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Messages - dmtaylor

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Kegging and Bottling / Re: carbonating with cartridges
« on: October 02, 2015, 11:48:46 AM »
I know what you meant.  I guess I'm just not much help as I never went with straight cartridges!  If that's what the instructions say, you could give it a try.  But find out if the instructions are meant for 2.5 gallons, or for 5 gallons, or what.  If for 5 gallons, then start with no more than half as much, and maybe even less, maybe 1/3 as much.  At least, that's what I would try.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: carbonating with cartridges
« on: October 02, 2015, 11:19:42 AM »
Good question.  Without a gauge it would be hard to guess -- need some trial and error until you get it right.

When I've kegged in the past in the small 5-liter kegs, what I did was prime with like 1 tablespoon cane sugar, then let that sit for a couple of weeks.  This would usually be enough pressure to push out 2 or 3 pints.  Then after that, I would add "a squirt" or two of CO2 to maintain the carbonation until next pour.  This worked well, but again, required some trial and error.  If you tried this with 2.5 gallons, I would guess you'll need twice as much, maybe 3 "squirts" of CO2 to maintain.  By "a squirt", I mean you're pushing the CO2 trigger for perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 second per squirt.  Play around and see what works.

Somebody out there must have way more experience and can give you a better idea to start out.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Farnum Hill "Dooryard" cider (Batch 1502)
« on: October 02, 2015, 04:55:44 AM »
I agree that in general, Farnum Hill makes some really great ciders.  I wish they sold this stuff around here.  Oh well, guess I'll just have to make my own at home!  :)

Hop Growing / Re: Winter storage of hops planted in container
« on: October 02, 2015, 04:52:59 AM »
Best way honestly is to take them out of the bucket and put them one inch underground.  Hops can handle hard freezes, they've been doing it for thousands of years.  They'll probably be just fine in the bucket, but to plant them in the earth with a little blanket of a few fall leaves, and then later, a foot of snow or whatever falls naturally, will keep them perfectly safe and happy over the winter.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Does A Longer Mash Give Maltier Beer?
« on: September 30, 2015, 06:13:17 AM »
It's a fair question, but in my experience the opposite is true.  And here's why & how, in my opinion:

Since you really don't want to mash for any less than 20 minutes, there is plenty of time for the malt flavors to get fully incorporated into the wort, such that waiting for much longer than that doesn't help at all.  No one is advocating only mashing for 3-4 minutes like tea.  The grains are always in there for a much longer time.

Also, since a longer mash time increases efficiency while a shorter mash time reduces efficiency, then the brewer who mashes for a shorter time generally needs to use MORE malt to hit the same OG, thus theoretically adding MORE malt flavor!  And the reverse is true as well, longer mash time means you don't need as much malt, which can dilute your malt flavor, at least in theory.  I have run experiments on this in the past that were not conclusive, need to run more.

+1. What I find interesting is how much of the received wisdom spread on brewing websites is bogus - seemingly the vast majority of it, if the brulosophy experiments are to be trusted (twin-tailed significance tests notwithstanding). I reckon most people who offer "expert" brewing advice on the internet simply regurgitate what they've read on forums and aren't speaking from experience. And so myths spread like viruses. I find it difficult to trust much of what I read on brewing forums now.

Congratulations on discovering the best homebrewing forum still in existence that dispels myths and has most of the best experts -- right here.  Hope you stick around, especially if you have an enquiring mind.

What a surprise!  Hmm....

Perhaps Willamette is just really well suited to aging.  I wouldn't expect results from any of the American C hops or Mosaic, etc. to turn out this similar.  But Willamette, an earthy spicy hop?  Yeah, kind of makes sense.

I use my backlog of 3-5 year old homegrown Hallertau hops with great success -- they do NOT taste "bad" after several years of age when stored correctly.  'Course, I do use them solely for bittering, not flavor or aroma.  They also don't lose nearly as much alpha acid as some folks would suggest, maybe only ~10% per year when vacuum packed and frozen, maybe even less than that.

Bottom line: As usual, there are lots of variables still to be explored.  Accept results with grains of salt!  What works for Willamette may or may not translate to other hops.  That said..... properly stored hops should keep for a very long long time.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: The way you use your yeast...
« on: September 25, 2015, 01:33:17 PM »
no side by side-just same recipe with starter, same recipe without with pure pitch. i can say for certain having both beers available for tasting and comparison, there was nothing at all that indicated any ill effects in the pure pitch non starter.  i'm not trying to convince anyone, just saying IME there is another path to great beer for me-and i have that proved out for myself after 2 different yeast strains and 4 batches with no starter pure pitch.

Great.  Now try no starter with a 6-month old pack in 5.5 gallons of 1.080 doppelbock.

I'm not trying to be an ass.  I'm just making a point that there are exceptions to every rule of thumb.  If you've got reasonably fresh yeast and a gravity <1.060, then I'd say you're probably doing okay.  Just.... don't be surprised when a variable is off and you end up with 5 gallons of something you didn't really intend.

And then of course, if you're making a hefeweizen, then you really don't ever need a starter if the yeast is less than 6 months old.  It loves to be stressed out.  Exceptions to every rule.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: The way you use your yeast...
« on: September 25, 2015, 01:00:57 PM »
I'm confident in the fact that any starter, no matter how small, is far better than no starter at all.

Fortunately, when my standard batch size is just 1.7 gallons, that's like a big starter by itself, and thus I usually skip the starter.  I only make starter for kolshes, alts and lagers.

Also, I try to use dry yeast whenever possible.  There are dozens of great dry yeasts these days, such that you often times don't need to use liquid yeast anyway, and of course you don't need to worry about making starters with dry.  Huge advantages to dry yeast.

So, yeah.  Even if you're "underpitching" according to MrMalty or whatever other expert out there..... if you're making a starter at all, you're miles ahead of the people who just throw in a vial of yeast unstarted and hope for the best.  Many of the worst beers I've ever made were done that latter way.  I don't do that anymore when I make a big 5 gallon batch (which I still do a couple times per year).

As for oxygen... when I make starters, they're shaken.  I do not own an aeration stone, stir plate, or oxygen tank.  Shake it up a couple times.  Works great.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Winter/Garage Brewing
« on: September 24, 2015, 10:06:04 AM »
Oh yeah.  Same goes for cleaning bottles and carboys as well.  Rinse all bottles well IMMEDIATELY upon pouring into your glass, and then bottling day goes way faster.  Do a real nice scrub of your carboy IMMEDIATELY after racking, and don't let it sit for a few hours, or that gunk is really hard to get off.  Similar to kegs when it comes down to cleaning.

I fight authority -- authority! -- always will.

(Yes I know what I did there.  That's what it sounds like when MY ears hear it.   ;D )

Thank you so much, Denny and Marshall -- and so many others, too! -- for helping me in this fight!

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Goosing the Mash? Brewday issues
« on: September 22, 2015, 11:33:39 AM »
Soap/detergent will cause so-called "soapy" flavors and may cause a very harsh bitterness that will make you not want to drink the beer at all.  IF you have it in there.  With just a tiny trace amount, you hopefully will not be able to detect it.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Goosing the Mash? Brewday issues
« on: September 22, 2015, 08:21:50 AM »
[ramble]I need to do a little "goosing around" with probably half my batches -- a temperature will be off, or the mash pH or whatever.  It happens.  It's all part of the fun.  Knowing what to do immediately in those circumstances is helpful and it really becomes no big deal.  One example of a preventive measure I have always taken: Just in case mash temperature will turn out too low, since I'm mashing on the stovetop anyways I always boil a quart or two of water on the side before mashing in.  So if I miss my mash temp for some odd reason (e.g., only 144 F -- oh no!) then I can instantly bring it up to the 150s.  Matter of fact, I haven't needed to use boiling water in ages so I can probably stop this practice.  More often I have the opposite problem, mash is a little too hot.  So it might then be helpful to also refrigerate a quart of cold dechlorinated water for this.  I don't like to use ice as it takes too long to melt -- just a cup or two of cold water, plus the stirring that goes with it, I think brings temperature down by a few degrees faster than ice can do.  I use cold water probably half the time these days because I seem to always be in the upper 150s and only want 148-152 F usually.  Guess I need to assume temperature drop of just 3 degrees at mash-in, instead of the 6 degrees I'd been assuming for the past couple years.  In any case, just a cup or two will usually do the trick, no more than a quart really.  For pH, a little acid or baking soda is all that's needed.  Use baking soda instead of the chalk.  Just don't use more than like a teaspoon -- I like to say "fairy dust" until the pH comes out right.  Otherwise your beer can turn out tasting minerally or chalky -- go figure!  Hopefully you're not that far off to where you'd need to use a ton.[/ramble]

Yeah, don't sweat it.  Small adjustments are often necessary, at least for those of us who sweat all the details.  On the other hand..... it would most likely turn out just fine if we changed nothing at all anyway!  :)

I would worry a little about getting detergent in the beer..... that doesn't sound yummy.  Hope it works out for you.  Crossing fingers....

Other Fermentables / Re: Apple pressing
« on: September 21, 2015, 06:37:46 PM »
Honestly.... when it comes to cider, just about any yeast will do.  Ale yeast, cider yeast, mead yeast... it's all good.  They'll give different body and flavors, but it's not nearly the broad range of flavors from what you get in beer.  Examples: Use a Belgian or Trappist yeast in a cider?  Or a hefeweizen yeast?  It tastes like regular cider!  Where's the clove and banana?!  Sorry, you will NOT get any crazy unusual flavors from these yeasts when fermenting cider!  Reason is, the chemical constituents of cider are way different and far simpler than for beer.  They'll all get the job done, but the spectrum in flavor differences for cider, in my experience, is far narrower than for beer.

In other words, if you have a pack of yeast laying around, no matter which type, and you want to make a cider.... go for it.  It will turn out great.  Almost an absolute guarantee.

But do ferment low and slow.  That really does make a difference.  And even ale yeasts can ferment cold.  Try it.  It works.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash Temp & Time
« on: September 21, 2015, 06:29:56 PM »
This simple schedule works great for 90% of beer styles. 
What are some of the 10% examples you would consider violating this?

Good question.  Saison is an obvious one -- you typically want that style to be as dry as possible.  So mash low and slow, maybe 148 F for 90 minutes.  For a heavier style like a sweet stout, a short hot mash, maybe just 30 minutes at 156-158 F, should be plenty and will contribute to a sweet syrupy body, if that's what you want.  Conversely, if you don't like your imperial IPA finishing at 1.020, it's another style where you might want to do a nice long mash at 148 F for 90 minutes.  Also I've heard it said that when using dark Munich malt as the sole base malt, since it is lacking in enzymes due to the long high temp kilning of this particular malt, it is wise to do an extended mash.  So instead of just 40 or 60 minutes, consider doing 90 minutes or more for like the Munich dunkles style or something like that where you use >50% Munich malt.  But the same normal temperature of about 150 F is still fine, just need more time.  Or maybe kick that up to 152-154 F to help the enzymes do their thing.

In the end, it really just depends what you want.  90% of the time, if/when you don't really care much about body or just want it to turn out "normal", then 40 minutes at 150 F will get the job done.


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