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Messages - erockrph

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Do Paradox sour beers have viable dregs?
« on: June 22, 2015, 08:30:39 PM »
Try growing up a small starter. If there's anything there it should grow. It will certainly help the health of any culture that's in there, anyways.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast propagation at White Labs
« on: June 22, 2015, 08:28:46 PM »
I have never used a stir plate, so I cannot comment on their effectiveness or detriment, but I can say that they are absolutely not necessary. I have always followed the "shake it whenever you walk by it" method of aerating starters, and it has always worked fine. I did notice a big improvement when I started using the "Shaken, not stirred" method of starter aeration. My starters have taken off more rapidly, smell better (I take this as a subjective sign of yeast health), and have noticeably shorter lag times when pitched.

I'm not saying that everyone needs to toss their stir plate, but it is by no means a required piece of equipment. Your money is much better spent on a temp controller, a new keg, a sack of grain, etc. - unless you're a gadget addict and just want one for the fun of it.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: How much food do Brett and pedio need?
« on: June 22, 2015, 08:14:59 PM »
I'm a little late to the conversation, but I think a lot of sour beer brewers have come around on the thought that you need to leave food for Brett to produce it's typical flavor profile. If the appropriate flavor precursors are available, Brett will happily metabolize these without needing a significant carbohydrate source.

I heard a recent interview with Allagash where the brewers stated that they mash low to try to get their primary fermentation to finish as dry as possible when they're planning on adding Brett to the secondary. This lets them bottle a batch much sooner since they don't need to wait as long for the Brett to get close to terminal gravity. Their Brett beers are fantastic, so they must be doing something right.

If you're bottle-carbonating this won't work, but I sorbate/sulfite my cider, then backsweeten with fresh juice. I add sugar or apple juice concentrate to get the initial ferment to dry out in the 8-9% abv range, then add back about 50% of the volume in juice (preferably the same cider I used for my initial ferment). I keg and carbonate at that point, but you could bottle it as a still cider if you wanted. The end result is a cider in the 5.5-6% range in the vein of something like Angry Orchard or Woodchuck.

Ingredients / Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« on: June 12, 2015, 05:16:25 PM »
Thanks for the replies. I'm going to brew the Blonde tomorrow and  put the additions in the kettle and see what happens. The use of epsom salt was for the IPA to help add sulphates without adding more calcium. My Mg levels are already pretty low so I didn't think it would hurt?
As long as your Mg doesn't get too high, then it's not a problem. Keep in mind that (at least for ales) you want to be in the 50ppm ballpark (minimum) for your calcium.

The Pub / Re: If I could bother my friends here for a little help...
« on: June 12, 2015, 11:20:49 AM »
If you win, could you start shipping your beer to the Northeast?  ;D

Ingredients / Re: Mashing in dark grains??
« on: June 12, 2015, 11:17:51 AM »
Thats one way to limit harsh astringency that can be added by the darker malts, but is not always necessary as you have seen in previous batches. If you are treating your water with water software, when you hit the correct mash pH, you will also avoid those harsh flavors. There will be a lot of responses here and most will tell you to experiment. I made great dark beers for a year before I started treating my water, and never separated the dark grains. Its really a combination of things that lead to the astringency, kind of a perfect storm of things going wrong. Separating the dark grains will eliminate one aspect of that perfect storm, making it less likely
+1 - Personally, I include them in my mash from the start and target a mash pH of 5.5-5.6 for roasty beers, and 5.4 for brown ales. I have tried adding them at the end of the mash as well as cold-steeping them. In the end, I didn't see an advantage that warranted the extra step.

Whatever you decide on with your procedure, stick with it and make your recipe adjustments from there.

Ingredients / Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« on: June 12, 2015, 11:11:03 AM »
You want to add the salts to the mash and the sparge so that they are already in the kettle when you have collected all of your runnings. You can use lactic acid instead of acid malt for recipe simplification as well. Bru'n Water should tell you how much of everything to add to the mash and to the sparge depending on your mash/sparge volumes and concentrations.

I am pretty new to water treatment myself and really don't understand the ins and outs other than what each component is supposed to add to the finished beer. Others here will be able to help you with more specific information.
If your mash pH works out without using the salt additions, then you can just add them to the kettle. If you have included the salt additions in Brun'water, then you need to add them to the mash so the pH calculations work out. Salt additions do affect the pH of the mash, but they are important flavor components as well.

As far as bicarbonate goes, it is really more of a pH adjustment rather than a flavor one. I like to target 5.5-5.6 for a mash pH in my dark, roasty beers. I use baking soda in the mash to increase my mash pH to that level.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Priming 1 12 oz bottle??
« on: June 12, 2015, 10:42:15 AM »
1 sugar cube per bottle

This remains on my list of things I need to try.

I've found the Brewer's Best conditioning tablets to be inconsistent.  But, that may be attributable to how I store them and the fact that the break into pieces sometimes.
I've been wanting to try sugar cubes as well. I am very happy with the Coopers carbonation drops for my purposes, but if sugar cubes work then I'll definitely keep some on hand for this.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: keys to a crisp lager
« on: June 12, 2015, 10:30:19 AM »
What acid are you using in the mash? Perhaps the effect is not from pH per se but rather from the use of lactic acid, which is not flavor neutral?
That is certainly a possibility, especially if you're shooting for a low mash pH using primarily pale malt. I've heard that the amounts of lactic acid typically used for mash pH adjustments are below the flavor threshold, but there's definitely a range of sensitivity on that.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: keys to a crisp lager
« on: June 12, 2015, 08:32:37 AM »
I'm curious about the comments regarding mash pH and crispness. What is it about the mash pH that you propose affects this? My general understanding is that mash pH is most important for enzymatic activity and tannin extraction (among many other relatively minor effects like break formation and maillard reactions).

Beyond that does a few points at mash pH really make such a significant difference as long as you are in the optimum range? Looking at some of the data in the Water book (e.g. Table 13, p. 121) it seems the yeast does a very good job of lowering pH to within a few tenths of pH despite widely disparate mash and kettle pH values. It seems there's an assumption that mash pH is determining final pH, but from what I see that's not true.

It's not mash pH that should be considered here, but rather final pH. It is not unusual for commercial brewers to adjust final pH for whatever reason.
Outside of controlling tannin extraction you are right, we're talking about final pH rather than mash pH. But many of us at the homebrew level aren't adjusting finished pH. I know many of us (myself included) just use software like Brun'water or Brewer's Friend to determine our mash pH and then letting that drive the finished beer pH. I know that if I set my mash pH to the 5.3 range for lagers I get the result I'm looking for, just like I know if I mash at 5.5-5.6 I get the results I like on a porter.

You could certainly dose the batch with lactic or phosphoric post-ferment to adjust pH as needed, but if you have your recipe dialed in the mash pH does tend to drive the finish pH.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Mixing yeast
« on: June 11, 2015, 10:13:54 AM »
Those are allegedly the same strain (as is BRY-97), so I don't see an issue using them together.

I am by no means a sour beer expert, but afaik it is not recommended to make a starter from the dregs of a mixed culture (i.e. from a beer made with sacch, brett, pedio, lacto, etc.) because the different critters do all not grow at the same rate. So the ratios in the starter will be different from the ratios in the original beer.
While the ratios may change, I don't think that makes a huge difference in the finished beer. If you don't make a starter there may not be too much simple sugar available to the lacto by the time it has grown to a healthy cell count. You certainly don't need to make a starter from dregs, but if you want to use them as your primary culture for a beer I think you're better off having them healthy.

Plus, who's to say that the ratio of viable bugs in the bottle is the same as those when the fermentation started? If you're culturing from a gueuze you have critters that are 3+ years old and probably not in their best shape, if they survived.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Using Mint
« on: June 10, 2015, 09:01:56 PM »
Im in the process of planning a steam beer and the hops should give a sorta of minty aroma off of it(this is what I've read.) I like the sound of a twist of mint, so i was wondering if putting a few mint leaves at the end of a boil will push a minty smell.

I'd advise you to find an anchor and try it first.  You might be surprised at how there's really no mint flavor.
+1 - I've gotten some of that "mint" character from certain hops, but it's not like spearmint or peppermint. It's more of an herbal thing - reminds me more of Ricola cough drops or horehound candy. And I get none of from the Anchor in my hand right now. The bittering has a nice bite to it, and there is some herbal hop character, but the flavor is primarily driven by pale malt and fermentation character.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What is applejack?? And is it good?
« on: June 10, 2015, 08:51:55 PM »
If you eisbock a 33 cl bottle of cyser the result will be maybe 10-15 cl of 20 ABV. So it's going to be more concentrated, but I don't see why it would be dangerous if you don't exaggerate with the amounts you drink.
The concern is that things like fusels and methanol are also concentrated by freeze-distillation, unlike using a still where you can dispose of the heads and the tails. This can lead to roaring hangovers, sometimes referred to as "apple palsy".

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