know if I'd ever take a chance on it again.

Yeast and Fermentation / Swamp Cooler Lagering
« on: July 29, 2012, 09:14:10 PM »
I just took a hydro sample today of my "Hoptoberfest" and I am really happy with what it tastes like so far. I am using WY2633 (Ofest blend) and I simply have my carboy in a 18-gallon bucket swamp cooler for temp control. I just swap out two frozen 3-liter soda bottles filled with water twice a day. Water temps in the swamp cooler have gone as low as 48 and as high as 58, but for the most part I've been able to keep it between 50 and 55. I'm pretty sure the glass carboy does a decent enough job as an insulator to keep the actual temp swings inside the fermenter even smaller than that.

I know I still have a ways before the final beer is ready (and I'll be sure to share my results when it is), but so far I am shocked at how clean and "lagery" the beer tastes so far. I just thought I'd share so if anyone else out there is afraid to pull the trigger on brewing a lager because they don't have a fridge for temperature control, give it a shot.

Ingredients / Hop Hoarder
« on: July 27, 2012, 06:32:10 AM »

My name is Eric and I'm a lupulin addict.

I finally came to terms with the fact that I have a problem last night. I opened my most recent AHS order last night and found 6 ounces of Calypso that I totally forgot I ordered. I currently have at least 14 hop varieties in my freezer that I have 3 oz or more of, a few more straggler open packs, and 3 more varieties being delivered from NB as we speak.

I haven't even been brewing for a year yet, so I never really experienced any of the big hops shortages, but I've heard a lot of the old war stories. Whenever I see a new hop variety that sounds interesting I end up ordering half a pound in case I really like it and it's not there next time I want it. I've spent the past month or two chasing down whatever AUS/NZ hops I could get my hands on just because I may want to use them in my IIPA in a couple of months and I'm afraid they might be sold out everywhere by then. I just got an email from Rebel Brewer the other day saying that they had Topaz in stock and I felt like a drug dealer was waving crack in my face. I know the next time I place an order with Rebel there will be several ounces of Topaz tacked on.

A couple of weeks ago I bought 8oz of a new experimental hop variety (Caliente) just because it was a new experimental hop variety. I opened it up to repackage it and took a whiff. It didn't really smell like much of anything, and I got that feeling like I dropped 20 bucks on a lottery ticket and lost - kinda bummed, but instantly thought "maybe next time".

Thankfully hops are (relatively) cheap, and wanting to experiment with hops is what got me into homebrewing in the first place. Still, I'm accruing hops way faster than I could possibly brew with them. Anyone else have this problem, or should I check myself into Humulus rehab?

Ingredients / Rauch Malt vs Heavy Toast Oak
« on: July 21, 2012, 07:30:15 AM »
I'm starting to plan my robust porter for the fall. I want to get a hint of smokiness in there above and beyond what I'd get from black malt or roasted barley alone. I've seen smoked porter recipes calling for 3-5% rauch malt, but I was wondering how heavy toast oak would work instead. I'm thinking the vanilla would be nice, and I can get away with brewing a lighter-bodied/drier porter and letting a little bit of tannin fill out the mouthfeel a bit.

Does anyone have any experiece with one versus the other? Can I get a nice smoky highlight out of toasted oak before I suck out too much tannin/oakiness? I'm shooting for smoky campfire but not woody campfire.

All Grain Brewing / First All-Grain Brewday - plus some followup ?'s
« on: July 19, 2012, 12:23:29 PM »
I had my first AG brewday yesterday, and for the most part it was a rousing success. Despite spilling about a pint or two of my strike water, I was within a degree of my target mash temp. I'm doing BIAB, but with a separate mash tun. This means I don't need to futz around with the heat on my stove to hold my mash temp. Plus, I have it rigged so I can suspend the bag off the bottom of the tun once I drain it and then squeeze the hell out of it against the side of the cooler. I only lost a bit under 1/2 gallon to 6.25 lb of grain.

The biggest surprise was my efficiency. I based my recipe off a 70% brewhouse efficiency. Since I don't get a big boiloff, I need a thicker mash than most BIABers and I guessed low on my target efficiency. Turns out I hit a bit over 79%.

So now my questions. I lost about 4-5 degrees F during a 90 minute mash. This seems reasonable to me, but how does this compare to everyone else? I can't help but wonder if the grain bag may be wicking off a bit of liquid and cooling things down.

Also, my next brew is going to be a Barleywine at about 1.100 OG. Anyone have a guess how much efficiency I may end up losing brewing something this big? Obviously, the actual number will be specific to my system, but what kind of ballpark would you expect if you were batch sparging (for example)?

Beer Recipes / Belgian Barleywine
« on: July 12, 2012, 08:51:17 PM »
A while back I had some Konigs Hoeven Dubbel, and thought the flavor profile would be fantastic in an English Barleywine (I'm a huge Thomas Hardy fan). I ended up taking a clone recipe for the Konigs Hoeven dubbel and stepping it up/combining it with a recipe for Thomas Hardy. My biggest concern with the recipe is that I do want to end up with a fair amount of sweetness (I'm shooting for a Barleywine with some Belgian flavors, not a dubbel/BDS with some English character).

I haven't brewed with the dark Candi Syrup before, so I'm not sure how much residual sugar that is going to leave. Anyone have any thoughts on the recipe below? My thought was to either add some Special B or maybe bump up the mash temp a bit, but I'm open to any suggestions.

Title: Belgian Barleywine

Brew Method: All Grain
Style Name: English Barleywine
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 2 gallons
Boil Size: 3.3 gallons
Efficiency: 65%

Original Gravity: 1.108
Final Gravity: 1.027
ABV (standard): 10.62%
IBU (tinseth): 62.14
SRM (morey): 25.43

4 lb - Belgian Pilsner (48%)
3 lb - Maris Otter Pale (36%)
0.67 lb - Belgian Candi Syrup - D180 (8%)
0.67 lb - Lyle's Golden Syrup (8%)

0.67 oz - Ultra (AA 9) for 60 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
0.67 oz - Willamette (AA 5) for 20 min, Type: Pellet, Use: Boil

1) Infusion, Temp: 152 F, Time: 90 min, Amount: 2.5 qt, Sacc rest

1 each - Whirlfloc, Time: 15 min, Type: Fining, Use: Boil

Wyeast - Belgian Abby Ale II 1762

Commercial Beer Reviews / Rochefort 8
« on: July 12, 2012, 08:17:51 PM »
I just cracked into a Rochefort 8 a little while ago. At first there was something off I couldn't put my finger on, but as it warmed up it became really clear. There is a huge DMS flavor here. It tastes like someone dumped a can of creamed corn in my beer. Has anyone run into this with the trappist ales before? I've had 2 bottles of Chimay Blue over the past few years where I picked up DMS notes too (although not as much as this Rochefort).

It seems like sacrilege to dump a trappist brew, especially at the price they cost, but I think I might have to. Thankfully I have an Ommegang dubbel in the fridge as backup right now...

General Homebrew Discussion / Timing an IIPA batch
« on: July 07, 2012, 08:55:47 AM »
I'm planning on brewing my first IIPA in the next couple of months. I want to have it ready in mid-November, ideally at peak flavor/aroma. My available brew days are mid-August, mid-September or I can request a day off sometime in the last 2 weeks of September (yes, I will take a day off to brew this beer - my obsession has finally reached that level). I don't have an exact recipe nailed down yet, but I'm aiming for around ~1.085 OG, probably using WLP001 or 007. Grain bill will probably be based on Tasty McDole's Pliny clone with a massive fruit-bomb hop selection/schedule (Citra, plus several NZ hops and possibly some Galaxy or Cascade).

My thought is that mid-September is probably the way to go. That gives me 2 weeks for fermentation, about 2 weeks for my dry-hopping regime, then about a month to bottle condition. Does that sound right? I haven't brewed anything this big yet, so I'm not sure how long to count on for bottle conditioning. Should I plan on pitching a half-pack of US-05 at bottling as a safety net to be sure it carbs in time, or will I be fine if I give it a month to carb up?

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