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Topics - mabrungard

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Equipment and Software / ColorpHast pH Strip Information
« on: October 25, 2012, 02:19:12 PM »
I received this interesting information from a friend of mine who spoke with a technical services representative from EMD, the producers of the ColorpHast plastic pH strips.

The Rep said that to use ColorpHast strips correctly, the strip immersion time must be from 1-10 minutes until no further change is noticed.  He said that this is because of the very low ionic concentrations of what brewers measure, (ie: water/mash/wort/beer).  He went on to say that the quick "Dip and Read" will NOT render a correct pH measurement.  He also confirmed that the strips do read about 0.2 - 0.3 units low at mash temp. So the findings of Kai Troester and AJ Delange about the readings of these strips are confirmed. 

Another thing the EMD Rep mentioned, was that ColorpHast strips have an expiration date of 3-5 years IF they are stored in a closed container with a desiccant (moisture-removing agent).  Apparently the strips are adversely affected by air moisture.   If the strips are not carefully stored and protected, they have a typical shelf life of 1-2 years.


Commercial Beer Reviews / Sweetwater Motor Boat Ale
« on: October 21, 2012, 12:13:15 PM »
I just enjoyed a six of this seasonal from Sweetwater Brewing.  Since I moved to Indynaner from FL almost 4 years ago, I haven't had much opportunity to sample Sweetwater brews.  I've enjoyed their very enjoyable 420 Pale Ale for years.  But I fortunately passed it up in the grocery store during my beach vacation in FL and got on the Motor Boat. 

This is purported to be their version of an ESB and I can say that it meets expectations on all marks.  It definitely is an ESB with a caramelly malt flavor that balances the substantial hop bittering.  The hop flavor and aroma are definitely American with significant citrus notes, but there are very pleasant floral notes that compliment the typically citrusy American hop character. 

I have to admit that I would enjoy a little less citrus while keeping the floral to make it a little more English, but this is still a very enjoyable beer.  An ESB doesn't have to use English hops, so it can still be called an ESB.  Seek it out.

General Homebrew Discussion / Alabama Beer Success
« on: August 01, 2012, 06:16:30 AM »
I just heard about Alabama's success in permitting commercial beer to be sold in bottles up to 750ml on National Public Radio today.  Even the Free the Hops group was cited in the report.  Congratulations! They'll have to find more space in the shops now.

I understand that they could only have beer in pint bottles or smaller prior to this. 

Its not quite good news for homebrewers, but its a move in the right direction.

You'll need to scroll down to Section 404 to see the provision that allows 'licensed winery or brewery' to mail alcohol. 

Ingredients / Bru'n Water v 1.12 Posted
« on: May 03, 2012, 06:35:25 AM »
I've posted an updated version of Bru'n Water includes significant improvement to the User Interface and corrects an error in mash pH estimation that occurs when batch size changes. 


Equipment and Software / Irish Moss Mill
« on: April 21, 2012, 09:07:53 AM »
I just saw a post on another site regarding Irish Moss.  That person used a pepper mill to grind the IM finer.  That seems like a great idea and I'll be following suit.  Right now, I just keep my IM in a little plastic baggie and dole it into a shot glass for rehydration.  I figure that I can get a cheap pepper or salt mill at a store and keep my IM in there and dole it out in a finer grind in the future.

Equipment and Software / Bru'n Water Knowledge
« on: February 29, 2012, 10:15:09 AM »
I've just enhanced the Bru'n Water site to include a nicer and more informative web-based version of the Water Knowledge that has always been included in the Bru'n Water software.  Now you can easily view some of the most comprehensive brewing water knowledge on the web without having to download Bru'n Water.

The link in my signature line gets you to Bru'n Water and the link to the Water Knowledge page. 


Yeast and Fermentation / WY 1338 is Gone
« on: January 25, 2012, 01:52:49 PM »
I just heard from my LHBS that Wyeast 1338 European Ale yeast has been discontinued.  Looking at Wyeast's website, it appears this is true. 

This was my favorite yeast for malt focused ales.  I'm disappointed.  Are there suggestions for other low attenuating and malty flavor focused yeasts from Wyeast or White Labs?

Ingredients / Weyermann Abbey Malt
« on: January 12, 2012, 09:56:25 AM »
I was doing some research for Bru'n Water and stumbled on Weyermann Abbey malt.  It seems to be an odd semi-Base, semi-Crystal malt with a color rating of up to 19L.  Here is the description from their specification sheet:

High degree of modification of both proteins and starches. Excellent friability. Low β-
glucan values. Highly acidic. Highly malt-aromatic. Adds deep-amber to red-brown color,
maltiness, body, and mouthfeel to finished beer. Promotes flavor stability.

I also followed up with Weyermann's Quality Manager, Andreas Ricther and this was his response.

Weyermann® Abbey Malt is a Specialty Malt produced on a kiln.
Due to a unique germination and kilning regime we reach the special characteristics of this product.
The enzymatic activity is low to medium. That means this malt requires mashing and enzymatic active base malt.

By the description from the spec sheet, the comment that its 'highly acidic' suggests that it does have some Crystal malt character.  Crystal malts are quite acidic by nature.  Andreas' comment that it has some enzymatic activity differs from the typical Crystal malt though.  But, it still requires mashing (apparently with an active base malt to supply some extra enzymes).  This has a pretty dark color rating for a base malt.  

Has anyone used this malt?  I could not find information on it from this forum or the Homebrew Talk forum.

The Pub / Why hide behind a Alias?
« on: November 02, 2011, 01:22:12 PM »
I've noticed that a lot of participants on this list hide behind an alias and they don't reveal who they are.  As far as I'm concerned, I don't feel that anyone that can't reveal their name can expect to be taken seriously.  Why would a reader assume that if someone is not willing to stand behind what they say, that they should be believed or taken seriously?  On top of this, I think that when you know that others know who you are, you're probably not going to act like an a$$ on the list. 

This is sort of along the lines that created the Rennerian coordinates on Homebrew Digest.  I believe it came from an attempt by Jeff Renner to get participants in that list to identify themselves and improve the factuality and civility of that list.  Fortunately, I haven't noted any uncivil manners on this list.  But it sure would be nice to know who my fellow list mates are. 

Stand up and let the world know who you are.  Put your name in your signature line and stand behind what you say!  You would not be alone.  The folks who only ADD content to this forum let you know who they are.

Equipment and Software / New Carbonator Caps
« on: August 24, 2011, 05:37:47 PM »
I was just on the Crankandstein website and noticed they are producing a pretty nice setup for carbonator caps.  Price for 4 caps with the filling chuck....$20 !!!!  And it fits your ball lock gas out fitting.  Way to go.  I'm going to have to cough up some dough and try these.

Equipment and Software / Utility Sink for Electric HLT
« on: August 18, 2011, 12:21:10 PM »
I just thought of an interesting and inexpensive alternative to create an electric-fired HLT for my new all electric brewing system.  The typical SST keg or pot is the typical vessel for a hot liquor tank, but that was going to be expensive and require some modification.  Not too bad an alternative, but I was searching.  Aluminum pots are another alternative, but again they will require modification.  Either of those vessels would be more difficult to insulate since they are cylindrical.  

A typical insulated water keg is another option, but I am concerned with placing an electrical element in a plastic vessel with thin plastic walls.  Plus, they have relatively small diameter and that would require installing the element vertically in the keg.  

I pondered other barrels and tanks and then lit upon the idea that a typical single-basin sink could suit my requirements.  I brew batches up to 10 gallon volume, so I might have the need for about 10 to 11 gallons of sparge water.  A utility sink would work since they typically have 20+ gallon capacity.  

The good thing with a utility sink is that a drain outlet is standard and the typically straight side walls are well suited to mounting a flange-mounted heater element so I wouldn't have to deal with a 1" NPS fitting or nut.  There are stainless utility sinks, but there are also the thick plastic or composite sinks that might also be suited to this elevated temperature duty (say 180F).  

The flat sides and bottom of the sink should make it pretty easy to glue on panels of foam insulation.  I figure that insulation shouldn't cost too much and it should pay off with less heating losses.  Another slab of foam can be employed to serve as a lid to the HLT.  

I think this could be pretty neat and effective.  Any other thoughts?

All Grain Brewing / Mash Average Diastatic Rating vs. Mashing Time
« on: July 04, 2011, 01:53:23 PM »
We had an interesting discussion on mashing time last fall, but it did not cover mashing time vs. diastatic power.  I bring this up after reading a bit about low diastatic mashes requiring more conversion time in Strong's 'Brewing Better Beer'.

In the discussion of Ingredients (pg 108), Gordon mentions that mashes with lower diastatic power may require more time to convert.  Intuitively it makes sense, but I had not heard it before.  The general concensus is that the average diastatic rating of the mash needs to be at least 30 to 40 Lintner to provide complete conversion.  I'm more inclined to believe its 35 to 40 Lintner minimum based on Gordon's information.

Given Gordon's statement and the fact that base grains are easily over 100 Lintner, is there really a difference in the time to a negative iodine reading with respect to the average Lintner rating of the grist?  I did a brief search, but do not find guidance from anyone having performed such a study.  Clearly, a grist with its average diastatic rating
above 100 Lintner will have plenty of enzymatic power to convert, but is it going to convert faster than a grist with 35 Lintner?

Another curiousity is how the average diastatic power is calculated.  Since diastatic power is only needed to convert starches, is there any reason to include the weight of grains such as crystal malts in the calculation of the average diastatic rating for the grist?  Dilution by those grains is one thought, but I'm not sure its valid.  I'm thinking that the total sum of diastatic power divided by only the total weight of STARCHY grain and adjuncts might be valid.  This is in contrast to the total diastatic power divided by the total grain and adjunct weight.

We have had discussions on fusel alcohols and on oxygenation.  One thread mentioned that excessive oxygenation may cause excessive yeast growth and promote fusel alcohol production.  I'm not sure the thread confirmed that finding, but my question is slightly different.  

I have had beers that report 7 to 9 percent alcohol that presented low perception of alcohol in the beer.  I have also had beers with similar alcohol percentage that present high perception of alcohol.  The high perceptions may not have been fusel in nature (hot).   A local brewery has crafted beers that had little alcohol perception in the past, but now seems to create beers that smack me in the face with alcohol and they are similar strength beers.  

Would excessive oxygenation promote the increased perception of the alcohols in a beer even if those alcohols might not be fusel in nature?  We know that under-oxygenation promotes ester formation and potentially poor or incomplete fermentation, but I have not heard a lot about over-oxygenation effects.

I just finished up a 4 day run of judging for the NHC Indy Regional.  I have to say that I'm dissappointed and am ranting to get the ball rolling on things that MUST change regarding the fees charged and support provided by AHA for the NHC.  

Needless to say, NHC is a huge undertaking.  Through the hard work of hundreds of judges, stewards, organizers, and sponsors, it does get done.  The problem that is occuring is that there isn't enough support provided to the people that run and organize these contests and the popularity of the NHC continues to grow.  Clearly, the law of supply and demand is not being followed and its time to comment on it.  

At many of the regional competitions, the pool of highly qualified judges in a locality is limited and getting additional judges from the region is needed.  I was very pleased to see judges at the Indy Regional that traveled up to 6 hours to participate.  My hat was off to them!  But I wouldn't have traveled that far for the lunch and door prize that they recieved.  The few judge experience points are poor compensation for the hundreds of dollars that some of those judges probably shelled out for travel, lodging, and meal expenses.  There needs to be a significant change to the program to correct that.  

In talking with Janice (NHC Coordinator) over the years, I know that the contest is expensive as is and that is with the limited support they currently provide to the regional contests.  The popularity of the contest is unquestioned, as the entry quotas are exhausted in short order.  Given the need for additional support at the regional contests, the costs to run the competition are going to rise significantly. Therefore, the entry fees need a commensurate increase.  

Judges traveling more than about 50 miles need to be compensated for their travel and other expenses to make it worth their while to make the trip.  Before too long, the only judges showing up will be the locals and they will have to deal with the 750 entry pool themselves.  See how long any of those overworked local judges stick in there after they have spent days at the contest.  Then you won't even have the locals participating.  

In my opinion, a daily stipend for judges traveling over (50?) miles is needed now.  Those are the folks that are critical to the contest execution and they are too far from home to make the drive back after a couple of sessions.  They are footing their bill for travel and lodging and the contestants need to be paying for that.  In addition, better meal support needs to be provided.  A single lunch is not cutting it.  If its a full day of judging, then at least 2 meals need to be provided.  If its just a half day of judging, then a single meal should be provided.  

These incentives only serve to offset the cost of judging and organizer participation since there will always be the significant contribution of time that would be hard to equitably compensate.  The potential is that the entry fees for NHC could easily double. Given the popularity of the event, it may not make a dent in the entry numbers.  But at least there would be higher likelihood that an adequate number of qualified judges would show up.  If these changes are not implimented, there is the distinct possibility that NHC Regional contests could fail (ie. not enough judges show up to complete the contest in a timely manner).  

Again, my hat is off to you hardy souls that contributed your time and money to participate as an organizer or judge in the NHC.  You have gone above and beyond.  That needs to change!

PS: These same arguments apply to any local contest too.  Organizers, If you're wondering why you can't get judges to participate, you need to make it somewhat worth their while.  The days of the low entry fee are over.

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