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Topics - mabrungard

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Equipment and Software / Peripheral Kettle Intake
« on: March 25, 2018, 03:16:10 PM »
As we all should know, whirlpooling the wort at the end of boiling or chilling re-suspends trub into the wort and preferentially deposits it in a conic pile in the center of the kettle. Placing a wort intake at the periphery (edge) of the kettle will avoid more of the trub. Here are measures I take to help to maximize the recovery of clear wort while leaving trub undisturbed in the kettle.

The first element is to place a segment of slotted tubing around the periphery of the kettle. While you could make a ring of tubing around the entire kettle, I prefer to limit the intake zone to about 1/4 the kettle circumference so that I can tilt the kettle slightly to improve wort recovery. Slotting should be placed on the bottom side of the tubing.

The second element is to include a better filter to help separate trub from the wort. I place a length of stainless steel braid over the slotted tubing to improve that filtration.

The third element is to incorporate a substantial trub dam to contain more trub in the center of the kettle. The photo above shows the simple strip of aluminum sheet that is pop-riveted together to form a large ring that sits about an inch inside the kettle walls. As shown in the photo below, the tube and braid assembly fit between the kettle wall and the trub dam. While the picture above shows a ring that is only about a 1/2-inch tall, I've since created a new ring that is about an inch tall that works even better.

I can attest that these measures work very effectively in keeping trub of almost any size out of the flow. I chill my wort with a plate chiller downstream of this wort intake and can report that I never have sediment in my chiller.

You've probably seen vendors with their pathetic, little trub dams or accessories for kettles. They'll never be as effective as this. Make a real difference and improvement to your wort handling.


Equipment and Software / Bru'n Water files blocked by Gmail
« on: January 08, 2018, 10:09:34 PM »
This is an alert to all you Bru'n Water users that have upgraded to the Supporter's version or are thinking about it. If you use Gmail to communicate with either Paypal or Bru'n Water, any reply that is set to your Gmail account with the Bru'n Water program, WILL BE PLACED IN YOUR SPAM FOLDER.

That really shouldn't be a big deal, but Gmail comes with the label for your Spam folder TURNED OFF. You won't know when you recieve any spam. For most of us, that might be a good thing. But for those that want the Bru'n Water communications, you're out of luck.

The fix is easy:

1. Click on the 'Gear' symbol at the top right of your Gmail console
2. Click on 'Settings'
3. Click on the 'Label' tab at the top of Settings page
4. Set either the 'Spam' or 'All Mail' labels to SHOW, instead of HIDE
5. You're done.
6. You should see that there is now an extra directory on the side of your Gmail console.
7. When Gmail marks some Spam, you'll immediately see it in your Spam folder and you can decide if its something you Bru'n Water.

Equipment and Software / Blichmann Pump
« on: May 13, 2017, 10:07:17 PM »
I just became aware of a new pump that Blichmann is coming out with. I saw a pre-production version at my LHBS and heard their staff's reviews after using it in their in-house system. It reportedly was developed in conjunction with March pumps and it does look and sound impressive.

From the pump specs, it is more powerful than the typical March or Chugger since it reportedly delivers up to 7 gpm and max's out at 21 ft of head. I seem to recall that my March 815 can deliver something like 5 gpm and it max's out at about 12 ft of head. So this new pump can move some wort. Interestingly, the SST head is held onto the motor with a tri-clover clamp and it includes one of Blichmann's needle valves for flow control. I see that it also includes a spring-loaded bleed port to allow you to quickly expel air from the pump volute.

The guys at my LHBS said the pump is almost scary quiet, so that is nice. But, I have to admit that the typical March or Chugger isn't that loud either.

I'm not in the market for a pump, but if I was, this would definitely be at the top of the list.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Guinness Antwerpen Stout
« on: February 19, 2017, 04:40:08 PM »
I just tasted the Antwerpen Stout from Guinness at the Cincinnati Winterfest this weekend and can report that it is an outstanding beer. Having just had the Guinness Extra Stout a month ago, I recognized that the Antwerpen Stout amps up the gravity and the richness of the dark fruit flavor. I feel its well worth your investigation.

At that same event, they also had their Rye Pale Ale and its OK. Not bad, but nothing to seek out.

While I was writing this message, I visited the Guinness website and see that they have a bunch of beers that I haven't seen on the shelves or taps. After tasting the Antwerpen, I'll be more open to trying them.


All Grain Brewing / Pumping Effects on Wort and Beer
« on: February 09, 2017, 02:59:14 PM »
I've been a RIMS brewer for almost my entire homebrewing duration, so wort pumping is a matter of fact for me. I've not been disappointed with the body and mouthfeel of my beers, but I wonder if pumping actually makes any difference to the finished product?

As you can imagine, sending wort through a pump is similar to putting it through a tornado. There are significant shear forces on the wort when it passes through the pump that could conceivably rip the body-building proteins in the wort apart.

My question is: Does anyone know if there is actually a difference between a pumped and non-pumped wort and beer? I don't believe there is.

All Grain Brewing / LODO Impact on Roast Flavor
« on: November 28, 2016, 04:53:58 PM »
With the interest in low DO brewing methods, an interesting finding is the method's effect on malt flavor. Generally, this is a positive result. However, there is anecdotal evidence that LODO may not provide a positive improvement in the flavor or perception of dark roasted grains in the grist.

In the interest of furthering this subject, I'm asking brewers to respond here with their observations of their resulting beer flavor perception when LODO methods are used on grists with perceptible roast grains. This will be more telling if you have brewed side by side batches or have used the same recipe with notable and differing results.


Yeast and Fermentation / Methyl anthranilate (Grape Ester)
« on: April 10, 2016, 04:59:55 PM »
Is anyone on the forum familiar with this ester and its formation in beer?

I recently brewed a Helles that had a significant corny DMS aroma and flavor when it was young. Through lagering, that corn has been replaced with a light concord grape flavor and aroma. I'm curious if that genesis was via the DMS?

I've noted that this grape ester shows up more often in German lager styles, but I'm not sure why. Maybe because they tend to be malt focused and not hop focused?

Commercial Beer Reviews / 3 Floyds Yum Yum
« on: April 04, 2015, 12:16:01 PM »
I had a glass of 3F's new Yum Yum APA last night. At first, when they brought over the glass, I was pissed because it was only a 12 oz glass. I figured there must be a reason, so I readied my taste buds.

Pure nirvana. An explosion of well-mannered and balanced hop flavor and aroma. The malt backbone was adequate to support the hopping. I don't know exactly what drives the cost of this beer, but its obviously the hopping. 3F's website says this is a blend of proprietary hops, so they seem to have something special. They call it juicy and I agree. At 5.5%, it is an APA, but in the fashion of the day, they call this a Session Ale. I'm assuming they are referring to a Session IPA since 5.5% is kind of high to be sessionable.

Very fine beer. At the end, I was pissed again, that glass was indeed too small since I ran out too quickly.

Equipment and Software / "Varnish" in Fermenter
« on: January 25, 2015, 06:52:56 PM »
I just noticed an interesting buildup in my stainless conical fermenter.

I thought I had been keeping my fermenter perfectly clean for over a decade, but I noticed prior to my last brew that it had a very light tint on the interior surface. Since I spent days polishing the interior of the fermenter when I bought it, I have always avoided hard scrubbing with scrubby pads. But I have always been thorough in scrubbing the surface with either my hand, thumbnail, or sponge to remove any sort of trub, yeast, or other deposits. It always looked clean and shiny.

So with some 60 or 70 batches fermented in that vessel, I happened to notice that there was a tint to the stainless surface. I used my thumbnail and was able to scrape it off...grudgingly. It was some sort of a transparent, tan coating that I guess could be termed "varnish".

I still didn't want to use a scrubby since that is known to create micro scratches in metal surfaces. So I tried a warm PBW soak. That helped a bit, but I'm pretty sure that it's ~110F temperature was not enough to really activate the solution. I then hooked up my RIMS and circulated the solution at 160F and it further loosened the layer. I could get more off with my nails. Ultimately, I pulled out a white scrubby and lightly scrubbed the surfaces to get all the varnish off.

It's clean now, but I have to wonder if critters may have been lurking in that microscopic varnish layer that may not have been knocked out with sanitizer? Fortunately, my prior beers have been good, but that question has to remain.

While this event hasn't diminished my avoidance of harsh scrubbing with a scrubby since its obvious to me that the micro scratches will eventually become filled with that varnish, I wonder if anyone else has experienced this?

The good news for me now is that I know that I need to perform a substantial PBW cleaning in order to remove something I can't even see, on a frequency a little greater than once in 60+ brews.   :)

All Grain Brewing / Sparging Water Volume
« on: January 03, 2015, 07:14:28 PM »
I've been a fly-sparger for 15 years and have been using ProMash all of that time. Prior to my move to my electric system, my mashing and sparging water volumes have always worked out well...meaning that the final runoff gravity was just reaching the low limit and I'm running out of sparging water. Now after almost 3 years with my electric system, I've come to the conclusion that I probably won't achieve that coordination again. I always have between 0.5 and 1 gallon of sparging water remaining when the runoff reaches the low limit. By the way, I stop runoff at about 3 brix (1.012) to avoid tannin extraction.

The good news is that my efficiency is very good (80% to 90%). The best I was obtaining with the old system was 82%. The bad news is that my pre-boil volume is too low and the starting gravity is therefore too high. It seems that my procedures are extracting most of the sugars early...leaving the grain bed devoid of sugars. I do use a slightly thin mash ratio of about 1.5 qts/lb, but that is not out of the typical range. I don't think that is a problem.

It seems that I need to plan on sparging a volume that takes me down to my runoff gravity limit and then take that remaining sparging water and adding it directly to the kettle to meet my pre-boil volume target. I haven't heard of anyone else doing this, but it seems like it's what I need to do.

Any comments?

Ingredients / Is Wet Hopping BS?
« on: September 17, 2014, 07:40:49 PM »
Tis the season to endure another round of wet-hopped beers. My experience with commercial wet-hopped beers is that they are rarely as well-mannered and flavorful as beers made with dried hops. This seems to be a fad that doesn't have much basis other than the green hops are available, so let's make a beer with them!.

When I think about it, if green hops were better for brewing, we would be using them year-round. With freezing technology, there is no problem in storing wet hops. My impression is that most of the wet-hopped beers tend to have a green, chlorophyl flavor accompanying the hop flavors. I don't find that pleasing. I think there is an advantage to drying hops and using them fresh in that form.

What do others think of wet-hopping? Or am I just full of BS?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Sun King Fistful of Hops
« on: August 27, 2014, 12:27:07 AM »
Well, I'm going to have to say that there may be two masterful breweries in Indiana now...3Floyds and Sun King. Sun King's Fistful of Hops IPA is a wonderfully flavorful hop bomb that still provides a drinkable balance. The current version includes a notable orange flavor to the hopping when the beer warms. Well worth searching for if you are in Indiana. I'm not sure that it's available out of state.

My hat is off to the brewery.

Ingredients / Homebrewing making a mark in the water supply community
« on: September 15, 2013, 12:53:47 AM »
Check this water report out.  Scroll to the last page.

Ingredients / Boiled Water Lab Test Results
« on: June 09, 2013, 02:55:29 PM »
As some of you may have read in the Decarbonation by Boiling thread, boiling reduces calcium content in waters with alkalinity.  All of my engineering texts indicate that the minimum practical limit for calcium content is about 12 ppm.  But those results are always presented in the Lime Softening section.  Since boiling is not a practical method for the large-scale treatment that we engineers typically deal with, there is no discussion on boiling and the practical minimum calcium level for that method.  I have someone else telling me that the practical limit for calcium after boiling is 20 ppm.  I'm not sure that the higher limit is factual.  I'm hoping that there are brewers that have had lab testing performed on their post-boiled water and they will share them here.

Please post laboratory testing results for your water after it was boiled. 


I recently had a question from a Bru'n Water user that has the fortune of brewing with tap water of near Pilsen quality.  He was trying to create a better Pale Ale since his prior attempts lacked 'zing'.  So, he was trying to match the calcium content of the Pale Ale profile in Bru'n Water (140ppm).  He did not realize that for calcium, anything over 50 ppm is good enough.  The only reason that the calcium content on the Pale Ale profile is high is because you have to add a lot of gypsum to deliver the high sulfate that you want. 

If you try and take the Ca to 140 ppm in water with very low alkalinity, the mash pH is likely to be far lower than desirable.  I just did a quick test in Bru'n Water using distilled water as the starting water.  I added epsom salt until the Mg was high enough, then added gypsum until the sulfate was high enough.  Then I added table salt until the sodium was high enough, then added CaCl until the chloride was high enough.  That left me with all the ions excepting calcium near their targets (Ca was at 115 ppm).  That produced a 5.3 pH with a 90% Pale malt and 10% crystal 40 grist.  Its a little low but not terribly so.  If I wanted, I could cut back on the table salt and add baking soda to produce the intended Na content to produce a 5.4 pH.  Either is workable. 

Another option for avoiding an excessively low mash pH is to reserve the Ca and Mg containing minerals from the mash and adding them directly to the kettle.  That avoids the low pH issue in the mash.  As many of you probably know, those hardness minerals combine with phosphate compounds in the mash to reduce pH.  But since those phosphate compounds are also transferred over into the kettle, I figured that this pH lowering effect would still occur in the kettle.  But I was not positive of this, so I posed the question of what the effect of adding those minerals directly to the kettle was to my partners for the upcoming Water book: Palmer, Kaminski, and Delange.  They confirmed that the effect would occur in the kettle. 

You may now be what if the pH in the kettle is driven lower?  Well, a lower than desirable kettle pH also affects several factors in the beer.  The number one factor is that low pH reduces the production of hop bitterness and hop expression.  The more ideal wort pH of 5.2 to 5.6 helps extract the hop alpha acids and other components from the hop matter.  The rest of the factors are not a big deal, but the hop thing is.  So getting the wort pH right is a good thing.  Therefore, maybe the technique of reserving the hardness minerals from the mash is not ideal.  Getting the pH correct in the mash with all the minerals is probably a more ideal way to go.


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