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Messages - mabrungard

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Equipment and Software / Re: Manifold Placement in Fridge
« on: February 15, 2012, 01:59:39 PM »
I was just in your position.  If your fridge is like mine, there is a set of rails on the back wall of the fridge that the shelves plug in to.  There are holes in the rails every inch or something like that. 

My 4-way manifold has 4 sheet steel legs.  I just turned the manifold vertical and put 2 of the legs into the holes in one of the rails.  Now its up and out of the way. It seems to be fairly secure, but nothing other than a gravity fit is holding it in place. 

Ingredients / Re: Rye
« on: February 14, 2012, 06:41:39 AM »
My impression is that the effect is primarily the result of high beta glucan concentration in the beer.  Even though rye has less beta glucan production than oats and barley, the high percentage of rye added to the grist in the pursuit of rye's spicy flavor is what is pushes the overall beta glucan into the different or weird mouthfeel range.  I suppose it could also be termed a slickness in the mouthfeel. 

I did several beers with several percent flaked barley last year and they had moussy head production and a very interesting mouthfeel.  They were interesting experiments, but it was clear to me that I overdid the effect.  Excessive beta glucan does not really improve a beer. 

Given that we are going after the flavor of the rye in a beer like this, I have the feeling that this is a case when a brewer would want to employ a beta glucan rest in the mash to help reduce that effect while leaving the flavor. 

Equipment and Software / Re: RO water system
« on: February 13, 2012, 09:42:38 AM »
A home RO system is a good idea in terms of convenience, but may not be ideal in terms of total ownership cost.  In my case, the level of sodium in my municipally softened water was too much for me and my family to handle.  My RO system serves my brewing and the family drinking water needs.  

RO does use a lot of water to make its product water.  Fortunately in a lot of places, water is relatively inexpensive.  A consequence of creating a lot of wastewater from the RO process is that the wastewater mineralization is relatively low and the effect on the environment is lessened.  

Most RO systems come with a pressure-triggered cutoff valve so that they do not run constantly.  When the pressure on the outlet side is high enough, the flow stops and no wastewater is produced at that time.  Nate is correct that you do need to have them hooked up constantly.  You don't really want to hook up a system, use it, disconnect it, and then dry it out.  It should be hooked up constantly to keep the membrane and other filters hydrated constantly.  If you have a concern with water use while its 'off', the user can close the inlet valve and then you don't have to worry about any leakage or waste.  When you need it, open the valve and everything is still hydrated and ready to go.  

If you are storing your RO in a pressure tank, then you can reduce the amount of water waste by including a permeate pump in the RO system.  They improve the pressure drop across the membrane which decreases the water volume wasted.  Permeate pumps are noisy though.  They produce a cyclic thumping noise that might not be welcome if its in your living area.  The other option to improve water efficiency is to pump your water into an open tank.  That way there is less back-pressure on the membrane and that improves the efficiency.  A simple float switch in the open tank can shut off the flow and avoid an overflow.  Of course, you have to move the water from the tank yourself.  

RO does not produce pure water.  There is a little bit of mineralization that passes through the membrane.  It depends on the ion, but there is typically between 1 and 4 percent of the raw water's ions that make it through into the product water.  A typical RO water profile is included in Bru'n Water.  

A RO system should use a good membrane and it should not be a proprietary unit like GE, Kinetico, or Whirlpool if you want to keep your ownership costs low.  The generic systems that include a name brand membrane is generally going to provide you with the same life and service.  A good brand name for membranes is Filmtec or Dow.  Look for those names when scouting for a system.  Ebay has a bunch of system providers and the internet is full of providers.  All the components typically come from the same suppliers and they typically have quality.

A RO system MUST have an activated carbon filter to remove chlorine and chloramine.  Those chemicals will quickly destroy most membranes if left in the water.  A good RO system should include particulate filters to keep grit and debris off the membrane and carbon.  I typically see 1 and 5 micron filters quoted.  A RO system might have a polishing activated carbon filter, but I don't really see the need for that since the raw water went through carbon once.  So, look for a system that says it has 3 or 4 stages.  A 5 stage system may be overkill since that typically includes that second carbon filter.

If the raw water feeding the RO unit is really hard, then it might be helpful to feed the unit ion-exchange (salt) softened water to help extend the life of the membrane.  If there is already a softener in the house, then feed the RO unit from the softener.  If you don't have a softener, don't fret about it.  The high amount of water wasting is intended to help avoid crusting up the membrane with mineral scale.  Feeding the unit hard water isn't a big deal.  

Do have a way to check the quality of your RO product water.  A TDS meter is a good idea for anyone using RO water.  That includes anyone buying RO water from a grocery store machine.  I've seen multiple cases where brewers has problems with their brewing only to find out that the RO water machine was having problems and was delivering untreated water.  The TDS meter is cheap and its your first line of defense against a problem with either your home unit or grocery unit.  


Ingredients / Re: trying to get a handle on water chemistry.
« on: February 10, 2012, 12:52:22 PM »
Generally speaking, though, knowing the hardness is enough, especially with it being so low. I'd just assume that you have 15-25 ppm Ca and <5 ppm Mg. That should be sufficient for brewing purposes.

That could or could not be a good assumption.  There is no magic ratio of Ca to Mg.  Its all dependent upon the geology the water flowed through prior to getting to the user.  (Ca is almost always higher though).

That is a darn nice resource.  I do see that many profiles do not provide a 'complete' profile that is usable for brewing water chemistry.  The Water Report Input sheet in Bru'n Water can help you to decipher missing ions in some cases.  The objective is to produce a 'balanced' condition for the cations and anions. 

Ingredients / Re: trying to get a handle on water chemistry.
« on: February 10, 2012, 06:22:10 AM »
There isn't enough information in the report to allow anyone to decipher the relative Ca and Mg percentages.  I can see that the water should be a good starting point for brewing.  You will have to send a sample in for testing to confirm the ion profile.

Ingredients / Re: German Water Hardness
« on: February 09, 2012, 09:47:17 AM »

I adjust the Czeck Pils to 50 ppm Ca using CaCl2.

AJ and I just had a discussion about Pilsen water and the American Lager water profile I have included in Bru'n Water.  Either of those profiles have very low calcium that defies the current thinking on the minimum calcium in water.  As we know, those beers tend to have a degree of delicateness that is probably due in part to the low mineralization in the water.  

It appears that there are a couple of reasons why you could get away with a much lower Ca content than 40 or 50 ppm.   First, I've stated in the past that it appears that a minimum of 40 ppm Ca is appropriate for reducing beerstone formation.  We also know that 50 ppm Ca is helpful for improving yeast health and flocculation performance.  In the case of fighting beerstone, the mega brewers have probably instituted strenuous clean-in-place protocols that reduce the formation of beerstone in the first place.  We homebrewers would have to weigh if we want to incurr the wrath of beerstone by reducing Ca much lower than 40 ppm.  In the case of yeast health and flocculation, we know that big breweries have no problem in pitching huge quantities of yeast.  Therefore, yeast health and growth are not a big concern for them.  We also know that big breweries have elaborate settling, fining, and filtering procedures, so they don't really have to worry about flocculation in their brewhouse.  Craft and home brewers might need to pay more heed to this factor.  

So it appears that you could work around lower Ca concentrations in your brewing if you are willing to deal with the hazards.  


Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: First try at a session IPA
« on: February 07, 2012, 09:30:36 AM »
A session IPA is just a hoppy pale ale.

Although I agree with that statement, I've had a beer that was quoted as a session IPA.  That was Wanderer IPA from North Peak and it was 4.2% and 45 IBU.  Clearly it is below the PA alcohol limits, so it misses the PA mark too.  I'd say it more correctly should be called a session PA, but I'm betting marketing has some input there.  That beer did have a substantial hop flavor and aroma.  Maybe that is why they market it as an IPA?  It was good.

The hop flavor and aroma of the Wanderer far exceeds the limits of a Blonde Ale.  So that beer couldn't fit there. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: how recent should a water report be?
« on: February 05, 2012, 03:04:43 PM »
Water supply characteristics don't typically change if the supply is consistent.  For instance, if the supply is a big lake or big aquifer, then I wouldn't expect much change.  If its a river or a combination of differing reservoirs or lakes, then change could be daily.  Look at the supply in this way and that will enable you to assess if the water report is out of date.  More than likely, its OK. 

If the supply is really variable, then you really need to know how wide the variation is.  You would also have to have a simple set of test kits on hand for hardness and alkalinity so that you could nail down your water adjustments. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Water question
« on: January 29, 2012, 03:31:32 PM »
Unless the OP thinks that the mash pH IS going to go too low based on past experience, I wouldn't add alkalinity to the brewing water.  There are more bad things that could happen if the mash pH is too high than if its too low.  Tom's advice to dilute is probably the safest way to go.  But unless the OP thinks there is going to be a problem, it might be overkill.  

Oh, don't add 5.2 to your water unless you want bad beer.  It doesn't work in most cases.  

Equipment and Software / Re: Iodaphor vs. Star San
« on: January 27, 2012, 06:05:02 PM »
I keep both handy and alternate on an ad hoc basis.

I do the same.  Changing up the sanitizer periodically is a good practice for avoiding infections in my opinion.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: To decant or not to decant??
« on: January 27, 2012, 06:01:26 PM »
I always decant, but my starters are have low gravity and are constantly aerated.  The resulting 'beer' is not very flavorful.  If the OP made a higher gravity starter and didn't really aerate, then it might be OK to pitch the whole thing.  Its not a good way to make a starter.  But if that was what was done, then they could pitch the whole thing.  I strongly recommend the constant aeration and then chilling and decanting. 

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: WY 1338 is Gone
« on: January 26, 2012, 09:20:22 AM »
I've used WLP 011.  I can't say that they are the same.  There was a difference by my palate when brewing the same beer.  I preferred the 1338, but the 011 might just have to do. 

The problem is that my LHBS doesn't stock 011.  I suppose that now that 1338 isn't available, they will need to stock this one.

Yeast and Fermentation / WY 1338 is Gone
« on: January 25, 2012, 01:52:49 PM »
I just heard from my LHBS that Wyeast 1338 European Ale yeast has been discontinued.  Looking at Wyeast's website, it appears this is true. 

This was my favorite yeast for malt focused ales.  I'm disappointed.  Are there suggestions for other low attenuating and malty flavor focused yeasts from Wyeast or White Labs?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Measuring mash pH
« on: January 23, 2012, 06:20:57 AM »
Unless you have major problems with your water adjustment is just fine tuning flavor. Well, it has been for me. It may have helped efficiency too.

Many brewers don't even recognize when they have a problem.  Water problems are especially insidious since all the other brewers around them make beer that tastes the same as theirs.  You've got folks with high alkalinity that can't make fair light-colored beers and folks in another area with low alkalinity can't produce a decent stout.  If you're lucky, you have modest alkalinity and can do a half-way decent job with a wider variety of styles.  

The good thing about brewing is that almost regardless of the water used, a brewer will come out with a product that resembles beer.  In some cases, really good beer and maybe not so good for other styles.  But, the bottom line is that understanding your water is an important step to producing great beer.  Fine tuning flavor can be helpful, but correcting major deficiencies in water hardness and alkalinity make it easier to produce great beer across a wider range of styles.  

Armed with a little bit of knowledge (water report), a brewer can now use tools like Bru'n Water to figure out better ways to work with their water and make better beers.  

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