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Topics - Phil_M

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Equipment and Software / Best size for a new kettle
« on: March 16, 2016, 11:14:47 AM »
With the change from electric brewing to my current batch sparge/propane burner setup, I'm in the market for a new brew kettle.

I've got a good handle of what I'm looking for, and I'm settling towards the SS brewtech kettles. Question is, what size to get?

Right now I brew 5 gallon batches, but I'm hoping to expand into 10 gallon batches soon. Would a 15 gal kettle work for both? I really don't see why it would not, but as normal I always want a second opinion.

Beer Recipes / APA
« on: March 11, 2016, 01:24:12 PM »
Brewing again tomorrow to try and collect more numbers to baseline my new mash tun.

Thinking of a basic APA. I'm hoping for a crisp, dry beer with a good amount of bitterness. I think this may be bordering on IPA territory, and that's even more reason for me to try and dry it out.

OG: 1.058
75% Briess Pale Ale Malt
7.5% Weyermann Munich 10L
7.5% Briess Caramel 60L
10% Invert No. 1 syrup

I plan on mashing at 152, I don't want the beer to be too thin. I'm hoping that the syrup and higher mash temp could work together to make a beer that doesn't have a thin mouthfeel, yet is still dry?


FWH: ~10 IBU Crystal (bitterness calculated as a 20 minute boil addition.)
20 min: 20 IBU Simcoe
20 min: 15 IBU Columbus
Flameout: 1 oz. Cascade

I don't plan on doing a whirlpool for this beer. I might consider hitting it with an ounce of either simcoe or cascade in the keg.

Yeast will likely be fresh 1450 from the Mild that I'll also be kegging tomorrow. Should I just rack on top of the old yeast cake? That's what I did with the mild. Or pour out a measured amount of slurry and use that? This APA would be the third pitch of this 1450.

And thanks to all the folks who help look over recipes, it's a nice "safety net" to know the beer won't be horrible.

All Grain Brewing / Batch sparge cloudy runoff.
« on: March 06, 2016, 12:07:25 AM »
I finally joined the "blue cooler" club.

Made a new mash tun based on Denny's directions. Basically followed his directions to the letter, though obviously I had to tailor things to fit this particular cooler. I actually made use of the stock drain since it was threaded for a garden hose on the outside. Threaded a small piece of tubing through the drain to attach the screen to.

Anyway, the first brew with the new system went basically according to plan. Only issue was that the runoff was very milky. I vorlaffed, stopped once the wort in the tubing looked clear. However, what was collecting still seemed really milky. Not horribly so, about normal for my old BIAB setup.

I figured based on what I've been told that the runoff should be clearer than that. I rolled with it for toady's brew, but I'd like to nail down the cause.

My theory is that I didn't have enough grain in the cooler to make a decent filter bed, I mashed about 5 lbs of grain in a 50-quart cooler.

Flaked barley was a large part of the grist as well, 17%.

Beer Recipes / Need a little advice... (American Mild)
« on: February 29, 2016, 06:19:23 PM »
I'm brewing what I'm calling an "American Mild" this weekend. Recipe is based upon Patinson's "Tetley's Mild", but using American ingredients.

68.6% Pale Malt
14/9% Flaked Barley
16.5% Invert No. 2

17.6 IBU of Cascade @ 180 minutes
4.1 IBU of Cascade @ 30 minutes

Two questions:
With American pale malt being less flavorful than British pale malt, what would be a good way to make up for that while still using domestic ingredients? Munich malt? Amber malt?

I plan on using Wyeast 1968 for this beer - Can anyone recommend a good fermentation temp for this beer? With so little in the recipe I feel that the yeast is really going to have to shine, I'd rather not "wing it" and pick a number in 60's without some background.

And yes, I know it's technically not all domestic, as I'm using UK invert sugar and yeast.

Kegging and Bottling / A Rant...
« on: February 29, 2016, 01:15:22 PM »
Gotta vent somewhere, lol...

I ended up kegging two beers last Wednesday, a brown ale and a dry Irish stout. Purged the kegs, racked the beers, purged the headspace, no major issues. Had a slightly harder time than normal getting one keg to seal up, but wasn't really a big deal.

I've been working nights lately, so the next morning I checked the pressures...and the CO2 bottle was completely empty, and the system had no pressure at all. Ran out to the local welding supply store, swapped out for another CO2 bottle, and started troubleshooting. The "issue" lid from the night before was keg lubed to try and rule that out. The third (currently unused) line from my CO2 manifold was slightly open, whether that happened when I removed the (empty) CO2 or when I racked the beers I don't know. Thinking I had everything sorted, I hooked everything back up and went in to work.

Next morning: (Friday) I was busy working on schoolwork and failed to check the CO2 till I was about to leave for work. Empty again. My wife was able to run out and get another CO2 swap, and I was able to talk her through some of the troubleshooting. The "problem" keg was given brand new O-rings, no signs of leaks anywhere. (Oetiker clamps are worth their weight in gold btw.) Turned the gas off in case there was still a leak, gave it a good 20 PSI to see how it held up overnight.

Saturday morning, again, no pressure. Turned on the gas bottle, and that's when the regulator decided to lose its mind. The gauge on the low pressure side would slowly rise to max, then the release valve would trip. Seemed like it was just getting straight high pressure from the bottle. Managed to throw valves in such a way that the kegs were pressurized and isolated from the regulator, they were still pressurized last time I checked.

Thinking (hoping) the cheap regulator I got with my kegerator was the culprit all along. I have a new Taprite regulator on order, but I've no idea when it'll show up. Meanwhile, my beers are sitting at 55o with who knows how much pressure in the kegs. I also have no idea how badly oxidized they may have become when they were sitting at atmospheric pressure. The stout is still several weeks from being tapped, hopefully it'll hold up fine. Not much I can do for our St. Patrick's day party at this point if it isn't fine.

Oh, and it was a kegco-brand regulator. That means that I've now had significant problems with every single Kegco item I've ever ordered, save the Sankey taps I've got. Ball lock taps, 1/4 MFL to Sankey adapters, new manufacture kegs, draft tower, everything but the Sankey taps has been proven to be utter crap. Expensive crap, and a frustrating mess.

Yeast and Fermentation / Repitching Yeast
« on: February 22, 2016, 11:17:08 PM »
I've always heard that when repitching yeast that you should limit the number of times you repitch the yeast. Basically, that after x many (Between five and seven batches are the numbers that are coming to mind) batches, you're better off tossing the old yeast and starting fresh.

What yeast mechanism/health factor/issue drives this? Is it a mutation thing, where the yeast get further away from the starting point? Or do the old, unviable cells begin to take up more and more of the mass of the pitch? Potential for other critters to start to take over?

How could you "resurrect" an old yeast that has seen that many fermentations? Plate the yeast for single colonies and start over?

Equipment and Software / Pin lock kegs and pressure bleed valves
« on: February 15, 2016, 05:23:29 PM »
I've got 4 kegs right now, two ball lock and two pin lock. The ball lock kegs have bleeder valves in the lid, whereas the pin lock kegs have some sort of pressure relief valve built into the lid.

What are my options, short of buying new lids, to try and retrofit these pin lock kegs with a bleeder valve?

Yeast and Fermentation / Plating Yeast
« on: February 15, 2016, 02:37:38 PM »
Finally bit the bullet and started yeast culturing. Poured a bunch of plates, and streaked some of them with yeast.

When I incubate the plates, what's the best place to do that? The fridge? Someplace warm? I've had them in the fridge for two days now, no visible growth. Moved some to a warmish (it's COLD in MD lately) spot in the house yesterday, no growth visible today. Just set some in on top of the hot water heater, if that doesn't work nothing will.

So, your thoughts: Did I somehow screw this up? Or are the yeast all too cold?

Extract/Partial Mash Brewing / Six month old LME-Use or pitch?
« on: February 04, 2016, 04:21:13 PM »
Like the title says. Bought a recipe kit last June that had 6 lbs of pilsner LME that I never used. It's been stored cold in my fridge the entire time. I know cold storage increases the shelf life of LME, but after six months, what should I do?

Classifieds / SOLD
« on: February 02, 2016, 09:28:37 PM »
In the battle between the shop and the brewery, the shop one. I'll be moving my brewing back outside from the garage, and as such will be selling my current electric system.


EBC III 240v Controller (Upgrade from the default EBC-SV BIAB controller)

Options include:
1.5" temp probe for T-fitting
4" temp probe with weldless kit
6' power cord with NEMA 14-30p plug (4 prong)
Second pump switch option

62-quart Bayou Classic kettle with strainer basket
Kettle has a 4500W low (not ultra low) watt density heating element.

Chugger pump, stainless steel inline head

Will also include all stock plastic quick disconnects. Will not include bag or tubing.

Price? Make me a reasonable offer. I'd be willing to ship, but you pick up all costs. Pictures are available on request, I'll post them on here. I'd planned on using the EBC-III controller to upgrade to a 3-vessel HERMS setup, but I simply don't have the space.

I'd be willing to sell the EBC-III controller by itself as well.

Equipment and Software / Upgrade ideas
« on: January 28, 2016, 12:46:23 PM »
I'm thinking about selling my electric BIAB setup, and changing to a larger, simpler system.

Background: I brew in my garage, which is on the opposite end of the condo from the kitchen. This inevitably makes for numerous trips for little odds and ends throughout the brewday. All water collection and cleaning happens in the kitchen as well, as there is no running water in the garage. Plus, I do my own vehicle maintenance, so right now there's a constant battle between brewery needs and shop needs in the garage.

I've been brewing extract lately, and to me it's just not as fun as all grain. Mashing is probably my favorite part of homebrewing, relying on extract has made me brew less often.

By not being tied to a 240V circuit, I hope to move my brewing to our front patio, which is much closer to the kitchen. This also places me in an area of the building where I may be able to wash some of my gear outside. The downside of brewing there is there is no electricity, to even run a pump I'd have to run an extension cord from the garage.

The requirements for any upgrade would be:

1. Ability to do 10-gallon batches
2. No moving pots of near-boiling liquids. While I can lift heavy pots, in my mind moving heavy pots that are close to boiling is one of the greatest risks in homebrewing. 150oish mash water doesn't trouble me as much, near boiling liquids do.
3. Affordable-In hindsight, I spent way more than I needed to on my first system. It works, and I know some folks want that type of precision. Honestly, at some point down the road I may go back to an electric system, but that will be many years from now. Also, affordable systems are also more flexible, so I'd be better able to change things out as I find ways to improve the system.
4. Simple setup: I want to minimize any assembly required each brew day.

So here's where I need help. I'm pretty much set on Denny's cooler batch sparge setup for my mash tun. Relying on gravity to move liquid as much as possible is going to mean some sort of brewing sculpture. I'm not sure I can fit something like the Blichmann Top Tier in my garage without taking it apart each time. Any other simple sculptures out there? The patio is two steps up from the garage level, so any sculptures would need to be fairly easy to move up them.

Between work and school I'm not able to brew as often as I'd like, so doing ten gallon batches would help me have homebrew available more of the time.

Also, does anyone else have tips for AG brewing in a home where space is at a premium? Am I nuts to consider selling my current system, should I just stop griping and use what I have?

Beer Recipes / Dry Irish Stout (Extract)
« on: January 19, 2016, 01:30:14 AM »
I'm working on tweaking NB's Dry Irish Stout extract kit for St. Pat's day. I've brewed this kit a couple times, and it's never quite as dry as I find Guinness to be.

Does anyone know what the FG if Guinness Draught is? I believe it's 1.007-1.008, but an internet search hasn't helped. The lowest I've gotten the NB extract kit to ferment down to is 1.012. I event tried the all-grain kit, only got that down to 1.010. (Of course, that would be easier to fix than extract…)

The plan is to use a portion of invert sugar to drop the FG some, with the amount based on the delta between the Guinness FG and the 1.011-1.012 that seems to be expected from the kit.

Beer Recipes / American Brown Ale
« on: January 04, 2016, 12:15:14 AM »
Finally looking to brew a few all-grain batches again. Thoughts on this recipe?

1.052 OG
80% Maris Otter
10% Amber Malt
0.5% Chocolate Malt
0.5% Caramel 60

For hops, I'm not sure what to use. I have Amarillo, Cascade, Columbus, Crystal and Simcoe on hand. I prefer my brown ales to be fairly bitter, definitely want to balance out the malt well.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Yeungling IPL
« on: December 04, 2015, 01:08:23 AM »
Has anyone else tried this beer?

I think it's quite good, though closer to an APA than an IPA. I'm one of those folks who enjoys in-your-face-hoppy beers, but prefers something more balanced. This beer is nice, nice malt flavor, fairly hoppy. The Citra in it is very evident, at least to me. At 5% ABV I'm impressed, it's a very drinkable beer and I'm sad that it's a seasonal. This would be a great beer at a humid Maryland BBQ in the summer.

Zymurgy / Celtic-German Bread Beer…and mold?
« on: September 03, 2015, 08:24:03 PM »
Ok, so I'm a history geek…but this article got me wondering…

So, folks used to make beer from bread…but how moldy was the bread? My wife is an avid baker, and moldy bread is as certain an eventual outcome as stale beer.

I know Sake uses mold to saccharify white rice. Are there any bread molds that could perform saccharification?  Does anyone know of any place to read on this more? (Aside from the references in the article?)

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