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Messages - pikelakehomebrew

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I don't mean this to be link spam or anything like that, but as an extension of general home brew discussion in a different medium.  Google+ just launched their new communities feature, and thought I'd extend an invitation to my fellow AHA members that may be on Google+ to come and join the Brew Nerds community.    I know little can top the value of the AHA forums — they've been invaluable to many of us.  The great opportunity with Google communities is hooking up with other brewers, being able to video chat/hangout and discuss various brewing topics, and to collaborate with one another in realtime.

Come and check it out!

This would also be an awesome opportunity for the AHA to initiate an official presence there, too.

The gig's in... I got a fragment of the water report (I think our city water guy felt like I didn't want/need the whole report), and the CaCO3 levels are MUCH MUCH lower than I guesstimated, to the tune of 270 mg/L.  I figured the water chemistry was far too complex to just flip a formula upside down to figure out the CaCO3 levels based upon the pH, Ca, and Mg values.

I'll re-assess my findings with the new data if I have a chance later today and re-ping the forums.

All Grain Brewing / Re: stuck sparge
« on: November 15, 2012, 03:57:17 AM »
I would also suggest adding a mash-out step around 168°F — raise your temperature to about that mark while being mindful about not venturing too far above 170 — and that should help a bit too, or so I've read.  So between increasing the gap in your mill and mashing out, I think that should reduce your stuck mash issues.  I rarely get them.  And if I do, a little suction action on the collection tube helps get the wort flowing quickly.

Edit: I am pretty sure that my estimation of the Biocarbonates (HCO3 or CaCO3) has got to be off.  But I still want to double-check with the community and see if my math is at least on.

Got your math nerd hat on?   ;)  Good.

So I'm delving deeper into the math and science behind brewing — much in part to the book "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels — and I'm presently wrapping my head around water chemistry (or trying to anyway) but ran into a red flag when I was evaluating just how much Calcium I would need to bring the levels down to earth.  It seemed pretty extreme, so I thought I would confer with the chemistry and math geeks here and make sure my calculations were correct, and if they are, how I can bring the pH level down without introducing off flavors like chlorine, salt, etc.

Water profile
For starters, I checked with my city water source and they were able to provide the general pH range (7.5-8.1), the Calcium reading (170 ppm), and Magnesium reading (28 ppm), but did not have any readings for Biocarbonates.  So based upon the formula that Daniels provided:

Code: [Select]
pH = (0.028 x [(Biocarbonate ppm x 0.056) - (Calcium ppm x 0.04) - (Magnesium ppm x 0.033)] )
I guestimated (based upon reverse-engineering the formula) that our Biocarbonate reading must be in the ballpark of 4921 ppm, so the end formula would have these values:

Code: [Select]
7.5pH = (0.028 x [(4921 ppm x 0.056) - (170 ppm x 0.04) - (28 ppm x 0.033)])
Achieving 5.5 pH

So I took the same formula, but factored in 5.5 as the pH rating, kept the Biocarbonates and the Magnesium at the same value (assuming that those two would remain constant), and then figured out how much Calcium it would take to bring the pH level down to 5.5.  That formula is:

Code: [Select]
5.5pH = (0.028 x [(4921 ppm Biocarbonates x 0.056) - (1956 ppm Calcium x 0.04) - (28 ppm Magnesium x 0.033)] )
And the difference of ppm of Calcium between a pH level of 7.5 and 5.5 comes out to be about 1786 ppm of Calcium — and because Calcium is only 27% of Calcium Chloride, it would take 6615 ppm of Calcium Chloride to  reduce the pH to 5.5.  And if I have my percentages right, that would also mean adding over 3100 ppm of Chloride.

Translate that into ten gallons of strike and sparge water as an example, that would be nearly nine ounces of Calcium Chloride to bring the pH down.

If I'm not mistaken (and I probably am — I am a man, a home brewer, and am prone to err), that much Calcium Chloride could have a pretty bad effect on the flavor of the water, the mash and in turn, the beer.

Do my figures look correct in terms of the correction of pH levels?  Or is it possible that my Biocarbonates guestimation is off altogether and is by far too high?  Since the city doesn't measure CaCO3, I'm stuck trying to guestimate that without sending my water in for a professional reading.

I've no real interest in answers like "just go get some distilled water" — simply put, I don't learn anything from copping out and grabbing distilled water off the shelf.  Part of this exercise is to learn some facets of the chemistry of water and how I can correct it as a home brewer (within reason).

And just to be clear, my beers don't taste bad at all — I can't say that having a higher mash pH (of about 6.3 or so, which is what I've been averaging) has had a dramatic effect on my beer.  But I am trying to really dial it down and improve my mastery of water chemistry.

Thanks in advance.

All Grain Brewing / Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« on: September 05, 2012, 08:01:30 PM »
Someone on this forum referred me to this BYO article by Dave Green.
I've read it 3 or 4 times and i get something out of it every time.

That's perfect, Pi.  Thanks for the article reference — a great read!

All Grain Brewing / Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« on: September 05, 2012, 07:42:29 PM »
Like Kai mentioned, British and usually American styles do not use a step mash (although somebody can probably come up with an exception!).

Would you say that just comes down to a preference thing or perhaps just a brew house set up versus something necessary to the style? I know that spending more time at one range (beta vs alpha) can potentially change the body/fermentability, but don't ever recall reading anywhere that one brew style or another you ought not step mash.

I don't mean to belabor the topic by any means — just seeking out more knowledge on the subject.   :D

All Grain Brewing / Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« on: September 05, 2012, 07:29:17 PM »
I appreciate the comments on what you guys do, but back to my original question, are there beer styles that lend themselves to something other than a step-mash?  Personally I've found that I get a great deal more efficiency when step mashing, but wonder if there are beer styles that are just inappropriate to do so and would be best off with something like a single-infusion or something similarly?

I know that preference is just that, preference.  My question is about any connection to beer style and mash process types.

All Grain Brewing / step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« on: September 05, 2012, 06:13:01 PM »
So earlier this spring I decided to make step-mashing a priority in my brew day — I do temperature rests at most of the various extraction points, 15-30 minute protein rest, 30 minutes for beta conversions, 30 minutes for alpha conversions, a 10-minute mash-out, and then sparging for as long as it takes.  By-in-large, my results have been great and achieve both high efficiency and great-tasting beer in the process.  And if I don't adjust my sparge water for my efficiency, I can also boost my ABV if I choose to as well.

But my question is about beer styles and when it may not be appropriate to do a step mash?  Are there beer styles or traditions that lend themselves to a single rest or something other than what I've described in my current step mash process?  I don't pretend to be well-versed in all the different BJCP styles, but at least know that so far I've had great results with a complete step mash.  But I am just curious if there are beer styles that call for specific mash processes, like no lower beta rest and only higher temperature alpha conversions, or vice versa.

Your thoughts and input is appreciated.  Thanks!

All Grain Brewing / Re: metric nerdery please: calculation question
« on: March 23, 2012, 10:40:43 PM »
If you're encountering °Brix because of a refractometer, though, there are corrections that need to be made. They have to do with the properties of wort, rather than the actual measurement units.

So °Brix from a refractometer is really a misnomer, at least not truly °Brix without dividing the reading by 1.04?  /shrug  All this time I had been hearing from others and assuming that the refractometer was a Brix reading.  Score one more for the online information correction team.

A couple questions about both of those massive formulas — pardon my lack of scientific understanding; I'm a web designer and developer, not a scientist.

I see notations of RIi1, RIi2, RIi3 and the same pattern for RIf.  I understand that RI is the refractive index and that i and f are initial and final respectively.  But what is the numeric value in that?  I didn't quite follow if you were taking three RI readings at the beginning and end, or if that meant something else.

The other item I didn't quite follow in your larger formula is where it says 0.0216*LN.  What does LN correlate to?  I didn't see any indication as to what that stood for.

Your formula is very impressive, and I can't imagine how long it take to come up with that.  Your nerdery is certainly exponentially higher than I could hope to attain.  Cheers to you, my friend!

With thieving out fermenting wort to take measurements and losing volume as a big concern for a number of home brewers, you'd think that someone would have come up with a hydrometer that required less volume for measurement by now. 

I had a friend who used to say she was so anti-capatilist even her name was all lower case.

+1  ;D

All Grain Brewing / Re: metric nerdery please: calculation question
« on: March 23, 2012, 01:50:15 PM »
The formula is actually the same, it's just the constants and units that change. So instead of representing potential extract as, say, point-gallons per pound, you'd use degree Plato-liters per kilogram, and so on. Base malts tend to be around 37 point-gal/lb, which is about 77 °P-L/kg. If you want to brew 20 L of a 12°P (1.048) beer at 80% efficiency:

(20 L * 12°P)/(77°P-L/kg * 80%) = 3.9 kg

or in American customary units: (5.25 gal * 48 points)/(37 point-gal/lb * 80%) = 8.5 lb

The two answers are the same, just given in different units.

°Plato tends to be more common in Europe, SG in the UK, and American brewers use whichever they learned first, more or less.

Thanks Sean.  That's what I was wondering about — Plato being the generally "non-American" standard measurement for Gravity.  I didn't think that you'd mix G.U.'s with Metric measurements, so that makes sense.

How closely does Plato and Brix run?  Is there a formula for conversion from Brix to Plato, or are they pretty much the same?

All Grain Brewing / metric nerdery please: calculation question
« on: March 22, 2012, 07:29:16 PM »
So I'm considering going metric with my calculations and measurements, and am presently reading an excellent book [Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels]; and in his book he talks about calculating the malt bill for your recipe based on a few variables.  All his calculations revolve around Gravity Units (GU) and imperial measurements (pounds and gallons).  Like a couple sample formulas:

Code: [Select]
G.U. + Batch Size in Gallons = Total G.U.
Code: [Select]
G.U. per Pounds of Malt ÷ Extract Potential G.U. ÷ Mash Efficiency = Pounds of Grain Needed
Now I know the simple method to make this Metric-friendly would be to simply insert the formula for imperial to metric conversion right in the formula.  But I'm just curious, with formulas like this in mind, how does the REST of the world calculate things like Total Gravity, Pounds of Grist needed, etc.  Like would they just use °Plato instead or do they have entirely different formulas?

Just curious.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Basement brewery
« on: March 21, 2012, 04:33:48 AM »
This thread's starting to remind me of an ex-girlfriend from a long time ago, making all sorts of promises but never showing the goods.   ;D

Language has gender, people have sex.

Bah dum bum...ching!  ;D

Gender Analyzer got it right, though.

Gender Analyzer clearly states that I'm confused as to my gender:

47% Man, 53% Woman.   :o DOH!

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