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Messages - zorch

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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.   

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Aerate Starter?
« on: April 05, 2012, 10:51:57 AM »
I use a stir plate for my starters, so is it necessary to aerate the starter?


Will it hurt anything if I do?


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Best time to and finnings for Kolsch
« on: March 27, 2012, 06:54:56 AM »
With gelatin, the colder the better.   And you want to give it a few days to work.
So I would add it during the last week of lagering.   

It might turn out to not be necessary.   If you can hold it at 34 for a month it will probably drop crystal clear all on its own (assuming good mash pH,  full conversion, no other issues).   

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Ferm Temp
« on: March 16, 2012, 03:35:45 PM »
First off, don't panic, you'll still have beer in the end.

At this point, the 'damage' is done.   The majority of esters, phenols, or other 'funky' flavors are produced by the yeast during that first 24-36 hours.    The time to worry about your fermentation temperature is before you pitch your yeast.   

I haven't used that yeast.  Who knows, you may love all the fermentation-derived character this beer will probably have.   But in general, the advise I have received from this board which has served me well is to:

- chill your wort down 3 degrees or so _below_ your desired fermentation temp before you pitch the yeast.
- realize that fermentation creates heat, so you need to account for your beer being 2-6 degrees (or so) warmer than your ambient temperatures.

Temperature control is really important for controlling the flavors in your beer.    The fact that you have a Fermometer already on your fermentation vessel is a point in your favor - This will help you figure out your best strategy for keeping temps under control.

Again, an English Bitter is supposed to have 'character', so I would bet this beer will turn out ok.   But next time, I'd advise you to start the fermentation off with the carboy in the basement.

Equipment and Software / Re: Fermwrap Heater
« on: March 15, 2012, 04:09:30 PM »
Either way works well.

+1 to this.   

In your case, since the probe is attached to the outside of the carboy, I'd probably go with heating the chamber... I'd be afraid (perhaps without cause) of getting bogus temperatures with the heating wrap close to/on top of the temp probe. 

Equipment and Software / Re: Ranco 2 stage settings
« on: March 15, 2012, 01:28:39 PM »
If you have the temp sensor taped to the side of your fermentation vessel (or are using a thermowell), and are therefore measuring the actual beer temperature,  you should be fine just using 68 degrees as your set point for both heating and cooling with the minimum 1 degree differential.

If you are forced for some reason to let the temp probe hang in space (and are therefore measuring the ambient temp in the fridge),   I would still use 68 as your set point.  But you'll want to set your _cooling_ differential to 3 or 4 degrees.    Keep the heat at 1 degree.

The only reason for the 3-4 degree differential when cooling is to avoid short-cycling your compressor.   If you are measuring the beer temp, this is really not an issue - Beer is still mostly water, and takes a long time to change temperature, so you don't have to worry about this short cycle issue.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Your favorite glass
« on: February 05, 2012, 11:09:52 AM »

Does anyone have a good source for a stange glass?  I have glasses appropriate for most all other styles, but nothing beats a good kolsch served in the proper glass.

I bought my stange glasses from here:,104,53217

They are somewhat delicate, but you can't beat the price.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st Kit, fermenting kind of cold
« on: January 24, 2012, 06:04:52 PM »
I was going to bottle after 20 or 21 days, but I may need to take a week or so business trip before then, so I guess I will bottle sooner.

My question is, is there benefit in checking SG at any time before my bottling date?  I'd prefer to keep the fermentor closed up until I need to bottle.

Never let some artificial date or deadline dictate when you bottle.  You run the risk of bottling before it's actually finished, which can lead to over-carbonation and bottle bombs.

The only way to tell whether it's done is by taking a succession of SG readings.   Don't trust what the kit instructions tell you it should finish at...  Chances are very good that you will not hit that number exactly.   If you take two reading 4 days apart, and it hasn't changed, then you know it's done.

Letting the beer sit on the yeast for a month or more is really not that big of a deal.  Especially at the cool temperatures you are working with.

If I were you, I'd take a reading before you leave on your trip, and take another after you get back.   And if they are the same, you are good to go.  But don't try and rush it...  Exploding bottles can seriously harm you.

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