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Messages - dmtaylor

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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.


Beer Recipes / Re: alt grain bill
« on: September 21, 2015, 08:28:42 AM »
Yep yep yep yep yep yep uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh.  :)

Great experiment -- sounds tasty!

More interesting to me would be the difference between 180 grams and like 270 grams and 360 grams (in 11 gallons).  That's the frontier that needs to be explored.  We knew 60 grams would be relatively wimpy.  But where is that point of diminishing returns, exactly?  I'll go by ounces here because that's what I know: commercial brewers usually/always seem to peak at 0.6 to 0.75 oz per gallon.  What if we used a full ounce per gallon, what does that do?  Can you really cram more flavor in at that point, or is it just a big waste of beer lost in the hop trub?  Next time (I'm sure there will be a next time, yes?!).

I haven't ever used the 1335 but based on its descriptions it sounds like it's worth trying.  Should be an acceptable replacement, probably not identical but in the ballpark.

FYI -- WLP039 is said to be identical to Notty but since it's from a different manufacturer, it might be different and worth a shot if you don't like Danstar's version.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Winter/Garage Brewing
« on: September 18, 2015, 10:20:44 AM »
The idea of people brewing an amount just because other people do is silly. We all do it our way.

Do we?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Winter/Garage Brewing
« on: September 18, 2015, 05:26:29 AM »
consider smaller batches indoors on the stove (at least for the mash, if not also the boil).

This is all I ever do, winter spring summer fall!  I don't understand the obsession with large batches and big equipment.  Save time on brewing day, experiment a lot more, get more variety, yadda yadda.

 It is cool that it works for you, I hate kitchen brewing, I like to keep the mess in another area and find making larger batches more efficent for my time.  You could consider that what works great for you may not for everyone.

Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks!  I get that.  Of course my process is the best.  For me.  Not for anyone else.  But it's certainly an option that some people just never seem to consider.  Everyone brews the same way as Denny Conn or John Palmer or Jamil Z or whoever else.  It seems to me so often that everyone is set to auto-pilot.  Does it work?  Sure it works!  But so does my way.  And nobody else seems to do it my way!  Well, a few.  But not many.  It's an option worthy of consideration.  That is all.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Winter/Garage Brewing
« on: September 17, 2015, 01:11:28 PM »
It makes sense for some people to brew large batches. If you don't drink much or have that many other people drinking your beer, then it makes more sense to brew smaller.

Brewing inside in the winter is a great idea. It adds humidity to the house and heat. I brew inside year round, probably shouldn't in the summer months though. Gets a bit humid in my place.

:)  Smells great in the house for a couple days, too!

Other Fermentables / Re: Apple pressing
« on: September 17, 2015, 09:26:21 AM »
Denny, so have I.  It'll work.  But it also pays to understand and mitigate risks.  And there are some.

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