Homebrewing

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Homebrewing

Postposted on Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:17 pm

Not only am I asking for CCW weapon choice help in the gun pr0n thread but some brewing advice as well in this thread. In some parts of the country beer and guns would be at home in the same thread but we will keep them apart for the squeamish. I do all grain beers with batch sparging. My last beer, a Hefeweizen, came out at 1.040 instead of 1.059 post boil. Part of it was I didn't boil down to my target volume and part is just bad efficiency. So:

I used bottled water for the first time when mashing to avoid using chlorinated tap water. Does it affect efficiency?

Does a mash paddle help with batch sparging? My spoon does not get to the bottom of the grain bed after adding the sparge water.

Do you use some sort if graduated stick you put in the kettle or some other method to let you know what your pre and post boil volumes are?

Thanks.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:11 am

223 Fan wrote:Not only am I asking for CCW weapon choice help in the gun pr0n thread but some brewing advice as well in this thread. In some parts of the country beer and guns would be at home in the same thread but we will keep them apart for the squeamish. I do all grain beers with batch sparging. My last beer, a Hefeweizen, came out at 1.040 instead of 1.059 post boil. Part of it was I didn't boil down to my target volume and part is just bad efficiency. So:

I used bottled water for the first time when mashing to avoid using chlorinated tap water. Does it affect efficiency?

Some trace minerals are supposedly desirable; bottled drinking water should be fine as long as you are not using distilled. My tap water comes from Lake Michigan, which is pretty good brewing water once you strip out the chlorine; I use an under-sink carbon block filter for chlorine removal. Other homebrewers I know who have really hard well water cut it with some bottled water, or use bottled water exclusively.

223 Fan wrote:Does a mash paddle help with batch sparging? My spoon does not get to the bottom of the grain bed after adding the sparge water.

In batch sparging, stirring thoroughly after each water addition is important to get all the sugars suspended in the sparge water. It is possible that this may have a bigger effect with wheat beers since the grain bed will tend to be denser/stickier, so you will have less water flowing through the parts of the mash you didn't stir.

223 Fan wrote:Do you use some sort if graduated stick you put in the kettle or some other method to let you know what your pre and post boil volumes are?

I have a spoon with a notch in the handle that indicates my target pre-boil volume. I tend not to worry much about post-boil volume as it tends to come out reasonably close (within +/- a quart) or so. If I come out really low on post-boil volume for some reason I typically add some water (boiled and cooled) to the fermenter.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:13 am

I honestly don't have a lot of experience with all grain brewing (maybe JustBrewIt will chime in -- nvm he just did!) but I feel pretty confident a mash paddle would help. I can't comment on the water affecting efficiency, but depending on the quality of your tap water (and the exact additives... chlorine VS chloramine, etc) bottled water can make a big difference in taste. I have preferred to use spring water over distilled as it contains some minerals which provide a little flavor and may help a bit with fermentation, however this is by no means a scientific assessment. I prefer to just pick up large jugs of spring water over tap water -- it's faster, easier to transport, and premeasured.

For volume measurements, there's a few methods. Some kettles have volume measurements on them already, and some people add them themselves using all sorts of barbaric tools. You could also measure with a ruler or stick (you could measure from the top down with a string if you don't want to stick a ruler into your wart, or if you don't have something long enough to measure from the bottom up), but you'd have to calculate the volume per inch/cm. If you get a paddle, you could make your own measurements on it that are customized to your kettle, which would be very convenient.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:32 am

If your town water has chloramine, use bottled. Basic chlorine will mostly boil out if you boil your entire wort. Chloramine never goes away and imparts a bad taste to the finished beer.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:20 am

You really don't want the chlorine in your mash either, so relying on it boiling off isn't a good idea unless you boil all of your brewing water prior to brewing.

Chloramine can supposedly be removed by running the water very slowly through a carbon filter, but yeah if your municipality uses it you're probably best off just using bottled.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:51 am

MJZ82 wrote: you'd have to calculate the volume per inch/cm. If you get a paddle, you could make your own measurements on it that are customized to your kettle, which would be very convenient.
You can determine these measurements empirically by adding and removing measured amounts of water and then marking the level.

Calculating them is easy, too. The volume of a cylinder is equal to the height of the cylinder times the area of the base, so...
Volume (in³ or cm³) = h · π · D² ÷ 4
... where h is the height of the liquid, π is 3.14159... and D is the diameter of the pot.

Divide by 231 to convert in³ to gallons or divide by 1000 to convert cm³ to liters.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:53 pm

Great input from all. I am using one of those windmill stations for water, not distilled. Now, which mash paddle from Amazon...
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:12 pm

I'd serious advise getting a few books, like "Extreme Brewing" by Sam Calagione (of Dogfish Head Brewery), The Illustrated Guide to Brewing Beer, How to Brew by John Palmer, True Brews by Emma Christensen, and maybe CloneBrews which has a bunch of recipes in it. If you have a kindle, I could probably just email you the books if you want.

Definitely find out is there's a store in your area that sells supplies. If not look for a good retailer online. And if there's a big enough ABC store in your area, buy a few growlers of different beer to see what you'd like to emulate. It's a fun hobby, with a a bit of a learning curve, but it's usually all worth it in the end.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:43 pm

My favorite brewing book is "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels. My process is basically sound (my Agave Spruce Ale is pretty amazing), I am trying to refine my technique. So... Buy a mash paddle and use Burton Salts for Porters and Stouts. And a notched spoon. As a tangent, I want to order some hop rhizomes: 2 Magnum plus...? I lean towards Saaz as the 3rd plant. I am not a fan of IPAs so Cascade and the like don't interest me.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:09 pm

223 Fan wrote:My favorite brewing book is "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels.

That's a fantastic book, but not one I'd recommend as a first book for someone just starting out.

John Palmer's book is a great starting point. There's also an older edition of it available to read on the web free of charge at his site, howtobrew.com.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:27 pm

223 Fan wrote:My favorite brewing book is "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels. My process is basically sound (my Agave Spruce Ale is pretty amazing), I am trying to refine my technique. So... Buy a mash paddle and use Burton Salts for Porters and Stouts. And a notched spoon. As a tangent, I want to order some hop rhizomes: 2 Magnum plus...? I lean towards Saaz as the 3rd plant. I am not a fan of IPAs so Cascade and the like don't interest me.


That's the fun of it! You don't have to go the IPA route. You could go for lambics, porters, stouts, meads, etc... Sounds like you have everything well in hand, so good luck and happy brewing!

I haven't read that book by Ray Daniels yet. I'll check it out!
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:41 pm

just brew it! wrote:That's a fantastic book, but not one I'd recommend as a first book for someone just starting out.

John Palmer's book is a great starting point. There's also an older edition of it available to read on the web free of charge at his site, howtobrew.com.


Agreed, for those just starting out. I found that my beers improved dramatically once I got the hang of making a starter. Using Fermencap-S makes making a starter and a primary a lot less messy. Oh, and Starsan. Love the stuff. Our local HBS will fill up an empty Starsan bottle for half off. Ever since I started using starters and Starsan my success rate has been 100% (so far). By success I mean no off flavors. Once I take you all's advice and am more consistent with my efficiency I will be pretty happy.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:54 pm

You've implied an important point here, but I'll state it explicitly: Consistent mash efficiency is more important than high mash efficiency. If you know your efficiency, you can always adjust recipes to hit your target gravity, even if you're getting somewhat lower extraction than what is normally considered ideal.

On a related note, all else being equal you will tend to get lower efficiency on higher gravity beers. My efficiency ranges from roughly 65% to 75% depending on target gravity.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:04 pm

just brew it! wrote:On a related note, all else being equal you will tend to get lower efficiency on higher gravity beers. My efficiency ranges from roughly 65% to 75% depending on target gravity.


Thanks for that tidbit. I have my efficiency set to 70% in iBrewmaster. Since I shoot for 1.050+ on every recipe it might be wise to revise that. I have developed an addiction to adding Munich and Honey malt to just about any recipe that doesn't already call for them.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:16 pm

Ordered 2 rooted Magnum hop rhizomes plus 1 Sunbeam Golden hop rhizome. Here goes nothing.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:34 pm

OK, so the LHBS does not carry melanoiden malt and I need to brew on Saturday. Options?

1. The LHBS dude just said to boil the wort longer. How much longer? Before or after hop addition? I didn't ask.
2. Decoction. Never did it before. Palmer is helpful but advice from anyone with experience would be appreciated.
3. Other. Open to suggestion.

Thanks.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:23 am

223 Fan wrote:OK, so the LHBS does not carry melanoiden malt and I need to brew on Saturday. Options?

1. The LHBS dude just said to boil the wort longer. How much longer? Before or after hop addition? I didn't ask.
2. Decoction. Never did it before. Palmer is helpful but advice from anyone with experience would be appreciated.
3. Other. Open to suggestion.

Thanks.

Aromatic, Biscuit, or Victory malt would be reasonable subs for melanoidin.

If you opt for longer boil do it before the first hop addition; this will caramelize some of the malt sugars and darken the wort. Add more water prior to first hop addition and/or top up with boiled, cooled water in the fermenter if your volume seems low due to the extended boil. Note that longer boil will intensify caramel flavors, while melanoidin/aromatic/biscuit are more toasty, so it isn't *exactly* the same thing.

Decoction mashes are for German beer purists and masochists; while I understand the theory, I've never attempted one myself!
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:17 pm

just brew it! wrote:If you opt for longer boil do it before the first hop addition; this will caramelize some of the malt sugars and darken the wort. Add more water prior to first hop addition and/or top up with boiled, cooled water in the fermenter if your volume seems low due to the extended boil. Note that longer boil will intensify caramel flavors, while melanoidin/aromatic/biscuit are more toasty, so it isn't *exactly* the same thing.

Decoction mashes are for German beer purists and masochists; while I understand the theory, I've never attempted one myself!


Great idea, particularly with the notch in spoon idea. Boil for X minutes, top off with water to the notch, bring to boil again and proceed normally. Any suggestion for the value of X?

I am no masochist which is why I wanted to use melanoiden.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:41 pm

223 Fan wrote:
just brew it! wrote:If you opt for longer boil do it before the first hop addition; this will caramelize some of the malt sugars and darken the wort. Add more water prior to first hop addition and/or top up with boiled, cooled water in the fermenter if your volume seems low due to the extended boil. Note that longer boil will intensify caramel flavors, while melanoidin/aromatic/biscuit are more toasty, so it isn't *exactly* the same thing.

Decoction mashes are for German beer purists and masochists; while I understand the theory, I've never attempted one myself!

Great idea, particularly with the notch in spoon idea. Boil for X minutes, top off with water to the notch, bring to boil again and proceed normally. Any suggestion for the value of X?

I am no masochist which is why I wanted to use melanoiden.

I'd say X should be 30 minutes *minimum* if you want a noticeable effect. This will also improve clarity of the finished beer since it will coagulate some of the excess proteins (you may see cottage cheese-like chunks floating around towards the end).

Another way to get kettle caramelization flavors is to pre-boil just part of the wort (like 1/2 gallon or so) all the way down to a thick syrup consistency, then add the rest of the wort and top up with water as needed. If you use the first runnings for this it'll go faster as they are already pretty concentrated; if you're using a propane burner this approach can result in some fuel savings versus boiling the entire wort volume for an extra hour or more. The downside is you've got to watch it carefully so it doesn't scorch.
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Re: Homebrewing

Postposted on Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:53 pm

just brew it! wrote:I'd say X should be 30 minutes *minimum* if you want a noticeable effect. This will also improve clarity of the finished beer since it will coagulate some of the excess proteins (you may see cottage cheese-like chunks floating around towards the end).

Another way to get kettle caramelization flavors is to pre-boil just part of the wort (like 1/2 gallon or so) all the way down to a thick syrup consistency, then add the rest of the wort and top up with water as needed. If you use the first runnings for this it'll go faster as they are already pretty concentrated; if you're using a propane burner this approach can result in some fuel savings versus boiling the entire wort volume for an extra hour or more. The downside is you've got to watch it carefully so it doesn't scorch.


I am a big fan of Whirfloc so I know about floaties in my beer. I like plan B better. I'll give it a try with my first runnings and I do have a propane burner.
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