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Messages - skyler

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Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corks for Champagne Bottles?
« on: February 19, 2014, 10:05:28 AM »
I use this Ferarri Bench Corker:

Basically, it squeezes down any cork to the size of a standard wine bottle, then plunges it in. A Belgian-style cork is about the maximum size that will fit, but it still does fit.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Belgian Corks for Champagne Bottles?
« on: February 18, 2014, 02:20:00 PM »
BTW, I discovered you can if you have a good-quality corker (I do).

Kegging and Bottling / Belgian Corks for Champagne Bottles?
« on: February 11, 2014, 02:54:17 PM »
I was wondering if Belgian-style corks (designed for Belgian bottles) would fit into Champagne bottles. Any experience?

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Mangrove Jack's Dry Yeast
« on: September 01, 2013, 08:49:43 AM »
Just thought I would chime in to say the beer I made with the West Coast Ale Yeast came out well. I would compare this yeast to WLP051. It is less dry than using Chico and the hop expression is a little more restrained, but it is clean, fairly flocculant, and made a good beer.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Mangrove Jack's Dry Yeast
« on: July 18, 2013, 11:47:16 AM »
I finally tried using a sachet of the Mangrove Jack US West Coast Ale Yeast. I just sprinkled the sachet directly onto 6 gallons of 1.043 hoppy session ale. It took a lot longer (36 hrs) to get visibly active than I am used to (12-24 hrs), and the fermentation has been foamier than usual for an American-style yeast (the yeast seems to be behaving like an English strain). The recipe is 5% wheat malt and 10% crystal malt, but still - the aggressive foamy activity at 64º F after over a day and a half of nothing... I don't think this is Chico.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Wyeast 1010 vs Chico
« on: June 27, 2013, 08:56:15 AM »
As I believe 1010 is the Widmer strain, I would comment that I don't think it is necessarily a "wheat beer yeast" but just a basic American ale yeast with a bit more character than 1056. I find widmer's pale ale and black IPA to be severely underrated. That said, chico is so consistent that I have never even tried using 1010.

The beer improved a tremendous amount in almost every way after I added that extra bottle. So I will say this about the stuff (used in very high quantities):

  • Sinamar adds probably 3.5 SRM per ounce per 5.5 gal batch of beer, not the 5 SRM that is advertised.
  • Sinamar does not noticeably contribute to body the way roasted malt does
  • Sinamar provides a VERY LITTLE amount of roasted malt flavor - which can make your light crystal taste like dark crystal
  • Sinamar is more expensive than dark malts
  • Sinamar can be added to the keg

All in all, I would now consider Sinamar more of a "back up" or "fixer" than an ideal ingredient in most applications. I certainly see how it would be great to use some of the stuff to "fix" a malty pale ale by magically turning it into an Amber Ale, or to "fix" a roasty amber ale by turning it into a Brown Ale. But the flavor contribution of Sinamar in high quantities is potent enough to cause me not to want to use it in the traditional way (Schwartbier and Munich Dunkel) because the flavor just isn't as non-existent as I would want, and I find the flavor from Carafa Special malts to be superior. Also, I won't use this in a Black IPA again, except for in cases where, for some reason, I didn't get enough color and I wanted to adjust it after brewing.

I calculated for wort loss. It saus each bottle should add 20 SRM to a 5.5 gallon batch of beer. I added two bottles to a 6.5 gallon (including wort lost to hops/kettle) batch and ended up with a ~25 SRM beer. Without any coloring agent, the beer should have been 7-8 SRM, so I really think that either my LHBS shorted me on Sinamar or that the substance just doesn't provide the color it says.

I ended up adding a whole extra bottle to the keg because I was so annoyed. According to my brewing software, I should be over 50 SRM now, but I am in the high thirties/low fourties (black, but not inky). So now I have it where I want it, though I had to add 50% more of the stuff than I would have wanted. Additionally, there is now some coffee notes to the flavor that weren't there before. I call it an improvement. 

I rinsed out the bottle and added the black rinse-water to a rye bread dough I am going to bake tomorrow - it looked like I got pretty good color out of that, at least.

I regularly overpitch with slurry because I am concerned that there is break matter and hops in the slurry and that I have fewer cells than it appears. This is especially true with this brewery's yeast, which seemingly always comes from their IPA. But it is also true pretty often with my own beers. My wort chilling method tends to send a lot of trub to the fermenter and I NEVER wash yeast.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Over Attenuation?
« on: May 24, 2013, 12:30:35 PM »
I have always enjoyed using lab thermometers because they are easy and cheap and usually very accurate. Until I had one recently that measured temperatures off by 4º F. That is, when it read 148º, I was actually mashing at 154º. Every beer was sweeter than I wanted, until I forgot my thermometer and used a backup kitchen thermometer, then used a friend's thermometer... The moral of a story is that thermometers can be inaccurate, even the ones that are "laboratory grade."

Also, I regularly get 80-84% attenuation with US-05. A 1.008 finish is a common occurrence for me with any of the Chico strains.

Ingredients / Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« on: May 24, 2013, 11:06:46 AM »
I have been drinking and brewing Black IPAs since before the naming controversy had left the Portland beer blogosphere and before anyone had gotten tired of the style. I have brewed several different recipes and had different "takes" on the style (more crystal, less crystal, adding wheat, English yeast, etc...). But the one constant for me was that I used Carafa Special II as the coloring agent in the beer and I always added it at sparge (I am a batch sparger, fwiw). In some cases, I used more or less Carafa and sometimes the sparge water was as cool as 120 degrees or as warm as 170, but that was always how I did it. This time, I wanted to try sinamar, so I did the math and 2 bottles (8 oz total) was the amount to use to get my IPA from Pale to Black. I added it at the beginning of the boil.

Awful idea. The color is about 10 SRM lighter than calculated; it is more of a dark brown than black, probably 25 SRM or so (not exactly out-of-style, but not my preferred black). And the subtle but pleasant roasty oreo-cookie note I am used to getting from the boatload of carafa? Not there. The smooth texture and head retention I get from the addition of 16-24 oz of Carafa? Not there. Instead of building a beer that goes where regular IPA can't, I just have a really dark IPA. I consider this a failed experiment. It is still a decent beer, but I was hoping to get a more consistent coloration from the sinamar and expecting it to contribute SOME roasty flavor. Instead, it just makes it taste like I used a darker crystal than I did.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Belle Saison Dry Yeast
« on: May 22, 2013, 12:55:58 PM »
Dill, well anything's possible

we can pickle that

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: When is a Wit not a Wit?
« on: May 22, 2013, 12:31:16 PM »
I have made some pretty excellent "to style" witbiers with different yeasts. While I haven't done this with 550, I am confident it would work. My all-time best witbier was actually made with Wyeast 3711. I also used the Unibroue strain effectively, as well as 1214 (to-style, but not my favorite). One strain that I have stopped using for wits is Forbidden Fruit, which is actually listed as a good strain for Witbier.

One strain really REALLY enjoyed in a session ale, which I plan on trying in a witbier was 3739. It was a very spicy, phenolic strain, giving an almost cinnamon-like aroma to the beer I made with it, and I regret not keeping that yeast strain going longer.

I use 001 from a brewery all the time. It is usually very foamy, so after 2 days in the fridge the full jar appears half full or so. I generally use a pint of foamy slurry or a half pint of settled slurry per 5.5 gal batch under 1.065 and a little more for over 1.065. A friend always thinks we are overpitching, but my results are good.

I try to use it within 2 weeks, but haven't really had a problem with it ever (never used older than 6 weeks without just making a starter).

80+% attenuation is normal with Pacman, IME. It also doesn't poop out in high-gravity beers like a lot of other strains and it will ferment vigorously in much colder environments than most other ale strains (I fermented a 1.062 Black IPA at 52º F with it, and prefer it over the German strains for Altbier). I would try raising your mash temperature by 2-4 degrees if you want a little less attenuation, or brewing it again with 051/1272.

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