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Messages - erockrph

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Ingredients / Re: 2014 Amarillo
« on: November 09, 2015, 08:07:31 PM »
i wonder if you didn't get a mixup with Apollo - they're close in name.

Apollo as a dryhop smells like wet garbage to me.

I love it as a bittering hop though.
And yet my experience with Apollo is quite different - navel orange with a nice dank undertone. Just goes to show how much variation there can be between one crop and another.

This thread reminds me of Poland back in 1939.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Sanitizer Comparison
« on: November 09, 2015, 05:07:08 PM »
I agree with all of this.  I did take Mark's remarks on bleach to heart.  I've used Star San mixed with distilled water for a long time.  I did however, just sanitize all my equipment with bleach last week just to make sure.  I will do so periodically just for piece of mind.  Sometimes I'm blown away with the technical knowledge floating around this forum.   
Bleach certainly can't hurt, as it is more broad spectrum than the sanitizers I tested, but it is also more sensitive to organic material than the sanitizers I tested here. That means that cleaning is even more critical before bleach.

Of note, bleach is sporicidal, while Iodophor, Star San and even ethanol or isopropanol are not considered sporicidal. The caveat is that any disinfectant requires an extended contact time, and possibly higher concentrations, to kill off spores. Bleach needs a 10 minute contact time at a higher concentration (5000 ppm, IIRC) to be effective against spores.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Scaling Down
« on: November 09, 2015, 04:52:03 PM »
Another option for variety would be to brew split batches. You could produce your usual 5-6 gallons of wort and split it between fermenters with different yeasts, fruit, dry hops, etc. You could get twice as many batches as brewdays with a little planning.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Scaling Down
« on: November 09, 2015, 01:14:45 PM »
I mainly brew for myself, and I only drink 4 or 5 beers a week, but I like to brew 1-2 batches a month. Five gallons at a time was way too much, so I dropped down to half-sized batches. That lets me brew more often, keep up a variety of choices, and brew a big batch to age every few months.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Sanitizer Comparison
« on: November 08, 2015, 10:50:18 PM »
Let me try to touch on a few things that have been brought up.

The plates are from White Labs online shop at - anyone can set up an account and order online. Be aware that some selective media plates have a very short shelf life. One product that I wish I bought in quantity is their sterile 50mL vials. They have a conical bottom, but also a ring to keep it upright. It's a great vessel for the first step of growing up some yeast. I did have one contaminated agar plate from them. I'm hoping that it was a fluke and not a QC problem on their end. As an aside, I picked two colonies from the contaminated plate to step up and they are putting out some serious honey aroma. I know pentanedione is supposed to be a flaw, but right now is smells really nice to me. I'll post more about my experience with WLP??? in the future.

As far as the experiment setup goes, I was not as concerned with the overall microbicidal activity of each sanitizer as I was in simply checking the effectiveness of each as a surface sanitizer for typical use in my home brewery. I am starting with equipment that I consider sufficiently clean of organic soils - everything cold side gets an extended soak and/or circulation with PBW and inspected for crud. I'm sure there are more accurate ways to test this out, but I still contend that my setup is a decent surrogate for this.

I am not claiming that the Star San is a superior disinfectant for treating heavily contaminated equipment. For those you need something broad spectrum (or just toss it if it's easily replaceable). But I do think that it passes the "close enough for government work" sniff test for clean equipment that will be innoculated with an active and/or sizeable pitch of brewer's yeast. I also think that an important part of sanitization that is easy to overlook is the "must remain wet for the entire required contact time" part of things. The foaming action of Star San is a big asset in this department. I suspect that once I flipped the agar plates to dry that some Star San clung to the plate for a while, essentially extending its contact time for a bit.

FYI - One of the reasons I chose tap water over an untreated plate as my control was to rule out a simple mechanical action of washing the contaminants off the surface as the primary mechanism of action. That certainly wasn't the case here. That seems to strengthen the case that at least some antimicrobial activity is at work here.

Regardless of my results, if I were working with a slant of a culture that costs well beyond the total of all my other ingredients in a batch, I would certainly be using something as broad-spectrum as possible and ensuring it stayed wet for an extended contact time. Or just flamed anything possible.

Personally, my motivation for performing this experiment was that I felt myself falling into the trap of applying my medical knowledge of disinfectants to the brewery. But the goals are completely different - in medicine your goal is to reduce the count of pathogens to as close to zero as possible. In the brewery, we just need to reduce the amount of contaminants to a level where your pitch of yeast can rapidly outcompete them. Frankly, looking at the sparse dozen or so colonies on the iodophor plate, that's probably well within the acceptable window.

One more random tangent I've thought of while mulling this all over - a solution containing both concentrated Iodophor and Star San diluted to the appropriate concentrations may pose the best of both worlds. The acidity of the Star San enhances the effect of iodophor, and the surfactant will keep it in place longer. Or I could just be half-asleep and rambling lol.

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)



Star San:


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

Other Fermentables / Re: Crystal Cider
« on: November 08, 2015, 07:19:55 AM »
Have you considered lactose instead of crystal malt? Another option is malt extact, especially something in the Amber color range. This could be added right to the must without needing a separate steep or boil.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Stone Ruination 2.0
« on: November 06, 2015, 09:27:21 PM »
I'm not typically a big fan of commercial DIPA's, but this is a good one. Bitterness is firm, but not bracingly so. The aroma is real nice - pine, citrus and dank. I'd like more hops in the flavor, but it's still pretty solid.

The Pub / Re: Happy Friday...what ya drinking ?
« on: November 06, 2015, 09:23:21 PM »
Finally trying the new Ruination. Not bad at all for a commercial DIPA. I like it much better than the new Pale Ale.

Beer Recipes / Re: lambic simple recipe
« on: November 06, 2015, 07:51:32 PM »
I'm still working on the same thing. My initial thought was to steep some torrified wheat in the sparge water to extract the starch with minimal conversion. But my efficiency was ridiculously low and the FG was way too high even after 2 years.

Next time I will reserve the torrified or flaked wheat and add it at the last 10 minutes of the mash. Hopefully that will convert some of the starch to dextrins, but still leave a lot of big chains in the wort.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: priming boil and cool question
« on: November 06, 2015, 12:07:39 PM »
I boil just for a minute to make sure the sugar is dissolved.  That's all that's needed.  I don't cool it at all....pour it into the bottling bucket and rack the beer on top.  That'll cool it immediately.
That's exactly what I have been doing for the past year or so. Easy and effective.
I do something pretty similar. I start racking with the tube running around the outside of my bottling bucket. this way the beer coming in swirls around the bucket. Once there's an inch or so of beer in the bucket I add my boiled sugar solution. This does a good job of mixing it well, and I don't worry about most of the sugar staying on the bottom of the bucket.

I add my sugar to about a cup of water in a mason jar, then microwave it for 2 minutes to dissolve.

Beer Recipes / Re: Another Munich Dunkel thread...
« on: November 06, 2015, 11:04:07 AM »
I think late hops tend to fight the malt and never end up the way you were hoping. I've tried brewing hoppy Octoberfests in the past and I always thought that the late hops were lower than hoped because the maltiness overshadowed it. I also find that by the time lagering is finished the late hops are starting to fade as well.

Hoppy altbiers tend to lean towards a solid bittering addition, although they definitely have moe late hop character than a Dunkel. It won't hurt to try what your planning, but I'd keep a reasonable expectation for the kind of late hop character you'll end up with.

Beer Recipes / Re: First Saison Attempt
« on: November 05, 2015, 07:53:13 PM »
I agree probably it's a terminology issue. A 'chewy' beer to me is an up front malty beer - big stout, Ayinger Celebrator, baryleywine, etc. Using a yeast like 3711 can give give a full, creamy-ish mouthfeel even at a very low FG . And as Jonathan mentioned using a fair amount of grains like wheat or rye (both bread ingredients) could give a bready impression as well.
+1 - I think we're on a similar page, but with a terminology issue, because of the mention of "Chardonnay" character. I get a juicy character akin to a dry white wine, especially from 3711. I don't call it chewy or mouthcoating, but that's because I reserve those terms for high FG beers like barleywine or scotch ale. Sort of how the term "dry" can mean different things to different people. I refer to it as the lack of sweetness in a beverage, while others refer to the mouthfeel sensation of tannins or sulfates.

I also get the "breadlike" impression from many saisons as well, but again I don't call it chewy.

Ingredients / Re: Mango Coconut Hefeweizen
« on: November 05, 2015, 07:44:36 PM »
If you're planning on using coconut water, I'd adjust your volume and OG to account for the late addition of cocunut water, then add it after high krausen or in secondary.

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