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Messages - redzim

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Does efficiency decrease as you scale up?

I'm thinking about upgrading from doing 10-gal Denny-style batch-sparge brews in a big cooler chest, to doing 30-gal batches in a big 40+ gal stainless mash tun (maybe from Stout Tanks, or Psychobrew, or a Blichmann Boilermaker setup, etc). 

Most of these seem to come with fancy things like "rotating sparge arms", etc, which I don't really even understand. So I'm wondering if I need to ditch my years of experience and comfort level with batch sparging and learn about fly sparging, which I've never done or even really thought about?

Or do you think with a system like that, you could still just drain off the first runnings, then add some sparge water, and drain again, just I've been doing. In other words, what does the increased mash volume and changed geometry (from a rectangular, relatively shallow grain bed to a more cylindrical and deeper bed)  do? Will efficiency be effected?  Any advice accepted.


After brewing exclusively with dry yeast for the last 4-5 years (10 gals every 2 weeks) and feeling pretty comfortable with my process and results, I'm think about trying some liquid yeasts from Wyeast or White Labs for some styles like Alts and Bohemian Pils that might benefit from a more specialized yeast than just US-05 or W-34/70. 

But having not thought at all about liquid yeast for these last years I need to get a couple simple questions answered. I hope to NOT start a huge discussion about the pros and cons of starters etc, I just want practical advice from anyone who has done a lot with liquid yeasts.

#1) Have either White Labs or Wyeast made a product that is truly pitchable into 5 gallons of wort? I know their websites say their products are, but I seem to remember a lot of guys saying that that is marketing BS and a starter is highly recommended. But that was a while ago and maybe things have changed, so I need to know: in real life scenarios, are they telling the truth or not?  If not, I can't see myself getting into making starters as my brewing schedule has to remain flexible.

#2) If answer to #1 is yes, which producer is better? Or are certain strains from each company better? It looks like pricing from NB is identical ($6.29 per pack/vial)...

I'll post again if/when I need specific recommendations for specific styles.


Beer Recipes / Re: Cent / Amarillo IPA
« on: May 14, 2014, 05:35:08 AM »
OK I think I'll use the Centennial at 40 and 20, and finish with the Amarillo late in the boil and as a dry hop, to get that great aroma.

Beer Recipes / Cent / Amarillo IPA
« on: May 13, 2014, 12:59:54 PM »
I have a basic IPA recipe that I throw different hops into. 24# Pale Malt, 2# C-40 for a 10 gallon batch. I've had good luck hitting it with all-Centennial at 60, 40, 20, 5 and dry hopping (Tinseth of around 50IBUs altogether). Also I've done Magnum at 60min (to about 30IBUs) and then Amarillo at 40, 20, 5, and dry. 

I now have just 4oz of 8.8% Cents and 6oz of 6.9% Amarillo left and want to use them together. I'd like to bitter with Magnum at 60min to get a clean backbone.  I know what 100% Amarillo tastes like (I love the grapefruit thing) but will it clash with Cents? And would I be better off blending the two hops for each addition, or doing the 40 and 20 with Cent and the late with Amarillo, or perhaps alternating the two? I'm open to ideas...


All Grain Brewing / Re: Am i thinking right, mash PH?
« on: May 12, 2014, 06:08:39 AM »
There's a lot of info about pH out there,including too many ranges referenced at different temps to the point that it can be confusing.  You'll get good conversion in the mash anywhere from 5.2 to 5.7 at a room temperature reading. 

After reading the advice of water guys like Kai, I usually target 5.3 - 5.5 at room temperature, with the lower end being better for lagers since it results in a more subtle, smoother bitterness.  It's also common practice to adjust the kettle pH lower with acid, so you can mash at 5.5 (which is supposedly optimal) and also get the flavor benefits of a low boil pH for a lager.  So I'll aim for 5.5 for an ale, with just enough acid in the sparge water to eliminate alkalinity.  With lagers I am for 5.4 or so and may add extra acid in the kettle to keep boil pH in the 5.3-5.4 range.

So what's your SOP on this? Just test your wort pH pre-boil, and if it's too high your add a little lactic acid right into the kettle?

Equipment and Software / Re: Thermapen or MW101 PH meter?
« on: May 01, 2014, 01:09:25 PM »
There is no way I would spend the $$ on a Therapen when they make the RT600c. I have two of the RTs and they are nice. Now I need an extra one for other duties.

Same here. RT600C is excellent.

I have used the RT600C and a Thermapen. The RT606 is almost as fast BUT the one major drawback is that it does not have auto power off and I've drained the battery in 48 hours a couple of times. The RT616 does have an auto shutoff, however the probe is more like 4" long instead of 6". So beware of that. I have one of those now as well.

But I gotta say the $ spent on my MW101 was well worth it too.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Re-using yeast
« on: March 28, 2014, 06:51:42 AM »
Is that everything that dumped from the cone or is that yeast rinsed out from the trub?

I stick a flask like that in the fridge, let it settle for a couple days, then pour off about 75% of the liquid that is on top of the compacted slurry. Then I "sloosh" that around (I think that's a technical brewing term, right?) to loosen the slurry, and measure whatever Mr Malty calc says for my beer's OG and the yeast's harvest date. It's worked great for a couple years. I think I may be over-pitching a hair, as some beers start fermenting in 4 or 6 hours after pitching, but it works for me.

All Grain Brewing / Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« on: March 27, 2014, 01:20:08 PM »
Prima is around those stats - 44ibu/5.3% and while I love it, I could see it being described by some folks as harsh, too bitter etc. when described relative to say a bitburger, polestar, scrimshaw, etc.

I like my Pils hoppy, which is why I brew this one to get close to Jever (hands-down my fav Pils, both in Germany and when I can find it here)... it certainly blows Bitburger away with its hop level, but perhaps I just went overboard on everything a little (too long a mash, too many sulfates, a few too many hops) and it is all just adding up to more than I like....

I tried a little blending experiment this afternoon with canned Bitburger and at 25% Bit, it's passable, and at 50% Bit, it's fine.  I have a Helles ready in a few weeks and I may try a blend of that, although if the Helles is real good I won't want to use it up too quickly...

Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas.

All Grain Brewing / Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« on: March 27, 2014, 01:13:36 PM »

But more likely, the bittering level is emphasizing the bitterness in the beer. 45+ IBUs in a 1.050 beer is a lot and could be a source for an imbalance. In addition, I see that you were emulating a Hockkurz mash schedule, but it seems that it was not very kurz (short). I'm afraid that the mash might have been made too fermentable and there may not be enough residual sweetness. Ultimately, there was a over an hour of mashing.

I got my timing for a Hochkurz from Kai's site, which shows a good 90 min maltose rest followed by 60min of protein.  I followed the various steps on this graph pretty closely.

Only 2.8 IBUs of FWH contribution? I assume that was a teeny hop addition.

Yes, only 0.75oz for a 10 gal batch.

All Grain Brewing / Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« on: March 27, 2014, 01:07:49 PM »
Is the FWH IBUs calculated as a 20 minute addition?

Lot of IBUs there.


All Grain Brewing / Re: troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« on: March 27, 2014, 06:36:08 AM »
Hmmm, I don't think 30 extra minutes would make that much of a difference on the first wort hops. One thing I can think of is acidifying you sparge water. This sounds a bit like a tannin issue, not a hop issue. But I could be wrong there. You didn't mention what your water source is.

I did not acidify the sparge water because I built on a 100% distilled water based, and Martin says (in BrunWater and elsewhere) that acidifying sparge water is not necessary when using 100% RO or distilled.

Here's the exact water chemistry for this beer, according the BrunWater, in ppm:
Ca 35
Mg 5
Na 8
SO4 80
Cl 32
Bicarbs zero
RA -28

All Grain Brewing / troubleshoot my too-bitter North German Pils
« on: March 27, 2014, 05:37:06 AM »
Hey Guys,

Got a weird one here: just been tasting my latest Pils (based off Hopfenundmalz's recipe). It's been lagering 5 weeks in the keg at 33F.  It has been a great recipe for me until this batch... but this batch has a really really dry bitter finish that is not pleasant at all. It's not a good hoppy bitterness like an IPA, it's bone dry, very long lasting in the mouth, and quite frankly not good. I'm trying to figure out why. The only thing I can think of is that for this batch I left the FWH hops in for a little over an hour before the wort boiled... my previous batch (which was fantastic), I only left them in for 30 minutes. Will this make a huge difference? 

Or perhaps hop freshness? For this new batch I used a brand-new vac pack of hop pellets, for the previous batch I used up a pouch that had been opened maybe 6 months earlier, BUT I vacuum seal it after every use and store it in a commercial freezer at -15F so I am not sure how much the oils are degrading...

The other difference is that in this batch I used 3% acidulated malt to try to get a little lactic tang in the flavor, the mash pH was in the 5.3 range, but on my previous batch I used no acid malt and the pH was still 5.3...

Otherwise here are all the things that were pretty much identical between batches:
(for my "bad batch" I used all 4.0% Mittelfruh; for my previous batch I blended 4.5% Mittelfruh & 6.3% Tettnang... does the fact that I used a lot more hops matter, weight-wise, have anything to do with it, even if IBUs of each addition were identical??)

2.8 IBUs @ FWH
41 IBUs @ 60min
1.7 IBUs @ 10min
0.1 IBUs @ 1min

Hochkurz Double Decoction mash, dough in at 146F, hold 30 min, raise to 158F with decoction, hold 30 min, raise to 168F with decoction, hold 20 min, sparge out.  OG 1.050, FG 1.011.  Water used was pretty close to Yellow Bitter profile in Brun Water (+/- 10ppm or so on each mineral).

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I could even mail a bottle to someone who seriously wants to critique it. Send me a PM.


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Combined threads
« on: March 22, 2014, 08:26:16 AM »
Mr Malty calc will also let you adjust for how old your slurry is...

Equipment and Software / Re: very frustrated with my Barley Crusher
« on: March 18, 2014, 06:27:24 AM »
I've had this problem... I should lube mine up frequently but I also slide on a #13 o-ring to drive the passive roller. When the ring breaks this is an opportune time to clean the roller. Yes it has frustrated me but it has been my own fault for not keeping the BC clean of gummy flour considering it is a precision piece of equipment.

#13? isn't that a little small? it looks like the rollers have a diameter of 1.25"

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