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Messages - dmtaylor

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Wisconsin Bill 290
« on: October 21, 2011, 07:05:21 AM »
As a member of the Wisconsin Homebrewers' Alliance, I too was surprised that all of a sudden this Bill 290 came out.  My initial thought was, why couldn't homebrewers have piggybacked onto the same bill to get accomplished what we have been working towards for the past ~9 months!?

And now, wow, I never thought about the whole bartender thing this way.  Yeah, at brewfests, it won't be a big deal because they're required to have a certain number of bartenders on premises anyway -- not every server needs to be a licensed bartender.  At least, that's how it's worked for over a decade.  But for small events where only a couple of homebrewers might want to serve their brew to the public, this could become a very big deal.  Now every homebrew club might have to dish out funds out of their treasury to pay for several members to become licensed bartenders!?  That seems a little goofy, seeing as how we could do exactly the same thing in our own homes without a license.  I'll keep my eyes and ears open for any developments in this area.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Judging and Offering Fixes for Flaws
« on: October 15, 2011, 05:38:08 AM »
We're all men here, right?  Well, about 99% of us anyway.

I think feedback on how to improve the beer in the future is one of the most important parts of the scoresheets.  If an entrant isn't able to handle a little constructive criticism, then they shouldn't have entered at all.  And if a flaw is real and the entrant is subsequently able to detect it and correct it as a result of receiving "negative" but constructive feedback, then he/she becomes a better brewer as a result.  Right?????  I don't see any reason to avoid giving feedback, as long as you don't go out of your way to sound like an absolute prick about it.  Are there going to be sensitive entrants out there?  Yes, of course.  Does that mean I shouldn't judge their beer as well as anyone else's for fear that they might be offended?  I don't think so.  Maybe I'm just a little more fearless than others.  But if I'm going to enter a competition, and I find out that my beer sucks and can be improved, I sure as hell would like to know about it from blind, unbiased judges.  I respect a guy more for being honest than for lying through his friggin teeth.  Because that's what you're doing if you hold back on feedback.  You're lying.  If the beer tastes like crap, then tell them it "tastes like durian fruit" and that they need to step up their sanitation practices or replace all plastic equipment, and be done with it.  I've done it.  It's not easy, but I've done it.  And I would expect exactly the same level of respect if my beer tasted like durian fruit.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: Ingredients/technique for entries
« on: October 13, 2011, 07:14:41 PM »
Providing an exact recipe is not normal, although sometimes a competition will give you the option of providing it, just in case you win and you are willing to share the recipe with others on the web.  I've done that before.  But it should be purely optional, in my opinion.  If you don't want to go through the trouble, then find a different competition that doesn't ask for the recipe.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of competitions all over, all the time.  Check out for a constant updated list.

I used to be a big proponent of Nottingham ale yeast for pretty much any style, as it was a good yeast for many years.  But lately, due to continued quality issues and bad experience myself, I really can no longer recommend it.  When it works, it works well, but if you ever try it, make sure you have a spare pack of US-05 in the refrigerator as well, just in case the Notty is dead, completely dead.

The Pub / Re: 12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music
« on: October 13, 2011, 07:04:27 AM »
As with so many things in life, just because it's extremely popular doesn't mean it's really any good.  Don't ever use popularity as a basis to say something is good, ever.

I could go on to say that more than 50% of Americans are absolute dunces, but that would make me sound like the jerk that I am and might upset some people who are sure they are not dunces, even though 50% of them are.

For what it's worth, I can get past the whole popularity thing and say that I actually enjoy some of Celine Dion's and Shania Twain's music from time to time.  And the fact that they are above-average looking women doesn't hurt too much.  But for the most part, I try not to be too shallow.  I also listen to TONS of music performed by VERY UGLY MEN, if that proves anything.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: IBU standardization!?!
« on: October 11, 2011, 11:22:32 AM »
There are alcohol levels stated on beer labels.

Almost all of which are also incorrect, being the result of formulas rather than measurements.

Actually I think the physical properties of alcohol/water mixtures are pretty well known to the point that if you're off by 0.1% ABV, no one's going to fret about that.  And it's not solely based on formulae -- you can easily take OG and FG readings with a hydrometer to confirm theory.  With IBUs, though, not so simple.  Anybody have a photospectrometer just laying around?  ;)

Other Fermentables / Re: cider help
« on: October 11, 2011, 11:18:19 AM »
I used Splenda on my last batch of cider.  It tasted great for about a month, and then.... tasted like artificial sweetener.  In a BJCP competition, my fears were confirmed when the judges all said it tasted like artificial sweetener.  I'm never doing that again.

I agree that sorbate is the way to go for backsweetening.  If you want carbonation, keep the dose lower than recommended and some of the yeast will survive to carbonate.  If you want a still cider, then add the recommended doses (or maybe slightly less than recommended) of both sulfite and sorbate, which will kill all the yeast.

Ingredients / Re: Weirdest thing: Sulfur Removal tip
« on: October 11, 2011, 11:13:19 AM »
I wonder how much contact time you need.  Coul adding a piece of copper to the racking cane work.

I would think any copper would be helpful.  If this is a chemical reaction, the effect should be close to instantaneous.

Also, aren't pennies made mostly of zinc now a days?

Yes, but the cutoff date was 1982.  You can easily find a penny from 1981 or earlier and then you're ready to roll.

Ingredients / Re: Weirdest thing: Sulfur Removal tip
« on: October 11, 2011, 11:10:30 AM »
Good trick to know!  Got one for Acetaldehyde?

Acetaldehyde boils at about 68 F.  Best thing you can do is warm it up into the 70s for a few days and see if that helps.

Ingredients / Re: Ever used a base malt like a specialty grain?
« on: October 07, 2011, 12:26:17 PM »
I wonder just how different the results would be if you used CaraMunich instead?  That can just be steeped.  But it's no doubt quite different, with the complex sugars and probably not as dry and toasty since it's kilned wet.  Hmm... Something to consider though.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Off-Beat Homebrew Contest
« on: October 05, 2011, 04:08:16 AM »
This actually sounds like it could be a lot of fun, because it's an excellent opportunity to educate others about beer styles and flaws, as well as to show people the semi-seriousness with which we BJCP folks take it all.

I have been asked to judge a contest before that is similar to what you have described, except that each homebrewer was expected to supply 5 gallons and serve it themselves to the public after the competition.  Perks were that you got free access to the festival for the day, which would otherwise cost like $60 or $75 or something crazy like that, and if you won the competition, the prizes were all in the $100+ range.  I was turned off by the oddness of the whole thing, so I did not judge or enter, but a BJCP friend of mine judged and he enjoyed it very much.  It was hardly BJCP sanctioned, but I think such an event can still be a good time, if well organized and everyone is on the same page.

I've also been asked to judge a small competition where the other judges would have been "celebrities", even though I had no idea who the hell they were.  This one turned me off very much because the touted judges most likely would have known virtually zero about beer, which is probably why they wanted to throw one BJCP into the mix -- too odd for me, sorry.  I must confess, I prefer hanging out with "my own kind" under the typical format.  I could probably handle a little change, but small steps, small steps....

As far as relative advantages of each, it's six of one, half dozen of the other.

To be perfectly honest, I actually combined the two methods on my first couple all-grain batches (no I don't do this anymore).  I actually mashed in a bag in an unmodified cooler.  When it was time to drain and sparge, the bag held the grains while the wort poured out the spout of the cooler.  Pretty rad, at least I thought so.  Disadvantage was the grain tended to creep into the spout so I had to poke at it with a stick to get the wort to run faster, or it would just drip drip drip.  But, no expenditure, and really, barely any brain cells, required!  It worked (as did the blender grain mill method, for several years, but I digress).

Have I mentioned that I am THE cheapest homebrewer on the planet?!?!  Try though you might, you will not be able to defeat me in a battle of cheapness.   ;D

BIAB (actually should be "MASH in a bag") is great.  I can't think of any easier and effective way to get into all-grain.  I use BIAB about 2/3 of the time lately, as it's super-easy with the small 2.5-gallon batch size that I've been doing.  And I know some people who've scaled it up to 10 or 15 gallons (with giant pillowcase sized bags! just get a pulley) and it's still all they ever do because it's so darn cheap easy and effective.  Sparge is optional, time & effort savings is really big, and efficiency is pretty dang nice.

The primary issue with it that I have seen, which has been experienced by my friend the 15-gallon brewer, is that all his beers are hazy/cloudy.  With my 2.5-gallon batches, I'm not seeing the same problem.  I think with the weight of such a big bag, he's squeezing something out of the grains (whether it's starch or tannin) that clouds things up, and even with clarifying agents he's having a hard time getting it all to settle out.  And this is after dozens of batches of trying.  But somehow I think with more experience, he'll get there.  And even if not, the agents causing the haze don't seem to affect the flavor at all, as he's truly one of the very best brewers I know.  And that means a *little* something coming from a fanatically picky BJCP judge like me.

If you're considering trying BIAB at all, I very highly recommend it.  I have no doubt that you will be VERY glad you tried it.

So far, we have received a joint response from Michael Ellis (Republican), State Senator - 19th Senate District, and Dean Kaufert (Republican), State Representative - 55th Assembly District, stating:

"We are interested in your proposal and will consider drafting legislation along the lines you have suggested."

As a realist, I take this to mean that they're thinking about moving it forward, and they do also say they are "continuing to work on this", but of course they aren't making any promises quite yet, especially regarding timeframe of when things might start rolling.  But I think that's okay -- I think it will all come together eventually.  My hope of course is for something to happen in the next 6 months, but who really knows -- I've no idea whatsoever.  Not getting my hopes up too terribly high.

We have also received a letter of interest and support in my local area from Bob Ziegelbauer (Independent), State Rep - 25th Assembly District, in response to a letter sent by a member of my homebrew club in support of the proposed legislation.  That was prior to having the draft in hand, but at least he has some awareness and understanding of the issue.

No doubt there are several other State Congresspeople who have been contacted by their concerned citizens.

It's slow going, but I think we'll get there.  Eventually.   :)

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Please tell me this isn't what I think it is
« on: September 30, 2011, 08:14:45 AM »
I've never had a fruit fly make it through a wet airlock in a carboy. With buckets the airlock doesn't matter, they can get through the seals (or their larvae can).

Exactamundo.  After brewing only in buckets for all of my 85+ batches, I have just purchased a glass carboy, and this was one of the reasons.

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