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Messages - dcbc

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Brewzor is a good Android phone app you could sideload.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« on: December 28, 2012, 12:25:13 PM »
IIRC, Kai's conclusion was that it's the aging.

That has been my conclusion as well.  The only German lager that I have ever done late hops in was the pilsner and schwarzbier.  Even my bohemian pilsner gets hopped at FWH, 80, and 30.  I haven't noticed too much of a difference in decocted beers and those that are temperature controlled through a Hochkurz schedule of 142/158/168 (apart from my level of exhaustion on brew day).  For most styles though, single infusion works well.  I reserve the Hochkurz for the bopils.  All ingredients are important, naturally.  Continental malt, hops, and yeast with low carbonate water (I'm lucky in that regard). 

Pitch cold, and let it slow rise a few degrees to your fermentation temperature (48--50 F; 45 for bopils).

But with all of these things nailed down, these beers are always better if given time to age.  The hop bitterness drops a little and every gets that  nice blend of flavors that.  For lack of a better description, early on, one flavor or another tends to be more pronounced; after a time, everything is more subtle and in balance.  I have found that at around a month in the keg is where they really get good.

Not being able to get fresh German beer here is what drove my brewing habit early on.  I have sought to perfect these styles for years.  It is a long road, but as my beers have improved, it has been worth the effort.

The bopils I have on tap right now is probably the best I have brewed yet.  I will miss it until I can get another one on.

Going Pro / Re: getting 30 bbls on line
« on: December 21, 2012, 10:39:51 AM »
White Labs provides pitchable quantities to breweries based on batch size.  If you pitch on the first out of two batches going into a fermenter, would you only need the pitch the quantity White Labs suggests for the first batch size?  In other words, if I'm fermenting an ale in a 30bbl fermentor using two 15bbl batches, would I buy the 15bbl batch size from White Labs and just pitch it to the first batch?  That would seem like a really good way to cut costs in an efficient way.

drauflassen - Thanks Nateo!   ;D

My friend pitched enough for the whole 30 bbl batch.  For the big beer he was brewing, This was two of the WLP pitchable collapsed milk carton looking containers.  In speaking with him recently, he said that, now, he brews one of his smaller gravity beers on his first pitch of the cycle so he doesn't have to buy as much yeast to get enough cell count as he does for the larger gravity beer we happened to brew that day.  Much less expensive.  After the first batch, he can harvest as much as he needs for whatever is next on the schedule and resuse it for ten generations or so.

Going Pro / Re: getting 30 bbls on line
« on: December 17, 2012, 07:10:47 PM »
My buddy's brewery runs a 15 bbl brewhouse into 30 bbl fermenters.  I did back to back brew days with him.  Pitch on the first batch.  Brew the next morning and fill her up.  Pretty important to hit that knock out temperature on the nose on that second batch.

Equipment and Software / Re: Rolling boil gathers no moss...?
« on: December 16, 2012, 10:34:00 AM »
Is DMS an issue with extract?

Equipment and Software / Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« on: December 15, 2012, 05:24:41 PM »
The most valuable upgrades were my two chest-freezers, a digital Ranco and a Johnson analog controller. I would implore anyone without the elusive "year-round cool spot" (does it really exist?) that can do ales and lagers perfectly to make these their first major capital outlay. Not a bigger kettle, large burner, pump or brew sculpture. Not a kegging system. Controlling your fermentation temps will be the single most important thing one can do to improve and achieve consistency in the finished product. Without ferm control everything else goes out the window.

Ain't that the truth.  Where in Texas are you?
I just picked up a chest freezer and a Johnson controller.  Will probably wind up being the single best investment I could make into my beer ($250 or so for both, brand new).  Since I'm now in TX, it's basically a MUST have setup to do beer at all, because it's way too hot here in the summer to brew without some form of temp control.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
« on: December 15, 2012, 05:10:29 PM »
I agree water shouldn't be an obsession.  But it should be understood (not saying you don't understand it).

I am fortunate to have some pretty low mineral water to use as a canvas.  Just takes some minor adjustment for mash pH and flavor and I don't have to worry with it or think about it, certainly not obsess about it.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
« on: December 15, 2012, 02:07:48 PM »
I like to do my mash and sparge water adjustments with acid (my water is pretty soft and it doesn't take much ordinarily).  I add flavoring salts to the boil kettle.  It's easier for me not to worry about what my mash adjustment salts are doing to flavor, how much are absorbed, etc.  Obviously, for darker beers, I don't use acid in the mash.

Equipment and Software / Re: Pumps
« on: December 12, 2012, 03:11:03 PM »
Denny, I got mine at  At the time, they were running a sale and had it listed for under $20.  Might be more by now, but a great upgrade to the pump.  Holds prime much better than it used to.

Replacement was extremely easy.  My gaskets, etc. looked good to go. 

Nice looking setup, Dean!

All Grain Brewing / Re: Kettle Mashing Question
« on: November 30, 2012, 08:45:38 AM »
What size of tubing are you using for recirculating?  3/8" , 1/2" ?   

When I was using a cooler for my mashtun, I was using 3/8" tubing... When I switched to using Blichmann's I had to go to 1/2" tubing to get a better flow rate coming out of the kettle, which meant the pump wasn't having problems...

I use 1/2" high-temp silicone for my RIMS.

That's what I'm using as well. 

A pair of Blichmann control modules on a Tower of Power is a couple of Christmases away, it seems.  Until then, I think I've got my stuff dialed in fairly well.

These are among my favorite purchases.  They do a fantastic job.  I'm running the modules without the tower, flow meter, pump mount, etc.  I already had my pump mounted and, the flow meter with auto shutoff, while nice, wasn't worth the extra $500 to me.  I mounted mine on an articulating CRT TV wall mount that is bolted to my stand.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Kettle Mashing Question
« on: November 28, 2012, 08:39:35 AM »
Two questions.

Should I have the pump recirculating wort while I am stirring?

Would my best bet on monitoring mash temp be right at the kettle valve? If my thinking it right that should be the hottest area in the mash.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I think there are multiple schools of thought on probe/thermometer placement.  The valve is probably fine.  Mine is about in the middle of my loop, about 3 feet of silicone hose and one pump from the kettle outlet.  This is about half way between the heat source (direct fired) and the mash liquor return in the kettle.  Once everything settles in, the probe in the loop is reading the same as both the kettle thermometer (mid mash) and the thermometer I can stick in the wort stream at the return or in several spots at the top of the mash.  So, the answer is that it probably doesn't matter too much.  By having it mid stream, I'm chancing that the mash liquor below the false bottom where heat is being applied might be slightly hotter the second or two it's being heated before leaving the mashtun and recirculating across the probe that controls the flame.  But that's not enough of a variation to worry me.  My recirculation rate is pretty quick.  So things are constantly moving.

As for stirring, you shouldn't have to if you are recirculating your mash liquor and you have a return line placed in a way that causes that mash liquor to flow fairly evenly throughout the mash.  The quick paced recirculation of the mash liquor coupled with a low heat source will help you avoid scorching and the correct placement of the return line helps to keep the mash temperature uniform.  By stirring, you are disturbing the mash bed, making it harder for the mash liquor to clear, and could possibly increase the chances of a stuck mash.

This is, of course, based on my system.  So your mileage may vary.

I should also add that my direct fired RIMS is automated.  So I'm not doing anything but letting the mash settle for about 10 minutes, starting my pump, slowly at first, then increasing flow to a pretty brisk rate, then punching in my temperature on the controller, and letting the controller do all of the work.  Manually turning the flame off and on sounds like a lot of work and is probably going to lead to some temp swings.  Once my temperature has settled in, the flame-ons don't tend to last longer than a second or two every 30 seconds to a minute. 

Some good insulation for the kettle might be a better bet until you decide to automate the RIMS.  Some closed cell foam (gym mat) and aluminum tape did just fine for my kettle for an hour mash as long as I wasn't recirculating.  It's not the prettiest thing, but it works.

Good luck.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Kettle Mashing Question
« on: November 27, 2012, 07:11:48 AM »
I would suggest taking your temperature somewhere in the return loop to the kettle and keep the recirculation rate fairly quick (but not so fast that it sticks).  On my setup (direct fired rims with 20 gallon kettle and false bottom), I keep the flame low, recirc with the valve on the high output march pump about 1/4 open, and take the temperature with a probe on the output side of the pump.  My temps are pretty consistent between my controller, my kettle thermometer, and the handheld thermometer I use to randomly check the mash temps and wort return.  I use a piece of flexible/adjustable tubing from as my wort return.  I place it just beneath the surface of the mash toward the side.  There is a little whirlpooling of mash liquor, but minimal aeration. 

Equipment and Software / Re: Upgrading Equipment vs Learning Your System
« on: November 26, 2012, 02:01:33 PM »
Just to pile on to what others have said, but with my own experience.  Get to know your brew day.  All of our home breweries are differently situated.  Once you have yeast management and fermentation temp control nailed down, if you feel the need to make changes, do it with the idea of improving the process, i.e., make it easier and shorter.  Like Denny, I don't really enjoy building brew stands as much as I like brewing.  That's why I started off by copying his system.  Over time, I made adjustments to suit me.  But ultimately, I wanted a rig I could automate.  So given my desire not to spend a year building it, I had someone build it for me.  Because I don't like messing with wiring control panels, I saved up for a pair of the Blichmann TOP controllers.  I did some of the little things, but left the heavy lifting to the experts.  All of this doesn't necessarily make the beer better.  The improvements in the result is probably a bit of a coincidence coupled with the fact that I have been doing this for a while.  But having a system that holds the mash within 0.5 degrees of what I tell it to without my running around with pots of boiling water or standing and stirring to get that strike water temp just right as it drops from the preheated temp doesn't hurt.  I don't miss that extra effort.  I get just as big of a thrill out of watching the machine ramp up temperatures.  But everyone is different.  And no system is perfect for every brewer. 

Every major change to my brewing setup took about two batches to get dialed in. 

Equipment and Software / Re: RIMS Question
« on: November 26, 2012, 01:43:26 PM »
I use this adjustable return tube from Brew Hardware.  Food grade and safe up to 170 F.

Does that thing float on the surface of the mash well?

It is adjustable.  You can bend it every which direction.  I place it toward the edge, just under the surface of the mash and run my recirculation loop.  If I'm running a larger or smaller grain bill, I just adjust it up or down to maintain this position.

I don't use the Camlock fitting pictured.  I already had a threaded return port in my kettle.  So I just screwed it on.  It pops off with a little pressure for cleaning.  Great little piece of equipment.  I tried the silicone hose return.  But I could never get it to stay exactly where I wanted.  It tended to sink.

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