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Messages - mabrungard

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: That German lager flavor
« on: August 06, 2012, 05:37:33 AM »
I've read conflicting accounts about pressurized fermentation.  I had originally heard that elevated pressure helped suppress ester production.  That is a good thing in a lager.  But then I heard that yeast should ferment at atmospheric pressure for better performance (I'm not sure what performance they were alluding too).  My conical is set up to allow pressurization of up to about 12 inches of water column.  I haven't tried any more than several inches so far.  I'm curious if others have evaluated the effect of pressurized ferments?

General Homebrew Discussion / Alabama Beer Success
« on: August 01, 2012, 06:16:30 AM »
I just heard about Alabama's success in permitting commercial beer to be sold in bottles up to 750ml on National Public Radio today.  Even the Free the Hops group was cited in the report.  Congratulations! They'll have to find more space in the shops now.

I understand that they could only have beer in pint bottles or smaller prior to this. 

I also prefer flaked barley over oats for body building.

Ingredients / Re: WATER PH 9.2 too alcaline?
« on: July 26, 2012, 05:13:04 AM »
pH does not indicate the alkalinity of the water and water pH does not matter at all in brewing.  Only the mash pH matters in brewing and that is largely dictated by alkalinity.

There are clues from the hardness, that the alkalinity might be high.  But that is conjecture.  You need to find out the rest of the water quality parameters in order to figure out if the tap water is going to be suitable for that brew. 

A RO membrane system is one of the only 'filters' that will reduce ionic content of water.  A regular filter or activated carbon filter will not reduce the ionic content.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Headache City
« on: July 25, 2012, 05:55:11 AM »
A brew pub here in Indy that specializes in Belgian styles gives me headaches everytime I have some of their beers.  They are tasty, but I could do without the side effect.  I do not typically pick up fusel, hot, or alcoholic notes in those beers, but they must be there.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 5.2 PH Mash Stabilizer??
« on: July 20, 2012, 04:13:15 AM »
As AJ says: 5.2 works great for brewers that don't check pH and doesn't work at all for those that do check. 

A smart brewer learns to properly manage their mash pH.

Ingredients / Re: Carawheat malt
« on: July 19, 2012, 02:10:12 PM »
i'm not sure I would go in the direction of adding sweetness builders or unfermentables.  I agree that raspberry can be quite tart, but it can also deliver a good dose of tannin if unstrained fruit solids are added to the beer.  The seeds are the source. 

I'm curious if either of you had the opportunity to taste the base beer before adding the fruit or flavoring?  Since its unlikely that the base beer was too tart to begin with, I'll assume that all the tartness came from the fruit. 

On the thought of increasing the 'sweetness' perception, an easy adjustment could be to reduce the bittering level.  Increasing the mash temp would also be an option.  If the fruit tartness is the primary cause of the overall beer perception, then another option could be to add an alkaline buffer to the finished beer.  Since there are apparently free acids in the beer, this is one situation where chalk could be an effective agent for reducing excessive acidity.  Recall that chalk doesn't work well in the mash since the acids there are too weak.  I'd suggest pouring a glass full of beer and adding measured doses of chalk until the level of tartness meets your taste goals.  Once you've figured out the amount, you can scale it up and add it to the keg. 

Ingredients / Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« on: July 12, 2012, 12:35:10 PM »
So, what is the pH in the mashtun at a higher temp?  And is the pH I'm concerned about the one in the mashtun or the one I measure at room temp?

The mash pH at mash temp is relatively consistent at about 0.3 units lower due to the increased disassociation activity due to the increased heat content of the hotter wort.  Since that is a relatively constant pH offset, we can ignore the pH value at mash temperature and do all of our correlations with wort and beer flavor and texture based on room-temperature pH readings. 

Many of us know that 5.2 is a magic number in mashing.  That pH value would be appropriate if measured in mash temperature wort, but too low if it was measured in room-temperature wort.  You should note that now you may see ideal mash pH quoted as being 5.3 to 5.5 at room-temperature.  This is similar to the 5.2 mash-temperature pH that has long been targeted, when you figure in that pH offset. 

Don't worry about what the mash-temperature pH is.  Just understand that if you measure pH at room-temperature, pH will actually will be lower in the mash and you don't care what that pH is since you have a safe room-temperature pH allegory to guide you.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: New Wort over an active yeast cake
« on: July 12, 2012, 08:35:45 AM »
Hop flavor and bittering can be transferred via the yeast into the subsequent ferment.  Color and roastiness can also be transferred via the yeast.   I've pitched onto yeast cake before and it works well as long as you don't work from hoppy to malty or from dark to light beers.  I guess I would also avoid going from a spiced beer to non-spiced to avoid that flavor carry over.

Oh, by the way.  If the beer is meh and the cause is due to low sulfates, its easy to test out higher sulfate content in the beer.  Just mix up a solution of gypsum and water and get it to dissolve.  Just a small glass should do.

I suggest creating a super-saturated solution by adding excess gypsum to the water.  That excess gypsum will just sit at the bottom of the glass, but at least you are assured the maximum concentration of calcium and sulfate are dissolved in the water. 

Add a dose of that water to a glass of beer and mix it a bit.  See if it improves or degrades the taste.  Try differing amounts to see if there is a sweet spot with respect to your taste preference.  If you are kegging the beer, scale up the volume of the gypsum water and add directly to the keg.


What exactly about "hop expression" is diminished by lower pH? Is it IBU's/utilization? Or is it flavor/aroma?

This comes from a revelation from Colin Kaminski who is a professional brewer with hundreds of hoppy beers under his belt and co-author of the upcoming book on brewing water.  He termed that 'hop experssion' term without much explanation during our presentation at the Seattle national homebrewers conference.  But, I had previously observed similar effects in beers that I had over acidified.  So I agree with his findings.   

I find that it effects bittering, flavor, and aroma to a small degree.  This makes sense since pH affects the extraction of a number of compounds in the mash and boil.  We know about the negative effect of too high mash pH on tannin extraction.  But there is plenty of evidence for keeping mash and kettle pH in the 5.2 to 5.6 range is beneficial to flavor and color extraction from roasted grain, and probably flavor and aroma extraction from hops. 

I find that limiting Na and Mg to around 30 ppm is a good idea for beers with bitter focus.  Those ions should be reduced significantly for beers with more malt focus.   

The 30 ppm Mg limit is fairly prevalent in brewing lore and that level appears warranted.  But the limit for Na is frequently cited as 100 to 150 ppm.  I dispute brewing with sodium levels anywhere near that high.  My review of waters from historic brewing centers indicates that there are very few brewing waters that exceed 50 ppm.  The few waters that do are just barely over that.  In Bru'n Water, I've written that sodium should be kept to less than 50 ppm in most beers.  I don't know what the origin of the 100 to 150 ppm limit was, but I expect that it has to do with injury to yeast due to excessive osmotic stress.  The 50 ppm limit is a good limit based on flavor effect.

There is an anachronism regarding sodium and brewing when it comes to the Gose style.  An award-winning Gose brewer that I've consulted uses up to 250 ppm sodium in his beer.  But when you look at the fact that this is added as a post-fermentation flavorant in this soured beer, then it makes more sense.  As I mention above, high sodium content would place the yeast under a high osmotic stress and could hinder their fermenation performance.  Adding the salt post-fermentation avoids this problem.   

I have the feeling that those that say 'no' Mg or Na would be more amenable to an argument for the 'low' levels I recommend above.  I think we are generally on the same page.

I have to differ with you guys on Na.  It is a welcome addition in beers that need a bitter focus.  The same thing applies for Mg too.  Those ions help bring focus to the bittering and add to it.  Just recognize that in the case of both of these ions, their maximum concentrations are still fairly low when you are using them for this purpose.

You don't mention if you accounted for the partial boil in your IBU calc's, but I'll assume you did.  You don't mention what your water is like.  Adequate sulfate is important in bringing out the hop and bittering expression.  I prefer about 300 ppm sulfate in my pale ales. 

In addition, if the pH of the wort into the kettle was lower than about 5.2, you start loosing hop expression.  If you used RO or distilled water, then its possible to have the pH drop lower than desirable.  Its not likely though.

Ingredients / Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« on: July 09, 2012, 07:27:18 AM »
Adjusting brewing water to a pre-use pH of 5.5 means that SN is knocking out a lot of the tap water's alkalinity.  The amount of reduction is dependent upon the water's starting alkalinity, but its likely that most alkalinity (HCO3 content) has been neutralized.   This should be great for many of their pale beers.   

Thanks to Gordon for re-emphasizing the preference in measuring mash pH on a room-temperature sample.  Its much kinder to the pH probe and still provides a repeatable corollary to the pH at mash temperature.  In general, the room-temperature mash pH should fall in the range of 5.3 to 5.5 for best results.  But, the best pH for a particular brew will fall to the brewer's preferences in beer taste and texture.  You can read more about how mash and kettle pH affect beer taste and texture on Bru'n Water's Water Knowledge page.

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