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Messages - svejk

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61
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Stuck Fermentation
« on: March 28, 2013, 03:17:55 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.

62
Equipment and Software / Re: Blichmann Kettle with False Bottom
« on: March 28, 2013, 01:49:35 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.

63
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Anybody familiar with PBW?
« on: March 18, 2013, 11:13:50 AM »
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.

64
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.

65
Beer Recipes / Re: Low gravity saison
« on: March 05, 2013, 09:15:30 AM »
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.

66
Homebrew Clubs / Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
« on: March 04, 2013, 09:05:47 AM »
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...

67
Beer Recipes / Re: Brewing a Barley wine.
« on: February 04, 2013, 05:00:10 PM »
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.


68
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Thank You Jimmy!
« on: February 01, 2013, 06:04:46 PM »
WellI guess that's one thing they did right.

I saw that there was a falling out with the AHA back before I was involved, but I thought it had blown over.  In fact, I had never even heard of them until I started looking into how Senator Cranston got the amendment into the bill.

69
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Thank You Jimmy!
« on: February 01, 2013, 04:08:57 PM »
Let's also give a shout out to the Home Wine and Beer Trade Association.

Here is a bit of history about how legalization came about:

The HWBTA, founded in 1975, is an association of companies and individuals involved in the home beer and wine trade, including retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, authors, and publishers. Current membership is about 500. Members are located primarily in North America, but overseas manufacturers are well represented. The association has an executive secretary who handles administration and publication of an annual directory of members. The HWBTA sponsors an annual trade conference where members met and exchange ideas and information and discuss industry problems. The HWBTA was instrumental in gaining the legalization of home brewing in the United States in 1979. Then-president Nancy Crosby and beer author Lee Coe worked closely with Senator Alan Cranston to introduce and pass legalization legislation through the U.S. Congress.

70
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Brewin' in the rain
« on: January 31, 2013, 02:18:00 PM »
In Seattle, brewing in the rain is just called brewing...

71
Pimp My System / Re: grain mill
« on: January 28, 2013, 03:11:40 PM »
However, I recently moved from so cal to the pacific northwest... and go figure, the frame quickly rusted over.

As a native of Seattle, this reminds me of a funny story.  My brother has a friend who was raised in Washington and moved to Colorado as an adult.  He got married and the couple raised their kids there.  When his son was young, he was constantly leaving his bike outside overnight and his dad would tell him, "Bring your bike inside, or it will rust".  He did this over and over until one day his son looked at him and said, "Dad, what's rust?".

Welcome to the NW, and that is a great looking mill!

72
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Re-freshing tired yeast
« on: January 28, 2013, 10:52:58 AM »
My hunch is that your best bet would be to make a low gravity starter (1.030 or so) and pitch some of the yeast in it and use that for the next batch.  The reason I think it will be fine is because I have successfully used yeast from a bottle of Saison Dupont with only 2 steps (a cup of starter in the bottle itself, and that small starter into a half growler of wort).  I'm sure that yeast in the bottle was very tired at the point I woke it up and my two step process was a bad case of underpitching, but the beer itself turned out great.

In any case, by taking a chance and trying it, you'll be expanding your knowledge and can decide for yourself whether the tired yeast story has any merit.  I say go for it and post your results to this thread. 

73
All Grain Brewing / Re: mash out
« on: January 28, 2013, 10:32:31 AM »
In my experience, my efficiency decreases if I don't do a mash-out.  I believe part of the reason is that it is hard to raise the temperature of the grain bed with sparging alone because the thermal mass of a large load of grain at 150F would be losing heat at a rate similar to what would be gained from the sparge water at 170F.  That said, I usually do my best to bring the temp up in the grain bed using an infusion of boiling sparge water and if it doesn't quite get it to 170F I don't worry about it and my beers haven't suffered from missing it by a few degrees.

74
All Grain Brewing / Re: Big beer efficiency and fermentation question
« on: January 24, 2013, 10:59:46 AM »
Am limited to 9 gal total water. Currently put 5 in mash and 4 in sparge. Equipment and boil off loses gives 5.5 gal to ferment and 5 gal to bottle. Maybe it would be better to max out the water in the mash and use the rest for sparge, keeping total at 9 gal. May have to add DME to hit SG.

I think the 9 gallon water limit is the key because you are bumping into the maximum gravity that you can get from your first runnings.  I have rarely seen my first runnings exceed a gravity of 1.080.  Even with huge grain bills, the gravity drops off from that starting number and if you have 9 gallons in your kettle at 1.060, that will boil down to 5.5 gallons at 1.098.  There is still a lot of sugar available in the mash, it is just getting thrown away.

One way to increase your water limit would be to bring 3 gallons up to a boil during the mash and put it in a corny keg.  It would then cool down to sparging temp by the time you need it and you could use a cobra tap and CO2 to push it into the mash tun.

Since your boil kettle is maxed out, you could collect those runnings in a bucket.  Those runnings could be added to the kettle slowly during the boil.  Using this method, if you can collect 12 gallons at an average of 1.055, that will boil down to 5.5 gallons at 1.120.  I think you'll find that an extended boil works really well with big beers.

75
Equipment and Software / Re: Digital refractometer
« on: January 15, 2013, 02:38:53 PM »
A friend pointed out that a digital refractometer is actually very inexpensive and practical afterall:

http://www.amazon.com/SBS-SBS-3500-Digital-Hydrometer-0-000-3-0000/dp/B006M49LNA/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1358269917

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