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Messages - zorch

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast Pitching Temperature
« on: June 20, 2011, 10:50:38 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??

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).

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Gas & Liquid Connector internal 0-rings
« on: May 22, 2011, 04:49:00 PM »
I haven't found a bulk source for the flat internal gasket, but here's a link to buy them one at a time:

Equipment and Software / Re: Johnson Controls
« on: May 19, 2011, 02:45:38 PM »
But you can buy 2 single-stage controllers for the price of one 2-stage.  Then you can use them together or separately.

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.

Equipment and Software / Re: Johnson Controls
« on: May 18, 2011, 10:05:41 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.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter w/ smack pack
« on: May 18, 2011, 09:35:36 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.

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.


I used to  shake and pitch at high kruesen, 8-12hrs.
So 24hrs is too short for good build up on a stirplate?  What do you do? Pitch a whole 2L starter at onceafter 24 hrs or wait 4-7days to fully ferment out. 

In most cases, and always if the starter is > 1.25 liters or so, then I'll let it go for about 4 days, then stick it in the fridge for 2-3 days, decant the starter wort and pitch the yeast.   

I will sometimes pitch the whole starter if it's around 1L.  In that case, I usually try to shoot for 12-18 hours.   


 On stirplate for 24hrs, then into frig over night, pulled out and decanted a few hours before pitching.

This procedure doesn't seem quite right to me.
If I have a 24 hour-old starter, I pitch the whole thing.

At 24 hours, that starter is probably at or near its highest level of activity.   Shocking the yeast in this state by chilling the starter is not good for the health of the yeast, I would imagine.   

If you want to decant the starter beer and pitch the yeast slurrry, my understanding is that it is best to let the starter run for several days (4-7) to allow the yeast to build up nutrient reserves, and _then_ chill to force them to floc. 

I can't say why _exactly_ what you are doing is causing that result, but I would suggest you change your procedure and see if that helps.

Equipment and Software / Re: All electric brewing system
« on: May 03, 2011, 06:02:00 PM »
If you are looking to buy bits, High Gravity sells heating elements, controllers, electric kettles, etc.   I've never used any of their stuff, but it's probably worth a look.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: WLP029 at 58F?
« on: April 30, 2011, 08:26:54 PM »
I think you'll be just fine.   I routinely pitch WLP029 into my kolsh at 55, let it run at 58 for 3-4 days, then warm it to 62 to finish.

For what it's worth, my last Kolsh I fermented this way took 1st prize in the NHC first round this year.

Equipment and Software / Re: Aeration equipment
« on: April 20, 2011, 10:50:56 PM »
Just curious, what's the mechanism that causes aeration with the mix-stir?  I assume you're putting the mix-stir at the bottom of the vessel and it gets everything moving, maybe forming a vortex? 

When I aerate with my mix-stir I will run the blades near the surface for a bit first, which creates a lot of froth.  Then I'll drop them lower and create a strong vortex for a bit to 'mix in' the froth.   I'll go back and forth between 'frothing' and 'mixing' for a couple of minutes, or until I've got foamy wort right up to the neck of my carboy.

I don't know if that procedure is necessary, but it's worked well for me.

As an aside, I would highly recommend the stainless steel version over the cheaper plastic model.   The blades on the plastic version are attached to the shaft with a plastic peg -  Perhaps my drill is extra-powerful, but the third time I used my original plastic version that peg snapped.     I replaced that with the steel model, and it's still going strong after 40+ brews.

Equipment and Software / Re: Erlenmeyer flask alternatives
« on: March 30, 2011, 08:05:48 PM »
  I put some water in it last night and it works but the stir bar looses it place at higher speeds.  I'm just gonna order a flask. 

I have a 2L and a 5L flask, and both of these will throw the stir bar if I get the speed up high enough.    It's important to remember that a high spin rate is totally unnecessary.   Barely turning around is actually fine.  All you are trying to do is keep the liquid circulating.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Kegging-wicked aftertaste
« on: March 28, 2011, 11:19:55 PM »
I know it can be hard to describe a bad flavor, but can you try and give us a bit more to go on?   

Do any of these descriptions come close?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Questions About Keggle Construction
« on: March 28, 2011, 10:34:35 PM »
I didn't bother with a sight glass on my boil kettle - One less thing to get dirty.   I have my long handled plastic spoon marked in one gallon increments which I use a dip stick.

Like you, I went ahead and put a sight glass on my HLT.  I find this very convenient.

Ingredients / Re: New bulk grain supplier
« on: March 24, 2011, 12:05:50 AM »
I sent them an email expressing my displeasure, and received a prompt response.  Which I appreciate. 
Unfortunately, the gist of the reply was "Don't worry, your data is safe, we don't save your credit card info, etc etc".
Which really misses the point, which is from this point on that particular password is _burned_.

This illustrates an important point, which is that it is a very Bad Idea to re-use passwords from site-to-site.   But even so, I feel that it's reasonable to expect a web site to treat my passwords as privileged information, and not to share it with essentially the entire world for the rest of time by emailing it around.   Common sense, really.

So, bottom line - Check out as 'guest'.  It's not like you're really going to want to be on their spam list.

I hope you passed this along to them. As you mentioned, this is horrible practice and could easily be compromised.

Glad to hear you had a good experience though, i've been going back and forth on placing an order with them.

I just ordered a few sacks of base malt from this site.   Overall an excellent experience.

Beware, though - If you register an account with them, they will send you a 'Thanks for Registering' email that contains YOUR PASSWORD IN THE CLEAR.    In this day and age, I frankly find it mind-boggling that an e-commerce site would do that.

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