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Messages - zorch

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Ingredients / Re: New bulk grain supplier
« on: March 23, 2011, 01:53:13 PM »
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.

All Grain Brewing / Re: How long does a batch take/Grinding grain.
« on: March 17, 2011, 05:00:32 PM »
It always amazes me how these threads can meander across so many topics.   :D

For what it's worth, I'll run my chiller "wide open" as you all suggest next time.  Hoping to do a batch tomorrow so I'll see what time it takes.  Our tap water is 45 degrees F.

One word of caution - With my old (since replaced) chiller, if I ran it with my tap wide-open, the increased pressure would cause water to leak out where the tubing was clamped to the copper... right into the cooling wort.

Just something to keep in mind.

Other Fermentables / Re: Making first Mead Batch in 15 years
« on: February 10, 2011, 01:06:12 PM »
1) Some sources recommend adding the acids & tannin in the secondary or later. Good advice?

That's the approach I've taken.   For one, it seems a good idea to not drop the pH of the must too far before your yeast have had a chance to get established.  The pH is going to drop considerably during fermentation anyway, but that's after things are chugging along.

But mostly, since these are essentially 'seasoning' ingredients, I like to wait until the last minute.   I don't add any tannin or acids until I'm getting ready to bottle the batch.  I then will draw a small sample (like 100 ml), and mix in very small amounts of acid until it seems right to me, then scale it up.   It helps to have a scale with at least a  +- 0.1g accuracy for this.   

2) I have an air wand & oxygen tank that I use in aerating beer must before pitching yeast. Is that good practice here? Some sources say to do that with every addition of nutrients. Good Advice or just shake or stir each SNA?

My last batch, I aerated with O2 after every nutrient addition, and had good results.  The bigger issue is avoiding a huge foam-out when you drop in your nutrients - All that powdery stuff creates a ton of nucleation sites for the dissolved CO2 to come out of solution.    I used my Mix-Stir at low speed to de-gas before I added the nutrients, and it seemed to work good.    I suppose you could skip the O2 step and just run the Mix-Stir for a minute or two to drive off CO2 and aerate in one step ( it only takes about 20 seconds to de-gas otherwise).  I haven't tired that... I know using pure O2 worked well the last time, so that's probably what I will do the next time.

Ingredients / Re: Do Pur water filters add minerals to your water?
« on: January 28, 2011, 03:44:28 PM »
If I were you, I'd skip over the opinions/guesses you might get from a forum and just get your water analyzed.  I've always been happy with the results from Ward Labs.

Test 'W-6' should give you all the info you need for brewing.   If you are _really_ curious, you could send them two samples of pre- and post-filtered water.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Two questions
« on: January 20, 2011, 12:37:13 PM »
Thanks hokerer and Tom for the responses but here's another question. I just cleaned the airlock and replaced it but the problem seems to be rapidly rebuilding. I read something about a blow-off line? Would I just use the line from my auto siphon and what do I blow it off into?

You can attach a tube directly to your airlock to create a blow-off tube.    Just take off the cap and the middle floaty bit and shove your tubing right over the stem:

Stick the other end of the tube into a container of water to form an airlock.

Even though you don't have the 'bandwidth' of a big tube, this works pretty good.   It works even better if you knock out the little bits of plastic at the bottom of the stem (the part that you shove through the stopper that forms an 'X') so that there's more room for the glop to flow through.    Basically, as long as you aren't asking the yeast goop to push through a tiny hole, or change directions suddenly, you _usually_ don't need a huge tube...

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.

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