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Messages - mabrungard

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bias in BJCP judging?
« on: March 09, 2014, 12:39:29 PM »
Very constructive discussion!

The BJCP style guidelines offer an important coordination between most brewers and drinkers as to the major features of a particular style. Where the history and perceptions of the style are broad, the guidelines often have latitude in the characteristics. However, there is a deficiency that seems counterproductive to me.  We rely on the "Specialty" category (23) to give those beers that don't quite fit well into the major categories. That does segregate beers that are generally similar to the major category, but has a unique feature or character that sets it apart. I have mentioned this in the past and it has been discussed in some circles that each major category should have its own 'specialty' subcategory so that these beers that may stretch the bounds of the category can be better compared to similar beers.

A case in point are beers that seem to straddle subcategories. They tend to get marked down because they are perceived with a little too much of a neighboring subcategory's character, all the while, it is a really great beer...maybe even better than the more subcategory aligned beers. It would be great to update the guidelines to include a better mechanism for including these somewhat unique beers with their brethren.

Clearly, there will be beers that venture well outside the character of some categories and the need for Category 23 - Specialty is still needed. But let's put this idea to the test.

I do appreciate the strong opinions expressed here, but I am dismayed that we don't have names and reputations to accompany all of them. Please consider including a little more self identification if you intend to be taken seriously. Slackers like myself, denny, mdixon, etc  ;) that stand behind their words with a level of name recognition are much more likely to be civil. I understand a reluctance to use your full name to reduce the chance of being searched via the web, but you can make it possible to show who you are. I have found that great friendships and appreciation can come of it.   

Homebrew Competitions / Re: Thoughts/Opinions
« on: March 09, 2014, 12:05:19 PM »
Another factor that can influence the quality of beers judged, is whether the samples were shipped or dropped off. It is a proven fact that handling and vibration does reduce the quality and character of the beer. One factor that has proven itself is shipping to contests in the summer. The heat clearly accelerates the damage. Given the timing of this contest, it doesn't seem likely that heat had an effect. But in the absence of this factor, I don't doubt that the home club has really good brewers. Contest participation does have a way of refining and enhancing brewing skill.

Beer Recipes / Re: Munich
« on: March 07, 2014, 10:20:26 AM »
I have the opinion that the light Munich malt is similar to English Mild malt. I've used that in several beers and substituted as necessary when the LHBS is out of one or the other. 

Events / Re: NHC Hotels filled up already?
« on: March 07, 2014, 10:14:43 AM »
It only took a minute to book my room at the Amway.

+ another to what eyousey said. Overfill and boil water. I don't think you need an hour, but that is a nice goal. If your water isn't very hard, I suggest adding calcium salts to your water to help imbue and coat the aluminum. The surface should go from shiny and metallic to dark gray. You want the dark gray since it signals a good oxidized surface coating.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Late Water Adjustment
« on: March 05, 2014, 12:14:58 PM »
The good thing is that your chalk addition was probably ineffective, since it wouldn't have dissolved in the mash. But that brings up the question of why you were targeting such a high bicarbonate content? I can't think of any mash that would need that bicarbonate content in the water.

The pH reading is reassuring, assuming that it was obtained from a room-temperature wort sample using a freshly-calibrated pH meter. In that case, you probably don't have much to worry about.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Increase finial beer PH?
« on: March 05, 2014, 05:53:29 AM »
From what I understand, raising mash pH will raise wort and finished beer pH. No experience with this though.

It's definitely not a 1 to 1 relationship, but there SHOULD be a minor increase or decrease in the final beer pH with an increase or decrease in wort pH. Wort, Yeast and their metabolic processes are pretty good buffers.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water/Mash questions re: Kolsch
« on: March 04, 2014, 07:03:56 PM »
Since they give me the hardness, that should contain the total calcium and magnesium.  I was reading on braukaiser that generally 70% of this hardness comes from calcium.  So 30% (or 19.2 mg/L) should be the magnesium content.  That would mean 44.8 would be calcium.  But since calcium is listed already (13.9), do I add the 44.8 to 13.9, or is should I subtract the 13.9 from the 64.1 to get 50.2 for the magnesium?  Ultimately I am wondering what numbers I need to put in a water calculator. 

Unfortunately, that generalization isn't worth much. The amount of calcium or magnesium CANNOT be generalized since it is totally dependent upon the minerals the water contacted on its way to your tap. A 70/30 split between Ca and Mg may be correct in some waters, but more than likely, its not.

If the hardness and calcium values from the water report are correct, then the magnesium content is more like 7 ppm.

It's sad to see misinformation like that on the web...but it does exist.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water/Mash questions re: Kolsch
« on: March 03, 2014, 11:57:12 AM »
Based on the scenario, I assume that you are using low-alkalinity water like RO for the mashing. An all pale malt mash would typically end with its pH around 5.7 to 5.8 unless the water was hardened or acidified. That pH does create a potential for tannin extraction.

Given the style, I would target a pH of 5.2 to 5.3. Some form of acidification is needed. Acid malt can work, but liquid acids are more likely to be accurate.

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Causes of astringency
« on: March 02, 2014, 02:40:17 PM »
The lake water seems very constant, though there are times when you can smell the chlorine strongly. I believe this is seasonal perhaps when they change to chloramines. But I've never tracked it. Or it could be when there's a spike in E. coli bacteria along the lakefront. I don't know if they up the dose of chlorine at that point.

It is common for utilities that chloraminate to switch to chlorination for a short period during the year. This is often in the spring or late winter when the water has less of the reactive content that creates the cancer-causing trihalomethanes. Chlorine has much higher lethality than chloramines and switching over does give the utility a chance to 'shock' the system and reduce any stubborn organisms that were living with the chloramines. Chlorine is much more volatile than chloramine and you will smell the chlorine odor more readily when this switch is on. Most utilities only do this for maybe a month. 

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Causes of astringency
« on: March 02, 2014, 05:57:01 AM »
Yes, Briess extracts do have high sodium due to their local water company using ion-exchange to soften the municipal supply. If you were adding only a minor addition (30 to 50 points of gravity) then it shouldn't really be a problem. It could be a problem if you were making a big beer with mostly extract.

While alkalinity can produce problems with pH and subsequent tannin and silicate extraction, its not the only way to get them. As you might expect, I am fairly particular about water chemistry. But I was producing a mild tannin expression in my first few beers when I switched over to my new brewing equipment. It turned out that I was oversparging and introducing tannins in that way. I had been stopping the runoff at 2 Brix, but that was apparently too low. I now stop at around 3 Brix. That solved the problem.

Joe, I note that you are in north Chicago. For some of Chicagoland, the water is from the Great Lakes and other places are groundwater. I'm curious about your source. The lake water quality is relatively constant. The lake alkalinity is modest, but should still have some neutralization for some styles.

The Great Lakes Compact has changed what can be done with lake water. If your wastewater does not make it back into the lake, then I understand that they are requiring those utilities to stop using lake water and find another source so that this use isn't draining the lake. If your utility had to get a new source, that could be a source of your problem. Other sources in the region are typically much more alkaline. Hopefully you have been neutralizing your brewing water with acid, as needed. That should remove that source of tannin and silicate from your beer. But it won't solve oversparging.

Good luck!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Finished Beer PH?
« on: February 28, 2014, 08:04:16 AM »
I just finished the ferment for a Hefe that I specifically sought to mash at around 5.2. The finished beer pH was 4.21. That falls within that range mentioned above.

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: February 25, 2014, 09:54:03 AM »
Don't forget the third wheel in the astringency train...oversparging. Sure, make sure the alkalinity of your sparging water is reasonably low and avoid taking the sparging water temp above 170F. But the thing that tripped me up a year ago while I was breaking in my new brewing system, was oversparging. I was ending runoff at 2 Brix and had a faint tannin note. I now aim to end runoff at about 3 Brix. Problem solved.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Adding java to a stout
« on: February 25, 2014, 09:48:18 AM »
One of my clubmates, Sandy Cockerham, is a BJCP Master and owner of a local coffee shop. She also supplies the coffee to many of the Indy breweries and guides their practices. Cold beer steeping seems to be the direction she espouses.

In a recent brewery's rendition of a coffee beer, there was definite bell/hot pepper notes. I seem to recall they used a Guatemalan bean. Of course Sandy roasted the beans, but I don't remember how dark. I also recall a presentation she gave to our BJCP judge pool in which she worked with SunKing and their Cream Ale and infused some lightly roasted (Ethiopian?) coffee and the result was surprisingly refreshing and light.   

Ingredients / Re: Chit malt?
« on: February 25, 2014, 09:39:07 AM »
I know that a very small percentage of flaked barley will raise a huge head. I'm guessing that only a portion of the original beta-glucans exist in Chit malt since the 'full' malting process converts most of them and this is partially malted grain.

I agree that flaked barley imparts a raw flavor that I don't like in pale beers, but its OK in roasty beers. Even at 1%, flaked barley can create a huge head and impart that flavor. I don't have that flavor impact when I use flaked wheat. I still get a decent head production, but the flavor is more wheaty and grainy. I like that better.

My findings are that you don't need much flaked barley to overdose your beer. In some respects, I'm surprised that brewers use as much Chit malt in their grist. But I suppose that Chit malt must be well on its way to being converted when its kilned and the amount of beta-glucan is actually very low in comparison to raw or flaked barley. 

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