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Messages - redzim

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All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 04, 2013, 12:54:03 PM »
Try a lid, it will cut down a lot on your evaporation.

The lid idea is today's (or tomorrow's) test!

But if that doesn't work, how does my logic sound on this:
-collect ~6-7 gal first runnings as usual
-instead of collecting 9 gal sparge to make my 16 gal pre-boil for 60 min boils (or collecting 12 gals sparge for my 90 min boils) collect say 6 more gallons to get ~12 total pre-boil
-at the start of the boil, add whatever additional water I need to get up to 16 (or 19) gallons and boil as usual (although based on my tests, I could probably get away with only 14-15 gal preboil if I reduce the boil rate as I tried yesterday)

A few questions:   Would I calculate out the added minerals using Kai's spreadsheet based on the total preboil  volume? Which would sort of concentrate the minerals in the mash but they would be diluted in the boil.... 

Or would I add calculate minerals just based on how much sparge water I am actually using? And in that case, should I add proportional amounts of minerals to the water I'm diluting the boil with, in other words use the same water for everything? To me, that makes the most sense....


All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 03, 2013, 08:52:57 PM »

i don't think you need an aggressive boil off. again with my electric system it is not much of a boil off at all, i think 1/2 g per hour.

OK but how is the liquid moving? I did a boil off test this morning, with just water in my kettle, and trying to evaporate as little as possible, and over 90 minutes it went from 14 gal to 9.5 gal, at what I would call "barely" boiling, more like a rough simmer.... this is less than I am used to doing in a 90min boil (19 gals -> 11 gal) but I don't know if it was making enough movement in the liquid.  It certainly was evaporating, though, and maybe that's all that matters.  Just to remind you all, my kettle is 26" in diameter!

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 03, 2013, 02:18:33 AM »
So if you want more volume before the onset of boiling I would simply add water to the kettle instead of running extra sparge water through the grain bed.

this is from the above article which is a better description of what i was trying to suggest

Great tips coming in, talk about crowd-sourcing! thanks all... I think I'll take the following ideas and try to put them into practice:

1) Try to only boil off 2 or 2.5 gal/hr rather than 5 with a combination of reduced heat and an added lid... which begs the question, how much of a boil do I need? With my steam-jacketed kettle, I can change, within literally 30-60 seconds, from just a mild simmer around the edge (the jacket) to a full (and I mean FULL) rolling boil.  I usually aim for enough heat to keep the middle of the kettle bubbling (which means the circumference is definitely bubbling good too), but I can definitely turn it down to more of a simmer.... but how much "boil action" do I need for hop resin extraction?

2) So in order to only boil away 2 gallons, I'll collect less wort, which will hopefully balance out my run-off volumes better...

3) If I can't get the boil low enough, I'll still maybe just collect 12 or 13 gallons, and then add water to the kettle preboil as suggested by the BYO article and Don Weithman.  Which begs the question: I assume that water would need to be the same water as I mashed and sparged with, i.e. if it's my tap water, use that, or if it's a recipe built on distilled water plus minerals, use that....?

4) Acidify my sparge water down to 5.5, which sounds like a good thing to be doing in any case...

Did I miss anything?

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 09:34:50 PM »
In Red's case, I think it is the amount of sparging he does. What can be done is to either sparge less or don't fully drain the grain bed between sparges. I.e. keep more of the wort in the grains before more water is added. That way more of the buffer capacity is retained. This will hurt your lauter efficiency and with it your brewhouse efficiency. But that is intended since you will be sparging less aggressively.


Will doing 2 or 3 sparges (i.e. 3 or 4 run-offs, total, rather than just 2) be a help?

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 09:33:26 PM »
Will partially covering my kettle to reduce boil-off rate adversely impact the whole DMS/SMM thing? (not sure I have those acronyms correct!)

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 08:22:57 PM »
:o  That boiloff rate is insane! 

I like your theory....  what typical boil-off rates are you guys getting? Or to put it another way, how much liquid are you guys starting with, to end up with 10.5 or 11 gals into the fermenter?  Obviously not 16gals...

All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 08:10:36 PM »

So in Red's case, I think that the calcium content of his brewing water may have been too low to remove much of the tannin that is naturally present in wort. I look forward to hearing what Red has to say with regard to his typical mashing and sparging water calcium content. 

By the way, Polyclar will precipitate tannins too.   

Here are some calcium numbers from my brews: (Let me know if you need more numbers)

My regular water has 56ppm Ca, alkalinity of 142ppm. I use this for my Altbier.

My Oktoberfest water was diluted 50/50 with distilled, & I added CaCl and gypsum back in to get 54ppm Ca and 75 ppm alkalinity.

For German Pilsners I start with 100% distilled and add in CaCl, epsom, and gypsum to get to 58ppm Ca and 0 ppm alkalinity.

For the most part, most of my beers are around 50-60ppm Ca in the water. I use same water for mash & sparge. I'm going to take a look at acidifying the sparge water. I have some questions about using BrunWater to do that; I will PM some questions to you.


All Grain Brewing / Re: astringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 07:54:50 PM »
Why are you collecting so much if you're only ending up with 11 gallons in the fermenters? Do you have a ridiculous boil off rate?

Yes I do!  As stated earlier, I have a large diameter (26") steam jacketed kettle... spherical bottom, so with 11 gals of  liquid in there it's still only about 11" deep....  I try to boil off as gently as possible but.... in a 60 minute boil I still loose about 5 gallons to evaporation.

All Grain Brewing / Re: atringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 04:31:46 PM »

If you're batch sparging with water that's 180*+, it'll raise the temp of the grain bed, so I doubt your run-off is actually over 170*F.
This is what I was thinking, which led me to think he's over sparging.  But he did say that he took temperature readings of 175F+.

Ok so how do I stop "oversparging"....  try to balance my first run-off and 2nd run-off?

For instance on the Altbier I'm drinking right now, which got me thinking about this, I ran off 6.0 gal, then sparged to collect another 11.5gal to reach 17.5 gal, which I needed because I wanted to do a 75 minute boil....  I guess that is pretty unbalanced, and I could mash a lot thinner to get that balanced out (I doughed-in at 1.5 qts/lbs, then did an step infusion to get my sach rest, this left the mash at 2.15 qts/lbs, then I did a decoction mashout). 

My 2012 Oktoberfest was more balanced in the run-offs; I collected 7 gal first, then sparged 9 gal more to get 16 gal total which is all I needed for a 60min boil.  Still had a mildly unpleasant astrigency about it....

All Grain Brewing / Re: atringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 04:25:34 PM »
Red - I acidify may sparge water to 5.5 or so.

Same here and I think this could be your problem.  The combination of high temperature and relatively high alkalinity is what causes tannin extraction.  If your sparge water is below 5.7 or so the temperature is less important.

I had the exact same astringency issue awhile back and it went away once I started acidifying my sparge water.  I routinely sparge at temperatures greater than 170F.

So how do I acidify sparge water? I've never done that... any tips on formulas & chemicals would be appreciated... my tap water is around 7.5-7.8 pH, but on some brews I use 50% or more (up to 100%) distilled water with some minerals added in....  I guess the pH of that water will still be at least 7 or more though, as distilled water has pH of 7, right?

All Grain Brewing / astringency
« on: January 02, 2013, 01:25:56 PM »
I've been noticing a little astringency (dry puckery aftertaste that lasts a little too long for my liking) in only a few of my beers this past 6 months.  After looking thru my brewing notes I noticed that this flavor was pretty much confined to high-attenuating, medium-bittered amber-ish beers (ales & lagers). Here's my theory, you tell me if I'm on the right track:

I think I've been sparging with too-hot water (I batch sparge a la Denny).   Somewhere a while ago I read that one should sparge with 180F water but I'm kind of sloppy about it and often hit 185 or 190 (I log this every batch.)  I then often hit a mash-tun temp of 175+ before I start running off my second runnings (but I only leave the mash at that temp for 5 mins, max).  Now searching online for sources of astringency, I find a lot of people saying that sparge water should not be above 170F...  Which I definitely have not been heeding...  So how possible is it that this hot sparge is extracting tannins?

I think I am doing this for all my beers but my theory is that I only notice it in certain beers like Alt and Oktoberfest because they finish out pretty dry (~1.010) and are not aggressively hopped.... in my recent Pilsners, Pale Ales, and IPAs I have not noticed this because they have a lot more hops in. Also in other slightly " sweeter" beers like Porters and Bocks I don't notice it because of more malty flavors, higher F.G., etc.   Is this a good guess?

Also: is it worth checking the pH of the mash at sparging time? Currently I only check the mash about 5-10 minutes into the first rest, I aim for around 5.3 to 5.6 (at room temp) and pretty much get there all the time... but I do boil in a large-diameter steam kettle and need to collect 16 gallons of liquid to boil down to 11 gal of wort; I often run-off only 6.5-7 gallons of first runnings, and then sparge with 9+ gallons more; could this by somehow messing up the pH of the sparge by diluting the buffering power of the grain and making the mash pH jump up to 5.8 or higher?

One more thing could be that I'm milling too fine... is it true that too much "flour" in the grist will extract tannins? I'm using a BarleyCrusher set on about 30-32 mil (measured with an automotive feeler gauge) but I do see a fair bit of flour.... my brewhouse efficiency usually hits around 85%; lower for 1.060+ beers, but I do hit 90% on some decocted or low-gravity brews. 


(edited to correct misspelling in post title)

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« on: January 02, 2013, 01:05:46 PM »
Thanks for posting, nateo.  That was an interesting read.  I used to decoct a lot of my German lagers.  I stopped doing that last summer, opting for single-infusion mashes instead.
Any difference? I did a Vienna a couple weeks back, just an infusion. Will see what I think in a few months.

The Vienna recipe I use (it started as a Negro Modelo clone from one of the Szamatulski [sp?] books but I've tweaked it over a few years)   has just a single infusion at 150F; I've been quite happy with it over 4 or 5 batches....


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« on: January 02, 2013, 01:02:29 PM »

Here's one response I found interesting (my translation, from

Gee thanks Nate!  ;)  Now I have to follow yet one more brewing forum, only it's in German!   Actually that site looks really interesting and I'm going to have to spend some time there...


Equipment and Software / Re: Digital refractometer
« on: December 29, 2012, 03:26:17 PM »
I have the Hanna.
I like to use the refractometer during the brewing process because it's quicker (smaller samples, don't have to wait while the sample cools, etc.)
I've seen Sean's spreadsheet and it works.
I just use the hydrometer for the FG reading because I always have!
Besides, then I can drink the hydrometer sample!

I have this one

Piece of cake to use during brew day to see how close I'm getting to OG. I used to use it a lot more than I do now though, I guess because my recipes and process have become pretty standardized over the last 2 years.   Probably overkill, there are better things to spend your $166 on... I still go with a trusted hydrometer during fermentation though

I use it more for maple sapping / syrup season.... it's a breeze to carry in the sugar bush and spot check the trees... and you gotta get your syrup to 66 Brix in the boil house... now that's a time of year coming on soon here in upstate NY!


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: That German Lager flavor, round 2
« on: December 29, 2012, 02:47:08 PM »
Couple things from reading this summary:

#1. This (and the previous thread of same title) is probably the most valuable and informative thread I've seen on this board.   Thanks for everyone's input!

#2. IME I can nail any amber or darker German lager (at least in my own blind tests). Maibock, Dunkel, Schwarz...  I seem to have no trouble getting a beer I'm really really happy with.  It's the Pilsners (both German and Bohemian) that are hard to hit. Obviously this has a lot to do with my water: it's moderately hard, and I use it 100% for Schwarz, and dilute it 50/50 with distilled water to brew Maibocks and Dunkels. But I use 100% distilled and add in minerals to brew Pilsners. 

#3. +1 to the idea that extended lagering is very key... the closest matches I've had to Jever Pils and Pilsner Urquell (the two styles I've been trying to copy; brewed probably five 10-gal batches of  each over the last 2 years) tasted the best at 8+ weeks in the keg. But both of these were not in primary for more than 18-20 days.... I've never tried the lagering on yeast cake thing and not sure I want to try

#4. Decoction: Probably psychological but I like to do at least a mash-out decoction on all the German styles... makes me feel more authentic, and its fun.... I do Hochkurz on Bo Pils and am going to try a triple on my next Bo Pils just for the hell of it... and of course the beer tastes better; I put an extra 2+ hours of work into it!

#5. Happy New Year to all...


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