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Messages - mabrungard

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Equipment and Software / Re: Tubing storage and sanitization
« on: March 24, 2012, 11:38:13 AM »
I use a similar approach as the OP.  I use 25' of 3/8" vinyl tube to run from the plate chiller into the fermenter.  I have an in-line oxygenation stone in there too.  I could shorten the tubing length by about half, but I want the extra length so that the wort has extra time to absorb the O2. 

I've been using this equipment for over 5 years and have not experienced infection.  I do run hot PBW through that tubing as a regular cleaning regimin.  I also alternate between Starsan and Iodophor for sanitizing before each brew. 

Of course, making sure that there isn't any liquid with any nutrients in it in the tubing is an important measure to avoid inviting critters to set up house in my tubing.  Its rinsed well (if it had not been PBWed) and then hung up as high as possible to get any remaining water to drain. 

Beer Line Cleaner is another tool that I sometimes use.  It does a good job of removing any stuff in the tubing.  If I can't get the tubing to look good, it gets replaced.  Tubing is cheap, beer is not.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: point/counter point yeast experiment.
« on: March 24, 2012, 11:24:44 AM »
No starter + 1.086 OG = poor fermentation...all it takes to make a starter is a gal. jug and some DME.  No fancy flask or stir plate necessary.  I'd recommend you make a starter for anything over 1.040.

Yah, the yeast pooped out in that high gravity wort due to limited ability to replicate in that wort.  A larger yeast population was needed at pitching to avoid relying on excessive replication.  Don't do big beers without a starter. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash thickness question
« on: March 24, 2012, 11:18:29 AM »
I used to mash in the 1.25 to 1.33 qt/lb range with my RIMS.  I thinned my mashes to about 1.5 to 1.75 qts/lb in the past couple of years and have not noted a difference in body or fermentability due to that factor.  Mash temperature is more influential to fermentability in my opinion.  Body can be somewhat influenced by wort fermentability. 

The other big factor in body building is the level of beta-glucans in the wort.  That is a super body builder, but has to be managed carefully to avoid clouding the beer. 

Now I feel that mash thickness should be viewed as a factor decided by the size of the brewer's mash tun and the water chemistry of the water.  The water chemistry plays its part through the amount of alkalinity that the water delivers into the mash.  If the mash pH is a little too high because the water alkalinity is too high, then reducing the amount of water in the mash (thickening the mash) might help produce a decent mash pH.  If the water has low alkalinity and the mash demands more alkalinity, then adding more water (thinning the mash) may help produce a better mash pH.

In general, I think that mash thickness in the 1.5 to 2 qt/lb range is a good starting point.  I don't see a reason to aim for thicker mashes unless you can't fit it in your tun.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Hitting A Color?
« on: March 23, 2012, 01:43:38 PM »
That is the Morey formula.  Its in Promash and I've coded it into Bru'n Water.  If you have that program, you can use it to estimate beer color in the same way as Promash.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: grassy flavors and dry hopping
« on: March 21, 2012, 01:32:25 PM »
If you switch up your bittering hops with a low alpha hop (and therefore use a lot more) you can get that classic british grassy/vegetal character pretty well.

That is a good point.  The total load of vegetative matter is going to influence the grassiness.  Consider that in many cases, dry-hopped beers are well bittered.  That bittering charge can easily be adding to the perception of grassiness when the mass of hop is high due to using lower alpha hops for bittering.  If brewing a bitter beer, using a little super-alpha hopping for bittering can really reduce that vegetation load in the beer.

I find that extended dry hopping duration creates grassiness, although I've heard many say they leave their dry hops on the beer for weeks and months.  I try to keep it to 4 to 6 days.  I've used 2 oz in 5 gal batches with no grassiness in that case.

Ingredients / Re: Lack of hoppiness?
« on: March 16, 2012, 04:14:40 PM »
Dry hopping will help and is recommended. My question is: how is the bittering level? 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: AIPA...Aroma...BJCP
« on: March 16, 2012, 10:02:57 AM »
In my opinion, an AIPA can have too much hop flavor and aroma and it manifests itself as more of grassy or vegetal notes in excess of the normal hoppy notes.  If the brewer can stuff more hoppy goodness into the flavor and aroma without that character, it would be hard to ding an AIPA on that account.  I have noted some hops that I don't particularly appreciate in high quantity, so that could enter into the discussion. 

I have to disagree with Sean on the comment he made regarding an over bittered IPA needing to move to the 14C IIPA category.  In my experience, IIPA are almost always more balanced than an IPA due to the saturation limit for iso-alpha acids in wort.  No matter what bittering the brewer tries to force into the wort, the limit of about 80 ppm iso-alpha means that it is not going to stand up to the higher gravity of the typical IIPA.  The net result is that these beers tend to be more balanced than the typical IPA.  Heck even my wife will drink an IIPA, but she recognizes the more severe bittering of an IPA and won't drink one of those.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: Chloramine
« on: March 16, 2012, 09:16:39 AM »
Activated Carbon (AC) does remove chlorine and chloramine from water.  That comes from my former professor at University of Florida who specializes in activated carbon treatment and research.  He did his PhD at Penn State where the top experts in activated carbon chemistry are.  Any source that tells you that AC cannot remove chloramines is incorrect. 

Charcoal is not necessarily AC.  You can convert a carbonaceous material into nearly pure carbon in an oxygen-less retort oven, but its not AC until you have treated it in a specific way.  While the carbon is very hot, injecting oxidants like steam, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen is how AC is created.  Air or oxygen are not used as an oxidant since that acts too quick and destroys the carbon matrix.  The result of the activation is that teeny 'pocks' are etched throughout the entire carbon matrix, creating a huge surface area.  This occurs on both the exterior of the particles and deep inside the particles.

As pointed out in some posts above, chloramine removal is more difficult than chlorine removal.  For that reason, the residence time for the water to be in contact with the AC is greater.  For many contaminants, AC actually adsorbs the contaminant to the carbon.  That is not the case with chlorine and chloramine.  For them, there is a chemical reaction between the AC and the chlorine compound that destroys the compound and consumes the carbon. 

Campden tablets are very effective in removing chlorine and chloramine.  This is a well understood chemical reaction that is frequently used in wastewater treatment.  As mentioned, dosing at a rate of about 1 tablet per 20 gallons will result in consuming up to 3 ppm chlorine or chloramine.  That level of chlorine residual is typically on the high end of disinfectant in water distribution, but sometimes utilities have to superchlorinate the system for various reasons.  The reaction produces sulfate and chloride at very low ppm levels.  You can read more about this on the Water Knowledge page of the Bru'n Water website. 

I suggest that a brewer would want to avoid overdosing their water with too much Campden tablet since that will result in an excess of sulfite in the water.  You may know that wine makers add far more Campden to their grapes to kill wild yeasts.  That does result in elevated sulfites in their wine and requirements for warnings to their drinkers.  Some have mentioned that sulfites are boiled out of the wort, but I'm not sure of that.  A quick web search does not produce any confirmation that sulfites are boiled out or converted.  For that reason, I would try to match the Campden dose to the amount of chlorine compound in the water and the volume of water to treat. 

Do be careful if your utility uses chloramine in the water.  Many utilities change over to chlorine disinfection for a short period (typically early spring) to improve the disinfection in their pipes.  Chlorine is a much more effective disinfection agent than chloramine, so more 'bugs' get killed in the system this way.  One side effect is that the water smells much more 'chloriney' during this period.  Part of the reason is that chlorine is more volatile than chloramine and it goes into the air much easier where you can smell it. 

Having a simple swimming pool or aquarium test kit on hand to check the level of chlorine compound in your water is a good way to avoid overdosing with sulfites.

All Grain Brewing / Re: NHC brew letdown
« on: March 16, 2012, 08:27:14 AM »
I have brewed beers that scored in the 40's, but that is rare.  Through my judging experience, I'd say that finding a beer that scores in the 40's in competition is rare too.  Looking at the Commercial Calibration results that are presented in Zymurgy, 40's are rare in the commercial ranks too. 

Brewing a beer in the mid to upper 30's can easily get you medals.  It all depends what other beers show up that day.

Equipment and Software / Re: Which pump for my system?
« on: March 14, 2012, 08:36:28 AM »
I've also heard funny noises coming from the pump when I added some fresh IM to the wort.

Why are you pumping boiling wort in the kettle?

Equipment and Software / Re: Which pump for my system?
« on: March 14, 2012, 05:46:49 AM »
The selection of a pump depends on the head conditions and system configuration.  For most systems, you're looking at a max of about 4 or 5 feet of elevation head and a total dynamic head (TDH) of about 8 to 10 feet.  This TDH would be a worst case for most brewers and would probably be only a foot or two greater than the elevation head requirements for most systems. 

A centrifugal pump is a good choice for our typical conditions, but peristaltic or diaphragm pumps are also suitable.  As most brewers know, a March 809 HS provides high temperature fluid pumping capability and a seal-less pump volute.  They are relatively inexpensive.  The problem with any centrifugal pump is that they require special care to assure they are primed.  They may also lose their prime if the brewer tries to pump nearly-boiling or boiling liquids. 

The peristaltic and diaphragm pumps are self-priming, but they are typically more expensive pumps.  They also tend to have 'pulsing' flow rate and the total flow rate is typically less than that of a small centrifugal unless the brewer is willing to spend a lot of money on a larger pump. 

The March 809 HS can provide up to about 12 feet of TDH.  That can be further enhanced by installing the impeller from the March 815 pump in a 809 HS.  That is a ~$30 expense, but it increases the max TDH to about 18 feet.  The flow rate also goes up with that impeller change. 

The good thing about a centrifugal pump is that you can shut off the flow by closing a valve on the outlet side of the pump.  This does not hurt the pump and the flow can be shut off for hours without problem.  This cannot be done with peristaltic or diaphragm pumps.  The ability to shut off flow can also be used to help maintain the prime on the centrifugal pump.  Just keep the pump on through the brewing session and close the valve while changing hoses or doing other operations.


All Grain Brewing / Re: pH questions
« on: March 13, 2012, 12:20:14 PM »
  • Does water to grist ratio effect mash pH? I had a rather thick mash (1.1qt per pound I think).
  • Does it matter if I add salts to the water while I'm bring up to strike temp or do I throw them in after mash-in?  I've been adding to the water while it heats up.

The water/grist ratio can have an effect on mash pH.  This effect can be large when the brewing water has significant alkalinity. 

There is a reason for that effect.  The interplay of acidity from the grist and alkalinity from the water typically provide a net increase in the acid content to the mash and the mash pH is therefore driven down in comparison to the water's starting pH.  A closer look at the mash system is presented below.

A grist of a certain size and composition (percentages of base, crystal, and roast malts) is going to produce a certain quantity of acidity that can be expressed in milliequivalents (meq) of acid.  For example, Base malt might provide 1 meq per lb, while Crystal 40L and 120L provide 11 and 28 meq per lb, respectively.  Roast malts provide a relatively consistent acidity of about 19 meq per lb regardless of their degree of roasting.  Its a fairly easy task to add up all the acidity contributions from the grist components to determine the total acidity of the grist.  That is what Bru'n Water does. 

We know that typical water has a degree of alkalinity and that it varies with the water source.  Many of us also know that calcium and magnesium ions interact with the grist to produce malt acids that moderate the water's alkalinity.  That is the basis for the Residual Alkalinity concept.  Since we know that residual alkalinity is a valid response in a mash system, we can use it as a basis of calculating the net alkalinity provided by the water in the mash.  So for a case where the water provides a residual alkalinity of 50 ppm, that provides 1 meq alkalinity per liter of water.  Multiplying that result with the total number of liters of mashing water and you have the milliequivalents of alkalinity that will neutralize a portion of the grist acidity. 

Since the size of the grist is dependent upon the desired starting gravity of the wort, it will stay constant along with the total meq of acidity from the grist.  But, you should now see that the quantity of water added to the mash is going to determine how much alkalinity will be added to the mash to neutralize some of the grist acidity.  A thinner mash adds more alkalinity while a thicker mash adds less alkalinity.  More alkalinity means the mash will have a higher pH and less alkalinity means a lower mash pH will be produced.

The information above was just one example, but it illustrates that mash thickness can be used as a variable to help attain a desirable mash pH.

Regarding when to add minerals to the water, all of the minerals we typically brew with are more soluble in cooler water.  So adding them early, before the water is really hot is going to improve their solution.  The good thing is that almost all of them are very water soluble.  Its only chalk that has poor solubility.  It should be added when the water is cool.  Unfortunately, we also know that chalk needs acid to help it dissolve.  That is why we add chalk directly to the mash, even though the mash is hot.  The malt acids help dissolve the chalk.  Unfortunately, those malt acids are not enough to fully dissolve chalk.  So don't count on its full alkalinity contribution. 


During my upgrade to the 815 impeller, I noticed that the teflon washer was long gone.  Unfortunately, I only ordered 1 new teflon washer with the impeller. 

That 809 HS pump is over 10 years old with about 100 batches.  I'm sure the washer was probably gone a while ago, but no ill-effects were noted.  How important is that washer and how long (run-time hours) do those washers last?

The cost of the washers is next to nothing, so the only real cost is the shipping.  Wish I had ordered a couple of spares.

All Grain Brewing / Re: pH questions
« on: March 11, 2012, 04:53:01 PM »
All of the pre-boil numbers look fine.  You should typically see another tenth or two pH drop after boiling.  It looks like your instrument is decieving you.  I don't know of a situation that could cause the pH to rise after boiling.

Equipment and Software / Re: Food-grade buckets at Lowes
« on: March 11, 2012, 08:03:51 AM »
Carmel California ?

Look at his sig, Martin's in Indiana
The one in CA is "Carmel by the Sea".
The one in Indiana was called "Carmel by the Interstate" by my Sister when she lived in the area.

You got that right!  Its also one of the most red areas in the country.  I have to go from conservative democrat to liberal republican (ps: I think they're about the same) just to have any hope in this place.  Its too bad the republican party doesn't accept any view except "the word from on high".   Can you tell I don't buy that crap.

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