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Topics - enso

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I have never really delved into water chemistry.  I am still not certain I am ready too either.  Never was good at chemistry.  Anyway, out of curioustity I had my water tested by ward labs.  Last place I lived did not provide any useful info on the town water.  It was wicked chlorinated anyway (even with filtration) so I did not use it.

Now I have well water, though I do not use that either.  It is wicked sulfery even with filtration!  I use a roadside spring up the road from me for brewing and drinking water.  Here is what I got:

pH 8.2
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 157
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.26
Cations / Anions, me/L 2.5 / 2.7
Sodium, Na 1
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 45
Magnesium, Mg 2
Total Hardness, CaCO3 121
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 6
Chloride, Cl 1
Carbonate, CO3 9
Bicarbonate, HCO3 120
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 112
Fluoride, F 0.01
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

Without blowing my head off with vast knowledge I am not quite ready for, can someone give me a rough idea how this water suites/does not suite beer styles?  I have brewed a flanders red and a brown ale so far since I have lived here (about a month) and also made a mead.  I am looking to brew up 10 gallons of my house pale ale, but started to be concerned after reading posts about water that maybe this water is not good for a hoppy pale ale since I do not really understand it all yet.

Yeast and Fermentation / When should I rack my Flanders red if at all?
« on: September 20, 2010, 02:35:50 PM »
I brewed a flanders at the beginning of August.  I pitched Roseleare blend straight from the start with no additional yeast cultures, save for a few bottle dregs.  It has been in the same carboy since.  The gravity is about 1.010 and it is fairly well funky already.  There is very minimal sediment in the bottom of the carboy.  Loads of stuff still in suspension.  No pellicle has been observed.

Do I rack it off the initial sediment to avoid autolysis or other unwanted flavors or does it need to sit just as it stands for maturing, and how long before I rack it if at all?

Kegging and Bottling / The leak is fixed! ...maybe
« on: September 19, 2010, 03:28:10 PM »
As I posted in my rambling other post, I believe i have my kegerator co2 problem fixed.  Here is my final concern.

I have everything hooked up again.  I pressurized the system and then turned off the gas at the tank.  None of the QD's are attached to kegs so everything should remain pressurized.  I left it for a couple of days.  All of the low pressure gauges are staying steady at the reading they were at when I pressurized it.

My concern is this.  Over the span of about 2 days, the high pressure gauge has started to fall slowly.  All other gauges are holding steady as mentioned.  Does this indicate a leak still?

So, as I have been wrestling with my co2 leakage issue and ripping apart my entire set-up I noticed something.  My beverage lines which I thought were 3/16 (I paid for 3/16!) are in fact 1/4" ID!  No wonder I was having pour problems.  Sheesh.

I can't remember where they came from exactly as I have bought tubing from many places.  Never assume you got what you ordered/ paid for.  Always check it.

I have seen folks mentioning their catalog so i checked their website.  It appears you can only look at their online catalog if you have an account.  So I ordered a paper copy.  I swear it came the next day!  I put in the name of my homebrewery for business name as it was a required field.

The catalog says wholesale only and there is a credit application on the back of the ordering form.  However, they offer products individually.  The prices are really good (I guess they must be the wholesale) so I would love to order from them.

So how about it?  Anybody know the scoop?

I know the homebrew shops offer them.  I am just wondering what makes them specific to CO2 useage.  I know that you need special gauges for oxygen use as it clearly states on the gauges on my CO2 regulators.

I ask because a local tool supply place has regulators for about $5 that look EXACTLY like the ones you get at homebrew shops for your CO2 regulator.  It even had the same warning sticker on the top.  However they sell them with other air (compressor) type fittings.  I asked them if they would work with CO2 but they did not seem too knowledgeable.  I have gotten a replacement gauge once from the place I get my CO2 refilled and it was actually intended for argon.  They knew more but they do not regularly stock gauges as they have a pretty small space.

So, help me here.  What makes a regulator pressure gauge appropriate for CO2, or any specific type of gas for that matter.  That way I can know what to look for when I see gauges locally.

So I am encouraged thus far with my first Flanders red ale.  Since the waiting will be long might as well get another one under way right!

I am contemplating a golden sour ale this time.  I want it to be simple.  I am not really wanting to go whole hog into the lambic route with full turbid mash and funky hops and natural harvested bugs and yeast...

Here is what I have got thus far.

I am going to go with a relatively simple grist.   Around 63% pilsner, 18.5% malted wheat and 18.5% unmalted (flaked) spelt.

For hops I will use a fairly low alpha acid unkown variety hop I harvested 2 summers ago.  It has been in my freezer since.  The hops are somewhat unusual.  I have gotten fruity flavors from them in beers I featured them.  Coconut comes to mind...

I plan on doing a single infusion mash @ 154-156F.  I have toyed with the idea of doing at least one rest at about 122F for the unmalted spelt.  I would rather keep it simple though.

Regular 90 minute boil.  I will pitch Wyeast Belgian lambic blend directly, no starter, as that seems to have worked quite nicely with the Roseleare.  No additional Sacch. yeast.

Sound like a plan so far?  Any tweaks?  Suggestions?

I am also toying with the idea of way down the road adding some fresh or canned (Oregon) fruit to all or part of it.  Say, raspberries or cherries.

Kegging and Bottling / How do I determine if a regulator is leaking?
« on: August 24, 2010, 06:41:03 PM »
I continue to be driven crazy trying to find the CO2 leak in my system.  I have replaced hoses, redid connections and gaskets, everything I can think of.  Still leaking.  I believe I know the general source of the leak from shutting off different parts of the system.  It seems to be somewhere between the manifolds in the fridge and a T of shutoffs after the primary regulator.  I am hoping I am wrong but starting to wonder if it is the bank of 3 secondary regulators.  I have checked the connections and they appear to be sound.  So I am wondering if there is a leak in the regulators themselves.  Man I hope I am wrong.

How can I rule this out?  If there is a leak can it be fixed?  They are perlick regulators.  Used I think.  I bought them from American Science and Surplus.  They were working well for several years.

All Grain Brewing / Mash temps for a Flanders Red style???
« on: August 16, 2010, 08:23:29 PM »
I am all set to brew my first sour beer, except I am undecided on mash temp.  I am hoping to create a beer similar in nature to Jolly Pumpkin's La Roja.  I have been reading much conflicting information on mash regimens. 

One source, Randy Mosher in Radical Brewing, states to mash low @ 145F for 1.5 hours.  This he explains is to create a highly fermentable wort for a dry finish.  This makes sense to me.  Other sources, including a "clone" for la Roja in BYO state something higher like 154F.  One source even suggest going as high as 158F to produce more dextrins and force the bugs to work harder to eat, thus making more of the desired acidity and flavors.  Of course there are also the more traditional step mashes and such.

I realize I will probably get 10 more opinions here!   ::)  So, I guess consensus will be my friend.   ;)

I am not using any adjuncts in this brew.  I want to keep it a simple single step mash this time.  I will be using Rosealare yeast directly pitched into the wort and adding some dregs of La roja, Cantillion, and one of my "Orvaled" Saisons.  Grist is 47.8% Vienna, 28.7% pilsner, 9.6% Caramunich II, 9.6% Aromatic, 3.6% Special B, and 0.9% Debittered Carafa special.

Where should I mash it at?

So I moved recently and had to tear down the kegerator for transporting.  I set it back up and checked the CO2 system.  Had a leak.  I finally think I found the leak (or at least I found the one!) but I am not sure what is actually leaking.

Here is my set-up.  My primary regulator goes goes to a T with 2 shutoffs.  One shut off goes to a 1/4" barbed swivel nut and a QD for purging kegs, etc.  The second shut-off then leads to a bank of 3 secondary regulators.  I was actually only running two of them previously as I had an unidentified leak in the 3rd ;)

The secondaries lead to 2 seperate 2 part manifolds inside the kegerator.

I ended up dunking the connections on the bottom of the secondaries in some starsan.  They are connected with barbed swivel nuts.  I cranked the pressure up and turned on the gas.  What I saw is many very fine bubbles coming from around the hose clamp itself?  I have the hose clamped on the swivel nut with the worm gear type hose clamps.  I do not think they are clamped down too tight.  Maybe it is coming from somewhere else?  The only thing I can think is that the clamps somehow punctured the hose itself?

Any ideas?    ??? ??? ???

General Homebrew Discussion / First mold, now SULPHUR!
« on: July 29, 2010, 04:13:17 PM »
So the house we are renting has a moldy/mildewy basement which I posted my concerns about earlier.  Well, I am over my concerns there.  With the dehumidifier running it is actually a much nicer environment than our old house now that I am in there.  I will still use caution but I am not as worried.

My new concern is the water.  It is from a well and is WICKED sulphury!  I will not be using it for my liquor as there is a really good spring just up the road.  I am concerned though about rinsing kegs, carboys, bottles, etc. with the water.  This stuff is harsh!  Wicked rotten egg sulphury.  Will I end up with some residual in/on my equipment that will f##k up my beer?

General Homebrew Discussion / Will Mold be a problem?
« on: July 22, 2010, 02:21:05 PM »
First my brief tale of woe...

We sold our house.  Which I am not sad about.  The sad part is that we were unable to find the right home to buy in the community we wanted to live in, in time.  Still nothing on the market.  So, we are renting until some more options come on the market.  I have not rented in many years and I do not miss it.  But, at least we have a home and it is not a bad house.  I would not buy it, but it is okay to live in.

Here comes the homebrew part.

When we first looked at the house, the basement; which is where I will my brewing operation will be confined to, was rather moldy/mildewy smelling.  The landlord did some work on the house before we moved in including addressing this issue.  Half of the basement is semi-finished with a laundry room.  Carpeted with berber carpeting over concrete.  It has drywall ceiling and some of the walls. One wall is the foundation and it has been painted.  This was apparently where the mold was.  I presume he treated the mold and repainted/sealed it.  He also added a pretty nice dehumidifier.  This is where the brew things will be.

It smells like he mitigated the problem.  It is much cleaner looking too.  Do you folks think I will face contamination issues if I am fermenting/racking/storing beer down there?  I also will have my kegerator down there.  In my current home I have experienced occasional mold/mildew on my kegerator from condensation in the summer but have not had infections.

Thanks for reading all that.  Should I be concerned?  I can't stand the thought of not being able to brew for the next year!   :'(

Commercial Beer Reviews / Brooklyn Sorachi Ace Saison
« on: July 20, 2010, 10:59:05 PM »
Wow those are some distinctive hops.  Really lemony.  Very much like lemon zest or lemon grass.  In aroma and flavor.  Refreshing and not over the top.

The Saison itself is also delightful.  Crisp bitterness mixes well with that lemony character.  Bone dry yet a silky mouthfeel.  Kind of creamy like there are some oats in there?  At the same time it is a fairly light medium body.  A lemony gold color with just a slight haze.  Fluffy cloud like head and nice sticky lacing.  Nice crisp carbonation but not too gassy.  Loads of tiny bubbles.  Very refreshing summer beer.  A bit pricey but certainly worth a try or two...

Sounds like these hops are hard to come by?  They really go well in a Saison imho.

Equipment and Software / Gravity fed hopback and immersion chiller?
« on: July 09, 2010, 04:44:11 PM »
I have been curious about playing around with a hopback.  I understand that generally the wort is fed into it hot and then pumped into a cooling tank or through a cfc in a hombrew situation.

What I am wondering is can this be done without a pump and simply be gravity fed?  Does the wort have to be hot for it to work or can it be cooled first then drained through?  Yes I realize cool wort will extract less (maybe hardly anything) from the hops.  Is the heat merely for the extraction or does it help the flow?

Or, could the wort be drained into the hopback via gravity while hot and then flow by gravity into a third vessel (extra kettle) with an immersion chiller for cooling in that?

Other Fermentables / Could it be the honey?
« on: June 25, 2010, 03:31:54 PM »
So, I was all set to give up on mead making.  Then I recently bottled a raspberry melomel I made last summer.  It was actually decent.  It would not win any awards I am sure but it was drinkable if not tasty.  My wife really enjoyed it.  Sadly there were only 2 gallons...

However, all the other batches I made last summer have the same issues I have had for the last 3 years I have tried to make meads.  They have a wintergreen sort of aroma (in the past I identified it with the old waxed lips) and a bitterness that may be from hot alcohol.  Even after a year of bulk aging.

I have tried all the methods out there.  Using different nutrient schedules and aerating, keeping the temp under control and constant, keeping them topped up while aging...  Yes proper sanitation!  I have read many posts on different forums, Ken Schramms book (though I do not own it), and tried recipes out of books.  I have used generally champagne/wine yeasts.  Mostly Lalvin.

I suspect that if it were not for the tannic nature of the raspberries I would probably taste the same problems with that melomel.  The only common theme on all these meads was the honey.  I always used a local clover honey.  No idea of the source really.  It is repacked from bulk at my local food coop.  It was relatively inexpensive ($4 a lb. vs. $8 for a "brand" name honey)

Is it perhaps this honey that is giving me issues?  Would trying to order some honey (and maybe a "kit") from somewhere like Northern Brewer give me better results?  Or am I just mead challenged?  It pisses me off to no end when I read mead is the easiest fermented beverage to make!  I make damn good beer.  Why can't I make even decent mead?

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