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Messages - mabrungard

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Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Causes of astringency
« on: March 02, 2014, 02:40:17 PM »
The lake water seems very constant, though there are times when you can smell the chlorine strongly. I believe this is seasonal perhaps when they change to chloramines. But I've never tracked it. Or it could be when there's a spike in E. coli bacteria along the lakefront. I don't know if they up the dose of chlorine at that point.

It is common for utilities that chloraminate to switch to chlorination for a short period during the year. This is often in the spring or late winter when the water has less of the reactive content that creates the cancer-causing trihalomethanes. Chlorine has much higher lethality than chloramines and switching over does give the utility a chance to 'shock' the system and reduce any stubborn organisms that were living with the chloramines. Chlorine is much more volatile than chloramine and you will smell the chlorine odor more readily when this switch is on. Most utilities only do this for maybe a month. 

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Causes of astringency
« on: March 02, 2014, 05:57:01 AM »
Yes, Briess extracts do have high sodium due to their local water company using ion-exchange to soften the municipal supply. If you were adding only a minor addition (30 to 50 points of gravity) then it shouldn't really be a problem. It could be a problem if you were making a big beer with mostly extract.

While alkalinity can produce problems with pH and subsequent tannin and silicate extraction, its not the only way to get them. As you might expect, I am fairly particular about water chemistry. But I was producing a mild tannin expression in my first few beers when I switched over to my new brewing equipment. It turned out that I was oversparging and introducing tannins in that way. I had been stopping the runoff at 2 Brix, but that was apparently too low. I now stop at around 3 Brix. That solved the problem.

Joe, I note that you are in north Chicago. For some of Chicagoland, the water is from the Great Lakes and other places are groundwater. I'm curious about your source. The lake water quality is relatively constant. The lake alkalinity is modest, but should still have some neutralization for some styles.

The Great Lakes Compact has changed what can be done with lake water. If your wastewater does not make it back into the lake, then I understand that they are requiring those utilities to stop using lake water and find another source so that this use isn't draining the lake. If your utility had to get a new source, that could be a source of your problem. Other sources in the region are typically much more alkaline. Hopefully you have been neutralizing your brewing water with acid, as needed. That should remove that source of tannin and silicate from your beer. But it won't solve oversparging.

Good luck!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Finished Beer PH?
« on: February 28, 2014, 08:04:16 AM »
I just finished the ferment for a Hefe that I specifically sought to mash at around 5.2. The finished beer pH was 4.21. That falls within that range mentioned above.

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: February 25, 2014, 09:54:03 AM »
Don't forget the third wheel in the astringency train...oversparging. Sure, make sure the alkalinity of your sparging water is reasonably low and avoid taking the sparging water temp above 170F. But the thing that tripped me up a year ago while I was breaking in my new brewing system, was oversparging. I was ending runoff at 2 Brix and had a faint tannin note. I now aim to end runoff at about 3 Brix. Problem solved.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Adding java to a stout
« on: February 25, 2014, 09:48:18 AM »
One of my clubmates, Sandy Cockerham, is a BJCP Master and owner of a local coffee shop. She also supplies the coffee to many of the Indy breweries and guides their practices. Cold beer steeping seems to be the direction she espouses.

In a recent brewery's rendition of a coffee beer, there was definite bell/hot pepper notes. I seem to recall they used a Guatemalan bean. Of course Sandy roasted the beans, but I don't remember how dark. I also recall a presentation she gave to our BJCP judge pool in which she worked with SunKing and their Cream Ale and infused some lightly roasted (Ethiopian?) coffee and the result was surprisingly refreshing and light.   

Ingredients / Re: Chit malt?
« on: February 25, 2014, 09:39:07 AM »
I know that a very small percentage of flaked barley will raise a huge head. I'm guessing that only a portion of the original beta-glucans exist in Chit malt since the 'full' malting process converts most of them and this is partially malted grain.

I agree that flaked barley imparts a raw flavor that I don't like in pale beers, but its OK in roasty beers. Even at 1%, flaked barley can create a huge head and impart that flavor. I don't have that flavor impact when I use flaked wheat. I still get a decent head production, but the flavor is more wheaty and grainy. I like that better.

My findings are that you don't need much flaked barley to overdose your beer. In some respects, I'm surprised that brewers use as much Chit malt in their grist. But I suppose that Chit malt must be well on its way to being converted when its kilned and the amount of beta-glucan is actually very low in comparison to raw or flaked barley. 

Ingredients / Re: Chit malt?
« on: February 23, 2014, 05:57:13 PM »
Chit malt is essentially raw barley that has been barely malted. It has a substantial beta-glucan content and that typically requires a beta-glucan rest to avoid later brewing problems.

Although I hear that chit malt offers different flavor than if you used a percentage of raw or flaked barley along with regular malt, I have to wonder. I personally think that you could create some of the effects of chit malt with a very small addition of raw or flaked barley.

Wow, that is a lot of roast. But I'm assuming this must be for more than a 5 gal batch!

No, you wouldn't need or want to modify the water/grist ratio. Remember, you will eventually be adding those roast grains back to the mash and there are minor benefits in having a slightly thinner mash. Additionally, the pH prediction for that roast-less mash is based on the water volume you have originally input.

The mash pH prediction is a balance that looks at the total acidity of your mash grist and the alkalinity of the water you are mashing with.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Purposely stressing yeast
« on: February 21, 2014, 10:24:10 AM »
Chris White was at our LHBS for big brew. Asked about English ales and esters, he said the English brewers underpitch.

I used to make some tasty English bitter and milds back in the day before I learned better techniques. Then I learned how to make lagers. I was pitching big and oxygenating. Those lacked character. Stopped using O2 and it was better. Will try about 2/3 the pitch rate next time, maybe one half.

One of the local brewpubs doubles the pitch rate of the house yeast, WLP 022 Essex Ale, when they want to make a clean APA.

There is merit to what constitutes a 'proper' pitching rate. I've been working with Chris White on this calcium/yeast issue and I asked specifically if he knew of a reason why lager brewing typically employs roughly twice the cell count. I suggested that it was only the result of empirical results...lagers pitched with high cell counts tasted better. The same guidance is valid for any brewing. If the resulting beer tastes better with either higher or lower cell counts, oxygenation or not, then that is the right way to go. I didn't get the impression that there is a hard and fast rule in this area.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I'm in reruns!
« on: February 19, 2014, 06:53:23 AM »
Wow Rob! If I had known you were a celebrity, I would have fawned more when we judged together last weekend. Good job.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Understanding Oxygen Help
« on: February 19, 2014, 06:29:12 AM »
Yes, the question should be: aeration vs oxygenation. While similar, they have differing application.

I prefer to aerate my yeast starter since we want the yeast to have a consistent O2 supply to promote conditions that create sterols and build yeast cells. Unless you have an oxygenation system that supplies a really low, constant flow to the starter vessel, it would probably be a waste of oxygen. Using filtered air is a good alternative to supply the constant and low oxygen content to a starter.

For freshly boiled and chilled wort, you want to bring the wort O2 content up quickly and you only get to do it once (typically). So using oxygen is best then.

But it's questionable if you really need to oxygenate at all if you pitch big enough with yeast that has high sterol content. For us homebrewers that aerate their large yeast starters, it seems reasonable that you could get away without oxygenating the wort. For major brewers that are repitching yeast, the yeast probably doesn't have a sterol reserve and oxygenating the wort seems imperative.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Starting with RO Water and adjusting from there
« on: February 19, 2014, 06:16:27 AM »
My system is down in my mechanical room, so there is space. Adding extra storage to your system is very easy. If you are running a pressurized system and you already have the typical small pressure tank that many home systems come with, all you have to do is Tee in another pressure tank(s) into that line that the existing pressure tank is on. It is that simple. If you get a great deal on multiple small tanks, its OK to gang them together by Teeing them onto the line.

Equipment and Software / Re: Cheap heater
« on: February 18, 2014, 06:28:18 AM »
+1 regarding the heating pad that Jim mentions. My fermentation chamber won't warm up above about 70F and I just through in the pad and it provides enough heat to keep the chamber temp up. The regular thermostat-controlled cooling circuit keeps the temp from getting too high. If the cooling circuit is activating too much, then the heating pad power is turned down as needed.

Getting a pad with no auto-shutoff is important!

Homebrew Competitions / Re: State Championships
« on: February 18, 2014, 06:22:30 AM »
Indiana does produce a championship contest for both the amateur and pro ranks. It is sponsored and held at the State Fair grounds, but fortunately not during the fair. The entries are not limited to only Indiana residents though. With over 1200 entries for the combined amateur and pro ranks, its a big event.

PS: Judges participating in this event are paid a stipend to cover their expenses. They are not 'bought'.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Starting with RO Water and adjusting from there
« on: February 17, 2014, 03:35:43 PM »
I have a big pressure tank for my RO. It also supplies the tap at the kitchen sink and the ice maker. For 10 gal batches, the 20 gal pressure tank is just sufficient to supply the water needed. In general, a pressure tank needs to be twice the size of your demand. You folks using an open tank are good to go with a tank sized equal to your demand. You are more efficient with your RO system output too!

I hear from a lot of brewers that prepare a single large batch of water for the entire batch's needs. I've always prepared and heated separate batches for the mash and the sparge. Even when I had only a single pot for heating the water! All it takes is planning. There is no extra equipment needed. This also allows me to focus on the unique needs of the mashing water chemistry. Sometimes it needs a little alkalinity, while sparging water never does. Two batches of water work for me.

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