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Messages - mabrungard

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Lactic acid dilution storage
« on: June 03, 2011, 06:09:42 AM »
With an addition that small, do you really need it?

Ingredients / Re: Cold Steeping Roasted Grain
« on: June 02, 2011, 07:17:26 AM »
The other effect (benefit?) of separate steeping of roasted grain is that the mash water would not need to have much alkalinity to keep the mash pH from dropping too much.  I understand that Gordon uses RO water for much of his brewing and RO water does not have much alkalinity.  Cold steeping of those roast grains separate from the mash would help him achieve a desirable mash pH. 

Conversely if a brewer uses water with elevated alkalinity, you would probably be better off in using the acidity of the roast grains in your mash to help drop the mash pH into a desirable range. 

The effect of doing the mashing in either way can be evaluated pretty well using Bru'n Water.  Just add or remove the roasted or crystal grains from your mash bill and see what changes to the brewing water will be needed to produce an acceptable mash pH.

Ingredients / Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« on: June 02, 2011, 07:08:41 AM »
I see Matt's point in wanting to see that the changes he makes to either water or mash are having an effect.  But as Nate points out, its difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  We just don't have the accuracy with the methodology to predict to the hundreths.  There are too many variables.  I wouldn't want to imply that its possible to achieve that sort of accuracy by showing pH predictions with hundreths shown.  Right now, it appears that Bru'n Water can only predict to the tenth or two tenths of a pH unit accuracy. 


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Regarding yeast starters...
« on: June 02, 2011, 07:01:29 AM »
Just a length of typical 1/4 or 3/8" ID tubing, sanitized and inserted into the spent wort above the yeast cake.  Set the flask on the side of the sink and have the free end of the tubing extend into the sink.  A standard application of oral vacuum gets the flow started.  Since the spent wort is just going down the sink, the worries with contamination due to starting the siphon by mouth are non-existent as long as you keep the flow from back washing. 

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Regarding yeast starters...
« on: June 01, 2011, 02:25:24 PM »
I noticed the mention of pouring off the spent wort (its not really beer due to the amount of aeration I provide) from the sedimented yeast.  I find that pouring doesn't work well.  I siphon off the spent wort after the yeast has sedimented from a crash cooling.  I can't really get all the wort off the yeast, but I get a lot off.  To rouse the yeast, I add a slug of the freshly chilled wort from my batch into the starter flask and put it back on the stirrer.  That is a happy bunch of yeast when its added to the rest of the wort in an hour or so.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Oxidation question
« on: May 28, 2011, 03:42:21 PM »
A friend of mine has a HERMS horizontal brew system with 2 pumps that produced a string of oddly but intensely oxidized beers.  It turned out that the pumps were oriented such that they were cavitating a lot during recirculation.  The problem was worse with darker beers.  Changing the orientation of the pumps fixed the problem ASFAIK.  That's the only example of HSA that I've ever tasted at club meetings.

Cavitation cannot create oxidation.  The bubbles are products of the intense vacuum created by the pump at cavitation condition.   There would have to be a leak that allows an external air source into the flow loop for the bubbles to create the oxidation effects.

Equipment and Software / Re: In-line Oxygenation
« on: May 26, 2011, 04:59:26 AM »
Martin, Do you get oxidation from doing that?  For a while I left the oxygen on for the full transfer time and got really bad oxidation.  Now I just leave it on for a minute or 2 (per 5 gallons) and it seems to ferment well.

I would like to do the 25' transfer hose too.  I brew out back and then have to carry the fermenter down my 100 year old stairs to the basement.  How do you take care of it?  Do you take it apart after each brew?  It sounds like it is on the cold side.  How do you sanitize it beforehand?

TIA, Tom

I use a very low flow rate and do not pick up any oxidation notes in my finished beers.  As I said, my oxygen usage is very low.

That tube is on the cold side and it requires some care to avoid contamination problems.  Of course, the tubing is drained fully after each use.  I always recirculate either Starsan or Iodophor through the full pump/tubing/plate chiller/oxygen system prior to each wort transfer.  And every few brews, I also go through a full hot PBW recirculation.  If I see any buildup in the tubing, I replace it.  But, the cleaning regime seems to be keeping things visably clean and I've replaced the tubing about 2 times in about 5 years.  

Equipment and Software / Re: In-line Oxygenation
« on: May 25, 2011, 05:37:45 AM »
I use an in-line oxygenation system that is made with a 1/2 inch copper tee and a reducer that was further soldered closed so that I could drill it to fit the small oxygen tubing tightly without leaking.  There are reducers at each end of the wort flow path in the system to take the line diameter from 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch so that the sintered stone will fit within the system.   

I pump my wort through my Therminator plate chiller and then through the oxygenator on its way to my fermentor.  I use 25 ft of 3/8 inch tubing after the oxygenator to allow me to reach the fermentation chamber from my brewing location.  That 25 ft of tubing provides a long residence time for the oxygen contact, so I know my transfer coefficient is very high.  I literally trickle the oxygen through the sintered stone while the pump is flowing wide open.  I can see a definite stream of fine bubbles through the tubing.  I know my O2 flow rate is low since I can treat about 20 batches or more with a single red O2 tank.  I wish I had an O2 meter to check the effectiveness, but the only evidence I have is clean tasting beer and very active fermentation. 

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Dry substitute for WY1028
« on: May 23, 2011, 07:49:47 PM »
I really like the S-04.  One of my clubmates called the character, Bready.  But, its not too bready and has more character than S-05.  I just brewed up one of my favorite beers (with S-04) that I typically brew with 1028, so I'll have a direct comparison in about a week. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Tannins
« on: May 23, 2011, 07:44:32 PM »
pH is a factor, but only to the degree that it indicates that the water alkalinity is brought down.  Alkalinity is the real factor that is the concern in reducing tannin extraction along with temperature. 

For brewers that have brewing water with really low alkalinity, they don't really need to adjust the sparge water pH.  In addition, with a low alkalinity water, it would probably only take teeny amounts of acid to drop the pH anyhow.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« on: May 23, 2011, 07:32:43 PM »
If you're using a low calcium water that produces an acceptable mash pH without adjustment, then an enhancement that the wort will need is a dose of calcium to improve yeast performance.  Since adding calcium to the mash has the tendency to reduce mash pH, that calcium dose can be added directly to the kettle instead of the mash.

Yes, the calcium dose can be calculated using the kettle volume and the intended calcium concentration would be produced in the wort.  The question is what should that calcium (or any other ion) concentration be in the post-mash wort?  The mash has the tendency to add and subtract ions in comparison to the initial water concentrations.  Given that ambiguity, I recommend that a 'close enough' philosophy be used.  Just ignore the ionic gains or losses in the mash and add your desired ionic concentrations directly to the mash.

I too disagree with Gordon's lack of accuracy that results from adding dry minerals volumetrically instead of by weight, but the simplicity of his water adjustments would not penalize him too much.  And I can't argue with his results.  Plus, I understand he does use a pH meter to check his mash pH.  And as mentioned above, the ability to consistently reproduce a given outcome and assess minor changes will come to those who brew a similar beer time after time and dial in all components of a beer.  Gordon rebrews and tweaks with great effectiveness.

Unfortunately, that is not how most brewers brew.  I do enjoy brewing certain beers over and over.  I do tweak with each sucessive batch, but I also want a tool that is going to help me get in the ballpark the first time and subsequent brews.  Gordon properly coaches for brewers to not mess with their water too much.  Since he typically brews with RO water and the RO process is 'messing with your water to the max', what he really should be telling brewers is, 'don't add too much mineral content to your brewing water'.  Brewing with RO or distilled water is a luxury that some brewers don't have access to.  Using a program like Bru'n Water is an important step in understanding what your water is and what the effect of adding minerals will be.  Unless a brewer is using RO water like Gordon does, the water adjustments he uses could be disasterous to your brewing.  

With all that said, I too use RO water for my brewing since my tap water is not suitable for brewing.  As RichardT suggests, if you're using RO or distilled water, you can skip Sheets 1 and 2 in Bru'n Water.  You just dial up the dilution percentage to 100% and figure out your desired mineral additions.  And since distilled water and RO water have very low alkalinity, it is not necessary to acidify your sparge water.  Sparge water pH is NOT the real criteria we need to concern ourselves with, its reducing the water alkalinity to low concentration that is the real concern.  

As RichardT finds with his Weizenbock, brewing with RO water has its limitations as the grist color increases.  A source of alkalinity is needed to keep the mash pH from dropping too low.  I put that red pH signal to relay the findings that I've experienced.  The mash pH is very non-linear as the pH drops into the very low 5 range.  The mash has to have a really high net acidity to drop the pH that low.  Its my experience that a beer mashed at that pH is overly tart and rough.  Even a 5.2 is really too low for my taste.

I agree that the Munich profile is a bit much for many of the lighter styles that have been produced in Munich, but it is well suited to the dark styles.  To brew those lighter styles, the boiled Munich profile is much more appropriate.

All great questions!  And yes, pickling lime is quite powerful.  Don't even think of using it unless you have a good scale and also tend to underdose it instead of overdose.

yep, just look at is as .3 inherent error and .3 temp shift.  The .3's are in opposite directions so they cancel each other out.

Uh...I don't use the strips since I have a meter and the fact that they have proven to be inaccurate in the mash, but I don't think the temp shift enters into this issue.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Advice for increasing body of india red ale
« on: May 16, 2011, 02:47:08 PM »
Adding a small percentage of either flaked wheat or barley would also increase the perception of body in the beer.  The balancing act is to avoid adding too much and producing a haze problem.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Benefits of a 90 minute boil?
« on: May 16, 2011, 02:44:19 PM »
Ninety minutes produces about the maximum isomerization potential for alpha acids in wort according to work by Malawicki and Shellhammer.  Beyond that time, the isomerized alpha acids are broken down to a slight degree and the bittering actually decreases.  In terms of energy efficiency of converting alpha acids to iso-alpha acids, a boil time in the 60 minute range is better than 90 minutes. 

Equipment and Software / Re: Finally got to try my new pH meter
« on: May 15, 2011, 02:38:46 PM »
Its just the thermal thing that shortens the life of the very thin glass bulb.  Going from your room-temperature to the mash temperature several times, places a lot of thermal stress on that bulb.  If you're a heat lover and run your room temperature around the 150F range, then it should be no problem to measure the pH directly in the mash.  For anyone else, cooling the wort sample to a more reasonable room temperature is going to stress the bulb less.

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