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Messages - mabrungard

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Kegging and Bottling / Re: Brown Stain in Corny Keg
« on: August 31, 2015, 09:38:55 PM »
I'm an engineer and not a chemist either. But, I understand the standard for SST passivation is Nitric acid. However as you are probably aware, its not really easily available to regular folks. As a semi-decent alternative, oxalic and citric acids are the active acids in BarKeepers Friend.   

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Getting Smegma out of Better Bottles
« on: August 31, 2015, 04:28:11 PM »
When all else fails, I've found that a lye solution is great for eating organic deposits on equipment and tubing. Just be very careful when handling. Use rubber gloves.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Czech Pils Water Profile
« on: August 31, 2015, 04:25:27 PM »
I've been happy with low calcium in the recent lagers I've brewed. I've been using the technique built into the supporter's version of Bru'n Water where all the sparging minerals are added to the mashing water so that the mineral content in the mash is higher. The higher Ca and Mg content helps push down the mash pH so that less acid is used and that higher Ca content helps precipitate the oxalate. I generally aim for about 40 to 50 ppm Ca in the mash with the sparging minerals in there. The sparging water is left unmineralized and serves to dilute the overall ion content in the kettle wort.

I don't abide by someone's opinion that sulfate in noble-hopped beers is undesirable. Pilsner Urquel includes minor gypsum addition to their water and I think that a good Czech Pils needs a little bit of sulfate to help dry the beer finish. Certainly less than 20 ppm sulfate and chloride will be equal or higher.

With this approach, the beer has the opportunity to be soft and delicate and enable the malt to come through.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Brown Stain in Corny Keg
« on: August 30, 2015, 10:51:21 PM »
Might be rust.  Passivate the SS with a couple cups of muriatic acid.

That is an almost sure way to cause rust. Muriatic acid (aka: hydrochloric acid) supplies the chloride ion that is what is needed to cause stainless steel to rust. Don't ever use muriatic acid on stainless steel. 

On a side note, organic stains and deposits can sometimes be dissolved with sodium hydroxide solution (lye). It is very aggressive with organic matter (including your skin), be careful with its use.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: British Ale Yeasts
« on: August 29, 2015, 03:01:55 PM »
I have the same opinion of S-04 as Eric. I find that its too bready. I've only used it in pale styles, so don't know its utility in darker styles. But I'm not especially enamored of that yeast. It certainly does have a English flavor to it. I find that its very nice when the beer is young, but it change for the worse over time.

Neil, very nice writeup. Good information! It seems I'm going to have to listen to BN again.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Adding NaCl to beer
« on: August 29, 2015, 02:55:57 PM »
Yes, the typical sodium levels used in brewing are far under the level at which you can perceive it as "salty". However, they are proven to provide a sweetening effect in beer at low level. Both sodium and chloride have a sweetening effect that can easily be tested in your glass with a dash of salt.

Yes, its worth it.

Homebrew Clubs / Re: Indiana homebrewer Brew BQ
« on: August 26, 2015, 12:30:30 PM »
I'll be there with the rest of my FBI clubmates. Bring some food and beer to share. It will be a great time. It doesn't matter if you are in a club or not. Be there!

Heating just a portion of the mashing water would likely mean that you would overheat and denature the enzymes. If you insist on stepping without adding more plain hot water, then I suggest that decoction is a better way. You are heating a mass from the mash, but its the part without most of the enzymes since the enzymes stay in the wort. 


Not only will it have no effect on enzymes, it will have no effect on flavor.

I agree. Why do brewers insist on putting pumpkin in their beer when all they really want is pumpkin pie spices? Pumpkin adds very little and the cost in terms of brewing effort are significant.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: calcium chloride and IPA's
« on: August 20, 2015, 12:50:11 PM »

Recent things that I have been happy with:
*12-15% flaked grains in grain bill
*2:1 Chloride to sulfate. Been going about 130:65ppm for recent beers
*Using some canning salt to get my Na up from 0 to 30 or so
*Using some of my high bicarbonate water (20-40%)
*pH's of my best versions have all been what I would consider high.... with mash/boil kettle (preboil) around 5.45 or even a touch higher. This seems to be pushing the high end of pH to me....but, I like the results better than 5.2-5.3 I don't know why this would be..... but it is.
*Lower carbonation.... not flat, but not biting.
*Primary dry hop plus a second, short dry hop in a hopping keg, under CO2 and jump to serving keg after 48 hours. I use this method and it works awesome -

That is the great thing about homebrewing, we can create what pleases us. While I don't prefer that high chloride level, I do practice all the other factors. That is a lot more flaked grain than I use. I find that only a few percent of flaked wheat is necessary to produce strong head. I'm glad you also found that boosting sodium is helpful. I almost always add salt to my water for the sodium. Keeping that pH a little higher does help bring out the hop bittering, just be careful to not overdo it since it can get rough tasting at higher pH.

I suggest you review the various Belgian city profiles in Bru'n Water and figure out where each of those cities are on the map. Look at the levels of the flavor ions (Na, SO4, and Cl) in those profiles and gain an understanding of the magnitude of each. Figure out the region that your favorite Biere de Garde is from and you might bias your target flavor ion content toward a city or two in that region.

If that is too much work, one of those Amber profiles will probably work well. An important thing to remember is that the calcium and bicarbonate levels in those city profiles are not your targets. They are likely to be lower.

Martin "Brun de Garde"

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« on: August 18, 2015, 08:59:52 PM »
I have used up to 110 ppm sodium in a London Porter and I think it was just slightly too much. It wasn't salty, but it and the chloride it was paired with, were just a little too minerally for my tastes. Still good, but I wasn't used to the minerally nature. I think something in the 80 to 90 ppm Na range might meet my taste preference.

Don't forget that you are only adding an alkali like baking soda to the mash and when the sparging water is added, the total sodium content is substantially diluted. My experience is that it is easy to keep sodium content in your overall brewing water below 50 ppm when using baking soda for the mash. I find that not much baking soda is needed to keep the pH up. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile Importance
« on: August 17, 2015, 08:02:41 PM »

I used campden, used tried and tested recipes, my technique, yeast handling and sanitation were all sound.....yet I could not produce beer that was acceptable. In truth, I almost gave up.

That is one of the important messages I make in my recent presentation at NHC and in my upcoming article in Zymurgy (Nov-Dec 2015 issue). The mantra that: water is the LAST thing ANY brewer should take on, is just not correct. There are brewers that have water that may be poorly suited for a beer style they really want to brew and it can ultimately end in frustration and failure...and this is with perfecting all those other important techniques.

We need to stop perpetuating the myths about brewing water such as 'if the water tastes good, you can brew with it' and 'water is the last step to take in perfecting your brewing'.  There are brewers that can't wait to the last step. Their beers are so disappointing due to the damage their water inflicts and there are few process and technique improvements that they could take that can overcome that. These myths are probably cutting short the enjoyment of thousands of hobbyists who quit before they can produce good or great beer. For those of us that enjoy the occasional pint from a new brewery, only to find that their beer isn't that great. I have to wonder how many are fighting water conditions with no knowledge and no tools...since water is the last thing they should worry about...or worse yet, they think we worry too much about water.

Understanding your brewing water and having the knowledge and capability to make it better for your brewing IS an important factor in brewing. Water is NOT the last step. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: mash pH for dark beer
« on: August 15, 2015, 03:42:29 PM »
250 ppm according to the World Health Organization.

My tap water has up to 200 ppm Na since my municipality performs ion-exchange on all the city water. I don't taste that, but it would probably affect beer flavor. I use RO for brewing.

Ingredients / Re: Question about calcium and flocculation.
« on: August 09, 2015, 07:36:57 PM »
I think that would be an appropriate approach. Malt provides all the Ca the yeast need and the extra supplied by the water is for oxalate reduction and helping powdery yeast to drop. The second aspect is not a concern in your case. 40 ppm is about the lowest I use. Adding all the calcium salts for the entire batch to only the mash can allow the overall wort Ca to be lower.

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