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Messages - gordonstrong

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« on: August 11, 2010, 02:40:08 AM »
I can assure you that that little bubble of air has a pronounced oxidized impact on my big beers, in the MOST delightful way, and within a few weeks.  Develops luscious dark fruit and sherry notes.

Though this goes against everything I was ever taught about beer.

Didn't Kai say something about that recently, along the lines of the German malt character that seems elusive to create on the homebrew level is some kind of small-scale oxidation of melanoidins (or Maillard reaction products)?

Seems plausible to me since darker beers will have more Maillard products/melanoidins, and those are the types of beer that develop those desirable oxidation flavors, where paler beers just seem to get papery.

Don't know the chemistry behind it or if it's been researched; I have my doubts since defining "that rich German malt character that homebrewers can't seem to reproduce" is hard to describe and quite subjective.

Anyone else see what I'm describing?

Beer Recipes / Re: Hot Peppers
« on: August 11, 2010, 02:26:34 AM »
How do you blend your beers to prevent oxidation....or is that not a concern.  I'm thinking that you blend beers that are already carbonated to allow for the natural effect of CO2 coming out of the beer and blocking O2 from contaminating the beer.

It's not a concern for me.  Either I'm doing it at the last minute, so oxygen won't have time to do any damage, or I'm blanketing everything with CO2 any time it's opened.

Basically, if I'm messing around with something in a carboy, I take the grey connector off the gas line and just blow some CO2 on top of the beer and then put the airlock back on it.  Whatever minor O2 got in there is displaced.  Or I do it in a keg, and then I do the same thing, except I don't need to remove the connector.

Keg equipment helps even if you don't keg.  Get a 5lb CO2 tank first.  Use the connectors that you can unscrew so you don't have to mess around with clamps.

Beer Recipes / Re: Hot Peppers
« on: August 10, 2010, 11:13:30 AM »
Sweet balances hot, so they're likely to go better with a maltier style.  Hot accentuates bitterness, so watch out if you add them to a bitter (or dry) beer.  They can change the balance.

I like the flavor of roasted peppers better than plain; less vegetal flavors.  You can use them anywhere, but I'd recommend you use them in a way that lets you adjust the balance and flavor.  So I'd wait until the beer was in secondary so you know what the final balance of the beer is like.

Put some in and taste every day until it's the level you want, then pull them out.  Or split your beer in half and do the same thing.  If you go too far, you can then blend with the un-peppered version to fix it.

You pretty much have to do this by taste so (gasp) blending techniques are the key.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Koning Hoeven Dubbel
« on: August 10, 2010, 03:41:59 AM »
From what I've seen, if a Trappist brewery doesn't have its own yeast strain, they get it from another Trappist brewery.  Trappist breweries also supply many of the smaller local breweries in the area.  When I visited the area around Orval, just about every brewery I visited said they used Orval yeast.

Go to and use the link at the bottom of the page to ask Stan.  If he doesn't know off the top of his head, I'm sure he'll be able to find out.  Let us know what you find out.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Missed Target Gravity, want to supplement
« on: August 10, 2010, 01:50:21 AM »
It's described in the Beer Camp article I wrote in Zymurgy last fall.  You don't cut all the way through the grain bed, just most of the way. I forget what the article said, probably something like an inch or two above the bottom.

When the literature talks about channeling being bad, they mean one channel through the whole bed.  Yes, that's bad, for the reason you described.  But when you have as many I'm talking about, the effect is different. It's like water draining through a mesh screen rather than through a single drain. You have multiple paths, all through the grain bed, so you're encouraging water to go through the entire grain mass. The channels are very thin (use a spatula, not a stick) so the water doesn't just fall through.

Do this before the vorlauf, since the idea of a vorlauf is to set your bed so you can runoff clear. Cutting into the mash messes up the bed a bit, so you want to vorlauf afterwards. Basically, you want to runoff directly from the vorlauf without touching the mash again, once it's clear.

I use a long, thin offset spatula from the kitchen.  It was probably from Williams-Sonoma if you want to google for it, but a thin piece of steel would work just fine. It doesn't have to be totally rigid, just be able to cut through when you slice with it.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« on: August 09, 2010, 06:55:00 PM »
That's me. Cheap and easy. I don't batch sparge and I don't like rye too much so I haven't drank the full glass of koolaid.

Beer Travel / Re: One Week in Belgium
« on: August 09, 2010, 03:27:49 PM »
Orval had the best tour. Rochefort hard to get into. Westvletern impossible.

+1 on Brugge. Go to 't Brugs Beertje to drink. Best dinner in Belgium at Den Dyver. Trust me.

Less oxygen in a hefe will give more esters which is what a lot of people want anyway. Keep temps cool.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« on: August 09, 2010, 12:32:36 PM »
I usually ferment in 6.5 gal carboys.  No problem getting the hose to the bottom.  I don't coil it tight when I store it, and if it seems curved, I can stretch it out after a quick soak in boiling water.

When I fill the hose with water, I normally have it stretched out anyway in a big U shape.  I fill both ends of the hose at the same time, let the air bubbles come out, and then top off.  That process naturally has the hose stretched long.

When I put the hose in the carboy, I pay attention to the curvature and feed it in that direction. Sometimes you have to twist it a bit to get the other end where you want it, but you can also tilt the carboy to bring the liquid to the intake. That's how I get the last bits, assuming the yeast is tightly packed.

I've also heard that if you play with your hose too much, it can curve in one direction.  Just sayin'  :o

Seriously, people should use whatever works for them. This method always worked for me, and I mentioned it because some people seemed to have problems with syphons and were throwing equipment at the problem that could have been causing other undesirable side-effects.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« on: August 09, 2010, 03:54:54 AM »
It's harder to start the syphon the way I do it (filling completely with water) if I use a cane.

I also like the extra control of being able to position the intake of the hose where I want it in the carboy. This lets me get a clearer beer, and often removes the need for a secondary.  Yes, I could do that with a cane, but then I'd also need a clamp.

A cane is rigid, so I can't always turn it the way I want. If I use a hose, I can see where it is in the carboy if I'm racking a dark beer.

It's one more piece of equipment to break, and to clean. Why add another piece when a single hose does what I want?  I know there are solutions to all the limitations I described, but all of those add complexity. I guess I don't see any advantages of using a cane, so I don't.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« on: August 09, 2010, 12:08:21 AM »
I don't use a cane, just a hose.

Ingredients / Re: Brewing with Honey
« on: August 08, 2010, 11:39:19 PM »
Except for the arithmatic, I did. Basic beer math.

It helps that I have to do this every other month for the recipes in Zymurgy.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Confused brewing
« on: August 08, 2010, 11:10:58 PM »
Not sure it's going to hit a BJCP style for competition but it's probably like a brewpub amber ale. Just something easy to drink. Probably will be very good with food. You didn't list your AA%; what did your IBUs calculate out to be?

My closest guess at what to call it if you were describing it to someone using the BJCP terms is an American-style Vienna Ale, which should be making most people cringe right about now but is probably fairly accurate if you think about it.

Brewpub amber sounds a lot better to me, and would probably make it go away quickly if you took a keg to a party.

Equipment and Software / Re: Traditional Brewing Equipment
« on: August 08, 2010, 10:57:13 PM »
It might not be technical enough, but have you looked at "Prost! The Story of German Beer"?

Ingredients / Re: Brewing with Honey
« on: August 08, 2010, 10:53:02 PM »
Honey is a fermentable so you're adding gravity points.  If it ferments out, those points are being converted to alcohol.

If you had 5 gallons of 1.059 beer, you had 295 gravity points in the fermenter. Honey is around 40 points per pound. If you added 4 pounds, then you added 160 gravity points.  Honey is 12 lbs to the gallon, so you also added 1/3 gallon of volume.  So you now have (295+160)/(5+1/3) = roughly a 1.085 beer.  If your final gravity is 1.012, then your ABV is (1.085-1.012)*105*1.25 = about 9.6%.

If after all this, you don't have any honey aroma or flavor, consider stabilizing it like a mead (potassium sorbate, potassium metabisulfite) and then back-sweetening with additional honey so you have more residual unfermented honey (which will have a greater aroma and flavor).

The perception of honey often depends on its quality and variety. Maybe you need a more distinctive or flavorful honey.  But I'd stop fermenting it pretty soon or it won't taste as much like a beer.

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