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Messages - skyler

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Out of my comfort zone
« on: February 13, 2017, 02:39:13 PM »
Did you adjust your bittering hops to balance it for the lower gravity? I mean, I assume dropping down to ~35 IBUs would give you a pretty nice session beer.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: "Rack on to" secondary
« on: February 13, 2017, 02:31:24 PM »
Don't rack it again - that is unlikely to be any help. Bottle it ASAP.

The "sour" note could be a few things. (1) it could be an infection, which would mean the beer has caught a microbe like lactobacillus and that it will keep getting more and more sour, so you should drink it ASAP (assuming it tastes okay). (2) it could be that you used old extract - old extract has a distinct sour taste that I notice in a lot of novice homebrew - this can usually be avoided by sticking to just dry malt extract and grain, or by switching to a better homebrew supply store. (3) dark malts are acidic and you probably didn'y do anything to combat that acidity with your water - it could be that the pH is low because of your water chemistry and grist - next time try using reverse osmosis water from the grocery store and reading up on water chemistry in brewing. (4) some yeast strains naturally produce more acidic-tasting beer. Did you use Nottingham? That makes every beer a little tart, IME.

If I were you, I would just bottle now and check on it in 2 weeks. If it tastes okay/is carbonated, chill almost all of the bottles (your potential souring microbe will be slowed down by the fridge). Leave at least 1-2 bottles at room temperature for 3 months or so to see how they develop. You will know it if they are infected because they will get super carbonated and very very sour. If it's an infection, throw away all the plastic that touched the beer.

In the future, I recommend against doing too much with a recipe. Cocoa, raisins, bourbon, vanilla, and cinnamon are a lot to add to a beer as a novice. You will get better at brewing quicker if your beer isn't "hiding" behind all those competing flavors. If you want a stout, try a plain stout recipe. You can always add vanilla-infused bourbon to half of it when you're bottling. But it's your beer. I know I sure tried to make every beer over 7% ABV and I put fruit and spices and chocolate in about half of my first 10-20 batches, so I get the appeal. My beer got better when I started doing less. Now, if I want to brew a complex flavored stout, I know what (almost) every ingredient does and what each different technique will give me, so my beers are a lot more consistent.

Yeast and Fermentation / Dry Yeast for Bohemian Dark Lager
« on: February 13, 2017, 01:54:27 PM »
Hey guys, which dry yeast would you recommend for a Bohemian Dark Lager? My instinct is to just go with W-34/70, as it is reliable and pretty good with malt-forward lagers, but I have read positive remarks about about S-189 and I know Mangrove Jack's Bohemian Lager purports to be an authentic Bohemian Lager strain (and it is available at my LHBS).

MY favorite beer in Prague last summer (by far) was Kozel Cerny. And, pretty consistently, I found the fresh dark lagers of Prague (especially the unpasteurized "tank beer") to be superior to both the other Czech beer offerings (pale lagers of varying strengths and amateurish American-style IPA offshoots, with few exceptions) and to other regional dark lagers I have had.

Having done some research, I am determined to brew something similar, though I rarely brew lagers. I know I can get liquid forms of some of the legitimate Czech yeast strains, but I would prefer to use a dry yeast, as I find building a giant starter annoying.

Ingredients / Re: Your favorite malt and hop of the year.
« on: January 30, 2017, 02:08:11 PM »
CaraHell and Mosaic

In 2016, I really became enamored with CaraHell. I use it alone, with CaraFoam/carapils, and/or with wheat malt to make pale ales and IPAs. I really like it in a hop-forward beer. I find it subtler than other light crystals.

Mosaic has recently overtaken Simcoe as my favorite hop that I can readily get. I still think I prefer Nelson Sauvin, but I haven't been able to buy a fresh pound of Nelson Sauvin in a long time, so I just enjoy it in beers that I drink. I really like that, unlike Simcoe, Mosaic works equally as well on its own as it does in a blend.

Ingredients / Re: Using Nugget hops instead of Magnum in pale ale
« on: January 30, 2017, 08:09:18 AM »
I have some homegrown Nugget and Cascade hops. I'm thinking of making a Sierra Nevada like pale ale with them. How do you think subbing the Nugget in for Magnum bittering hops would affect the beer? I don't have enough hops to make an IPA. Just trying to come up with a way to use my own hops together. 

It's tough to use homegrown hops for bittering without knowing their alpha acid %. Most brewers use their homegrown hops for late boil and whirlpool additions.

+1, that said, Nugget itself is a fine bittering hop and would work fine to bitter a pale ale, assuming you could accurately get the appropriate bitterness from your brew.

Ingredients / Re: Hop hash
« on: January 30, 2017, 08:07:38 AM »
Sorry for bumping an old thread thread - but has anyone brewed exlusively/almost exclusively with the hop hash?

Yesterday, I just brewed a 12 gallon test batch with my hop hash. It's a 1.055 pale ale composed of 94% Golden Promise, 4% Carahell, and 2% Acidulated Malt; bittered to ~40 IBU's with YVH HopShot (10mL @ 60 mins). I dropped 4 oz of Hop Hash for a 30 mins whirlpool at 170F (only aroma hops). I will dry hop with another 4 oz. I mashed at 151 for 60 mins to get it pretty dry, as I'm using BRY-97 on half.

I suspect that this neutral of a malt profile and an otherwise naked hop bill will help showcase the hash - which was surprisingly moist and resinous and smelled fruitier than I expected. But while the aroma of the has was great, my wort didn't smell nearly as aromatic as when I brew a pale ale with more traditional ingredients. That could be a good thing if it means more of those aromatic compounds are staying in my beer, but I  suspect this hash is not the aroma bomb product I had hoped it would be. I'll report in ~3 weeks when I have it on tap.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: State of the Forum
« on: January 27, 2017, 03:32:03 PM »
I agree with most of what OP is saying here, but I don't think the issue is the "tangents," I think it is the lack of decorum, which may or may not be intentional. Perhaps the cause is an increased number of arrogant, thin-skinned millennials (no offense to my fellow 90's kids).

This used to be a friendly and helpful forum for moderately skilled to advanced-level brewers back when I was a more regular contributor (2010-2013). This was where you "graduated" to after you outgrew BN and NB (which is where you went after you outgrew HBT and a few more ancient forums). Now you can either get horrible advice from unemployed neckbeards on Reddit or deal with a lot of snooty unpleasantness on this forum.

This is how I see 9 out of 10 conversations go on homebrew forums these days (not just here):

OP: I'm looking into upgrading from my Mr. Beer kit that I have used for two years (it cracked!) and have about $1000 to spend, what should I do?

A1: Buy an aluminum kettle and lots of liquid malt extract. Use lots of specialty malts. Don't follow recipes. You don't want to make BMC crap!

B1: I would get a 10 gallon steel kettle if you're looking to brew 5 gal batches. Then get some bucket fermenters (2 should be enough) or carboys. If you have been brewing for a while, you may want to look into getting a kegging kit, but you will need a decent bottling bucket if you aren't kegging. You may save $$$ by buying a kit. Pay attention to fermentation management - temperature control and yeast starters will make a major improvement! After brewing a few extract batches that you are reasonably happy with, look into building a mash tun - there are lots of different styles, but I like style A (

C1: The only way to brew is to custom-build this system that will take seventeen engineers and $400,000. B's beer tastes like cat puke because he doesn't have use a tachyon emitter to ionize the atmosphere to hide his IBUs from the Romulan probe. Don't fall into that trap. Here's 4,000 pages of science, most of it is in German, but if you can't figure out what they mean with Google translate, then you shouldn't be brewing, anyway.

D1: Buy a kit!

B2: @C, OP can't read German and he didn't say anything about owning a starship, give it a rest.

C2: Science science science. B can't handle the science of his awful beer.  8)

E: I agree with A - go aluminum. Excellent strength to weight ratio!

C3: Aluminum will work acceptably if you oxidize it properly. Theorhetically, boiling dihydrogen monoxide can make this happen for you. Make sure you manage this well with chemicals because of science.

F: I agree with what B is saying, except I have had no need for yeast starters because I use dry yeast. And don't go with aluminum, it's a lot more hassle for a little less money. I got a bad metallic flavor from my old aluminum kettle and now it just takes up space in the garage. Here's the kit I would recommend: ( C's adherence to the brewing doctrine of the DS9-era Tal Shiar is unproven sci fi and most people want more lens flair.

OP2: Ok, I bought this kit ( I can't wait to brew this pliny kit. It cost me $300 for the ingredients, so if it doesn't come out perfect, I am quitting the hobby. Thanks for the help, A and E!

In this instance, C isn't being helpful because they are offering advanced Roddenberrian brewing advice to a relative newb. B is trying to be helpful, but OP is getting directed to doing "what sounds the easiest" rather than "the best they can manage" because of the needless nagging and bragging by C. I, for one, am fascinated by what the LODO community has to say, and I would like to learn more about it and try some experiments to see if the extra effort is worth it. But instead of simply putting together a digestible website to showcase their approach, we get a lot of highly technical arguments that are unnecessary in posts from newbs and moderate-level brewers. This leads to an argument from someone who takes a less technical approach and it has lead to a generally less friendly and easy-going forum.

Other Fermentables / Re: Bottle conditioning cider
« on: January 24, 2017, 02:40:45 PM »
Since bottling is a process that risks exploding glass in your face, I think you need to be a little more scientific about how much priming sugar to add and not make bottle priming recommendations to strangers based on things you've heard.


Other Fermentables / Re: Molasses as a Fermentable
« on: January 24, 2017, 02:08:17 PM »
Personally, I think you would do better to brew 5 gallons of a simple Irish Stout (maybe underhop it slightly), add 8 oz (no more than 1 lb) molasses and 1 can of baking cocoa (and the cinnamon stick if you need it) at flameout, then add half a liter of concentrated cold brew coffee (made from boiled, but chilled water) at bottling/kegging. I think you will get all the rich chocolatey molasses you want from that. I think distilling a cocoa molasses sugar mix will end up thin and horrible-tasting.

Other Fermentables / Re: Bottle conditioning cider
« on: January 24, 2017, 02:00:49 PM »
FWIW, I used 2 cans of frozen apple juice concentrate (no additives) to prime my 5 gal ciders and the carbonation was pretty good. I've heard of adding as many as 3 cans to get even more carbonation, but I haven't tried it.

We've all done it - ordered that seasonal IPA variant (black IPA, rye IPA, Northeastern IPA, etc) thinking it may be interesting. Sometimes we are offered something great (2010 Wookey Jack and Sublimely Self Righteous come to mind) and sometimes it's just a way to market a new beer that costs less to brew for some reason (using up old hops, often).

Seasonal and one-off products are always going to trend towards "hit and miss" territory. They are unproven, often experimental, and they are not a product that the brewery has declared worthy of year-round production. Still, one expects a level of consistency from the same product produced a different year. A craft beer consumer expects Wookey Jack to taste roughly the same in 2017 as it did in 2015. After all, Pale 31 tastes the same, doesn't it?

But something I have noticed is that many of these beers that have become seasonal rotations or year-round brews have greatly worsened recipes since they first came out. In some cases, hops have been swapped out or reduced. In other cases, we are given essentially just dry porters called "CDA" or or strangely-balanced strong pale ales called "RyePA with some kind of M. Night Shyamalan-style twist (personally I hate it most when dry hops are replaced with a fruit or vegetable in an "IPA").

This trend towards making things slowly worse after they have developed a following is nothing new to the beer business or the restaurant industry, for that matter. The reason you don't see Bob's Big Boy or El Torito in your neighborhood anymore? Corporate leadership sought profit growth through cost reduction, leading to an increasingly inferior product that eventually got abandoned by its customers. The same thing happened to a number of once-iconic beers like Ballantine Ale and Henry Weinhart's lager.

I have found that the IPA variant has become ground zero for quality drift in the craft beer sector (though sometimes, even flagship beers like Ninkasi's Total Domination IPA and Double Mountain's IRA get nerfed by recipe changes).

Example: I remember the instant that I decided I liked Black IPA and that it wasn't just a gimmick or a way to make cloudy beer look more presentable. It was in 2009 and I drank a glass of Hopworks Secession Black IPA (now called Secession CDA). This was a Simcoe/Amarillo IPA that was pitch black and had a subtle chocolate complexity from Carafa II (I asked the brewers and they told me). I recently had a pint of this same beer (first keg of the season) and it tasted like a thin, slightly hoppy porter. Having spoken to some of the brewery staff, I know they switched to a domestic malt "that they already use in other beers" instead of Carafa (I think black patent) and they switched hops a few times (I assume it's now a blend of leftover hops rather than a consistent recipe, but no one would confirm that). The color has gone from black to cola-like (though it tastes roastier than it did before) and the aroma has shifted from A+ IPA to B- American Porter. The balance is all off and it now seems like "Black IPA" would be a poor descriptor (they do call it a "Cascadian Dark Ale," FWIW).

Why are breweries seemingly unable or unwilling to maintain quality with these seasonal beers? Do they think customers don't notice? Do they assume that people with discriminating tastes only order their year-round products? Are hop prices continuing to rise at an unmanageable rate? I just don't get it.

Is this a nationwide thing or just something here on the west coast?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast Strain and Beer Color
« on: January 19, 2017, 06:08:48 PM »
Fwiw, the malt bill was 81% Canadian pilsner malt, 6% carahell, 6% dextrose, and 1% acid malt. The paler beer looks almost bmc gold (~4 SRM) and the other looks more like a standard IPA (~8 SRM).

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Yeast and Fermentation / Yeast Strain and Beer Color
« on: January 19, 2017, 03:49:03 PM »
I made an IPA recently and split the batch into two fermenters, one with US-05 and one with Danstar London ESB. The color difference is startling. On the left is the ESB yeast. On the right, the US-05. How? And, fwiw, the US-05 (darker one) tastes hoppier and fresher, but both are fine beers.

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Looking at all of your tap lists makes me never want to go to your breweries. IMO the best breweries brew a few styles well with the occasional special. Anything past a half dozen is noise and confusion.

Yeah, especially when you're looking at 5 different yeast strains. For example, I have never had a good (or even decent) saison from an American brewery that doesn't make (essentially) nothing but saison. I can count with two fingers the number of good Bavarian-style weissbiers I have had brewed in America. And I only know of one brewery who consistently uses three or more different yeast strains and isn't garbage (and that's Sierra Nevada - who is too big to really compare to).

Honestly, I don't know what percentage of American-made Belgian ales actually taste good, but I reckon it's around 2-3%. And they usually are particularly crappy on tap. I would respect a brewery that made really good lagers, but typically a lager specialist is also brewing 5 terrible beers called some kind of "IPA." Most small breweries that put out lagers aren't putting out good lagers, though. I don't know if any professional brewery on earth makes great lagers, Belgian ales, and hoppy American ales, but the yeast management would be a big hassle for a smallish brewery to manage. I would probably stick to one house yeast with 1-2 batches brewed out of another yeast strain per year. That way the in-house yeast propagation would be just one strain. I'll bet a single pitch of a different strain could be had from another brewery for free or for trade.

There are two directions I would go. If I opened this in my current city (Portland), I would almost certainly attempt to be a British Ale specialist, as no one does that anymore. I would focus on cask ales and ciders and have ONE IPA and ONE pale yellow ale on CO2, along with a guest cider or two on CO2, but the focus would be on cask/nitro. I wouldn't import hops, but would focus on using "cheap" hops and making modern English style ales, as well as one typical 2017 IPA.

That place would go like this:

House yeast would be WLP002 or WLP007

1. Ordinary Bitter (~3.5% and dry-hopped)
2. Golden Bitter (~4.2% and more malt-balanced)
3. Pale Ale (~5.5% and balanced, moderately dry-hopped)
4. Strong Ale (~6.5% ~14 SRM ~50 IBUs and hoppy)
5. Typical Northwestern IPA (on cask and CO2 draft)
6. Porter (~5.5%, on cask and nitro)
7. Local Cider on cask
8. Local cider on keg

If I was doing this literally anywhere but Portland, I would go for a more varied taplist and would probably use WLP007:

1. English Golden/Summer Ale ~4% abv and 25 IBUs (might call it blonde ale or extra pale ale, and it would blend goldings with cascade and be dry-hopped) ALWAYS AVAILABLE ON CASK!

2. Red Ale ~6% abv and 38 IBUs (80% US pale ale malt, ~12% crystal malts 10% Munich or Vienna, moderate dose of fruity whirlpool/hopback hops like Citra) 

3. Flagship IPA ~6.5% abv and 65 IBUs, 90% US pale ale malt, 5% carahell, and 5% wheat malt, hops depending on availability, but ideally Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe, and Chinook or Mosaic, Simcoe, and Chinook)

4. Porter (always on nitro) ~6% abv and 40 IBUs (US pale ale malt, melanoidin malt, UK extra dark and dark crystal, pale chocolate malt, and midnight wheat/blackprinz/carafa, malt-forward with small amount of Willamette or similar late in the boil).

5. Rotating IPA: (always something different, like Rye IPA, Black IPA, or Session IPA).

6. Seasonal Ale: Regular rotating seasonal ales (Summer Belgian Ale - possibly just the English Golden Ale fermented with a different yeast and not dry-hopped, Fall American Brown Ale, Winter American Strong Ale - maybe a bulked up version of the Red Ale, Spring Pale Ale - probably a 35 IBU "single hop" beer brewed with a similar base as the Flagship IPA, but at a lower gravity.[/li][/list]

7. Experimental Beer: something different, brewed in a pilot system OR one of the standard beers with something extra (e.g., coffee porter, Dry-Hopped Red, etc), or where leftover seasonals get poured till they are done.

8. Extra Nitro Tap (Porter will always be available on nitro and off, and another beer will be rotate on nitro)

9. Extra Cask Ale (EGA will always be on cask and regular, but another beer will also be served on cask - the cask ales will be kept in a different fridge at a warmer temperature than the other beers, but will have a CO2 mechanism purging any air out of the firkins).

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