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Messages - mabrungard

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Ingredients / Re: Northern Brewer hops question
« on: March 30, 2012, 05:50:28 AM »
I've been a long time user of NB hops in my American Brown Ale.  I've never characterized their flavor or aroma as minty.  I find them to be more woody.  They are a good compliment to Hallertau and Cascade hopping.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Starter
« on: March 30, 2012, 05:45:02 AM »
Hefeweizen is one of the few styles where you might not want to make a big starter.  The increased yeast growth required from modest underpitching can be helpful in creating a fruitier ester profile in the flavor. 

I make big starters for my typical ales and that includes my Hefe's.  I could enhance the fruitiness if I cut that starter size back a bit.  I still suggest that a starter is always a good idea for 'proofing' your yeast and enhancing their glycogen reserves. 

Equipment and Software / Re: How to use a pH meter
« on: March 29, 2012, 12:45:10 PM »

I got to Milwaukee tech support again today and they agree that my meter seems flaky. They are going to replace it free of charge so we'll see if that helps.

I've had the Hanna meters for years and they are alright.  I recently moved to Milwaukee meters and am pleased.  I use the MW-101 and it works very well.  Hopefully this replacement will solve your problems.

Ingredients / Re: White Table Sugar
« on: March 26, 2012, 10:58:36 AM »
I am in general agreement with respect to white sugar or corn sugar...there is little difference.  When you get into the less refined sugars, then you are talking about flavor nuances that can be desirable. 

Another aspect that came up at my club's meeting on Saturday was the issue of "Inverting" the sugar with heat and an acid.  The thought was that you are saving the yeast from having to enzymatically invert the sugar prior to consumption.  It seems easy enough, but is it needed or necessary in brewing and fermenting?

Equipment and Software / Re: Tubing storage and sanitization
« on: March 25, 2012, 10:27:09 AM »
you mention a liquid with nutrients present is needed to grow nasties. I'm based in Indy also (we've met briefly at a couple of FBI functions)  - in your expert water opinion do you think our city water has enough nutrients for this to occur?

Well, aquatic life requires 3 building blocks to grow: carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.  There is a concept termed the Redfield Ratio that says that this life needs 106 parts carbon, 16 parts nitrogen, and 1 part phosphorus to grow.  As seen from that ratio, only a minute amount of phosphorus is needed and most waters do have phosphorus at very low levels.  Many waters also contain 'active' nitrogen compounds like nitrate.  Nitrate can be present at low to modest levels in water supplies, especially anywhere that agriculture is practiced.  As indicated above, the biggest component for life is carbon.  For most water supplies, carbon compounds are not present at significant levels.  Carbon content would have to be significant in the water.  Therefore as long as you have rinsed the tubing to adequately remove any carbon sources (sugary wort is a huge carbon source), its unlikely that the remaining rinse water would have the carbon needed to promote biologic growth.  Carbon is the limiting component.

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?

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