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Messages - mihalybaci

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Equipment and Software / Re: Thermometer Recommendation
« on: October 23, 2013, 02:20:29 PM »
I've been using an IR thermometer for a while and really like it. It reads temp quickly and accurately, and because it doesn't contact the beer I don't have to worry about sanitization when using post-boil. The drawback though is that it only reads surface temps so everything has to be well-mixed to give good temperatures.

Plus I can use it on my cast iron pan to see when it's hot enough to put my steaks on to cook.

Beer Recipes / Re: Avocado Beer
« on: October 10, 2013, 01:54:12 PM »
My experience w/avocados is that they quickly turn black.  Maybe in secondary where the oxygen has been scavenged, but I think your color will be affected.

You can also prevent avocado's from turning black with heat. If you heat avocados to a sufficient temperature, you will denature the enzymes that cause decoloration. I made a soup and added the avocado for just the last 5 - 10 minutes of cooking and they were still a bright yellow-green up until the point I ate all the leftovers (~10 days). I'm not sure what temperature the flesh has to reach, but with heat it's possible to make permanently green guacamole.

Wood/Casks / Re: Barrel with Vinegar Smell / Acetic
« on: February 14, 2013, 08:41:48 PM »
I had recent infection in my 5 gal barrel recently, so I did a few things. First I rinsed it out with a lot of boiling water, just to remove gunk, but maybe it helped kill some of the bacteria/mold that was in there. Then I used Barol Kleen, which is a strong alkali, and let that sit overnight. Rinsed out the barrel the next morning with water and a citric acid solution to neutralize any leftover barol kleen solution. Finally, I filled it to the brim with a citric acid/sodium metabisulfite "holding" solution that I'm hoping is both killing any leftover bugs and preventing them from coming back. I've yet to fill it with beer, so I can't say if my procedure worked.

In your case boiling water would kill some of the bugs at first , but as soon at the temp drops below ~140F then the bacteria can get going again so water probably isn't the best. The barol kleen stuff seems like it should help, but it will strip away some of the character. Something in between would be alcohol, any neutral spirit (vodka/everclear) over 80 proof should work. You might not need 5 gallons, but it would be important to keep all the interior surfaces wet. So a few good shakes, or rotating the barrel often would prevent you from having to buy 5 gallons of everclear.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Looking for BJCP folk
« on: February 14, 2013, 08:28:35 PM »
Could you explain a little bit about the website? It seems like an online version of a local homebrew club, sort of?

Ingredients / Re: honey malt
« on: February 13, 2013, 03:36:14 PM »
Next time you are in your LHBS and they have Honey malt, do sample a few kernels.  It does have an amazingly honey-like flavor that does make it to the beer.  I agree that this is one of those grains that should be utilized in moderation.  It would be easy to overdo.

I agree...a little bit goes a long way.
But it's great stuff and it finds its way into a lot of my 'standard' beers in varying amounts.    It adds a particularly appealing richness to the  brews I design specifically for long aging.

What is the highest % you have used in a beer? I have always stuck around 5% and have never thought that it was very noticeable. I would like to use more but don't want to overdo like many warn is easy to do

I used ~10% honey malt, along with 5% victory, in a borderline APA/IPA that turned out very well. It might have been a little sweeter than a typical APA, but the higher bitterness countered it perfectly and it certainly was not an over-the-top sweetness or honey character.

Ingredients / Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
« on: February 08, 2013, 10:26:38 PM »
Hey there!

So I've recently bought a house with an acre and a half.  Previously I've rented my friends basement where I have 3.5 year old hops growing in his back yard.  This spring, I plan to do some transplanting (and plant a few additional varieties).  This previous (HOT) summer wasn't a great harvest due to the severe drought, but I did notice that the vine that caught the first shade from a nearby tree in late afternoon has always performed better.  I'm wondering what % of sunlight works best for growing hops.  Since I'm starting anew, I want to plant right from the ground up.  Any techniques/tips that can get my brew garden off on the right foot?


As a fellow Colorado hop grower (Fort Collins), I would probably recommend at least some partial shade in the mid- to late-afternoon to give them a break in the hottest part of the day. Of the four hop plants I have two have a southern exposure with no shade from 7 am to 5 pm during the summer, and two are on the west so they get full sun from noon to about 5-6 pm, and they all did horrible this year. Partly from the heat, drought, and a minor spider mite problem. Spider mites, by the way, thrive in hot, dry conditions (i.e. Colorado), so if you see them, take action fast. Anyway, I think in Colorado some relief from the heat is good. Or as gsandel mentioned, they'd probably do well in full sun provided the ground is partially shaded to prevent too much moisture loss.

Also, of the four varieties I have the two best performers for me have been Cascade and Brewer's Gold. My chinook is okay, but its a few years younger so it isn't as established. I also have a hallertau, but I can tell that it struggles in the heat and I wish I'd planted it in partial shade.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP Tasting Exam: Wow! That was hard!
« on: January 23, 2013, 04:10:29 AM »
I retook the exam (though it was my first time with the new format) on Saturday as well. First thing I would say is practice writing scoresheets, especially if you've never judged (as a judge or apprentice) a homebrew competition, that's the only way to get a feel for the timing and the descriptive language. The BJCP exam pages have some really nice examples of scoresheets from experienced judges that are worth reading. Second, and I found this out the hard way on Saturday, if you're unsure of what a type of beer should taste like from reading the style guide, then go taste one if at all possible. There were two styles on the exam I took where I had a vague notion of what they should taste like, but it had been so long since I'd had a classic example that still I don't feel confident in my assessments. Overall, I feel okay about my chances, but I don't think I'll be hitting "national" any time soon.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP Tasting Exam
« on: December 24, 2012, 12:16:41 AM »
I'm taking the new tasting exam in January for the first time to try and level up (I passed the "legacy exam" previously). My current plan is to read all of the exam study materials from the BJCP website first, right now I'm about 2/3 through the main exam study guide. Then I was going to read through the official style guides and "Classic Styles", which might be all the reading I'll do. I'm definitely going to fill out a bunch of scoresheets, too.

Ingredients / Re: Making Invert Sugar: table sugar vs. raw sugar
« on: December 19, 2012, 08:04:08 PM »
To me, light brown sugar ("Sugar in the Raw", turbinado sugar, demerara, etc) has a distinct, but light, molasses flavor compared to white sugar, so depending on the percentage you might pick up some of that flavor. If that's not the intent, you'd probably be better off with pure white sugar. Also, the sugar should invert well before it starts to caramelize, so if a light beer is important, definitely pull the sugar off the stove before it starts to color.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: getting started
« on: December 15, 2012, 01:26:59 AM »
Buckets are certainly much easier clean, but I like my glass carboys for extended ageing. They are pretty heavy when full, so if you go glass I would definitely invest in a brew hauler.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Fermentation Temperature wih WLP028
« on: December 14, 2012, 10:22:35 PM »
If you put it in a closet at 50-52F, the yeast will stay dormant.  It's too cold. 

Is that for ale yeasts in general or WLP028 specifically? I'm mostly worried about the yeast activity driving up the temperature for the first day or two.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Fermentation Temperature wih WLP028
« on: December 14, 2012, 07:07:39 PM »
First off put a blow off tube on the sucker. Its gonna go nuts. Second I would probably start the fermentation in the cold closet and keep on eye on it. If it takes off then wait till fermentation peeks then move it to the next warmer spot as it finishes up. Last let when its slowed down move it to the warmest spot to let it clean up.

That seems like a good plan, I'm definitely most concerned about the first 24-36 hours. I fermented a golden strong at 65F ambient, but the second night it the carboy rose to 73F and the beer ended up a little hot. In the closet with a damp towel on it might help that first night or two.

Yeast and Fermentation / Fermentation Temperature wih WLP028
« on: December 14, 2012, 03:56:25 PM »
On Monday I'm going to pour 5 gallons of strong scotch ale (OG ~ 1.125) onto a yeast cake of White Labs WLP028 Edinburgh ale yeast, so the pitching rate should be pretty spot on for the gravity. My only question is what temperature to ferment the beer, depending on which room I stick the carboy the ambient temperature can vary from 59-61F, 62-64F, and a closet that drops to 50-52F at night. I've read numerous posts (and the scotch ale book) suggesting fermentation temps from 55-60F for this kind of beer, but White Labs says this yeast does not ferment well below 62F. Any suggestions?

All Things Food / Re: Kitchen Knives
« on: December 01, 2012, 11:26:02 PM »
I have a Shun 8" santoku and a Shun Pro 10 1/2" yanagiba knife, and I highly recommend them. They are extremely sharp and they're well-balanced. They'll run about $120-160 each, depending on sale price. I haven't used the Victorinox Forschner Fibrox, but, as already mentioned, they're the preferred knife of America's Test Kitchen and performed just as well as $100+ knives in their tests.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Topping off wort
« on: November 26, 2012, 07:36:42 PM »
I can only do a partial boil so I always top off with ~1.5 gallons of cold water, usually straight from the kitchen faucet, for a 5 gallon batch and I have never had a sanitation problem. For my situation, if the 3.5 gallons of boiled wort has cooled to ~200F by the time I add 1.5 gallons of cold water (60F), then the final temp should be 200*3.5+60*1.5 = (final temp)*5, or ~158F if my math is right, which may be high enough to kill some bacteria but certainly won't get everything. If you're worried, best practice is certainly to pre-boil and chill enough water to cover your losses, but I would guess the sourness isn't from the top-off water.

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