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Topics - redzim

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Ingredients / mocktoberfest hops
« on: August 30, 2011, 07:52:29 PM »
I'm brewing up 20gals of Mocktoberfest for a bash in Oktober - will use 14.5# Pils, 11.5# Munich, 9.5# Vienna, and 3# CaraMunich III. Target OG to 1.052 or so.   I have done this recipe before with Hallertauer hops - 5.5oz at 60 min and 1.75oz at 20min.

However I can't get my hands on that much Hallertau at a reasonable price.  Is Vanguard a decent sub? I can get that cheap from Midwest and it seems close in characteristics...

Remember this is a "Mocktoberfest" which will be fermented at 60F using US-05 and then lagered in kegs for only about a month, I've done this before and it is "good enough" to keep the masses happy (you know, the ones who loooooove Sam Adams Octoberfest already)

Ingredients / hops direct stock
« on: August 29, 2011, 05:51:41 PM »
And I'm not talking 'bout an IPO (but maybe an IPA)

Does anyone know when/if HopsDirect will start getting new supplies of imported hops (I'm looking at you, Hallertauer and Saaz).


All Grain Brewing / fix my Bohemian Pilsner
« on: August 13, 2011, 12:17:42 AM »
I am having trouble brewing a Bo Pils that tastes anything like a Pilsner Urquell. 

My darker lagers (Vienna Lagers, Oktoberfests, Schwarzbiers) have worked well, & taste close to what they should, and have placed (and won)  in some local contests. Even my most recent Helles (brewed to Kai’s Edel Hell recipe) was very nice and quite close to Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold in a side-by-side tasting.

So I think my process is good for lagers in general, but obviously I’m missing something, because I can’t get a nice crisp Urquell-ish beer.  Urquell has way better hop aroma, flavor and bitterness. It just tastes like it has more “pop and zing”. Mine is a nice smooth lager but lacks the bite of the Urquell. Mine actually tastes pretty close to a canned Heineken, oddly enough.   Mine is also a lighter pale yellow compared to Urquell’s rich gold.  My buddies all love it (reminds them of Heineken, I guess ) but it disappoints me.

Here is my 10 gallon recipe: (scaled from Jamil’s book)

18.80 lbs Best Malz Pils
1.15 lbs Weyermann CaraPils
0.20 lbs Acidulated Malt (this is 1% of the total grain bill)

Single infusion mash at 155F for 90mins.  For mash and sparge, I used 100% distilled water with additions of gypsum, Epsom salts, and CaCl2 to get the following profile: 58ppm Ca, 8ppm Mg, 0ppm Na, 89ppm SO4, 63ppm Cl, RA of -47.

My mash pH was 5.2 to 5.3 (I was still figuring out my new Milwaukee meter but I am confident this is a decent reading). Collected 16gals to boil down to 11gals.

Did a 60min boil with Saaz additions at 60min (2.20oz), 30min (3.00oz), 10min (1.50oz) and flameout (1.50oz).  60min addition was 5.5% AA, the rest were 4.0% AA.  Hops were all pellets, tossed loose into the boil.

Used a huge immersion chiller to get all 11 gals of wort below 100F in 3.5mins. So I’m confident I shut down pretty much all DMS/SMM stuff (not sure I have all the acronyms correct) and captured that late hop flavor and aroma.  Entire batch chilled to 48F in 11mins.  OG of 1.059.  Possibly I boiled it down a little too hard here, 1.055 was what I was shooting for.

Pitched 22 grams of dry S-189 yeast into each 5 gal fermenter at 48F.  Fermentation was active within 28hrs (good airlock activity). Fermented at 48F-50F for 23 days. Then raised temp to 65F for 48hrs (a maturation or diacetyl rest), then crash cooled at 34F for 48hrs, then racked into kegs, and lagered under 10psi CO2 for 5wks, at 34F.   FG of 1.014.

One possible thing is that I was travelling between day 10 and day 23 of fermentation, and there was no visible airlock activity  when I got back, so it’s possible that the yeast was done prior to that, and that the maturation rest didn’t really do anything if the yeast was done…

Any obvious flaws in this thing?  Or subtle hints for next time?

Thanks (and sorry for the long post)

All Grain Brewing / first Witbier
« on: August 09, 2011, 12:17:09 PM »

Planning my first witbier tomorrow (all grain). Going to use Jamil's BCS recipe, at least as a starting point.  2 questions though:

1) fermentation temp.  he says to start at 68F and then slowly ramp to 72F for the last third of fermentation.  now I'm generally of the opinion that the ale ferm temps in BCS are a little high (for lagers he's good) ... often he specs 65-68 and I prefer to use 60 or 62 for APAs, ambers, IPAs, etc. But in this case, using T-58 dry belgian yeast, should I go with this high temp to get the esters going? or should I still shoot lower, maybe 64 or 65?  i've never used T-58 before so any help would be nice

2) mashing. most of Jamil's recipes just call for a single infusion mash which i'm comfortable with.  but for this belgian he says hold at 122F for 15 mins, then ramp up to 154F over 15min, then hold until "conversion is complete".  can I just do this by starting my mash (in a cooler chest of course) at 122F, and have it thick, like 1.25qts/lbs, and then after 15mins start adding boiling water a couple quarts at a time until I hit 154? I figure that will get me to about 2.0qts/lbs when I'm done.  and then how long should I hold at 154?   I do most single infusion mashes for 90mins and get 85% to 90% efficiency. so should I hold at 154F for 60mins, to get my 90min total?

thanks in advance

Equipment and Software / Milwaukee pH meter issues
« on: July 26, 2011, 02:29:55 PM »
Anyone with a Milwaukee MW102 or similar, have you experienced the following, which I have on the 4 or 5 mashes I've used this meter for(bought it in the spring):

I calibrate it with 7.01 and 4.01 solutions, Hanna brand (recommended to me by a Milwaukee tech on the phone) then test my sample at around 75F. The little hourglass shows on the screen for a minute or two, then disappears. I take my reading (in the case of an Oktoberfest this morning, 5.25.)  However as I stand and watch the meter, the pH climbs to 5.49 over 2 or 3 minutes, then stabilizes.... but this increase from 5.25 to 5.49 was all with the hourglass off. What is my correct reading?  Same thing happened with a Schwarzbier mash a few weeks back; the hourglass went off and the meter read 5.50, but it climbed up to 5.61 before it finally stabilized.

I know this is a bit nit-picky perhaps, because all the numbers are in a good range for the mash (this meter has ATC, but I always cool my samples into the 70s anyways) but I like to know what is going on.  I called Milwaukee and the tech was frankly not very helpful.  He said he thought the reading was valid when the hourglass went away, but  also said some drift in readings is unavoidable.  I am not stirring or shaking the sample, which he said is apparently a no-no, and I store the probe in Hanna storage solution all the time.... 

Any help from blatz, denny, or kai, or anyone else, would be appreciated....


The Pub / strawberry beer from DFH
« on: June 30, 2011, 08:25:58 PM »

My apologies if this was already posted (I didn't see it anywhere today...)  

The animated GIFs are the coolest part... not sure I would like the beer but I'd sure like to try it....

EDIT: wondering what hops they use (if any) .... Sam doesn't mention it

All Grain Brewing / help me fix this water
« on: March 23, 2011, 06:35:34 PM »
A brewer friend in SW Pennsylvania got his Ward Labs report and came to me for help. He's been doing all-grain for a year with this water and complains of his pale beers being underwhelming. (I have not tasted any.) Being a neophyte brewing water chemist myself, I thought I would crowd-source some advice.

Here's the water (call it A): 97ppm Na, 5ppm Ca, 0ppm K, 0ppm Mg, 2ppm SO4-S, 35ppm Cl, 12ppm CO3, 181ppm HCO3, 169ppm Total Alkalinity as CaCO3. pH 8.6. 

He can get water from a second well a mile away (call it B) with a similar profile: 72ppm Na, 11ppm Ca, 2ppm K, 3ppm Mg, 1ppm SO4-S, 29ppm Cl, 9ppm CO3, 163ppm HCO3, 149ppm Total Alkalinity as CaCO3. pH 8.4.

This is so unlike my own water I'm not sure what to do with it, although at first glance the Na looks like a potential problem.  Any suggestions for him?  Dilution with RO or distilled, then a lot of additions based on Martin and Kai's spreadsheets would be how I would think to attack this, for pale beers.  Is there any beer style that this water is good for?


Perhaps Martin Brungard and/or Kai are able to weigh in on this....

I've been using Kai's water sheet for my last couple beers (German Pils, Helles, a Maibock coming up next week) and with all the recent chatter on this board about Bru'n Water, thought I'd check it out as well.   And I'm having trouble getting the predicted pH to match up. As a test, I used Kai's "Pilsner Water" recipe which calls for 100ppm Gypsum, 85ppm Epsom, and 130ppm CaCl2 added into distilled water, and a grist of 98% Pils and 2% Acidulated. Both worksheets match up at this point, telling me to add the same amounts of the right salts, giving RA of -47, etc etc.

But it is in the next step that things go south. I loaded my basic pils parameters into both sheets: 17.64lbs pils malt, 0.36lbs acidulated, mash at 2qts/lbs (9 gallons strike water) and collect a total of 16 gals pre-boil, which is boiled to 11 gallons.   And somehow Kai's sheet is giving me predicted pH of 5.36 (which would be nice), and Martin's is saying 4.9, which is too low.   

Can anyone confirm something similar? Or are these sheets always going to differ in how they calculate pH from the SRM? Or am I doing something wrong?  I believe I have zeroed out all things like lactic acid additions in Martin's sheet but maybe I missed something.   Kai or Martin, I can email my working copies of your sheets to you if you want to check them out.

thanks, Red

Yeast and Fermentation / technical details on a starter for 10gal lager
« on: February 19, 2011, 01:38:37 PM »
Happy Weekend All,

Need some advice from people who make starters for 10-12gal lagers.  I am well-informed on the basic practices of making starters, but my experience is limited to 5gal batches. Mostly I would do 1 Activator pack in a 3L or 4L starter on a stirplate, with good results. 

Lately I've been brewing some 10gal lagers using dry yeast, but want to try some liquid yeast strains too, in an effort to come closer to the lagers I'm trying to clone.

But it seems a little daunting: for a 11 gals of a 1.060 lager, using my stirplate, Mr Malty calls for a 6 liter starter using 3 Activator packs, or 4 liters using 4 packs, or 10 liters using 2 packs.... what do you guys usually do??? I have a 5L flask.. do you guys buy 4 activator packs (pretty pricey!) and make a 5L starter? or do you go with a 3 gallon carboy and make a 10L starter with 2 packs? or what... maybe two just separate starters, the same way I did it before?

Or what is the two-stage stepped-up starter I've heard about? Is that an option, and if so, what does it involve?


1)      Convoluted Counterflow Chiller, bought new in Sept 2008. Used regularly until April 2010, carefully cleaned with PBW after every use, in very good shape. Original price $155.00 from MoreBeer. Asking around $80-$100. (This item is now $189 from MoreBeer)

2)      March Pump 809HS with switched power cord, bought new Jan 2009. Used regularly until April 2010, carefully cleaned with PBW after every use, in good shape. Original price $140.99 from Northern Brewer. Asking around $80-$100.

3)      25ft Stainless Steel Immersion Chiller, 3/8” diameter, bought new Sept 2009, never used. Original price $53.95 from Midwest. Asking $20-$30.

I will pay ground shipping to continental USA. You can also pick them up if you are in the Hudson Valley area of New York. If anyone is interested PM me or post in this thread. Payment options are flexible and can be discussed.
I switched to a monster immersion chiller (50ft x ½”) with a pond pump pumping 33F water through it and get much better chill performance. After sitting on these items for almost year, it’s time to move them on.


All Grain Brewing / when to check pH of mash
« on: January 26, 2011, 06:40:27 PM »
So I'm about to brew my first beer with modified water (75% distilled, 25% my own super-alkaline well water, and a bunch of salts, and also some acidulated malt). 

How soon after dough-in should I test the pH to see if I'm hitting what Kaiser's water spreadsheet says I should be hitting?  1 min? 5 min? 30 min?   Does it matter? 

I've checked my mash pH before, usually within 5mins of dough-in, but now I'll be mixing in salts and I'm wondering how long it takes for the pH to stabilize.


All Grain Brewing / Pilsner brewing
« on: January 12, 2011, 09:11:31 PM »

With spring hopefully on its way, the brewing mind turns to Pilsners. As is probably the case with many homebrewers, I’ve never been able to achieve that great crispness of even run-of-the mill Bohemian Pilsners that are a dime a dozen over in Germany, never mind something stellar like Pilsner Urquell.  One might ask, why bother to even try to match them; they’ve had almost 2 centuries of head start, and I’ve only done 3 or 4 batches of German and Bohemian Pils. But I’d like to give it a shot and get better beer. 

Last summer my Pilsner attempts were consistently too “sweet” and “bready”.  I might also be tasting diacetyl, but I did do diacetyl rests on these beers, and anyways I don’t really know what diacetyl really tastes like, when it comes down to it….  (is there some commercial beer that has diacetyl issues…. I’d buy some just to learn what it tastes like !)  I’ve narrowed it down to 3 things to improve on, and would love some suggestions… 

1)   Malt. I brewed both JZ’s “Myburger” (1.054 to 1.009) and BoPils (1.057 to 1.014) recipes last year with Crisp Euro Pils as the base malt, because that is what I can get cheap from my local brewpub.   Would paying almost twice as much for something like Weyermann make a huge difference?  I’ve done other lagers (Maibock and Helles come to mind) using this Pils malt as the base and got good results, and even placed in some competitions (the Helles took a gold, and the Maibock a silver, at New York State Fair last summer)…. The breadiness is not so out of place in those styles.

2)   Yeast. I brewed both these Pilsners with S-189 dry Swiss lager yeast which has good recommendations from people like Denny…   I would love to keep using dry yeast – would W-34/70 be better?  I’ve heard nothing good about S-23 though.  Unless you all tell me that I will NEVER make a decent Pils without a liquid yeast and a monster starter…. I started brewing that way but just kind of slipped over to the quick and easy “pitch dry yeast into the fermenter and hit it with the mix-stir” method (with encouragement from folks like MullerBrau) and never looked back

3)   Water. This is the  one I don’t really want to deal with, but will if I have to. I’ve never modded my water, and get good ales, stouts, as well as good amber and dark lagers. So I guess I may be on to something, I just don’t know how to fix it.  Here’s my water profile: pH 7.4.  Na 14ppm, K 1ppm, Ca 54ppm, Mg 9ppm, Total Hardness  173ppm, Chloride 25ppm, Carbonates <1ppm, Bicarbonates 166ppm, Total Alkalinity 136ppm.  From my limited research it seems this is not good Pilsner water… what can I do to fix it?

I know this is a pretty involved query, but if anyone has ideas on even part of my question, I’d appreciate it. Or if you need more info, let me know.


Ingredients / hop subs for JZ's American IPA
« on: January 12, 2011, 02:07:19 PM »
Happy New Year All.....  great snow-day for brewing here in the Northeast....  got JZ's West Coast Red Ale on the boil right now....

Planning to do JZ’s American IPA sometime soon, and he calls for 1oz of Horizon 13% at 60m, 1oz of Centennial 9% at 10m, 1oz of Simcoe 12% at 5m, and 1oz of Amarillo 9% at 0m.  Of those hops, I currently only have Centennial in stock, and usually use Magnum as my go-to bittering hop for American ales, so I think I could sub that for the Horizon with little effect….  But what can I sub for the Simcoe and Amarillo?  Northern Brewer and Midwest don’t have Simcoe in stock, and NB doesn’t have Amarillo either….  In my freezer I have (in addition to Cent and Magnum)  Willamette, Cascade, Hallertau, Czech Saaz, and Tettnang.  Any suggestions for how to get a decent IPA out of these?  The only one above 6% AA is the Cascade, everything else is low-alpha and so I assume will not be too hot in an IPA.  I could just make a Magnum and Cent IPA but wouldn’t that be boring?  Or not…. Help appreciated.


All Grain Brewing / "double" sparge in a batch sparge
« on: October 20, 2010, 07:57:48 PM »
I've got questions.  I usually make 10 gal batches, with maybe 22-24lbs of grain. This fits nicely in my 80qt Coleman Extreme. I usually mash at 1.75 - 2.0qts/lbs, which lets me collect about 8gals first runnings, then I sparge with about 8gal and collect the 16gal I need to boil down to 11gal (I have a huge steam kettle with large surface area that loses a lot to evaporation.) 

Sometimes I do 15 gal batches with 30-35lbs grain, in this case I mash at about 1.5qts/lbs so it fits in the cooler, and then I can still get pretty good efficiency even though first and second runnings are not totally equal. I collect about 23gals and boil it down to 16gals of post-boil volume.

Now I want to do a 20 gal batch which will use about 45lbs of grain. It will not fit in my mash tun unless I start mashing thicker, like 1.3qts/lbs, and then I will have to add a lot of sparge water (maybe 16+ gals) to get my 26gals of pre-boil volume. 

So the questions are:

1)   Will my efficiency or process suffer somehow with mashing at 1.3qts/lbs, as opposed to the thinner 1.75-2.00qts/lbs that I’m used to, and that my recipes work for?

2)   If not, can I go ahead and mash with the highest ratio that still lets me fit the mash in the mash tun, and then split my batch sparging into 2 parts? Should these parts be equal volumes? Does it matter?

3)   Or should I just add as much sparge water as I can when starting the second runoff, and then just keep topping it off until I’ve added what I need?

Thanks in advance for any advice. I know I could avoid all this with a bigger mash tun but I don’t plan to do 20 gals batches that often.

All Grain Brewing / rice hull percentage
« on: August 31, 2010, 11:54:48 AM »
Can't seem to find a quick answer to this: what percentage of the grain bill (by weight) are you guys using to add rice hulls? I batch sparge, and a couple recent batches with slow/stuck sparges (esp. one that was 25% wheat and 25% rye that was my Worst. Sparge. Ever. ) have got me thinking that rice hulls could help out.


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