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Messages - mpietropaoli

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46
Ingredients / Re: What's the strangest ingredient you've ever used?
« on: April 01, 2013, 05:52:05 PM »
When I was a kid living in central Kentucky, maybe 1965 or so, I pulled up a huge sassafras root by the side of the road.  A couple years ago, almost 50 years later, I put some of this, which is pretty much petrified at his point, into a club project beer.  It is cool that the aroma still comes through.

You might not want to drink that.  Google "toxicity of sassafras"

http://www.drugs.com/npp/sassafras.html

Of course it's too late now, but I knew of the counter-indications.  There was no vomiting, stupor, lowering of body temperature, exhaustion, tachycardia, spasm, hallucinations, paralysis and collapse.

Awe shucks! ;)

Its really a bummer that stuff is so bad for you.  My brother has a sassafras tree (I think) growing on his property and we pulled some bark off.  It smelled so.  frigging.  good.  I wanted to use it in a beer.  So we ground it up with the dremel, and I put some in a simple syrup and added to soda.  It was really really really good. 

So, while in my head trying to think of what styles it would work well in (saison, belgian pale ale), I googled it, and found a lot of the toxicity stuff.  Maybe it was just front of mind, but I did feel pretty dizzy and weird, even if from just a half tsp or so. 

I would love to get the extract with the harmful oil removed, but it would have been cool to use it in a beer, just for the 'terroire' effect!

47
aaaand the response.

I won't be visiting their brewery and frolf course.  The flavors they have are not from water or fresh hops.  What those customers are in love with is the experience of being at a farm brewery.  I tried. 

Mike ,
Thank You for your input. Our ales do have a distinct flavor since we use unconditioned well water and our own hops.
There are times when our crew taste the different ales and feel that there might be a problem with some of our brew and then a few customers come in and fall in love with it.
Thank you again for the input.

48
This is what I ended up sending:

Henry-

We met a few weeks back when you came to the meeting at Cross Street Irregulars homebrew club.  I really enjoyed meeting you and your son and wanted to tell you I am really impressed with your brewery's story.  Further, I think you guys have a great brand and from what is sounds like, a really special brewery and farm. 

At the risk of giving an unsolicited opinion, I wanted to give some feedback on the beer itself, and didn't think the brew club meeting was the best venue.  I didn't take specific notes, but was picking up some pretty significant off-flavors, most of which seemed to be from either yeast pitch rate, yeast health, or fermentation temperature. 

Not having the beer to taste, I cannot specifically recall what compounds are present, nor what processes in the brewhouse might have caused them, but I seem to recall diacetyl and potentially some acetaldehyde.  However, you might want to consider putting a small tasting panel together and doing a blind triangle tasting (one sample with your beer, the other two with another commercially-made example of the same beer style, such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale next to your Tavern Pale Ale, assuming the latter is an American-style Pale Ale).  After the tasting notes are complete and compared, you may be able to trace it back to a process. 

You could probably solicit some local homebrew clubs to see if they have any judges available who would be willing to assist.  I do have my BJCP certification, but am awaiting my final score on my written exam to see if I achieved a score high enough for 'National' level.  Further, I am moving out of the area in about 6 weeks for work, so will likely be quite busy! 

In any event, I debated whether to send this email and give you guys feedback, but thought I would offer my opinion.  Worst-case, you can completely ignore me and hopefully be no worse off.  Maybe you are already doing quality control or are aware of the problem.  Maybe you just don't want any feedback, which, again, is understandable. 

Best of luck to you all-
Mike

49
Going Pro / Re: Starting a brewery
« on: March 27, 2013, 04:34:03 PM »
Debt is cheaper on paper than equity.  However debt has its dangers too. . .  Banks (despite their ad campaigns) are NOT your business partner.  They are banks and they need to protect their depositors' dollars. 

Let's say you have very little money to invest, like many of the other posters here. You get investors to fund 90%+ of the brewery. You run the brewery. The brewery doesn't do well under your leadership. How long will your business partners keep you in charge of the brewery, before they force you out?

The craft brewing industry in the US is mature. Sam Calagione and Larry Bell were like Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak in the '70s. There was no personal computing industry, so they made one. In a nascent industry you can start in your garage. In a mature industry, the barriers to entry are much higher and the potential profits are much smaller.

If you really want to start a craft brewery on the cheap, I'd look at doing it in a dynamic economy with a lot of room to grow, but not much of a craft beer industry, like Brazil. I've seen a few guys on the German homebrew forums do that, because the liquor laws there are very friendly to start-ups, and $20k USD goes a long way.

I agree with your point about dilution.  If you have nothing other than passion to bring, you have to be the guy that is the spirit and heart of the business.  When the other partners want to know what you bring, it is converting that Miller Lite drinker at a local bar to try your beer.  And getting that drinker to like you.  And tell his friends about you. 

Re: Wozniak.  I agree.  However, Google was not the first search engine.  Altavista.  Webcrawler.  YAHOO.  Why did Google win?  Because they were more creative, innovative, and could execute better than the competition. 

BTW, just got back from Italy.  Craft beer is on fire over there.  Not sure about regs/raw mat pricing/lease rates, etc.  But if you opened a REALLY cool place in one of the college towns (Florence, maybe Siena), and executed well, you could absolutely kill it.

50
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?

51
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.  =

52
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 :-)

53
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:  http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=115208&hilit=biab

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. 

bagbrewer.com <-- this guy is the man.  You can probably make one cheaper, but he does a great job. 

54
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 :-)

55
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.

56
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...

57
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/-.

58
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>

59
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.

60
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.

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