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Topics - mpietropaoli

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General Homebrew Discussion / 87% efficiency brew in a bag...possible?
« on: March 03, 2013, 02:48:15 PM »
Am starting the boil on a BIAB "5 gallon" kolsch. 

10.3 LB Weyermann Pils
.5 LB Wey Vienna

-doughed with 5.4 gal to reach mash temp of 149, 75 minute mash
-raised to mash out of 170 for 10 min
-2 gal of 168* water for a single batch "sparge" (I remove the bag from my kettle and place in an empty fermenter with the sparge water for 10 min, and teabag it a bit :-)....took a brix measurement, got about 1.75 gallons @ 1.018/6 brix from this step)
-I squeeze my brew bag like it owes me money after the sparge, collected 7.25 gallons at 12 brix/1.048 pre-boil, so 348 total gravity points

by my calc, this is somewhere between 87 and 89% efficiency (10.8lb total grist, times maximum yield of 36-37 points per gallon per pound, or 399 gravity points....divide 348/399 = 87%). 

I am considering adding some water volume, but is this possible?  Help!

General Homebrew Discussion / Last minute BJCP
« on: February 22, 2013, 09:10:23 AM »
So I am taking my tasting exam on Sunday for BJCP.  6 beers, 1.5 hours.  I have been filling out no less than 5 scoresheets per week, sometimes under test conditions, sometimes not.  My exam coordinator was kind enough to look at a few of my scoresheets and gave me some of the following feedback:
-one thing he mentioned was to never give a ‘range’ in the comments, which makes sense for flavor/aroma/mouthfeel, but I think it can be appropriate for color.  Ie “dark hay to medium gold”??  Not having an SRM guide next to me during the test, is it worth taking a shot and being more vague with a range?  Or should I just take a stand and say the beer is ‘light copper’ or ‘medium amber with ruby highlights’.
-On the overall section, I rarely offered suggestions for improvement.  I can definitely do this, but I’ve scored a few beers, such as Muncher Edelstoff Helles, where I literally have no suggestions on how to make it better (I scored @ a 45).  I feel like this is also risky business, as “consider increasing the amount of roast malt” (for a American Stout, FX stout, or RIS, eg) or “consider a yeast or higher fermentation temp that will yield more esters” (for a too-clean ESB or premium bitter) are presumptuous.
-Finally, where is a good place to mention the ‘balance’ of the beer (ie toward hops, malt, or ‘even’ in the case of a well-made premium bitter or something)?  I’m guessing in “overall impression”?  I didn’t always mention the balance, and it was something he mentioned in his feedback. 
Any last-minute advice would be appreciated!  Another potential gap I saw was in some of the nuance of styles and my scores not matching up.  For instance, I mentioned a “rich noble hop flavor with carmelized malt” in an Oktoberfest I judged, but didn’t take off points for high hop flavor.  I am at a point with all the styles where I could describe them in a few words to someone with no knowledge, and tell if a beer is miscategorized, but I can definitely miss some of the finer nuances. 
Wish me luck!  My goal is to get above 80 so I can take the written exam later this year…which sounds like a beast of a beast.

General Homebrew Discussion / This is a new one
« on: February 20, 2013, 07:50:39 PM »
Ok I had an appointment cancel today so I figured it was a perfect opportunity to brew my 80/- that I didn't get to this weekend. Went ahead with a single decoction to mashout and a 1G of first runnings kettle carmelization (simple grain bill: 97% Eng. Pale Ale, 3% roasted barley), and I think the decoction gave me rockstar efficiency again on the BIAB. I calculated @ 84%.

Anyway, I had to add water volume to the kettle to maintain my BU:GU ratio, and had about a half gallon of extra wort. I thought it would be a great simple way to get my 3711 French Saison started. Pitched a non-swollen smack pack into 1.5L or so of 1.055 80/-, thinking it was not hoppy, and relatively session strength, with some trub for yeast nutrient.

Not seeing much activity 3+ hours later, usually I see a big krausen in an hour or so.

So, a n00b like question from me: I am hoping this starter will still start, but could it be that its a dextrinous malt (mashed around 158*), or higher gravity, or did I perhaps ruin my precious French Saison Yeast?? Blah!

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Questions about using corn meal
« on: January 30, 2013, 08:33:09 PM »
Ok somehow in my house we have accumulated about 4 lbs of cornmeal (I think there have been a few times when making cornbread where my wife would just buy a new package. 

In 40 brews, I have brewed one cream ale that I liked.  This past weekend I brewed a faux CAP that I am really psyched about.  Took a preliminary sample to see where I was in the ferment and it is already tasting pretty darn good. 

I want to brew Your Father's Moustache soon, but I can already see myself becoming obsessed with this style and beers based off of it.

Anyway, I would love to use this cornmeal I have in a simple lightish drinker with some good saaz character.

-Does corn meal go stale?  I know its something to do with whether the germ is removed or if they're steel cut or otherwise (?)  Google is not yielding good information on this, but some of this corn meal was bought a year ago or so.
-Do I have to do a cereal mash with cornmeal?  If it helps or makes a difference, I typically brew in a bag (so gluey mash shouldn't be a huge issue), 5 gal batches
-Is this corn meal better suited to make a bunch of corn bread for a homeless shelter?

Yeast and Fermentation / The Lesser of two ferment temp evils
« on: January 29, 2013, 06:08:41 PM »
So I did a quick Premium Bitter today and realized I don't have a way to ferment it right @ 67*. 

I have a faux pilsner going in my ferm fridge set at 60*.  The ambient temp in there also happens to be 60*.  The pils is in the midst of high krausen (US-05) and is bubbling pretty regularly.  I checked the gravity, and it had only dropped from 1.058 to 1.045 (if it was further through fermentation I would have moved up to the first floor of my place with a pretty regular ambient temp of 65). 

My question is, is it better to ferment my premium bitter (1L starter of Nottingham) at an ambient temp of 60* in my fermentation fridge, 58* in my basement, or 65* on my first floor?  I want some ester production, but I feel like if I have it @ 65 degrees ambient, the ferment could take it up north of 70*, and I don't want fusels.  Any thoughts are appreciated. 

All Grain Brewing / What exactly is...
« on: January 06, 2013, 07:47:58 PM »
This?  On the necks of a Cali common I bottled off a keg about a month ago. 

All Grain Brewing / Head retention in a raspberry stout
« on: January 06, 2013, 07:37:13 PM »
Had some issues with head retention in my last stout where I added 32oz grade b maple syrup post-fermentation.  Am planning a choc raspberry stout with 4-5lbs of raspberries post-fermentation.  Is it simply a matter of adding some dextrin malt to my mash?  Mash higher to compensate?

Adjuncts include coffee, chocolate, and yes, maple syrup (eh?).  Basically a foreign x stout recipe/gravity pre-32 oz of maple syrup fermented in secondary. 

Was thinking either 13b, 23a, or 21a.

Brewed the following IPA-borderline-IIPA this past weekend.  I have been brewing in a bag and typically getting around 75% efficiency.  This time I did a superfine double crush through the mill, 75-minute mash (as usual for BIAB) with mash hops, and a single batch sparge in a spare fermenter with 170* water.  The only difference is I didn't do a 10minute mash out.

I am dumbfounded because after my 'lauter', I had 7.5 gallons of wort @ 1.047 pre-boil.  Based on the 90 minute boil I was doing, I figured I would be down to at least 6 gallons as my blichmann burner evaporates like a mofo.  So:

7.5 gallons @ 1.047 = 352 gravity points
6.0 gallons end volume = 1.058 OG PLUS 1# cane sugar, which should have added about 8-9 gravity points.  1.067-68, not the end of the world. 

First off, my efficiency was miserable this time (total grist of 14.75# = 545 possible gravity points, 352/545 = 64% efficiency or ugh.  Have NO IDEA why it was so bad.

Anyway, here is the weirdest part.  I decanted the wort after chilling off the trub, aerated like crazy, and took a small refractometer sample.  15 brix, or about 1.060.  WTF?  Since this was bordering on a IIPA, and most of my hops were late, I went a little nuts with hop additions, bittering to 105.8 calcuated IBUs thinking that a BU:GU ratio of 1.38 was a touch high, but wouldn't TASTE that bitter, as most were late.  Then, when I had this abysmal gravity of 1.060, my BU:GU ratio became more like 1.76.  Ouch.  And bitter. 

I gave this a taste tonight, and it was pretty damned bitter (not terrible but bitter, even for my tastes).  It is super early (pitched 2 packs of US-05 Sunday night @ 10pm), as I was adding 3oz of dry hops per Tasty's method of tail end of fermentation, so maybe its not done fermenting... 

Any thoughts on what could have happened with my gravity?  It makes no sense at all.  Also, could I brew and ferment one gallon of malty, high-gravity beer and blend?

Flight of the Phoenix IIPA
14-C Imperial IPA

Size: 5.5 gal @ 68 °F
Efficiency: 75.0%
Attenuation: 81.6%
Calories: 251.62 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.076 (1.075 - 1.090)
Terminal Gravity: 1.014 (1.010 - 1.020)
Color: 12.33 (8.0 - 15.0)
Alcohol: 8.17% (7.5% - 10.0%)
Bitterness: 105.8 (60.0 - 120.0)

0.5 ea Campden Tablet - added during boil
12.75 lb (81.0%) American 2-row - added during mash
.5 lb (3.2%) Crystal Malt 20°L - added during mash
.5 lb (3.2%) Crystal 40 - added during mash
1 lb (6.3%) Melanoidin Malt - added during mash
1 lb (6.3%) White Table Sugar (Sucrose) - added during boil
1 oz (8.3%) Caliente (17.8%) - added during mash
1 oz (8.3%) Columbus (15.0%) - added first wort
.75 oz (6.2%) Magnum (14.5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 m
.3 oz (2.5%) Amarillo® (8.5%) - added during boil, boiled 20 m
.3 oz (2.5%) Centennial (10.0%) - added during boil, boiled 20.0 m
.3 oz (2.5%) Caliente (17.8%) - added during boil, boiled 20.0 m
.3 oz (2.5%) Amarillo® (8.5%) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 m
.3 oz (2.5%) Centennial (10.0%) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 m
.3 oz (2.5%) Caliente (17.8%) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 m
.5 oz (4.1%) Centennial (10.0%) - added during boil, boiled 10.0 m
.5 oz (4.1%) Caliente (17.8%) - added during boil, boiled 10.0 m
.5 oz (4.1%) Centennial (10.0%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 m
.5 oz (4.1%) Cascade (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 m
.5 oz (4.1%) Caliente (17.8%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 m
.5 oz (4.1%) Centennial (10.0%) - added during boil
.5 oz (4.1%) Cascade (5.5%) - added during boil
.5 oz (4.1%) Caliente (17.8%) - added during boil
.5 oz (4.1%) Amarillo® (8.5%) - added during boil
1 oz (8.3%) Cascade (5.5%) - added dry to secondary fermenter
.5 oz (4.1%) Centennial (10.0%) - added dry to secondary fermenter
.5 oz (4.1%) Caliente (17.8%) - added dry to secondary fermenter
1 oz (8.3%) Amarillo® (8.5%) - added dry to secondary fermenter

00:03:00 Dough in - Liquor: 6.0 gal; Strike: 162.79 °F; Target: 153 °F

General Homebrew Discussion / FWH with BIAB
« on: November 12, 2012, 03:23:59 PM »
any ideas on how best to do this?

Was thinking of just tossing a FWH addition between the bag liner and the kettle, then leave them in while I am warming up to and during the boil?

SUB-question:  anyone ever FWH a Cali common?

Ok I have been brewing for almost 3 years and have had MAJOR improvements in my process and my beer, and have won a few comps.  Added temp control, adequate/healthy yeast pitches from starters, and nice long primary ferments.  I recently started kegging occasionally (only occasionally because I live in the city and don’t have room for a dedicated serving fridge) and noticed something.
I kegged my first lager, an Oktoberfest fermented @ 50 degrees (~3 weeks), lagered at 35 degrees for 4 weeks, but also bottled/primed about a gallon of it and allowed for natural carbonation in the bottle (still doing this with the majority of my brews, again given the absence of a serving fridge and using my spare fridge for a ferment chamber)
The O fest tasted GREAT out of the keg.  A touch caramelly (maybe too much Vienna), but otherwise, great aroma, rich malt character, and clean/dry finish.  I grabbed a 22oz  bottle of the bottle-conditioned O-fest to take to my brothers house, which we had with a steak last night.  The bottle conditioned version had a slight cidery/astringent/sherry ‘edge’ in the aroma (not so much in the taste).  My brother couldn’t pick it up, but perhaps because I was expecting the beer I had out of the keg, I definitely caught something weird an unpleasant that I have noticed in other beers I’ve made, particularly those that are bottle-conditioned.
There is an off-chance I poured some yeast in the glass.  There is also an off chance my bottles were not GLEAMINGLY clean (typically, I triple/quad rinse HEAVILY after emptying a bottle and store them uncapped prior to sanitizing only before re-use…I know it’s a bit of a dice roll, but I feel like I am dislodging any gunk, then rinsing away anything else with my ‘after-use’ cleaning of bottles).
My question is, has anyone ever experienced off-flavors from the priming sugar itself (I use corn sugar dissolved in boiling water), or conducted a side-by-side to taste a kegged beer vs. a bottle-conditioned beer?  Usually, I will add the cooled simple syrup ON TOP of the racked beer prior to filling bottles, trying to minimize splashing.  I do this because I want to know my exact volume to properly measure priming sugar weight (sans trub).  Also, I am somewhat lax in CLEANING bottling wands, racking canes, hosing, etc., but typically soak in sanitizer for 30 minutes or so prior to use.  I know, I know, you can’t sanitize a turd and all that.
So it is likely there is an issue for me at packaging, and I need to discipline myself to clean AND sanitize everything.
Sorry for the long post, but just trying to pinpoint this and see if anyone else has had bottle-conditioning issues.

General Homebrew Discussion / Passed my bjcp online entrance!
« on: October 30, 2012, 07:39:49 PM »
Was originally planning on taking it and failing just to get some recon on the exam, but I guess since i read ray Daniels in the bathroom at work and listen to jamil on the way to work, I could futz my way through the questions!  Hopefully taking the tasting portion in feb, any pointers appreciated!

General Homebrew Discussion / Holy Hell....its hot-side aeration
« on: October 17, 2012, 07:27:30 PM »
So I have been trying to pinpoint a flavor that is coming through in the majority of my beers.  Some people, BJCP-certified in my club even, can't pick it up.  But I know it.  Well.  And haven't really been able to pinpoint it. 

After tasting my latest IPA experiment, I noticed it AGAIN.  Its a somewhat cardboard, tart, papery off flavor. 

When my boil is complete, I have been immersion chilling, as for a 5 gallon batch, my plate chiller is just not worth the trouble.  Until recently, I would cool it down to pitching temp or near it with the immersion.  Lately, I've been partial chilling below 140 to stave off DMS, then placing in the fermenting fridge to get the beer exactly to pitching temp (albeit a bit more slowly).  In both methods though, I have been directly dumping out of the kettle into the fermenter, sometimes a bit vigorously.  I will leave as much trub as I can behind (I don't whirlpool), but after my wort has chilled to pitching temp, I will vigorously dump into a new clean, sanitized fermenter before pitching, and decant off the trub. 

Either way though, aldehydes are forming from introducing the beer to too much oxygen when its above 80 degrees right?  (it is rare that I will chill with my IC below 80...usually more like 100-110). 

Has anyone else made this mistake, or corrected it and noticed improvement??

I need to read How to Brew all over again....I spent my first 10 batches boiling with the lid ON because I had it in my head that I didn't want to lose volume (this is before Ray Daniels schooled me that the TOTAL GRAVITY in the pot cannot change!!  Ie, no you are not losing WORT with boil off!!)

Events / One extra Farm to Table for GABF
« on: October 03, 2012, 06:00:29 PM »
Anyone need one?  $140.  My wife had a work thing come up and I'm going with our two friends on Friday night.  I have it on Stubhub right now, but would rather an AHA member have it.  PM me or reply. 

So I've been messing with IPA recipes and techniques.  I have never bothered with trying to weight down hop bags for dry-hopping, but I thought I'd give it a try this time.  As I am not a 19th-century British schoolchild, I do not have marbles on hand, which I know are the recommended weight of choice.  I was racking my brain for something to use, then I saw my tool box.  Why not use the attachments for a socket wrench?  Stainless steel, able to be sanitized...boom, I have,r:2,s:0,i:119&tx=84&ty=80 weights. 

Then after muscling them into the carboy neck (they bunched up in the bag and it was harder than I thought), and racking the beer, I noticed that despite the weight, the hop bags were still on top of the solution.  Fantastic.  Well the hops were wet, and hopefully it didn't matter.  Later found out that weighting down the hop bag really isn't worth the trouble. 

THEN I found out that the socket wrench attachments weren't stainless steel.  They were chrome/chromium-plated steel.  Usually for socket wrenches, they use cheap chrome. is toxic.

So I ran home, racked the beer out of the carboy, and it does smell fantastic.  It seemed to taste good, but I haven't been feeling great and I'm not sure my palette is the sharpest. 

The attachments did not appear to have any corrosion.  There were some flecks on the inside of them, but then I looked at the attachmenets I didn't use, and they had the flecks as well.  However, I do know that beer pH is usually well below 5, and could likely corrode something like this. 

As I do not want to poison myself, my wife, friends, or family, should I dump this beer?  Its one of my better IPAs, and would sting like hell to dump it. 

Anyone familiar with corrosion of chromium on steel?

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