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Messages - hopfenundmalz

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Equipment and Software / Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« on: December 07, 2014, 05:39:16 AM »
Jeff, no sign of scorching at all. I pulled the stick out of the wort and put it right into a pitcher of warm water to rinse it off. There was a small bit of hop residue at the top that wiped off easily. If it got pretty gross I'd probably give it a PBW soak. Its only 1000 watts. I could see a bigger element potentially being a higher risk for scorching.

Jimmy, it goes in a normal 120V outlet. I just plug it into the GFI outlet next to my stove top. If you can manage it, you could always use a second heater to double your output. At under 40 bucks apiece it's a manageable investment.

You would want to have the second heater on another circuit if 15 amps, and it would be pushing it on a 20 amp circuit.

Thanks for the feedback on the element in the wort, Eric. I might have to try that with that to speed up getting to a boil.

Equipment and Software / Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« on: December 06, 2014, 07:55:34 PM »

For about 8 gallons of strike water in the cold garage it takes about 3.5 hours + to get to temp. Too much coffee for me.  ;D

Equipment and Software / Re: Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« on: December 06, 2014, 05:03:49 PM »
Jimmy K,

One of these and a heavy duty outdoor Christmas light timer allow me to wake up and be ready to mash in. Been doing that for years. When it is pulled from the strike water it goes into the sparge water to start heating that and save on propane.

Eric, any signs of scorching on the element, or extra cleaning required?  I never had the courage to try it in the wort.

always used a copper wort chiller to cool my wort. effective, just takes a bit more time to get down to 50-60F and uses a ton of well water. i have run my input line into ice to chill the well water further- that helps but not as fast as I'd like it be.

for those who have gone beyond the wort chiller, what are some preferred options and additions to cooling wort quickly- to me that's about 10-15 minutes vs. 30+ minutes.

I still use an immersion chiller, but I use it in conjunction with a March pump to do recirculated chilling.  I can get 6 gal. from boiling to 60F in 10-15 min with my well water.  Although I bought the pump specifically for this, once I had it I found I could use it for other stuff, too.

I have a 50 Ft immersion chiller with the Jamil Z. return that will move the wort, which causes better convection of heat from the wort to the chiller. It will take 10 gallons down to <65F in <14.5 minutes in the winter. Summer not as fast, heck a coupe years back with a hot summer you could not get to 65F here. Ice and a pond pump solves those situations.

Maximize the chiller area. Maximize the Delta T across the chiller (cold feed water)

Equipment and Software / Re: Refractometer Calibration
« on: December 01, 2014, 04:05:43 PM »
I don't know how good it is, but my LHBS has a cyber Monday sale that has a refractometer for $25, regular $89! Pulled the trigger. Will zero and check the calibration.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Over-oxygenating?
« on: December 01, 2014, 06:54:17 AM »
Were there a lot of bubbles coming to the top of the wort? If there were the O2 was not fully getting into the wort, you did end up with O2 in the headspace.

As other have said, I do 1 liter/min. for a 5 gallon beer.

Equipment and Software / Re: Refractometer Calibration
« on: November 30, 2014, 06:51:16 PM »

Adjusting the zero does not give you the gain (slope), and checking the gain at multiple points will show you if your instrument in linear. One learns this from every day practice over the years (until you are no longer doing hands on work).

What good is the refractometer if the gain is not linear?  I would imagine that really throws off the FG calculations too.  I wonder if that is why every model for determining FG is different: they all used their own variable refractometer.

Is there a solution?  Maybe buy a better refractometer?  Or is this a permanent flaw in the refraction through the prism? It seems odd that these tools have passed the test of time with wine, but they don't work with a standard curve using sucrose.


Buy a good one. Avoid dropping it - as I have done more than once! I must say that I have only broken 1 hydrometer in 22 years, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

It does give a quick check of the gravity, so it is expedient.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottling Logistics
« on: November 30, 2014, 08:33:50 AM »
I add to the bucket first and position the tubing to create a very gentle whirlpool.


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: First Year Hops
« on: November 29, 2014, 08:41:45 AM »
I live in SE MI, and the hops have always been in the ground.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Decreased efficiency observations?
« on: November 29, 2014, 06:42:32 AM »
I just want to comment that if the pH is in or close to the normal range, it has little influence. If the pH is very high, >6, then efficiency goes down in a hurry with higher pH. That is from a talk I saw a while back.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: How important is it to decant the starter?
« on: November 28, 2014, 07:45:04 AM »
It depends. If I have a 1.5 liter starter for an ale and am pressed for time I will pitch the whole thing, don't seem to be any problems. If I am doing a lager and have a 5 liter starter, well that is 25%+ of the beer, and since my starters are not the same grain bill and usually no hops, I will not dilute the recipe that much with starter liquid.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Impossabrew!
« on: November 28, 2014, 07:38:55 AM »
Welcome to the forum. Good advice here from good people.

Equipment and Software / Re: Fermentation Chamber
« on: November 27, 2014, 07:30:26 AM »
I only have single stage controller and a chest freezer. To raise temperature on my lagers for a D-rest, I set the rest temperature, say 65F, fill a couple gallon water jugs with hot tap water and put them in the freezer. If not enough heat added, I repeat the process the next day. Not set and forget, but it works fine. Got the idea from the many who add frozen water bottles to a cooler or a chamber to drop the temperature, so hey, doing the opposite works too!

Equipment and Software / Re: Refractometer Calibration
« on: November 26, 2014, 05:51:48 PM »
As a an engineer who had to calibrate his transducers every day, I have a comment on refractometer calibration.

Using your water of choice, distilled is often recommended, use that and set to zero Brix. You have zeroed the instrument. What about the gain? For a refractometer, you can check a 10% sugar solution (~1.040) by mixing water and sucrose, instructions are on the net. You might be surprised that the reading is off, I was. Then I tried 15 Brix and it was dead on. Diluted that to 10%, and it was off the same amount.

Adjusting the zero does not give you the gain (slope), and checking the gain at multiple points will show you if your instrument in linear. One learns this from every day practice over the years (until you are no longer doing hands on work).

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Lambic not getting sour
« on: November 26, 2014, 05:33:46 PM »
The straight lambics are 3 years old. Bugs and critters work slow.

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