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Pushing the Limits: a 90% Crystal Malt Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/21/2017 at 10:55:37 AM

 
Crystal malt. These two simple words seem to elicit a fair amount of emotion in many homebrewers. Even though these malts have their place - few British beer styles, for instance, would be possible without them - it seems that, for whatever reason, many brewers view them with derision, as little better than a necessary evil - as an ingredient that should be minimized wherever possible.

Crystal malts are produced through a unique process; barley is steeped and germinated, then heated in a closed system that does not allow moisture to escape. The malt is held at temperatures where the amylase enzymes are activated, which converts the starches of the malt to simpler sugars - you may recognize this as the exact same reactions that take place during your mash. After this process, the grain is then kilned; the high heat caramelizes some of the sugars in the grain, which is why crystal malts are often referred to as "caramel" malts. The higher the kilning temperature, the darker the crystal malt; differences in kilning temperatures result in different flavor profiles from the caramelization that range from simple sweetness, to caramel, to toffee, to burnt sugar, to raisin and stone fruit. Crystal malts also contribute color - which is often varying in levels of red - to a beer.

While most homebrewing literature allows that crystal malts can be used at up to twenty percent of the grist, I have found that it is far more common for homebrewers to try to limit these malts to the five to ten percent range (or less). If I had a dollar for every time I've read testimonies of brewers who claim that even tiny amounts of the lowest lovibond rated crystal malts make beers just cloyingly sweet and undrinkble... well, I would have a little spending money, at any rate.

As it just so happens, caramel is perhaps my favorite flavor in the world. While the cool...
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nice article so educating Mp3 Only

posted by king on 3/20/2017 at 10:37:22 AM






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Tags for this post: crystal, malt, 90 percent, pushing, limits, homebrew

Making a DIY 12000 BTU/hr Glycol Chiller

Posted by trenon on 2/15/2017 at 01:21:39 AM

 
DISCLAIMERS:
AC UNITS HAVE REFRIGERNANT IN THEM. REFRIGERANT IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND CAN BE BAD FOR YOU IF INHALED. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD YOU VENT THE REFRIGERANT. DO THESE MODIFICATIONS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

IF YOU AREN'T COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH LIVE ELECTRONICS THIS PROJECT IS PROBABLY NOT FOR YOU. YOU NEED TO OPEN AN AC UNIT AND MESS WITH ITS INTERNAL WIRING WHICH IS ENOUGH TO KILL YOU IF DONE IMPROPERLY. DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK.

THIS ARTICLE TALKS ABOUT USING GLYCOL. DO NOT USE ANY GLYCOL THAT IS NOT RATED FOR FOOD CONTACT. AUTOMOTIVE ANTI-FREEZE IS EXTRMELY TOXIC AND WILL KILL YOU. FOOD GRADE ANTI-FREEZE IS SIGNIFIGANTLY MORE EXPENSIVE BUT CHEAPER THAN A FUNERAL. READ THE LABELING AND MAKE SURE WHAT YOU ARE USING IS FOOD GRADE. FOOD GRADE ANTI-FREEZE DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN DRINK IT, IT MEANS IT WILL NOT KILL YOU SHOULD YOU HAPPEN TO DRINK IT.

DIY Glycol Chiller

Items required
Commercially available glycol chillers are expensive. There is no way around it. They start around $1000 US and go up from there based on capacity. Then you need to buy your glycol...
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Tags for this post: glycol, chiller, diy, project

How the Red X Malt Performed in My Irish Red

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/09/2017 at 01:36:45 AM

 
As you may recall, I have for some time been chasing that perfect ruby red color in my big Irish red ale. A couple of weeks ago, I started over completely from the ground up for recipe version number five, and put together a fresh concept that heavily featured Red X - a malt that was completely new to me.

When I dumped this into the carboy, I thought that it had red tones... but truth be told, it's really tough to tell. Likewise, the fermentation process itself really didn't give me many clues. When I brought the carboy upstairs to keg this beer, I was telling myself that the edges had a red hue I hadn't gotten before, that surely this was going to work out - though of course, the carboy contents themselves appeared a rather dark brown.

While I had hoped to get this from grain to glass in ten days, that proved to be a little bit of wishful thinking on my part; I got tied up in some other tasks and ended up kegging on the sixteenth day post brew. Then, when I fired up the auto siphon, I was rewarded with the most beautiful, light golden brown beer you'd ever want to see flowing through the tube.

Son of a nutcracker!

FG reading in my keg
This is how a heathen takes FG. Come at me.

My final gravity was 1.014, exactly one point above my target of 1.013....
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Tags for this post: red x, Irish red, ale, brewing, beer, red, color

On Brewing and Art, Or What Sort of Brewer I Am

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/02/2017 at 02:20:38 AM

 
This past December marked my fifth anniversary as a homebrewer (likely the most popular month for brewing anniversaries, for obvious reasons), and last week, I had a conversation with an editor regarding a possible book idea, who I was as a brewer, and some related subjects. As a result, I have found myself growing a little reflective on my own identity as a brewer.

I'm pretty active in the homebrewing community, and in my interactions, I've encountered quite a few different types of brewers. I suppose that this shouldn't be too surprising, as there are a multitude of reasons that draw people into this hobby.

Some are gearheads; they define themselves with their Blichmann burners, SS Brew Tech fermentors, and shiny HERMS systems.

Others are adventurers, always pressing the limits of style (some might say good taste) in incorporating any and everything into their beers. Creators of the chipotle banana raisin stout and the Belgian amber smoked lager, we salute you!

There are traditionalists, who strive to replicate specific styles with specific methods and ingredients, brewing innovations be damned.

Some are perfectionists, brewing the same recipe over and over and over again until dial every aspect of their recipe into their desired outcomes.

You have the scientists, who devour data on hop glycosides, petite mutants, and the values of polyphenolic haze precursors... while some of us struggle to spell pH.

There are the bling collectors, those who live and die by the number of competition medals...
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Tags for this post: brewing, homebrew, art, types of brewers

A Couple of Disasters, and Back to the Drawing Board on the Irish Red

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/25/2017 at 02:26:24 PM

 
My highly anticipated (at least, by me) Christmas beer - one featuring almost 20% crystal malt, plus a gallon and a half of first runnings reduced to a quart and a half of syrup, plus some dark Belgian candi sugar - turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Rather than the huge caramel flavor I was hoping for, I ended up with a horribly metallic, astringent, mouth-coating mess - indicating that I managed to contaminate this beer somewhere along the way. While I knew that aging wasn't going to fix things, I did leave it around for a few weeks, just to be sure... and it only got worse.

Fudge. Down the drain it went.

I'm part of a group of a dozen or so brewers from around the country who do a holiday beer exchange. They ship a case of beer to my house; I reassemble those cases so that everyone gets one bottle of each, then ship them back to their respective senders. This year, we decided to move our exchange back to late January (Happy New Beer, you guys!), but with my Christmas beer a failure, I still had to come up with a substitute. Fortunately, we had decided to get away from a strictly holiday/spiced/winter warmer theme this time around, and instead have each member showcase a beer that represented their style of brewing. As luck would have it, the next beer I had planned not only fit this bill perfectly, but was also a quick...
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Tags for this post: disaster, lost beer, Irish red, ale, red x, redx

Let's Talk Tap Lists of our Imaginary Breweries

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/19/2017 at 12:50:09 AM

 
It may have happened the first time you cracked open a bottle of your own beer and discovered that, in complete honestly, it really wasn't all that bad. Maybe it happened when you perfected a clone of a favorite commercial brew. Perhaps when you won that first (or fifth, or tenth) competition medal, you couldn't help but wonder. Maybe the idea arose from the praise of your buddies, or the guys from the local homebrewing club, or picky Jim from accounting. It may have occurred to you after you brewed for a company function, or even for someone's wedding, and got to revel in the satisfaction of knowing how much other people enjoyed your creations. If you brew halfway decent beer (and often, if you simply give away free beer of virtually any quality), chances are that someone will eventually suggest that you should consider brewing in a professional capacity.

Pro Brewery
The stainless steel stuff of dreams.
Photo courtesy of Surly Brewing

No matter where and when the inspiration came from, it's an idea that is nearly universal to homebrewers everywhere - that if you really were to focus on it, you could open your own brewery... and man, it would be amazing. Naturally, that amazing brewery needs a fantastic name - which might be meaningful in some personal way, or it might be clever, or it might be exceptionally punny (after all, many homebrewers have an unhealthy fascination with puns).

How many of us...
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Tags for this post: brewery, going pro, commercial, beer list, lineup

Transition to AG brewing and Recipe Design (Part 3)

Posted by xnoom on 11/04/2016 at 03:57:19 AM

 

Part 1, Part 2


Brew 9: First Recipe: Pale Ale


After doing research on recipe design (primarily by reading Designing Great Beers and Brewing Classic Styles, and following the /r/homebrewing Tuesday recipe critique threads), I was ready for my first attempt at recipe.  Following feedback from a discussion thread, I settled on this recipe.


After multiple glowing reviews of the brew bag, I decided to get one, not being a huge fan of the vorlauf step (a few husks always managed to get through).


I can highly recommend this approach, as it cuts a good deal of time from the brewday with no perceived downside (by me, at least).


Brew day went mostly smoothly, other than a slightly low mash temp (1-2 degrees).

IMG_20150926_160618.jpg



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Tags for this post: all grain, equipment, transition, brewing

Transition to AG brewing and Recipe Design (Part 2)

Posted by xnoom on 11/03/2016 at 09:29:06 PM

 

Part 1


Brew 5: Second All-Grain + BrewPi


I wanted better control over fermentation temperature, so I picked up a BrewPi Spark (a little more expensive, but requires much less of a time commitment to piece together than the original BrewPi).


IMG_20150523_164829.jpgIMG_20150523_164752.jpg


The installation was anything but pretty, using powerswitch tails stuck to the side with mounting tape to control the fridge and fermwrap.  While not ideal, the door gasket sealed well enough to stay in the mid-30s with wires running past it into the fridge.


I picked another highly rated kit from Northern Brewer, Waldo Lake Amber.  I also grabbed my local water report and plugged the numbers into Bru'n Water.  I didn’t know exactly what I was doing with it yet, but I was pretty good at blindly adjusting numbers until things turned green.


This brew was a bit of a learning experience on my system.  I undershot mash temp, which I tried to adjust… which led to overshooting mash volumes and undershooting boil gravity.  But, I had miscalculated mash tun dead space (protip: when measuring dead

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Tags for this post: all grain, equipment, transition, brewing

Transition to AG brewing and Recipe Design (Part 1)

Posted by xnoom on 11/03/2016 at 07:41:20 PM

 

I started homebrewing with a friend several years back, doing all extract+specialty grain.  The beer was fine, but not great… brewing was just a fun thing to do on a Saturday afternoon while hanging out.  I knew there were many improvements to be made, but that was a rabbit hole I wasn’t ready to go down.  We made ~20 batches this way, primarily to have beer on tap for parties (kegging upgrade came after bottling 1 batch...).


In mid-2012, I moved and didn’t brew for a couple years.  But during this time, I became much more interested in the rapidly growing variety and quality of available beer.  After re-reading How To Brew a couple years later, I decided to get back into it.

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Tags for this post: all grain, equipment, transition, brewing

PSA: Whirlfloc-T Usage Instructions, and Some Related Musings

Posted by chino_brews on 10/31/2016 at 12:03:24 PM

 

TL;DR: Add Whirfloc-T directly to your kettle 10 minutes before flameout using a dosage of 0.2 to 0.4 tablets per 5 gallons of clean beer. More may be needed for kettle-soured beers. This applies to Whifloc-T, which is the tablet form of Whirlfloc, and not to any other formulation of Whirfloc.

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There has been some confusion (and disagreement) regarding the usage of Whirfloc-T, especially on when to add it to the boil kettle. I corresponded with Mike Miziorko, the Product Development Manager at BSG Craft (aka Brewers Supply Group), who is answering technical questions for Kerry Brewing Solutions in the U.S.A.

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First of all, there are several different formulations of Whirfloc, including Whirfloc-T and Whirfloc-G. This applies only to Whirfloc-T -- the tablets available at home brew suppliers -- and not to any other formulation.

The issue with Whirfloc is that the active ingredient, kappa-carageenan, needs some time to gelatinze and dissolve in the wort, but will denature over time. How much time depends on a number of factors, especially pH and temperature.

Kerry and BSG recommend adding Whirfloc-T to the kettle with 10 minutes left in the boil. The general recommended dosage rate for home brewers is 0.2 to 0.4 tablets per 5 gallons. I've tweaked my Beersmith ingredient profile for Whirfloc-T to use a rate of 50 mg per liter IIRC. The specific recommended range is 30-80 mg per liter. For low-pH beers, you might need to use up

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Tags for this post: Whirlfloc, homebrewing, home brew, beer clarity, clarifying beer, clear beer, cold break, finings, kettle finings

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