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Messages - jjflash

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Equipment and Software / Re: New gear just for sours?
« on: September 20, 2014, 08:40:26 AM »
Yep, always have two separate sets of plastic.  For sours all plastic has bright yellow tape markings. I never worry about the glass and stainless steel as that is comfortably interchangeable.  I always store the sour plastics away from everything else.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Moldy Star San
« on: September 18, 2014, 08:28:20 PM »
On the bottom of the 5 gallon plastic bucket lid all the time.  Clean it off and it comes right back. Change the StarSan solution about every 3 months.  I always check the pH and it is less than 3.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Artificial Fruit Flovoring
« on: August 30, 2014, 09:53:17 AM »
I like to use the fruit flavorings in addition to real fruit.  If the beer falls a little short of my expectation of fruit flavor, I will add a small addition of the artificial fruit flavor to pump it up.  Raspberry wheat is a good example - seems like no matter how much raspberries I add it never quite hits the mark.  Add a touch of the fruit flavorings, perhaps a bit of sweetener, and it improves the taste.  I never use artificial fruit flavorings by itself.

Been using these for the past year.  No more hop bags or loose hops in the kettle. They are the best for hop and spice additions. I slip two into my kettle.  One for FWH and the second for any later hop pellets or whole hops or spice additions.  I have use them when I add piloncillo sugars.  Instead of bashing the cones into small chunks, I pitch the cone into the basket and it quickly dissolves.  No mess.  The seams are welded and they have stood the test of hard use.  I recommend them highly.

Ingredients / Re: Spice extracts in vodka
« on: August 09, 2014, 03:51:46 PM »
The only time I have found vodka spice extracts to be beneficial is my pumpkin beer.  Spices are quite variable in strength from year to year, source, and as the spice ages.  Cinnamon is a good example of this.  I use the usual spices in my pumpkin beer in the kettle.  If the final beer is not quite up to my flavor expectations, as is often the case, I will use additions of vodka spice extract to hit the flavor sweet spot.  I am very satisfied with the beer using this method.

Wood/Casks / Re: Bourbon Barrel Aging
« on: May 17, 2014, 06:48:03 AM »
FYI - I have used sulfur sticks in a few barrels and there has been no detectable flavor issues.  You need to use only a very small amount, not a whole stick in a 5 gallon barrel - which is probably the key.

My preferred method currently is to get freshly dumped whiskey / bourbon barrels and immediately fill them using no rinse between.  After beer has been in the barrel and later transferred out I rinse well with hot water, 160 degrees plus, to get out the dregs.  Perhaps may kill off some of the bugs.  Then I will pour whiskey into the barrel to impart that bourbon barrel taste back into the barrel.  I save this bourbon and reuse it many times.  After a couple uses the barrel gets impregnated with the sour bugs no matter how well I care for them.  They get relegated to the lambic barrel collection at that point.  I also drill a hole in the head all my barrels and add spigots to make transfers easy.  Barrel stands that allow you to stack barrels one on top of another are great too.

You may well be able to find Wyeast 1056 in the local homebrew shops manufactured 2 weeks ago. (Does anyone really still use this yeast?  Guess so as its always recently dated.) Not usually true with my choices such as Wyeat 3787 and Wyeast 1762. Recently in my two local shops, these were dated 3 months and 4+ months out.  I note that when they have several packages of 3787, they seem to sit on the self until sold regardless of the date.  Even on my recent order last week from a big internet homebrew shop, both these yeasts came to me 2 months old.  Personally, I would like to see the bar raised and get yeast in its prime, no later than 2 weeks from manufacture.  That should be the new standard.

Sent an email to Wyeast.  They do not sell directly to the public as expected.

Error on my part about above Chi Company post.  They were selling White Labs yeast directly rather than Wyeast.

Done with my rant.  Still looking for a source for fresh Wyeast, may have to rethink this and start using White Lab products.

Equipment and Software / Re: Filters - Who does it and what's best
« on: April 27, 2014, 07:20:59 AM »
To answer the question "what's best".  My vote is the Buon Vino Super Jet. I have used this model for about three years now.  Designed for filtering wine and works great for beer.  Self priming pump makes it quick and easy to use.  Minimal beer loss. 

I like using this filter on my light colored beer - Belgian Golden Strong and Belgian Triple. 

I keg most of my beer.  To my palate I can taste quite a difference in the 1st, 6th and 12th glass of beer coming out of my kegs.  Despite using Supermass HB and Biofine Clear, the bottom of the keg always had significant residue.  The dip tube picks up some of this residue and taints the flavor in my beer.  Others may not notice but I certainly can tell.  With filtering there is only a very thin, paint like residue on the bottom.  The beer is considerable more homogenous in flavor from start to finish.  The things we do in search of perfection.....

I am so tired of going to my local homebrew shop and finding the yeast I want, only to discover its been sitting in the refrigerator for three months plus.  So I then order online from the big mail order retailers, only to find it is two months plus since the production date.  I feel cheated buying yeast at $7 / pack when its viability is 50% or less.  When making big beers that means using multiple packs and multi-step propagation.  Then there is the yeast vitality issue when its been poorly handled, (got too warm sitting in a box somewhere).  Surely there must be some retailer out there that will sell me fresh yeast packs made last week.  I remember when the Chi Company use to sell Wyeast shipped directly from the factory.  Would love to find that kind of deal again.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Commercial Kegerators
« on: April 17, 2014, 12:23:52 PM »
Bought the cheap Danby from Home Depot 8 years ago for about $200.  Immediately switched out the single tower to a dual tower with Perlick taps as it fits two Corny kegs easily inside.  Continues to work great without a problem all these years.  Wish I had bought two, or maybe even three.

So that's what they make the search button for.....

Change of URL.  Went into panic mode when I couldn't find the site....

I have been using this great yeast calculator located at for the past couple years.  Went there today and it is gone!  This was the best yeast calculator I ever found, easy multistep volume additions for making really big starters.  I feel lost without it.  Anyone know where it has gone to?

Wood/Casks / Re: Anyone ever purchased a barrel from
« on: February 26, 2014, 09:44:14 PM »
I bought one 5.28 gallon barrel with brass hops from them.  They did a really nice job burning my logo on the head.  However, the damn thing leaked terrible from the start.  I soaked it in water for days, I soaked it totally submerged in water, I pounded the hops down tighter on the staves.  Still leaked terrible.  They did send me a replacement with steel hops.  This one also leaked terrible from the start.  Now I had two leaky barrels!  Then tried the French method of repeatedly putting boiling water into the keg.  This finally stopped the leaking.  Took me three months working on them to finally make them water tight.  When I look at the staves you can see they do not fit as tight as better made barrels.  After this bad experience I have stayed with used barrels and have had no leakage problems with them.

Thank you everyone for your valuable input.  The proper mash pH and sparge pH is a given, no arguments there.  I have failed to qualify my question, by salts I am referring to the most common water additions most home brewers use- CaCl2 and CaSO4.  There seems to be three different addition methods.
1)  Additions to the mash and sparge.
2)  Additions to the mash and kettle.
3)  Additions to the mash, sparge and kettle.
I still don't understand the reasons to use one method over the other.  I understand most calcium additions become bonded to the mash, approximately 65%-75%.  So only 25%-35% of calcium salt additions to the mash and sparge actually make it to the kettle.  What benefit do I get from switching my calcium salts additions from the sparge to the kettle?  More calcium in the kettle obviously.  Benefits the yeast.  Does this result in some type of flavor benefit also? 

Found this from A J DeLange at HomeBrewTalk responding to the same question.

"Most breweries do not treat the sparge and mash water separately. Why would they go to extra effort (costing more money) if they didn't have to? If they treat the water at all they treat the whole volume and just brew with it. Similarly most don't make kettle additions if they don't have to.

I think it's the same in home brewing. If you don't have to treat separately, why bother with it?

So perhaps the better questions are "When do you have to treat sparge water separately?" and "When do you need to make additions to the kettle?" The obvious answer to the first question is "When pH rises too rapidly during sparge such that pH is above 6 before runoff extract is as low as desired." This would happen with alkaline water but if you have alkaline water you should be taking steps to reduce alkalinity for mashing so you shouldn't need to treat the sparge water separately. The usual method by which today's home brewer "decarbonates" water is by diluting it with low ion content water. If that's how you are doing it you could prepare your mash water with whatever dilution you need to get the alkalinity you want for mashing and then dilute whatever is left over further for sparging. Or just sparge with RO water. I think it preferable to make the sparge water as much like the mash water as you can as you presumably had stylistic considerations in mind when you came up with the mash water profile.

As to the second question: the answer would be essentially the same i.e. don't do anything unless the pH is too high. Very few home brewers even check kettle pH let alone adjust for it. As long as it is less than 5.2 (or perhaps even 5.3) everything should be fine. If it rises higher than that then some acid can be added.

Of course if one is doing something special, such a making a Gose, extra salts can be dosed into the kettle to get the desired flavor(s)."

and this post from Martin Brungard also at HomeBrewTalk:

"I feel that mashing and sparging water should generally be treated the same. The only difference is the amount of alkalinity in each water. The alkalinity in the mashing water should be keyed to the needs of the grist, while the sparging water should always have low alkalinity."

These are the two best experts I know of for water issues.

Bottom line:  Treat mash water and sparge water equally with appropriate salts.  Kettle salt additions are rarely done / needed.

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