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Messages - svejk

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Other Fermentables / Hydromel Carbonation
« on: May 23, 2013, 05:43:01 PM »
I made a low gravity (~1.060) mead that finished below 1.000 and my intention is to carbonate it to about 3 volumes of CO2 to make it spritzy.  I have had it in a keg at 40F and 18PSI for about a month now and even though it is well carbonated coming out of the tap, it goes flat almost immediately. 

At first I thought it had something to do with the short serving line so I put some in a soda bottle with a carbonator cap and poured it carefully into a glass with the same results.

Is it possible that dissolved sugars in regular FG beers help "hold onto" CO2 and in the case of a super dry solution it outgasses more quickly?  Any other ideas why this would be the case?

If I had to guess, I would also say it has something to do with the accuracy of the calculation used for adjusting for the temperature of the sample.  One trick I use is to put a large, shallow pyrex cake pan in the fridge on the morning of brew day.  When I put a hydrometer sample of wort into the pan, even at boiling temps, the thermal mass and surface area of the pan drops the temp of the sample very quickly into a reasonable range for checking the gravity.  I do that a lot less now that I have a refractometer, though...

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Secondary Yeast
« on: May 06, 2013, 06:32:35 PM »
Sounds like a great beer.  For increasing the perception of hops, I'm a big fan of using large amounts (3-4 oz, or even more) of dry hops. It can make racking the beer a bit of a pain, but really gives it a good hop punch.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Secondary Yeast
« on: May 06, 2013, 05:23:11 PM »
In that case, I would expect that you still have a fair amount of available sugars for your second pitch because that is a very big job for one vial to handle.  I still think you're fine with pitching the next yeast in the primary without racking, but I'm also interested in the reasons behind your process.  Since you're re-brewing this beer, I assume the first batch turned out great and you want to repeat it, is that right? 

One reason I can see for taking the approach of using one yeast to start fermentation and another yeast to finish it out would be that you want the flavor profile provided by the first yeast during the lag phase, but you want the better attenuation provided by the second yeast.  For imperial IPAs, usually the flavor contribution of the yeast is hidden by the hops, so most brewers I know use a large pitch of a very attenuative strain (like 1056) to get the beer to dry out in one shot.  Then again, if this process turned out a great IIPA, I wouldn't want to mess with success.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Secondary Yeast
« on: May 06, 2013, 04:58:49 PM »
Pitching yeast after fermentation has subsided can be a little tricky.  Can you tell us why you are pitching a secondary yeast? (I now see that you already answered this question)

In general, additional yeast is added to a batch in order to get the final gravity lower than what the first pitch of yeast were able to achieve.  The problem is that the presence of alcohol and CO2 make it a very tough job for that second pitch. 

In my experience, the only time I have had success with a second pitch of yeast having any effect on a batch was when I used a large volume of yeast slurry (either a yeast cake grown up in another batch or some slurry from a local brewpub).

To get to your questions, though, I would go ahead and put the secondary yeast in the primary, but I would check the gravity of the beer after fermentation stops to be sure it is needed.  You may find that the first pitch of yeast finished the job and there is no need for another pitch of yeast.

In the case of your prior experience, it looks like there were still a lot of available sugars for that second pitch to consume and that may very well be the case again if you used the same process.  Can you tell us what strain of yeast was used for your first pitch and how much you used (did you make a starter, use more than one pack of dry yeast, etc.)?

Ingredients / Re: Ingredients from Walmart!
« on: April 23, 2013, 03:44:32 PM »
Not exactly the Walmart Challenge, but this GAP (Grocery and Produce) Challenge thread from Homebrewtalk is very similar:

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Look what the stork droped off...
« on: April 23, 2013, 03:23:40 PM »
...all those minerals are already in the extract and there is no need for more.

This is a really good point that I hadn't considered before.  I think for most beginners purposes it won't be the deciding factor whether the beer is great or not, but it would make for an interesting side-by-side experiment - two identical extract batches, one with distilled water and the other with spring or filtered tap water.  I would think if a light style of beer were chosen, then the differences could be perceptible.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Look what the stork droped off...
« on: April 22, 2013, 10:51:47 PM »
In addition to the responses so far, in your second question you ask about a concentrated boil and topping off with distilled or purified water.  Keep in mind that your brewing water should be sanitary, but not distilled. To keep things as simple as possible, you could buy 3 one gallon bottles of spring water at the grocery store and leave them unopened in the fridge until you have chilled the boiled wort to ~100F in an ice bath.  Combining that wort with the 3g of ~35F water from the fridge should get you to the point where you are ready to aerate the batch.

A couple other random thoughts:

- The 5 gallon carboy will be a little small as a primary for your second 5g batch.  You might want to consider using the bottling bucket for primary fermentation of your first batch because it makes aeration a lot easier and you won't need a blowoff tube.  You can also avoid racking altogether with it.  Then you can put your second batch in the 6g carboy.

- It looks like you've done a lot of reading and already know a fair amount about brewing, so on your first batch, do your best, keep good notes, and don't be afraid to just wing it.  You'll learn a whole lot on your first batch, so you can tweak your system as needed once you've gone through it.

Have fun, and good luck!

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Stuck Fermentation
« on: March 28, 2013, 10:17:55 PM »
As mentioned above, a refractometer reading will need to be adjusted after fermentation has started.  The reason is because the alcohol in the beer changes the reading.  In your case, if you are getting an unadjusted reading of 1.036 after fermentation, then when you make the adjustment it looks like your beer finished out at about 1.015-1.016 which seems reasonable considering your mash temperature.  If you would like to see a lower final gravity in your next batch, you could try mashing at 150F.

As far as yeast starters go, they serve several purposes with one of the primary purposes being to make sure that you are pitching enough yeast to do the job you are asking them to do.  When you underpitch a beer, you will still get some yeast growth, however the chances of getting a stuck fermentation or having other fermentation problems go up.  Since brewing is fairly labor intensive, you can look at the work of making a yeast starter as an insurance policy to make sure you are giving your beer the best chance at success.

One other consideration I didn't see mentioned is that your fermentation temperature of 70-75F seems to be on the high side for an IPA that would normally use Wyeast 1056 or another neutral strain.  For that style of beer, I really try to keep the temp out of the 70s if at all possible - especially early on in fermentation.

Equipment and Software / Re: Blichmann Kettle with False Bottom
« on: March 28, 2013, 08:49:35 PM »
I agree that the design of the Blichmann false bottom makes me think it might not work well as a boil kettle because it looks like it would be too restrictive.  I do have a screen-type false bottom in my 15G boil kettle, and most of the time I don't have a problem as long as I am making 5G batches.  On a few occasions when I have made 10G batches there is a phenomenon that has made me hesitant to continue making larger batches with the false bottom in place.

On my first 10G batch, the kettle had about 12G of wort in it and early in the boil I noticed that the activity in the kettle had slowed down quite a bit but the level looked higher than I thought it had been.  After a few seconds, the wort level in the kettle suddenly dropped a couple of inches with a big thud that shook the deck.  At the end of the boil, I saw that the false bottom had a large amount of break material/proteins, etc. that had built up under it and they had effectively plugged the holes in the screen.  My hunch is that a pocket of superheated wort/steam had developed under the false bottom and lifted the rest of the wort in the kettle.  It seems like a really dangerous situation and I'm sure glad that it wasn't more violent.

The next few batches went without a hitch, but they were all 5 gallon batches.  Then the next time I did a 10G batch, the same event happened again so I knew that it was something that mainly just happened with large batches on my system.  I don't make 10G batches very often, but for me hop bags are a much safer option.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Anybody familiar with PBW?
« on: March 18, 2013, 06:13:50 PM »
The slippery feeling of PBW always creeps me out because I read somewhere it was dissolving the fat in your skin.  I have no idea if it is true or not, but even if it isn't true I can't get the image out of my mind.  On the bright side, whenever I'm using PBW I usually have a bucket of Starsan close by, so if I get any on my hands, I can dip them into the Starsan and the slickness goes away immediately because it is neutralized by the acid.

I think it is probably worth checking with your club to see how much beer you all would like to serve at the conference.  In our case, we had all been focused on the conference for over a year so we had lots of collaborations and barrel aged beers that we wanted to serve in addition to the beers that we had brewed for the competition.  We set up a google document where we all logged what beers we had in the pipeline that would be available for the conference.  We had over 60 possible beers, and there was no way we could serve that many at Club Night, so taking on a couple of Hospitality Shifts was no problem. 

As the other folks have mentioned, if you can drive to the conference, then it is a great way to do your part to make the event a success.

Beer Recipes / Re: Low gravity saison
« on: March 05, 2013, 04:15:30 PM »
I think you'll find that 3711 will have no trouble taking a 1.039 beer all the way down to 1.000, so I wouldn't hesitate to raise the mash temp to 154 to see if you could leave a couple points on the hydrometer.  From a recipe standpoint, I would probably throw in 4 oz of acidulated malt, because my belief is that it adds a little bit of a twang in the finish that really works well in the style.  I'm not sure whether I'd go with the Special B myself, maybe a bit of aromatic or special roast to add complexity.

Good luck with the brew!  I'm a big fan of making small saisons to build up my yeast, and I would be very interested in reading a followup posted to this thread once you know how it turns out.

Homebrew Clubs / Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
« on: March 04, 2013, 04:05:47 PM »
Couldn't a charity event be structured like NHC Club Night?  It seems to me that the conference has been held in a whole bunch of states, and the AHA has found a way to structure it where people can buy tickets to an event, and homebrewers can serve them.  Maybe it has something to do with the participants being members in the organization, but you'd think that the cost of the tickets for the event could be considered dues rather than an entrance fee - kinda like the days in Utah where you had to join a private club to get a beer...

Beer Recipes / Re: Brewing a Barley wine.
« on: February 05, 2013, 12:00:10 AM »
Personally, I like the idea of going with an English Barleywine with super high starting gravity (1.125 or even a bit bigger).  In order to pull that off, you'll need a very long boil of at least 2 hours or longer.  The reason for the long boil is because you'll find that as you make bigger beers, your efficiency will likely drop from what you're used to, so a longer boil will let you sparge longer to collect more sugars.  On the bright side, a long boil is beneficial to this style, so it will serve to improve the final beer.

I would also recommend including a fair amount of high quality base malt (I like Maris Otter and Golden Promise), but I also stretch this with some Gambrinus 2-row to keep the cost reasonable.

As far as fermentation goes, you'll need a whole lot of yeast.  I usually will make a small beer (OG 1.040 or less) and use the entire yeast cake for the barleywine.  Lately I like the Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast, and that yeast is especially convenient because a Scottish 60 makes a great starter beer.  With a beer that big, you'll need a lot of oxygen, so if you have an O2 system, it will pay off.  If you're shaking to aerate, you won't need to go to the gym for a few days.

Be careful not to let the fermentation get too hot.  It really should stay in the 60's, otherwise you run the risk of getting some hot alcohol flavors in the final beer.

My last bit of advice is to set some bottles aside.  A great barleywine can age for a really long time, so if you aren't wowed by it in the first year, give it some time and see what it does.  Your patience will be rewarded.

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