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Messages - skyler

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: How long is your brew day?
« on: September 26, 2016, 07:09:01 AM »
So much depends on the groundwater temperature for me. I don't get hot water outside, just hose water, so I have to heat my strike water with my kettle. Usually I do this while I weigh and mill my grain and gather and prepare everything else. But sometimes it takes well over an hour (it takes a long time to get 40º water up to ~170. So that starting point is 30-90 mins for everything up to mash-in, this is followed by 60 mins to mash, then I run off the first runnings into the kettle and start heating the first runnings while I batch sparge. From the end of mash till boiling usually takes 30 mins. I do 90-min boils about half the time now, and the rest of the time I do 60 min boils, so 60-90 mins for boil. If it's not a hoppy style, chilling wort takes 20-90 minutes, depending on the groundwater temperature. If it is a hoppy style, there will be 30-90 mins of hop standing, often in two stages (flame-out to ~180, then chilled down to >150 and another 30 minutes). Filling the fermenters and cleaning the kettle will be another 20-45 minutes.

So this can be an absolute minimum of 2 hours 40 minutes (very rare) to a max of 7 hours for that 96% pilsner malt session IPA in July.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: The Decline of Homebrewing
« on: September 26, 2016, 06:30:18 AM »
There's a reason why most homebrew clubs (and this forum) are largely populated by men over 50. I think a lot of people get into brewing in their 20's or early 30's and get out of it when they have a kid or move in with their girlfriend/wife. Those who really value the hobby keep with it and get more involved as they get older; the rest will slowly give it up as they become fully-formed adults.

An yeah, money plays a factor. You need to get pretty deep into the hobby to make pro-quality beer (mash tun, fermentation temperature management, a stir-plate, etc.). Most homebrewers never get that far. But once you have bought all those supplies, you can brew two kegs' worth of almost any non-sour, non-hop bomb for under $.50/pint. If you just don't care about that, you are a lot less likely to stay in the hobby when you start earning grown-up money.

All Grain Brewing / Re: First all grain brew going into competition
« on: September 22, 2016, 06:16:51 AM »
Yes, read what the judges write, but also take it with a grain of salt when you can't get at what they are saying. Especially with IPA, personal preference can go a long way. I once judged the second round of IPA in a large competition. One of the beers I tasted was really great. It was, by far, the best of the bunch to me. I gave it a 44, I think. Most other judges gave it a low-30's score. One gave it a 28. It turned out none of the older judges thought it tasted/smelled like hops because it had an obvious "new school" (mosaic) hop smell. They actually misidentified the beer as being faulty because they didn't understand that hops (not yeast mismanagement or a fruit addition) provided those aromas. One even said something like, "I just don't get any citrus in this, so it's not a well-made AIPA." After we submitted our final scores for the round (this beer placed 4th of 6, I think), the steward (who was silently agreeing with me) told me whose beer I had been drinking. It was a well-known award-winning homebrewer who had won several major awards for IPA in the past and took at least one 1st place in this same competition. It was called "Mosaic IPA" which is how I knew the specific hop.

We brewers like to think that the competition is about technical proficiency, and this may be the case with many styles (helles comes to mind), but the broad styles like IPA, American Amber Ale, and Porter will often come down to the personal preference of the judges rather than just technical merit.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Making a Black IPA
« on: September 21, 2016, 07:12:18 AM »
I really like this beer. Made it a few times now. You hould ry it.

Hey, that's my recipe! I think it's great. I brew BIPA a lot, in part to have two IPAs on tap that are visibly different.

A few things to consider: at this quantity, you will get some flavor from any roasted malt product - carafa spezial II, midnight wheat, sinamar, and blackprinz all have different flavors they provide depending on how you use them. Sinamar will give you the smallest flavor/color ratio. Adding the dark malt to the mash will provide the largest flavor/color ratio.

I like to get the right amount of dark malt (Carafa Spezial II or III) to put me at ~40 SRM, but I add it all at sparge. I batch sparge with coolish water (~150º F)when I make black IPA and let the sparge water steep for 10+ minutes to extract enough color. When the recipe says 40 SRM, I usually get about 30-35 SRM from this process (which is ample). Generally, 1.5 lbs per 6 gal works.

Since you are adding that dark malt flavor, you need to consider other things in recipe development. Going heavy on the sulfate will make the beer more mineral-bitter, which will make people (even experienced BJCP-certified judges) think the beer is too roasty. Don't do this. Keep the mineral profile minimal and balanced. An agressive bittering hop will do the same thing. Use something really smooth like Summit, Apollo, Magnum, or a resin product like HopShot. I like the addition of a little light or medium crystal malt and munich malt in this style - roast by itself will be more prominent than roast balanced by a little "sweet" flavors (though I make it very dry by mashing low and using an American yeast). After that, just brew it like any other IPA. Personally, I like the hop combo of Simcoe + Citrus (Cascade, Amarillo, or Centennial), but whatever tastes great in an IPA will taste good in a BIPA - though it may come across as less fruity due to the smooth roast malt flavor you are getting.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Bittering with chinook question
« on: June 01, 2016, 12:44:52 PM »
For years I disliked Chinook as a hop because of its harsh bitterness. When I think back to my years of not liking IPA's, I associate them with hazy beers with a Chinook-heavy bitter bite, too much C-40 or C-60, and a little cascade/centennial floral note and a the sensation of sucking on grapefruit pith. These guys were probably 1.070 OG to 1.020 FG and I remember thinking "why do this to perfectly good pale ale ingredients?" That combination of big malt and sharp bitterness was the hallmark of an era of hoppy beers like Arrogant Bastard. Now you see it less and Chinook is used mostly as an aroma hop - I learned to love what it can do dry and really only use it dry and in whirlpool.

Personally, I don't care for harsh cohumulone bitterness nor mineral bitterness in my beers. In most styles, my preference is for smooth bitterness like Magnum, Summit, Apollo, Simcoe (too expensive, though), or any other low co-humulone high-alpha hop. Depending on the style, I might bitter with a low-alpha or medium-alpha hop (like Glacier or Perle) or an extract like HopShot. In an AIPA specifically, I tend to like CTZ best, but might use Apollo or Summit depending on what's available or the hop profile I'm shooting for.

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB water profile
« on: May 17, 2016, 09:05:47 AM »
I've gotta say it: I don't think overly mineral-rich water improves English beers or hoppy beers. Having done extensive experimentation on this, my palate prefers beers with 50-150 ppm Calcium and a balanced 50-100 ppm Chloride and 50-100 ppm Sulfate. With maltier beers, I will favor Chloride to Sulfate 2-1 and with hoppier beers, I will favor sulfate to chloride 3-2.

I have had a lot of real ale in England and I don't think they are all using highly mineral-rich water, either. When I taste a homebrewed bitter or an IPA that is too rich in sulfate, I invariably find it harsh and my sulfate-rich beers have been marked down for "harshness" and "astringency" by competition judges. I just don't think it improves things to go overboard in minerals, even if it may be more historically accurate. For my mouth, having 50 ppm calcium and good pH is what matters.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: WY1450 - a couple of questions
« on: May 14, 2016, 11:08:44 AM »
I've had good success starting that strain around 64F and ramping it up two degrees a day after it hit high krausen. I leave most beers at ambient for a week after visible fermentation is complete, then I cold crash before kegging or racking/lagering.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Orval Brewing
« on: May 06, 2016, 10:23:06 AM »
I have poured various syrups into actively fermenting wort (usually as krausen starts to slow) and have never had an infection from it (and several of these beers have been long-aged bottles). I believe it is a good way to keep the yeast happy and maximize dryness and yeast health for very high gravity beers - the yeast goes through its growth phase in healthy wort and then eats the simple sugars later, as it is still active, but most of the maltose has been consumed. That said, when I am brewing 12 gallons of tripel, I usually toss the syrup into the boil ~10 min before flameout.

For me, adding syrup into the primary allows me to split a 12 gal batch nicely - half can be a lower-gravity American, British, or German style, and half can be a higher-gravity Belgian ale. Splitting a ~1.048 Kölsch and giving the other half a pound or two of D2 and WY3787 can lead to a more diverse kegerator. If I noticed infection coming from the syrup, I probably wouldn't do it again (or I would boil the syrup with an equal amount of water before adding it), but it has been a nice option for me so far.

Ingredients / Re: Whole Coffee Beans
« on: March 20, 2016, 03:21:40 PM »
In my experience, the best way to add coffee to beer is to make cold brewed coffee at home and add it to the keg. To cold brew: french press regular ground coffee overnight at room temperature with twice the normal amount of coffee, then press it and pour it through a coffee filter. IME, one 20 oz French press's worth of concentrated cold brew is good for a keg, but I'd bet you could use half as much and still taste it.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 16, 2016, 07:42:35 PM »
One really stood out to me here: AleSmith hasn't lost a damn thing IMO. Amazing beers, but maybe that's just me. (No. It isn't)

I actually always felt like they were over-hyped, and then I haven't heard anyone mention them in a long time and I haven't seen a new release of theirs on the shelves in probably two years. I feel like Green Flash, Alpine, and Stone get so much buzz up here (Portland, OR) that I assumed it wasn't so much a distance thing, but a reduction of buzz. Maybe they're focusing on the local market more - which would explain it.

To be clear, my original posting wasn't about not liking older breweries, quite the contrary. I miss pale ales, balanced red ales, porters, and stouts on nitro (every other style is on nitro now in bars except for stout!). I am sick of IPA's with added flavors. If I never drink another $11 "farmhouse ale" again, it will be too soon. In fact, 95% of what I brew or buy is standard to-style beer, and I sometimes miss the beers that got dropped from my local shelves and taps when breweries have "freshened up" their brand (RIP BridgePort ESB and Sierra Nevada Porter). I just didn't understand how/why. Now I think you guys have brought up some points.

1. Head brewers leave (I never thought this would make much of a difference in larger breweries, but apparently it does).
2. Distribution/Marketing/Etc means that I may not see/hear about a beer, because someone else does (may be the case with AleSmith)
3. Small business capacity issues and willingness to remain in a sustainable niche market (if it pays to make Old Rasputin all day every day, why would North Coast do anything else?)
4. Expansion-related issues limit experimentation.
5. Corporations buy breweries and ruin them (Red Hook, Pyramid, BridgePort, Mendocino) - but maybe the most recent round of buy-outs will be better-handled (Ballast Point, Lagunitas, Elysian, 10 Barrels, Cigar City)

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 15, 2016, 01:39:58 PM »
As far as I'm concerned, North Coast has a pretty rock solid line-up.  I'm not sure why you think they should change something or keep coming out with new beers.

I don't think they should change, I just wonder why I don't see their beers in bars anymore. I do feel like they could figure out a better way to use the iconic "Acme" brand, as I haven't seen it in years.

Rogue was hot some 20 years ago, but I haven't had much of their offerings recently.  The last time was few years ago and it was Shakespeare Stout on a firkin.  It was damn delicious.

As a Portlander, I have a little more insight here. Their new beers aren't as good as the old ones, and they are very gimmicky (Maple Bacon Donut Beer, PDX Carpet Ale, Sriracha Beer). I'm more interested in how/why they went from being a major beer destination as recently as 2008 to being "that place you go to in the pearl district when everything else is full."

Breweries don't need to be innovative to be good.  Brewing good beer consistently is something to be commended.

Agreed. I'm not really here to hate on breweries for making good beer that isn't trendy (and I drink Black Butte porter ALL THE TIME, FWIW). I am mostly just curious how a brewery goes from "hot" to "not" without going under or selling out.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 15, 2016, 01:30:21 PM »
The best IPA in town is typically going to be the freshest IPA in town... Here in Austin

Man, things must have changed since I last visited (June 2013). I visited Stevie (who lived near Dallas at the time), and we went to several breweries and beer bars. I had a great time, but I didn't drink a good hoppy beer that whole week, just a bunch of 6.5% malt bombs called "IPA" and a handful of decent red ales (and a hell of a lot of cheap canned lager because it was 100+ degrees even at night).

Wait, I lied. One brewery had kickass hoppy beer - Real Ale's Four Squared was really really good and inspired the addition of a "summer IPA" as part of my brewing rotation.

All right, I know that I don't like El Dorado as the single hop and I don't really like 100% candy hops (that's what I'm calling them). I have decided that I am going to try out my pound of El Dorado hops in two ways. First, I am going to brew an IPA with El Dorado as a "supporting actress" sort of hop. Then I am going to brew a DIPA with El Dorado and Apollo playing lead. I am keeping the malt bill very simple in both so the hops shine. Both beers will be bittered primarily with hop shots.

For the "supporting actress" beer, the aroma hop bill will be 4-1-1-1-1 Simcoe-Columbus-Apollo-Citra-El Dorado at Flame-out (chilled to 180F then whirlpooled for 15 mins), 140F whirlpool, and dry. I probably won't know what specifically El Dorado is doing, but I will get a good idea whether (a) it really stands out even in small amounts or (b) it plays well with others in a support role. I'm looking at 91% 2-row, 7% CaraHell, and 2% Acid Malt and I'm splitting the yeast (one English, one American). ~1.059 ~68 IBUs. Total amount of aroma/dry hops: 380g (13.4 oz) for 12 gal batch (~10.5 gal finished beer).

For the "star role" DIPA, the aroma hop bill is 1-1 El Dorado/Apollo at 10 mins and flameout (+180F whirlpool), then 3-3-1 El Dorado/Apollo/Columbus at the 140F whirlpool, and 2-2-1-1 El Dorado/Apollo/Columbus/Cascade dry. This beer should tell me whether this hop is a nice balance to another super-oily hop that is more resinous/dank/citrusy, as well as whether this hop sucks as a 10 min addition. I know from experience how Apollo plays with Citra, Amarillo, Summit, Nelson Sauvin, and other "bold" hops, so the choice to use Apollo rather than CTZ seems safe to me. This will be 87% Canadian Pilsner Malt, 5.5% CaraFoam, 1.5% Acid Malt, and 6% sucrose. Split between Joystick (Pacman) and US-05. ~1.076 ~105 IBUs. Total amount of late/dry hops: 630g (22.22 oz) for 12 gal batch (~10.5 gal of finished beer).

I'll report how they turn out

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 15, 2016, 12:27:05 PM »
Why add habanero, grapefruit, or pineapple to something that is already great?

Sculpin was a great beer before they changed the recipe. Now it's still good, but not nearly as good as it was back in 2010. I think the Sculpin+ trend started out as a way to sell the batches that didn't meet specifications or to tap kegs that had aged out (at the brewpub) and that it has become a way of selling the same beer without spending money on dry hops - say this not from insider knoweldge, but from having tasted the beers several times and feeling like they aren't very hoppy.

Commercial Beer Reviews / When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 15, 2016, 10:35:19 AM »
At 32, I am lucky to be young enough to have grown up with craft beer, but old enough to have seen how that industry has developed and shifted over the past 10-15 years. I remember when witbier seemed like a new and cutting edge beer style. I remember when the word "imperial" was on every label. And I remember when a bunch of breweries that are still around were "hot" and worth a trip out to wherever to visit. Some of these breweries sold out, then got ruined by their corporate overlords (Mendocino Brewing), and some went under, but some are still around, still making the same beers that made them famous, but I don't see them on tap in great beer bars anymore and I don't hear anyone talking them up anymore. Of course, plenty of the "hot" breweries of 2005 are even hotter now (Russian River comes to mind), but I wonder about these beers that I used to get excited to drink - that were a regular purchase for me ten years ago, but now seem so old fashioned.

Here's an incomplete list: North Coast Brewing, Lost Coast Brewing, Mad River, Rogue, BridgePort, AleSmith, Anderson Valley, and even Bear Republic (okay, Racer 5 is more common than ever in the bay area, but this brewery hasn't had a "hot" beer release in a decade, AFAIK).

Does anyone have any idea why these breweries seem to have lost their mojo? Is it us (the consumers) who have changed? Are they resting on their laurels? Have they just found a sustainable formula and stuck with it?

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