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Messages - jivetyrant

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: What's Brewing This Weekend - 2/4 Edition
« on: February 03, 2011, 06:00:01 AM »
Trying out my first Belgian Wit in preparation for the in-laws coming to visit the last week of the month.  My father in-law should really appreciate it!  I should also be bottling my Midas Touch clone, just bottled my DFH 60 Minute IPA clone last night.  It's been a productive week!

Wow, thanks for all the fast and helpful responses! 

     She has had some success with melatonin caplets but they tend to make her oversleep and have a hard time waking up.  Better than OTC sleep aids, but still not ideal for all circumstances.

I hadn't thought of yarrow, I will have to add it to my list!

Using an oatmeal stout recipe as a base sounds outstanding.  Enough body to counter the often strong flavors of my other additives without needing large hop or alcohol levels - perfect!  The ethanol extract route is something I had not even considered, it definitely seems promising.  I will have to look into it further.

I'm definitely not hostile to hops, I am pretty sure IIPA's run in my veins!  Absolutely love the stuff, but the thought of more ancient brewing practices, before hops were readily available, is very intriguing to me!

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!

I bottled this batch last night, it tasted like beer!  Flat and warm, but beer none the less!  I am reasonably sure that I hit my SG target, I ended up at 1.010 and it tasted quite strong so I'm pretty certain my OG was correct all along.

About how long does bottle conditioning normally take?  I'm impatient to enjoy the fruits of my labor!

Another question!  I was a few days late in adding the maple syrup, it was closer to 6 days instead of adding it 2-3 days into fermentation as reccomended by the recipe.  By the time I added it fermentation had slowed to a crawl.  It was about 3:30pm when the maple syrup went in and by 6:30 it was fermenting vigorously again!  When I checked it today things seem to have slowed down considerably.

My questions is thus; would being late in adding my second round of sugars adversely effect the final product?  Should I add a yeast energizer if fermentation slows substantially in a short period of time, or is only to be used in a stalled fermentation?

Side note - The beer smells great!  I had to take a whiff when I added the maple syrup, and again this afternoon.  I am really looking forward to the final product!

Wow, thanks for all the great (and timely!) responses, everyone!

The recipe I am using is the A-Z brown ale from the book Extreme Brewing by Sam Calagione.  Based on the responses here and some other research I did this evening I believe that I did not actually over-dilute the beer, as I originally thought, but that I simply did not properly mix it after adding enough water to bring it to the 5 gallon mark in my carboy.  Just incase I did accidentally add a bit too much water I bumped the amount of maple syrup up from 8-10 oz's (per the recipe) to 12, not a big difference but it was simply the entire container I purchased instead of measuring out all but 2 oz's. :p

It appears I was mixing up my terminology a bit regarding secondary fermentation.  I was using it to describe adding the second round of sugars a few days after fermenation has begun, not it's intended usage to describe transferring to a second carboy to continue fermentation in the absence of all the cruddy stuff on the bottom.  The recipe I am following does not call for a true secondary fermentation.

The recipe I am following is as follows:


1/2 lb crystal crushed specialty grain

all __ minutes indicate the remaining time before the end of the boil at which the ingredient is added.

6.6 lbs liquid malt extract (65 minutes)
1 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (60 mins)
1 lb Belgium light candi sugar (30 mins)
1/2 oz cluster hop pellets (30 mins)
1 tsp irish moss (20 mins)
8 oz brown sugar (15 mins)
8 oz molasses (15 mins)
1 oz whole leaf Goldings hops (10 mins)


1 vial or slap pack of american ale yeast (I used white labs liquid WLP001)
8-10 oz maple syrup (2-3 days into fermentation)
5 oz priming sugar

Target OG is 1.072
SP target when adding maple syrup is 1.040
Target final gravity is 1.010

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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