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Messages - enso

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Finding what works for you (me)
« on: January 06, 2010, 05:32:51 PM »
Anybody else have any parts of your brewing that just aren't as smooth as you want?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Finding what works for you (me)
« on: January 06, 2010, 05:31:48 PM »
Transferring to the fermenter was a pain during my first few batches. Like you I tried to use the funnel and screen approach to leave behind the trub and it just kept clogging.

Then I tried the wirlpooling thing and let the trub settle. And that's what I stuck with since.  Key here is not so much a good trub cone. They rarely form for me and these days I don't even whilpool anymore. No, key is brewing more than you need, letting the trub and some cold break settle. Than you can rack clear wort from the top.

The remaining 2-4 qt of wort and trub are filtered through a paper towel set in aforementioned funnel with screen. The wort is then frozen and used for starters or priming. No waste here.

These days I improved on that technique. After I chilled to about 60-70f I set the pot in a party tub with ice water that has been elevated. There it will continue to cool and settle at the same time. An hour later I come back to rack the clear 44 f wort into a carboy.

I don't like auto siphons. Too many parts. I use a racking cane and hose. The siphon gets started with a turkey baster. Squeeze the bulb, put the tip into the hose and release the bulb. The wort is now sucked into the hose and the siphon starts.

I hope that helps. It certainly made my brewing more enjoyable and I didn't buy any new gear even though I was close to buying a large strainer from a restaurant supply shop.


Hey Kai,

I actually learned of the whirlpooling technique from your write up.  Thought I was just not doing it right...  Thanks that does help.

Yes, I have considered bumping up the volume brewed and have to a degree.  I just need to push it a touch higher.  Right now I shoot for 7.25 gallons preboil and generally end up with 5.5-5.75 gallons.  I know that is a pretty high evaporation rate but it works for me I guess.  Guess I will shoot for 8 gallons as Thirsty monk suggests.  I do like the idea of having the extra wort for starters too.

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?

Other Fermentables / Re: I need a "making cider for dummies"
« on: January 05, 2010, 09:04:58 PM »
One thing no one has mentioned is to keep your cider topped up at all times once initial ferment has subsided and you have racked it clear of the gross lees!

If you don't, especially if you are gambling with not using sulfites you risk infections from film yeasts, cider sickness, mousiness (smells and tastes like the bottom of a mouse cage!) acetification and oxidation.

Cider seems to be much more perceptible to in infection with air in the headspace then beer I have found.  Could be the lengthy storage aging times I suppose.

Leaving it on the lees can be beneficial if you wish to promote a malolactic ferment to reduce acidity but watch it as it can also lead to other problems such as ropiness and oiliness if left to long and not monitored.

Other Fermentables / Re: Homebrewopedia Cider Recipes
« on: January 05, 2010, 08:51:27 PM »
Just once do yourself this favor with FRESH Cider

Put it in a carboy/keg with airlock

Dont turn around and think  just walk away and let it go with what was on the apples

That can work.  However be aware that the results are unpredictable. 

The "natural" saccharomyces yeasts  that may be present are generally only plentiful enough if the scratter and press used to extract the juice have a good build up on them from other sources.  Contrary to popular belief the wild yeasts abundant on apple skins or within the flesh are not saccharomyces cerevisiae or bayanus (the main fermenting yeasts in cider production) but weaker strains such as Kloeckera apiculata, Saccharomycodes ludwiggi, and candida sp.

Bear in mind that these wild yeasts do not survive long into fermentation.   Fermentation may start with strains of wild yeasts such kloeclera apiculate / torulopsis stella but they die after the alcohol reaches 2% abv and can also possibly produce musty flavors.  You then need to hope that some Saccharomyces yeasts were present on the pressing equipment and that they take hold before bacteria take control such as Acetomonas sp,  Acetobacter sp, lactic acid, and zymonas sp. all of which will likely be present especially if there was any rotten or damaged fruit pressed.  Not to mention unsanitary equipment.

If you are using equipment or getting juice from a known source that likely has sufficient yeast build up and you want to attempt "Natural" or wild fermentation anyways your best/safest bet is to at least dose the juice with 50 ppm of a sulfite solution.  Yeasts are less susceptible to sulfites and can survive better than can bacteria.  It may take a bit longer for initial ferment to start but your chances of a clean fermentation are much better.

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?

Just brewed a a nice malty Scotch ale on Saturday (Jan 2).  OG 1.104, how many shillings is that anyway?   :D

Took a while to get going despite a wicked HUGE starter.  Gave it another shot of aeration the second day.  It's going nicely now at about 56F.  Next up...

A double batch of Belgian Dark Strong split between 2 pots.  Mash 10 gallons worth and then boil separately.   5 gallons with an bit of star anise (perhaps...) and then some pomegranate molasses added mid ferment for more ferementables and another 5 gallons with an infusion of tangerine zest and then some cacao nibs in the fermenter, perhaps some vanilla bean as well.  When is the next posting?

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg, bottle or both?
« on: January 05, 2010, 07:13:23 PM »
I mainly keg.  I still seem to have a ton of bottles though and seem to clean them alot!   ???

I have 13 (LUCKY 13!!!) kegs and lately I keep them full fairly well.  So I find myself bottling partial kegs to make room for ready beers in the fermenters.  Especially higher gravity beers like barley wines and Belgian Strongs that I do not enjoy with frequency.  I use the old cut off racking cane and #2 stopper method to fill.  Also, now that I have such a large volume of beer I am much more generous about giving beer away.  A growler is not always appropriate to give away so I bottle a bunch.  I also am intersted in playing with bottle conditioning Belgian ales more now.  I plan on filling from the keg though.  I will keg it, age it some more and then add priming sugar and yeast if needed.  Purge the keg of air and roll to mix.  Then fill by pushing with C02 using the aforementioned high tech bottling gadget.   ;D Then there are competitions...

I guess when I had only a few kegs and brewed less I had not much reason (other than comps.) to bottle

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?

Seems like it ought to be OK to use as a fermenter.

Thanks Denny.  Do you think just a good rinse will do it or should I use other steps?

Oh, and I tried to find a MSDS on this product but a quick search yielded nothing.  Not even a website for the company.  I realize that would help in determining the safety... 

Sound like it is pretty powerful (concentrated) stuff as the general usage rate on the container states 1 ounce to 15 gallons of water!  Oh and it has a warning label of corrosive with a level 8.  I think that covers what I know...

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!

Other Fermentables / Re: Rescue My Cider
« on: November 06, 2009, 07:07:35 PM »
Likewise you can do as you would in making a sweet mead and just keep feeding it fresh juice until the yeast cannot tolerate the alcohol!

Brilliant! First time I've heard this suggestion. It's always been kill the yeast and backsweeten.


Probably because technically speaking it would no longer be cider by the time that happens.  You would then have an apple wine.   ;)

Other Fermentables / Re: Rescue My Cider
« on: November 06, 2009, 01:56:57 PM »

Cider making is all in the blending.  You can blend pre or post fermentation.  What was the juice comprised of that you started with?  Do you know the apple varieties?  It could be that the juice was lacking in aromatic type apples (thus the blandness) and had too many acidic (tart) type apples.

You want a blend of sweet, aromatic (small amount) tart and tannic apples to make a good rounded cider.

Three weeks is not enough time for this to be done.  Since it appears you do not want it any drier, rack the batch into a clean carboy.  Make sure to top it up with some fresh (sulfited) juice all the way up the neck.  Oxidation is the enemy.  Let it sit for a few months.  Meanwhile, you can make another batch of cider this time focusing on sweet and aromatic apples.  You can then take small amounts of your ciders when they are "done" and blend to taste.  Then scale up.

You can of course stabilize it as you suggested and back sweeten.  Just be sure it is absolutely stopped if you are bottling!

Cider naturally will ferment to dryness.  There are ways to make a naturally sweet cider, i.e. not back sweetened.  Look up the process of keeving as one example.  Likewise you can do as you would in making a sweet mead and just keep feeding it fresh juice until the yeast cannot tolerate the alcohol!

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