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Messages - jjflash

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Commercial Kegerators
« on: April 17, 2014, 07:23:52 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 27, 2014, 04:44:14 AM »
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.

Just got done reading the Brewers Publication "Water" hoping to enlighten me on this question.  Couldn't extract the answer.  Mash salts I well understand.  Calcium 50 - 100ppm, perhaps 85ppm is best target for most my beers using my hard water pH 7.8.  Acidify the sparge to <5.8.  Any benefit to adding sparge salts or kettle salts?  Perhaps only if you use RO water or have really soft water?  I have the impression, in my beers, either sparge salts or kettle salts just make the beer taste minerally.  Don't think it adds any flavor benefit to my hard water. So mash salts only for the hard water brewer?  RO / soft water then add kettle salts?  Is this the conventional wisdom to date?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Oxygenation in first few days?
« on: October 19, 2013, 07:24:29 PM »
My current technique for big beers is to add oxygen as it goes into the primary fermenter, then re-dose that evening just before I go to bed, about 6 hours later.  Next morning active fermentation is evident.  Has made significant contribution to lowering my final gravity and reduced my occasional stuck fermentation issues with those finicky yeast strains. Have also tried adding oxygen the next morning before active fermentation started with the same results.

All Grain Brewing / Re: stuck mash on Blichmann Top Tier system
« on: September 02, 2013, 02:13:25 PM »
I use the Tower of Power with my Top Tier with Chugger pumps for recirculation. My system is sensitive to kettle heat and rate of flow which can result in a stuck mash.  I find 1.25 gallons/minute to be the best flow for the Blichmann 20gallon kettle. I also needed to increase my mill gap quite a bit. Occasionally will still get sputters without full blown stuck mash. 

Equipment and Software / Re: how to connect to natural gas
« on: August 24, 2013, 09:20:45 PM »
Try  I have not tried their hoses but I am happy with the burner I bought from them.

Bought a long one from Tejas Smokers for my natural gas fired Blichmann Top Tier system.  Works perfect and pleased as punch with mine.

All Grain Brewing / anyone add zinc sulfate / zinc chloride to wort?
« on: August 17, 2013, 05:21:07 PM »
Just read the latest BYO issue and Chris White has an article entitled "Brewer's Yeast & Brett Fermentation Flavors". Great article and a good issue.  Quoting from the article: "Many breweries make it a practice of adding food grade zinc sulfate, zinc chloride, or Servomyces (dead yeast loaded with zinc) to their wort at knock out in order to prevent acetaldehyde off-flavors."  I have tried Servomyces ($$) before to improve fermentation and wasn't impressed it made much of a difference to my beers.  Production breweries are trying to get these beers to tap quickly, so makes sense in that scenario rather than leaving the beer of the yeast cake to clean up acetaldehyde.  Little zinc is suppose to be good for general yeast health. Trying to figure if this addition benefits homebrewers in any way.     

Equipment and Software / Re: Star-San Dependence
« on: June 29, 2013, 02:25:53 PM »
After brewing for a while our equipment builds up crud in every crack and crevice. StarSan of course will not penetrate crud to sanitize.  I have always used hot PBW and oxyclean on my gear and thought I was doing an excellent job of cleaning.  Recently I used TM Desanamax caustic cleaner I was amazed at all the crud that came out of the places I could not see to clean! Personally I now believe failure to thoroughly clean is more of an issue rather than resistance to the sanitizer. 

After researching this issue I have a couple suggestions for cleaning the Therminator.

First of all I am convinced it is impossible to really clean the Therminator thoroughly due to the design of sealed plate chillers.  Since the chiller can never be taken apart there will always be trapped particles in the plate system.  I have run hot PBW, backwashed, baked in the oven, more PBW, more backwash and thought I had my Therminator reasonably clean. Was I wrong.  I saw this new caustic cleaner called TM Desenamax at Williams Brewing. Cool cleaner that is purple when clean, blue when dirty, and yellow when very dirty.  I ran two batches thru my Therminator and I was totally shocked all the debris that came out! I know Blichmann does not recommend caustic cleaners but this cleaner was fantastic.

Second, the only way to prevent reoccurrences is to prevent debris from entering the Therminator.  I use the Beer3 hopback just before my Therminator with the concept it would act as a filter when filled with whole hops.  The problem with this hopback is that the false bottom has 1/8 inch holes that allow too much whole hops to enter the Therminator.  My solution to that problem was to place a 400 micron canister filter in the hopback.  Mine came from Arbor Fabricating - Chad the owner/fabricator is awesome to work with and his products are the best quality.

Equipment and Software / Re: Inline Aeration
« on: June 16, 2013, 10:02:20 PM »
Been using that same Beer3 inline system for years.  Works great. Use mine with oxygen, tho an air pump would surely be fine also.  Plumb into your system so it is the last before the fermentor.  You will never over oxygenate the wort with O2. Limited to maximum wort saturation and prompt desaturation. Over oxygenation is only an issue with yeast propagation using O2, and even then only with yeast repitch. Aerate / oxygenate the wort all you want.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottling for Competitions?
« on: May 27, 2013, 02:47:05 PM »
+1 Blichmann beergun

Increase the keg CO2 pressure by 0.5 to 1.0 volumes as you are shooting for bottle beer pressure and not lower keg pressure beer in the bottles.   

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