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Messages - hubie

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Equipment and Software / Re: Cleanup...
« on: November 09, 2012, 07:42:00 AM »
How long do you guys let PBW go?  When I'm done with bottles, whether they're my homebrew or commercial, I give them a quick rinse and set aside.  When enough have accumulated, I will fill one of those home center 5 gallon buckets with PBW solution and I will submerge as many bottles in there that I can (usually about a dozen).  The next day I'll pull them out, drain them back into the bucket, then do a few twists with a bottle brush, rinse them with a bottle jet, then put another batch of bottles in the bucket.  If the bottles were commercial, then the labels come off real easy this way.  Is there a feel for how long PBW is good?  There doesn't seem to be a quick test to tell, like the pH test for StarSan.  After a while, especially if there were a lot of commercial bottles with all the dissolved glue from the labels, the water gets pretty murky, but I'll gladly keep using it as long as I am confident that it is doing its job.  Right now I'm verifying its efficacy by visual inspection of the cleanliness of the bottle.

Another interesting thing I've noticed is that if I have a bottle that is only partially submerged, then right at the water line something starts to accumulate, like a mineral scale, and it does not want to wash off.  Thinking it might be some kind of caustic scale, I've soaked the bottles in a StarSan solution hoping it would dissolve, but it doesn't.  I have to use some kind of abrasive scrubber and really work to get it off; if it ends up around the bottle lip, then I usually just recycle the bottle instead of spending the effort needed to get it off.  Any ideas what that deposit is and how to easily remove it?  Is it PBW coming back out of solution?

I usually shoot for only 1.5 volumes or less when I do British beers, so I end up adding a lot less.  I keep a printout of John Palmer's carbonation nomograph ( to the inside cover of my brewing log.  For me, that means I would end up adding only about 2 oz sugar. 

The other thing to keep in mind is make sure you have a good idea to what volume of beer you are adding your sugar because, to first order (at least for bottle conditioning, I still don't understand the "use less sugar for keg conditioning" issue -- is it a headspace thing?), the carbonation level scales with beer volume.  If only 4 gallons make it into your bottling bucket, you'll have 25-percent more carbonation than you were expecting.  You, of course, have to scale the nomograph number you get since it is based on a 5-gallon batch.

Other Fermentables / Re: Cranberry cider help
« on: November 08, 2012, 03:29:29 PM »
If you have access to the big warehouse food outlets (BJ's, Costco, etc.), this is the time of year they sell the whole fresh berries in the big bags pretty cheap (4 or 5 lbs, maybe, it has been while since I bought the big bag).  If you buy them out of the freezer section, I believe those have been flash-frozen which means that the cell walls don't get broken up very much and you don't derive as much benefit than if you froze them yourself.  If you thaw a bag of frozen fruit and you end up with a sloppy mess, then either it wasn't flash-frozen, or it had thawed somewhere between the factory and the freezer.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Homebrewing Hobby Survey
« on: November 07, 2012, 11:04:56 AM »
What is "engineering" math?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Post Boil Gravity Question
« on: November 02, 2012, 09:03:50 AM »
As Tom points out, there is something wrong with the numbers.  Looking at the numbers a different way, if you start with 12.5 gallons of 1.050 and the program says you should end up with 1.062, that means the program thinks you are ending up with 10 gallons, not 11, so it seems that your yield volume is going into the predicted post-boil calculation, not the end boil number. 

Also, to back up another of Tom's points, are you sure about your volume numbers?  Assuming your wort was mixed up well enough, using just your numbers if you started out with 1.057 wort at 12.5 gallons and you ended up with 1.061 after the boil, then that means you should have ended up with about 11.7 gallons post-boil.  When you say you end up with the amount your're supposed to, does that mean you've verified the 11 gallons, or are you verifying that you've drawn off the 10 gallons you need?

Don't get too hung up on brewing software calculations until you get a handle on your brewhouse efficiency because that is the overall fudge factor that gets applied to your calculations.  Even if you figure out that number, you can't even begin to talk about differences of a handful of gravity points unless you are very careful to do everything the same way every time.  Do you measure your pre-boil volume as it goes into the kettle (150F) and your post-boil just after boiling (200F) or after you've chilled it (60F), or if you do it different do you account for the volume change?  There can be a 4-percent difference just with temperature.  You mention that you usually nail your pre-boil gravity, but then you say that sometimes you get much better efficiency, so I would argue that you aren't nailing your number if it comes out different than what you expect.  However, if you've figured out your house efficiency and you are consistent, you can roll the new gravity number through BeerSmith.  Even the Big Boys blend their beers to make up for differences in batch gravity (and color, etc.).

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: FWH question
« on: October 26, 2012, 08:07:35 AM »

check out Denny's last post.
Yes, lab equipment will say the IBUs are higher.  However what really matters is how bitter it tastes.  Perception is reality basically.  Your tongue doesn't care what the actual IBU level is, and your tongue says it tastes similar to a 20 minute addition. 

That's the part that makes it hard to get my head wrapped around.  Thinking just from an IBU standpoint lets say I'm brewing a Kolsch and I normally would only add one ounce of hops at 60 minutes to get me something like 22 IBUs.  If I were to brew the same recipe and wanted the same IBUs, but I wanted to add all my hops at 20 minutes instead, I would need about 1.7 ounces.  However, if I took those same 1.7 ounces and added them all as FWH, I would end up with something like 42 IBUs.  There has to be some interesting chemistry going on if I double my IBUs but can't taste any significant extra bitterness.

I find the whole topic of FWH interesting because I've seen other people besides Denny talk about it as a 20-minute equivalent; people with much better palates than mine.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: FWH question
« on: October 24, 2012, 02:48:00 PM »
I count is as a 20 min,. addition because that what it seems like to me in terms of flavor and bittering.

Bear with me as I can be a bit dense, but are you saying that if you want to FWH a recipe that has only a 60-min addition, you can take the total IBUs and break them into a 60 minute charge and a 20 minute charge that ends up with the same IBUs?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Boiling down runnings
« on: October 23, 2012, 11:32:24 AM »
Certainly it depends upon the geometry of the pot you use, but how long does it take to boil down a gallon?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Barley Genome
« on: October 19, 2012, 09:09:37 AM »
but just as micro breweries can't hope to compete head to head with BMC but manage to do quite well, 'alternative' (I put that term in quotes because the methods used are far more traditional than 'conventional' ag) farmers can do the same using bio-dynamic and organic methods. so that's my pro-ag perspective.

For me, this is the most compelling argument in support of organic products.  There was much ballyhoo recently when a report came out that said that organic produce wasn't any healthier for you, but to me that was never the argument.  For me, at least, it is more about the process, less chemicals getting into the groundwater/rivers, spraying less pesticides, etc.

Ingredients / Re: Acid rinse cloudy
« on: October 10, 2012, 11:46:09 AM »
Does it take much change in mineral content to see it clouding up?  In the past I have seen it take a week to a month for mine to cloud up, but for the brew session I had on Monday, after six hours my bucket looked like skim milk.  As far as I can tell, my water comes from a (Maryland) river and is held in a reservoir till needed.  If I could I would tell you the makeup of my water, but the water report I can get online is pretty much useless from a brewing standpoint (no numbers for pH, alkalinity, etc.).

All Grain Brewing / Re: Competition
« on: October 09, 2012, 12:44:02 PM »
How does "Best of Show" work?  Is it only the category winners that advance, or the top point getters, or is it competition-specific?  How is the judging done anyway, are the beers being compared to each other, or are they being compared to their own styles?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Homebrew Store in Alabama Raided
« on: October 01, 2012, 08:06:35 AM »
It makes perfect sense, unfortunately.  The state makes a lot of money from the commercial sale of beer, wine, and liquor, but only a small amount (if any) on the ingredients used to make alcohol at home.  This is the true reason why it is not legal.

I understand the money angle having grown up in a county in Maryland that is the alcohol distributor (Montgomery), then went off to school in a state that did the same thing (PA).  However in this case I don't see it as about money because it would be too little to be on anyone's radar.  I see it more as typical prohibition-minded morality combined with  middle-class suburban angst ("think of the children!") preventing change.  Several years ago I asked my County Councilwoman whether I would ever see the day when I can go into a grocery store and buy a six-pack of beer (I envy all of you who can), and she told me that of all the laws they consider and debate, only two topics really get opposition support riled up: anything to do with alcohol and playgrounds.  I was expecting the first, but not the second answer.  Apparently some people are afraid that if you put in a new playground, it will attract teenagers who will hang out, deal drugs, etc., etc.  My take on it  is that it is easier to maintain the status quo than it is to deal with organized opposition, even if the opposition is a small minority of opinion.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: CO2 bottle in the fridge?
« on: September 26, 2012, 06:37:45 AM »
In the lab I've worked with cold chambers (put your electronics in to test them cold) that ran off of a CO2 bottle.  It was a long time ago, so my memory is a bit foggy, but I want to say that the box could get down to -40 C.  In fact, it was so good that it could get down to -40 F as well.  :) 

The other fun thing to do in the lab was to use the hand-held compressed air cans (you can buy them as keyboard dusters), which I believe was also CO2, hold them upside down and spray so that it comes out as a liquid.  You do that to check the integrity of your solder joints by freezing them, but you can also freeze a lot of other stuff with that.  :)

Ingredients / Re: First Wort Hops Chemistry
« on: September 24, 2012, 06:52:58 AM »
It's my understanding that it is an oxidation process odd the aroma hop compounds. They have more time on the FW before they would be boiled off. The oxidized compounds survive the boil and will be present in the beer.

I don't hear a lot of people advocating mash hopping.  How would the chemistry be different?  Is it that all the interesting chemistry happens between 170F and boiling?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Pliny the Elder
« on: July 06, 2012, 09:59:15 AM »
What do you use to carbonate in the bottle?

All you really need is just simple table sugar for priming.  If you've only used priming sugar before you'll need to adjust down a bit for table sugar.  John Palmer has a great section on all of this (, and his nomograph is very easy to use and very useful (I keep a copy taped to the inside of my brew log book).

You need to use more DME vs corn sugar to prime, so if you really used DME to prime thinking it was corn sugar, then you also might end up with lower carbonation than you were expecting.  Even if that was the case, I wouldn't worry about ruining the batch because it should still turn out to be tasty.

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