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Messages - goudron

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st Kit, fermenting kind of cold
« on: January 25, 2012, 03:58:12 AM »
Ok, I won't get into the quest for the mythical turkey baster bulb (just know it involved getting a new turkey baster and some electrical tape).  OG was 1.048 at 70F(range was 1.048-1.052 for the kit)  After 9 days it is at 1.016 at 62F (kit says FG should be 11 to 15, but I will see where it goes).  I'd have let it warm back up to 70 but I drank it too quickly.

It does not taste bad, in fact I think I could drink up a couple of bottles worth right now, but maybe that's just pride.  I think it could use something else, something maybe besides carbonation and a little more AC.  I don't know enough about description of taste to describe it better.  I'm not going to dry hop or add fruit or anything, I will just let it sit and see how it turns out.

I have another week and a half before I leave for a week or so, so I can take another couple of SG's.  There are two schools of thought in this string: let it sit until after I return, possibly allowing for a full 31 days in the fermentor at 58-59F.  OR heat it up and bottle before I go.

Is 31 days in the fermentor going to be safe?  Is there much risk of exploding bottles given the current SG - I suppose this will be more obvious after a second or third reading.

Thanks again for all the help!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st Kit, fermenting kind of cold
« on: January 25, 2012, 12:21:22 AM »
Update: fermentor temperature remains between 57 and 59.  It did start bubbling faster, and it has mostly run its course I think.  I put a blanket over it last night, but temp didn't change.  I used Danstar Lallemand Nottingham yeast, and according to the PDS it works down to 57F.  I was going to bottle after 20 or 21 days, but I may need to take a week or so business trip before then, so I guess I will bottle sooner.

My question is, is there benefit in checking SG at any time before my bottling date?  I'd prefer to keep the fermentor closed up until I need to bottle.

I'm pretty good at worrying about stuff.

I'd be careful assuming that this spreadsheet, or any water calc spreadsheet, will tell you what your pH will be or was.  Only way to know that for sure is to test the wort with a properly calibrated pH meter.
Absolutely, I don't have one though, I was using the spreadsheet to see what might have happened.  I'll likely use paper next time, I have some that changes colour at each pH, so I will at least know approximately where I am.

I wouldn't worry about pH too much at that point.  Only add the salts if the water appears to need it.  Look at the concentrations in ppm that will be present in your final batch volume based on the additions you make.  And a lighter touch with those salts is better, especially when you first start messing around with water modification.  Undershooting will be much more forgiving in the final beer than overshooting.
Thanks, I will definitely take the undershooting approach.

You extract tannins when the pH AND temperature are high.  You said your pH was low from the spreadsheet.  You did not say how much and what you added as far as salts.  I might not worry too much.
Well temperature was not too high, and pH was low so I guess tanins will not be a problem.  I did not add any salts, and it was just distilled water.

You can boil the grains if you are doing a full mash.  That is called a decoction.  The beer does not turn out astringent since the pH of the mash is <6.0, more in the 5.5 range if done properly.
I was thinking of replacing a small part of my extract with 2 row malt to keep the other grains company - no full mashing on my horizons yet :)

Thanks for the feedback and information!

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Steeping Grains, Water Chemistry question
« on: January 23, 2012, 11:18:55 PM »
In my first kit I had some chocolate and caramel 120L grains to steep.  I did that in about 3 gallons of distilled water.  After searching around about water chemistry and steeping grains, I think I will try a similar recipe, but steeping the grains in about 2 qts of per pound of grain.  I will also add some minerals to the distilled water, and add the same ratio of minerals to the distilled sparge water.

I understand that the grains should help keep the pH in line and keep from getting nasty flavours from the grains (can't remember from what atm - tannins?).  I used the EZ Water Calculator spreadsheet found here: and discovered my pH was really low on my first kit.  Maybe it won't taste too bad, we'll see.  My first kit will have to taste really bad for me not to like it.

My question is, since the grains are not going to be in the wort when I add hops and extract, do I need to treat my 3 gallons of boil water with the same minerals as I will with the grains and the sparge water?  Does the danger of off flavours from poor pH control go away when the grains themselves are removed?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Friend Decanted From Fermentor
« on: January 23, 2012, 04:53:50 AM »
Lol, yes he had to be decanted, wouldn't fit through the hose  ;D

General Homebrew Discussion / Friend Decanted From Fermentor
« on: January 23, 2012, 12:41:22 AM »
A work buddy of mine lost his racking cane, and couldn't get his siphon going without it, so he decided to decant his beer out of the fermentor into the bottling bucket.  He gave me a couple of bottles to sample.  It's a raspberry ale of some sort.  It is cloudy, but it doesn't seem to hurt the taste - would this cloudiness be cold break proteins or just gunk from the trub?  Also, the beer is overly fizzy.  No bottles exploded, but it makes a head in the bottle when you open it, and creates quite a head in the glass.  What would be the cause of this?  Too much priming sugar?  Incomplete fermentation prior to bottling?

EDIT: Forgot to mention the beer *tasted* somewhat strongly of alcohol, but I don't think his gravity was off.

I agree with what Denny said, but use bottled water.  Manganese is less of a problem than iron, but if there is enough iron to stain your shower then it is way too much for good beer.  You can use spring or drinking water for the whole thing or at the very least to steep the grains.  You can top up with distilled water if you want, but don't steep in distilled water.
What's wrong with steeping in distilled?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: A few newbie questions
« on: January 18, 2012, 10:41:17 PM »
Star-San solutions need replaced when a precipitate forms, right? My sanitizer spray bottle has white particles in the bottom now.  What extends its life? Refrigeration, protection from light?
My StarSan solutions seem to last just about forever.  The primary thing I've heard causing premature precipitate is using water with too many minerals in it to mix your solution.  Is your water pretty hard?  Maybe try mixing up your next batch with store bought water?
Yeah, my water is extremely hard. Tastes a bit like drywall, too. 
Distilled water will help it last longer then.
Do Star San solutions made from distilled water ever get precipitates?  Is hard water actually necessary to use presence of precipitates as an indicator of needing to replace the solution?  I checked Five Star's site, but I don't see any mention of shelf life of the concentrate or diluted solutions.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st Kit, fermenting kind of cold
« on: January 17, 2012, 01:40:25 AM »
Thanks, come to think of it it seems sort of silly boiling boiled water :)

I actually pitched when it was around 65, but the basement floor is colder than on the table I guess.  I'd measured ambient temp at 61 on the table, and beneath it the fermentor is now at 57 - the thermometer is thinking about showing 59, but it isn't all the way there.  If I move it up here, it will be in a closet of cupvoard, and those are likely going to be no warmer than 65.

General Homebrew Discussion / 1st Kit, fermenting kind of cold
« on: January 16, 2012, 11:05:23 PM »
I spent yesterday brewing my first kit, Brewer's Best Red Ale.  I boiled for longer than intended as I was waiting for the hot break, but never saw it after 20 minutes, so I just added hops.  Never looked like I was going to boil over (didn't use the lid so I guess that helps).

After getting it into the fermentor, and equilibrated, the temp showing on the themometer on the side of the pail is only about 57F.  I noticed a bubble on the airlock at lunch time - around 16 hours after pitching.  Now it's 21 hours after pitching, and there's a bubble about evry 15 seconds.  Seems slower than I expected.  Should I move it out of the basement to an upstairs closet, or just let it go slow like this?

Also, I used distilled water for this, and following instructions in John Palmer's "How to Brew" I preboiled the first 3 gallons.  I could not just let that 3 gallons sit in the fermentor, it needed cooling, and I actually just got it down to 70 F by the time I finished my boil.  I think next time I will preboil the night before.  Does everyone preboil the extra water not in the wort?

Yeast and Fermentation / Yeast Wars?
« on: January 13, 2012, 03:05:17 AM »
Still reading through How to Brew.  There are plenty of different yeasts.  John Palmer suggests using 2 packets of yeast to ferment with to endure there's plenty of yeast.  I haven't come across any mention of using 2 different yeasts though.  If one yeast gives so and so characteristics, and the other gives such and such, do you end up with such and so, or does one yeast outdo the other, or do problems ensue?

Excellent news, and good to know, thanks to you both!

From How To Brew section 6.1:

Lag time:
refers to the amount of time that passes from when the yeast is pitched to when the airlock really starts bubbling on the fermenter. A long lagtime (more than 24 hours)...

How much of lag time is actually time that passes before fermentation starts rolling, and how much time is spent filling up the head space of the fermentor?  How much pressure needs to build up for a regular airlock to bubble?  I guess not too much.

What this really got me thinking about is how much head speace should be in the fermentor relative to the amount of wort.  How much is too much space?  I'm wondering because I plan on making 5 gallons to start, and I'll use the 6.5 gallon fermentor, but I'm guessing I will later gravitate to smaller batches to compare different variables head to head whenever possible.  Is 20-25% of the fermenter being head space ideal?  That would make 3.85 gal a good batch size to fill a 5 gallon carboy, right?  I'm guessing the headspace could be smaller, but that too much headspace is bad.

Does the exposed surface of wort as a proportion of wort volume make a difference?  ie, if I had a wider 6.5 gallon fermentor that's half the height of the standard plastic pails will that produce a noticeably different beer?

Thanks for all of the good advice.  Not sure I will go through with the experimentation on the first batch.  Kind of impatient though.

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