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Messages - zorch

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Aerate Starter?
« on: April 05, 2012, 05:51:57 PM »
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, 01:54:56 PM »
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, 10:35:45 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, 11:09:30 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, 08:28:39 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, 06:09:52 PM »

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 25, 2012, 01:04:52 AM »
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.

Equipment and Software / Re: Proper Drill for Milling Grain
« on: October 20, 2011, 09:53:21 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.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: Final Round Scoresheets?
« on: July 15, 2011, 02:38:43 PM »
I am in Kansas City and do not have ours yet.

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

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: factors contributing to diacytel
« on: July 08, 2011, 10:22:30 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.

Equipment and Software / Re: pH meter - what else is needed?
« on: July 08, 2011, 07:40:54 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.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash PH using 5.2 stabilizer
« on: July 08, 2011, 12:07:54 AM »
get your water analyzed (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. :)

All Grain Brewing / Re: Mash PH using 5.2 stabilizer
« on: July 07, 2011, 11:14:15 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 (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:    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.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Keg to keg transfer
« on: June 23, 2011, 06:10:07 PM »
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.

Beer Recipes / Re: Getting Cold Feet on A Fest Recipe...
« on: June 22, 2011, 10:53:38 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.

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