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Messages - el_capitan

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1
Ingredients / Re: Which base malts do you keep in stock?
« on: September 04, 2017, 06:14:01 PM »
I only make it to the brew shop a couple times each year, and I don't do online orders, so I tend to map out my brewing for the next several months and pick everything up in a bulk order.  When I need like 20# of Munich, Vienna, Pils, etc, it's a lot cheaper to just pick up a 55# sack (about half the price per pound).  So right now, I have bulk sacks of Rahr 2-row, Maris Otter, Pilsner, Vienna, and Simpsons Golden Promise.  I pick up about 5-10# of other malts at a time and generally have whatever I need for planned batches or other recipes I decide to brew on a whim. 

2
All Grain Brewing / Re: Smoked Helles Advice
« on: September 04, 2017, 06:10:29 PM »
It isn't hard to smoke your own either - that way you can chose the type of wood.
I have an electric smoker. Do you have to cold smoke it or can I just use a low temp?


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I recently made a Grätzer using home-smoked wheat malt.  I misted the grains with water so that the smoke would stick to the grain.  I repeated that step a couple times.  I also used an electric smoker, and kept the temp under 150.  I was using cherry wood.  I think I smoked the malt for about 2-3 hours, and it really came through in the beer.  Not an overload, but definitely there. 

I've had good luck with the Weyermann Oak-Smoked wheat malt.  You might also try the Briess Cherrywood-Smoked malt. 

3
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Reusing yeast shortcuts
« on: August 25, 2017, 07:51:01 PM »
I like to follow what Brulosophy does.  just over-build your starter and save a portion of that.  You never have to worry about harvesting yeast from the bottom a carboy.

+1  I've been overbuilding starters since reading that tidbit.  Works great! 

4
The Pub / Re: The approaching darkness
« on: August 21, 2017, 11:24:59 PM »
I stayed home, and we had about 83% coverage here in MN.  I built a little projection device with my young boys, and we had a lot of fun adjusting it and seeing the progression.  It was cloudy enough that we could actually take a few quick squints at the sun without going blind.  We were lucky - just an hour away it was raining hard and they missed the whole thing. 

I took the opportunity to brew a batch of what I'm calling "Moonshadow Munich Dunkel."  I think we'll plan a trip for the next one in 7 years. 

5
Going Pro / Re: Starting Wage for a Test-Batch Brewer?
« on: August 21, 2017, 11:21:02 PM »
Thanks for the chuckle, Wilbur.  You weren't rambling or incoherent.  To clarify, I would be brewing on the 10-gallon pilot system in the actual brewery, on an off-day like a Sunday.  I'd be in there probably twice per month.  So, this is not really homebrew, it's "R&D Beer" done on a much smaller scale.  The recipe formulation would be done as a collaboration with the main brewer, since he enjoys ownership of that aspect of the brewery. 

So essentially, I would be brewing 10-gallon batches at the brewery, which could be marketed as R&D Beers with customers giving feedback on the beer, with the understanding that it's under development.  You're right that the time factor is the big draw here, and I have a level of experience and knowledge that inspires confidence in my brewing.  I'm brewing beers that are consistently high-quality, and after cycling through a lot of the standard styles, I'm pushing forward with some unique cultural beer styles that are not typical in a brewery, such as Sahti, Grödziskie/Grätzer, etc.  We're in Minnesota, with a lot of Scandinavian influence, so those particular beers are of interest to our local community. 

Anyway, perhaps $12/hr is a decent starting wage for what I'm describing.  I'm not really in this to make a ton of money - I just want to help my friends develop new high-quality beers and keep pushing the brewing envelope.  If I can get paid to do what I enjoy, while defining my own work schedule, I don't see a huge downside.  I have no ambitions to start a commercial brewery of my own, so this would be a nice way to enter into the profession without having it dominate my world.  I'm a full-time teacher, father of three, and generally busy dude with lots of hobbies and interests, so this will fit nicely into my life.  I just wanted to see if that wage was in the ballpark. 

Thanks, guys!  I'll keep you posted.  Either way, I'm pumped to be expanding my brewing a bit.  Cheers.

6
Going Pro / Re: Starting Wage for a Test-Batch Brewer?
« on: August 20, 2017, 08:36:41 PM »
Interesting, and kind of disheartening.  I'll try to do the best I can and see what shakes down.  Thanks for the input, fellas. 

7
Going Pro / Starting Wage for a Test-Batch Brewer?
« on: August 17, 2017, 10:25:27 PM »
Alright guys, here's the scoop.  A couple friends of mine have successfully made the transition from homebrewers to professional brewers.  They opened a local brewery last Christmas after several years of intense planning.  So far, they have grown fast and are now nearing max production for their location. 

They're working hard to keep up production on the beers, and have really dialed in their system.  One crucial step that is lacking in their process is test-batch brewing.  This became painfully apparent a couple weeks ago, when they had to dump a batch of BGSA because it had problems with the alcohol balance. 

After that, I approached them with the idea of hiring me on as a test-batch brewer.  I would brew on their 10-gallon pilot system to help refine recipes before scaling up the full-scale batches.  They simply don't have the time to do that, alongside their current brewing schedule. 

A bit of background here - I've brewed for over 13 years and I'm at about batch 200.  These guys have learned quickly, but have only brewed for 4 years or so, and they're on about batch 40.  I've been helping them out behind the scenes by advising, evaluating beers, sharing knowledge, and sharing samples of my homebrew as ideas for future commercial brews.  It's been a lot of fun so far, and I'm excited about officially joining the team.

My question is - with my level of experience and knowledge, what do you think is a fair wage for that position?  This may be a step towards brewing full-scale commercial batches during the summer time, when I'm not teaching.  For now, I would help with recipe development and refinement, brewing the beer, monitoring fermentation, packaging it in kegs, and gathering evaluative feedback from groups of knowledgeable beer drinkers.  I also spend a fair amount of time researching new ingredients and techniques, and I share this knowledge with them too. 

Let me know your thoughts.  Thanks!

8
If you've never brewed it, you should try Janet's Brown Ale.  The recipe is included in Brewing Classic Styles, but I'm sure you can find it online too.  That one includes a few large late additions of Cascade and Centennial.  I think you would need about 3 oz Cascade, and 2 oz Centennial, which should be no problem for you.  I use pellets for a known bittering addition, then use homegrown for late.  It's a fantastic American Brown ale, and it always gets rave reviews from my friends.  PM me if you can't find the recipe and would like me to share it. 

Another nice recipe to use some of those would be Denny's Waldo Lake Amber.  Just a couple ounces in that one, but it's a great beer as well.  You could probably brew both with even a smaller harvest of homegrowns.  Cheers!

9
Homebrewer Bios / Re: New Poster, long time reader.
« on: August 17, 2017, 10:07:36 PM »
Hey man - I lived in Missoula for a couple years during college, way back in the early 2000's.  What a great place to spend some time.  I miss it!  I thought Missoula was great, because it helped me see that people are people, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual preference, etc.  My time there helped me learn to connect with people on a personal level, looking past all of the surface stuff.  Then, add in all of the recreational opportunities like hiking, biking, canoeing, snowboarding, fishing, and whatever else, and you have a great place.  I learned to tie-dye in Missoula (big surprise, eh?) and made a business of it for a while, marketing my tapestries down at the Staggering Ox by malfunction junction.

Good times all around.  I head out to Montana once every year or two, and I might just have to crash your party next time. 

Welcome to the forum!  Thanks for bringing back the memories.   :D

10
Hop Growing / Re: 2017 Season
« on: August 17, 2017, 10:00:37 PM »
Just arrived by mail from Territorial Seed Gardens: Cascade, Willamette, Mt. Hood and Kent Goldings.  Super excited to see how these do in my backyard in Beaverton, Oregon.

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Beaverton, eh?  Well have you heard Todd Snider's story about his days on the Beaverton HS Football Team?  If not, here you go.  Todd Snider is one of my faves.

As for hops, here in Minnesota, I'm having one of my best years ever.  With all of this rain, my hops were at full height on my 17-ft trellis by the end of June!  Now I'm looking at really nice cones on all 10 of my plants.  The Sterling is still in the burr stage, but they're all just loaded.  I better go snap some pics for you guys.  Seems like hops growing is kind of dying out in the homebrewer community, but I still enjoy it.  Cheers.   

11
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Reusing 34/70 dry lager yeast
« on: August 17, 2017, 09:44:53 PM »
Man, I'm always amazed at how this forum supports my brewing.  Right now I'm cold-crashing an O-fest, with plans to repitch the 34/70 into a Munich Dunkel tomorrow.  I think that as long as the initial fermentation was clean and healthy, the slurry should be in better shape than the original dry pack.  Maybe I'm vastly oversimplifying things here. 

One thing that I recently picked up here was the idea of overbuilding starters in order to maintain a cleaner yeast culture.  I've been using that method a lot in my brewing, and I like it a lot.  So, the downside with repitching is the gamble of contamination.  I plan to reserve a clean portion of my yeast slurry from the Ofest as my "pure" culture, and then build that through starters for future lagers. 

However, a whole batch worth of lager slurry is way to valuable to just dump, so I see myself overbuilding a starter, brewing a batch, then using the slurry for a second batch or two.  I don't brew lagers that often, but I'm definitely going to keep moving forward with this method as a way to simplify lager production. 

PS - doesn't dry yeast pretty much turn to liquid once you use it?   ;)

12
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: "We Might Have Been Wrong About FWH"
« on: August 17, 2017, 09:00:53 PM »
To the OP:  Thanks for the interesting news.  I've done FWH a couple times, but I'm not totally sure that I'm doing it right.  I basically add my bittering addition while collecting my first runnings.  I haven't played around too much with adding a portion of the aroma additions.  So my question is - if you buy into FWH, what is the ideal or preferred method? 

13
Ingredients / Re: Onion in my IPA
« on: August 14, 2017, 09:32:38 PM »
My .02, late to the party - The only time I've gotten onion is when I did a single-hop IPA with Zeus.  Too much of a good thing, I guess.  However, they were homegrown hops, and there is a chance that it was a late harvest issue. 

14
Ingredients / Re: cocoa nibs
« on: August 14, 2017, 09:26:03 PM »
BTW Weaze, that beer name is disgusting...  :o  You must be a big Limp Bizkit fan, eh?  Either that or a salad fan.  Where's the "trying not to barf" emoji? 

15
Ingredients / Re: Suggestions for Nugget hops
« on: August 14, 2017, 09:19:21 PM »
I used Nugget to bitter a whole slew of recent beers, and found it to be a very versatile bittering hop.  I've never used it for late additions, though. 

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