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Messages - mabrungard

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The pro-brewer/scientific literature I've seen indicates that AA utilization peaks at ~2 hours, but a 90 minute boil is generally good enough. A 2-hour boil might be needed if you're really trying to pull every alpha acid molecule you can out of the beer in a high gravity wort.

Other than that, spot on.

Big pro-brewers hate long boils both because of energy costs and because time is money - especially for big brewers which might be brewing 4-5 batches per day. They have all sorts of tricks to minimize energy usage and speed up wort boiling. One of the coolest, but trickiest, is brewing the beer under a slight pressurization. AA Isomeration is optimized at something like 215-220 *F, but the danger is that if you get your wort much hotter than that, AA start to degrade :O

I look forward to seeing that data.  The isomerization test results from Malowicki and Shellhammer indicate that 90 minutes is the peak.  They found a very slight drop off at 120 minutes.  They also looked at pressurized boiling and established a correlation to energy input and isomerization rate.

All Grain Brewing / Re: how long is too long for FWH?
« on: May 10, 2012, 12:51:30 PM »
FWH helps to solublize the aromatic hop oils.  More hop oils remain in your beer.

If you added your normal late-addition hops (low AA, yet desirable aromatic oils) as your FWH addition, you should be fine, even with a long steep.  It may even be more "efficient" from a hop oil solubilization standpoint.  Giving the oils time to sit around in the warm wort gives the volatile, yet normally insoluble, oils and resins time to oxidize into more soluble compounds that can be retained in the boil.  Otherwise, the boiling process (and fermentation process) will drive off the volatile oil compounds.

I'm not sure what the chemical reactions are, but I agree that there probably is some sort of binding reaction or conversion of those volatile components into less volatile components that resist boil-off.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st round NHC results
« on: May 05, 2012, 10:41:25 AM »
Yes, you can rebrew and yes, S.A. bottles are OK.

Clarification: re-brew, but not "tweak the recipe".

To my knowledge, there is no rule that says a brewer cannot tweak their recipe.  And even if there was, there would be no way to assure it.  The real question would be: Do I have the ability to correct the faults identified in the first round and rebrew it with those corrections?  The fact that the brewer advanced their beer as it is, makes it a high hurdle to cross to make it better.

Ingredients / Re: Bru'n Water v 1.12 Posted
« on: May 04, 2012, 07:10:27 PM »
I only mentioned that I assumed distilled water as it would result in the lowest possible predicted mash pH.  Your actual water with a little CaCL to bring the Ca level up to 50 ppm shows 5.6 pH if I use 10 gallons of mash water.  That provides a reasonable 1.33 qt/lb water to grist ratio.  I am not sure how the program directed you to add more alkalinity.  I would like to see your inputs so that I can assess if there is something I should clarify to help users avoid a similar problem.

Maybe you could send me a copy of your spreadsheet with the data in it and I can see if there is a problem?

Ingredients / Re: Bru'n Water v 1.12 Posted
« on: May 04, 2012, 02:23:27 PM »

I brewed a big wee heavy today and used the new version of the spreadsheet. 29.5 lbs of MO and 0.5 lbs roasted barley.  Put everything into the spreadsheet.  Predicted mash pH at room temperature 5.2. 

You do seem to be entering something wrong.  I just put that grain bill into my sheet and assumed that I had 10 gal of distilled water with enough CaCl to bring the Ca content to 50 ppm.  That reports a pH around 5.4.  Unless you've put in a lot more calcium or magnesium, the mash pH should not be less than that. 

Revisit your entries.  Sorry for your results.

Don't use U-bolts.  I use large hose clamps and wooden saddles (matching the diameters at the attachment points) that encircle the motor can and pump magnet housing.  You do not want to put too much pressure (especially if its uneven) on the motor can or you will deform it.  This mounting has worked for over 10 years. 

Ingredients / Re: Bru'n Water v 1.12 Posted
« on: May 04, 2012, 08:24:13 AM »
Hi, Martin,

I have a question.  I missed version 1.11, but have been using version 1.10. 

I put in the grist bill for a Saison into 1.12 and the amount of acid required to get to a room temp pH of 5.3 was 5.8 ml.  If I do the same grain bill in 1.10, I hit 5.3 without any acid or salt additions. 

Having read your thoughts on lighter beers, and having recently switched to your calculator from Palmers, I have become accustomed to lower acid additions.  Since this is such a drastic increase, I figured I'd mention it since it seems so out of whack with previous calculations.

You are witnessing the problem that I point out.  From what I can tell from your description, you were probably assuming the use of low alkalinity water like RO.  With the grain bill inserted, the acidity that the grain contributes is a constant.  But its effect on the acidity of the water its mixed with wasn't properly accounted for. 

To illustrate, in v1.10 you can dial up the volume of mash water significantly and not see much movement in the pH prediction when the RA of your mashing water is very low.  That is not what would actually happen in the mash.  The finite quantity of grain acidity would be further diluted (even in water with low RA) and the ability for that grain to depress the mash pH would be diminished.  v1.12 fixes that fault. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Bru'n Water weirdness
« on: May 03, 2012, 07:18:46 AM »
Sorry, its fixed now.

Ingredients / Bru'n Water v 1.12 Posted
« on: May 03, 2012, 06:35:25 AM »
I've posted an updated version of Bru'n Water includes significant improvement to the User Interface and corrects an error in mash pH estimation that occurs when batch size changes. 


All Grain Brewing / Re: Bru'n Water weirdness
« on: May 03, 2012, 06:15:49 AM »
No, its an error in the program and the way things are calculated on the mash acidification sheet.  I noticed it a couple of weeks ago.  The pH is correlated to the milliequivalents of Net Mash Acidity.  That works most of the time, but that approach breaks down as the batch size deviates from the typical homebrew batch size.  The proper approach is to normalize the acidity into milliequivalents per liter.  That way the size of batch never influences the result. 

I've uploaded an important update to Bru'n Water that corrects that error and provides significant improvements in the User Interface.   Do try it out.  The pH estimation algorthym has also been tightened a bit, based on continued data collection from users.  So there should typically be a slight increase in the pH estimated in version 1.12 compared to version 1.10.  Those brewers that were brewing batches much larger than the typical 5 gal batch may see more substantial pH difference. 

My apologies for not recognizing this error sooner.


Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: May 01, 2012, 03:14:46 PM »

I would never recommend anyone use lime unless they have a pH meter, as the strips (even colorPhast) are just not accurate enough.  Even with that, use safety precautions and err on the low side.  I personally don't think any beer benefits from a mash pH of over 5.5, and even a beer with lots of roasted malts will be very easy to get above this with a strong base like lime.

I'm not willing to go quite that far.  If you have the capability to dose your water accurately with lime, there is no more need to have a pH meter for that addition than with any other mineral addition. 

If you are starting with a low alkalinity water like distilled or RO, then you know that you will need some alkalinity for highly acidic grists with significant crystal or roast content.  If you have any confidence in the acidity correlations for various grain types, you can certainly have some confidence that you can calculate what the total acidity you are adding via your grist.  With that knowledge, you can estimate what alkalinity your mash will need to produce an appropriate mash pH. 

The great thing about lime is that you will get exactly the quantity of alkalinity in your water with respect to your dosing.  And with that alkalinity being delivered in the hydroxl form, it is going to react with whatever proton donor it encounters.  Its especially going to react with and neutralize those available acids (those sluts!). 

So you can depend on this reaction to proceed fully to completion, unlike chalk.  If you dose lime right and understand your mash acidity, the pH will be right.  You don't have to worry about the buffering capacity like when you're adding acid to an alkaline water.  Adding lime into an acidic solution is a straight one to one response when you are starting with little or no alkalinity in the water.   

Nate, I have to disagree that 'in most cases alkalinity is a bad thing'.  I've found just the opposite.  I find that inappropriate alkalinity content is a bad thing.  That goes both ways.  Too low an alkalinity produces a thin, body-less beer that is likely to be tart.  That might be a good thing in a Berliner Weisse, but not so good in other styles.  Too high an alkalinity creates a litany of faults through excessive mash pH and wort pH.  But the appropriate alkalinity produces a better beer every time. 

There are brewers that brew beers like stouts using RO water and maybe some calcium mineral.  They are making beer. But in the hundreds of darker beers that I've judged that have an acidic twang and thin body, I can only assume they were brewed with low alkalinity water.  In some cases, I've been able to confirm from the brewer that they used low alkalinity water for the brew. 

Conversely here in the land of very alkaline water, I've tasted some truly wonderful dark beers that I've queried the brewers as to their water adjustements.  They typically do little to their water.  (of course their lighter beers stink unless they've learned the magic of alkalinity reduction).   Aiming for the appropriate alkalinity to coordinate with the needs of the grist is the path to better beer. 

I have been advocating an elevated mash pH target for darker beers for probably 3 years now.  I always found that if I over-neutralized my high alkalinity brewing water when I was in Tallahassee or my under-alkalinity RO water here in Carmel, my dark beers were sharp and unpleasant.  Whereas, when the mash pH was a little bit high at 5.5 to 5.6, then those same beer recipes were much smoother.  Recently, I was trolling through Kai's Braukaiser site and noted that he had pointed out a reference (I think it was either Kunze or Briggs) that said that a slightly higher mash pH helps improve the extraction of color and flavor from roast malts.  That was an Ah Ha moment for me!  It corroborated my empirical findings above. 

That higher pH target also helps me understand why so many brewers using RO or distilled water have to reserve their roast grains from the main mash.  That process helps moderate the problems of a too low mash and also allows the mash to naturally increase its pH as the mash progresses.  That moves the pH closer to a range that the roast color and extraction is going to appreciate. 

Appropriate alkalinity should always be a brewers goal, not 'no alkalinity'.  That no alkalinity water recipe does not hold true for all beers.  You can also fault Palmer's original nomograph and spreadsheet.  It was the downfall of many a dark beer brewer since it recommends far too much alkalinity.  But, don't go to the extreme in aiming for too little alkalinity.


Ingredients / Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: April 30, 2012, 05:35:19 AM »
As pointed out above, the problem with chalk is that you can't get it to dissolve and contribute its theoretical alkalinity.  Bru'n Water assumes the chalk IS properly dissolved via CO2 and water and the full theoretical alkalinity is provided.  As Kai Troester and AJ DeLange have experimentally confirmed, chalk only delivers about half its theoretical alkalinity when placed in water without proper dissolution with CO2.  Some water programs take this into account and they assume half the alkalinity is added when chalk is used this way. 

I've used chalk in the past and found it to be too unreliable for mash pH control.  Lime is highly soluble and it is very complete in neutralizing excess acidity.  If you have the capability to measure out the small amounts of lime needed in the typical 5 gal grist, then its a no-brainer for use.  Its cheap and its very effective.  But its quite hazardous as Nate points out above.  Measure and use with care! 

Ingredients / Re: Wheat malt
« on: April 30, 2012, 05:23:45 AM »
I've long noted that my efficiency is reduced by several points when mashing a high wheat malt content grist.  I don't know why that is, but its another data point for your argument.

Since we brewers don't really want to strip the majority of the ions from our tap water, nanofiltration provides several advantages over RO.  First, nano is a form of membrane separation, just like RO.  Its just that the membranes have larger pores that let more of the ions through.  It requires lower pressures to drive the water through the membrane and there is less reject water produced.  So its more efficient through several venues. 

Only the commerial scale RO and nano units I deal with use pumps to drive the water through the membranes.  Home units operate only at low pressure.  That is one reason that home units are less efficient.  Another reason is that we brewers can't really obtain nano membrane cartridges for the typical home unit.  (Although I think I might have seen some on the web recently.)   The unit that Steve points out above is a little much for the typical home user, but it would be quite suitable if you had the coin. 

Commercial units are acid washed to clean the membranes, but home units don't have that capability.  You just replace the cartridge about every year.   

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: To our Governing Committee
« on: April 27, 2012, 02:19:32 PM »
The effects of the increase in the number of first round sites has not yet been experienced.  This summer at the second round, a bunch of judges are going to have to wrestle with even more entries.  That means that the judges that volunteer to participate in the second round may have to give up more of their convention schedule to attend to the competition.  I've done it in the past, I'm not sure that I'll continue to do it.  Hopefully there are a bunch of highly experienced judges at the second round to make this fear a non-reality!

It was great to hear the report from the SF bay area and the large contingent of judges that made their competition a breeze.  Having 6 or 7 million people within an hours drive does make it more likely that there are plenty of judges willing to make that short drive.  Hat's off! 

There are too many places like Indy where that population drops off to the million or two million range in the nearby metro area and the nearby judge pool drops off quickly too.  Especially when there are several 1st round sites within 5 hours of town.  We had over 50 judges signed up at one time for Indy and that would have made our 1st round a breeze.  Unfortunately, life gets in the way of a major commitment like driving several hours and spending a bunch of money to volunteer your time and judge.  We made it through, but it was a trial for some folks. 

Based on that tendency to run out of judges in an area, it appears to me that the 750 entry limit is a problem in some areas.  As mentioned above, having a Certified or higher judge in every judge pairing is highly desirable.  I think that if an area does not have a large population of judges with that experience, their capability to host that large an entry pool probably needs to be curtailed.  I realize that this could severly reduce the nationwide number of entries, but that might be a consideration.  Possibly those sites with high populations of experienced judges could grow beyond 750? 

Another option may be to further expand the number of judging sites across the country.  I don't like that option much since it places further strain on the second round judging.  But if the AHA can't support the judges enough to make them want to contribute their more of their time and money to judge at these first round sites, its a price that will just have to be paid. 

I've argued that AHA really needs to substantially increase the NHC entry fee and put that increased income directly to supporting the judges that do support the competition.  In the past, all I've received from these first round comps is a single lunch for each year's competition.  I've also received some door prizes at the comps,  but from what I can tell those prizes were courtesy of the local homebrew shops and not the largese of AHA.   A lunch is not what I would call 'support' and it certainly is not a sufficient lure for anyone traveling a long way.  Its no wonder that we were left lacking judges here in Indy. 

I've heard from members of the AHA competition committee and they have expressed that they have a problem with any sort of compensation to judges whether they travel far or not.  I have to say BS to that.  If that is the case, the competition committee needs to get 'compensation' out of their mind and insert 'support' in its place.  Right now, this competition is not supporting its judging pool. 

I've also taken a quick look at the Ninkasi award winners for the past 7 years to see how many medals it took to win.  In most cases, it was 4 or fewer medals.  Sometimes only 2.  (Gordon had 7 in '09).  That suggests that there should be no problem with limiting a brewer's entries to say 5.  It would also mean that a brewer would have to think long and hard about which of their brews they feel are most likely to compete well and place.  That would help prevent the entry of the relatively poor beers I sometimes judge in the first round sessions.  A higher entry fee would also help winnow out that chaff. 

I implore the competition committee to rethink the current NHC competition structure.  As I have said in the past, THIS is the top competition in the country and it carries the biggest bragging rights.  It gets all the press and accolades.  There needs to be more support for judges.  We need more highly experienced judges at every table. We need fewer poor contest entries. Maybe we need even more judging sites.  Maybe we need fewer entries overall in the national competition.  A lot of considerations for our representatives!

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