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Messages - lazydog79

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All Grain Brewing / Re: composting spent grain
« on: September 02, 2012, 02:41:39 PM »
Its imperative that you avoid letting the mass of grain go septic (anaerobic).  The smell is horrendous! 
I learned that the hard way the first time I chucked a load of grain in the composter.  Whoa!    Made me wanna put my head in a dumpster for some fresh air  :o

Absolutely.  The best way of doing this is to add in a lot of carbon(brown material) like paper or wood and to make sure the pile is well mixed so there are no pockets of anaerobic activity. I use free woods chips from our county.  Spent grain has a lot of moisture in it already so this is even more important to mix well and add carbon. Vegetables scraps, Coffee, Grass clippings, and green leaves/plant cuttings  are green material. The more you have of them in the compost pile the more carbon you have to add to the spent grain.  If you have a compost pile already, cover the grain with composted soil after mixing in the carbon.  Covering the spent grain will help keep the smell down and unwanted pests like mice and rats away.  I live in an urban area and our yard is small, so I have to pay attention to our compost pile or our neighbors will complain.  I think the most I put in my compost bin in a week was 40 to 50 lbs without problems.
+1 That's always a good way to get rid of shredder paper.  I've got a bin composter.  I'll put a little paper in, then the grains, and cap it with some more paper.  Keeps the stinkies down!

I would say my best overall change since I started brewing was going with a chest freezer and controller.  Lately, it has been to start using Bru'n Water (THANKS MARTIN!  ;D) and being more mindful of chemistry.  It has caused a lot of fluctuation in my efficiency, but I have some procedural steps I need to nail down to get some consistency back.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Best Order for a tasting?
« on: August 24, 2012, 08:12:20 PM »
Just my opinion, but I would move 5,6 to after the bock and tripel.  When doing a tasting I like to put the more hoppy beers near the end of the tasting so the tasters don't wreck their palate.

Just the question I had in my mind, Dave. I didn't really like where my hoppier ones were.  That makes sense to put them before the RIS and finish with that and the Porter fudge brownies I'm making.  Thanks for the tips! Prosit!

General Homebrew Discussion / Best Order for a tasting?
« on: August 24, 2012, 06:13:24 PM »
Tomorrow, I'm hosting my first tasting for a group of people.  I'll be featuring seven of my beers and two guests.  I think I have a good order together, but want to see what the experts think  ;)  Here's what I'm thinking:

1. Am. Wheat - very light, almost BMC-ish
2. Scottish 70/-
3. Biere de Garde (Domaine Dupage clone)
4. Pils
5. Amber Ale - hoppier, west coast style
6. Black IPA/IBA (whatever you want to call it)
7. Bock - somewhere between American style and traditional
8. St. Martin Tripel
9. Stone Russian Imperial Stout

Any input would be much appreciated.  Thanks!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Malt Analysis
« on: August 12, 2012, 12:52:40 PM »
I'll be curious to hear what you think.  I haven't tried that particular malt from them.
I'll let you know.  The first batch with it was brewed yesterday.  NB's description of "a fuller and nuttier taste" intrigued me.  I'm using it in a few darker beers - amber, stout.  I brewed a Weeping Radish Black Radish clone with it yesterday.  I love the clean flavor of Rahr in my lighter brews, but was shopping for a bit more character.  I'll keep you posted.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Malt Analysis
« on: August 12, 2012, 09:22:53 AM »
I don't look at it, I brew it and assess the results.  No matter what the color of the endosperm is, I find Rahr 2 row pale malt to be my favorite out of all the domestic pale malts I've used.

I'm a big fan of Rahr too.  I just bought a bunch of Briess Pale Ale Malt from NB to see how I like it.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Efficiency Issues
« on: August 12, 2012, 09:21:34 AM »
Efficiency isn't inherently good, but I'd argue consistency is.

Here, Here!  I would gladly trade the 80-88% efficiency I've been getting for the constant 78% I used to get.  I would gladly get a 60% if I knew I could hit my target every time.  I've been chasing my tail for almost a year since we moved.  Frustrating beyond words  >:(

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Attenuation
« on: July 26, 2012, 12:39:14 PM »
Thanks for the breakdown. But it poses another question. If the recipe calls for a 152 mash and targets a 1.013 FG using the chico yeast and I am hitting that 152 and getting 1.008 FG with that yeast, theres something wrong there. What are your thoughts? Thermometer calibration? Perhaps my thermometer is reading 152 but I'm actually at 148 or so thus giving me a more fermentable wort and higher attenuation?

I've come to learn that mash temps, as with many other things, depend on your system.  I have figured out that a 150-152 mash on my system is like a mid 150s mash for some other people, and a mid-fifties mash is like an upper 50s.  Could be the thermometer, could be some other factors.  The key is figuring your system out.

I agree with several of the others, Chico is great if you want a madman of a yeast that is going to be a high attenuater, can take some manhandling, and will leave your beer fairly dry.  I will still use it for APAs, IPA's, etc.  It's not the yeast for you if you want a nuanced malt profile.  It used to be my "house yeast" but it doesn't really fit my goals for what I'm trying to brew.  Once size doesn't always fit all.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Dough-In
« on: July 26, 2012, 12:26:36 PM »
Another +1 for Beersmith!  I know I am math-impaired, so I made purchasing Beersmith part of the package when I went AG.  For $20, you can't beat what it can do for you.  The 2.0 version is even better, I'm just too cheap to get it.  I couldn't imagine brewing without some kind of software, but plenty of people do...just know one with a Social Sciences Ed. degree  8) 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Looking Forward to Fall
« on: July 26, 2012, 12:17:41 PM »
I've got a Scottish 70/-, Robust Porter (if it ends up being salvageable) brewed up.  Going to sneak in a Schwarzbier before school starts.  I haven't done the math, but I'm pretty sure there is an inverse relationship between temperature and the SRM of my beers  ;)  I'll have lots of IBA still and whatever is left of my Am. Wheat and Pils - but that won't be much  :D

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« on: July 25, 2012, 02:01:36 PM »
Just curious....was it reading low or high?

In my fermentation chamber (chest freezer) I run the controller probe in the the air in close proximity to the fermenter.  I have a Taylor probe thermometer I run down a thermowell to check my beer's temperature.  It's always been off, but a fixed off - about four degrees high.  I got some high readings at first, but I attributed it to the raging fermentation I got at the start, so I lowered the freezer.  After becoming suspicious of the readings, I checked them with the Johnson's probe (which is way more accurate).  Come to find out the "off" interval of the Taylor had changed on me  >:(  I ended up fermenting the first couple of days two or three degrees below the yeast's optimal range.  I corrected the temperature and let it free rise back up to ~68.  Not sure if that is part of my problem or not.  I'm starting to think WLP013 might be a little finicky and my manhandling of it didn't help.

The other possibility is that I mashed at 155, which, for my system, is a little on the high side.  I blindly (read maybe stupidly) followed the recipe (from a BYO replicator).  Wondering if that wasn't a bit too high.

Honestly, at 1.022 it's not that terribly high for a 1.065 porter. I could see why you would want it a few points drier psychologically but realistically you should taste it once it is carbonated and make a decision then. I've had beers finish high before that I considered dumping but once they were carbonated I fully enjoyed them.
That is definitely a good pint, Keith.

Besides, I like bludgeoning myself through drinking a batch that wasn't it's best.  It's a good way to make sure I don't make stupid mistakes again  8)

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« on: July 25, 2012, 11:08:06 AM »
Good advice, all.  Thanks again.  After rousing, warming, and adding some energizer, I'm not seeing a lot going on.  I think that's about all she's got, but we'll see.

Not I just need to diagnose the problem.  This was my first dance with WLP013, but I'm not jumping to blaming the yeast.  I had several holes in my process including a dramatically higher efficiency than I expected which I remedied with dilution and a mash temp (155) that I am now second guessing in hindsight (especially given my higher than planned OG).  Still, I'm not inclined to fall in love with this yeast either.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« on: July 24, 2012, 09:58:54 AM »
Well, good to hear I did the right thing, then  ;)  I roused and and took it out of the freezer (basement is ~ 71).  I threw a little energizer in for good measure.  I'll see if that gets it going.  If not, well, I guess I have lots of porter to cook with  ::)

Denny - I really don't want to admit to all of the technical screw-ups that happened on this brew.  Let's just say it started with a way higher efficiency than planned and ended with a faulty thermometer probe in the thermowell (threw that out!).  I think if it comes out, I will call it "Cluster F*$K" ale.  Step 1: I have got to get some consistency to my efficiency.

Thanks for the help all!

Yeast and Fermentation / Stuck Fermentation - Best Course?
« on: July 24, 2012, 08:44:47 AM »
Brewed up a a Robust porter two weeks ago.  OG. 1.065.  Fermented with WLP013 London Ale at 67 degrees.  It has been in the primary for twelve days.  The fermenter has been quiet for a couple days, so I pulled a gravity/tasting sample to see where I was.  I was expecting a FG somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.017, but I have 1.022 (insert favorite swear word(s) here  >:( ).  It tastes like the cloyingly sweet mess you would expect finishing five points high.  I haven't had a stuck/under-attenuated brew in quite a while.  What is my best course of action to save this batch?  Throw in some yeast energizer or run to the store to get some S-05 and dump it in?  As always, thanks for the advice.

Air temperature is going to fluctuate very quickly. The walls will stay cold after the freezer shuts off, cooling air near the sides and causing convection currents that show fluctuations on your probe reading.  Even with a fan to even things out, you're never going to be able to keep the air temperature around 63 without cycling the freezer on and off constantly, and this will break your freezer pretty quickly.

You don't care about air temperature; you want to maintain the temperature of your beer, so tape the probe to the side of your carboy (or use a thermowell).  5 gallons of liquid has a lot more thermal mass, so the freezer will run for longer periods of time and then shut off for longer, and your beer temperature should only fluctuate 1 or 2 degrees.

+1  I've been running an A419 for several years.  By the time it cycles off, my 3.5 cu ft. chest freezer will cool down at least five degrees more, but it warms back up fairly quickly.  However, like clock work, a fermenter will run about a degree or so above my SP (depending on the vigor of the fermentation).  I dangle the controller probe about an 1" or less from the fermenter.

I learned from experience, though.  You don't want to run a freezer with a controller with a probe in a thermowell.  That will cause severe over-run.  I do use a thermowell, but just to run a thermometer probe down to check the beer's temperature.  The controller-in-the-thermowell setup is good if you are running a fermenter heater, though.  Holds mine almost constant.

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