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Messages - DaveR

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Does shape of Tun matter?
« on: November 09, 2011, 03:43:59 PM »
On a slightly different note, how important is water chemistry to efficiency? Can it be a factor? I ask because last spring I started using all RO water and adding minerals back. I forgot to add the minerals to one batch last summer. My efficiency in that batch went from my normal of over 75% to the mid 60's. Could be I'm overlooking something else, but the only significant variable I can think of is the water chemistry. Can the water profile affect efficiency?

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: October 21, 2011, 10:25:06 PM »
Just an update on the ESB. Yesterday outward signs of fermentation were disappearing. The krausen was gone. By evening it looked like it was already clearing. WLP002 seems to act differently from WLP001, at least in terms of flocculation. It's super clumpy even when roused.

No sign of airlock activity whatsoever. The gravity was 1.022. The OG was 1.068. I think that's around 68% attenuation if I'm not mistaken.  In the ballpark, but I was hoping it would finish a few points lower. Could still happen I suppose. I roused the yeast and increased the temp to the low 70's. It had been at 64 F since pitching. At the very least a temp increase should help the yeast clean things up. I'll check the gravity again tomorrow. Today is day 5. Fermentation started 8 hours after pitching.

This is the first time I've used WLP002. I've mainly feremented in buckets in the past. I've been using glass for my last half dozen batches. It sure is nice to actually see the beer change through the fermentation process.

You go to a flea market, see any large kettle, and know from afar the quarts.


It definitely makes sense to buy more. 

If there is such a thing as hop hoarding, I'm probably guilty. I had some carry over from last year. I don't think that will be the case this year.

I hate it when I can get something. It's always the ingredient I can't get that makes the beer. :)  Last year Simco is the only hop I ran out of and couldn't get.

I really like Hops Direct. I placed my order this year at 8 am on 10/5. Good thing. Appears they sold out of some varieties of whole leaf quickly. They're so great to deal with. I'm sure they're upset at having to limit orders.   

Hops seem to keep well. I don't rebag. I just open the mylar bags, take out what I need for a batch or two, then I reseal the bag with a hair straightener ($5 from Goodwill). I purge the bags with N2 before I reseal. CO2 would also probably work, but I have both. I prefer to brew with leaf but pellets take up less room in the freezer. I bought some Galaxy pellets before they sold out. Haven't tried them yet, but will soon.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: October 18, 2011, 09:45:00 PM »

There is a difference between a high gravity because you added too much extract and a high gravity because you boiled too long.  In the latter case, the total sugars are the same, just more concentrated.  In the former there is more total sugar.  It may have been a yeast pitching rate problem rather than the high gravity itself that caused the beer to be less impressive than you'd hoped.

Indeed the problem may not have been the gravity per se. I pitched a pretty big starter. Fermentation might not have been ideal. I can't remember. Before this ESB it's been a while since I overshot my gravity by a big number.

Through this past Spring and Summer I was undershooting expected gravity by a few points more often than not. Recently I've payed close attention to water chemistry. That seems to be helping with mashing efficiency. Can't say how much it's helping, but it certainly isn't hurting. Other benefits as well, I'm sure. .

I picked up a used beer engine at a flea market recently. I'm going to refinish it. Thinking about making a cask ale. I don't know if I'm up for it yet. One step at a time.    :)
Nice, how much did you score that for?

I traded some stuff for it so I don't have a figure . I recall the guy was asking around $90. However, he was pretty motivated to sell it. It seems to work, which surprised me.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: October 18, 2011, 03:31:53 PM »

If you're brewing for competitions, it is my perception that, within styles, the stronger beers (i.e., those with more aromas, flavors, maltiness, hoppiness, ABV) tend to do better.  An ESB will almost always beat a standard bitter.  A DE or MH will almost always beat a Light American Lager. 

Very interesting and good to know. I haven't entered any competitions yet. Everyone says it's a must at some point.

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: October 18, 2011, 03:25:06 PM »

After ESB, as the proffesor says, comes barley wine, or maybe IPA. If you havn't already looked it over check out the shut up about barclay perkins blog. He goes into detail about historical origins of british beer styles in depth

Many thanks for the barclay perkins reference. I'm just getting interested in British beers. I picked up a used beer engine at a flea market recently. I'm going to refinish it. Thinking about making a cask ale. I don't know if I'm up for it yet. One step at a time.    :)

All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: October 18, 2011, 02:41:23 PM »

I guess I was just trying to point out that there was no "styles" issue involved, really:   even at the somewhat higher higher gravity it is still an ESB. 

I think that sums up my dilemma. What are the risks of this beer being ruined if the ABV runs higher than anticipated?

Of the two other styles where I previously exceeded my expected OG by a lot  -- California Common and Kölsch -- both seemed to be very sensitive to a higher ABV. They both got more drinkable over time. I know because it took me a long time to get through the kegs. They were my last choice and I only drank them when I was out of everything else.  :-\  Is an ESB going to be as sensitive as those other two? Or might it simply fall into another style category?

It's my understanding that Bitter is really just a name for an English Pale Ale. So if there's Bitter, Special Bitter and Extra Special Bitter -- based on gravity, IBU's, etc. -- what, if anything, comes next after ESB? Or am I completely off base?


All Grain Brewing / Re: ESB high gravity help
« on: October 18, 2011, 02:01:32 PM »
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I may dilute by adding some water. Not sure yet. I used a 6 gallon carboy and I'm a little concerned about head space. As the Professor says the gravity isn't too excessive. So I may just go with it and see what happens. .

I've been brewing for two years and this was my 35th batch. Only three of those batches were really disappointing. Two I blame on OG that was too high. Thus my concern with this ESB.

One of the previous batches was a California Common. I'd made the recipe a few months earlier. The OG of that was 1.054 and it fermented to 1.012. The beer was fantastic. The second time I made it I inadvertently used too much extract (back then I was doing PM). The OG was 1.068. It fermented down to 1.014. The second batch wasn't anywhere near as good as the first. I repeated that mistake later with a Kölsch. The lower gravity batch was tasty. The higher gravity batch wasn't good.  

When I first started brewing I just assumed that higher gravity was better. But I'm more conscious of styles now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for high gravity beers. But not all beers are meant to be high ABV.  That's probably the biggest lessons I've learned in home brewing. I'm sure this is common knowledge on this forum. But I had to learn it the hard way.

The third disappointing batch, BTW,  was not due to gravity. It was because I used a Hefeweizen yeast that had way more clove flavor than I anticipated. I'm not a big fan of clove flavor.

I'll post an update as to how the ESB turns out. Thanks again for the feedback.  

All Grain Brewing / ESB high gravity help
« on: October 18, 2011, 02:39:08 AM »
I brewed an ESB yesterday. I was shooting for a gravity of just under 60. I used a newly opened bag of Maris Otter for base.

I'm using a new system and my efficiency hasn't been the greatest lately. I thought it quite possible that I'd end up with an OG in the mid 50's.

Here's my recipe:

Batch size: 5.25
70 min boil
Maris Otter  8.5 lbs
Amber         1.0 lbs
Crystal 60    1.0 lbs
Carapils       0.5 lbs

Sonnet Golding 1 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

My boil was vigorous and I ended up with 5.0 gallons, or a quart less than planned. The thing that threw me, though, was my OG. It ended up at 1.068.

I double checked everything. I normally estimate my OG based on 75% efficiency and 36 potential points per lbs for the base malts and 34 for the cara and crystal. After reading up it appears that Maris Otter might yield a little more than regular 2-row.

I'm wondering if this OG is too high for an ESB. If so, any recommendations at this stage to salvage what at least appears to be a nice looking wort? I plan to ferment in the mid 60's. I probably won't tap into this batch until December. Just looking for some feedback.



All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Chemistry... Please help!
« on: October 04, 2011, 02:39:54 PM »
I use RO water. I have four 5 gallon bottles that I refill at Culligan machines (Walmart). It's inexpensive. I was using spring water but RO water costs around $4 per batch vs $12 or more for spring.

I use only RO water. Initially I took someone's advice and just threw some gypsum into the mash water. I had some issues so I downloaded the Bru'n Water spreadsheet. Takes a little time to figure out the spreadsheet,  but it's time well spent.  Several books cover the subject, too. "Designing Great Beers" is one, if I'm not mistaken.

I'm confused about efficiency terminology. I'll just call it the actual points vs the potential points I extract from grain. I get between 75% and 80% with single infusion mashing and batch sparging. Occasionally I'll get above 80%.

With BIAB and no sparge I get between 60% and 65%. I just add some extra base malt to compensate. That obviously changes the recipe somewhat. It's no big deal for me. I often wonder what other people think on that front.   

So I just started reading about the "Brew in a Bag" technique" which is supposed to be a great way to step into all grain and save some time.  Aside from lifting a heavy bag full of wet grains seeming to be a PITA, is this a pretty good thing to try out?
Experiences, opinions, rants, raves?

I normally mash in a cooler. Last winter I decided to try BIAB for several 3 gallon batches that I made for a base malt comparison. My feelings match the comments made earlier. For smaller batches BIAB is great. Small for me is 3 gallons or less.

Personally I wouldn't use BAIB for bigger AG batches. Partial mash with extract would be OK. 

One thing I liked about BIAB is easy cleanup. Not that it's all that hard to clean up a cooler. But it's easier to clean out a bag.

Another thing I found is that not all bags are the same. I found one bag that is sewn into the shape of a pot -- i.e. a cylinder with a flat bottom.  I have a high quality 4 gallon NSF kettle. The bag fits in it perfectly. BIAB gives me more reason to use the smaller kettle. The bag is easy to pull out when I'm done mashing, even when I use a lot of grain and have a relatively thick mash. I've even tried sparging using a second kettle, but I didn't really find the effort worth the result.

I haven't been able to find another bag just like that one. I have other bags but it seems like they expand more when I take out the grain. It's difficult to get them out of the kettle easily without spilling water.

It's pretty easy to knock out a 3 gallon BIAB from start to finish. I've done it when I was pressed for time. I've also done it when I decided to brew at the last minute and didn't have a starter. I just pitch a WL vial or Wyeast smack pack in a 3 gallon batch of normal gravity beer.

I have several 3 gallon corny kegs. Three gallon BIAB batches are great for filling those. It's useful when I'm not totally sold on a new recipe. I won't throw out beer. I drink what I make. It's easier to work through 3 gallons of less than stellar beer than 5 gallons, or more. It hasn't happened often but I've had a few times when a 5 gallon keg hung around for way too long. The flip side is that one of my best beers ever was a 3 gallon BIAB batch and it disappeared far too quickly. 

For 5 gallon normal gravity batches I use a 5 gallon round cooler. For higher gravity or bigger batches I have a 15 gallon rectangular cooler. My coolers hardly drop in temp when mashing. A kettle with a bag will drop quite a bit. So I have to watch that more closely. That's one disadvantage to BIAB -- maintaining/controlling mash temp.
Again, for me it's about batch size and time. I haven't really seen where infusion mashing results in beer that's better or worse than bag mashing.   

Ingredients / Re: hops aroma while drying not there
« on: September 18, 2011, 12:33:09 PM »
Silly question...did you fertilize after the cones started to form?  I have heard that will reduce alpha acid development. 

I didn't fertilize after the cones began to form. I fertilized at planting, and again around a month later. The plants really took off after the second fertilization. Better weather was a big reason for that. I think.

I started all the rhizomes in pots and transplanted them when they were around 12 inches tall. I transplanted all to soil, except for one which I transplanted into a much larger pot (24 inch diameter). The plant in the pot grew as well as the others. But it never developed any cones. I don't know why. The potted plant did get somewhat dry at one point. Potting soil doesn't hold moisture quite as well as ground soil. I assume the short dry spell -- enough that the plant wilted a little -- caused the potted plant not to flower. I can't think of another reason why. All else was pretty much the same and the potted plant was about 10 ft away from the plants in the ground.

Ingredients / Re: hops direct stock
« on: September 16, 2011, 06:45:08 PM »
imported generally arrive after the first of the year, based on my observations from previous years.

Also depends on where they are imported from. (i.e. hops from Australia or New Zealand vs those imported from Europe.)  I just received an order of Galaxy, which I'm anxious to try. 

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