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Messages - zorch

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16
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.

17
Equipment and Software / Re: Proper Drill for Milling Grain
« on: October 20, 2011, 02:53:21 PM »
After reading these posts and doing some homework, I opted for the 1/2 heavy duty low speed drill from harbor freight in my earlier post.  Drill specs are:
variable speed control from 0 to 550 rpm
double gear reduction motor for increased torque
120 volts, 7.5 amps

Someone mentioned that this may be too much drill... nah... let her rip, lol.  Thanks for your help.  I can't wait to brew a double IPA and mill the grain with this bad boy.

That's the drill I have.  It's been working great.   

 My favorite feature, besides the locking trigger, is that it has handle mount points on three sides.    I created a couple of extra handles using a dowel and some hanger bolts to give it 'wings'.    This lets me:

- prop the drill up on top of a second empty bucket when milling, so I don't have to hold it.

- place it on top of my converted keg boil kettle to drive a short paint mixer during cooling.    Much easier than stirring with a spoon, and combined with my immersion chiller I'll go from 212 to 80 degrees in about 8 minutes.

18
Homebrew Competitions / Re: Final Round Scoresheets?
« on: July 15, 2011, 07:38:43 AM »
I am in Kansas City and do not have ours yet.

I am in San Diego and I haven't received mine yet...

19
General Homebrew Discussion / Re: factors contributing to diacytel
« on: July 08, 2011, 03:22:30 PM »

I think the fluctuating temperatures are the real culprit.  Many yeast strains will respond to a 'sudden' drop in temperature by dropping out.

I am assuming that the temperatures you gave were the ambient temps, and not the actual fermentation temperatures, but even so I would suggest you'll have much better results if you can find a way to keep the temperature in a more narrow range.

20
Equipment and Software / Re: pH meter - what else is needed?
« on: July 08, 2011, 12:40:54 PM »
They now recommend storing it in "storage solution".

MW101 Manual: "After completing measurements, switch the meter off and store the electrode with a few drops of storage solution (MA9015) in the protective cap."

That must have just changed.

I spoke to a Milwaukee rep about a month or two ago and his recommendation was "tap water".

I have this pH meter, and the package I bought came with a bottle of storage solution and a silicone protective cap that holds a bit of solution in contact with the probe.   So, certainly use that stuff if you have it.

Otherwise, tap water is better than distilled.


You'll probably want to get some additional calibration solution (4.01 and 7.01).  You can get it by the bottle, or you can get it in the little 20ml foil sachets.  I prefer the sachets because they are dead simple to use:  Just cut off the top and dunk the probe straight in.   

21
All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash PH using 5.2 stabilizer
« on: July 07, 2011, 05:07:54 PM »
get your water analyzed http://www.wardlab.com (test W-5 is the one you want). 

Test W-6 will give you all the info you need for brewing water and is $10 cheaper.

Oops, yes, the cheaper one is the one you want. :)

22
All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash PH using 5.2 stabilizer
« on: July 07, 2011, 04:14:15 PM »
Then pre-boil, I added my brewing salts.

I see you are adding additional salts to the kettle, and not doing anything to the mash (other than the 5.2).

Why are you bothering to add any salts at all?   What are you trying to do?   Have you tried brewing with your water as-is?   

The most common mistake I see when people (including myself) start worrying about water chemistry is the tendency to _over modify_ their water.  Do you know what the ionic profile of your water is to begin with?   Are you trying to match some published 'historic water profile' from some region?    To be frank, most of those are misleading and/or wrong, and trying to achieve them leads to salty water...

My advice would be to:

1) Understand the chemistry of the water you are using.   So, either track down the annual water report from your water district (if you are on tap), or get your water analyzed http://www.wardlab.com (test W-5 is the one you want).  Or use distilled/reverse osmosis water.

2)  Download and use Martin Brungard's excellent Bru'n Water spreadsheet: http://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/    This is really an excellent tool, and in my experience so far very accurate.  I do have a pH meter, and since I've starting using Bru'n Water my pH has consistently come in within 0.1 of my target pH.    I'm at the point now where I probably won't bother using my pH meter anymore.

In my opinion, if you get a handle on your starting water chemistry, and use Bru'n Water correctly, you will be good to go - No reason to have a pH meter.

23
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg to keg transfer
« on: June 23, 2011, 11:10:07 AM »
Just to add.

You can monitor the fill level by weight, or if the beer in the source keg is cold, condensation on the receiver keg (at least that works in humid MI). 


If there's not enough humidity to form much condensation, you can also get a pretty good sense of the beer level in the receiving keg using your fingertips, assuming the beer being transferred is cold.    Just leave your fingers in contact with the keg for several seconds - you can easily feel the difference between the fingers that lie under the liquid level (they will be cold, and _stay_ cold) and the fingers above (which will not feel all that cold for long, as your fingers will heat up the metal a bit).

My wife says it looks like I'm doing a Vulcan mind-meld with the keg when I do this.  I'm ok with that.

24
Beer Recipes / Re: Getting Cold Feet on A Fest Recipe...
« on: June 22, 2011, 03:53:38 PM »
The key is to get enough hops in there to balance the Munich.

This makes sense to me.  20 IBUs seems a little low for an O-fest with a large percentage of Munich. I'd probably bump your target IBUs to around 24 or so.

25
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast Pitching Temperature
« on: June 20, 2011, 03:50:38 PM »
To cope with wamer hose water in the summer; I chill my wort down to 80-90 degrees with hose water and then switch to a pump that sits in an ice bath.  It takes about 20 minutes total to get the wort down to 62 degrees.  Buying a cheap pump is more than worth it when looking at how much water you will save.  This is the pump I purchased; I believe it was $35 at the time I bought it:

Sorry for being dense.  The purpose of the pump is to move the icewater around to encourage quicker cooling??
Thanks.




I think what Tristan is describing (and what I also do) is using a small pump to push ice water _through_ the immersion chiller.   

So, the basic procedure I follow is:
- Attach a hose to the chiller (and run the output to my fruit trees) and push tap water through it until I get to about 90 degrees or so.
- Then drop a pump into a bucket full of ice water, attach the output of the pump to the chiller (and run the output from the chiller back to the bucket...) and circulate ice water through the chiller until I hit my desired pitching temp.

This works great for me.  Here in S. California, my tap water in mid-summer is often 75+ degrees, but by running ice water I have chilled lager worts down to 45 degrees in about 40 minutes.    Try and get as much heat out using tap water as you can before swapping to the ice water pump- 90 degrees seems to be a typical temp.

Oh, and I don't see anybody mentioning the value of STIRRING THE WORT while cooling.  Makes a huge difference, at least for me.   My cooling time is easily cut in _half_ if I stir the whole time.  Doesn't have to be a particularly vigorous stirring... Just keep the wort moving.     Even with warm-ish tap water, I will go from 212 to 100 degrees in about 10 minutes (50' of 1/2" copper immersion chiller).

26
Kegging and Bottling / Re: Gas & Liquid Connector internal 0-rings
« on: May 22, 2011, 09:49:00 AM »
I haven't found a bulk source for the flat internal gasket, but here's a link to buy them one at a time:

http://www.williamsbrewing.com/KEG-CONNECTOR-INNER-GASKET-P2296C110.aspx

27
Equipment and Software / Re: Johnson Controls
« on: May 19, 2011, 07:45:38 AM »
But you can buy 2 single-stage controllers for the price of one 2-stage.  Then you can use them together or separately.  http://www.pexsupply.com/Ranco-Temperature-Controllers-12744000

Where do you place the sensor?  What differential do you use?

I ferment in glass, and put the sensor in a thermowell that passes through the stopper.  So I'm measuring the beer temp directly.  This also makes it possible to use a 1 degree differential.

So, having just 1 controller means just 1 probe.   

This is not to say, though, that this is the only way to roll.    Plenty of brewers just tape their sensors to the side of the fermentor and cover it with some sort of insulation, and get good results that way.     If you take that approach then having two separate controllers would work just fine, I'm sure.


28
Equipment and Software / Re: Johnson Controls
« on: May 18, 2011, 03:05:41 PM »
I never understood the need for a 2-stage controller.  I need to cool or heat my fermenters, never both.  And you can buy 2 single-stage controllers for the same $$.


My beers improved substantially when I upgraded to a two-stage controller.   

During the first few days of fermentation, it's all about fighting against the heat generated by the fermentation to keep a steady temperature - No heating required, that's for sure.   But once the yeast slow down, that internal heating effect essentially ceases.   But the beer isn't _done_ yet - I still want to keep the beer in contact with 'awake' yeast for several more days to clean up.

The need to apply heat during that second stage (still in the primary fermentation vessel, mind you - I don't normally secondary) come about because my chest freezer is almost too efficient.   Even if it just runs for a minute or so, the temperature in there will drop 10+ degrees easily.   That's enough of a swing to cause the yeast to floc out before I want it to.   

My brewery is also an uninsulated Southern California garage, which experiences pretty severe temperature swings (it was 90 degrees 4 days ago, today it's 63).     If I had a basement that kept a steady ambient temperature in the low 60s, I doubt I would bother with any of this controller stuff.    But with my setup I can brew any beer at any time of the year, so I can't complain.    To me, it's totally worth the extra $50 or so.

29
Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter w/ smack pack
« on: May 18, 2011, 02:35:36 PM »
If you are making a starter (and you should), there is no reason to bother waiting for it to expand.   Go ahead and 'smack the pack', though - There's a load of yeast nutrients in the inner pouch that will benefit the starter.

30
When I've got some comps coming up, and I start thinking about bottling, I'll send out an email to all my friends to collect bottles.   A couple of weeks later I'll end up with several cases worth of dirty bottles with labels, which I just process myself.  That's enough bottles to last me the rest of the year, between competitions and gifts.

When I give beer away I just tell them to recycle the bottles.   It seems easier to me to clean a bunch of bottles in one fell swoop (and thus lay in a supply of bottles I know are clean and ready to go), rather than have dirty bottles trickle in on an irregular basis.

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