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Messages - johnf

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1
I bet if you boiled, cooled, and carbonated the water you would be just fine...

I am with dkfick on this one.  Pasteurized beer tastes bad enough.

It is increasingly common for craft beers to be pasteurized, especially barrel aged ones after some high profile infections. It doesn't seem to impact those beers negatively. I do not know whether that is because they are robustly flavored beers or if modern flash pasteurizing equipment works very well.

As for S. ludwigii, Fix also wrote that beers fermented with it taste like hopped iced tea (lacking characteristic secondary fermentation products as well as alcohol) and it was quickly abandoned by the NA beer industry.

Since nobody has mentioned this yet, there is an episode of The Brewing Network with Charlie Bamforth as the guest and there was a question about low alcohol beer. He gave the reality check that what industrial brewers produce is the result of millions of dollars of R&D performed by talented people and you are unlikely to do better in your home.

His suggestion was to mash very high (like 165) for a low alcohol beer and to not try to make non-alcohol beer.

Mashing in the 160s horrifies most people because they think the beer will be sweet but things that are not fermentable are either not sweet or much less sweet than sugar. Lagunitus IPA is mashed at 160 I believe and is not a particularly sweet beer.

2
Homebrew Competitions / Re: Overnighting NHC entries
« on: June 03, 2014, 08:37:28 AM »
For second round I always built an insulated box like Gordon Strong described once on The Brewing Network. Basically go buy the insulated foam board and cut to fit the sides of the box. Glue it all together. Pack the box and leave it open in fridge to get everything super cold. Seal the box and ship. I did a test run shipping beer to a friend in August and it arrived still cool after two days.

3
Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC
« on: May 12, 2014, 11:17:01 AM »
I hope my bringing up "peat/earth" wasn't taken as sour grapes. That judge gave me a 40, and other good feedback. I'm a happy camper and plan on placing in the 9 cat next year with a few minor tweaks.

As far as score sheet quality goes, this was my first comp to enter and first to judge. There were a few beers that I'm certain my score sheets left a lot to be desired. I'm grateful that I was paired with a real judge, so the brewer will have at least one good sheet. I learned a ton though, and my sheets will just get better. Public apology to anyone who gets a crap score sheet from me.


The Strong Scotch Ale I had in the first round had a 40.5, and the judges commented on the smoke in the beer (can't remember if they said peat). No smoke or peat was used in making that beer. Might be the phenolics that 1728 is said to produce. To be honest I don't get anything smokey from this beer. It just might be that since they were looking for it they convinced themselves that they found it.

In BCS Jamil wrote about getting "smoky" comments on cat 9s made with the Chico strain. That was my experience as well.

I am convinced the entire thing is a myth propagated by Americans who drank whisky in Scotland and then had beer later in the day.

As an example of the opposite, I once bought the Aecht Schlenkerla bier schnapps in Bamberg. I tried some in the evening after drinking rauchbier all day and was disappointed that there was no smoke aroma/flavor in the distilled Schnapps.

If I hadn't brought the bottle home and you had tasked me with writing schnapps guidelines I might have gone and done something like say that there is no smoke aroma in schnapps made from smoked beers.

I brought the rest home and shared some at a competition. It was extremely smoky.

4
Homebrew Competitions / Re: BJCP moving up the ranks question
« on: May 12, 2014, 11:09:26 AM »
Any sage advice for somebody taking their first shot at the tasting exam here in a couple weeks?
Things to be absolutely certain of, or areas to focus on? Any tips are appreciated.

Late to the party but:

Perception and scoring accuracy: Not much you can do now. You just have to be right. Being good at identifying common faults is the big thing. The good news is that the proctors are often far enough apart it is hard to take a lot of points off for perception. This is often the best score on exams that score relatively low.

Completeness: Always comment on malt, hops, esters, diacetyl, DMS, alcohol, anything else that is expected in the beer but missing (clove in a hefeweizen). Do this to an exaggerated extent. No white space.

Description: never describe anything simply as malt, hops, or fruity. Bready malt, citrusy hops, peach esters, etc. Always use level descriptors and specific ones (high, low) not weasely ones (some, a decent amount of). Feel free to be a little flowery but that isn't very important.

Feedback: Constructive feedback on every beer. That beer you gave a 45 to? Saw something about improving it. This can be really minor like I feel like this barleywine would be even better with another year but say something. On flawed beers lots of specific feedback. Study the causes of common flaws and give technically correct feedback. I love it as a grader when an examinee shows that they realize a flaw can have multiple causes/solutions. You should probably give some positive feedback on bad beers too. I'm a big believer that sandwiching criticism is counterproductive but most people aren't. Definitely don't be rude. I do chuckle when I grade scoresheets that say they can't discern any malt or hop characters over the overwhelming sourness and then start the feedback by saying they can tell it was a really great beer before the infection.

5
I got a score in the high 80s on the tasting and low 90s on the written with very little effort spent on rote memorization. If you understand beer styles all you have to remember are the sort of BJCP guideline idosyncracies (there are pale and dark dopplebocks, but no pale weizenbocks etc). Some styles are hard to gain an understanding of through experience, you might focus time on memorizing for those.

I'll echo what some others have said. A good judge in a competition setting can judge a beer in 10 minutes. That leaves little time for referencing the style guidelines. They should be referenced occasionally in the real world, not continuously. If you don't get them at all on the exam, as a grader I can tell whether or not you are good enough to not over-rely on them in the wild.

I want my physician to have reference material available to her, but I would look elsewhere if she had to look up answers to every single question I asked her.

6
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Commercial examples of 60 shilling?
« on: April 24, 2014, 11:14:47 AM »
They McEwan's and Belhaven products in the use are not 60 shilling examples.

Despite what the BJCP guidelines suggest, 60 shilling is not a smaller version of 80 shilling (or vice versa). Belhaven 60/- is darker in color than Belhaven 80/- (exported as Belhaven Scottish Ale) and is in fact too dark for the style despite being the first listed classic example.

The 2008 BJCP subcategories 9a-9c are good at describing US home brewed and commercially brewed Scottish Ales and a pretty poor job of describing beer in Scotland. I hope this is one of the areas in which the 2014 guidelines will contain corrections as divorcing the guidelines from reality to cater to the local audience only works for a local organization.

7
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: NHC 2014
« on: April 03, 2014, 01:46:42 PM »
For those who were judged already, are the results posted under your login at www.brewingcompetition.com ?

I haven't seen the KC results up there yet.
 
I've had a beer score in the 20s and then go on to win BOS at a large competition. Also had a beer score in the 20s then place 3rd in the NHC 1st round then place 1st in the NHC second round.

I would not put to much stock in a single score regardless of what it is. If you are interest in feedback it is better to enter the same beer many times than many beers once. You'll converge on a consensus with enough scoresheets.

The scores themselves are hard to interpret. Some judges are generous, some are harsh. New judges tend to be afraid to get too far away from a 35 in either direction and lump everything around there.

Unless this was in the past, I thought that NHC was one of the few comps where placement/advancement DID require a score above 30.

20s in a different competition, third place in the first round with a score over 30, first place in the second round.

8
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: NHC 2014
« on: April 03, 2014, 11:32:54 AM »
I've had a beer score in the 20s and then go on to win BOS at a large competition. Also had a beer score in the 20s then place 3rd in the NHC 1st round then place 1st in the NHC second round.

I would not put to much stock in a single score regardless of what it is. If you are interest in feedback it is better to enter the same beer many times than many beers once. You'll converge on a consensus with enough scoresheets.

The scores themselves are hard to interpret. Some judges are generous, some are harsh. New judges tend to be afraid to get too far away from a 35 in either direction and lump everything around there.

9
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: HB Competitions
« on: April 03, 2014, 09:58:10 AM »
top 3, and have to score minimum of 30.

So, 30 is a solid score?  Honestly asking, as I have no idea.

Entered my first comp about a month ago so my frame of reference is limited.

I know 13 is B.A.D. but 30 sounds like it's more middle of the road than outstanding.

30 is the lowest score that the AHA considers acceptable for the second round regardless of how the beers placed.

In the KC first round we had one category with 3 entries. The 3rd place entry scored a 30 and will be going on. I doubt any 30s moved on in other categories.

10
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: HB Competitions
« on: April 03, 2014, 09:56:19 AM »
to the OP, you could actually volunteer in Denver and at the end hear whether you advanced or not.  Some regions are faster than others, but generally they don't take too long to be mailed.  KC mailed yesterday or today.

KC mailed yesterday.

I hate to start this argument again, but is this true?  I know someone that volunteered in Nashville and they wouldn't give him his scores, scoresheets, or even tell him if he advanced.  All my 4 entries this year cannot be rebrewed so I really don't care and in previous years didn't care about the perceived advantage of people finding out sooner.  However, we all know we are going to hear about it for the next month.

Is the AHA stance on this the same as previous years?

To the OP...good luck in the competition. 

Udubdawg...advance any ciders?  :P

In 2011 in Denver I heard the results read at the competition and Janis was standing right there. In 2013 in Kansas City I heard the results read at the competition and Janis was standing right there.

Is it possible that the person in Nashville was trying to get results/scoresheets before the competition was completed? That's a bad idea in general, regardless of any AHA rules on the matter.

11
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: printing labels for 2014 nhc
« on: March 19, 2014, 02:17:32 PM »
as someone who packed away about 400 entries today, let me say that there are plenty of you with teeny labels and they were still easily readable.  No worries.

good luck...
--Michael

The barcodes scanning were hit or miss depending on how crisp the printing was on the smaller ones but I consider that a minor issue and wouldn't personally discourage someone from using the smaller ones if they are having trouble getting them to print at normal size.

12
Homebrew Competitions / Re: question for comp organizers/staff
« on: March 18, 2014, 08:12:55 AM »
The cynical POV is that it doesn't really matter what instructions you provide since people won't follow them.

The two things I would really like to get across are no tape inside the box and no peanuts. I think I can live with the other stuff.

Think about the way commercial beer is packed. Inside thin cardboard six pack holders inside of a box. Nothing else. Obviously the people shipping commercial beer know it is beer but all you really have to is avoid movement within the box and avoid glass to glass contact.

I always did one perforated sheet of bubble wrap per bottle held on with a rubber band. Then I lined the box with a garbage bag and filled any loose space with newsprint.

I can pack a box very fast that way and I can unpack a box very fast that way. I've shipped hundreds of beers that way and zero have broken.

This could be confirmation bias but it seems that the broken bottles are often in elaborately packed boxes.

13
I used to always dough in cold (well 40 C) and heat the mash. There are two significant advantages. First dough balls don't occur with no gelatinization. You don't even need to stir the mash at 40 C, it just wets evenly. Second you have time to measure and correct pH before you are at the important part of the mash.

The downsides of course are that you have to be able to directly heat your mash and if you don't have a pump you have to stand there and stir.

14
All Grain Brewing / Re: Water/Mash questions re: Kolsch
« on: March 13, 2014, 09:45:21 AM »
I don't believe there is any misinformation on  Kai's website regarding this.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=At_home_water_testing

The number comes from fitting observed data which is obviously something anyone modeling mash pH in a spreadsheet is comfortable with.

You are aware that the generalization is only good for Kai's water source, right? What about everyone else's water source? Knowing the data and its applicability is imperative in assessing empirical data.

The horse isn't dead yet!

I actually read what Kai wrote before commenting on it so I know that the generalization is based on several water sources among which several are not Kai's so I would disagree with that statement.

15
All Grain Brewing / Re: Water/Mash questions re: Kolsch
« on: March 12, 2014, 12:24:29 PM »
Since they give me the hardness, that should contain the total calcium and magnesium.  I was reading on braukaiser that generally 70% of this hardness comes from calcium.  So 30% (or 19.2 mg/L) should be the magnesium content.  That would mean 44.8 would be calcium.  But since calcium is listed already (13.9), do I add the 44.8 to 13.9, or is should I subtract the 13.9 from the 64.1 to get 50.2 for the magnesium?  Ultimately I am wondering what numbers I need to put in a water calculator. 

Unfortunately, that generalization isn't worth much. The amount of calcium or magnesium CANNOT be generalized since it is totally dependent upon the minerals the water contacted on its way to your tap. A 70/30 split between Ca and Mg may be correct in some waters, but more than likely, its not.

If the hardness and calcium values from the water report are correct, then the magnesium content is more like 7 ppm.

It's sad to see misinformation like that on the web...but it does exist.

I don't believe there is any misinformation on  Kai's website regarding this.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=At_home_water_testing

The number comes from fitting observed data which is obviously something anyone modeling mash pH in a spreadsheet is comfortable with.

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