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Messages - mabrungard

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Equipment and Software / Re: Super cheap pH meter
« on: March 31, 2015, 05:50:27 AM »
Keith, I wrote about pH probe storage in a post on the Bru'n Water facebook page. It presents information direct from a major industrial pH equipment manufacturer and the recommendation is to use a potassium chloride storage solution.

There are manufacturers that recommend using distilled water to keep the bulb on their probe's moist, but that distilled water shouldn't be in contact with the bulb or it will osmotically draw the ions out of the probe's electrolyte. For that type of storage, you need to use just a couple of drops of distilled water in the probe cover and that creates the moist environment without the possibility of destroying the probe. 

Beer Recipes / Re: Smoked American Pale Ale
« on: March 28, 2015, 11:29:17 AM »
I'm liking pecan a lot these days.

Says Mr. Smoke! I'd listen.

For some reason, I'm thinking that the smoked wheat malt from Weyermann might be a nice touch. I've had several Grodzinskis made with it and it just seems like it could compliment an APA. No proof, just a thought.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« on: March 27, 2015, 10:29:58 AM »
With over 15 years of beer study, I've learned how insensitive some drinkers are to some faults. On top of that, that classic chlorophenolic flavor is considered to be desirable to some drinkers. Clearly, any fan of really peaty, phenolic scotch wouldn't think that chlorophenolic flavor is a fault.

So just relying on your own senses to assess if your beers have a chlorophenol problem may not be ideal. Employing the palate of someone who is sensitive to chlorophenols is a wise 'second opinion'.

In general, if you are getting your water from a municipal water system, its just so easy to drop that dose of Campden in the water and being sure. The good thing is that the boiling process COMPLETELY degrades the sulfite from the Campden into harmless sulfate. No need to worry about Campden when you dose it at our typical 1 tablet per 20 gallons!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: continental vs domestic malt flavors
« on: March 27, 2015, 10:21:54 AM »

Floor malted barley tends to be less modified. The stuff you can find here is not terribly far apart from non-floor malted but if you can source from smaller German or Czech maltsters (and I have no idea how you could do it) that is floor malted it is known to be even less modified.

While I agree that floor malted tends to be less modified 'in average', I like what one of my clubmates terms floor malted as. He calls it more variable or inconsistent. In other words, there can be some kernels that are highly modified and some that are very poorly modified...the net result is that the overall modification is a little lower. Compare that result with the high degree of uniformity that non-floor malted malts present.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Evaporation Rate
« on: March 26, 2015, 07:38:36 AM »
I agree with you, Rob. If the wort surface area in the kettle is constant with respect to depth, then the boil off rate is likely to be constant too. My observations are that it is a constant rate in my system. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Evaporation Rate
« on: March 25, 2015, 12:52:17 PM »
I agree with Mark that the boil needs to be active enough to roil the surface a bit and you can actually see trub being moved through the kettle by the boil action. You don't need to have a volcano in the kettle.

When I first started using my electric kettle, I was surprised to find that I could boil off about 2 gal/hr. That was way too much. I finally learned how low I needed to turn down my element to bring the boil down to a more normal rate of about 1 gal/hr.

From what I can tell, excessive boil-off rate doesn't do anything good for the brewer. In essence, you will have to make up for that lost water either through a larger pre-boil volume or with a make-up water addition at the end of the boil. Neither is energy efficient. The other consideration is that the wort never gets any hotter and the isomerization rate is not increased, nor is the rate of DMS production or volatilization.

Therefore, it appears beneficial to reduce your heat source and aim for a more typical evaporation rate around 1 gal/hr.

Sounds like you were oversparging just slightly.  Reasonable workaround instead of dealing with refractometers, I suppose.

Not really, I always use a refractometer. Even stopping sparging at 3 brix was insufficient for eliminating the tannins.

The relative volumes of mashing or sparging water don't have a lot to do with anything, in my opinion. Just have enough water for the enzymes to do their job.

On a side note, I mash at a slightly thin ratio of around 1.5 qts/lb and that does tend to leave me with more sparging water volume than mashing water volume. I've recently stopped putting all that sparging water through the grain bed and it has improved my beers. Now I reserve a gallon or so from the sparge and just add it directly to the kettle to meet the preboil volume requirement. The beers had been having a slight tannic astringency and with that revised approach, it has gone away. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profiles and Mash pH
« on: March 20, 2015, 01:50:04 PM »
That book is a bit dry for a book on Water...

Oh, isn't that the truth! At least John Palmer added a bit more mirth to it. Think of how tough it would have been to read if only AJ and I wrote it!! Sahara.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« on: March 20, 2015, 09:55:24 AM »

You are forgetting that you have version 3.0. That is where that new feature was included. Narcout may not have that version yet.

Oh, don't forget that if you add a bunch of Ca and Mg salts to the kettle, it will still drive the kettle wort pH lower. While you will protect the mash from overly low pH, you won't protect the beer. The proper alkalinity level is still required if you want to end up with a certain pH in the kettle.

The Pub / Re: Whiskey
« on: March 20, 2015, 05:36:35 AM »
I'm really enjoying the Town Branch Rye.

I have found that the selection of the bittering calculation method also has a profound effect. It seems that most recipes and the IBU ranges presented in BJCP are most accurately duplicated when using the Rager equation (for me). I've studied the Tinseth equation and I know it more accurately models bittering contributions. But the more accurate Tinseth equation actually causes me to over-bitter my worts. So, consider that if your beers are more bitter than expected.

Another important aspect that can profoundly affect bitterness and its perception is water. If the water has too much alkalinity and the wort pH doesn't drop into a proper range, the bittering from the hops can be higher than expected and rough tasting. Don't ignore your water!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Ca & Mg in Brewing Water article questions
« on: March 18, 2015, 01:52:48 PM »
Oh come on! That 42.5 ppm Mg level is just a quote from that source. There is no way that we can define it as 'optimum'. The other thing that you should take away from that article is that the malt contributes 100% of the Ca and Mg that the yeast need for their fermentation. Adding any more of those ions via the water is at the brewer's discretion and should be made based on their goals. For instance, if you wanted the beer to clear rapidly, then do add Ca. If you want more Cl or SO4, then the brewer might consider more of a salt that contains Ca or Mg to supply those anions for flavor.

I wouldn't worry too much about the Mg:Ca ratio, but it is important to recognize that you may not want to add a boatload of Ca to your brewing water and push that ratio into an unfavorable range. You should recognize that the additions of Mg and Ca to the water are typically going to be modest in comparison to the concentrations of those ions added by the malt. So as long as you aren't overdoing mineral additions in the water, your wort is probably going to be in an OK range.

Regarding starter preparation, yes it may be reasonable to add a Mg salt to the water. I suggested that in the article as a way to help infuse the yeast with a little extra Mg for the main ferment. However, I suggest that you might best prepare your yeast by generally mimicking the water profile that you will be brewing that next batch with. I wouldn't worry too much about it though. 

Let me correct your take home message! Ca additions for the mash ARE beneficial since they help precipitate oxalate from the wort. I suggest that all brewers always include at least 40 ppm Ca in the mash for that purpose. But that does not mean that your overall Ca content in the kettle needs to be that high. For my recent lagers, I've been adding Ca salts to the mash and none to the sparging water in order to end up with low Ca content in the kettle. So target at least 40 ppm Ca in the mash and whatever you want in the kettle (may be higher or lower). By the way, the latest supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes a setting so that you can tell the program that you want to add all the sparging minerals to the mash to create the technique I mention above. The program also reports the ion levels in the mash and kettle separately so that you can assess that you are boosting that Ca level to that desirable 40+ ppm level.

All Grain Brewing / Re: more desirable in water: Ca or Na?
« on: March 18, 2015, 01:23:20 PM »
For the proposed Na level, there would be no problem what so ever if you decided to use table salt to boost the Cl level. If anything, the overall sweetness perception of the beer could improve with the salt addition.

I add table salt to almost all my brewing water for flavor impacts. The Na level I use is typically at your proposed level or less, though. So I'm not pushing at all.

I suggest that you don't need to worry about Na at levels of 50 ppm or less in almost any beer. Above that level, you should raise an eyebrow. However, Na can be an asset in roastier beers since I find that it improves and mellows the flavors. I wouldn't go over 100 ppm Na, since the flavor is just starting to become apparent at that level. At 250 ppm Na, anyone would recognize a salty flavor. 

Ingredients / Re: Water Water everywhere
« on: March 17, 2015, 06:44:53 PM »
Some yeast have differing calcium requirement. I'm sure that some of heard of yeasts that refuse to flocculate and others that seem to floc at the drop of a hat and won't finish their job. Both are examples of those differing Ca requirements. With that said, unless you are having a problem clearing your beer, you don't need more Ca. Probably the most important reason to have higher Ca is to add more Cl or SO4 to your beer for their flavor.

I'm afraid that Randy is still relying on old knowledge. Don't worry, it is not likely to ruin the beer.

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