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Messages - mabrungard

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Fly Sparging
« on: January 07, 2013, 07:35:24 AM »

I learned that from Jeff (hopfen) who learned it at Sierra Nevada beer camp, so there's at least one major pro brewer that needs your expertise.
I have found that it helps when there is a lot of fine particulate on the surface of the grain bed.

Its interesting that you mention SN since the firm I work for is providing engineering services to both the Chico and Asheville facilities.   I'm pretty sure they don't cut or rake the grain bed in a 200 bbl mash tun.  They are sort of big.  But the description you and others provide, make it clear that the purpose of the cutting is not: "to prevent channeling", but to improve flow through the bed by disturbing that surface layer.  That makes perfect sense. 

I mash with RIMS and the flow rate through the bed during mashing is far higher than when I'm running off.  I've never seen a layer of anything on my mashes.  I wonder why regular mashes present this.  Do most brewers have this layer on their mash?

Given the real purpose of the cutting, many shallow cuts through the surface of the bed would be most effective. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Fly Sparging
« on: January 05, 2013, 06:02:42 PM »
My sparging technique is similar to Jeff's.  There is one component that I disagree with, the mash bed cutting.

Those that know me well are aware that I'm a geotechnical and environmental engineer.  I've had extensive education and training in flow through porous media (soil).  The parallel is that a mash bed is porous media too.  Penetrating a stable bed of media with something like a knife would actually increase the likelihood of flow short-circuiting, not reduce it.  The thing that the cutting would provide is increased permeability through the bed (by the increased short-circuiting).  I highly recommend that anyone that performs this misguided technique should try NOT doing that for their next mash.  The runoff may be a little slower, but you won't have to worry about short-circuiting.  I don't know where this wive's tale came from, but its not doing what you think it is.

PS: Pro brewers don't do this either.  But its probably because in large tuns, there is no way to 'cut' the mash.  But they also know that its unnecessary.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Secondary Fermention
« on: January 05, 2013, 05:50:46 PM »
Unless you are adding another fermentable, there is no such thing as secondary fermentation.  Its actually secondary clarification.  If the fermenter is kept cool enough, all clarification can be completed in that 'primary' fermentation vessel.  Do not transfer a beer off the yeast if there is fermentation activity.  If the activity has slowed and the gravity has not attenuated enough, the fermentation temperature may be too low.  This is especially a problem for brewers in the cold months.  Don't be afraid of warming the fermenter at the end of an otherwise active fermentation to achieve adequate attenuation.  Most of the esters and other flavor producers are created in the early stages of fermentation. 

When fermentation is complete and the beer temperature is cool (say under 60F), there is little chance of autolysis in the short term.  Cooling the fermenter further will aid in clarification.  When sufficiently clarified, the beer can be bottled or kegged.

If you are in the midwest your water is changing quickly this year.  The rivers are down to very low levels and in many places more ground water from deeper wells is being used.  Our mineral contents is going up quite a bit right now.  Hopefully the drought (going on 8-10 years now) will end, or at least abate, soon and we can get some water back in the rivers.


Exactly.  Clouding of StarSan solution is due to hardness in the water.  Using distilled, RO, or even ion-exchange softened water will solve the clouding 'problem'.  Its not really a problem.

Ingredients / Re: Water Check - not Happy with "Pale Ale" profile
« on: January 03, 2013, 09:46:50 AM »
No, Reno gets their water from the Truckee River which comes from Tahoe.  I suppose that water could have iron and other metals since that is all hard-rock area.  It should otherwise be decent water for brewing.  I don't know for sure though.

Ingredients / Re: Too much lactic acid?
« on: January 02, 2013, 01:03:54 PM »
Looks like 6.5 mL of 88% lactic in 5 gallons is 400 ppm.  One thing to remember is that Malting and Brewing Science is quoting 400 ppm in beer.  So you would have to stay a bit lower that that concentration in the brewing water due to the concentrating effect of the boil.

Ingredients / Re: Too much lactic acid?
« on: January 02, 2013, 12:03:37 PM »
My philosophy regarding acidification is based on the alkalinity of the sparging water.  I feel that the alkalinity should be 25 ppm or less.  In the case of RO or distilled water use, its unnecessary to acidify those waters since they already have low alkalinity. 

For neutralizing water with modest alkalinity, lactic acid is fine.  You won't have to add enough to notice a flavor impact.  I know from experience, that 150 ppm alkalinity is still OK for lactic usage.  From studies I've seen, the flavor threshold for lactate ion is on the order of 400 ppm in beer (Malting and Brewing Science).  One mole of lactate ion will be delivered to the water for each mole of bicarbonate neutralized.  400 ppm bicarb = 328 ppm alkalinity.  So this suggests that there might still be a little room for using lactic acid on higher alkalinity waters, but I wouldn't recommend it.  I'd say that moving to phosphoric might be safer from a flavor perspective.  Another consideration is that the 400 ppm taste threshold represents the 'average' taster.  A super taster might pick it up at lower concentration.

PS: Beersk, it sounds like you still have the 100 ppm alkalinity in the Sparge Acidification page inputs.  If you put the alkalinity of RO water in that entry, it will report a much lower acid addition.  This was fixed in the supporter version of Bru'n Water.

Ingredients / Re: Too much lactic acid?
« on: January 02, 2013, 11:14:47 AM »
So, it sounds like you have about 100 ppm alkalinity and 5 gal of sparging water?  Adding the acid to the sparging water is a good idea in that it helps reduce that tannin extraction potential and it reduces the pH of the wort in the kettle slightly.  Both aspects could be an improvement if the sparging and wort pH have been too high in the past.  Its a small addition, it won't affect flavor and its good insurance.

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 11:03:50 AM »
I have another theory on astringency in wort and beer.  With the make up of Red's water, this may be a candidate.

Tannins are the predominant cause of astringency in brewing.  They are complex organic molecules that can complex with metal ions and precipitate out of solution.  They also complex with proteins. 

For the past several years, I was confused as to why my morning cup of tea tasted better at work than at home.  At home I have RO water in the kitchen and at work I have typical Midwestern hard water.  On the outset, I assumed that RO water would make better tea since it has very little alkalinity.  But invariably, the tea made with the hard tap water was smoother and less astringent even though they are otherwise identical (temp, teabag, etc). 

The other week I was reminded of the fact that tannins and metal ions will complex and then it hit me that was what was missing in the RO water.  So, I did a quick and unscientific experiment to see if adding calcium to my RO water would make better tasting tea.  Before adding the teabag, I dropped in a few pearls of calcium chloride to see if I thought there was a taste improvement.  In my opinion, there was! 

With this unscientific result, I now need to perform a more scientific analysis of this effect and its perceptions.  Calcium chloride is the obvious choice since calcium is moderately flavorless.  Gypsum is a candidate, but sulfate introduces its own flavor.   Chalk doesn't dissolve adequately, so its out.  Magnesium is out too since it adds too much flavor at high concentrations.  I figure I'll mix up a couple of CaCl solutions and brew up some strong teas.  With some triangle testing with a few subjects, I should be able to discern a cause and effect. 

So in Red's case, I think that the calcium content of his brewing water may have been too low to remove much of the tannin that is naturally present in wort. I look forward to hearing what Red has to say with regard to his typical mashing and sparging water calcium content. 

By the way, Polyclar will precipitate tannins too.     

Ingredients / Re: Water Check - not Happy with "Pale Ale" profile
« on: January 01, 2013, 11:06:42 AM »
I am tempted to try Stone's water profile (with adjustments for pH if necessary) as stated in Koch's book:

30ppm Ca
12ppm Mg
85ppm Sulfate
40ppm Sodium

The low Ca and high Na are scary though.

When we toured Stone, the guide said that the tap water was blended with RO, 50:50. I am too lazy to look up the water profile for that part of the country, but they get a fair amount from the Colorado River, which is full of minerals. The profile above may be what they have in the HLT.

There was also a shipping pallet stacked high with a 50 Lb bags of Gypsum and Calcium Chloride. I assume they use those minerals to adjust for the beer they are brewing.

40 ppm sodium is not that high.  Don't worry too much about that.

The Colorado River water quality is not too good for brewing.  Ask any Las Vegan or Los Angeleno.  Diluting with RO is a reasonable alternative. 

Hmm??? I have no idea what a brewer would do with bags of minerals!  ;-)

Ingredients / Re: Combination of hops to create an "orange" flavor
« on: December 30, 2012, 07:53:04 PM »
Don't forget that there are different varieties of corriander.  The Indian corriander is yellow and smooth skinned.  It does tend to provide citrusy components.  I find them to be more on the lemon side.  But then there is the Mexican or Moroccan corriander that is brown and wrinkle skinned.  It has more of a peppery flavor contribution in my opinion. 

I've found that since we add orange peel to Wits, I prefer the Mexican corriander in my Wit to provide a slightly earthy and spicy contrast to the orange flavor.  I didn't like what the Indian version did for the flavor.  But, I agree that it might add some citrus impact in the beer in question.

Ingredients / Re: Base Malt for APA
« on: December 29, 2012, 09:23:27 AM »
Oh, poo-poo! Don't listen to the nay-sayers. 

While there is little precedent for using a portion of Pils in a Pale Ale, its not to say its not worth trying.  A lot of brewers concentrate on 2-row Pale and maybe a bit of Munich as the base malts, it would be an education to try a portion of Pils.  Pils definitely has a differing flavor, so it might be an interesting combination.  This is more valuable when you brew a similar brew without the Pils and contrast the differences.

Just remember that Pils malt has more SMM and it requires a longer boil time to make sure most of it is scrubbed from the wort. 


Ingredients / Re: Multi-Step Infusion & Water Adjustments
« on: December 27, 2012, 10:12:09 AM »
It does depend upon the water and grist.  There could be cases where adding minerals to the mash would be counterproductive. So its not so easy to just say...add them all at once.  Since the OP indicates that they start with RO water, there could be cases where a bit of alkalinity needs to be added.  If they are step infusing, then adding all the alkalinity producers at once could really throw off the mash pH. 

There are only a few styles that benefit from step mashing.  Looking at one of the most extreme cases would be the typical Hefe in which you might start with a rest in the 110 to 125F range and then want to boost it to the 150F range.  That step infusion could approach the original mash in volume.  That will definitely throw off the water chemistry. 

In the case of stepping from just a Beta rest temp to an Alpha rest temp, the infusion volume is probably minor.  Then I can agree that throwing all the minerals in wouldn't be a big deal. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« on: December 23, 2012, 11:33:11 AM »
I guess that I missed a recommendation for a 5.2 mash pH.  I feel that would be a little lower than desirable to promote that malt backbone that I like in the styles. Low pH improves the fermentability and that will tend to reduce the malt presence. I prefer 5.3 to 5.4.

Ingredients / Re: Water Check - not Happy with "Pale Ale" profile
« on: December 21, 2012, 11:42:13 AM »
That modest Mg content is probably not going to alter the taste that much.  The main objection is probably the sulfate and calcium.  The bicarbonate is there only as necessary to produce an acceptable mash pH.  I assume Paul adjusted it up or down to meet the needs of his mash. 

If that Pale Ale profile was not to your liking, I would reduce the sulfate even lower than 242 ppm.  A 60 ppm reduction is not that significant if you were used to (and liked) about 100 ppm.  I'd drop it to about 200, since that is midway. 

Remember if you find water profiles that are more to your liking, custom water profiles can be entered into the water profile table on the Water Adjustment sheet.  The table even has the ability to error check your ion totals to make sure that you enter a reasonably 'balanced' set of ion inputs.   

By the way, I'll be brewing my next SNPA using the yellow bitter profile.  I've always used the Pale Ale profile and like it, but AJ kept hounding me that better pale ales can be made with lower sulfate content.  I'll be finding out.  The good thing is that I can always add additional gypsum to the keg if I don't like the low sulfate taste!

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