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Messages - mpietropaoli

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The brewer and founder of a new farm brewery/hop farm in our area came to one of my clubs meetings recently.  They have an AMAZING story, great packaging, and seemed like great guys overall.   They are doing cool festivals, do a lot for their community, and have helped with legislative matters. 

Then we tried their beer....

Every one of them (4 different beers) produced on a 7bbl system were extremely flawed.  Acetaldehyde, fusels, lots of sulfur (?)...borderline offensive beer. 

They said they would love feedback, but I didn't necessarily feel comfortable sitting back, twirling my imaginary mustache, and asking them about pitch rates and yeast viability.  However I did ask them, "What yeast do you use in this beer", to which they both replied with quizzical looks.  Mind you, there was an amber, an IPA, a bitter, and a stout.  The reply was "one of the dry ones", but I'm not even sure they were fully confident in their answer. 

Part of me was thinking of emailing them privately and suggesting they get some formal sensory analysis done (politely).  I am awaiting my BJCP written exam grade, but am currently only a Provisional judge, so I'm not sure if that means me. 

Thoughts from pro brewers?   Homebrewers?

General Homebrew Discussion / Lagerus Interruptus
« on: March 26, 2013, 07:28:44 PM »
Have a biere de mars and a kolsch lagering right now in my lagering fridge.  Would it be ok to pull them out for a few days and leave them in my 60* basement so I can control ferment temps on 2 new batches I am going to ferment?  Probably only going to precisely control temps for the first few days, then bring the new fermenters up to my first floor, with an ambient temp of 66-67, at which point I can resume lagering.  =

All Grain Brewing / Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« on: March 12, 2013, 09:25:43 AM »
What I can't figure out is where you save an hour or more of time. 

I suppose I should also mention that I upgraded to a Blichmann burner :-)

All Grain Brewing / Re: Starter All Grain Equipment
« on: March 11, 2013, 08:03:18 PM »
Another bag brewer here - 5 gal batches.  Used to mash in my kettle, so I figured I'd give it a shot. 

My endorsement on NB:

On my last batch, a kolsch, I got 87% efficiency, 4 hour brewday for 6 gallons in the fermenter, from pulling stuff out to sitting on the couch. 

NOW, I will say it has its limitations.  I've had some efficiency problems when i've tried to do beers bigger than about 1.075.  Also, you need to lift.  Or fashion a pulley.  Which, to Denny's point, negates the whole purpose.  However, I still consider myself relatively young and strapping (emphasis on 'consider'...I will post again when I slip a disc), so lifting a big bag of wet grain for a minute before I set it on a canning rack to drain isn't that big of a deal. 

Recognize though, that with any setup, you will have some learning curve. <-- this guy is the man.  You can probably make one cheaper, but he does a great job. 

Trying to find more info on what goes on...all I can really find is that it sounds like club night, but it goes on all the time, and clubs do 2-3 hour shifts...

I feel like this might be like high school where I rather be a guest @ the party than host the party :-)

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Oxidation Story and Question
« on: March 10, 2013, 07:11:10 PM »
If you're sending it to the NHC, I'd definitely rebrew it. The campden tabs will be obvious in the beer, and I don't think the judges will admire that.

what a waste.  It was such a tasty brew.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Oxidation Story and Question
« on: March 10, 2013, 05:46:52 PM »
does anyone have any experience in adding campden tabs (crushed, added to sanitized/boiled water) to a keg or any time post-fermentation? 

Yeah, that thing I just said.

Got it.  Yeah, I saw two multi-syllable words in a row and just glossed over them.  Now I know Campden Tab = potassium metabisulfate.

In any event, added two tabs to the keg before I put two and two together, so we'll see how it reacts and I will post back...maybe the extreme and refreshing maltiness of my 80/- will drown out the vinous quality....  May need to rebrew this (or brew something else) to send in to NHC, but only time will tell...

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Oxidation Story and Question
« on: March 10, 2013, 08:34:14 AM »
does anyone have any experience in adding campden tabs (crushed, added to sanitized/boiled water) to a keg or any time post-fermentation?  My understanding is that it (or its sulfites maybe) are antioxidants that bind to the dissolved O2.  Trying to save this batch of 80/-.

General Homebrew Discussion / Oxidation Story and Question
« on: March 09, 2013, 11:30:15 AM »
So a quick story to (hopefully) benefit all.

I submitted a few beers to a comp in NYC (Homebrew Alley), one of them being an IPA I made in mid-Dec that I thought was great (judging was mid february). This beer actually came in 2nd @ a local non-sanctioned hedonistic comp in late january.

17.5 from the judges @ homebrew alley. The main thing they cited was acetaldehyde.

WTF? Then I had the last bottle I had at a club meeting in late february. Lifeless. No hops. Awful. One guy said acetaldehyde. ACETALDEHYDE!!? Green apples? How could that be possible? I pitch a ton of yeast, manage it well, etc. PLUS the beer WAS great at one point.

So I was going through my process (typing it out actually) and realized the following. Since I have been kegging, I will typically keg, then bottle with the blich beer gun, so I can free up my serving fridge which also doubles as my ferm chamber. It hit me. I love to 'quick carb'. I don't always CO2-purge when I rack to my keg. So I am shaking up my keg like a polaroid picture with oxygen in there, and diffusing both CO2 and O2 into my beer. As a long-term storer in bottles, this is a major problem.

But wait, why green apples? Why acetaldehyde? One thing I have been very diligent about in my last 20 or so brews is yeast. For the last few years. proper management, starters, pitch rate, manipulate temps well. Acetaldehyde is usually a result of improper yeast management.

Oh wait. Or oxidation....oxidation REVERSES a lot of the reactions that happen during fermentation. "intermediate" compounds that are formed during fermentation AND TYPICALLY REABSORBED rear their ugly heads as a result of oxidation (like acetaldehyde).

Lesson learned (hopefully). I need to drink the $#@!T out of my beers now so they don't have the chance to age and get worse. I have noticed this in most of the beers come to think of it.

I just carbed my 80/- and its excellent. But I didn't CO2-purge. I have heard that you can precipitate out oxygen by adding either additional campden tabs or vitamin C to the keg. I might try this, as I was planning on submitting this AWSEOME 80/- to NHC. Anyone have experience with adding a campden tab (or five) to a kegged beer to reduce oxidation? Or I might just rebrew it.

<slaps forehead>

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: wlp001 for Scottish 60/ or 70/
« on: March 07, 2013, 05:32:51 PM »
I'm drinking the first one I ever made, first pint.  This is a great beer, and I used s-05, mashed @ 158, single decoction to mash out, kettle camelized 1 gallon of1st runnings down to .5 gallons, fermented at 64*.  This might be a quarterly brew.

A: slight caramel, toasted malt, low toffee, no hops
A: brilliant deep amber, moussy off white head, lots of lacing
F: rich high caramel malt upfront with a hint of toast/melanoidin.  Soft/mild bitterness.  Bit of toffee from the kettle carmelization, which I could see as the "peaty" note.
M:almost nitro-Guinness like.  Silky. 

yes please.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Kolsch Fermentation Schedule - WLP029
« on: March 07, 2013, 05:17:42 PM »
Egggggsellent thanks all!  The weird thing is, in his podcast, jamil says that he uses some wheat in his kolsch.  Then in the BCS I have, his recipe is just 95% pils, 5% Vienna/Munich....must be a revision in a later addition.

Yeast and Fermentation / Kolsch Fermentation Schedule - WLP029
« on: March 05, 2013, 05:26:39 PM »
Okay, I know you can't put beer on a schedule, the yeast work on their own timetable, 'its done when its done', etc. etc. etc. 

That being said, the majority of my ales are done in 7-10 days.  I ferment the majority of my ales pitched in the low-mid 60's, and let them rise up to the mid-high 60's, in some cases (belgians and saisons) continue to raise up to the low-mid 70's to finish.  Now I have to say, on 90% of my beers, I am using Chico, Notty, or a Belgian yeast. 

So this is my first kolsch, Jamil's recipe (10.3# pils, 0.5 vienna, mashed at 149, 75 min, 15g magnum @ 60)

I chilled to and pitched at 58, let rise up to 60, and it is cranking away 36 hours later with a minimal lag. 

My question is, could I raise the temp up to 65 after 5-6 days, let it finish up at that temp, and if it is @ terminal gravity by day 13 or, stick it in the ferm chamber to lager?

I have two objectives:

1.)  free up my ferm/lagering fridge (I have a couple other beers I'd like to crash/cold condition)
2.)  Make an awesome kolsch

Hopefully the two aren't mutually exclusive.  I know with the majority of yeasts, the most critical time to control temp is the first 48-72 hours, though longer is preferred.  I have had great success in the past (for instance with a steam beer I made) pitching and conducting fermentation at 60/61, then raising up to ambient temp 65-68 after 5-6 days. 

Thanks in advance!

Going Pro / Re: Starting a brewery
« on: March 05, 2013, 05:23:59 AM »
Bottling Success at The Brooklyn Brewery is another great account.  Alluded to it in my earlier 4 page post.  Combo of legendary marketing/branding, luck and hard work.

Going Pro / Re: Starting a brewery
« on: March 03, 2013, 09:44:51 PM »
Really, really really really happy I came upon this thread.  I have read through each and every post a few times.  Sorry in advance for the long post, but this has been plaguing my mind for a long time.  Maybe I should have made this a separate post. 


Re: me - I am in a strange place with beer.  I have brewed just shy of 50 5-gallon batches.  I have become decent at it.  Haven't won a comp yet, haven't even placed other than hedonistic comps.  But I make good beer.  I know how to control cold-side and fermentation.  I know how to pitch the right amounts of yeast.  I like to think I can tweak a recipe.  I make good beer and I spend ALL my free time reading about, talking about, thinking about, and (oh yeah) writing about beer on forums like this.  I just took my BJCP tasting exam, I have brewed 10 batches so far in 2013.  I have had an appointment cancel multiple times and have brewed a batch with the 'found' time.  I've actually left work on a slow day to brew.  I have a few friends (free spirited types) who tell me I should quit being such a pragmatist and 'work in beer'.  I spend the majority of my spare energy (the most VALUABLE of commodities in my mind) on it. 

I have an undergrad degree in finance, training from a top 5 commercial bank, a masters degree in real estate finance, 10 years experience in banking, a year and a half of law school (one of the biggest, if not the biggest scam out there), and a good, steady job that pays well above the median salary and allows me and my wife some nice luxuries.  I know I can do just about anything, its just a question of where I want to deploy my energy and if I have the balls to do it.  I have seen plenty of startups fail, have liquidated plenty of them, and I know selling beer is a hell of a lot different than brewing beer for and enjoying it with one's family and friends.  Yet it still haunts me that I should be spending my life doing something surrounding this.  I have an opportunity to move back into a business development role at my employer and get my company to pay for my wife and I to move back to our home town.  It would/will be a great life for us.  Yet beer still haunts me.  I can write a business plan, build a cash flow, a DCF, figure out an IRR, glad-hand/chin-wag with investors, and could go to a release party and get everyone just as psyched about beer as I am.   

Yes, there would be A/P and A/R.  Yes, there still would be licensing.  Yes, there would be keg leases, disputes with landlords, a $#!tload of grain to clean up, payrolls almost missed, sleepless nights worrying about the loan I took against my 401(k), shelf space, a $#load of competition, shelf space, capacity issues, spoilage, breakage, oh yeah, shelf space, etc etc etc.  But its beer.  And its awesome.  And we all know it. 
When I throw out the 'yeah, you know I really love it BECAUSE its recreation and NOT work' to my friends (one of whom is in the wine industry), the response is "that sounds like someone who has never really done what they loved for a living".  I suppose there is something to the notion that as soon as your 'love' becomes 'the way you put food on the table', it changes.  Maybe not for the better.  But I don't know that for sure.  And I won't know until I try to make it my life.  Maybe I'll never know. 

Re:  Financing Options (this is actually where I might add some value and not just vent my frustrations - People have said it well on this thread prior to my chime in.  As Steve Hindy from Brooklyn said (paraphrase), "don't let lack of money stop you from pursuing your dream.   There is money out there, but you need to be able to tell your story.  You can find the money.  But you need to be willing to work.  Work harder than you have ever imagined, but you will have to give some things up". 

Debt is cheaper on paper than equity.  However debt has its dangers too.  In my job, I live this everyday.  I manage 'distressed' commercial relationships for a super-regional bank (its been a 'growth industry' since 2008).  Before that, I was a small business lender.   Standard 'shelf' Laser-pro bank documents (note, guarantees, security agreements) essentially allow the bank (ie someone like me now) to come in and nuke your business if we want to and/or are the least bit uncomfortable.  Its not because banks are heartless, banks (like breweries) just operate on razor-thin margins and are in the business of managing risk, as opposed to selling suds.  Now, typically,  MY BANK does not operate that way (though every bank is different and could give far different top-down directives based on their need to maintain capital levels and NOT charge-off/write off bad loans).  1. it gives us a bad reputation in the community, 2. It usually makes sense to work with a business before you liquidate it.  That being said, banks don't have enough people in my role these days.  I am managing way more relationships than I should.  Which MEANS that it is more efficient for me to just EXIT a relationship (ie have a UCC Article IX creditor sale of my collateral, which could be fermenters, kegs, brite tanks, mash tuns, etc. and sue the principals for whatever is left) than let them limp along on forbearance agreement after modification agreement after loan extension.  Banks essentially need to be 'right' on 99.5% of their loans to make money.  Banks (despite their ad campaigns) are NOT your business partner.  They are banks and they need to protect their depositors' dollars. 

Re: All the people on here who are DOING WHAT THEY LOVE  Thanks!  You guys are what give the rest of us spineless working stiffs hope.  Don't get me wrong, I like what I do and love the people I work with.  But I have to believe that if I actually summoned the stones to sacrifice a bit of lifestyle to do what I really love, it would be a different life I would lead.  I am not sure if I could live with the 'entrepreneur's night-sweats', but part of me would sure love to find out. 

Re: The BUSINESS of beer  My wife's 2nd cousin is a sensory analyst/QC guy/Doemens-academy-certified brewer who now works for a top 5 craft in QC.  I had an hour conversation with him a few months ago about how it might not be the worst idea to 'keep brewing right where it is' in my life.  Beer is 'heavy and cheap' as he said.  Its competitive as hell.  Maybe I'm better off hanging out and ENJOYING beer at a beer release party instead of pushing it to vendors. 

I understand that every fly fisherman can't become a guide on the big blackfoot, and everybody who loves to get drunk and play golf with his buddies can't become David Feherty.  But I've had a lot of hobbies, and none of them have infected me like this one. 

re: the OP:  Do it :-)

Sorry for the rant and thanks for reading if you haven't fallen asleep.


You know, its interesting, I had originally heard when I first started extract brewing that squeezing the grain/muslin bag is a terrible should just let it drain.

Then I started BIAB'ing, and have been squeezing the bag like crazy (typically I will spin it around like I'm going to tie it, which extracts more liquid, then I also put it onto a canning rack above my kettle and apply pressure with the kettle lid).  I honestly can't perceive tannins.  I've recently heard that they are more of a result of low mash pH than applying pressure to the husk of the grain to extract liquid.  Makes sense I guess. 

Anyway, looking like I have a little more Kolsch than I planned for with a touch higher gravity.  One of those good problems I guess!


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