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Topics - jivetyrant

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Ingredients / Boosting body of over-attenuated beer
« on: March 27, 2011, 11:34:07 AM »
I have a small (2.5g) batch of an oddball beer ready for bottling.  In truth it can't really be called beer, there is no malt of any form in it.  I'll simply called it a "fermented beverage" for lack of a better term.  The only fermentable used was turbinado sugar, the flavor is contributed strictly by some herbs used in place of hops.  OG was 1.042.  I checked the FG about 6 days ago and got 1.008.  It was pretty dry but had some good, subtle flavors.  It was actually pretty refreshing, even at room temp and uncarbonated!

I was about to bottle it yesterday and took another gravity reading just to be certain.  It had dropped to 1.000-1.001.  I checked, checked and checked again.  Sure enough, it looks as though all of the sugars had fermented out!  Instead of tasting pleasantly refreshing it now tastes harsh and overly dry.  I know of people who have used malto dextrin to increase body, but is that something I can do just prior to bottling?  There is a LHBS with some in stock I could zip over and pick up before I bottle today.


The title pretty much says it all.  Is there a way to accurately calculate the gravity contribution of sugars (ie: 1 lb of turbinado sugar) to a beer already in fermentation?  Thanks!

Beer Recipes / My first original recipe, please give me some feedback!
« on: March 16, 2011, 08:08:14 PM »
The time has come.  I have 9 batches under my belt and have decided that it's high time I put together my first original recipe!  I am constructing this with the intent of using ingredients I already have on-hand.  I would be ordering an additional 3lb bag of amber DME and all the specialty grains.  (I also have a 3lb bag of dark DME and wheat DME on-hand, but they don't seem like they'd fit this recipe very well.)  Please take a look, critique, suggest and help my understand any mistakes I've made.  :)

Protoplast Dark Belgian Strong

Recipe constructed with the aid of various homebrew books and Beersmith.

Target OG 1.098
Target FG 1.025
estimated 28 IBU

6 gallon boil, 5 gallon batch


1lb Cara-Pils, crushed
1lb Honey Malt, crushed (If I can get some)
1lb Cara-40, crushed

Steeped in grain bags until water reaches 170 degrees.


9 lbs Amber DME, boil 5 minutes then start timing the 60 minute boil.
1 oz Cluster hop pellets (60 min)
1 lb light candi sugar (30 min) stir until dissolved
1/2 oz Saaz pellets (30 min)
1 lb turbinado sugar (20 min) stir until dissolved
1/2 oz Styrian Goldings pellets (10 min)
1/2 tsp Wyeast yeast nutrient, dissolved in warm water (10 min)
1 tsp irish moss, reconstituted in warm water (10 min)
1 oz Challenger pellets (5 min)

Cool using a wort chiller, transfer and top off to 5 gallons if necessary.  Oxygenate with pure O2 for 1 minute using a 2 micron stainless aeration stone.  (Should I be using a .5 micron stone, and is a full minute overkill?)

Pitch 2 packs of Safbrew T-58, rehydrated.

Once primary fermentation is complete, transfer to secondary for an additional 2 weeks.

Bottle with 5oz priming sugar dissolved in 1 cup boiling water.  Ready to drink in 2-4 weeks, would probably improve with aging.

So there it is.  I have several other hop varieties available and would not be averse to picking up some others if my inventory is insufficient.  Alternate hops include First Gold, additional cluster, Perle, Columbus, Warrior, Amarillo, Galena.

Poke holes in it, mock my noobness and above all, help me understand any mistakes that I have made!

Yeast and Fermentation / Fermentis S-33 troubles
« on: March 12, 2011, 01:10:28 PM »
So I did an american wheat on the spur of the moment 2 or so weeks ago.  It clocked in at a pretty tame1.062-1.067 OG, fermentables were 6 lbs of half wheat, half light barley DME and 1 lb of wildflower honey.  I pitched 1 rehydrated 11.5g pack of S-33.

There was a glitch with my temp control gear and the fermentation temp was probably high 70's for the first day.  Apparently this caused major activity, the entire 1.5gal head space in my carboy was filled and it overflowed, spitting proto-beer all over the place.  I cleaned this sticky, dried mess up and everything seemed to proceed on-schedule after that.  When I checked the FG I came up with a very surprising 1.022, yikes!  It doesn't taste bad at all, mostly like strong, somewhat sweet chamomile tea.

Could the attenuation problems I had be attributed to the mix up with initial fermentation temps or is s-33 not as attenuative as I was expecting?

Yeast and Fermentation / Saison yeast substitution tips
« on: March 10, 2011, 03:01:10 AM »
I ordered some Wyeast 3711 French Saisonfrom my LHBS, but it seems that it will be a special order as their distributor does not have any in stock.  Bummer.  I have a good amount of dry yeast at home and even more available at my LBHS.  Are there any reasonable substitutes for this specialized yeast strain?  Halp!

     So my sister is planning her wedding for mid-July this year and I want to make a truly special beer to commemorate this (hopefully) once in a lifetime event.  In the first homebrewing book I purchased there is a recipe for a real beast of a beer, beyond even a barleywine in it's final alcohol content.  This will be a pretty expensive brew, not to mention the large time commitment that will go into it.  I have had some complaints about the recipes in this book, mostly that they were obviously written by different people and little effort was put into keeping them inside a standard format.  Before I order my ingredients, I'd like to run the recipe by folks on the forums for a quick proofread and possible revision.  Here goes!

OG 1.100, prior to the (many) fermentation stage sugar additions.
FG with this many sugar additions your guess is a good as mine.
target ABV of 14-16%


4 Gallons cool water

1/2 lb crushed cara-munich barley
1/2 lb crushed special B barley
2 tsp gypsum

With grains in a mesh bag, add all ingredients and heat, stirring every 5 minutes.  Remove grain when water reaches 170 degrees, drain excess water without squeezing the bag.

Boil (65 minutes)

13.2 lbs light LME or 11 lbs light DME (65 minutes)
2 oz tomahawk pellets (60 minutes) These do not appear to be available from the normal web sources or homebrew shops I use, will probably have to substitute something else. I will research that tomorrow.
2oz Chinook pellets (20 minutes)
1/2 lb pure cane sugar (20 minutes)
2 tsp irish moss (20 minutes)
stir for 1 minute
1/2 lb Demerara sugar (10 minutes)
stir for 1 minute
add wort chiller to sanitize

remove from heat and stir for 2 minutes, creating a whirlpool

cool to 70-75 degrees and transfer to carboy, topping off volume to 5 gallons.

add 5 tsp yeast nutrient
pitch Wyeast 1214 Abbey Ale or White Labs WLP570 Belgian Strong/Golden Ale.  MrMalty says 2 vials or slap packs assuming new-ish yeast in a 1.5L starter, BUT there will be substantial sugar additions after the start of fermentation not accounted for, read on and give your yeast recommendation.  No recommendation on fermentation temperature.

Hook up to Aquarium pump for 1 hour. (I have a pure O2 system I would be using, 2 micron aeration stone.  I normally run it for 1 minute per Wyeast's recommendation)

After the most vigorous fermentation subsides, 8 to 10 days, begin alternating additions of 1oz pure can sugar and 1oz demerara sugar every day for 5 days straight.

Rack to secondary a few days later when primary fermentation slows down.  Before racking, add 1oz Cascade hop pellets to the clean and sanitized carboy.

Pitch Distillers yeast, probably Wyeast 4347 Eau de Vie, the recipe recommends a yeast starter but does not say how large or with how many vials/slap packs.  Also add 1oz pure cane sugar.  Alternate with 1oz demarara sugar for a further 5 days straight.  Secondary fermentation should last 1 to 3 weeks total. (yikes, big variable there)

2 weeks after all fermentation activity has subsided the beer will be ready to package.

Before bottling, dissolve Champagne yeast, probably  Wyeast 4021 Pasteur Champagne in 1 cup of the beer.  Add this mixture along with 5oz priming sugar dissolved in 1 cup boiled water, cooled.  Stir well and bottle.

Minimum aging recommendation of 3 weeks, though I would imagine that this would keep very, very well.

So the real question is, if I were to start this next weekend would it be ready by mid-July?  Is there a reliable way of determining the ABV of a beer like this in a home environment?  The total bill looks to be around $110 in ingredients, not including the Demerara sugar which I'll have to order separately, I may use Turbinado instead as it is more readily available locally.  Please post any tweaks or recommendations you may have, I want this to be a really memorable one!

Sorry for the monster post, hopefully I don't get too many TLDR responses. ;p

I brewed my first truly big beer last week, an Imperial Stout with an OG of 1.114.  The brewing session was a true debacle (pics to come) and I can't be sure the final product will be drinkable, but I digress.  My fermentation seems to have stopped at 1.042, giving me an attenuation of roughly 63% if I calculated things correctly.

Should I move on to secondary or should I try re-pitching in hopes if dropping my gravity a bit more?  I have several dry yeasts at my disposal if so.  I am planning on a month in secondary and since I've never brewed a big beer like this I don't know how much the gravity will drop (if at all) during that time.  Any recommendations?

Kegging and Bottling / Aging time and temp recommendations needed!
« on: February 19, 2011, 08:02:24 PM »
So I'm brewing several big beers in the next week or so, all of which will benefit (I'm sure) from extended aging.  All are ales; a Midas Touch clone (already bottled and carbonating for about a week and a half, 9% ABV) an Imperial Stout (brewing it tonight, 11ish% ABV) and a mondo barley wine-esque ale. (aiming to brew it this week, 14-16% ABV)

What are the best aging temps and times for big beers like this?  Should they, at least the ones I've put in champagne bottles and corked, be stored like wines? (on they're side with a slightly downward angle to prevent cork drying)  How about the capped bottles?  Should it be done at room, cellar or fridge temps?  Is the aging time simply "the longer the better," or are there more specific guidelines to follow?

Yeast and Fermentation / My first yeast starter - questions!
« on: February 13, 2011, 02:04:35 PM »
So I'm planning on doing an Imperial Stout today, target ABV of 10.7% with an OG of 1.104, FG 1.024.  It was recommended that I use some more advanced brewing techniques than I have tried previously, including preparing a yeast starter.  The gentleman at my local homebrew supply store told me that the best way to prepare a starter is to combine about 4 cups of water with 1 cup of DME, boil for 10-15 minutes and cool to pitching temp. (75ish)  Add 1/8 tsp of yeast nutrient and pitch my yeast, in this case 1 vial of WLP001, white labs california ale then shake thoroughly to aerate.  The gear he recommended was a 2000ml flask and a foam stopper, both of which I purchased.  His last piece of advice was to give it a quick shake several times a day to keep the yeast in suspension as it would promote more rapid metabolism of the sugars in the starter.  He told me to prep it a day or two ahead of time and to pour off and clear liquid that formed on top of the starter as I would not want it in my carboy.

Well, I followed his advice to the letter but my starter isn't doing a hell of a lot!  it's got a thin layer of bubbles but isn't as vigorous as I would have expected.  I started it yesterday at about 11am, I'm planning on brewing tonight at about 5pm, perhaps earlier if possible.  Is my timeline realistic?  Was my starter prepared correctly?  Am I just expecting more activity from my starter than is normal?  Halp!

Hello all!

     This will be my second time posting to the forum, thanks again to the assistance I got regarding my wonky OG problems, the brew came out wonderfully!  I currently have 2 completed batches under my belt and 2 more currently in-process and have decided that it's high time I start working on my first original recipe, this one will have a distinct purpose! 

     My wife has struggled with trouble sleeping for years and found that drinking hoppier beers sometimes helped her nod off.  I did a little research on hops and found that they are indeed a commonly used sleep aid, though they can tend to have unwanted side effects when used in frequently.  The side effects are said to range from a somewhat drugged, drowsy feeling when awaking, (especially prevalent in users of hop stuffed pillows) an increase in estrogen levels, (hops contain a large concentration of plant-based estrogen, look up information on a condition known as "brewer's droop" if you're interested) and some people, my wife included, seem to get mild to moderate headaches after drinking several very hoppy beers.  Being that she isn't thrilled with heavily hopped beers anyway I opted to search for other options.

     At the recommendation of a local homebrew shop owner I tracked down a fascinating book titled Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner to get me started.  The author takes a somewhat hostile stance towards hops in brewing, though not one that I agree with.  As a result of this belief he discusses the use of dozens of alternative, traditional bittering agents, along with many herbs and spices added to beer for medicinal purposes.  My research has led me to many possible additives to my proposed beer, including but not limited to the following:

Valerian Root - A known and widely used sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety suppressant)

Chamomile - A mild sleep aid with a pleasant taste, often used in tea

Damiana - A sleep aid, said to assist in reaching REM cycle sleep more easily.  This also results in more frequent, vivid dreams.

Oat Grass - I have had trouble finding information about this, though it was recommended by the owner of my local bulk herb      and spice store for having calming properties.  It just looks like hay, I am concerned that it may contribute grassy flavors to the mix.  More research is needed.

Lavender - Another common mild sleep aid and relaxant.  It also tastes and smells great!

St John's Wort - A mild anti-depressant and sleep aid, along with a bevy of other purported uses.

     I am considering bittering the beer with wormwood instead of hops, if necessary.  This would be produced in small batches and would likely be relatively low ABV (4-6%) for quick turnaround time and drinkability.  I will probably start with 1 to 2 gallon batches so I can make multiple batches in a row and tweak the recipe as-needed.

     My questions are many, but here's where I'll start.  Does anyone have experience with a project like this?  Has anyone used any of the aforementioned herbs?  Does anyone have other recommendations I may not have come across?  I also need some advice on alternative fermentation vessels, I only have 2 carboys currently and would hate to tie them up on very small batches of beer.

     I'm sure that I will come up with more questions as time goes by, but I figure this is a good start.  Any advice the community has would be greatly appreciated!

     Off topic, the book also got me very interested in brewing Mead.  I find that I have a truly primal connection to the stuff and am fascinated with it's ancient origins.  Does anyone know of any "must have" resources for mead brewing?

Thanks again!

First and foremost, hello everyone!  First time reader, poster and brewer here!

I am working on my first batch and will be switching to secondary fermentation today or tomorrow, but have a question about the process.  When transferring to my carboy for primary fermentation I took my OG reading and found that I had to dilute the mixture down to the target OG of 1.072.  (it was somewhere around 1.093)  I over-diluted the mixture to an OG of 1.054.  The recipe I am following is somewhat un-specific in what to do if that happens, saying "add a few extra ounces (or grams) of maple syrup at the prescribed point a little later in fermentation."

My question is this; is there any method to determine roughly how much more I should add to reach the intended gravity?  The recipe calls for 8-10 oz of maple syrup.  Any suggestions?

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