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Nothing earth shattering, just a couple of pics I took (with my phone actually) that I thought were cool from yesterday's brew.

Love it when I'm already seeing signs of activity before I went to work this morning  ;)

Homebrewer Bios / Brewer Bio: Paul Blatz
« on: February 01, 2013, 08:05:22 AM »
Who Are You: (please include a picture):  Paul Blatz

Home Town: (City, State): Jupiter, Florida

Homebrew Club: The Palm Beach Draughtsmen

I've been a homebrewer since:
July 2005

Do you have a homebrewing disaster you'd like to share?

Nothing too outlandish, mostly the same errors most folks have had, but I’ll share one:
One cool (okay 40df but its all relative) morning, I was about to run off 10gal of house IPA into glass carboys.  Setup my Shirron plate chiller, stuck the out hose into the fermenter, opened the ball valve and proceeded to finish cleaning my mash tun, when behind me I hear “…cccrrracckkkk….BOOM” I’d forgotten to turn on the hose water for the plate chiller and 200+df wort was running into the carboy and caused it to shatter.  I grabbed some black contractor trash bags and started putting the big shards into it only to have them slice through the bags like butter.  Finally I figured out to put them into paper bags first and then into the plastic bags.  Thankfully, no injuries and I only lost 1 gal of wort!  Needless to say I switched to Better Bottles the next day (though I use conicals now…).

What is your favorite style(s) to brew?
Some may say I’m boring, but I like what I like – 90% of my brewing is focused on American Ales and German Lagers.  I’d say the two most often brewed styles are IPA and Vienna/Marzen.

What style(s) will you never brew?

While I appreciate the occasion bottle, I can’t see myself brewing anything sour.

What was the first beer you ever brewed?  How did it turn out?
An American Pale Ale kit from the now extinct “Homebrewer’s Outlet” in West Palm Beach.  It was very tasty – simple with dry malt extract, some crystal 40 steeped, Cascade hops and Nottingham yeast.  I was hooked instantaneously.

Have you ever had a homebrew mistake that turned out great?
A few, but I try not to make mistakes ;-) .  My best mistake gone great was in 2008 when one of my brew buddies and I decided to make 10 gal of Russian Imperial Stout, hoping to have something Old Rasputinesque in the end.  I found a well acclaimed clone recipe online, tweaked it a little and we went to town, overflowing the mash tun and squeezing out 1.085 of sweet wort into our fermenters.  Lo and behold, I had no idea that with the extensive amount of specialty malts in the recipe, our final gravity was not going to land anywhere near the 8.5-10% ABV we were hoping for.  So the very next weekend, we brewed up the same recipe, but bumped the basemalt up to get us to 1.110.  We blended the two batches into kegs and let it sit for 8 months under my stairs before even tasting it.  It continued to ferment a bit in the keg and the keg was at almost 70PSI at one point!  I degassed it over time and eventually got it down to proper carb levels.

That beer has won me 3 golds, 1 silver, 1 Runner up BOS, and one BOS over the years.  I have maybe one gallon left in a shortie keg in my ‘on deck’ freezer and it is still better than any RIS I’ve bought.

What is your favorite beer recipe?
I love writing my own recipes, so I have a lot of favorites, but the one that I arrived at over 6 years of tweaking is always well acclaimed by my friends.  I brew two types of IPA – a West Coast style that is still in the experimental stages, and my tried and true Mako IPA a maltier one, similar in color and crystal malt flavor to say a Celebration with a west coast hop regimen:
Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 14.06 gal
Post Boil Volume: 12.48 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 12.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 12.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.064 SG
Estimated Color: 7.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 75.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
26 lbs                Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)         Grain         1        92.9 %       
1 lbs 8.0 oz          Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)    Grain         2        5.4 %         
8.0 oz                Caramel/Crystal Malt - 45L (45.0 SRM)    Grain         3        1.8 %         
1.50 oz               Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] - Boil 60. Hop           4        28.8 IBUs     
2.00 oz               Centennial [10.00 %] - Boil 20.0 min     Hop           5        16.6 IBUs     
2.00 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 20.0 min         Hop           6        21.6 IBUs     
2.00 oz               Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min   Hop           7        8.5 IBUs     
2.00 oz               Amarillo Gold [9.80 %] - Aroma Steep 0.0 Hop           8        0.0 IBUs     
2.00 oz               Cascade [7.00 %] - Aroma Steep 0.0 min   Hop           9        0.0 IBUs     
2.0 pkg               California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35. Yeast         10       -             
3.00 oz               Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] - Dry Hop  Hop           11       0.0 IBUs     
3.00 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] -  - Dry Hop  Hop           12       0.0 IBUs     
White Labs 001 California Ale Yeast

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body
Total Grain Weight: 28 lbs
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 44.80 qt of water at 161.3 F        153.0 F       75 min

Are you a BJCP Judge?  If so, what is your rank and how long have you been judging?
I’m a National Rank judge, and that’s probably all I’ll ever get to – I don’t care to take that test again.  Been judging for about 6 years or so and I try to do as much as I can.

Do you have a good beer judging story you'd like to share with the rest of the homebrewing world?Not really – thankfully, most of my judging has been uneventful aside from the occasional gusher.  I have been truly amazed by some of the entries I have judged at times. I've had a Baltic Porter and Ordinary Bitter, both by a brewer named Ed Measom of Orlando that flat out floored me.

Do you have a favorite homebrew trick or gadget that you've found to make your beer better/brewing easier, etc?

I think the installation of a double ganged counterflow chiller has really helped me given the warm ground water of Florida.  I just installed a whirlpool return arm to my boil kettle that I am really digging too.  Next 'gadget' is using my Hop Rocket as a filter as Tasty McDole has promoted.

Describe your brew system.
My roots are in cooler batch sparging, ala Denny Conn, but now I brew on an all electric system pictured in this thread:
Its modeled almost entirely after Kal Wallner’s system, with a few tweaks to meet my needs.

How frequently do you brew (times/month or /year)?I brew about every 2-3 weeks, depending on consumption and demand for events like festivals, parties, etc.   I'd brew almost every day if I could.

What is your favorite malt?  Why?
I use a ton of Rahr 2 Row and Best Pils, so those two win in terms of usage, but in terms of what I think is special?  There is nothing like the rich malty goodness you get out of Weyermann Munich II in something like a dunkel – the toasty, bready and sticky sweet malt flavor is captivating.

What is your favorite hop? Why?
Well, given I buy about 4-5 pounds per year, it’s gotta be Simcoe.  I can’t get enough  of that unique piney citrusy tropical pungent hop twang that Simcoe punches up your nostrils.  I use a lot of different varieties but for hop bombs, I almost always reach for Simcoe. Its great late in the kettle, whirlpool and especially dryhop.  You could use it to bitter, but that’s a waste in my brewhouse.

Do you have a favorite or house yeast? What qualities do you like about that yeast?
I prefer to let my malt and hops shine, am not much of one for esters or phenolics, and like being able to cycle yeast over and over, so I tend to stick with Chico (001/1056/US-05) for ales and WL830 or WL833 for my lagers.  I like the clean flavors, the fast ferments and relatively quick flocculation.

What haven't we asked that you would really like to answer?
I think a good question to ask everyone is “why do YOU homebrew?” .  In addition to all the ‘usuals’ such as having fresh beer on tap, something that I made, etc.,  to me it’s an escape from my day job, a chance to be creative, to use the engineer in me to constantly adapt and make my system better and more efficient.  I also really enjoy working with my hands, being outside in the garage with my dog by my side, tunes on in the background and friends sitting around sipping beer while we get the next creation going.  There is nothing better than having one of your friends take a sip and tell you “this is better than any store bought IPA/Pils/whatever that I’ve ever tasted”.  Keeps you wanting to make more.

If you could serve your homebrew to someone famous, who would it be and what would you give her/him?
I’m not much of a celebrity worshipper, so this is a tough question to answer.  For famous in the brewing world, I’d love to serve up my best IPA to Vinnie Cilurzo – from what I’ve seen  and heard from him, he seems like a genuinely cool guy and he’d be fun to drink away an afternoon with and learn from.  For someone famous to the ‘rest’ of the world, there’s a lot of folks I’d like to meet, near the top of the list would be George Clooney – just seems like a cool guy that enjoys life, enjoys good beer and would be fun to hang out with.

Can you send a picture or two of some labels you've created for your homebrew?
I don’t put labels on my kegs.  ;D

What's the most unusual ingredient you've ever used in a brew?
I don’t really brew any styles that lend themselves to crazy ingredients.  I make a mead with spearmint and key lime juice – that’s about as strange as I get.

Do you have any pets or kids named after beer styles or ingredients? I had a black lab named Porter (pictured above ) , he was a great boy – I miss him terribly.  My brewdog  now is named Walden (pictured in my electric brewing system thread and in my avatar), I rescued him and he had that name already – I tried to change his name to Simcoe, but it just didn’t take.

How many medals have you won from homebrew competitions?
3-4 dozen or so – I stopped counting a long time ago – I don’t really focus much on competitions, though I do enter occasionally and I am proud when one of mine wins.

Do you brew alone, with friends or with someone you live with?
I mostly brew for myself, but I have an open door policy for friends and usually send out a notice when I’m brewing and folks are free to come by, observe, drink and hang out.  Help with cleanup is always welcome too.

Are you an indoor or outdoor brewer?
Given my electric system, I brew indoors, but with the garage doors open.

List some of the names you've given your beers. Which is your favorite?
I’m not as creative with my names as some folks– I usually just reference my brewery name and the style, but I did have two I liked: 

One was “Decoct This!!” a German Pils that won silver at one of Florida’s largest competitions – single infusion only…

The other was a name given by a friend in my brewclub to my West Coast Style IPA: “Pimp Slap IPA” – one taste and you’ll be screaming “I got your money!”  My friend created a stick figure label of a personified hop cone with a cane and feathered hat, slapping another stick figure leaving a green handprint on the cheek.  We served this at a local festival and most folks got a big kick out of it.

General Homebrew Discussion / Whirlpool "Strength"
« on: January 25, 2013, 09:52:16 AM »
Hey guys

Am still perfecting my whirlpool.  I installed a whirlpool arm in my kettle and while on the last brew session it worked well, it formed more of a 'pancake' than a 'cone' in the middle.

But I was thinking maybe the pressure of the return is not enough?  Currently, I am pumping (with a high flow March 809 pump) from the kettle, then through 2 Chillzilla counterflow chillers and then back to the whirlpool arm.

Would it behoove me to not pump through the 2 Chillzillas during the whirlpooling?  Would that make it faster?  It seems like it would, but how much I don't know.


General Homebrew Discussion / Calculating Losses to hoses
« on: January 16, 2013, 08:31:56 AM »
How much wort am I losing to 30' of 1/2" ID tubing?

Classifieds / FOR SALE: Hop Stopper
« on: January 15, 2013, 06:07:58 AM »
Looking to sell my Hop Stopper - doesn't work on my system.

As pictured

Make an offer.

Yeast and Fermentation / Forgot how active the second step can be...
« on: January 09, 2013, 02:17:23 PM »
Just a story to share - I'd forgotten how active the second step in a 2 stage starter regimen can be - last night, I decanted and poured the slurry of 833 from my 2L flask into my full 40df 5L flask, set it on the stir plate and went to bed - came down to the kitchen this morning and there was beer on the counter and the crackle of the krausen pressing on the foil covering the flask.  Gotta love it!

General Homebrew Discussion / 2013 Brew Year's Resolutions/Goals
« on: January 04, 2013, 07:46:40 AM »
- figure out a hop filter/screen that works for my new system
- streamline my cleanup process in the new brewery so I can be done sooner
- judge in at least 2 out of town competitions
- dial in/master my West Coast IPA - my regular IPA is more Celebrationesque - amber, maltier.  I'm working on something that is more WC flared.
- brew the following styles/recipes:
   Wookey Jack clone
   Blind Pig
   Pliny (been a while)
   Janet's Brown Ale
   Golden Bock
   Double Stout
   Baltic Porter
   San Diego Session Ale

Of course I'll be brewing many other styles as well, but I've been wanting to do all of these.

How about you?

All Grain Brewing / Hockhurz Step Mash: Check my Process
« on: January 02, 2013, 08:22:57 AM »
Hey guys,

I did a Hockhurz decoction mash a few years ago, but it was on a friend's system and I didn't take good notes as it wasn't my brew.

I want to attempt a step mash Hockhurz on my next brew session, a vienna lager.

I have read through Kai's blog again, but I want to double check the specifics with you guys:

Mash in at 145 and hold for 30 min (beta)

Ramp up (via HERMs) to 158 <--- this will probably take about 20 min to do so.

Hold at 158 for 45 min (alpha)

Ramp up to Mashout.

Am I missing anything?  Is the alpha rest too high (or too low).  Are my times too long?

General Homebrew Discussion / Just for You tomschmidlin...
« on: December 28, 2012, 11:53:05 AM »
Quote from:
Wet Hop versus Fresh Hop
Over recent years, there has been some confusion about the difference between fresh and wet hops. While it may seem like semantics, to us it’s an important distinction.

Wet Hops are un-dried hops, picked and shipped from the growing fields within 24 hours.

Fresh Hops are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.
Over 90% of the world’s hop harvest happens between August 31 and October 31, and these hops are used throughout the calendar year. Can hops possibly be the same on November 1, one day after harvest, as they are on July 25, nearly one year after growing in the fields? The answer is no. We think of hops like dry kitchen spices—the flavor of thyme or rosemary right after the jar is opened is far more intense than it is six months later. The same can be said for hops. There are ways to control the way hops age and to reformulate and readjust as some of the aromas fade, but there’s nothing like the magic of the first bales of hops as fresh as can be. That is the stuff dreams are made of!

I mean, they put it on the internet, it has to be right...


Ingredients / Water Check - not Happy with "Pale Ale" profile
« on: December 21, 2012, 08:29:31 AM »
Hey all -

I've always used the "Yellow-Bitter" profile, but on a whim last time, I used the "Pale Ale Profile" in martin's sheet last IPA and I don't think I really cared for it - beer tasted a bit too minerally, sharp and the body was not what I was used to.   Could be other factors, but I am a little gun-shy to use that profile again.

Am brewing IPA again today and tomorrow for a big local festival, and was thinking of this instead:

8gal Mashwater:

starting with RO: add 10gm gypsum, 4.4 epsom, 2.6gm CaCl

resulting profile:

101.5 Ca
14.3 Mg
8.0 Na
242.0 SO4
46.1 Cl
16.0 Bicarb

Expected pH 5.3

I like the initial look of this prior to brewing since i still get a high Sulfate vs. Chloride ratio and more importantly, the bicarb is low while in the PA profile its almost 110. 


Other Fermentables / Water Profile For Mead
« on: December 19, 2012, 07:47:58 AM »
So...I'm making a traditional mead with orange blossom this weekend.  I use RO water - should I be adding any salts to the water?

Also, does mead create a large krausen?  Concerned about having enough head space in my fermenter.


Pimp My System / Blatzhaus Electric Brauerei
« on: December 12, 2012, 06:57:29 AM »
Some of you have seen my brew stand build, but now I think I'm ready to show off the whole brewhaus, in a brew day illustrative...

Here's the brewery - strike water heating up in the Herms to the right.  The two upright freezers to the left hold 14.5 gal conicals

Control Panel:

Here's Brewdog Walden requesting to come supervise

HLT warming up:

Weighing out the grains:

Getting the mill ready:

Mast tun getting ready for strike water and grain...

Moving the strike water to the mash tun and striking in on an American Stout...

Boil Kettle getting prepped for wort...

Spider now in place...

The wort was fly sparged and sent to the boil kettle, now we are just finishing the hot break stage...

Cascades getting ready to swim...

Recirculating chilling and whirlpool going on now, hops removed via the basket - double ganged CFCs - one with hose water, one with recirced ice water - coming out at a nice 55df (though I can get down to 45df if I want...

Now pumping to the conical...

Is it beer time yet?


I didn't take any pictures of cleanup, cause, hey cleanup sucks, but basically dump out the grains, recirc PBW CIP and the fresh water, wet vac out the standing water and we're done...

Brewing's rich reward...

Cheers guys!

*edit* adjusted links.

Ingredients / How to add salts to sparge water when fly sparging?
« on: December 10, 2012, 07:44:08 AM »
Recently switched to fly sparging - third batch this weekend on my new setup.  My question is how do I add my water adjustment salts to my sparge? 

You can't add them to the HLT (not very soluble - they just sink and stick to the bottom of the kettle) and you can't still the mash at the point of sparging since it will disturb the grain bed, plus you still have the first wort in there.

With batch sparging, I would just throw the salts on top of the mash, add the sparge water and then stir.

What do y'all do? 

General Homebrew Discussion / Dryhopping in bags: Am I Oxidizing?
« on: December 02, 2012, 09:05:12 AM »
Hey all - I ferment in conicals and thus have to use bags.  Every other day I use some santized tongs to coerce the hop bags to submerge in the beer, but am I running a high risk of oxidizing? 

The reason I do it is the bags float and there are hops on the top side of the bag not getting wet if i don't flip the bag.

Ingredients / WL833 - Bock Lager - Czech Pils?
« on: November 19, 2012, 02:26:00 PM »
Hey all - I usually use 830 but am looking to experiment with using 833 in a vienna, dunkel and golden bock

But before I get into that series, I was looking to brew a Czech Pils - anyone tried a Czech Pils using 833 - I know its not the ideal yeast, but I was hoping to get a good slurry going and this would be an ideal starting point.

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