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Messages - redzim

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I'd like to get back to the original question of this post (since I'm the OP), and not the later discussion on the bitterness of FWH (as interesting as it is)...

I tapped my most recent beer a few days ago, a Schwarzbier that has been lagering for a little over 4 weeks. I've brewed this recipe every year for 5 years and never had a problem with it; it's very close to Kostritzer (I lived a few km from the Kostritzer Brauerei in Germany a few years back, biked past it a lot, and it's a top-ten beer for me). Anyways...  I sample it, and there is this same weird lingering tannic bitterness and astringency that I had in the Pilsner this spring.  Fairly unpleasant...   with the Pils, it reduced a little after about 8 weeks in the keg but not very much.

So I have a theory: the Pilsner was the first beer I fined with Biofine Clear; prior to that i used a gelatin solution.  Some quick googling shows that possibly gelatin and biofine react or precipitate different compounds differently, and that perhaps gelatin pulls tannins, astringent compounds, and hop polyphenols out of solution more effectively than biofine clear (see this thread and this

Of course I've brewed a bunch of other beers in between the Pils and the Schwarz and none of them exhibit this odd taste. So part B of the theory is that the excessive hop matter used to bitter these two beers is somehow involved.  See, these two beers are the only two that I've bittered with large amounts (>4 oz) of low alpha (4-5%) hops for 60+ mins. Other lagers I've brewed this spring/summer were bittered with hi-alpha magnum, in <2oz amounts. (All 10-gal batches, BTW). In both beers, there was over 6oz of low alpha hops in total. 

So question is, is there something in my brewing process that is creating tannins, astringency, or whatever, with large amounts of low alpha hops, and then was gelatin somehow able to clean that up but Bionfine can't clean it up?

Adding to the mystery is that these two beers were brewed with the exact same pound of Mittelfruh pellets from HopsDirect, and I haven't used those hops in any other beer. So perhaps it's just a wacky bag of hops?

Anyways, one idea is to mix up a little gelatin and dump it in the keg (it's carbed, but apparently one can still do that) and see what happens in a few days.  I will try this if no one has other suggestions.

Of course I guess long term I should somehow fix my recipes or process to avoid the creating of these flavor compounds.

Sorry for going on so long,

All Grain Brewing / Re: RO system design
« on: July 14, 2014, 12:53:42 PM »
Martin, I found your article, thanks...

So what would be an acceptable TDS... less than 25ppm? Or what numbers should I be saying I want out of my system: zero alkalinity? zero bicarbs? zero total hardness? or all those "as low as possible"?

All Grain Brewing / RO system design
« on: July 14, 2014, 10:19:50 AM »
Thinking about getting an RO system for my brewing needs as I blow through a lot of distilled water at $1 a gallon....  I have a very mechanically minded friend helping out, he works with a lot of contractors and knows some companies that install RO systems.   I know next to nothing about RO systems and he knows nothing about brewing. He told me to price out a system they need to know what end result of water I want coming out of the system.  I said, as close to distilled as possible, but apparently that is not the answer they are looking for. What water specs should I be telling them I need? Ideally I'd like very close to distilled, and then add gypsum and CaCl and epsom, etc, back in to brew pale beers...  any suggestions from folks who have RO systems?

tx red

Thinking about doing some 20 or 30 gal batches instead of 10gal. I have an immersion chiller than handles 10 gal fine but thinking about trying a plate chiller for larger batches. I have 45F water in the winter but 65F in the summer. What is the best practice if I'm trying to make a lager in this weather? Obviously a plate chiller can't get colder than the feed water, so could I chill as much as I can, then let the wort sit in the fermenter under temp control for 24 hours or whatever it takes until I can get it down to 48-50F, then pitch yeast? Or am I asking for infection trouble?

A second question would be how I might need to adjust my hopping schedule... I am getting 10 gal below 100F in the first 4 minutes of chill time, usually... but with a larger boil and with a plate chiller, I will have much of the wort at a much higher temp for longer. What will that do to my various hop additions?


The Pub / Re: volume control for multiple speakers
« on: July 09, 2014, 05:30:40 AM »
I had the Niles SSVC-4 ( recommended to me by a big acoustic consulting firm in New York City last year, when I was working on installing PA in an old Catholic monastery chapel that is now a private high school. (We needed to control 4 pairs of speakers spaced equidistant down the chapel walls, to increase near-field sound to the audience and mitigate the crazy reverb from the vaults.) It's a $400 unit that does exactly what you want, I think...  we never bought it though, so I have no first-hand experience. In the end we went with a QSC amp ( which was more pricey but of course obviated the need for a separate amp.


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.

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