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Topics - enso

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Kegging and Bottling / Corking champagne bottles?
« on: February 15, 2010, 03:30:27 PM »
What do other folks use to cork finish champagne bottles?  Either European or American?

I know the Belgian corks work.  Most of the major homebrew supply places on line do not seem to have champagne corks.  Even ones that sell wine supplies.  They have the plastic champagne stoppers but not cork.

I have started to do some experiments with regular #9 corks but the jury is still out as to long term storage.  In the short term they seem to do the job and hold in carbonation and seal out air.  They also mushroom ever so slightly.

Other than using crown caps, yes I know they work, does anyone cork with anything other than Belgian?

Kegging and Bottling / How much slurry for bottle conditioning
« on: February 15, 2010, 02:35:33 AM »
I have read folks recommending a packet of dry or liquid yeast when adding fresh yeast to bottle condition.  What about yeast slurry though?  I imagine it would be a minute amount.

I have a Belgian tripel I am about to bottle.  To be safe I figured I would add some yeast along with priming sugar as it has been cold conditioning for many months now.  I was going to pitch a pack of dry us-05 but a) I am out and b) I happen to have some WLP530 slurry (which was the fermenting yeast) available at the moment.

So, how much?  Maybe 5 ml's of solid slurry or is even that too much?

I plan on adding the yeast and priming solution to a keg and then transferring from the keg it is in now.  Then I can purge the air, and agitate to distribute the sugar and yeast well without fear of oxidation.  Then, bottle from the keg through picnic tap/racking cane setup at low pressure.

Ingredients / Unmalted spelt
« on: February 13, 2010, 04:20:33 PM »
I am planning on using about 2.5 lbs. of unmalted spelt in my upcoming saison.  Does anyone have an idea on how to determine the extract potential of unmalted spelt, or any unmalted grain for that matter?

I will be using whole spelt berries.  I plan on milling them along with the rest of the grist. 

I realize I should learn how to determine this without relying on brewing software...  Especially since not every grain is accounted for in the various software programs.

I really enjoy this beer.  The brewery website has hardly any information about it.

What I am curious about is two things. 

One, this beer has a definite fruity characteristic, much more it would seem than mere yeast derived esters.  It reminds me a bit of the Kriek component of three philosophers (another wonderful beer!) only more so.  As this brewery also produces a few kriek and other fruit lambics is it possible they add some of this?  I know the Rouge has cherries in it.

The second thing that puzzles me is the intense level of sweetness.  Is this beer somehow pasteurized or filtered and then back sweetened or (gulp say it ain't so!  :o) artificially sweetened with chemical sweeteners!  I sure hope not the latter, but I do understand that this is a current practice of lambic/gueze producers in effort to appeal to a wider audience.  A damn shame in it's self.  The only kriek I have tried is Lindemans and I thought it was awful.  Cherry soda with alcohol.   >:(  Not the sour complex and dry treat I imagine when I think of lambic.  But I digress...  That is for another topic.


General Homebrew Discussion / Any new upcoming rallies?
« on: February 05, 2010, 10:35:37 PM »
Not sure if this is the right section...

Anyone have any rumours on any more upcoming AHA rallies for this year?

I keep hoping their will be one in New England again...

Preferably VT or northern NH.


Yeast and Fermentation / Loop vs. needle?
« on: February 04, 2010, 05:13:56 PM »
So, I just streaked my first plates.  Fun!   ;D

I used my inoculation loop as most sources I have read instruct.

I have an inoculation needle though as well.  In my eagerness to get going I placed an order with more beer and got their overpriced needle.  This was before I learned about cynmar.  So now I have both and I am not sure what the needle is for.

What I have read indicates that the loop is for streaking plates and slants and the needle is for stabs.  I don't understand the purpose of a stab though.  I get that you stab the inoculated needle into the agar in a slant, but what does that do?  How do you then work with this?

Kegging and Bottling / Bad idea, but so tempting!
« on: February 04, 2010, 02:34:14 PM »
Being the pack rat that I am I save all the wire cages and corks from Belgian and champagne style bottles.  I know I can get at least one use out of the cages.  Never was sure why I saved the corks though. 

Now I have a corker and I am sorely tempted to reuse corks.  I have some new Belgian corks, but man are they expensive overall!  When they run out, well.  My half baked idea is that I can sulfite the corks or steam them or...

Seriously asking for contamination aren't I.   ::)  I just need to hear someone else (other than the little voice in my head) tell me NO!


As another viewpoint I wonder if perhaps we already have too many categories?!

What has me wondering is this.  I am an all grain brewer, however I have not really checked in that category.  Guess I have not had any issues/questions recently.  I checked in there today because I had already looked at most of the others...  wasting time today I guess.   ;)

I saw many posts in there that I thought perhaps were more relevant in other sections.  Some where questions on grains (ingredients?) others on recipes, clone requests (recipe section?)

I wonder if perhaps it is because they are viewed as belonging in "all grain" because they involve grains that require mashing or recipes that are in fact all grain.  It seems sort of exclusionary then since partial mash or extract brewers may not read that section.

I am not asking for removal of any section, just wondering if there is a better way to get things in the "right" place

Sorry if I am being a pain.  I guess I need to go do something "important"   ::)


Yeast and Fermentation / What to expect from cultured dregs of Orval?
« on: February 03, 2010, 05:55:49 PM »
I can't remember what the exact recipe or context was, but in Brew Like a Monk there was a recipe where the homebrewer pitched the dregs of 2 bottles of Orval into the secondary (iirc) of a brew.

Caught my imagination as I really enjoy the character of Orval.  From what I understand there are multiple yeast strains in there including Brett?

I believe what I would like to do is to culture up some dregs from a bottle to pitch into an already fermented Saison, yet to be brewed.

How much should I build it up?  How long should I expect to wait on it to finish?  Six months?  More?  I plan on bottle conditioning so obvisously I want it to be done first.

Will I get brett character or is it possible only one or two strains will dominate when culturing the dregs?

I know I am going to give it a try and only time will tell, I just am really "hepped" up on this idea and guess I want to talk about with folks.  Maybe get some additional ideas or insights.   

Yeast and Fermentation / Victory yeast
« on: January 29, 2010, 11:07:36 PM »
Anybody know what yeasts Victory brewing uses and wether or not they use their primary strain in bottling?  In particular their Helios (saison style) yeast.  I have grown some up if for no other reason than to see if I could.  I plan on trying some just for kicks but wondered if anyone knows about it?

I am planning to brew a Saison in the near future.  The plan is to brew 10 gallons.  I will then pitch WLP565 in 5 gallons and I will split the rest into 1 gallon carboys and pitch different yeasts.  I figured I would use the helios for one.  If it turns out well I will keep the yeast.

I may try culturing some other yeasts from bottles.  I have started some Ommegang.

Yeast and Fermentation / Yeast culturing queries.
« on: January 29, 2010, 07:46:37 PM »
I am just getting started with this and I have done a lot of reading on various web pages about culturing for and by homebrewers.  I think I have a fair idea of what to do, hands on is the best way to learn though...

I do have a few things I am unclear on.  The first is the goal of preparing slants.  I understand that streaking plates is to isolate singular colonies.  Slants seem to be more for storage?  Why are slants better for storage?  What is the goal of a properly prepared slant?  What should it be like?  I have read about people refering to a "lawn of yeast".  Does this mean your aim is to completely cover the top surface of the agar in the slant with yeast?  How does one go about this?  Meaning, if you apply yeast to the plate with the aim of having the least amount of cells, how do you achieve maximum coverage when aplying to the slant.

Not sure if my questions are clear or not, but hopefully with a bit of discussion we can clear my fog.   :D

Yeast and Fermentation / Questions about agar consistency/quality
« on: January 25, 2010, 12:59:15 PM »
I have some agar I bought at my local food coop and I try to make up some agar "plates" to streak.  I use the term loosely because I have yet to invest in the proper tools.  I am using baby food jars with a small amount of agar in the bottom and a stainless steel cotter pit as my "needle".

The agar I bought is in a flake form.  I tried using the amount recommended by Kai on his wiki page; 3-4 g per 100 ml of wort.  I found the agar was not completely dissolving no matter how long I heated it.  There were always chunks of undissolved agar flake floating.  So, I started adding a few ml at a time of additional wort.  Unfortunately I did not keep record of how much...   ::)

Finally it seemed well mixed so I squirted about 10 ml into the bottom of each jar with a syringe.  It was rather clumpy looking and was cooling and solidifying quickly.  In the end I decided it was not right so I scooped the solid disks out of each jar and put them back in the pan with another approx. 100 ml of wort.  I remelted them and it seemed a bit better, more liquid.  I then refilled the jars.

I have since attempted to streak one jar.  The agar seemed rather solid (stiff) but dragging the "needle" across it made it tear and scraped it along leaving definite scrape marks with valleys and chunks of agar deposited around.  The yeast did grow but it is rather clumpy with the rough agar surface and not easy to find a clean colony.

Was my agar too stiff?  Too soft?  Or is it just that my "needle" is too crude for the job?  I have read that some people use a paper clip for this purpose and my stainless steel cotter pin is the same dimensions as that.

Also, my agar turns out looking cloudier and darker than the pictures I have seen.  I am using a fairly pale wort for mixing it up.  Any suggestions there?

Beer Recipes / Rauch love...
« on: January 20, 2010, 09:19:41 PM »
I have a soft spot in my heart for the rauch bier.  I have only brewed one smoked beer and it was great, a maple flavored smoked amber ale.  It was not the loveliness that is a straight up rauchbier though.

I had not had much rauch bier for a while until my local package store got in some Schlenkerla Marzen.  I have been eagerly consuming it and it got me wishing I had my own stash.

Here is the idea.  I am not too big on lagers and certainly not really equipped enough to "do it right" in the lager department.  However, I do make a mean California common and a lovely malty Scottish ale.  Both fermented in the mid to high 50's F.  Let me state right here before anyone gets a wrong idea. I do NOT believe Scottish ales should have any reak (smoke) to them.  That is just an incorrect urban legend!  So do not go there!


Okay, got that off my chest...  What I am thinking is my Scottish shilling ale recipe would be a good malty base line to use for a smooth rauch ALE as opposed to a lager.  It is a pretty simple recipe.  Mainly Marris Otter, a bit of aromatic malt to approximate older amber malts and a touch of roast barley.  A thick mash and some caramelization of the first runnings.  I would then use either wyeast 1728 which is my Scottish ale yeast of choice, or WLP810 San fran. lager which I also have on hand, and ferment in the high 50's F to keep it smooth and lager like, not too fruity.

Probably hop with mild noble hops.  Maybe hallertau?

Any suggestions?

Yeast and Fermentation / Blowing off too much yeast?
« on: January 20, 2010, 02:02:11 PM »
I brewed up 2 Belgian dark strongs on Monday.  One I could tell was going to need a blow off fairly quickly.  The other went about 30 hours with no appreciable rise in kraeusen.  I monitored it closely.  It did not seem to be in danger.  Sure enough in a matter of minutes while I was not watching it it blew its top!  I cleaned the mess and put on a blow off then went to bed.  This morning I found an even bigger mess with the blow off tube on the floor and tons of kraeusen, yeast... all over the fermenter and, fortunately, mostly contained in the water bath it was in.

Here is my concern.  It seems to be no longer actively fermenting.  I know activity is still going on but it is nowhere near as fierce as it was.  There was a ton of yeast in the bottom of the water bath when I cleaned it out.  Does the loss of this much yeast effect the fermentation and overall attenuation potential?

The reason I ask is something similar happened to me with a Belgian dark strong last year.  I lost a lot of yeast through blow off and it ended up not attenuating enough.  I suspected the yeast loss but just chalked it up to experience.

I am now making an emergency starter of some more yeast (wlp 530) to add back in and ramping the temp up a bit.

Anyone else experience this?

Yeast and Fermentation / pressure cooker vs. pressure canner?
« on: January 20, 2010, 01:55:21 AM »
Is there a difference when it comes to canning wort?  I have a pressure cooker.  It is a really nice stainless Kuhn Rikon stainless steel one I got for $10 at the thrift store.  It was practically new and works well.

From what I understand to properly can wort you need to can it at 15 lbs. pressure for 20 minutes.  My pressure cooker has a spring loaded relief valve.  When it pushes up to the first ring on the valve stem it is at 8 lbs. pressure, when the second ring shows it is at 15 lbs.

So theoretically this should be what I need yes?  I have been canning wort for a few months now with it and using it, though I still store the canned wort in the kegerator because I am unsure.

Another question for folks.  I am starting to get into yeast culturing.  I have a whole mess of clean baby food jars from when my kids were younger.  I attempted canning some wort in those for smaller starters.  I had a heck of a time with the lids coming off in the cooker.  Some wort leaked.  I sealed them back on when taking them out.  Some sealed as they cooled others did not.  Are these going to be safe, the ones that sealed anyways?  Why do the lids come off in the cooker?

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