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Author Topic: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.  (Read 3977 times)

Offline Megary

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #45 on: May 25, 2019, 02:06:42 pm »
I should add that I also did a much better job of controlling the mash temp this time around. I mashed in around 149, added just a smidge of heat from time to time and kept it hovering around 150-151 for the most part.  I'm sure that helped as well.
Another point: that grain gave me a fit on mash in.  Lots of little dough balls.  Never thought I'd be using a potato masher to make beer!!  Worked perfectly to bust those suckers up.

Offline BrewBama

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Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #46 on: May 25, 2019, 03:21:22 pm »
Good to hear you’re happier with the outcome. But yeah, dough balls suck.


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Offline Robert

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #47 on: May 25, 2019, 03:37:12 pm »


But yeah, dough balls suck.


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Adding the malt to the water slowly while stirring constantly can help, and isn't too difficult on small batches.  Kind of like making polenta -- er, I mean grits.  Sorry,  BrewBama.
Rob Stein
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Offline Megary

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #48 on: May 27, 2019, 10:33:24 am »
I know there are many methods for sanitizing bottles, but for right now, these are the two methods that I think would work best for me.  Any preference, or is it an either/or?  If you prefer one method to the other, am I missing any steps?

For about 2.5 gal of beer and assuming about 24 already cleaned bottles,

1. Cover bottle openings with a small piece of foil. Place bottles on their sides on cookie sheets in the oven.  Heat oven to 350.  "Bake" for an hour.  Turn off oven, open door and allow bottles to cool.
Total time about 2 hours, start to finish.

- Or -

2. Place bottles in an otherwise empty dishwasher.  Run DW without detergent on a normal cycle with SANITIZE option.  Open door, allow bottles to cool. 
Total time about 3 to 3-1/2 hours for my DW.

Both options seem easy enough and I'm assuming I can do either method the night before to save the "cooling" time.  I may pick up one of those Vinator bottle rinsers and a tree at some point, but I'm trying to keep my footprint to a minimum.

Offline denny

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #49 on: May 27, 2019, 10:39:43 am »
IMO, neither of those is optimal.  Thermal shock from either will weaken the bottles. They  both use a lot of energy, if that makes a difference to you.  I'd get a 5 gal. bucket and mix up batch of sanitizer in it (I prefer Iodophor to StarSan, but both are great) and dunk your bottles in it.
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Offline Robert

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #50 on: May 27, 2019, 11:17:16 am »
^^^^
+1

(Then just cover the tops with foil if you're not filling right away.)
Rob Stein
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Offline Megary

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #51 on: May 27, 2019, 12:57:56 pm »
Sounds good.  I guess I'll mix my StarSan in the bottling bucket, dunk the bottles and box them, then use the spout to sanitize the hose and bottle filler.

Here's a dumb question:  if I use the hose to transfer the beer from the carboy to bottle bucket, should I resanitize the hose to get the beer from bucket to bottle?  Does anybody bottle right off the spout of the bucket?  My hose is kinda long so I could probably cut some off and have one hose for carboy and the other for filling.

Sorry to make 4 pages of questions, but hopefully other rooks might find this useful.

Offline Megary

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #52 on: June 14, 2019, 07:07:53 pm »
Here is English Pale Ale #1 (the bad crush, 1.030 OG. 50% efficiency, “near beer”) after 2 weeks in primary and 2 weeks in a bottle.


That is the extent of carbonation I got out of it. Granted I poured slowly so as not to upset the bit of yeasties on the bottom of the bottle, but even a vigorous pour would not have produced a more attractive picture. The taste was fine, surprisingly. Hazy, but no obvious off flavors, just a relatively flat, thin beer. Certainly not going to win any awards, but I’ve tasted a lot worse. “Drinkable” is about all I can say.

Reading all I could on carbonating an EPA, it appears the style has typically less volumes of CO2 then just about any other. For my 2.5 gal batch, I calculated about .22cups corn sugar in a cup of pre-boiled water.

Did I not prime enough, or is the poor crush/yield more to blame?  My gut tells me the answer is some of both.

I haven’t yet tried my EPA #2 (the good crush, 1.050 OG, 76% efficiency). It also went 2 weeks in primary, but has only spent a little less than a week in bottles. I’m worried that I under-primed that batch as well.


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Offline Robert

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #53 on: June 14, 2019, 07:32:07 pm »
Sorry, been so long since I bottle conditioned, I won't presume to diagnose the immediate issue.   But as a point of information, while English ales on cask have relatively low levels of carbonation by nature, bottle conditioned beers are quite "sparkling," with what you'd consider a quite normal, bottled-beer level of carbonation.  Long ago, I tried undercarbonating bottle conditioned beers in an effort to mimic draught. I probably used sugar amounts recommended in the books for English ales.  It was not satisfying at all.  So in future, don't intentionally aim for a lowish carbonation and I think you'll be happier.  How to dose your sugar to achieve this I'll leave to others. Just one thought -- depending on the temperature the bottles were held at, they might just need more time.
Rob Stein
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Offline Megary

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #54 on: June 16, 2019, 08:38:31 am »
Just one thought -- depending on the temperature the bottles were held at, they might just need more time.

Time and temperature. I appreciate that tip, because the more I read about bottle conditioning, the more I'm convinced I had the sugar right and had the yeast in a happy place.  Not so sure about the time and temperature, however.
I fermented this batch around 66-68 and it has been in bottles at about 66 for 2 weeks.  One suggestion I have seen is to slightly raise the temperature of slow-carbonating bottles.  I think I'll move them to about 71-72 for another week and see what happens.

Offline denny

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #55 on: June 16, 2019, 08:53:17 am »
Just one thought -- depending on the temperature the bottles were held at, they might just need more time.

Time and temperature. I appreciate that tip, because the more I read about bottle conditioning, the more I'm convinced I had the sugar right and had the yeast in a happy place.  Not so sure about the time and temperature, however.
I fermented this batch around 66-68 and it has been in bottles at about 66 for 2 weeks.  One suggestion I have seen is to slightly raise the temperature of slow-carbonating bottles.  I think I'll move them to about 71-72 for another week and see what happens.

Good idea.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline screhfeldt

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #56 on: June 25, 2019, 08:23:01 pm »
I like the idea of a nice pale ale for your brew, but you might consider a yeast that is neutral and very reliable - WLP-001 or (dry) Safale US-05. This is less sensitive to process variations like temperature, and I think it is consistent even if you overpitch a bit. I've not used the dry version, but have heard it works great. You might bump up the crystal malt since this is a high attenuator. It will ferment quickly, carbonate bottles reliably and give you a clear, beautiful beer. I'd use that for a stout as well.

For sanitation, I agree with the posts about Iodophor. I keep a bucket full and keep spoons and other tools soaking until I need them. And I do not rinse before using. I actually use an equivalent product used in dairy operations, with great success. Of course focus especially on equipment that touches the wort as and after it cools from boiling (chillers, fermenters, etc). Before sanitation, you must physically clean surfaces and then, preferably, use chemicals like PBW to finish the job. Keep in mind that a smaller batch (2.5 gal vs 5 gal, for example) requires MORE vigilance since you have greater surface area per volume.

If your local vendor either moves grain quickly or keeps it in a low humidity environment with minimal air exposure, the grain should be fine. Hops are harvested once per year, so if they are packaged in air-tight containers and kept cool they are usually fine. You see lots of folks using northern hemisphere hops from fall to spring and New Zealand hops from spring to fall for max freshness. Yeast has expiration dates, which seem (to me) to be conservative. If kept refrigerated, go with the freshest liquid yeast available. Dry yeast is more forgiving, I believe, but still has a freshness date. But it all depends on how the vendor handles it. I usually buy hops online in 1lb packages, but get the rest of my ingredients locally (from a shop that handles them right).

I agree with those who suggest scaling by half for your first batch. You will have to adjust your recipes since extract from grain varies greatly depending on your equipment and process, and your mash will likely be less efficient with a less-than-optimal mash depth with a 2.5 gallon batch. You may find too that you need to adjust hopping rates or boil times to get what you want, but that sounds like fun to me.

Good luck!
Stevie Ray

Offline Megary

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #57 on: June 27, 2019, 07:36:36 pm »
Just a final update to put a bow on this discussion.
Here is a pic of the “good crush” beer after 2 weeks in primary and almost 3 weeks in bottles.


A little better carbonation, a bit of a head (though admittedly not much).

Both the good and bad crush beers look pretty similar (Edit: the good crush is a bit more coppery colored and a little less pale) my guess is somewhere between 6 and 9 SRM. The good crush beer has a bit more depth of flavor, maybe a bit of fruity esters (that could have been from an aggressive pour out of the bottle however) and a more pronounced note of alcohol. Neither have much hop character, either in bitterness or aroma. Of course that was kind of the plan.

The yeast seems to have cleaned both up rather nicely, and given the low carbonation, they are both easy drinking beers (almost too easy). I’d describe them as that second glass of ale from the pitcher on the table!
Most importantly, I’m not getting any off flavors from either beer so in that sense, I’d call this a success. I wanted an English Pale Ale, and I think I got one.

If I were to brew this recipe again, I might consider an adjunct for better head retention and maybe a slight increase to the amount of priming sugar, though neither would be crucial. All in all, a solid return to brewing.  Thanks to everyone for all the help.

Now on to that cream ale.


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« Last Edit: June 27, 2019, 07:43:53 pm by Megary »

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #58 on: June 28, 2019, 11:58:06 am »
If I were to brew this recipe again, I might consider an adjunct for better head retention

Suggestion: Try rye, either flaked or malted, about 10-20% of the total grist.  Rye is far superior to wheat, oats, or Carapils (which does nothing).

Good to see you back into the swing of things.
Dave

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Offline Megary

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Re: Getting Back at it. Any tips appreciated.
« Reply #59 on: June 28, 2019, 08:47:33 pm »

Suggestion: Try rye, either flaked or malted, about 10-20% of the total grist.  Rye is far superior to wheat, oats, or Carapils (which does nothing).

Carapils does nothing?  That's unfortunate since I plan on using some in my Cream Ale.

Did I buy into some hype?  From Briess:
"The original Carapils® Malt is a unique, dextrine-style malt that consistently increases foam, improves head retention and enhances mouthfeel without adding flavor or color to your beer."