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Messages - pikelakehomebrew

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I dont know where to post this
« on: March 15, 2012, 08:32:36 PM »
I think that's exactly what Gymrat's talking about — CSS that would present the layout in a manner that's more palatable on an iPhone, Android or other mobile browsing devices.  It would be nice, since half the time I end up browsing the forum responses directly on my phone (clicking the link from the e-mailed notification).

I won't lie —'s list of online courses for brewing is pretty sad.  Looking over the actual in-person programs, there's obviously an impressive amount of opportunities to expand one's knowledge of brewing and become better at your craft.  However, I don't have two weeks to go to Madison or Denver to further develop what is presently just a hobby.  Of course like many home brewers, I have shallow hopes of going "pro", a desire that is quickly held in check by reality...that, and the fact that I'm not nearly experienced or knowledgable enough to do so.  I know my limitations.   ::)

That said, are there any good online classes or some good books that would help take this enthusiastic home brewer from "zealous, well-meaning, small batch all-grain brewer" to "dude, this is a kick ass beer! how did you make this on such a small batch scale all-grain brewer"?  I do have a subscription to both Brew Your Own and my new pending subscription to Zymurgy — and I know they're both good reads and filled with great information.  But I could also use some structure to my learning and to take me out of my comfort zone into the chemistry and formulaic facets of brewing, and guide my learning to improve each facet of brewing — to have a solid grasp of why things happen and how to manipulate or control those variables. 

Is there anything out there (that doesn't require me to drop my life for two+ weeks to go to some school) that would take home brewers to the next level of brewing better beer?

Did you have your dark grains in the mash? Black IPA is tricky getting the color without an unwelcome clash in the flavors.

Yep.  I've mashed black patent with the rest of my grains before and can't say I've noticed any weird flavors before — but there's a first for everything!  I brewed up a variation on Basic Brewing Radio's "zombie apocalypse" brew that they did (a pseudo "Black" Belgian) and I didn't really notice any competing flavors.  Granted, it was a Belgian yeast strand and would obviously present a different flavor profile.

I think I'll have to try this again, with the campden tablets, a different yeast strand, and the replaced funnel and see if that changes anything.

The irony is that I brewed this as a "confidence builder" after a terrible brew day the day prior, where I was trying to concoct an all-grain, gluten-free beer that ended up looking like this mass of pea-green oatmeal mess.  To only add to the irony, after a little aging and settling out, the gluten-free beer tastes remarkably good (for no real malt profile) and the black IPA...not so much.

we do have a water softener so that probably plays a small roll in it too

It's generally not recommended to use water from a water softener.  The ion exchange can add large amounts of sodium that can affect the flavor of your beer.

Well, and to be fair, I'm also notoriously lazy at filling our water softener — so more likely than not it was empty.   :o

All good thoughts and will certainly try the campden.

My water comes directly from the sink — we do have a water softener so that probably plays a small roll in it too.  But I can't say that any plastic will be a contributing factor.  After chilling in the pot with my copper immersion chiller, it's poured right into my glass carboy.  I suppose I could try replacing the funnel as one additional step.

The thing is, no other beer that I've brewed since (and I've brewed a few) have had that same quality.  I dunno.  I'll replace my funnel, try the campden additive and keep up with my rigid cleaning and sanitizing schedule — but beyond that I thought I'd see if I had a bad choice in ingredients.  But since no one peeped up about my choice in Saf-04 (probably won't use that again) or whatnot, I'll go through and try the aforementioned suggestions.

Thanks all!  I appreciate your input and feedback. :D

The plasticy bandaidy say's chlorine/chloramine to me although there are infections that could cause it as well. What kind of water did you use?

The licorice/alcohol says fermentation temp to me. What was the temp during the first 3-4 days of fermentation? actually the licorice might be a result of the dark malts and crystal combined with slightly higher than normal esters from a high ferm temp.

The water is your run-of-the-mill suburban water, the pH around 6.0 — and though I should have, I didn't put in any additives to bring the pH down.  And the fermentation temperature was around 65°F — the ambient temperature of my beer work room is about 62°F, so unlikely it ever exceeded 68°F.

And while I normally force-carb my beers and then bottle, I racked carefully to my smaller bottling bucket, bottled and primed them with the bottling sugar tablets.

I read somewhere that English strains of yeast can cause some phenol flavors — maybe the Saf-04 along with the combination of grains that I'm using?

So about a month ago I brewed up a variation on Northern Brewer's black Cascadian IPA but with a few substitutions based on what I had readily available in my grain bin, hop chest, and the yeast packs in my fridge.  Given that I was unfamiliar with the recipe (and the style) I brewed up a small one-gallon batch so that if it sucked bad I wouldn't feel bad about dumping it.

Now I must admit that I've never tried some of the commercial black IPA's out there (and I'm sure they're as diverse as the opinions about black/cascadian IPA's), so I really don't have a baseline of what they should taste like.  But when I sampled a bottle of the finished product, it was VERY odd.  I'm not even sure how to describe the flavor — it was medicinal, licorice-alcohol, and just nothing that reminded me of an IPA (black or not).  There seemed to be a lot of off flavors, but no hallmark flavors like buttery, butterscotch, etc.

So here's the recipe/mash/boil specs:

Yield: one gallon (test batch) - BIAB
IBU’s: 77, Color: 31°L,
Pre-boil: 1.050, OG: 1.062, FG: 1.016, ABV: 6.03%
[My actual OG: 1.076 / 18.4 BRIX]

2.3 lbs 2-row
.1 lbs crystal 80°L
.08 lbs simpsons chocolate
.08 lbs 2-row special black (500°L)

.4 oz Cascade (60 min)
.2 oz Chinook (15 min)
.2 oz Centennial (10 min)
.2 oz Cascade (5 min)
.4 oz Centennial (0 min)
.2 oz Cascade DRY HOP

Yeast: I used Safale S-04 but next time will try 1056 American Ale instead.

Mash instructions:
Sacc rest at 152°F for 75 minutes (3.8 qt water at 167°F)
Sparge with 3.3 qt of 180°F water over two minutes)

In actuality, I rested between 145°F and 152°F, so had more beta conversions than alpha.

Now I know that apart from actually providing everyone a sample, actually troubleshooting my brew will be quite difficult.  But I guess I wanted to ask the greater community to at least look at the recipe and see if there's anything about it that might produce some weird flavors.

I'm a clean/sanitizing freak and make sure that all my gear is clean and sanitized, so I'm pretty confident it's not a contamination issue.  Fermentation also appeared quite healthy, but offhand can't recall how much of the yeast I pitched (certainly not the whole pack) for this batch.

I don't know. It tasted really weird and maybe even phenolic — like alcohol-infused licorice bandaids.  It was just odd. 

I'm going to be brewing up revision 2 on a mostly Gluten-free beer made with a malted Oat base and a few flaked additions.  Looks uglier than sin when it's fermenting but once it clears out and matures a bit, it tastes pretty damn good for a gluten-free beer and no real malt profile.

Ingredients / Re: does rye malt always have a gray-blueish tint to it?
« on: March 14, 2012, 02:25:40 PM »
Well it must be somewhat common, because I stole that image off Google, where about 50% of the pictures from various LHBS's look like that....

Maybe it is "normal"  :o  I just haven't ever seen blue grain when browsing around Northern Brewer's grain bins.

Well, I guess I'll leave it out...thanks for all the input!

What?! Giving up so soon?  Where's your sense of adventure!?   ;D

Relax, have a home brew, and run a few tests of your own in smaller one-, two- or three-gallon glass carboys — that way you're not out a full batch of beer.  It's true you'll need a larger amount of honey to bring in the flavor, but there are plenty of craft brewers out there that do use honey (Bell's immediately comes to mind with their Hop Slam).

Don't cry retreat too quickly.  Do listen to the advice you get, but don't let it inhibit you from being a little adventurous in your brewing either.   ;)

Ingredients / Re: does rye malt always have a gray-blueish tint to it?
« on: March 14, 2012, 01:56:14 PM »
Yeah, that doesn't look least compared to the domestic rye that I use.  Who knows, though.  Maybe those Canadians grow their grain blue?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: new to AHA - where does one start?
« on: March 13, 2012, 08:22:57 PM »
Don't know about at the store but, yes, the online discount is 5%

The store is 10% for one of the following:  MPR membership, AHA membership, or some of the local homebrew clubs (like Saint Paul Home Brew Club).

Ingredients / Re: Grain storage
« on: March 13, 2012, 04:29:16 PM »
Can't say that I'd recommend the refrigerator for grain storage (crushed or not) because even with Ziplock bags, there's the chance to get humidity, oxygen and neighboring fridge flavors in your grain.  When I used to work at Caribou years ago, part of the coffee education we received covered storage of coffee and why not to keep it in the freezer or fridge — it's safe to say the same would apply to grains.

Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place for certain.  Squeeze out as much of the air as you can, vacuum seal it if you've got the gear to do so, and then keep it in a small air-tight, opaque container or in an area that won't get any light.  If moisture is a concern, maybe take a handful of white rice and put it in a small mesh bag to soak up any moisture from condensation or the like.

But don't put it in the freezer or fridge.  It'll be fine at cooler, basement temperatures.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: new to AHA - where does one start?
« on: March 13, 2012, 04:19:00 PM »
Some homebrew shops have AHA discounts as well.

Yeah, Northern Brewer is our local homebrew shop and they give a discount, but they also provide the discount for Minnesota Public Radio members, too — and despite my groveling and pleading, they won't combine the discounts.   ::)

Speaking of competitions, are there lists anywhere that have competitions that are open to entries nation-wide?  I've seen some for various regions (like there's a brew pub in Madison, WI that's having one in a few months), but I'm not sure what competitions would be alright for out-of-state home brewers to enter in.

All Grain Brewing / multi-batch, combined fermentation question
« on: March 13, 2012, 04:12:54 PM »
So before I get into my question, let me explain what I do and why I do it, which should help eliminate all the "well, why don't you just brew up 5 gallons and be done with it" statements. OK?  OK.   :o

Time is a precious commodity, and I don't get much of it with two little kids under three.  So I've moved from doing five-gallon all-grain brew days to smaller two-gallon all-grain brews in the kitchen on the stove top.  They're easy, low maintenance, no stuck mashes to draw out my brew day, it takes less time to come up to boil, and clean-up is faster, too.  With a two-gallon all-grain brew day, I can usually get it done in less than four hours (from start to finish) and still have the flexibility to walk away from things and take care of the kids — not so much with a five-gallon mash/lauter system. It's easier to carve out a little time for smaller batches than attempting a larger batch and having something go wrong and take up an hour or two of time that I just don't have.

So in short, I'm able to do two-gallon batches with ease and still allows me the flexibility to brew all-grain while being short on time.  (With the added benefit that I can also do a variety of beers and test out new recipes and have a wide array of home brew on tap or in bottles.)


I've read about how some craft breweries brew multiple batches over time and just add it to their large fermentation chambers over a period of a few days.  Could I take the same principle and apply it to the home brew scale? In other words, lets say I brewed up batch one (2.5 gallons) on a Tuesday and began fermentation that night (in a 5 or 6 gallon carboy), could I brew up the same batch again (2.5 gallons) on a Wednesday or Thursday and essentially add it to Tuesday's batch to double it?  Is there an ideal time (if any) to add to the fermenting batch and a cut-off time where it just wouldn't be smart to do so?

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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