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Messages - zorch

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Equipment and Software / Re: Insulating a mash tun
« on: May 17, 2016, 08:09:22 AM »
I made a slip on coozie out of an old foam yoga mat. Its rare that my temp drops enough that I need to hit the fire, but if I do I just remove the insulator and flame on. Mine isn't rims, its direct fire.

I suppose I used the RIMS acronym incorrectly... My mash tun is also direct fired.  I just use a pump to recirculate during the mash, but it does have a PID controller that kicks the flame on automagically when the temp drops.

So ideally I'd like a material that I can leave on the whole time (and won't burst into flames...).

Equipment and Software / Insulating a mash tun
« on: May 17, 2016, 07:59:13 AM »
I have a gas fired RIMS setup, and lately I've been thinking about insulating my mash tun in order to save on fuel.
I know others out there do this, but I'm unclear as to what materials work best.
Anybody have any recommendations?

All Grain Brewing / Re: Low pH with Best Pils Malt?
« on: January 07, 2016, 08:27:28 AM »
Keep posting this sort of information since it will help refine the malt acidity parameters.

Martin, is there a simple procedure a brewer can perform on a small malt sample to determine its relative acidity in a mash?   Something along the lines of "take X grams of pulverized malt, add to Y grams of distilled H2O at 68 degrees F, wait Z minutes, record pH?" 

I'm sure there are plenty of people on this forum who would be happy to perform this sort of data gathering (and send you the results), so having a standard process seems like good idea.   And if there is also a simple way to translate that discovered pH value to an adjusted "L" value to plug into Brunwater to improve its performance, that would be good to know.

Equipment and Software / Re: King Cobra
« on: October 28, 2015, 07:36:23 AM »
It will take some careful thought and placement to get it into my BruGear kettle full of hot wort.

Do what I do, and just keep your chiller in the kettle the whole time.  There is no good reason that I can think of to wait until the last 10-15 minutes to drop it in there.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Shaken not stirred lager starter?
« on: October 03, 2015, 10:43:26 AM »
Mark, I've been following these "shaken not stirred" threads with great interest.   Watching home-brewing knowledge progress is like a model of society at large;  established dogma from "elders/experts" gets challenged by new data, followed by some pushback from the community, followed by acceptance as the "new dogma".  Repeat.   Otherwise I would be still be pitching bread yeast into lager wort at 65 degrees, chilling to 50 after pitching, then racking to a secondary after the bubbles in my airlock slow to less than one per minute... :)

What do you recommend for very high gravity worts of 1.090 and above?   Wouldn't the higher osmotic stress in these worts indicate a larger starter is required?

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Brown Stain in Corny Keg
« on: August 30, 2015, 10:14:04 AM »
Here is advice from a metallurgist named Palmer. Bar Keepers Friend is the source of oxalic acid. You might need someone with skinny arms to reach the bottom to scrub.

I keep a toilet bowl brush (never used on a toilet, of course) for keg scrubbing duties.

Thanks for the feedback.  I had it set up to have a fermwrap heat pad go on when it reaches 67 degrees, and the freezer to turn on when it hits 69 degrees with the probe inside a thermowell.

He is using a thermowell, so he's measuring beer temp, not ambient air temp.
A 1 degree differential should be fine.  i have an similar setup (chest freezer, thermowell, dual stage controller, fermwrap wrapped around a carboy) with a 1 degree differential, and I've gotten 10 years of brewing out of my freezer so far.

I think your last freezer was just a lemon.   Or maybe my freezer is some sort of prodigy?   But 10 months for a brand-new freezer seems really poor.

Maybe your freezer is in a bad spot.  Is it crammed into a tight space, or a really dusty location?  The compressor motor does need reasonable ventilation.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Question about high final gravity
« on: February 15, 2015, 10:28:15 AM »
The first week in the fermenter, I kept the temp at 70 and have dropped it down to 65 for the last two weeks. The krausen dropped after 2 days.

This is pretty much the exact opposite of what I would do.   Rather than start at 70 then drop to 65 after a week, you will probably have better results if you started at 65 then ramped up to 70 after a few days to finish fermentation. 

Starting cool then raising the temp after a few days helps control esters and encourages the yeast to clean up diacetyl precursors at the end of fermentation.
Starting relatively warm then dropping the temp 5 degrees is a good way to get your yeast to drop out early and leave a lot of diacetyl behind, especially with an Irish strain.

All Grain Brewing / Re: another water question
« on: April 16, 2013, 03:45:53 PM »
You can buy test kits from pet supply stores, intended for aquariums, that can give you a reasonably accurate picture of the water's alkalinity.   Kai has a good write up on his site about this:

Getting this water tested by Ward Labs is really quite reasonable (You want test W-6, $16.50), but I don't think there will be enough time between now and the first week in May to send in a sample and get results back.  Unless you happen to live near Kearney, Nebraska.

Otherwise, I would just use the water as-is and hope for the best.

All Grain Brewing / Re: beer changes flavor
« on: February 04, 2013, 01:36:53 PM »
You say that you have recently replaced the beer lines, but have you ever replaced the gas lines?   Even with a backflow-prevention valve on the regulator or manifold, it is still possible for a small amount of beer to 'burp' back into the gas line if you hook it up under pressure and it is quite full.

I had a series of kegs go sour on me, and solved the issue by replacing my gas lines.  It couldn't hurt...

All Grain Brewing / Re: step-mashing, and when is it inappropriate?
« on: September 13, 2012, 11:04:58 AM »
I’m thinking about modifying an ice cream maker to help with stirring the mash during heating.

I apologize for going off on a tangent, but rather than modifying an ice cream maker, I would suggest you try a low speed, high torque drill.    Here's the one I have:

Notice that you can mount the handle on three sides; I just picked up 2 12" dowels and added the correct size hanger bolts to make two additional handles.  This allows me (with the addition of a third dowel propping up the 'trigger' handle) to set the drill on top of my kettle.   I use this in conjunction with a paint stirrer and my immersion cooler to gently stir the cooling wort.    It has a locking trigger with adjustable speed dial (and can be set to _very slow_ speeds), so you can just set it up and walk away. 

It works amazingly well.  I get cooling speeds comparable to the 'Jamil-O-Chill' method (boiling to pitching temps in <15 minutes).    I think a similar setup would work great as a mash stirrer.    It also works perfectly driving my grain mill (it's a brewing multi-tasker).

(Use a GFI outlet, please.  Don't electrocute yourself).

All Grain Brewing / Re: Shift in thought regarding optimal mash pH
« on: September 04, 2012, 03:48:25 PM »
As a result many German breweries do some acidification in the mash and then more in the kettle.

I'm curious - How would a German brewer acidify a wort that's already in the kettle?   I was under the impression that spiking it directly with an acid would not be allowed according to the Reinheitsgebot.

All Grain Brewing / Measuring acid additions by weight instead of volume
« on: August 01, 2012, 12:32:32 PM »
I'd like to start experimenting with using 10% phosphoric acid to acidify my mash and sparge water for my low-SRM beers.    I'm using the Bru'nWater to calculate the amounts to use, but the amounts to use are expressed in milliliters (and partial teaspoons).

I don't really have a good way to accurately measure volumes at that scale.  But I do have a reasonably accurate (0.01 gram) scale.     So if knew the density (g/ml) of my acid, I could just weight it out in grams.

Wikipedia tells me that phosphoric acid has a density of 1.885 g/ml, and that an 85% solution has a density of 1.685 g/ml.     I guess I don't understand the formula one uses to arrive at that 85% value, so I am not sure how to then get to the density of a 10% solution.

I know I could just assume 1g/ml, and it would be kinda close.   I just like knowing stuff.    My best guess is somewhere around 1.05 g/ml.    Does anybody know the actual value (at room temp, sea level, etc).?

The Pub / Re: Note keeping app for iPad
« on: May 24, 2012, 07:30:16 AM »
I would just use Google Docs.

It may not be a 'custom' app, but you can easily create text documents that live in the 'cloud', your partners can view (and edit if you want), and will work right now on your iPad (or any other computer with a web browser).

All Grain Brewing / Re: Grain Mill
« on: April 24, 2012, 12:14:35 PM »

Does one need a certain amount of powered drill to run a Barley Crusher?  I have a drill, never used it for my mill, but not sure it's powerful enough. 

I use this drill with my Barley Crusher, and I dare say it's _perfect_.

The low speed/high torque works great.    The trigger will lock on, so you don't have to keep squeezing it.   

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