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Messages - 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!

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: First Lager
« on: March 02, 2013, 07:15:30 AM »
kolsch kolsch kolsch kolsch kolsch kolsch :-)

Ingredients / Re: Adding Gypsum to Beer
« on: March 02, 2013, 07:05:31 AM »
I've added it to the keg before after dissolving a smaller amount in a 4oz sample.  Worked great.

Ingredients / Re: Commercial examples of hops
« on: March 02, 2013, 07:04:27 AM »
I'm not sure such an index exists, but Mikkeller does a single hop series if you can get it in your area. 

I honestly found one of the best ways to learn about individual hops was to collect 6-7 gallons of simple wort (90% 2R, 5% Munich, 5% C40), and do 5-6 separate boils, each with a single hop.  Usually makes a decent beer too!

Plus, you now have an idea for a blog!

Honestly though, its probably brewery to brewery.  For instance, a newer brewery in Baltimore (Union - very limited distribution) uses all Galaxy hops in the APA.  Not sure if that is on the website, the owner told me at the launch party, so you may have to do some hand-to-hand research.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: dry yeast for biere de mars
« on: February 26, 2013, 05:33:20 PM »
whoops.  I have a batch going right now w/ WY 3711 french saison (lowish - 64 degrees).  waste of saison yeast?  Farmhouse Ales says that you can use a wide range of yeasts for this style. 

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: wlp001 for Scottish 60/ or 70/
« on: February 26, 2013, 05:23:38 PM »
My opinion is if you mash at 158 or so, and kettle carmelize 1 gallon of 1st runnings down to .5 gallons, Chico makes a great 60, 70, or 80/-.  You want a very attenuative yeast to balance out a somewhat UNFERMENTABLE wort. 

My understanding is that historical/traditional scottish ales didn't have a peat/smoked flavor, and that it was only recently added to the style guidelines because so many people were ADDING peat malt to their beers.  The scottish ales I've had are malty, flavorful, and well attenuated without any peat flavor.  IMHO that belongs in the smoked beer category. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Last minute BJCP
« on: February 24, 2013, 02:17:44 PM »
Dang.  Missed diacetyl on a schwartzbier.  Otherwise I think I gave very full, complete answers and picked out what I should have. 

As tom petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

Thanks to all for the advice!

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 / Re: Why does all my beer taste the same?
« on: February 06, 2013, 09:07:53 PM »
I started brewing recently and have made three batches from extract kits (details below). I had a little experience before this in helping my dad make mead and wine, so I at least had a clue when I started. I sanitized and followed all directions religiously, and I ended up with three beers that should taste pretty different from each other but all taste incredibly similar. There are no off-flavors. The aroma is very nice on all of them, and the color, head, etc. all look right. OG and FG were exactly where the instructions specified. But they all have a very thin flavor profile and/or seem overcarbonated, with only subtle notes of the beer's intended flavor.

#1) Brewer's Best Scottish Ale, OG 1.034, boil volume 2.5gal
#2) Midwest Supplies Hex Nut Brown Ale, OG 1.043, boil volume 5gal
#3) Midwest Supplies Irish Stout, OG 1.047, boil volume 3gal

After the first one came out thin but with everything else seemingly on-target, I figured I needed to steep the specialty grains for longer (30 minutes on batches 2 and 3 compared to 20 on batch 1), which resulted in little to no improvement. All three seemed to have a much fuller flavor just before bottling compared to after bottle conditioning - going into the bottles each batch tasted great, and all three notably different from each other as they should be, but after 2 weeks in the bottle they all taste very similar and seem to have lost their flavor. There might be a tiny improvement in the flavor after extra time in the bottles (a month or two), but it's small enough that I could just be fooling myself.

I'm using secondary fermentation (roughly a week in the primary and a week in the secondary), bottle conditioning with the 3/4 cup of priming sugar that is included in the kits, and the fermentation/carbonation temperature is around 65F.

I'm stumped.

what about serving temp?  34* makes all beer taste cold then bitter!  take them out of the fridge 10 min before pouring them and report back.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Looking for a good AG recipe book
« on: February 06, 2013, 09:03:10 PM »
BCS is THE recipe book.  I know Jamil gets a lot of head-inflating props, but every one of his recipes has won comps.  He is the type of brewer that will brew the same style 10+ times until he gets it right.  Every style I have made out of BCS has turned out great. 

I've also heard "Clone Brews" is terrible.

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Questions about using corn meal
« on: February 01, 2013, 06:17:40 AM »
Cornmeal can go rancid, so let your nose be the guide on weather to use it. Did your wife buy new for a reason, or just forgot she had it on hand?

You need to do a cereal mash, as that gelatinizes the starch, allowing the enzymes to get in and do the work converting starch to sugars. The gelatinization temp of corn is fairly high, so that is why you boil it to break up the starch granules. If not you will have lower efficiency and starch in your beer.

For the price of the cornmeal, I would buy some fresh. That is what I did for the CAP that is lagering now.

Forgot she had it on hand.  I also have this obsession as of late to use ingredients I have on hand.  Will give the packages a sniff and a sift and see if they are good to go.  Thanks for the responses!

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Agave Nectar Wheat Beer?
« on: January 30, 2013, 08:38:17 PM »
One of the better brewers in our club brews an agave blonde regularly.  Haven't had it, but I know it gets great reviews.  Congrats on a successful brew!

PS as Jamil says, "all great brewers share their recipes" :-)

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 / Re: The Lesser of two ferment temp evils
« on: January 30, 2013, 11:17:21 AM »

Wow. Came home for lunch and saw the faux pils had climbed to 66-67* while in front of the dehumidifier fan!! Put a wet towel around it. Though gravity had only dropped 10pts when I checked, hopefully this pitch of yeasts' fusel and ester-making days (hours) are largely behind it.

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