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Messages - wingnut

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: How best to lager
« on: January 03, 2015, 09:43:08 PM »
I lager as I carb every time. No worries.

same here

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water options
« on: January 03, 2015, 09:24:33 PM »
Do you need to add the Gypsum and Calcium Chloride to both mash and sparge water?

I  add to both.  I batch sparge now vs fly sparge (as I used to)... and I have always added the salts to the grain for the mash, and then again when I add the rest of the water.  (Either when I start to fly sparge or when I add the second batch of water to batch sparge)   PH comes out at 5.2  for all styles.

I read somewhere that the grains help the salts disolve, and after adding the salts to the water a number of times and finding a lot of white residue floating on the  bottom of the pots...that is what I do.  (granted, If the salts do not dissolve in the grain... I would have no way of knowing).   

Ever since adding to the mash tun, however, the PH comes out the same each time.  (It may be a coincidence, but if it works...who am I to argue?) :-)

Good luck and enjoy!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast Viability
« on: January 02, 2015, 07:32:44 AM »
The couple cups wont make a noticeable difference in the finished product. 

I always look forward to reasons to stop by the local homebrew store, but this certainly not a reason to put off brewing a batch of beer!   Let it rip!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water options
« on: January 02, 2015, 07:05:27 AM »
Chloride enhances malt flavor.  Gypsum/sulfate enhances hop bitterness.  If you prefer one over the other for a particular style then decide based on that.  If you want a balanced beer then use them 50/50 or lean a little more towards chloride as calcium chloride is smoother and less "offensive".  If you use a lot of gypsum the beer will taste harshly bitter.  Too much chloride?  Meh... almost impossible to do that.  A calculator like BrunWater is still your best bet if/when you are ready to get serious about water adjustments, which can be put off for later.

^^^^  Exactly.  I start my recipies with a 50/50 split and that works well for the beers I like to drink.   It works for my hoppy American Brown Ales... right on through to my German Pilsners. Even the Belgian APAs and Porters come out great. 

If I have a beer that I want the hops to pop a bit more, or make the malt pop more, I would shift the ratio so that I use more Gypsum to make the hops stand out, or more Calcium Chloride to accentuate the malt. (Note, I have not found a reason to do this yet)

My homes have traditionally had hard well water, and that is what I used quite a bit in my brewing career... the wisdom I have learned is that less is more when it comes to minerals in the water.  By going distilled/RO it gets the minerals "out of the way" and with a simple addition of putting back a few minerals to the water...everything becomes consistent and easy... and the flavors become less muddled and stand out on their own.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water options
« on: December 29, 2014, 03:29:29 PM »
I just keep water simple....

I buy Distilled or RO water from the store (10 gallons per batch)
I add 1 TBS Gypsum and 1 TBS Calcium Chloride (you can pick these up from the homebrew shop) per 5 gallons.

Keeping it simple is the way to go in my book. 

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: Do you strain your wort?
« on: December 26, 2014, 09:03:34 PM »
I dont strain.  I do not thin it hurts anything if done before oxygenating.  I do not do it mostly becuast it is just one more thing that I might screw up... and one more thing to clean. 

I am one for keeping trube out of the fermentor, but I just siphon after a whirlpool, and what little bit makes it in... never been an issue.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Question on Mash Temp
« on: December 24, 2014, 06:22:21 AM »
Couple hints I have found from my system.... the time it takes for the temperature to settle and be more or less even throughout the mash is about 15 minutes.  I do not know why, but it seems that after I dump in the water, and stir for 2 to 5 minutes, the mash reads one temp.  When I check again in 10 minutes.... it is usually another temp (sometimes higher sometimes lower...often by 5 degrees or more)

Most of my recepies have the same amount of grain, and same mash thickness... so I have settled on just warming my strike water to 12 degrees above the desired mash temp... and have had good results. 

I used to keep a frozen 1 gallon jug of water on hand, and a pot with 3 or 4 gallons of boiling water.... allowing me to adjust the temp if needed.    (Now I have added a pump and a coil and pump the mash water through heated water if I need to add heat)

As mentioned elsewhere on this thread...  missing the temp, even by a lot, rarely has a signficant effect on the beer.

The Pub / Has Beer as a whole declining?
« on: December 23, 2014, 07:14:44 AM »
I just read an aricle listing the decline of some major big beer brands over the past few years, and I was wondering if beer as whole consumed in the US is on the decline?

I know craft beer is very much on the rise as far as per capita consumptioon, but these are some pretty big numbers craft beer would have to make up for!

Equipment and Software / Re: Small Refrigerator
« on: December 21, 2014, 10:19:47 AM »
Small dorm fridges/wine fridges can be found for about $200.  (Have to be very careful to find compressor humps that can accomodate)  That holds one bucket.  For $300 I bought a freezer from home depot that holds 6 to 8 buckets.    Most of the price is for the chilling part of the system...

I have both a dorm and a freezer now.  I ferment in the dorm/wine fridge and store kegs in the bigger freezer.  Long story short, go as big as the space allows...the relative cost is pretty much the same regardless of size.

Equipment and Software / Re: Solenoid valve for brew system
« on: December 21, 2014, 09:53:06 AM »
More or less, it seems most all systems are essentially variations on the Brewtus systems.   

The traditioanl valve to use on these systems are ASCO valves.... those used to be cheap to get because they were so widely available on E-Bay as surplus from industrial places cleaning off their spare parts shelves.  Over time, the stocks have eroded, and they are much more expesive of E-bay now (closer to retail price), so many people are moving toward cheaper alternatives. 

For the home brewery, the ASCO valves are way overkill.  Mean time between failures is in the millions of cycles.   Cheaper hobby level valves are becomig more popular which are still good for 100ds of thousands of cycles... are better priced and for our purposes, just as good.

Fundimetally, there are different valve constructions.  some are "globe" style, which pushes a seal down from the top with a spring, and uses an electric actuator to pull the stem up and over come the pressure of the spring to open the water flow.   The issue with the valves, is that if you supply back pressure, that will also over come the spring, and allow water to flow backwards through the valve.

Ball style valves work differently in that they move a ball with a hole in it.  This style does ot have issues with back pressure causing the valve to open up when it is not supposed to due to the differnt mechaical design.

In the system I have, I have two paths into my pump, and two paths out of my pump.  What path the water takes going out of my pump....depends on what valve is open.  When I had globe style valves installed, I had things connected in a way that the back pressure would allow wort to wind up in some un-intended places.     Once I went with ball valves.... that eliminated the issue from happening. 

The globe style valve issue may have been correctable by flipping the valve 180 degrees, but I elected to go with ball valve style to make it more idiot proof.    My thought was that installing and removing valves on my system is a real pain (kind of like changing the oil in a car with the way I have the valves stashed)  so if I was going to re-do it, I wanted to make sure I did not have to keep messing with it. 

My advice is if you are buying valves... go ball and keep things more idiot proof.  The cost is about the same.

Equipment and Software / Re: All Grain pt. 2
« on: December 21, 2014, 09:22:55 AM »
May I make a suggestion?  The KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!) principle is something that all engineers embrace at some point in their careers.  A simple brewing system beats a complex system hands down.  A simple brewing system is more reliable because it has fewer points of failure. It is also usually easier to clean.

+1 on that.   

My system was VERY simple for a long time.  (turkey fryer pot and a cooler) The more parts, the more you have to haul out every time. (and more reason for the pain to keep you from brewing)   It was not until I had a dedicated room in my house for brewing, that I stating to aquire "parts".  Up until the point... more stuff to pull out actually made brewing happen less often.  (more stuff to clean, more stuff to haul up to the garage from the basement...etc. )

Long story short, you become a better brewer by brewig... The more you brew, the better at it you become and you learn what is critical and what is BS... (and what is BS often depeds on how/what you brew).  So the real criteria for choosig a system is:
1.)  What will let you brew most often.
2.) What will let me brew more easily.
3.) What will let me brew more consistetly.

Regardless.... brew often and ENJOY!!!

Equipment and Software / Re: All Grain pt. 2
« on: December 20, 2014, 06:45:52 AM »
In my opinion, the stainless stand looks nice... and I would love to have one to look at.... but as you say, the price is kind of prohibitive.   In my system, I cheaped out on the stand, and put my money into other things... temperature probes and burner control to automaticaly maintain mash temps...etc.   I put the money into things that will make the brewing process easier and more consistent, vs looking nice.  (Not that I did not spend HOURS and HOURS trying to convince myself that I needed a pretty brew stand!)

I still have the hurricane burner stands, but I retro-fitted better burners and went to natural gas vs propane... those were all things I thought were more important than a blingy stand.  I later put a cheap automation controller on the valves and burners so that wort production more or less runs itself... maintaining mash temps and pumping things over to the boil kettle.  (I still have issues with the march pump getting air logged though, and not priming and pumping)

The other nice thing about not having a stainless stand.... if it gets dirty from a boil over... no one cares!!!!

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Anyone using Party Pig and how good is it ?
« on: December 19, 2014, 07:05:19 PM »
I have not used the pig.  When I moved toward smaller sizes, I picked up some 3 gallon kegs.   

One of the alternatives I saw this year was a product called the beerbox.

Looks like it works similarly to the pig, but uses tiny CO2 cartridges to  push the beer instead of the pouches. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: rice hulls and mash ph
« on: December 19, 2014, 05:56:23 PM »

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Northern Brewer 3 Gallon Keg System
« on: December 18, 2014, 07:07:41 AM »
I bought an aluminum tank with my original setup.  It looked nice, but the only way to keep the tank was to take it to a fire extinguisher company.  That used to be $15 to $20 to get it refilled.  Air Gas (welding supply company) will exchange empty cylindars with filled ones for about $10.  They are a little beaten up and steel... but I actually like the extra weight.  (The lighter aluminum one would tip over much easier and can ruin the regulator)

Later, after playing with the 5# tank, I upgraded it to a 10# tank.  It lasts WAY longer, and is about the same cost to refill.  (And it is heavier than the 5#, so it is very stable)

I have gone the rout of using AIH for kegs over the past few years,  I have 8 5 gallon used kegs that I like a lot, and recently bought 10 3 gallon used kegs from them.  All were great, just needed some cleaning and they were ready to go. 

I really like the 3 gallon compared to the 5 gallons... Lot easier to move around, and I recover space in my fridge twice as fast.  (A half gone 5 gallon keg...still takes up 5 gallons of space.... 

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