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Messages - mabrungard

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Equipment and Software / Re: Thermapen or MW101 PH meter?
« on: April 29, 2014, 05:49:45 AM »
There is no way I would spend the $$ on a Therapen when they make the RT600c. I have two of the RTs and they are nice. Now I need an extra one for other duties.

I agree that a pH meter is a PITA and that there are programs that help get your mash pH pretty close, but I do want to check that stuff.

Temperature and pH are important factors. Get the very worthwhile RT600 and when your funds permit, get the MW-101 along with all the other stuff like storage and calibration solutions. My MW has been rock solid. I can't say the same for other compact pH meters. I think it has something to do with the MW-101 using an industry standard probe.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Sulfur Smell from 1 Month Old Beer
« on: April 26, 2014, 05:48:56 AM »
How much copper is in your brewing system? If there is no wort contact with copper, the wort may be copper-deficient. Copper complexes with sulfurous compounds and drops them out of solution. One of my clubmates put a piece on copper tube in a problematic beer for a few minutes and he said it cleared out his sulfur problem.

Ingredients / Re: Sasion Water Profile?
« on: April 25, 2014, 04:25:39 AM »
Eric, sulfate has little to do with a style that is not hop forward. We need to lose the mantra that sulfate makes beer doesn't. Sulfate makes beer finish dry. In a bittered beer, that allows the hop character and bittering to exhibit. But it didn't make the beer more bitter.

In a malty beer, excessive dryness could become counter-productive to leaving the drinker with that desired perception of malt in the finish. Using sulfate to dial up or down the dryness of the finish is a pretty handy tool in the brewer's tool kit.

Ingredients / Re: Sasion Water Profile?
« on: April 24, 2014, 06:24:34 PM »
Sulfate is presented as such a bad guy by some folks. Its not really that bad a component to have in water. Even in a malty beer, a low level of sulfate can help dry the finish. I would not go much above 100 ppm in a malty beer though. If the finish is too dry, it will diminish the malt perception.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Commercial examples of 60 shilling?
« on: April 24, 2014, 01:18:38 PM »
+1 on the recommendation to avoid peated malt in this style. With a proper ferment, the scottish yeast does through a hint of smokey phenol. I would have to say that a better work around than peated is to use a small percentage of brown malt. It has a hint of smokiness.

Ingredients / Re: Azacca Single hop IPA tasting notes
« on: April 23, 2014, 04:39:38 AM »
5.4 is fine for hop focused beers and that is what I aim for when brewing PAs and IPAs. The problem is that if I don't add a bit of lime to my water (its RO too), the mash pH will be too low and that echos into the kettle pH.

Malt focused beers might be mashed at slightly lower pH (say 5.2) to help accentuate their crispness and also reduce those hop contributed flavors or bitterness that we clearly are not interested in these styles.

Ingredients / Re: Azacca Single hop IPA tasting notes
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:26:16 AM »
Remember, low wort pH can reduce the extraction of bittering compounds from the hops and the bittering expression in the beer. If brewing with RO and you are boosting the calcium content to provide sulfate, you probably need a little alkalinity in the mashing water to avoid a low pH. A little pickling lime or baking soda may be a necessary thing!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Question for chemist types
« on: April 21, 2014, 06:34:53 PM »
Yes, Chlorine is named what it is, because it is a greenish yellow gas in its pure form.

I dont think you can reach a desirable sulfate level if you limit the Ca to 50 ppm. Ive brewed my std pale ale with 100 ppm sulfate and it was tasty, but it didnt have the pop or dryness I prefer. I like 300 ppm.

Beer Recipes / Re: Ralph's Summer Wheat
« on: April 20, 2014, 03:25:53 PM »
You will have to report back. Its always good to find out about all these new hops.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Batch vs Fly Sparge - water treatment
« on: April 20, 2014, 11:38:48 AM »
Martin, I also use RO water. My last batch had 12 lb of wheat and 8 lb of pilsner. Using Bru'n water I added 24 ml of phosphoric acid to get my estimated mash PH to 5.5. (actual was 5.3) The sheet also recommended adding 3.2 ml of acid to the sparge. I have selected 100% dilution with RO.

Do I just ignore the sparge addition if using RO?

In general, those brewers using water with very low alkalinity (like RO or distilled water) can dispense with sparging water acidification. It typically only takes a few drops acid per gallon anyhow. But you can do it if you prefer. You don't mention the strength of the acid or volume of sparging water, so its difficult to assess if that sparge addition was excessive. 


That's ironic since it's the Bru'n water pale ale profile that had me targeting such high Ca levels!

The high calcium level is a by-product of wanting so much sulfate in the Pale Ale profile. Since you can't add sulfate without adding some other cation, we are going to end up with one of those cations (Ca, Mg, Na, K) high. Calcium just happens to be a rather innocuous ion, so letting its concentration rise is OK.

Calcium is really helpful in getting yeast to flocculate and it can help beers clear. But there is little reason to raise it above about 50 ppm for ales. The only reason to take it higher is to add those flavor ions (SO4 and Cl) to the water. In the case of the Pale Ale profile, it is a necessary thing.

However, this brings up another VERY important point about magnesium in brewing water. Mg is not a bad component in brewing water. In the case of creating a high sulfate content water like the Pale Ale profile, an Epsom Salt addition can really boost sulfate with a modest boost in Mg content (20 ppm Mg from Epsom provides 79 ppm SO4). That is a pretty good payoff in my opinion. In addition, the flavor from Mg is actually complementary to the overall bittering that we want in pale ales and IPAs. Including that Epsom Salt addition also reduces the total calcium that you will have to add if you are targeting a high sulfate content. This is a win-win in my view.

The Sulfate/Chloride ratio is purely informational and its only useful when the chloride content is at a modest level (say 25 to 125 ppm). Beyond those limits, the ions are either too low to really taste or too minerally for brewing.

Other Fermentables / Re: optimum pH for mead.
« on: April 17, 2014, 10:18:05 AM »
I think the main thing is the flavor produced by the acidity of the finished mead. If you are diluting with an alkaline water when making up the must, then a portion of that yeast's acid production will be consumed by the alkalinity. I don't know if using a low alkalinity water like RO or distilled is an advantage or not in mead making.

The Pub / Re: 23 things homebrewers are tired of hearing....
« on: April 17, 2014, 05:57:18 AM »
It's pretty cool to already have the "meth-stigma" broken down AND have a little neighborhood joke going.

Yes, "Crystal Eth" is what I tell my neighbors.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash efficiency survey
« on: April 17, 2014, 05:53:05 AM »
In my experience, crush is always the first thing to look at. 

+1 on crush being the first variable to consider and its probably one of the most influential on efficiency. I have to say that the second most important variable is the runoff rate. The slower you go, the higher the efficiency. Even with batch sparging, I'd have to say that extending the duration should have a positive effect. A mashout temperature step to the high 160's is also worth a couple of points increase.

Even though I'm a proponent of getting your water chemistry right for mashing, I'm not really sure that it is a big factor in improving efficiency. A number of brewers have told me that it made a difference for them, but I don't understand why that would be. The only thing I can imagine is that their mashing chemistry conditions were so far off that it was negatively effecting their efficiency.

With that said, I used to get around 80 to 82 percent efficiency with my old system. Then I upgraded my system and my efficiency dropped well into the 70's while I learned what my water volumes needed to be. My LHBS also was having mill troubles and I knew they had poor crush. That moved me to buy a good mill. I now pre-condition the malt before the crush and have been able to crush fairly fine. Since I've figured out the water volume issue and been using a good crush, my efficiency is nearly 90 percent. That is not a good thing when you have figured your recipe based on 82% !!


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