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Messages - dmtaylor

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571
"everything is an IPA because it sells better that way"

Good golly, you've got that right.

However I did enjoy Gordon's comments about blue Romulan IPA and clear Zima IPA.  I've been saying for years that we need to develop a Purple IPA because, of course, changing the color of a beer makes it a new style.   ::)

572
Crush and volumes.  It's all about crush and volumes, 90% of the time.  Fix those two things first.  Don't trust your LHBS.  Buy your own mill, or crush it twice or even 3 times if you need to, to get the grains milled down towards flour, while keeping the husks more intact.  Volume measurements are very important as well.  If you aim for 5 gallons post-boil but end up with 5.5 gallons, your gravity measurements will be off by 10% or as much as 5 or 6 gravity points, which is a huge effect when efficiency calculations assume that you hit the proper volume spot-on.

573
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Astingency Strategy
« on: June 23, 2014, 08:08:04 AM »
Wow... okay... so your efficiency is around 85%, and you are controlling your pH around 5.3.  That sounds great.  And your detailed description of your equipment and process all seems reasonable and not too outrageous.

So... let me ask you this:  You say the judges are picking up slight astringency, but... do YOU detect any astringency in your beers?  The reason I ask this is because I think the term "astringency" is sorely misunderstood by >50% of all BJCP judges.  I say this, and I am a BJCP Certified rank judge myself, so I am not just ragging on the BJCP.  I love the BJCP.  But I think there are a lot of misconceptions about astringency by an unbelievably high percentage of judges.  I have even seen scoresheets from National rank judges who claimed they could detect "astringency" in the AROMA!  So..... take judges' opinions with grains of salt -- judges ain't perfect, myself included.

So my real question is:  Is this truly astringency, or is it something else entirely?  If you aren't getting astringency at all when you taste these beers, then question whether it might actually be imagined by these judges, which is entirely possible.  If you know and respect the judges, then perhaps they are right, in which case... I don't know what to tell you without tasting the beer for myself, which I am happy to do for you or for anyone.

Cheers.

574
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Astingency Strategy
« on: June 23, 2014, 07:09:17 AM »
You are throwing away way too much perfectly good sweet wort throughout your process -- dead space, boil kettle, trub & samples.  So yeah, you're having to sparge way too far to get your volumes.  Work on ways to minimize these losses.  There is zero advantage to leaving anything behind in the boil kettle besides big particles of hops.  If you are trying to rack off the crystal clear wort from the cloudy break material, stop because you're not gaining anything there.  No need to lose 3 quarts in the fermenter either unless you are hopping the beer very very heavily.  For a less hopped beer, you should only lose like 1.5 quarts or something around that.  Fix your mash tun to drain every last drop out.

Also look at mash pH.  pH is the predominant cause of tannins and astringency.  If your mash pH is above 5.6, you've got issues.  Treat with phosphoric acid or other acids, or use acidulated malt, if needed to get this down closer to 5.3 which is the optimum.

575
Ingredients / Re: How to best use jalapenos
« on: June 23, 2014, 06:55:53 AM »
My jalapeno porter has won a lot of awards.  I add them on bottling day.  Need about 9 jalapenos for a 5 gallon batch, plus or minus a couple depending how much heat you want.  Chop them all up, seeds and all.  Soak half the jalapenos in vodka for at least 5-6 hours, then add the vodka infusion to the beer.  With the other half, remove about 3 cups of your finished beer from the fermenter and boil the jalapenos for 5-10 minutes, cool, then add that liquid to your beer as well.  This provides the very best flavor AND aroma AND heat that I've come across.  And it's easy to taste the beer behind the peppers because you're doing it all on bottling day, AND you can add as little or as much of the liquids as you want until it tastes just right.  Sometimes I only add half the liquids, sometimes all, to get just the right level of heat and flavor.  Works like a charm.

576
Ingredients / Re: Best Styles for Strawberries
« on: June 23, 2014, 06:50:58 AM »
American amber ale or ESB seem to suit strawberries really well.

577
Ingredients / Re: Looking for info on magnesium additions.
« on: June 23, 2014, 06:47:00 AM »
Magnesium ion tastes horrible and is usually/easily overdone.  As such, I do not recommend its use unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing.  Or if in doubt, cut the amount you think you should add in half or down to 1/3 as much.  Don't overdo it!  Tastes like friggin poison.  Taste some raw Epsom and see for yourself -- tastes the same in beer.

578
All Grain Brewing / Re: batch sparge process/volumes
« on: June 01, 2014, 08:11:29 PM »
If you're checking pH and it's from 5.1 to 5.3, I don't see where the problem is, unless you're only looking at the mash and not the sparge, but with batch sparge... gosh, I really don't see the problem.

That being said, my own process is very close to your second option:

"Strike with 4.25gal (about 1.8q/lb), add about 1gal of 190deg water to MT (top off/mashout?), then get about 4gal 1st runnings, and sparge with 4 gal to get total pre boil volume?"

I have always mashed at a ratio between 0.8-1.8 qt/lb, almost always add an infusion of some amount of boiling water to get half the boil volume out of the first runnings, then sparge with half the boil volume.  Works for me.

I suppose it's possible that by skipping the infusion and mashing and sparging "thin", you were extracting more tannins than I would.  But I really question this, if you know your mash pH was okay, and I would think the "okayness" of the pH would carry to the sparge when batch sparging.  But I could be wrong.  Maybe there is an impact, and the infusion really does protect against this.

I'm not going to say I've never experienced astringency in my own beers.  I have, a few times, but it is typically very slight.  Probably due to pH problems, also could be because I grind my grains so dang fine, down to flour.  But I can handle a slight astringency on rare occasion.  Nobody's perfect, 'cept maybe Jamil & Gordon & Denny, right?!  Maybe you just had one of those days.  There are a lot of variables, and we can't all be perfect all the time.  :)

579
I critique the critiques, and revise my own process and recipes as necessary, and take notes on their notes.  I type this stuff into my homebrewing software under the recipe for easy access in the future.  Then the scoresheets are stuffed away into a file drawer.  If I do a good job reviewing them right away, I shouldn't need to review them again later, but on rare occasion, I'll pull them out for one reason or another.  But for the most part, you should be able to live and learn, and toss.  It helps keeping a database or spreadsheet, that's the easiest.  I lose paper, and it's bulky and "old-school".  Yet I have eternal backups of all electronic data.  So that's the way I prefer to keep important notes.

580
Sure, I've done that before too.  Yes, it works.

581
Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Re: IBU Calculation
« on: May 29, 2014, 12:30:38 PM »
I calculate about 58 IBUs for 5 gallons, assuming the Cluster alpha at about 7%, Northern Brewer at 9%, and Centennial at 10.5%.  Here's how I swag it, for 5 gallons -- it's all about memorizing the magic factors at the beginning:

3.6 * oz * AA% = IBUs from bittering additions @60 minutes
1.6 * oz * AA% = IBUs from flavor additions @10-15 minutes
0.6 * oz * AA% = IBUs from aroma additions @5 minutes
Add all these together, then add about another +1.5 to the final total and round everything up.

So I get about 50.5 + 3 + 3 + 1.5 = 58 IBUs.  Nowhere near the 90s, like you said.

582
Yes, I've done this many times.  It works great.  These sugars do not dissolve easily and need to be boiled in a little water just like (or with!) priming sugar.

583
3/4 lb lactose per 5 gallons, baby.

584
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: WY3711 = WLP???
« on: May 27, 2014, 11:38:42 AM »
There is no exact match available from White Labs.  WLP565 or WLP566 is as close as you're going to get.  And it's probably good enough.  Or if they're willing to try a dry yeast, the Danstar Belle Saison yeast is fantastic and might get you even closer to Wyeast 3711.

585
The Pub / Re: Old school. Really old school!
« on: May 27, 2014, 08:36:21 AM »
I just made some pickled eggs with my own cider vinegar, should be good although it seems the vinegar wasn't quite as tart as I'd thought.  I've used it in dressings before and it tastes good.  Also used it as a conditioner after washing my hair and it works well.

As soon as I get a decent crop, I'll be juicing and making (hard) cider of my own apples.  I have 3 trees with 7 varieties (grafted several on).  I also have a gazillion raspberries so I'll probably make a pie or jam this year, and now I'm trying gooseberries and they're coming along nicely, should get a few this year.  And of course I've grown my own hops for many years and brewed a lot of beers with those and they usually turn out great.  I use mine for bittering, even without knowing the exact alpha acid, but found that it's easy to figure out the alpha within 2-3 batches.  In fact I get better results using them for bittering than with late additions.

I have a pyment mead with wild dark grapes from the back yard as well.  Doesn't taste wine-like but is very spicy and earthy.  It's not bad but not great, but certainly different, and turned the mead a deep puce color.

I have made an excellent gruit with sweet gale, yarrow, and mugwort.  Go easy on the yarrow -- it gives a certain tartness that I think is easily overdone.  The sweet gale is most tasty of the three and can be used in the same amounts as your favorite hops.  The mugwort tastes sort of like eucalyptus and should be used with restraint.  All that being said, the beer tasted fantastic and I'll be making it again eventually.  Best advice on any gruit is to figure out how much herbs you think you would like to use... and then divide that amount by 3, because all these herbs are so easily overdone.  Sweet gale would be the one exception.

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