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Messages - narvin

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: PH calibration and solutions
« on: October 24, 2014, 05:59:13 AM »
I use the three point calibration, just because it is recommended... and I use the recommended branded test solutions.

I have noticed that the ATC component stabilizes the reading more quickly after the 3 point... as opposed to the 2 point. May not make any practical difference in brewhouse as I seldom see a pH above 6.

Milwaukee MW102 with ATC.

How are you doing a 3 point calibration with the MW102?  I have one and the manual says it only supports 2 point calibration.

I think Breiss 2-row is good for a cream ale.  It just doesn't have quite what I want for most other beers.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 22, 2014, 08:27:33 PM »

I can assure you that the ephitet "geek" fits me better than "luddite."  :)  The following posting will give you insight into my formal background:

Keeping the things we can control simple because the things that we cannot control are complex is something that every technical professional worth his/her salt learns early on in his/her career.   For example, I can almost always determine the relative experience level of the software engineers who built a piece of software when reviewing the source code or reverse engineering  it.  Software that is built by bright, but inexperienced software engineers is almost always an order of magnitude more complex than it needs to be to do the job. 

Complexity for complexity's sake adds no value.   The same thing can be said about calculating IBUs, pitching rates, and efficiency percentages at the scale at which most amateur brewers work.  Sure, calculating these values is a nice intellectual exercise that offers us interesting numbers, but the acid test for accepting additional complexity should always be, does a complex calculation add significant value to the process over a less complex calculation?

I understand simplicity, repeatability, and the limitations of a model.  What I don't understand is what you are advocating, aside from avoiding any methods that you haven't embraced.

The yeast growth, IBU, and extract potential calculations that I've referenced are all based on solid data.  More importantly, I'd argue that they take meaningful inputs and produce usable, repeatable results for homebrewers that are more than just an arbitrary number on paper. Showing that a possible error exists is not a reason to revert to a worse model.

I won't get into credentials in a public forum, since I think that's kind of pointless.  But I will say that you come across as someone who is, above all, set in your ways.  I have a significant amount of engineering experience, and this is one of the biggest red flags we see.  You can teach people with inexperience...

I have never used Rahr 2-row, but I have heard good things about it.  I used to use a lot of Schreier 2-row in the nineties.  I believe that Schreier is now part of the commodities giant Cargill.  Anything is better than Briess 2-Row Brewer's Malt.  That stuff is so bland that it makes melba toast taste good. :)

Hey, now that I can agree with!  I get Great Western 2-row since we have a good Country Malt distributor locally.  ABB (Anything But Briess).

Equipment and Software / Re: Lauter Tun Sizing
« on: October 22, 2014, 06:16:27 PM »
Cool, my mistake.  It looks like a good choice for a mash tun.  If you need to mash more grain, you can always go down to 1.25 qt/lb.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1990s beer critic
« on: October 22, 2014, 02:38:26 PM »
On the other hand, his beer descriptions are an enigma at times. For example, he describes the Affligem Noel Christmas Ale: "as soft and buttery as the mouth of a champion bird dog".


The Pub / Re: Kickstarter for bathroom remodel
« on: October 22, 2014, 09:43:50 AM »
Just to be clear before I donate, is your bathroom also a brewery?  What are you "brewing" in there?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 22, 2014, 09:37:25 AM »

The same thing can be said about extraction efficiency calculations. Efficiency calculations only reflect reality to point where the dry basis, fine grind (DBFG) or hot water extract (HWE) values used in the calculations reflect reality.  These values can change from malting to malting and season to season.   

And, country malt will give you the lot analysis for the specific bag of malt you bought.  Keep it in a sealed container and even moisture content shouldn't change much over time.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 22, 2014, 09:32:31 AM »

One does not need an IBU calculator either.  All one needs is a unit of measure because we have no idea if the alpha acid rating on the package accurately reflects that current state of the hops.  Amateur brewers used HBUs/AAUs long before IBU approximations became the rage. An HBU/AAU-based hopping rate combined with a boil length is no less valid than a calculated IBU value when it comes to repeatability, and hopping schedules based on HBUs/AAUs can be calculated in one's head.

It is less valid as a model of bitterness, though.  Whether or not the model is accurate given variances in hop age, batch size, and other factors is another question.  However, "why try to predict something that can never be 100% accurate" seems like a Luddite excuse to me.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Honey Smacks Beer??!?
« on: October 22, 2014, 08:00:36 AM »
If the flavor is "honey" and "smack" then there you go.

That second ingredient might not be approved for beer by the TTB...

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Honey Smacks Beer??!?
« on: October 22, 2014, 06:23:02 AM »
I put cereal in the mash once when I was young (stupid).

At best, you get nothing.  At worst, you get oil, preservatives, and regrets.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 21, 2014, 09:03:45 PM »
If there is one thing on which Kai Troester, Steven Deeds, and I agree, it's that real world numbers do not always correlate with the numbers produced by yeast calculators.  For example, how does a yeast calculator know that a culture is 59% viable after 2 months.  I have cultures that will remain viable for up to two years on slant.  I have other cultures that I have to subculture within six months or risk losing the culture.  The only thing that will teach a brewer how to pitch correctly is experience with a particular yeast culture. 

Yeast cultures are a little like atomic bombs in that one does not have to get all that close to the optimum calculated pitch rate in order for the culture to do its job correctly.  The difference between 200 billion cells and 300 billion cells is insignificant when making a starter because yeast cells grow exponentially at a rate of initial_cell_count x 2n, where n equals the time in minutes since exiting the lag phase divided by 90.  The difference between 200 billion cells and 400 billion cells is 200 x 21, which is 90 minutes of propagation time. 

Given two cultures of the same strain that are not drastically different in cell count (i.e., not several multiples), the limiting factors are always going to be dissolved oxygen, available carbon and nutrients, and initial yeast health.  A 1L starter that is pitched at the end of the deceleration phase will almost always perform as well if not slightly better than a 2L starter of the same strain that is allowed to ferment out.

Sure, the viability calculator is bunk.  The Wyeast one doesn't even have that feature. If you're buying new yeast to make a starter, the calc will give you 90%+ anyways.  For fresh yeast, viability isn't as important since a continuously aerated starter is where you're most likely to get the maximum yeast growth per liter of wort (i.e. an atomic bomb). 

Yeast cell growth in standard brewing conditions, with one initial aeration, is considerably less.  Even one fewer phase of reproduction can make a big difference in the final amount of yeast.  It will "do the job", but will you get the ester profile you want or the attenuation?

There's no problem with pitching less if you're doing it on purpose, but I wouldn't suggest that people new to the hobby pitch less than 0.75 mil/ml/Plato.  And at the homebrew level, you're almost always overestimating (at least, that's what I've found from doing cell counts). 

I would suggest using a yeast calculator because a repeatable process is the first step to learning what works.  Then you can adjust your SWAG from there.  It's better than dropping the bomb on your beer and hoping for the best.

Equipment and Software / Re: Lauter Tun Sizing
« on: October 21, 2014, 03:46:14 PM »
I am thinking about making a tun for fly sparging 25-30 lbs of grain at a time.
I have a 15gal Polyethylene (#2)  jug 13.5 in dia. x 25 in tall.
is that to tall a height to width ratio?

I think the size is okay.  30 lbs of grain and water at 1.5 qt/lb is ~ 13.5 gal. Palmer says that a pound of dry grain takes up 42 fl. oz, so the grain bed itself would be 9.8 gallons, or 16" deep in your tun.  This is deep enough, since deeper gives you more uniform lautering, but not too deep to cause problems.

I'd be concerned about the PET though.  I see references to 140F being the maximum working temperature that's considered safe for food applications.

Beer Recipes / Re: Helles Bock for Pro-Am Competition
« on: October 21, 2014, 03:22:46 PM »
I'm going to give the standard advice.  Pitch twice as much yeast (2 vials in a 3L starter), and cool the wort to 44 before pitching.  Let it rise to 50-52.

YMMV, but it's a lot easier to pitch below your fermentation temperatures and get a clean lager than to pitch warm and try to reduce the temperature by the time the yeast starts fermenting.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 21, 2014, 12:10:05 PM »

Please do me a favor and stop using yeast calculators.  In my humble opinion, they are one step above toilet paper when it comes to growing yeast cultures.  No yeast strain that I have ever used performs as these calculators would lead one to believe.  Experience is the best teacher when it comes to growing cultures, as no two strains perform exactly the same when pitched into the same composition and gravity wort.

With that said, one needs to determine where one is and where one needs to be when growing a culture. 

Is that not the point of a yeast calculator?

You can't blindly input numbers and expect every beer to come out perfect.  But for determining your pitching rate, it's a good starting point before you start adjusting the other variables (oxygenation, increasing/decreasing pitching rate, etc).  And when I've done cell counts, they haven't been so far off that it makes using it as a guide worthless.

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