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Messages - richardt

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The Pub / Re: Logo Critique
« on: May 03, 2010, 08:06:04 AM »
I feel your pain, I just got done with a 2-month long logo deliberation. :-\
According to marketeers, logos should be an easily recognizable extension of your "brand."
For example, Red Triangle Logo = Bass Ale (first patented logo in the UK).
For those reasons, I like 1 and 5 best. 
2 - 4 are "too busy."  They're "artwork", not logos.  No disrespect to the artist, though.
It should be something you can see on a sign from 300 feet away and instantly recognize as "YellowHammer!"

The first thing that I think of when you say "yellow hammer" is a big golden THOR hammer!

I think that'd be smashing! ;)

In re "cold sparging the black malt," is this approach recommended to reduce the astringency (much like cold water percolation of coffee)?

Why not just steep the black malt separately (i.e., with nylon mesh bags) with what ever temps you prefer and continue the sparging at more ideal temps (i.e., 168 F) to facilitate lautering?  Just add the separately-steeped black malt directly to the mash tun part way through the sparging process if you want to try and filter out all the small particles or, if you are using a very fine nylon mesh bag, then dump straight into the kettle.

I haven't done this process, but I'd appreciate any and all comments.

Beer Recipes / Re: NZ Monteith's Radler Clone
« on: May 01, 2010, 12:50:20 PM »
I love Radlers (I think it is German for "bicycle").  It was a deep yellow/golden beer.
I understand it to be half beer (i.e., Munich Helles) and half carbonated lemonade.  But I'm not 100% sure of that.
I enjoyed many of them in the beer tents outside Kaufburen, Bavaria.

I've made it at home with any of the readily available carbonated lemonades.
I don't think the base beer matters; IMHO, it certainly works with any balanced or malty beer.  I don't recall it being hoppy.

Radlers are simply a great all-day (or lawnmower) beer in the hot summers.  Great on a long round of golf, too.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« on: April 30, 2010, 11:48:08 AM »
I agree with you there (CO2 positive pressure).  That's why I use the sanitized inverted plastic cups or gallon jugs sometimes in lieu of the airlock (especially if it is fouled up).

I once was short an airlock and plunger, so I improvised and made an aluminum foil "blow off tube."
Even though the ID of this apparatus was at least 2 inches, the krausen was so vigorous (like the pic in the OP), and the foam so dense, that it carried the aluminum foil tube off the carboy.

By the time I discovered it had happened, it was still in high krausen, so I was able to take a sanitized spoon and skim off the krausen that had escaped the carboy, clean the neck and lip with isopropyl alcohol wipes, and switch to the inverted cups.

That's when I decided to switch to a heavier, readily available, and easier to sanitize apparatus (plastic cup or gallon jug) when the situation called for it.  I've not had a problem with a blow off tube or airlock popping off since.  Plus, I use the anti-foaming agent (Fermcap-S)--which I earnestly recommend to anyone who doesn't have much headspace in the fermenter and/or doesn't have a fermentation fridge.  My wife tolerates my brewing, but she definitely appreciates that I'm not as messy anymore.

Ingredients / Re: Post your water report
« on: April 30, 2010, 08:39:25 AM »
You're where I was about 3 months ago.  Don't give up--you're well on your way to understanding how to make 95% of your beer (the water)taste better.

Here's what I'd suggest:

For those who want to delve into it more, there are numerous forums (i.e., AHA) and articles online (John Palmer's "How to Brew" and deLange's Alkalinity articles are superb). It is a lot of chemistry and it does take a while to get the concepts, particularly when they're buried in a bunch of equations (I like that JP proves his recommendations, but it does make my eyes glass over). Greg Noonan's book (New Brewing Lager Beer, Brewers Publications, 1996) has 40 pages on water treatment alone.

Bottom line:
Figure out your water profile for where you live.
Figure out what water profile you need for the style of beer you're brewing. I used BeerSmith.
Get an inline activated charcoal water filter (the RV filters are about 20-25 bucks at Walmart in the car section)and hook that up to your hose--keep the flow rate low. Get a small plastic hose shut-off valve attachment at HD for a buck-fifty so you can control it better than the spigot by the house.
Get some water cooler jugs (empty ones are about 7 bucks at Walmart and they come with caps). The water supply places like Culligan can do the same. RO water is just 30 cents a gallon at Publix. The amount of distilled or RO water versus local water varies by water profile required by the recipe. Adjust accordingly.
Buy your brew salt additions.  Yes, get them all—the 5 major ones are chalk, gypsum, calcium chloride, baking soda, and Epson Salt. The last two you might be able to find at the store, but the first three, and any others, you'll need to go to your LHBS or online. They're not expensive, at all—usually less than 4 bucks for 4 ounces.
Buy a scale to measure very minute amounts of salts—usually less than 20 bucks online.
These are good brewing water chemistry websites to check out if you want to do the calculations and you don't have BeerSmith. ... ulator.xls

Ingredients / Re: Pink Peppercorm Saison
« on: April 30, 2010, 08:13:32 AM »
I'm curious:  Does it matter if peppercorns are whole or crushed.  If so, why? 
Are the oils or phenols on or near the surface of the peppercorn and, therefore, extractable in the beer? 
Does crushing increase utilization (i.e., by breaking the outer layer, or increased surface area, or access to the internal part of the corn)?
Does adding it to the last 5 minutes of the boil do anything more than sanitize the peppercorns? 
If so, then recipes should take into account pepper "utilization" by mentioning when they're added, how long they stay in the wort or beer, and whether they're whole or crushed (e.g. coarse, medium, or fine).

How about other grains or spices (e.g., Grains of Paradise, Star Anise, Juniper Berries, Ginger)?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« on: April 29, 2010, 08:23:28 PM »
This is why I always put the carboys in the tub!  

The purpose of the airlock is to keep airborne bacteria and wild yeast out of the wort.
When the airlock gets contaminated with krausen, you should clean it.

I wouldn;t say it is "contaminated" with krausen though. As long as there is positive pressure coming out of the carboy it is almost impossible for an infection to take hold. If, for instance, he has his fermenter in a "wet area" and doesn;t mind cleaning up the miess he could simply leave it until the krausen starts to drop.

Plus, (I'll say it again just to make sure everyone is listening  :P ): if you pitch the right amount yeast (ie: that usually means making a starter with liquid yeast) at teh right temp (that means low to mid 60s for most ale strains) you won't get very many blow offs. I very, very rarely get one. If, OTOH, you pitch your yeast and leave it in your 70 degree living room with no way to reign in the temp - yeah, its probably going to go all over the place (and give you a beer with more off flavors to boot.)
Call it what you want.  I use Better Bottles for fermentation and a three-piece airlock filled with cheap vodka.  The lid of the airlock has holes in it.  The cheap vodka presents a hostile environment to wild bacteria or yeast that may drift into the airlock via the small holes in the lid.  If Krausen or wort joins the party in the airlock—then I’m not so sure it’s such a hostile environment anymore.  The airlock tends to have some of its liquid aspirated back into the bottle during handling of the airlock stopper and/or the better bottle (e.g., during transfers).
Call me over-protective of my beer or even paranoid, but I’m not chancing a potentially contaminated solution within my airlock being aspirated into my Better Bottle.  As soon as I see a “contaminated” or “defiled” airlock, it gets cleaned and replaced ASAP.
I wish I had a temp-controlled fermentation fridge, but, for now, it’s the tub.  My Belgians don’t mind.
And, since I've began using Fermcap-S (anti-foaming agent) for both my yeast starters and my fermenters, I've not had an issue with excessive krausen, even with the reduced headspace of the Better Bottles (6 gal) or even the SS Corny kegs (5 gal), causing a blow-off.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: What's going on here? (Pic)
« on: April 29, 2010, 10:21:06 AM »
This is why I always put the carboys in the tub!  

The purpose of the airlock is to keep airborne bacteria and wild yeast out of the wort.
When the airlock gets contaminated with krausen, you should clean it.
Back when I was just getting started with brewing, I stored the Mr Beer keg on the upper shelf of the hallway closet near the kitchen.  On a batch of RIS, the lid got blocked and blew a bunch of beer all over the hallway closet and went all over a nice wool/cashmere winter overcoat.  Took a long time to clean that off.
Experience is such a brutal teacher!

I sanitize a plastic cup and place it over the opening after removing the airlock [+stopper].
A small kid's cup works fine for covering the airlock hole on flat bucket lids, while a larger and heavier [stadium-18 oz] cup or plastic gallon pitcher works better for carboys and better bottles.
It's good and quick fix if you're in a hurry out the door and don't have time to clean the mess properly.

When you do have the time, clean the airlock and wipe the carboy neck with isopropyl alcohol and reattach.

Equipment and Software / Re: Glass or plastic?
« on: April 28, 2010, 03:23:40 PM »
Stainless Steel   8)

My ultimate goal is to get rid of as much glass and plastic as possible. SS combines many of the great qualities (easy to clean, durable, uv resistant, etc).

Agree!  I've purchased some modified 5 gallon corny keg lids that have a small round hole in place of the vent and one can use a small rubber stopper w/ a hole in it and an airlock.

A 5 gallon corny doesn't leave a lot of headspace, though, if one is brewing in 5 or 10 gallon batches (and using one or two cornys respectively).  The solution for that is to use Fermcap-S (an antifoaming agent) to keep the krausen under control.  Use 1-2 drops per gallon.

I did have one situation where the krausen/hop bits clogged the three piece and shot the airlock towards the ceiling.  Fortunately it was in the shower tub, so cleanup was pretty easy.  But I am going to have to fix the ceiling--the process of removing the brown crud also took off the texture and paint.

One may want to make the openings bigger on the airlock inlet to reduce the chances of this happening.  I routinely fill the airlock witih cheap vodka rather than sanitizer--just in case some gets back in the beer (more of an issue with the better bottle than the SS corny keg.)

Equipment and Software / Re: Glass or plastic?
« on: April 28, 2010, 01:24:37 PM »
I understand the pluses of using glass (cleaning, visualizing the fermentation process/results, and affordability).  But, I've seen firsthand too many glass injuries as a surgeon and simply cannot afford the risk such an injury would cause to my livelihood and ability to support the family.  Statistically, I don't know that handling a full carboy with wet hands or wet floors is any riskier than driving your car 50 mph on a road.  But, if it happens to you, it's 100%; and glass (even pyrex) cuts quick and deep like a hot knife through butter.  My wife nearly severed her tendon on her big toe dropping a pyrex bowl from 2.5 feet off the floor when she was just taking it out of the dishwasher.  It can happen.

I've only used Better Bottles.  I agree with the above comments about cleaning carefully.  Soak the bottles with warm water and oxyclean to help get the caked-on trub off the shoulders and neck of the better bottle.  Go easy on the carboy brush--the wire rod and bristles can scratch it.  Use the warm water and oxyclean to help soften things up significantly (i.e., soak for hours or days) before scrubbing, and it will come right off.

The better bottle is flexible.  I've turned it over to drain and as the warm air inside it cooled, it created suction and sucked in the paper towel as I lifted it off the table.  No permanent damage, but I suggest a little PVC ring, plastic bucket, or CD plastic case to hold the carboy off the table during drying so the pressure can equalize.

Also, the plastic is not rated for boiling water!  I made the mistake once of running the hot water from the Immersion Chiller into the better bottle while the cell phone rang and I didn't pay attention to the temp (too hot, i.e., above 200 F)) and it melted the better bottle enough to cause a tilt (I haven't come up with a name for it yet, like Pisa or Titanic).  It still gets the job done, but it looks pitiful.

The Pub / Re: Homebrew in the Classroom
« on: April 26, 2010, 07:15:13 PM »
Every college Microbiology class should make beer.  I know my microbiology professor did. 
I still think that golden nectar I drank out of a beaker was the best homebrew I ever had. 
I realized then that there was much more to beer than BMC products.

I recently brewed 10 gallons of Saison.  Split batched and pitched Wyeast 3711 (French Saison) into 5 gallons, and Wyeast 3724 (Belgian SaisonTM) into 5 gallons.  After primary fermentation, I split again into 2.5 gallon batches and did 2.5 gallons of each unspiced, and 2.5 gallons of each w Grains of Paradise, Malabar peppercorns, Star Anise, Juniper Berries, and peels of Lemons, Limes, and Grapefruits.  The aromas were amazing--I looked forward to depressurizing the corny kegs each day (Used the kegs as secondary fermenters).

The 3711 ferments fast and drops clear (temps 70-74 F); the Wyeast website lists 77-83% attenuation, and low flocculation.
The 3724 ferments slower, gets stuck around SG 1.035, and glacially drifts down (like 0.010 points per week or two) at temps in the mid 70's.  It remains cloudy ("mit hefe") and has not dropped clear, yet (and it has been nearly a month).  The Wyeast website lists 76-80% attenuation, and low flocculation.  Interestingly, it seems to recommend a higher temp range (70-95 F).

Both are good tasting up until bottling.  The real test comes in a few weeks when others will judge the beer in competition.
I'll let you know if some miracle has occurred within the bottle.
All other things being equal, I prefer the 3711 since it ferments quickly and drops clear, while the 3724 does not.

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