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Messages - mabrungard

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Stirring Mash
« on: May 09, 2015, 09:11:14 PM »
I can't envision a reason why stirring would be detrimental to the mash, excepting for the fact that it would create more opportunity for heat loss.

Mixing our mash is a big concern of mine. Getting a uniform distribution of heat and ionic content is a significant goal in my brewing. That is one reason that I recommend combining all mineral and acid additions to the brewing water before its combined with the grain. That way I can assure that those additions are completely distributed in the water.

Obtaining a uniform temperature through the mash is a little more difficult. Mixing grain and water together does make it possible to have hotter and cooler spots in the mash. With really good mixing, you can eventually get the temperature relatively uniform. But moving all the grain and water around is difficult. Another way to do it is to move only the wort via recirculation. Performing some vorlaufing or recirculation does improve the uniformity of the mash temperature. But without an external heat source, that action is likely to again result in heat loss. Brewers with RIMS or HERMS have a better opportunity to create and maintain a very uniform temperature in their mash.

Move the media or the liquid to improve mash uniformity. (moving the liquid is easier!) 

Ingredients / Re: RO sparge water
« on: May 09, 2015, 08:56:57 PM »
Ken, you got it correct. Salts in the sparging water do not cause that water's pH to drop. pH drop is only a product of the phytin reaction in the wort.

While that sparging water will end up in the mash, the resulting wort dilution and replacement with sparging water means that there ends up being very little phytin in the mash to react with. So we can't even rely on those salts to keep the pH low during the sparging step.

Regarding the need to acidify RO water for sparging use: No, you don't need to acidify. The primary thing of concern with sparging water is that it have low alkalinity. Good RO water already has very low alkalinity. So the need to acidify is gone. Another consideration is that with the very low alkalinity of RO water, it would only take a drop or two of most acids to cause the pH to plummet.

All Grain Brewing / Re: pilsen water profile
« on: May 08, 2015, 04:37:58 PM »
While the Color based water profiles in Bru'n Water are modestly mineralized profiles that are well-suited for ales, most lagers can actually benefit from less mineralization.  However, 'less' does not mean none!

We have it from Dr. Narziss that PU does not use the raw tap water in Pilsen. They do mineralize the water somewhat and that mineralization does include gypsum. Unfortunately, we don't have details on the levels they take their mineralization. From other anecdotal evidence, it does seem that very modest mineralization is all that is necessary. On the order of 20 to 30 ppm calcium along with some chloride and sulfate tends to produce good lagers. That mineralization is primarily for flavor...the beer tastes better.

Since there are benefits in using a higher calcium content in the mashing water to help precipitate oxalate, the new supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes a setting that assumes that all of your sparging mineral additions are added directly to the mash tun in order to boost the Ca content. It does all the recalculation of the mash pH at the higher Ca and Mg levels and also reports the diluted levels of all the ions in the kettle (this assumes that the sparging water has no additional minerals). Since lager yeast performance is enhanced by reduced calcium content and there is less flavor from the low mineralized water, this setting provides the best of both worlds. Low mineralization in the kettle and higher mineralization in the mash for oxalate removal.


Ingredients / Re: How do you get chalk to dissove in brew water?
« on: May 08, 2015, 03:33:45 PM »
A Munich Helles is NOT brewed with an untreated Munich water profile. It is much too alkaline for a pale beer. That water would have been pre-boiled to decarbonate it, which reduces calcium and bicarbonate content. That is why there are 'boiled' water profiles in the Bru'n Water software to help brewers understand the more likely STARTING point that historic brewers would have had.

So the boiled Munich water has low calcium and still some bicarbonate that needs to be neutralized. Of course, the Germans performed the neutralization via acid malt addition or saurgut addition. The end result is low alkalinity and elevated lactate ion content.

Since Helles is a lager, there is no need for any additional calcium in the water. The malt provides all the calcium needed for yeast metabolism and health. An important message here is that you don't need the chalk at all to brew a Helles nor to recreate an authentic Munich water suited for pale beer brewing. 

Equipment and Software / Re: PH Meter
« on: May 04, 2015, 01:27:44 PM »
I like the Milwaukee 101 and 102 units for their combination of reasonable price and durability. They both use the SE220 probe that is a gel-filled, double-junction pH probe that has proven to be durable and reliable. The gel-filled unit is well-suited to storing in a 1M to 3M KCl solution and that is what I do. My current probe is over 4 years old and shows no sign of aging, but it will someday. With that eventuality, the BNC-type connector means that I can easily select any manufacturers BNC style probe and it will work with my meter. The probe is about half the cost of a new meter and probe, so its worth it.

A probe is useless unless its calibrated and you are sure its reading correctly. Get pH 4 and pH 7 solutions, so that you can make sure the unit is reading correctly. Pour small amounts of each solution into separate containers (bottle cap, shot glass, etc) and check the meter response. Rinse the probe with DI water and blow and/or blot all excess water off before inserting into the next solution. Throw the used solutions away. You can't reuse the solution or return them to their bottles. On top of that, the solutions have limited lifespans and should be replaced about every year.

While I encourage brewers to obtain pH meters for brewery use since they help fine tune and resolve brewing, I also recognize that this is a pricey piece of equipment. Using a program like Bru'n Water helps improve brewing when that equipment is not available, but using both does help you better fine tune your brewing.

You can read more about pH meters and brewing chemistry related topics on the Bru'n Water Facebook page. 

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg Carbonation
« on: May 03, 2015, 11:55:54 AM »
I use both methods. They both work, but to achieve nice, fine carbonation, it takes 2 weeks for the hydration of CO2 occurs. That part can't be rushed, its chemistry.

Ingredients / Re: Malt Color combinations?
« on: May 02, 2015, 12:01:45 PM »
High mash or wort pH will increase beer color. pH is important to quality beer.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Septic Systems and Brewing
« on: April 28, 2015, 09:24:15 PM »
This is a very sore subject with me. Currently shopping for contractors to replace my existing septic which is no longer absorbing the effluent. Now they tell me there are aerators and pumps required and annual inspections required by the county- only 15 grand to top it off!!! I like my existing system all gravity no pumps.

Your reaction is understandable. Unfortunately, septic tanks do not "treat" our wastes. They only keep potentially harmful organisms away from human contact. All the damaging nutrients from our waste just flow into the groundwater and into whatever receiving water is downstream. When its just one septic system in a few acres, the environment tends to be able to handle it. It just doesn't work for the environment when its denser than that.

Sorry for your dilemma.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Septic Systems and Brewing
« on: April 28, 2015, 04:22:55 PM »
As long as you occasionally remove the collected solids from the tank, it should be fine. Some households deliver so little load to their system compared to its volume, that they can go a decade or more before needing the solids removed. If your household loading is high...lots of kids, then you may need to increase your pumpout frequency. The load from brewing shouldn't be too significant.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Nooner Pils
« on: April 24, 2015, 07:25:14 PM »
At one of my fave beer joints- winking lizard

I prefer to refer to it as the Linking Wizard.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Just for fun
« on: April 23, 2015, 07:54:24 PM »
That is great! I'm sure there are trademark issues, but I won't tell.

Events / Re: NHC Thursday night?
« on: April 23, 2015, 07:52:15 PM »
The request for participation to the California breweries went out on the Brewers Association forum today. The request requires that the breweries have a California presence and they receive several tickets to attend the event so that they are more likely to send knowledgible staff. The request specifically tells the breweries that we homebrewers are beer savvy and we like to talk with their staff about beer.

This will not be a repeat of the neutered brewery participation that Michigan made us do.

As mentioned, there are still openings to attend the convention and it is shaping up to be a great event. Make your plans now!

Equipment and Software / Re: Conicals
« on: April 23, 2015, 04:12:44 PM »
No hard feelings at all. Steve caught the gist of my message. "significant difference" could be good or bad.

Equipment and Software / Re: Conicals
« on: April 23, 2015, 12:59:50 PM »
I bought the SS brewtech 7 gal cronical with the FTS system and have seen a significant difference in the quality of my beer.

I'm sorry to hear that your beer has suffered...better luck next time.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: First sour - fermentation plan
« on: April 22, 2015, 01:24:33 PM »
Wow! Sounds like trouble.

I just finished a Berliner that was created via the handful of malt method that is incredible. There is a lot to be said for using more than a monoculture in your sour beer. Here is what I did:

1.5L of 1.030 starter wort in 2L erhlenmeyer flask.
Pitched with handful of Best Pils malt (whole).
Capped with tightly fitting sheet of aluminum foil (didn't have a stopper to fit the flask!)
Wrapped with heating pad and kept at around 100F.
Smelled pretty funky for a few days
Dusty, chalky looking pellicle formed. Was easily swirled away with agitation.
Became nicely smooth and tart smelling after about 5 days
Final pH: 3.1

Created 5 gal of 50/50 Pils/Wheat wort with single step at 154F
Ran off hot wort into 5 gal corny keg.
Installed keg lid and allowed to cool to 100F overnight.
Pitched entire starter (above) and replaced lid.
Wrapped heating pad and blanket around keg and kept at around 100F
Vented keg daily, lacto does NOT produce much CO2, so the venting was minimal.
Smelled like a sewer...funky for a couple of days.
Cleaned up to a smooth and tart aroma after about 5 days
Final pH: 3.1

Poured soured wort into kettle, produced a huge, dense head.
Boiled the 5 gal of soured wort for 1 hour, wanted to make sure DMS from Pils was gone.
Very fruity, pleasing aroma throughout.
About 10 IBU of early hopping applied.
Transferred hot wort directly into fermenter and allowed to cool overnight
Direct pitched packet of US-05 yeast into fermenter at 68F.
Took about 12 hours to show signs of airlock activity.
Fermented slowly for about 5 days...low pH and low gravity probably the reason.
Finished around 1.010, didn't want to let it go too low since I figured the beer needed a little sweetness to counter the acidity.

Very nice, multi-dimensional flavor, very clean and tart. Met with high regard from my club's National and Master judges. By my palate, this was equal to the Berliner's that I've tasted from Fritz Briem 1854 and Berliner Kindle. Mission accomplished!

I feel that an important lesson here is that it is VERY important to prevent oxygen contact with the bacterial culture since that can invite truly funky and off aroma and flavor. Give the culture time and the lacto will eventually out-compete the other organisms and severely limit their activity via the low pH from their lactic acid production. Note that the keg of wort hit with the lacto starter still went funky, so those other organisms were still lurking in that starter. The lacto still out-competed them and produced a great result.

I've tasted the Wyeast Berliner's at the past couple of AHA conferences and have to say that they are quite bland and uninspiring. This multi-organism starter definitely helps avoid that problem. Those of you that have read the Bru'n Water Facebook page know that you can improve the depth of a Berliner's acid flavor by adding distilled vinegar to infuse a low level of acetic acid that is present in a good Berliner. But I'd say that this 'natural' approach does produce a more pleasing complexity and depth.

By starting with a starter, you can avoid wasting a whole batch of beer. Just let that thing go through it's funky phases and eventually it should develop that pleasing sourness and smooth tartness from lactic acid. As noted, this is not a terribly rapid process, but it does work and the result can be outstanding.

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