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Any beer brewers out there? - Page 11
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  1. #151
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Good luck man. The biggest thing with all-grain is remembering to have fun and take it slow.
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  2. #152
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by M.C. McMic View Post
    Finished my Igloo mash/lauter tun last night. I'm ready to do some all grain brewing this weekend.

    The whole thing went together in about 15 min after the remaining parts arrived... super easy. I have a pale ale and an interesting farmhouse ale kit (using lager yeast) from AHS waiting in the wings. I'm excited to try it all out.

    I plan on delving into creating my own recipes once I've gone through the all-grain process a couple times.
    Well, obviously I see you've signed up over at Homebrewtalk.com. They have a great recipe database there. It's another good "next step" before you start building all your own recipes from scratch. You can kind of see what people consider good recipes, brew them, tweak them to your liking, then it gives you a good base of what constitutes style to branch out.

    I did this with the Amber Ale I consider my house brew now. I liked the initial recipe, but over about 6 months or so, I added some of this, removed some of that and changed the hops up a bit to reach a pretty solid beer.

    I still do recipes for darker beers, porters, etc. I don't have a lot of experience with the real dark malts yet. Usually my IPAs are a shuffle through leftover bags of specialty grains I have, deciding which will go well together, then plugging those into beersmith to make sure all my numbers are good. So those are the main beers I actually "build" It's kind of tricky though, there is only so much beer you can drink and about halfway through a keg I think, "I wonder what this would be like with this hop?" or "I'd like to get a little more sweetness in this one, what if I add more crystal or mash slightly higher."

    It's kind of wild just what a little tweaking will do to the flavor and complexity or lack there of of a beer. Really, the one thing I'm most proud of in my brewing so far is my ability to repeat my Amber recipe. It really is commercial quality in it's consistency. It always tastes like my Amber. I keep saying I'm going to rebuild it, but I just like it so much as an every day drinker, I can never bring myself to change it. With only 3 taps, I'd rather not have 2 Ambers on at a time. I think next time I've almost got myself talked into bringing it into the IPA range as far as the hops go. I think it would make a great fall IPA.
    Last edited by Clonefan94; 05-09-2014 at 03:59 PM.
    The world isn't full of fuzzy love. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes we have to deal with monsters stealing our cookies and fat asses who ate too many cookies. Sometimes, that fat ass is me... And sometimes that cookie was yours.

  3. #153
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    McMic- for the recipes you try on your own, I highly recommend doing some Smash brews. Two of the best beers I have made to date are maris otter/citra and maris otter/Cascade smash brews.


    So about that brew jacket thing... I saw that, and then this other kickstarter thing for a sous vide machine (kind of like a crockpot, but more extreme), and I thought to myself, it wouldn't be that hard to build these things, and they are both $200 each, and I can share the temperature controller between them and save money that way.

    So I started playing around with my very dusty arduino, and I now have a little proof of concept sitting on my desk where I control a relay through a signal from Arduino. I have a temperature sensor, heating element, piezo cooler, and a few other parts en route, we will see how this goes. The only open question at this point is whether to let the cooler just cool the air in the ferm chamber, or somehow build some kind of protruding heatsink that will sit in the beer and cool it down.

  4. #154
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    I'm still not sure when exactly I'm going to do my first all-grain batch. I will likely do one tomorrow and another during the week sometime.

    I'm also debating whether I want to mess with my water chemistry. I've been messing around with the Bru'n Water "app" (spreadsheets). I may drop by the the homebrew store and buy some phosphoric acid and brewing chalk. According to my city water report, my water is both very alkaline and low in calcium.

    Another thing I'd like to start doing is making yeast starters, but it's a bit late for that, at least for whichever beer I decide to brew first. Up to this point, I've just been pitching yeast directly. I think that yeast starters combined with my ability to control temperatures with my fermentation chamber is going to make a big difference in my beers.
    Last edited by M.C. McMic; 05-10-2014 at 03:25 PM.

  5. #155
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by M.C. McMic View Post
    I'm still not sure when exactly I'm going to do my first all-grain batch. I will likely do one tomorrow and another during the week sometime.

    I'm also debating whether I want to mess with my water chemistry. I've been messing around with the Bru'n Water "app" (spreadsheets). I may drop by the the homebrew store and buy some phosphoric acid and brewing chalk. According to my city water report, my water is both very alkaline and low in calcium.

    Another thing I'd like to start doing is making yeast starters, but it's a bit late for that, at least for whichever beer I decide to brew first. Up to this point, I've just been pitching yeast directly. I think that yeast starters combined with my ability to control temperatures with my fermentation chamber is going to make a big difference in my beers.

    This is amazing because I was on the same thought process lately. I've been reading the Yeast book and I just sent off a water sample to wards lab https://producers.wardlab.com/BrewersKitOrder.aspx in order to get a better understanding of my mash ph.
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  6. #156
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tokeydog View Post
    This is amazing because I was on the same thought process lately. I've been reading the Yeast book and I just sent off a water sample to wards lab https://producers.wardlab.com/BrewersKitOrder.aspx in order to get a better understanding of my mash ph.
    I ordered 1 lbs of Calcium Carbonate (chalk) off Amazon yesterday. I also picked up some 10% Phosphoric Acid solution from AHBS yesterday, as well. According to Bru'n Water, this should be all I need to balance out my mash.

    While I was there I also picked up some dry malt extract and yeast nutrients. I have my yeast starters in the fermenter now. I figured I'd just let those get going before I brew.

    Also, my refractometer arrived on Saturday! So, it's been like homebrew Christmas in May this week. I should have bought one of these a while ago. It's so nice to just drop a little wort on lens and immediately know the specific gravity, as opposed to having to clean and sanitize a thief, clean and sanitize the hydrometer, etc.

    Anyway, I'll let y'all know how my first all grain batches go (if I ever stop dicking around and get around to actually brewing).

  7. #157
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    The best thing about a refractometer is that you can take many readings while using only a tiny amount of wort, so you can check your gravity throughout the mash. The other stuff is nice too, though there is a little voodoo behind the calculation of ABV that I don't quite understand, but I can deal.

    Personally I haven't found Yeast starters to be much of a game changer personally. I have a whole ghetto stir plate setup going, but I just haven't seen the real benefit in my end product. I tend to do lower gravity beers though, so there is less need.

    I never messed with my water, my local water is well balanced so I can brew just about any style without being too far off.

    Tokey- unless you have well water, you should be able to get a free water report from your city. Might be too late for that at this point though.

  8. #158
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by kevstev View Post
    The best thing about a refractometer is that you can take many readings while using only a tiny amount of wort, so you can check your gravity throughout the mash. The other stuff is nice too, though there is a little voodoo behind the calculation of ABV that I don't quite understand, but I can deal.

    Personally I haven't found Yeast starters to be much of a game changer personally. I have a whole ghetto stir plate setup going, but I just haven't seen the real benefit in my end product. I tend to do lower gravity beers though, so there is less need.

    I never messed with my water, my local water is well balanced so I can brew just about any style without being too far off.

    Tokey- unless you have well water, you should be able to get a free water report from your city. Might be too late for that at this point though.
    I posted on homebrewtalk with my initial findings from using Bru'n Water, and an admin came along and was like, "AAAAAH, never use chalk!" Apparently it doesn't dissolve well in water at all without some special/pain-in-the-ass process, while also increasing alkalinity. Just goes to show how little I still know about all this chemistry shit and brewing in general.

    He suggested gypsum to increase calcium content instead, combined with campden tablets to remove any chlorine in the tap water. So, I've ordered those now.

    In regards to the yeast starters, I could definitely see myself doing them for most/all beers in the future. It's really easy, and I think it's fun, even if it is unnecessary. I have the starters in the fridge now so that I can pour off the wort before adding the yeast to my actual brews.
    Last edited by M.C. McMic; 05-13-2014 at 09:07 AM.

  9. #159
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by M.C. McMic View Post
    I posted on homebrewtalk with my initial findings from using Bru'n Water, and an admin came along and was like, "AAAAAH, never use chalk!" Apparently it doesn't dissolve well in water at all without some special/pain-in-the-ass process, while also increasing alkalinity. Just goes to show how little I still know about all this chemistry shit and brewing in general.

    He suggested gypsum to increase calcium content instead, combined with campden tablets to remove any chlorine in the tap water. So, I've ordered those now.

    In regards to the yeast starters, I could definitely see myself doing them for most/all beers in the future. It's really easy, and I think it's fun, even if it is unnecessary. I have the starters in the fridge now so that I can pour off the wort before adding the yeast to my actual brews.
    Yeast starters are always a good idea with liquid yeasts. If you use dry yeast though, don't do a starter with it, just rehydrate in 90ish degree water. The studies done show a starter actually decreases the amount of viable yeast because of the way they are packaged. It seems to be a pretty hotly debated topic over on HBT, but from what I have seen and read, rehydration is the way to go with dry yeast.

    and now though, since you are into starters, you should look into washing yeast and reusing it. Great way to save money.
    The world isn't full of fuzzy love. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes we have to deal with monsters stealing our cookies and fat asses who ate too many cookies. Sometimes, that fat ass is me... And sometimes that cookie was yours.

  10. #160
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Well, I did my first two all grain batches over the weekend. I hit 5 gallons right on the nose with both batches, hit my specific gravity with one beer, and missed by 0.001 with the other (a pale ale and a biere de garde, respectively). So, I'd say it was a success! Both batches are in the fermentation chamber at 65, bubbling away.

    I'm really excited to try both beers. I've changed a lot of things since my last brew...

    • partial mash to all-grain
    • treated water
    • yeast starters
    • controlled fermentation temperature


    I'm hoping it's going to make a noticeable difference in the quality of my beers.

  11. #161
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by M.C. McMic View Post
    Well, I did my first two all grain batches over the weekend. I hit 5 gallons right on the nose with both batches, hit my specific gravity with one beer, and missed by 0.001 with the other (a pale ale and a biere de garde, respectively). So, I'd say it was a success! Both batches are in the fermentation chamber at 65, bubbling away.

    I'm really excited to try both beers. I've changed a lot of things since my last brew...

    • partial mash to all-grain
    • treated water
    • yeast starters
    • controlled fermentation temperature


    I'm hoping it's going to make a noticeable difference in the quality of my beers.

    You previously had no fermentation temperature control? That will have a big impact on the quality of the beer. The parts for my heating/cooling setup should arrive in the next few days, I am interested to see if I can actually get all this to work without killing myself- I have never worked with mains power before.

    In other news, I officially have a bad batch. I made an English Pale Ale that has some really nasty off flavors- I can't quite put my finger on it, but I guess it falls under astringent, or maybe phenolic. It may be somehow infected, some bottles I have opened have been gushers. I actually found a shattered bottle from this batch in one of the cases this weekend, though I am not sure if this was a bottle bomb, or perhaps something falling and hitting it (like another larger empty bottle), causing it to smash.

    Either way, its my first real bad batch and I am kind of bummed about it. It was already demoted to cooking duty- I have become quite adept at making pan sauces with beer- but now I am thinking of just dumping the whole batch.

  12. #162
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by kevstev View Post
    You previously had no fermentation temperature control? That will have a big impact on the quality of the beer.
    I had no temperature control, no. So, depending on whether I was brewing during winter or summer, the room temperature may have been anywhere from 65 to 85 (in extreme cases).

    Not only did I change the things I listed in my last post, but I also used to boil my wort with a lid on, at least in part. This often caused the hops to boil up and out of the beer and stick to the sides of the kettle. This very likely robbed my beers of a lot of hop flavor, as well.

    Speaking of kettles, I'm going to have to buy a new one. 6.5 gallons of wort is really pushing the limits of my kettle. I was thinking of buying the following and drilling and installing a ball valve on it myself:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007Y5B2OM/...I3GVWS71VBAPM1
    Last edited by M.C. McMic; 05-19-2014 at 11:57 AM.

  13. #163
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Yea Kev, I've had to dump a batch before. It came out sour as heck. I tried to save it by adding cherry flavor, but I'm just not really into sours. So I ended up dumping it.

    Mc, the general rule of thumb is to never cover your kettle once you have all the ingredients in. Something about not allowing some bad stuff not escaping. Not entire sure and too lazy right now to look it up.

    I entered my first beer comp recently. I brewed a Barleywine back in 2012 with the idea of saving a six pack of it for each of my birthdays till 2016. Well I sent a few bottles in for judging. It was an abnormal contest associated with a cluster fuck of an event (Beer, Bacon, Music festival). The competition only had general categories without clear sub categories so mine went into the Strong Ale category. Didn't even place. Oh well I like it.
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  14. #164
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tokeydog View Post
    Yea Kev, I've had to dump a batch before. It came out sour as heck. I tried to save it by adding cherry flavor, but I'm just not really into sours. So I ended up dumping it.

    Mc, the general rule of thumb is to never cover your kettle once you have all the ingredients in. Something about not allowing some bad stuff not escaping. Not entire sure and too lazy right now to look it up.

    I entered my first beer comp recently. I brewed a Barleywine back in 2012 with the idea of saving a six pack of it for each of my birthdays till 2016. Well I sent a few bottles in for judging. It was an abnormal contest associated with a cluster fuck of an event (Beer, Bacon, Music festival). The competition only had general categories without clear sub categories so mine went into the Strong Ale category. Didn't even place. Oh well I like it.
    Its not really sour tasting, though it does kind of make your mouth pucker. It happens. I am going to keep feeding it to my local brew club, towards the end of the meetings they will drink anything I went back and re-read my brew notes and saw that I was concerned about the yeast being dead as there wasn't much activity in my starter- I think its likely I had bad yeast, but it could be an infection.

    I believe that something is DMS, or di-methyl sulfide, which will give your beer a corny/vegetal taste.


    Interesting you mentioned a competition. I am actually in a study group w/ my local brew club to be come a beer judge. Here is the thing about these competitions- they are judging you on how well you stuck to a particular style, and how good your beer actually tests is entirely irrelevant. For instance, I drank a beer that had almost no carbonation, and no hop flavor. It was kind of gross. But I scored it a 43/50, because that is what a scottish ale is supposed to be. So you can make a sour IPA that may taste frackin' incredible, but not even get a mention.

  15. #165
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    Default Re: Any beer brewers out there?

    I don't think I've ever had a batch get infected, but I've definitely brewed beers that were not very good. I made a holiday ale a couple years back that was undrinkable to me, but my sister's boyfriend loved it (but I don't exactly trust his palate). It had all sorts of spices in it that were way over the top, and it didn't age all that well either. I'm gonna blame that one on the recipe. I also botched a Red IPA that was made at the same time. That was very likely my fault.

    Personally, I really like sour beers, but I've never attempted to brew one. Jester King Brewery here in Austin makes a lot of delicious sour beers and farmhouse ales using all naturally occurring yeast strains they cultivate themselves. I love their beer. I also liked the two or three sours my wife and I tried while we were at the Russian River brewpub in CA.

    In regards to IPAs, I recently tried Dirt Wolf by Victory Brewing Company. Holy crap, that stuff is awesome. I couldn't believe it when I looked at the bottle and it said the beer is 8.7% ABV. It's very clean tasting and doesn't have the syrupy/malty aftertaste that I feel a lot of high ABV IPAs tend to have. It's delicious.

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