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Messages - narvin

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Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: May 02, 2012, 06:20:01 AM »
Totally agree with you, Martin, about not all alkalinity being bad.  Just saying that since most water already has some, more may not always be necessary, even for dark beers.  YMMV.

The reason I recommend against the strips is that I don't find them to be accurate.  I wouldn't want to raise mash pH by 0.2 or more in error.

Beer Recipes / Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« on: May 01, 2012, 04:06:29 PM »
There's no such thing as cheating, unless you didn't brew the beer  :)

If you think you know what your target audience wants, why not cater to it?  Just remember that all judges are different, and you are no way guaranteed to win with a "bigger is better" approach.  Especially in the second round, where you might get more seasoned judges.

Beer Recipes / Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« on: May 01, 2012, 12:06:58 PM »
I agree, but given palate fatigue, beer staling, and other issues, is not always due to naive judges who think bigger is better.  But I think it often is.  I will say that my doppelbock was technically my best beer out of the three I submitted, yet it got the worst score.  Why?  It was on the low end of the ABV range, yet it was almost identical to Celebrator in terms of OG/FG stats.  Biggest complaint was lack of alcohol warming.  Really?  I think most judges would prefer an alcoholic bock versus one that showed complexity in malty body, and this is a problem.

Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: May 01, 2012, 12:01:18 PM »
I guess, but I don't see any difference in water that started with low alkalinity and ended up with a lot of it versus a base water with high bicarbonate.

Just the conjecture that neutralized bicarbonate (like what would happen in your acidic mash) lends an unpleasant flavor. I'm not an expert mead maker, but I've noticed it's definitely true when making mead, and also when making Belgian candi syrup. You can use much larger amounts of lime than chalk before you hit the taste threshold. How applicable that is to beer I couldn't say with certainty, but I strongly suspect similar flavor issues.

I agree, and am not a big fan of chalk either.  Beers I haven't added chalk to are almost always better than the ones I have.  The possible reasons are:

1) No need for additional alkalinity.  This is definitely possible; AJ Delange thinks that few, if any, circumstances warrant adding alkalinity.  My water has a bicarbonate content of 59 ppm. I've checked the mash pH with my meter on beers like a 60 SRM stout, and found that the contributions from a mostly roasted malt grainbill still result in a mash pH of 5.5.  The same mash read at about 4.9 with the colorphast strips, which, even with the 0.3 margin of error that Kai found, do not seem to be at all reliable for dark beers.

2) Neutralizied alkalinity.  Possible, but I don't see the same effect when using lactic acid in light lagers.

3) Residual chalk.  Could impart flavors, given that it doesn't dissolve completely.  Also possible that we are adding twice as much as we need, given the poor solubility, and the rest dissolves/reacts in the boil and causes a high wort pH.  This is generally never good.

I just want people to be careful with adding alkalinity.  In most cases, alkalinity is a bad thing.  I'm still looking for "the answer", as well; even though generalizations about water are hard to make, there are some best practices.  It seems to me that they are style based, and based on flavor.  100 ppm of bicarbonate have very little effect on the conversion, given the mash pH shift is less than 0.1, but have a large effect on flavor.

Keep experimenting!

Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: May 01, 2012, 07:47:53 AM »

Sorry for derailing the thread, back on topic:
I just don't see a reason why adding chalk or baking soda is better than adding lime. Some people have claimed negative flavors form from neutralized bicarbonate. As far as I'm concerned that's just conjecture. I'm not ready to firmly support that, but I'm leaning toward believing it.

I think it's more a question of "Is lime better than chalk or baking soda"?  I think it does have some advantages over both, but disadvantages as well.  I would never recommend anyone use lime unless they have a pH meter, as the strips (even colorPhast) are just not accurate enough.  Even with that, use safety precautions and err on the low side.  I personally don't think any beer benefits from a mash pH of over 5.5, and even a beer with lots of roasted malts will be very easy to get above this with a strong base like lime.

Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: May 01, 2012, 07:42:33 AM »
1 and 2 only contradict at the start.  if you start with the lowest mineral/alkalinity then add the lime, you get what you are looking for.  similar to guys, i would imagine, that always start with RO water and then build their water for a particular style.

I guess, but I don't see any difference in water that started with low alkalinity and ended up with a lot of it versus a base water with high bicarbonate.

Or, you could just take AJ Delange's advice and never add alkalinity.   :)

Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: May 01, 2012, 06:29:51 AM »
I hate to sound so dogmatic. This past year, I've really hit my stride brewing. All of the past 10 batches or so I've done have turned out consistently better than I've ever made before. I've only been doing a couple things differently:

1. Using pickling lime for mash pH increases
2. Using the softest, least mineralized and lowest alkalinity water I can get.
3. Only using calcium chloride for calcium adjustments

I used to futz with my water a lot, and add a lot of stuff to it to hit arbitrary ranges of ions others said were desirable. The above, simpler method has worked well for a broad range of styles.

Taste is subjective, YMMV and so on. I would urge everyone to take a critical approach to what you're adding to your beer, and why. If you think it does/does not make a difference, try it both ways and see which you prefer. The proof will be in the beer.

I'd just be careful about over-generalizing.  I'm not trying to sound skeptical, but I'm just really surprised that the water adjustments above were the thing that pushed your beer over the line from good to great.  You seem to hint that overdoing salt additions was something that didn't work out for you, which is often considered a "rule" of brewing and one that I'd agree with.  Keep experimenting for another year, and I bet you'll find that hard and fast rules don't always work out.  ;)

I'd also like to point out that #1 and #2 above contradict, and that there are a lot of styles where more sulfate than chloride is appropriate.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Sweet vomit aroma in Victory Hop Devil?
« on: April 30, 2012, 07:15:13 PM »
Butyric acid?

Easy to reproduce.  Leave spent grain in your mash tun. 

Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: April 30, 2012, 12:33:16 PM »
YMMV, but from my experience, any sodium is too much sodium. My water contains about 2ppm of sodium. I've added NaCl to some of my darker beers, because I read somewhere that sodium rounds out malt sweetness. I've found I prefer the beers without added sodium.

Tell that to San Diego  ;)

Maybe the extra chloride affected the taste as well?  Adding salt contributes 1.5x chloride ppm compared to sodium.

Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: April 30, 2012, 07:47:13 AM »
So, why is baking soda never the answer?

Baking soda contributes a low amount of alkalinity, and contributes relatively high amount of Na. So if you add enough baking soda to change the mash pH, you've added a lot (I would argue too much) sodium.

Don't really agree with this, especially since you're going to get half (or less) of the theoretical bicarbonate contribution of chalk in reality, while baking sodium is readily soluble.  According to Palmer, one teaspoon adds about 75 ppm of sodium and 191 ppm of bicarbonate.  I'd feel comfortable adding half of this amount to a dark beer when starting with RO water.

Pimp My System / Re: Cheap, functional HERMS
« on: April 30, 2012, 06:10:57 AM »
I am a firm believer that excellent beer can be created with relatively simple and cheap set ups:

Like, a single infusion mash?  ;)

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st round NHC results
« on: April 26, 2012, 06:20:53 AM »
I understand that you are allowed to rebrew. My real question is are you allowed to fine tune your recipe based on judges comments from the first round.


Zymurgy / Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« on: April 26, 2012, 06:20:33 AM »
They could just link to braukaiser  ;)

The Pub / Re: Exploding keg kills Redhook Brewery worker
« on: April 25, 2012, 08:04:58 PM »
Some of the more interesting imports from abroad now come in key kegs to our local uber-beer-bar, mainly because shipping a keg back overseas is more expensive (and probably worse for the environment) than a one time use plastic keg that can be recycled.

If there's a distinction, "East Coast" IPAs can be a little sweeter, maltier, and possibly use a more expressive yeast.  "West Coast" seem bone dry and clean, all hops.

To be honest, I don't think this is a distinction that exists as much anymore.  The traditional examples were the breweries in NE that use British yeast, and Dogfish Head with the malty 90 minute IPA.

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