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Messages - mabrungard

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Lager color adjustment
« on: August 10, 2014, 02:39:19 PM »
Lower temperature steeping and/or low pH steeping will help reduce the extraction of flavor from roasted grains. You can make your own form of black liquor by cold steeping dark malts in water with very low alkalinity (RO or DI). You will be able to sample that liquor before use to assess its roastiness.

Be aware that this method is not as effective in extracting color from the malt, so don't be surprised if you have to use more dark malts to produce your color objective.

To the OP, I'm assuming that your tap water is not ideal for brewing. But what are the actual problems? If it's a question of overmineralization and high alkalinity, then maybe your solution to the overly low alkalinity in that new Walmart water is blending? That is the first place I would seek my alkalinity.

The second option would be to use baking soda, since its readily available. As Jon pointed out, it is important to keep the sodium level modest in most cases. The thing he didn't point out is that if you are adding sparging water to the mash, then the baking soda free sparging water addition will dilute that high sodium content that may exist in the mash. The resulting sodium content in the kettle can be much lower than that required in the mash due to the baking soda use. The supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes this dilution feature, so that you know what your ending sodium content is in the kettle and you can safely add extra baking soda to the mash to meet your pH target. The next supporter's version will be even better. Be aware that the free version is probably never going to be updated. There are good reasons to become a supporter.

By the way, you really have to push the sodium level well above 100 ppm to have any significant taste effects and they only rear their head when you also have a lot of sulfate in the water. Don't be too afraid of sodium. That 50 ppm level is safe.   

Yes, Pickling Lime does have to be added directly to the mash or you will cause calcium in your existing water to precipitate out. But in most cases, you are starting out with a water like RO or DI and you don't really need to worry about precipitating calcium out. I still add my lime directly to the mash.  PS: All the rest of your mineral and acid additions should be added to the water BEFORE you add the grains. This helps assure that you get all the additions completely mixed and dissolved in the water and EVENLY distributed in your mash. DON'T add minerals to the mash and expect to be able to mix everything well. Matt already proved that it is very difficult to get the additions mixed in the mash.

Gordon's method is good in Dry Stouts and in beers where you DON'T want the roasty flavors in your finished beer. But it is generally a poor substitute for getting the water chemistry correct in the first place and mashing the dark grains in the main mash. In addition, the recipe is likely to need to be modified with much higher dark grain content to account for the poorer color and roast flavor extraction that Gordon's method produces. It is not a panacea. BETTER CHEMISTRY = BETTER BEER

Ingredients / Re: Water for Märzen
« on: August 06, 2014, 08:20:00 AM »
Brewers Association members should have seen the article in their New Brewer magazine last month that highlights the fallacy of needing calcium in brewing water. AHA members will see that article in next month's Zymurgy magazine. If you are not an AHA member, you really should be!

Calcium is not needed at all for yeast health in brewing. However, it is needed in ale brewing in order to produce a timely clearing of the beer. Too little calcium will create flocculation deficiencies. The other thing calcium is desirable for is causing oxalate to precipitate out in the mash tun instead of your kidneys.

In the case of lager brewing, it turns out that having too much calcium in the water is actually detrimental to yeast performance and the calcium can actually create metabolism problems and some sugars may not be digested as they should. Ale yeast does not suffer from this problem.

It appears that for lager brewing, a minimum Ca content of around 20 ppm tends to produce fine tasting lagers. Bumping that Ca content to at least 40 ppm tends to get most of the oxalate to precipitate. For ale brewing, that long-held belief for brewing water to have at least 50 ppm Ca does have validity. Then the Ca content is sufficient to get most ale yeast to flocculate adequately.

In the case of this Marzen, I suggest that the Boiled Munich profile in Bru'n Water be studied. The low Ca content may need to be boosted a bit, but the Cl and SO4 content are fairly low and should not interfere with the malt flavor. The somewhat high bicarbonate content of that water should be taken down to whatever level is necessary to produce a mash pH of around 5.2 to 5.4. The bicarb should be neutralized with lactic acid or acid malt so that the beer is infused with a low level of lactate that I feel is part of the German beer flavor. Other acids won't do.


All Grain Brewing / Re: About to destroy my immersion chiller...
« on: July 31, 2014, 12:51:26 PM »
You're wasting the ice, if you are using the ice in the initial part of the chilling.

Just use tap water to take the majority of the heat out of the kettle with the chiller. Switch to the chilled water recirculation when the wort gets down to about 20 or 30 degrees of your tap water temperature.

This way, the tap water can carry away most of the heat and you save the chilled water to take it down that extra bit that the tap water can't.

Ingredients / Re: Oats in a Pale
« on: July 31, 2014, 09:27:58 AM »
In the Stout book by Lewis, he mentions that oats produced a harsher flavor. With respect to Jim's quest to restore body in that attenuated wort, I suggest that flaked wheat is a very good option. I find its flavor relatively crisp and clean. A percent or so will definitely add strong head building to the beer. You could also use flaked barley, but I found that it does have a distinctive flavor that doesn't meld well with pale worts.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Bland IPA w/ lots of late hops?!?
« on: July 25, 2014, 07:07:39 PM »
Spring water is a truly meaningless term when it comes to water quality. If anything, spring water is a poor choice for brewing water. In many cases, spring water is no better than what comes out of many taps and for most brewing it requires some adjustments to make it suitable for brewing.

Since it appears that you didn't acidify or add hardness minerals, there is approximately a 0.0% chance that your mash pH was anywhere near 4.9. If that spring water had no alkalinity, the best you could expect with a typical IPA grist is maybe 5.6 to 5.7. If that water had alkalinity, then the mash and wort pH was likely higher. That may indicate that tannin and silicate extraction was likely. It appears that the pH strips are crap. That is typical for any paper strips. The plastic ColorpHast strips are typically more reliable, but tend to read about 0.3 units low.

Acidifying the mashing and sparging water is a pretty critical thing. Unfortunately, starting with an unknown water quality in that spring water, does not give you a reference point for figuring out what you should have done for water adjustment. The first thing is to know what your water has in it!

A final note is that adding an appropriate amount of certain minerals often improves beer flavor. Water with little 'flavor' ion content can taste bland. Learning how to dose your water to meet the requirements of your desired beer is an important step in moving from 'so so' to great.

Equipment and Software / Re: Tracking Water Usage
« on: July 23, 2014, 08:35:12 AM »
Something like that should be fine. One thing to recognize is that some types of flow totalizers do not record flow very well when the flowrate is low. The nutating disc flow totalizer style like you have pointed out above, DOES work well at both high and low flowrates. That is a reason why most water utilities use them to meter home accounts. I don't have a recommendation for a manufacturer or seller, but I noticed this site:

Equipment and Software / Re: Tracking Water Usage
« on: July 23, 2014, 06:54:55 AM »
Sure, a flow totalizer like used by a water company to track the usage by their accounts. I've used those units when doing well testing work.

Except for Simcoe to me.....sometimes.  I love the hop and have used it at a lot of different times and methods and don't find the cattiness more common in late hopping vs hop stand vs dry hopping . I often times don't get it at all. But I'd love to figure it out or see some convincing study info along the lines of the posted study. So for the time being, I'm convinced some or most of the 'cat pee' thing is harvest/ grower/ 'terroir' related.

I was talking with a Cincinnati brewer at a recent contest and he also pointed to a study that said off flavor may be coming from improperly harvested hops. He said there is an article out there somewhere that points to growers harvesting their crop later than desirable in a quest to improve the alpha rating of their crop. Hop pricing is apparently also based on their alpha content. So the word is that hop cones that have already peaked on the bine could then develop those off flavors. Those of you that grow your own hops, know that there are hops of differing maturity on the bines at any time. They are not uniformly mature.

I do 60, 20, 10, and 5 minute hop additions plus a steep.  Why?  Because I like the results.  Objectionable aromas like cat pee and onions seems to be reduced or eliminated with some boil time.  I don't steep hops that are prone to foul aromas.   

I'm finding the opposite. Some hops like Citra seem to stay soft and pleasant when they are not used in the boil. I have to wonder if there is some sort of isomerization reaction that creates those off aromas like cat pee and garlic? It does seem limited to certain hop varieties.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Astringency problem
« on: July 22, 2014, 07:41:45 AM »
While I know that high pH and high alkalinity can worsen tannin and silicate extraction during sparging, I found that the gravity of the final runnings had a big part to play. It is the major factor once you have solved the pH and alkalinity issue.

Mark, I've found that the salts don't have to be added to the mash to dissolve. I think what you are experiencing is due to the minerals disappearing into the grist. They aren't necessarily dissolving any faster (out of sight, out of mind). I've found that all minerals excepting chalk will dissolve readily in the just takes a few minutes of stirring.

Mark, I see you use sulfuric acid. What strength do you use and did you dilute it for general use? Has it been too "fuming" when you use it? That is my primary concern with sulfuric and hydrochloric acids...they produce hazardous fumes. They would be great for brewing excepting for that (all acids require careful handling and dosing, but the fume thing is another worry on top of it). 

Ingredients / Re: Sourcing Phosphoric Acid
« on: July 21, 2014, 08:05:38 AM »
As Amanda points out, the perception of these off-flavors is not exact. Differing tasters have different taste thresholds for these compounds. Don't be surprised if someone says that they can taste it at X and someone says, Y.

Beer Recipes / Re: German Hefeweizen
« on: July 16, 2014, 11:54:24 AM »
I like using Aromatic or Melanoidin malt instead of the Vienna. I would keep the bittering at the 11 to 12 IBU range. The late hop addition is unneeded and potentially undesirable since I'm not sure that hop aroma plays well with the yeast character. Make sure that your mash pH is in the 5.2 to 5.3 range so that the beer flavor is crisp.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Astringency problem
« on: July 16, 2014, 06:23:53 AM »
If starting with high quality RO water that has been verified to have low TDS, then the amount of hardening minerals added to the mashing water should produce an acceptable mash pH. In addition, high quality RO water should have low alkalinity and there shouldn't be a need to acidify the sparging water.

I'll repeat a favorite mantra: The difference between medicine and poison, is dose. As pointed out above, if you taste straight epsom salt or mix up a strong solution, it will taste like sh*t. Just like the rest of the minerals that we use would taste like sh*t if you performed the same test with them.

At 18 ppm Mg, there is little taste added via the epsom salt, but as pointed out, it adds a bunch of desirable sulfate. However, this not to say that any brewer should add epsom salt willy nilly. Unless you know that your starting water has very low Mg content, don't add more Mg since the upper limit for Mg is fairly low.   

I had an astringency problem like the OP and I finally found out that I was oversparging the mash and the runoff gravity was allowed to fall too low. I had been stopping at 2 brix and found that the problem went away if I stopped runoff at 3 brix.

All Grain Brewing / Re: RO system design
« on: July 15, 2014, 05:28:00 AM »
Less than around 50 ppm TDS is a decent starting point. As an example, Pilsen water typically has a TDS of around 30 ppm. So ultra low TDS is definitely not necessary or desirable. In most cases, a home RO system will produce much lower TDS than that. An important factor for success is occasionally monitoring the TDS content of your system to tell when the membrane is going south.

With regard to treated water quality from a system, its unnecessary to seek zero on any of them. Even with the single digit value you can obtain for most ions in a RO system, you are likely to want more of some ions in a quest to improve the flavor of the water and the resulting beer.

Say NO to zero...when it comes to brewing water quality.

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