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Messages - mabrungard

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Equipment and Software / Re: Dip stick for measuring kettle volume
« on: September 13, 2014, 07:39:39 AM »
Either way is fine. Since you are working on the hot side of the brewing process, sanitation is not a concern. So the wood dowel is fine. I use a long handled, nylon spoon with marks whittled into the plastic. One concern with the SST dip stick is that is will get hot. But that shouldn't be a big deal.

If you brew on an un-level surface, placing the dip stick in the center of the kettle will always produce an accurate volume measurement. However, if you had a sight glass on the side of the kettle, then you had better make sure the kettle is level or your volume measurement will be off.

Only bad thing about dip sticks is that the steam and heat off the wort does make you work VERY quickly!

Beer Recipes / Re: Skeleton Helles
« on: September 12, 2014, 01:52:37 PM »
I take it that is the tap water profile in that listing? If so, the alkalinity of that water is going to need neutralization with acid or acid malt. You will almost certainly get some tannins out of the grain bill if you don't neutralize.

In addition, the levels of Na, Cl, and SO4 are kind of high and that might place a bit of minerallyness on the flavor. I don't think it would be horrible, just not ideal. Cutting with distilled or RO water could help.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Cascadian Dark Ale Questions (pH & grist)
« on: September 02, 2014, 01:04:59 PM »
My experience with this style is that it's focused on adding color and not adding roast flavor. That should be well suited to adding the roast at the end of the mash. If the "roastless" mash is adjusted to produce a relatively normal pH of around 5.4, adding that touch of roast at the end should limit the color and flavor extraction and give your hop-focused BIPA a better chance to balance. That late roast addition should drop the wort pH a bit, but probably not too much. If you do find that the kettle wort pH is getting too low, then it is OK to boost the pH with a kettle addition of baking soda or lime. If you are using the supporter's version of Bru'n Water, you can quickly assess what the pH does with and without the roast addition and also have the ability to predict what that kettle addition of baking soda or lime should be. You can figure it out with the free version too. It's just a bit more of a PITA.

Yes as you already found, post fermentation pH adjustment is fine. It is primarily affecting taste.

The same thing can be performed in any beer...either raising or lowering the beer pH to meet taste expectations.

Those that read the article on London water a few months ago, saw that the water in central London had a somewhat high sodium content through some its history. The porter breweries were reputed to make the most tasty beers for the style, even when compared to other porters from around the world. Having brewed that brown porter recipe that I created for the article and having brewed it with the 'London Porter' water profile, I can attest that the 110 ppm sodium content is not detrimental to the beer. If anything, I would say that you would want at least 50 ppm sodium in a porter to help round the flavor. For that reason, using baking soda is well suited to dark beer brewing.

Another consideration is that since you only add baking soda to the mashing water, the high sodium content that might be shown from the baking soda addition will be diluted when you add the sparging water. In the free version of Bru'n Water, you would have to perform that calculation by yourself. But in the supporter's version, the diluted ion concentrations that are produced in the kettle are shown automatically.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Sun King Fistful of Hops
« on: August 26, 2014, 05:27:07 PM »
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.

I'm going to be making an Imperial Stout soon, and I've been doing a 2 step mash, as per Gordon Strong's suggestion, just the base malts for most of the time (~40 min.), and then add the dark malts for the last 15 min. or so.  I'm convinced this helps the dark malt flavors, thanks, Gordon.

Gordon's method (it's actually Guinness' method) is ONLY suited when brewing with very low alkalinity water like distilled or RO water. Under that condition, if the dark malts were added to the main mash, the mash pH would be too low and there would be issues with both the acidity of the wort and the conversion of starch. When you use the Guinness method, you avoid problems with starch conversion...but you still end up with a potentially too acidic wort. Extra acidity is OK in dry stouts, but it's not OK in other stout and porter styles. Interestingly, one of the World Beer Cup gold medal winning beers was brewed in an Ohio city a few hours from Gordon's home. That brewer is blessed?? with typical hard and alkaline Midwestern water that happens to make fantastic dark beers.  They could not have done it with the Guinness method.

I get a chuckle out of brewers that state that this method reduces the edge of their roast malt flavors. The real reason that the roast flavors are reduced is that the overly low pH reduces the extraction of color and flavor from those dark grains. I suggest that those of you that want to reduce the roasty flavor in your dark beers might try reducing the quantity of those roasted grains in the's cheaper that way.

As you can tell by now, I'm not impressed by this method. Brewers do make better dark beers when they understand and manipulate the alkalinity of their mashing water. I find that there are only a few beer styles that actually benefit from this technique. Irish dry stout and Schwartzbier are examples.

In the case of an Imperial Stout, using mashing water with the proper alkalinity level is more likely to produce pleasant and full roast flavors instead of the dry and potentially acrid roast flavors that accompany overly low wort pH.


Hop Growing / Re: 2014 Harvest
« on: August 24, 2014, 10:13:20 AM »
I now pound my dried hops into plugs before sealing and freezing. It certainly reduces the bulk and I'm guessing that the action of a 1" wood dowel driven by a 3 lb sledge probably helps rupture some lupulin glands.

Ingredients / Re: brown malt for porter
« on: August 21, 2014, 06:09:03 AM »
Beware that Crisp brown malt includes a bit of smoke in it. I used almost 9% in a brown porter and the smoke was too apparent for a few months.
That is interesting. I wonder how it would be in a recipe for a historic porter.

Did you go to the talk that John Mallett and Andrea Stanley presented at the NHC? They served a historic porter made with malt that was dried over a hornbeam fire. A little smokey, but I really liked it.

Yep! I was in there and it was an excellent presentation. The beer made with Andrea's malt was similar in smokiness with my porter.

Ingredients / Re: brown malt for porter
« on: August 20, 2014, 05:38:02 AM »
Beware that Crisp brown malt includes a bit of smoke in it. I used almost 9% in a brown porter and the smoke was too apparent for a few months.

Boy, I recently got jumped all over by AJ when I recommended that using a high alpha hop like Magnum was preferrable for the bittering charge than using Noble hops for bittering in continental Pils. I am happy to hear some confirmation in other styles.

I personally like to keep the vegetative content as low as possible in the kettle and using high alpha hops in a bittering capacity makes sense to me.

Almost. Unfortunately, the quality of RO water varies with the quality of the raw water and the condition of the RO system. In many cases, RO water does still have some alkalinity and that means that it would take a little more than a linear assumption to reach your desired diluted alkalinity. In addition, you mention RA. That is a combination of Ca, Mg, and alkalinity and its possible that the linear assumption is again off. You are best finding out the water quality of the RO water being used and plug that into a calculator to find out how much dilution you actually need to achieve your desired water quality.

Another thing that could be done is to use distilled water. Then the linear assumption would be valid and that dilution ratio would equate to the resulting diluted water quality as proposed in your post.

The only things that get cleaned and sanitized in my system are the plate chiller and the discharge tubing. Everything else is just cleaned of all debris and sprayed down. I never scrub or otherwise perform extensive cleaning and sanitization of my tun or kettle. Both have a nice tea-colored patina.

170 ppm alkalinity as CaCO3 is fairly high. I'm not surprised that lactate may be tasted at that level. Another consideration is that the reported taste threshold for compounds is often the median or average value. Some tasters will be able to taste a compound at a much lower level. Maybe the OP is one of those individuals.

This is probably a case where other acids might be considered for this neutralization task. Dilution is another option. For the comment regarding the pH of RO water, pH is NOT a concern with brewing water. It is the alkalinity that is the concern. Brewers mistakenly use pH as the criterion for sparging water acidification, however it is really the alkalinity that needs to be considered. Even in Bru'n Water, the user sets a desired pH level in the sparge acidification page in order to end up with an acceptably low alkalinity...that is confusing, but it is what it is.

Depending upon the alkalinity of the raw water, the pH target you will need to set for sparge acidification may be well below 5.8. Conversely, if the alkalinity of the water is already low, it doesn't matter that the pH of that water is above the typical 5.2 to 5.6 mash pH range. That water's low alkalinity should not overwhelm the mash and its buffer system. So there is no need to acidify low alkalinity water like RO or distilled sources.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: adding chilis to beer
« on: August 11, 2014, 06:30:45 PM »
I just tasted a pale ale with jalapeno that one of my clubmates made. He used 1/2 jalapeno, deseeded and deveined, in secondary, per gallon of beer. It had a notable jalapeno flavor with virtually no heat. At that level, anyone could tell what the additive was and was not offended.

Mr. Gladish is another expert at adding peppers to beer since he won the ProAm at GABF with his Poblano Wit. Very tasty beer.

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