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Topics - enso

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It has been interesting to read about favorite/least favorite styles.  Reading them got me thinking about styles I used to either not care for or really detest that I now enjoy or even in some cases dare I say it, LOVE!  Beers I dislike are becoming less and less...

Fruit beer is often maligned and I too was a fruit hater but I have had some brews that changed my mind.  I do still avoid fruit beers mostly as there are MANY awful fruit beers out there.  Berkshire Brewing Company (Mass.) makes a delicious Raspberry barley wine.  I love barley wines and I was really hesitant to try this.  I avoided it for a long time until the package store had only one left...  I figured what the hell and tried it.  It was an epiphany!  Really refreshing and yet definitely a beer.  I regretted not getting more as it was a seasonal.  I have had a couple of other fruit beers that were quite good as well since.  I believe they had raspberry as well...

Another was Belgian tripels, golden strongs, saisons...  Anything Belgian that was light in complexion I did not like.  I could not even tell one from the other, they all seemed the same.  Belgian dubbels, and dark strongs I LOVED, just nothing pale.  I cannot explain why exactly.  I think it was the paler belgians seemed more phenolic?  The darker ones have more of the rummy, fruity dark caramel flavors in addition to the phenols.

Not sure what happened, it was not any particular beer but suddenly I had a craving for the paler variations and particularly that same spicy phenol character.  I really enjoy them now.  I even have begun trying my hand at brewing them.  Can't wait to brew up some saison...

On the other hand some beers I used to love have slipped from the top in terms of favor.  I used to really love hop bombs of all types.  Could drink them all the time any time.  Now, I have to be in the mood for one.  They do not always taste as good to me.  My tastebuds have definitely changed I believe.  Malty beers seem to now be the standard all around anytime flavor for me these days.

What have been your changes of heart in terms of beer style or changes in taste?

General Homebrew Discussion / Finding what works for you (me)
« on: January 05, 2010, 10:19:15 PM »
As we know there are hundreds of ways of doing all parts of the brewing process and everyone needs to find the methods/techniques that work best for them.  I have my brewing process fairly well set.  Except one step that alludes me yet...

Getting the beer from the boil kettle to the fermenter!  I believe in doing things the simplest most economical (okay cheapest) and effective that I can.  I have tried a few ways.  Pouring through a funnel with a screen and mesh bag (PITA!  :o), straight up regular racking/siphoning (tricky to get started and maintain),  autosiphon (easy to start and restart), autosiphon after whirlpooling and settling the trub "cone" (never quite works as advertised) all of which end inevitably with emergency sanitizing of the funnel/mesh bag and scooping and scraping the funnel screen to free the flow...

I have thought about adding a spigot to the kettle but it does not seem that it will solve the trub/hop sludge issues and only add cost.

What part of the brewing process has alluded you in terms of what works for you?  Did you finally find the solution?  Do you just grumble and bear it?

Questions about the forum? / Members only section?
« on: January 05, 2010, 07:37:28 PM »
I recall reading that there was a members only section in the works.  Is it up?  Am I missing it?

Kegging and Bottling / Interesting (I think) corking experiment.
« on: January 05, 2010, 07:00:28 PM »
I just got a collona corker/capper over the holidays and I plan to use it for corking Belgian beers per the nice write up on doing so here

However, backing up a bit...

I made my wife some wine for the holidays (first try and turned out really nicely) and in order to cork it I bought one of those cheap $5 "Handy" plunger corkers.  What is the fuss about those anyway, it wasn't that hard...  I digress.

So, there I was.  Waiting hopefully for a new corker, yet I had this capable cheap gadget to play with.  I also had a partial keg of Belgian Dark Strong that I needed to empty to make room for some beers ready to rack.  I decided to bottle the rest of the beer in Champagne bottles and cap them.  As a lark I tried corking two, well, three actually but one cork got pushed in too far so I capped it as well.

The beer was force carbonated to approx. 3 volumes.  I used plain old #9 agglomerated wine corks soaked briefly in star san.  I used european size champagne bottles which take the 29mm crown caps.  I haven't checked to see if the opening diameter is different from Belgian bottles or U.S. Champagne bottles.  I figured out the depth to plunge through a quick bit of trial and error with empty bottles and marking the plunger with a sharpie.  Then plunged in the cork to the mark.  I then picked the bottle up off the surface and pushed the cork through the rest of the way.    I then caged them and set to rest in my cool room.

Today, about 3 weeks later I opened one.  I removed the cage and set the bottle down to get a glass out.  POP!  the cork flew out on its own!  I poured.  Carbonation was still where it was when bottling.  Head retention seems to have improved??  Tastes just as excellent as it did previously.  Cork was just slightly mushroomed as it is a smaller diameter.

So what has this shown?  I don't know, but It has me wanting to experiment further.  Yes, I grant that it has only been in the bottle 3 weeks or so.  There is a possibility that it will not last the long haul.  Perhaps, the smaller diameter cork will not protect it well enough, or maintain carbonation.  Or...  well, not sure what else could go wrong but it seems worth playing with.  Also granted these were champagne bottles and not Belgian bottles.

I am waiting for B3 to get Belgian corks back in stock.  It is kind of a hassle to get these, Have to order them.  Not to mention pricier than standard corks.  So perhaps if my experiments work out this will be an easier more economical solution.  Yes they aren't quite as pretty as they do not mushroom as much, but if they work...

Once I get some Belgian corks I will bottle a tripel I have waiting.  I will be bottle conditioning and I will try a small amount with standard corks.  Some in Belgian bottles and some in Champagne.  Perhaps 6 of each.  Then I will open them over a period of time and see how they hold up vs. ones corked with "official" Belgians corks.  Should be interesting.  Any comments out there?  Anyone tried similar attempts?

I found a large plastic container today at the recycling center.

I am wondering if it will be safe to use as a possible primary fermenter for 10 gallon batches.

Here is what I know.  It is thick translucent #2 HDPE plastic  and holds about 15 gallons (it has markings up to about 3/4 of the way and the final volume is 12 gallons/ 45liters) and formerly held an acid based CIP sanitizer.  The sanitizer was for the dairy industry it appears.  It is a phosphoric/sulfuric acid based sanitizer called fc-298 made by IBA inc..  It has a handle on top and a main cap and a vent cap on top.

So, it would seem to me that if I were to rinse it well with water a few times, perhaps take a pH reading of the final rinse it is feasible this will be safe to use?  Can anyone think of any reasons not to use this? 

I have never been one to ferment in plastic but I brew 10 gallon batches at times or have 10 gallons of cider so it would be nice to have a one large fermenter rather than 2 5/6 gallon ones going.

Or maybe if not a fermenter it would be a great water collection vessel?  I get my water from a roadside spring and am constantly scrounging around for every empty bucket or keg I have to maximize my collection capacity.

Any thoughts out there folks?

Sláinte Mhath!

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