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Messages - lazydog79

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What's Brewing This Weekend - 6/25
« on: June 25, 2010, 02:05:44 PM »
I had planned to brew an Oktoberfest today, but yeast problems are going to push me back to Tuesday.  I've got a CAP in secondary that'll get bottled tomorrow.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Lagering Times
« on: June 25, 2010, 02:00:44 PM »
Lots of good info as always.  Thanks guys.

+1  I'm getting ready to do my first full lager, so this is great information.  Thanks!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Smack Pack - No Swell blues
« on: June 25, 2010, 01:57:29 PM »
No foam, no nothing.  :'( One of these days, I'm going to get smart enough to quit ordering liquid yeast.  It just doesn't travel well - even with NB being 3-4 shipping days away.  Plus, to save a little money, I order a lot at once, meaning yeast ends up hanging out in my fridge longer than it should.  This has been my only option, though, as I don't have a LHBS, but I have recently found a local source for White Labs.  I think I'll be using that from now on.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Smack Pack - No Swell blues
« on: June 24, 2010, 07:28:28 PM »
So how long do you let it go before you declare a starter dead?  My starter is at 40+ hours with zero activity.  I've never had one go this long.  On the bright side, I'm glad I didn't just direct pitch this.  On the down side, I need to get my Oktoberfest going here so I'll have it in time.  I'm thinking I'll give it until tomorrow, then try to get more yeast.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Smack Pack - No Swell blues
« on: June 23, 2010, 02:43:45 AM »
Thanks for helping me make sure I'm on the right track.  I'm a bit of an amateur with the smack-packs - I usually buy White Labs, but I have heard good things about this Oktoberfest blend that Wyeast has and it doesn't have a White Labs equivalent.  Fortunately, it's summer, so my brew calendar is a little more flexible, but I want to get this done so it's ready by the last weekend of September.

I just got done pitching the yeast in my starter.  What I found inside was interesting.  I think the yeast was still good.  It didn't smell awesome, but four month old yeast rarely does.  What was interesting was the nutrient pouch inside.  Instead of one little pouch, I had two attached.  One was open on one end and the other still looked sealed but with nothing in it.  I think I might have gotten a defective one.  Oh well, as long as the yeastie-beasties still do their thing, I'm happy!

Yeast and Fermentation / Smack Pack - No Swell blues
« on: June 22, 2010, 08:55:53 PM »
I'm planning on brewing up an Oktoberfest Friday or Saturday.  I have a Wyeast Oktoberfest blend smack-pack.  The plan was to pitch it into a 3 qt starter today and brew this weekend.  I took it out of the fridge around noon today (3:30 now) and I have no swell.  I'm worried the inner pouch might have already been broken or the yeast is a too old (Feb. manufacture date).  Should I go ahead and pitch it in my starter and see what happens?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Acetaldehyde strikes again
« on: June 18, 2010, 02:32:42 PM »
Thanks for all the tips, guys.  I just pulled a sample of the CAP yesterday.  After transferring it to secondary, warming it up for a few days and slowly bringing it back down, I think it's going to clear up into something at least drinkable.  I've pretty much decided the problem is the water as has been suggested - it's the only common thread between batches.  I need to get it tested to be sure, but I'm thinking it's much closer to distilled than I first thought.  I think the very low mineral content of the water is causing the yeast to flocculate before their job is done.  In the future, I'm going to use my tap water with a tbsp or two of citric acid for my lighter beers.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Curious...part 2
« on: June 09, 2010, 12:50:58 PM »
I didn't sound of on your first post because I felt like so much of a small-fry!  :P  Turns out I'm not that bad.  I usually do 5 gallon batches as I am pretty much the sole consumer of my product.  I wouldn't know what to do with more beer!   Well, I would, but I know I shouldn't!  8)  I usually have somewhere between 4-6 different beers I'm drinking - I get bored too.

Time is a major issue for me as well.  Between work, parenting, etc, etc, I am doing good to get a brew a month or so off.  My goal is to produce enough for my own consumption.  As long as I get that done, I'm happy.  I also try to plan it out well.  For example, I'm planning on doing an Oktoberfest next week that will be occupying my fridge for a while.  Consequently, I tried to get all of my summer needs met beforehand.

As for 3 gallon batches, I would say the big pro of that is 1) as you said, space 2) more variety 3) an untested recipe or 4) something you don't want a lot of.  For awhile, I did 3 gallon batches of untested recipes so that if they were bad, I wouldn't have 2 cases of crap!  I got away from doing that, though, when my daughter was born.  Now, brew days are precious, and you can make 5 gallons in the time it takes you to make 3!  I will still do a 3 batch if it's something I just don't want 2+ cases of.

Bottom line - do what you do and don't worry about everybody else.  That's what is so great about homebrewing - you can go your own way.  I like the way the Norther Brewer blog said it best:  Prosit!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Vexed by Acetaldehyde/Esters
« on: June 03, 2010, 03:14:56 AM »
Good insights all, thanks!  My Blonde and Cream were S-05 beers fermented in the low 60s.  In the case of these two, I'm thinking that was just a tad too cool and the yeast dropped out before they finished.  My CAP was with WLP810 (Steam Yeast) @ 57.  This is the one that has me thinking about the water.  The only thing off here was that I know I underpitched.  After a no start on my first pitch from a harvested culture, I bought a fresh vial and straight pitched it.  To try to clean it up, I've warmed it up for a few days before bringing it back down.  I hope it works.  My Cream never cleaned up all the way, and the Blonde isn't off to a good start either.  Maybe I could be wrong in describing my symptoms, but I think it's pretty clear cut - tastes like a green jolly rancher!

I think for experiments sake, my next lighter beer will be with tap water and a little acid.  Not a bad idea on the nutrient/energizer either.  On the upside, my Cal Common I just opened is MmmMmm goooood!

Thanks again all!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Vexed by Acetaldehyde/Esters
« on: June 02, 2010, 02:28:53 AM »
When you use the vending machine water, is that the only water you use?  Vending machine water is usually RO which means it has practically no minerals and such. Don't the yeasties need some mineral content in the water to do their job completely?  Instead of using all vending machine water, you may want to try blending it with some of your normal "hard" water so that some of those minerals are present.

hokerer - That was exactly what I was thinking today.  I've never gotten my store water tested, but assumed it to be equivalent to soft drinking water.  Seeing what has been posted in the water profiles thread about this water, I'm now thinking it's really soft - like <1ppm across the board.  So, yes, with the Cream and Blonde, it was straight store water.  My CAP was 5 gallons store and 3 gallons tap, but like I said 1)the jury is still out on this one and 2)it might have other issues.  Admittedly, I need to study the water issue more, and I know the beers I'm playing with are more difficult.  I'm thinking I might just use my tap next time and add a little citric acid.  Thanks for the help!

Yeast and Fermentation / Vexed by Acetaldehyde/Esters
« on: May 31, 2010, 03:41:27 PM »
I've got the brewing version of a hitch in my swing.  With one exception, every time I have ventured into a lighter beer, I have run into moderately strong acetaldehyde/fruity off flavors.  I did manage to brew a Wit last year without them, but now I am wondering if the flavor was masked/integrated into the Wit.  I thought I had my problem diagnosed, but now am forced back to the drawing board.

Last year, I brewed a Cream Ale w/ S-05 and this year a Blonde, also with S-05.  I fermented both cool (low 60s).  While the Blonde is not as sever as the Cream Ale was, both have the same off flavor.  I was blaming my problem on a combination of the S-05 and perhaps too cool of a fermentation, causing the yeast to flocculate before their job was done.  However, I just transferred a CAP fermented with San Fran Lager yeast (WLP810) at 57 degrees to secondary after two weeks and change in primary. I picked up the same problem.  Yes, it's early for this beer yet, and I'm hoping some conditioning helps, but by now, I know the problem when I see it.  I'm going to try to clean it up by doing a warmer (64) rest before bringing it down to the mid 50s for conditioning.  However, I would really like to nail down the cause of the problem in the first place.  The recent issue with the CAP has eliminated yeast as an option.  That leaves me with just two possibilities: pitch rate and water.

Being in Illinois, I have hard-ish water.  Anything lighter than an Amber, it's too hard.  So, when I have gone lighter, I get water from one of those drinking water vending machines at the grocery store.  I didn't think the water could cause this problem, but as it's the only common thread between the beers, I'm now wondering if it's part of the problem.

I'm also wondering if my pitch rate and aeration is causing the problem.  I've always thought my aeration was o.k.  When I transfer from my boiler, I run the wort through a spray aerator, a strainer, and a funnel into the carboy.  This usually produces enough foam that it's coming out of the carboy.  I do concede that under-pitch could be a problem.  I would think a rehydrated pack of S-05 would be adequate.  The CAP did have a problem, though.  I had a failure to start from a harvested yeast, so I straight pitched another vial.  While fresh, this is probably not the best.

O.k., that's the long run-down.  Any insight as to the cause of my problem would be appreciated.  I would hate to be banned from entire categories of styles!  Thanks in advance!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Acetaldehyde strikes again
« on: May 16, 2010, 10:39:39 PM »
Well, you guys agree with me - now if I can just get my wife to do that!   :P  Thanks for the good resource, tom!  The way I'm looking at it, a lot of people never have trouble with S-05, so it must be something I'm doing in my process.  It does great for me in a lot of other brews, but it may just not be my ticket here.  I'm also thinking the low 60s might be overkill.  I have routinely fermented S-05 up to 68 with no detectable esters.  I think I was so paranoid about in my lighter ales that I ended up causing the opposite problem.  I think next time I go for a Cream or a Blonde, it's going to be warmer for sure and maybe with Nottingham!  Thanks again!

Yeast and Fermentation / Acetaldehyde strikes again
« on: May 16, 2010, 04:30:40 AM »
Hey all. I need your help diagnosing a problem. I just opened the first bottle of my Blonde Ale (OG 1.052, FG 1.010) I brewed at the end of April (4/24). It turned out fine except for a strong green (acetaldehyde) off flavor  >:(. This brew spent two weeks in primary at 62 degrees, two weeks in secondary at 60 degrees, and two weeks in the bottle. I realize it’s a little early yet, but I have seen this flaw before in my Cream Ale that I brewed last year, and it never aged off completely. This is the second time I have brewed a light ale and the second time I have gotten hit with this off flavor  :'(. So, I’m trying to diagnosis the problem. I have come down to a few possibilities:

1. The yeast – S-05. I fermented both with S-05, but then again, I ferment a lot of things with it. It’s probably my most used yeast. Plus, everybody else raves about, so I doubt this is the problem. Nonetheless, I’m tempted to try Danstar Nottingham next time. I did manage a Wit last year that didn’t suffer this problem, which caused me to question the yeast, but I am probably looking in the wrong direction.
2. Ingredients – both used Rahr 2-Row as the base, but again, I use Rahr in a lot of things. I doubt this is the problem.
3. Water – Because of my hard-ish water, I use water from the grocery store self-serve RO/drinking water machines. Again, I used the same thing for my Wit, and many people brew with soft water. So, I doubt it, but worthy of consideration.
4. Yeast handling – With the Cream Ale, I rehydrated as usual. With the Blonde I direct pitched. Seems like no matter what I do, I’m getting the off flavor. Nothing I’m doing here is helping or hurting the situation.
5. Racked too soon.  The Blonde had dropped almost clear, so I'm not sure keeping it on the yeast did it.
6. Fermentation temperature. As I mentioned, I fermented the Blonde cool, but still in S-05’s optimum window, to minimize ester production. I didn’t have my cooler and temp controller last year, so I kept the Cream Ale in a water bath that I maintained between 62 and 64. I’m wondering if fermenting so cool isn’t causing the yeast to flocculate before they cleanup their mess. This is my favorite explanation as of right now.
7. Something else I'm not thinking of??

As always, thanks for your thoughts and insights!

A California Common for me this weekend.  It's supposed rain buckets in central IL, so I guess I'll be in the garage  :P

Ingredients / Re: Post your water report
« on: April 17, 2010, 01:30:58 PM »
Cary, IL - deep well in Fox River valley aquifer NW of Chicago (either that or an old limestone salt storage cavern)

Dang, Roy!  I thought my water was hard!  Now I feel better.

Water for Rantoul, IL (Central IL, fed from the Mahomet Aquifer)

Calcium 32ppm
Magnesium 21ppm
Sodium 27ppm
Chloride 12ppm
Bicarbonate 110ppm

Not bad stout water, but anything lighter than an Amber, and it's store bought RO for me!

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