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Messages - zorch

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Washing yeast versus sanitizing equipment
« on: November 17, 2010, 07:05:53 PM »

Other than warmer temps, how is this different from sanitizing my equipment with StarSan? 
Am I leaving viable wild yeasts behind in my fermenters and kegs if I just use StarSan?

One huge difference is perhaps obvious, but when I am sanitizing my equipment it's already _clean_ - I've rinsed out all the chunks, soaked it in PBW, scrubbed it with soap and water, etc. 

To be fair, the ultimate answer to your second question is _yes_ - There are always going to be some small number of mold spores or wild yeast cells left over even after sanitizing, no matter what you are using.    Sanitizing != sterilizing.     So, you are correct that StarSan isn't going to totally eliminate all wild yeasts (and may in fact not do that great a job on these critters), but as long as you do a thorough job in cleaning, and of course pitch enough yeast, it shouldn't be an issue...  At least up to the point where it's no longer possible to clean your gear properly (scratched buckets, funky hoses, etc).

It may explain a subtle "house flavor" in the last few batches that some identify as mildly "phenolic."
If you are trying to get at the source of these mildly phenolic flavors, I would start first by asking:
- Am I able to control my fermentation temperatures adequately?
- Is my fermentation temperature in the correct range for the strain of yeast I'm using?
- Did I pitch enough yeast?

Not to say that you don't have a colony of bad bugs in your equipment.   But I would guess that it's more likely an issue with your fermentation.

I've got a batch of Denny's BVIP going, and it's just about ready for the next step:  Adding vanilla beans.    Normally, and in accordance with the recipe, I'd toss them into a secondary carboy, ack the beer on top, and let it sit for a week.

I'm wondering, though, whether I really need to bother with this racking step?     It seems that if I just toss the beans into the primary, I'd save some work and more importantly decrease the oxidation.

Then again, perhaps that primary full of goop is going to somehow interfere with the extraction of the vanilla flavors?

It seems that recent consensus on secondaries is that they are an unnecessary step, at least when it comes to clearing/finishing a 'normal' ale?   But is using a secondary still the best practice when adding additional flavors, or dry hopping?

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: watery flavor to finished beer
« on: November 03, 2010, 02:00:18 PM »
Take a pH reading of the finished beer at room temperature.  It should be in the 4.1 to 4.5 range.  Too high and it can taste dull.  Too low and it can taste thin, and start tasting sour.

I'm curious - When taking the pH of a finished beer at room temperature, do you also wait for the beer to go flat?   Or will the dissolved CO2 not make any difference?

Yeast and Fermentation / Smack pack already swelled on arrival
« on: October 13, 2010, 01:24:42 PM »
I have never bought liquid yeast via mail order before, but I wanted to try a Wyeast variety in my next batch (my LHBS carries White Labs exclusively).    I just received the order yesterday, and noticed immediately that the pack was already quite swollen.
The yeast was packaged in a separate padded envelope along with a cold pack, but it was no longer cold.    I am not positive how long this shipment had been in transit - No longer than 7 days, since that's when I placed the order in the first place.

Should I be concerned?   I am going to make a starter (I always do), but I would rather not waste my time if it's a lost cause...

Ingredients / Re: Granola?
« on: October 06, 2010, 11:06:00 AM »
That’s a good idea.  As well as the cereal you could add honey and brown sugar to give the complexity of flavors granola has.  That is what I was trying to accomplish anyway.

Some things to consider:
- You'll probably get the most flavor out of the stuff by toasting it on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so (or until it starts to smell like cookies in the kitchen).    I've done this when using just straight oats, and it seemed to make a difference.

- These cereals tend to be pretty high in protein...   If it was me, I might throw in a 25 minute rest at 130-135 degrees.  Then again, if you're only using a pound or so it might not be a big deal.

Ingredients / Re: Granola?
« on: October 05, 2010, 01:08:19 PM »
Rather than going with granola, it might be interesting to use one of those multi-grain hot cereal blends.  Such as:

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile for Oatmeal Stout
« on: September 22, 2010, 03:42:31 PM »
I do recommend adding a combination of table salt and calcium chloride to the sparge water to create an appropriate flavor profile for the water.  I would add about 0.5 gram of CaCl per gallon of total wort runoff.  Add all of the CaCl to the sparge water volume since adding that calcium to the mash water would reduce the RA and be counterproductive to the work done with the chalk.  I would add about 0.1 gram of table salt per gallon of wort runoff too in order to further round the flavor.  The salt could be added to either the mash or sparge water since it doesn't affect the RA.

When adding salts for flavor/"seasoning" purposes (as opposed to mash pH purposes), is there a reason not to simply toss them directly into the boil kettle, instead of adding them to the sparge water?

General Homebrew Discussion / Cleaning 'large' boil kettles
« on: August 18, 2010, 10:34:10 AM »
I'm curious to know how you guys that brew larger (10+ gal) batches clean your kettles.    Do you drag it over to your utility sink and scrub it out?    Use some nifty CIP apparatus to recirculate PBW through it?   Or...?

I'm looking at upgrading my brewery to 10 gallon batches, and will probably go with a converted 15 gallon keg as my kettle.    I could just carry it over to my sink and clean it there, but if I can clean it easily without having to move it, I wouldn't need to worry about damaging the thermometer, dropping it on my foot, etc.

Yeast and Fermentation / Big starters for big batches
« on: August 10, 2010, 12:02:12 PM »
I'm curious how you guys who brew 10+ gallon batches deal with creating enough yeast.    I'm toying with the idea of upgrading my capacity to handle 10 gallon batches, but I am a little unsure about how I should handle my starters.   For example, when I'm building up yeast for a typical 5 gallon lager batch, I've got a 4 liter starter on a stir plate (in a 5 liter flask), and I feel like that's _barely_ enough yeast.

Do you guys run two stir plates at the same time?    Or perhaps make a smaller batch and re-pitch a bunch of slurry?  Or...?

Given the rest of my setup, I will probably ferment in 2 6.5 gallon carboys (since that's what I have, and I can get them both in my chest freezer).   So that tends to suggest that I'd be better off with a second stir plate... Splitting a batch of yeast into two equal pitches seems tricky and error-prone.    But I'd love to hear how others approach this.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Cold Break in Keg
« on: August 04, 2010, 01:37:33 PM »
I am in the 'skip the secondary' camp, but I have the ability to chill my primary down to <40 degrees before I rack to my kegs.   Reading between the lines of your post, it sounds like you racked at fermentation temp.   Each yeast strain is different, of course, but it seems like you still had plenty of yeast in suspension.   After racking and chilling, this all settled out to the bottom of your keg.  Hence all the yeasty pints.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Sterilizing kegs
« on: June 28, 2010, 03:44:38 PM »

It's been several kegs, which also contributes to my overall confusion: How does an infection go from one keg to another?

You may need to replace your _gas_ lines.    I had a similar situation about a year ago... 3 kegs in a row went sour.    Eventually I tracked it down to my (opaque) CO2 line.  Apparently I had neglected to vent a pressurized keg before hooking up the gas, and it shot a bit of beer into the tubing.     I replaced the gas line (with clear tubing) and haven't had a problem since.

I'd like to be able to ship bottles to the NHC (or any competition for that matter) without having to lie about the contents, or feel like I'm doing something illegal.

General Homebrew Discussion / How long to age an Imperial IPA?
« on: February 23, 2010, 02:14:23 PM »
I'm planning on brewing an Imperial IPA soon (probably following the latest Pliny recipe from this summer's Zymurgy).   But I am not sure when to expect this beer to be at its peak?

My usual practice for big-ish (1.070+) beers is to age them at least a couple of months.  But hop aroma is a critical component of this style, and I know that's going to keep diminishing as time passes.

Is there a 'sweet spot' for this style, in terms of mellowing vs. aroma?   Or should I just drink it as fresh as possible and assume that the massive hop bill is going to stomp all over any 'green' flavors I'd normally be concerned about aging out?

Equipment and Software / Re: Condensation in Chest Freezer
« on: November 18, 2009, 05:54:03 PM »

Three of the 500s keep a 15 cu ft freezer bone dry.

edit: I didn't even notice the price. If you're willing to wait I think they regularly get marked down to $12-15.

+1 on the Eva-Dry.  I have 1 in my 7.5 cu ft freezer, and it works quite well.
Note that essentially all this is is a plastic box filled with silica gel beads.  But it has a built-in heating element - Just plug the whole thing into a wall socket overnight and it's good to go again.

You can also use Damp-rid, or some other similar product.  I do like that the Eva-Dry is self contained, so nothing to spill.

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