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Messages - DaveR

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: WLP090 -- interesting yeast
« on: April 03, 2012, 03:46:49 PM »
I've always been curious - does this strain come from a brewery in the SD area? Ballast Point, maybe?

My understanding is that WLP090 did not come from a brewery, but was developed internally by White Labs.

Yeast and Fermentation / WLP090 -- interesting yeast
« on: April 02, 2012, 03:47:41 PM »
I'm  amazed at how yeast go about doing their thing, and how hard it is to tell a lot based on appearances.

I had a vial of WLP090 (San Diego Super Yeast) that was several months past expiration. Three weeks ago I made a one liter starter with it. The starter never seemed to take off. After 36 hours on the stir plate and 12 cold crashing very little yeast had settled out. I made a 5 gallon batch of IPA and ended up using a pack of US-05 dry instead the starter.

I almost tossed the starter but left it in the refrigerator. I checked it a week later and slightly more cells had settled out. It was about half what I'd normally expect from a usual WLP001/002/007/etc. starter. I made a small batch of Pale Ale (sized to fill a 3 gallon corny) and decided to decant and use the starter.

I made the batch, pitched the yeast and then left town for about 10 days. When I returned the batch was quiet. There was dried krausen on the carboy but nothing on the beer. (There was still about a half inch of krausen on the IPA I'd made the week prior using US-05).

I did a gravity reading yesterday on the WLP090 batch. It was 1.012. (OG was 1.062). Better yet, the gravity sample tasted amazingly clean for a 2 week old beer. Normally I'll primary a beer for 4 to 6 weeks. But I racked the WLP090 beer to a keg for dry hopping. I did so because I was satisfied with the fermentation. More importantly I needed some yeast for a dark ale I made yesterday. (The decision to brew was last minute. I didn't have any dry yeast, or time to make a starter). 

I pitched about 1/4 of the WLP090 cake. I oxygenated the wort, put it to rest, and hoped to see some activity in a day or two. To my surprise, this morning fermentation was already going strong. At 16 hours there was already a 3 inch krausen. The wort was swirling and airlock activity looked like WLP001 might look at its peak. The temp went from 65F at pitch to 68F.

I've never had a fermentation take off like this. My general rule when it comes to yeast is that it's better to over pitch than it is to under pitch. I hope I didn't go to far this time.  My experience with WLP090 is limited. Yet it appears to be lively stuff.

I'm still perplexed about the starter, simply because I've made starters from other vials of yeast that were many months out of date and they were way more active than this one particular vial of WLP090. But even then it fermented the first batch out nicely.



General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Fermenting in a corny keg
« on: April 01, 2012, 02:51:57 PM »
So forgive me if I'm missing something obvious...  What does one use for an airlock when fermenting in a corny?  Modify one of the posts to affix a blowoff?

Use a standard airlock. Run a sort piece of vinyl tubing from a quick connect on the "in" post to the airlock. Use a piece of wire to hold the airlock above the quick connect.

I had an extra lid. I drilled a hole in one for a rubber grommet and airlock. I haven't used it yet. I doubt it works any better quick than using a quick connect.

The downside of fermenting in a 5 gallon corny is you can only do about 4 gallons allowing for headspace.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Fermenting in a corny keg
« on: April 01, 2012, 01:33:27 AM »
Corny kegs are great for a lot of things. One can never have too many  :) !

I'm going to ferment in carboy but carbonate in a corny in order to make a cask ale. I have a beer engine that I rebuilt. The last few places I've been that served cask ale - most recently Jack of the Wood in Asheville - served cask ale from a corny. It was delicious. I assume the beer was conditioned in the corny.

 I was going to get a pin keg but after reading up I think corny's are fine for fermenting. But I agree that you will want to transfer after fermenting. I'll be interested to see how much trub there is from carbonating a cask ale.

Why do you remove the dry hops? I'm new to kegging but so far leaving a bad of dry hops in the beer seems fine.

I removed the hops for several reasons. I'd read about potential flavor issues and was concerned about that for a time. I'm not so worried about that now.

Secondly, I didn't want to interfere with the dip tube. As unlikely as that is I had a friend who had a problem. The string in the hop bag got into the tube and created a headache.

I wanted to suspending the hop bag and I tried various things. I attaching the tie string to the short intake tube but it slipped off. I took a long piece of copper wire, sanitized it, and made a hook on the end to retrieve it. (that was quite a few kegs ago).

I tried letting the string stick out of the top when I sealed the keg, but that leaked CO2. I tried a lot of things, but attaching 10 inches of dental floss onto the hop bag string did the trick. The dental floss sticks out of the lid, but the o-ring still seals. The hop sack stays just off the bottom of the keg (with the SS bolts as weights).

I'm sure there are lots of ways to go about dry hopping in a keg, but this is simple (moreso than it sounds) and it works for me.   

Hop flavor and aroma longevity is a mystery that I'm trying to unlock. Somehow I became a hop head last year while trying to free up some room in my freezer. It may not be much, but here's what I've uncovered.

Normally I ferment and primary for 4 weeks. Then I rack to a keg. I usually dry hop right away, but I've also waited for several months. Aging, or any delay in adding dry hops, doesn't seem to matter as long as they sit in the beer week or ten days. At that point the beer is plenty hoppy. Kegging offers dry hopping advantages that you obviously don't have with bottling.

Once the dry hops are removed the flavor and aroma drops off quickly. But it levels off after about two weeks and the drop beyond that is not so apparent. I haven't tried it yet but I may dry hop a second time if a keg loses too much hoppiness. Who knows DDH or double dry hopping may catch on ;).

I've cut back late additions and I dry hop nearly everything now. It just seems like a better way to go, for me. I usually dry hop with Simcoe, Centennial, Citra or Amarillo -- the latter two being my favorite combo. I've tried 1 to 4 ounces. Two ounces -- combined not each -- per 5 gallons is the sweet spot for me. I don't notice a big increase flavor and aroma above that. It's not worth the extra hops and the reduction in beer (from absorption).

I always use leaf hops in a nylon hop bag. Sediment is never a problem. Getting the bag out once the hops have absorbed beer is. Recently I left dry hops in until the keg was half empty. That worked out pretty well. I'm racking a batch this weekend. I'm going to try leaving dry hops in for as long as there is beer in the keg.

One trick I learned is to use dental floss to suspend the hop bag in the keg. When I used string the CO2 pressure would leak from where the string met the o-ring (in a corny). That doesn't happen with dental floss. So I can pressurize the keg with the hops suspended, hopefully just off the bottom. I also put a couple of hefty stainless steel bolts in the bag so it sinks.

I have a keg of pale ale that I brewed last August. I wasn't drinking it so I yanked it from my keezer. It's just been sitting. It's not a bad beer, but it's just sort of boring. Two weeks ago I decided to add dry hops to maybe salvage it. I went with Mt Hood this time. Hopefully it made a blah beer into something more interesting. Hops are where it's at. I just wish someone would plant more Amarillo.  :-\

Equipment and Software / Beer Engine Parts Help
« on: January 28, 2012, 04:00:33 PM »
I recently found and purchased a Homark Beer engine. It was a little messy, but appeared to be in decent shape. I took it completely apart and cleaned it up. The seals and the piston were in surprisingly good shape. The John Guest swivel elbow on the output was cracked, but I found a replacement.

(If anyone ever needs the same part here's a link. Note that it's BSPT thread)

After putting the engine pack together I tested it with water and it works great, except for one thing. The back flow preventer doesn't work like it should. It looks like the diaphragm in the preventer is misshapen. It sort of works, however it allows some back flow. I've searched and searched for a replacement part. I've even tried to contact Beer Engine companies in the US and the UK, but never heard back.

Does anyone know where I might find a replacement part? I would greatly appreciate any advice or assistance in locating a replacement, or an alternative. Here's a picture of the item in question. Thanks.

(Not that it matters, but these photos were taken before the rebuild.)


All Grain Brewing / Re: 3 Gallon batch questions
« on: December 15, 2011, 04:27:20 PM »
Not too big, I wouldn't think. You might get more cooling than with a larger mash. I've done small mashes in a large cooler but not for a while. Now I do BIAB for 3 gallon batches. It's easier that using a MLT. Efficiency suffers. No big deal.  I compensate by using slightly more grain. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: How do yall buy grain?
« on: December 13, 2011, 07:12:09 PM »
I buy Pilsner, American 2-row and Maris Otter by the sack. I'm going to add Munich to that list. I was buying Munich 5 lbs at a time. Then I went to 10 lbs. I'm using so much now that a full sack makes sense to buy.  It's not just that it saves money. Having it on hand at all times is handy.

I buy specialty malts one to five pounds at a time. I store them in two large Rubbermaid totes. Occasionally I'll spill something when taking it out of the tote, or when scrounging through the bags. All the little spills are building up on the bottom of the totes. Once I hit 3 lbs  I'm going to throw it in with 10 pounds of base malt and brew it. I'm a little afraid, though. What if it turns out great?  I'll never be able to replicate it.   :'(

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast Nutrient
« on: December 05, 2011, 03:13:25 PM »
I oil my starters for 10 min.

It took me a second before I realized it was a typo. At first I thought it was some new technique with which I wasn't aware.  :)

I add the Wyeast powdered nutrient in starters and Servomyces in the boil for most batches. I'm wondering if I really need to use Servomyces or if I can just use the less expensive powdered nutrient instead. I'm not sure what the differences are. I once used them hit and miss. Now I use them all the time. Nutrients do seem to help quite a bit.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: November 30, 2011, 10:06:42 PM »
looks good! great color and good photo!


All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: November 30, 2011, 01:59:04 AM »
That is very close to my ESB recipe which I really like this time of year.  I use 9# MO, 1#Crystal 60, .5# carapils.  No Amber Malt.  I also use Wyest 1968 which rounds it out very nicely....

I know what you mean about this time of year. Beers for seasons.  ;)

The Amber malt probably doesn't add much and can easily be left out. Another taste tonight makes me think the original recipe may be OK.

The more I try and evaluate my own beer the more I appreciate trained beer judges. The same beer can taste different to me from day to day. I thought this bordered on cloying  the other day. Not today. I don't know if the beer changed or my taste buds changed.

I'm going to pick up a Fullers ESB to see what an ESB is supposed to taste like.

Here's what mine looked like. The glass is a little frosty. I probably should drink this beer warmer.

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: November 29, 2011, 08:03:53 PM »
I carbonated the ESB last week and wanted to follow up again. I sampled it yesterday. It turned well. Not much in the way of hops, but a lot of malt aroma.

It has way more body and malt flavor than the beers I've been drinking. I just finished off several kegs of pale ale that I made in September (which made room in the keezer for the ESB).  This beer is really different from those PAs, which were thin and quite hoppy.

I've never been a fan of really malty beers. Still, this ESB is quite drinkable. It has a nice deep copper color. I think I'll  make this again, but cut the Crystal 60 and Carapils in half, and add slightly more bittering hops. Something more along the lines of the recipe below. Perhaps as a cask ale for a Super Bowl Party!

Batch size: 5.25
70 min boil
Maris Otter  8.5   lbs
Amber         1.0   lbs
Crystal 60    0.50 lbs
Carapils       0.25 lbs

Sonnet Golding 1.5 oz 4.1% 60 min
Tettnanger         1 oz 5.3% 20 min
Sonnet Golding 1 oz 4.1% 5 min

60 min mash at 154 F

WLP002 1.2 Liter starter

All Grain Brewing / Re: Does shape of Tun matter?
« on: November 10, 2011, 06:33:22 PM »
What was your mash pH?
Have you calibrated your hydrometer?

Some things to consider are the crush, mash pH, temperature, mash thickness (try thinning the mash a bit 1.5:1 or better) and increasing mash time. If the crush is on the coarse side then increase mash time until complete conversion has been achieved. Use a Refractometer to check the mash if you have one. Mash pH is also important (5.2-5.7). I use a pH meter but pH strips are okay. Mash thickness can be thined by adding more water to a thickness of 1.5:1 or better which will also help the conversion process. Also get your thermometer calibrated or buy a lab grade (NIST Traceable) thermometer to calibrate your working thermometers.

Mash conversion is a matter of time, temperature and proper mash pH.

Many thanks for all the feedback!

I usually brew pale beers that are moderately to highly hopped (although I'm now trying different styles).

I crush every batch the same. I run the grain through a Barley Crusher, twice. It left it at the factory setting.

I normally mash at 1.25 quarts per lbs. I shoot for 152 (154 high, 150 low). Mash temp within the tun can vary, as you know. I mash for an hour and usually don't get much temperature drop. Two degrees at most. If I start on the low side (150) I may heat up a quart or two of mash at 30 min and add it back. Sort of a decoction, I suppose.

I have two hydrometers. I've calibrated both. One reads .002 low. I rarely use that one. If I do I factor in the adjustment.  I have some very accurate thermometers. Before digital photograhy I did darkroom work for years. Some of the tools segway nicely to brewing.  ;)

I use strips to test pH. It's usually around 5.2. Strips are sometimes hard to judge, but I'm sure the mash pH is always below 5.5.  A pH meter and refractometer are both on the list. I haven't bought either one yet. 

Unfortunately the time I forgot to put in the minerals -- i.e. used untreated RO water -- I also forgot to check the pH of the mash. It was an off day  :(  I figured pH might have been a factor in lower efficiency. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: November 10, 2011, 05:56:45 PM »
It has only been 5 days--I think it needs more time. 
Although you mashed at 154F, I would still expect the FG to be lower (say around 1.016).

I was hoping for around 1.016. It settled on 1.020 -- or just under -- and hasn't changed for 10 days. Based on the taste of the gravity sample it's going to be a really nice beer. I normally like to wait at least 8 weeks. It seem like this may be ready now, at 4 weeks. I racked it to a corny.

Should an ESB have less carbonation than an APA or IPA? I carbonate those by setting them at 13 psi and 36 degrees F for  several days.   


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