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Messages - erockrph

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Ingredients / Re: Caramel in beer / Sanitizing cacao nibs
« on: August 11, 2014, 11:33:47 AM »

My LHBS carries organic cacao nibs from brewers best and ive seen two batches becoming infected both that were aging on these which makes me think they need to be sanitized to kill anything funky on them before use. Whats the best way to do this?

Also I was talking to someone who wanted to put some homemade soft caramel into his beer. I advised the best way might be to separate some of the wort into a double boiler and melt the caramel into that before adding to the beer, or even adding back to the beer at flame out. Would you retain any of the caramel flavor? Certainly it would add gravity to the beer because of the sugar. Do you think there would be any negative contribution to the beer/equipment, maybe head retention to the beer? or sticking to your equipment?

As far as the nibs go, I'd soak them in some high-proof neutral spirit (vodka or 151 Rum), then add the whole thing into the fermenter.

For the caramel - this is just sugar/water caramel, right? If there's butter or some fat in them then I'd be worried about head retention, otherwise it should be fine. I think your double-boiler idea would be fine. Unlike other sugars, I'd guess that you'd be able to keep some caramel flavor in the finished beer, since we typically caramelize the runnings on Scottish ales and that works just fine.

Beer Recipes / Re: First Lager
« on: August 11, 2014, 09:37:14 AM »
Thanks for all the replies. I like what I see. I will be bottle conditioning, and am curious about the lager step. Do I need to secondary, or is this just like all the replies i have seen for ales: just leave it in primary?
There is no need to have a separate vessel just for the lagering step. Lagering is simply cold-conditioning and can be done either in the primary or the bottle/keg.

Equipment and Software / Re: Lowes vs Home Depot MLT
« on: August 11, 2014, 08:59:53 AM »
While brewing = no shoes, no pants and no beers for me. What's the point of having the comfort of brewing in my kitchen if I can't dress the part? Plus, how else would I know if my ball valve was open unless I could feel the hot brewing liquor on my foot?  :D

Beer Recipes / Re: First Lager
« on: August 11, 2014, 08:08:26 AM »
I pitch at 45F, then set my temp controller to 50 and walk away for a week. Then I start bumping the temp by 3 degrees every 2-3 days. By the end of week 2 you should generally be ready to check for diacetyl, then crash and lager on a beer this size.

If you're bottle conditioning, you may be better off lagering in the bottles. Cold crash for 1-2 days, bottle, then let them sit warm for 2-3 weeks until fully carbonated. You can then lager them as cold as you can. This way you could drink some right away if you wanted, while the remaining bottles should continue to improve with some added cold-aging. I've done this several times, and it's a great option if you're not kegging.

Ingredients / Re: Brewing with cabbage (say what?)
« on: August 11, 2014, 07:50:52 AM »
Blackberries will give you a deep, inky purple. Blueberries are close to that color as well. Hibiscus is in the pink-to-magenta range. Beets are red/purple. Red wine must (Merlot/Cabernet/etc) will get you into the deep purplish-red range as well.

A lot of the color will be quite dependent on how much you add. For example, at 1 oz/gallon steeped Hibiscus adds a deep pink color. For full-on red you'll need to go higher. For a lighter blush, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 oz/gallon will do.

When you add the ingredients matters as well. A lot of natural dyes are degraded or changed by heat and/or pH. Certain colors will be different depending on whether you add them on the hot side or cold side.

Good luck, and please continue to share your results!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: The Beer Bug
« on: August 11, 2014, 07:20:25 AM »
Thanks for the feedback, Wingnut! Those are the kinds of things I was expecting it to be useful for. Not necessarily for lab-grade precision, but a good tool to monitor for trends and unexpected results (i.e., temperature spikes). To me, it would be a cool toy if it were in the right price point. It would also be nice if it had an added temp probe to record ambient temps separately - this way you can potentially catch temp swings in your ferm chamber before the beer starts to change temps.

It's also a bummer about the mead thing (i.e., that it doesn't play nice with degassing/SNA and the like). That would probably be my top use for it.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Stout in primary question
« on: August 11, 2014, 05:52:11 AM »
So why do we go to a secondary in the first place?
There are a lot of things in homebrewing that continue to be done because "that's how it's always been done". A lot of what we do was initially modeled after how pro brewers work, even if it's not needed at homebrew scales. I'm guessing the whole secondary thing is because pro brewers typically use a secondary bright tank to help clear their beer. It's not really needed at the homebrew level, and may actually cause more harm than good.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Lager color adjustment
« on: August 11, 2014, 05:47:11 AM »
A) You're using Carafa Special (i.e., the dehusked variety) and not regular Carafa, right?

B) Briess claims that Midnight Wheat is the smoothest of the dehusked malts for adding color, and I tend to agree in my experience. This is all I use for color adjustment now. In something like a lager you will probably still find some roast. But that's because you're the brewer, you know it's there, and you're looking for it.

Ingredients / Re: Water for a Brown Ale
« on: August 08, 2014, 09:52:05 AM »
Sodium levels in the 40ppm range are perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, I prefer a little bit of sodium in my maltier beers. It's not till you hit the 50-100ppm range where sodium may start to become an issue.

Equipment and Software / Re: Lowes vs Home Depot MLT
« on: August 08, 2014, 08:18:12 AM »
I used some metal washers as spacers for mine.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: The Beer Bug
« on: August 08, 2014, 08:15:46 AM »
When I went through some of the sample records displayed on their site the majority of them just didn't seem to make any sense. Gravities seemed way off for the style, or went up, or jumped all over the place. I'm sure some if it is user error, but it just doesn't look like the majority of them seemed to be returning valid results.

I think it's a great idea, but it needs to work rock solid, and in a bucket, and at a more reasonable price point for me to consider it.

Other Fermentables / Re: Backsweetening my Triple Berry Mead
« on: August 07, 2014, 08:38:27 PM »
Thanks Eric! Did you force carb or keep it still?
Its still. For me, carbonation is more for the smaller, more quaffable meads. Keep in mind that you will get a raw (i.e., unfermented) honey flavor if you use it in significant quantity for backsweetening. It's not that bad, but it does seem a bit less integrated than if you didn't back sweeten.

Ingredients / Re: Flavored Candi Sugars
« on: August 07, 2014, 08:29:45 PM »
Sounds cool, but I typically prefer to have better control over each of the individual ingredients in a recipe (i.e., I'd rather adjust the sugar and flavor components separately). But by all means, keep us posted if you try it out.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Happy National IPA Day!
« on: August 07, 2014, 08:19:36 PM »
My homebrew stock has been run down for the summer so I'm hitting my commercial supply. Alas, that doesn't include any IPA. Really enjoying some DFH Noble Rot right now, though.

Other Fermentables / Re: Backsweetening my Triple Berry Mead
« on: August 07, 2014, 12:25:20 PM »
Take a sample and make 3 blends. One about 1.010, one about 1.020 and one about 1.030. That will help you pick a ballpark.

My last blackberry melomel started and finished almost exactly the same as you. FWIW, I settled on about 1.020 for a slightly sweet, but not syrupy finish.

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