HOMEBREW Digest #86 Sat 25 February 1989

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		Rob Gardner, Digest Coordinator

  thermal shock/glass carboys/water ph (Jeff Miller)
  Re: "Dry" beer (Homebrew Digest #84 (February 22, 1989)) (beckley)
  extract brews, stirring, aging, etc. (lbr)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 24 Feb 89 8:14:24 CDT From: Jeff Miller <jmiller at unix.eta.com> Subject: thermal shock/glass carboys/water ph I think everything Erik said about old carboys (yes mine were both used) is true; they seam to become more brittle with age and especially the more times you shock them. When I broke my first carboy some time ago I also went out a bought some copper and made myself a nifty counter-flow wort chiller. It works fine and prevented me from blowing up carboys until recently. The thing is that I have been getting into "back to the basic" type brews of late. I don't seem to have the time to dedicate to long brew sessions so I have been doing simple extract brews and I got lazy. Sure I kept everything clean but decided I didn't want to sanitize my chiller. Being lazy cost me dearly in this case. Something that I used to do to reduce shock was to rinse the carboy with hot water. This seems to bring it up in temp and reduce thermal shock. I forgot to do this on the last break up and I guess thats what happens when you try old habbits and forget simple little solutions. Jay, I'm glad to hear somebody else has heard of these pyrex carboys. The other person's carboy also had a large neck but he didn't seem to have any problems getting a stopper. As for cleaning it, there are lots of nasty caustics about that I'm sure would eat anything off the side of the carboy. If your friend wants to get rid of some of them maybe he would be interested in a friendly net auction??? --- Now, on to a new subject. I just started studying Noonans book and I'm starting to do some water analysis. I found that my water starts at a ph of almost 6. When I boil (just water) and test the ph it goes to 8. Once the water cools it again returns to 6. By adding 1/4 tsp gypsum to 1 cup water my ph dropped to 5 when cold and again went to 8 when boiled. In both cases the ph dropped back to the original (6 and 5) when the boiled water was cooled. My interpretation is that I have good temporary ph and that with the addition of gypsum I should be able to obtain the 5.2 - 5.5 ph range that is supposed to be best. Other possibilities might be that when I add the crushed grains the ph might drop by itself. I have been trying to make time for an all-grain brew to test some of this stuff out but I don't know when that might happen. What kind of analysis has anybody else figured out about water ph? Jeff Miller (jmiller at eta.com) Return to table of contents
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 89 13:39 CST From: beckley at beehive.att.com Subject: Re: "Dry" beer (Homebrew Digest #84 (February 22, 1989)) > > Also, what is "dry" beer that the Japanese seem to enjoy? > > The only American Dry beer is Michelob Dry. Heilman (sp?) also makes Old Style Dry. I personally don't like either of them. The only thing I like about Old Style Dry is their commercials. They show people in a club dancing to Ministry. "You dance... You sweat... You dry yourself off." Owen beckley at beehive.att.com (312)416-7429 Return to table of contents
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 89 13:58:36 EST From: lbr at gatech.edu Subject: extract brews, stirring, aging, etc. [In #84 ...!cs.utexas.edu!raven!rcd (Dick Dunn) writes on several issues.] = For the complaint about lack of extract recipes, all I can say is: take = heart. There are a few people who insist that you can't make good beer = without doing your own mashing. They're snobs; they're also wrong...and = fortunately, they're also in the tiny minority among homebrewers. Mashing = gives you more control and a lot more possibilities, but the Holy Grail it = ain't. For what it's worth, I've been brewing off and on for a decade-- = no mashing. (I've done extract brews and meads.) I've had a couple of = very successful barley wines made with extracts. Well, I suppose I'm a snob. I watch PBS; I listen to "classical" music. But honestly, we're all beer snobs. After all, if we thought that Bud Light was the apotheosis of seven thousand years of brewing art we'd hardly be likely to brew our own. (Exception: those kit brewers, especially in the U.K., who are expressly trying to save money.) I don't believe that snobbery affected my decision to brew from grain. I was simply unhappy with the results I got using extracts. I tried for three years using various techniques and products. I got an immediate improvement when I switched to grain. When making a standard beer, say Pilsner or Pale Ale, I compare my beer directly to quality commercial brew. I don't attempt to duplicate the commercial beer, but I hope to show that differences are matters of taste and not quality. For example, my standard Pilsner is slightly less hopped that P.U. Beer can be considered good without being able to withstand such scrutiny. If I could brew great--not just good--beer from extract, beer that would withstand comparison to the great imports, I would. I'm not about to spend an hour holding a mash with 2 degF of the ideal temperature for snobbery. I would gladly go back to extracts if I could get great beer from them; they are far easier. As to mashing giving you more control: it does. It also gives you far better opportunities to mess up. Extracts give better consistency. But it's a McDonald's kind of consistency: a Big Mac is a Big Mac the world over, but it's never haute cuisine. As to the fact that most homebrewers brew from extract, so what? More persons read People than The New York Review of Books. (Snobbery rears its ugly head again.) I suspect, though I have no statistics, that there is a high turnover rate in this hobby. Persons are brought into it by advertisements that claim hopped extract, lots of sugar, and freeze-dried yeast can make superior beer in ten days. Surely many of these folks give up in frustration. In fairness, I now use better boiling and fermentation techniques and better hops than when I brewed from extracts. If I were to apply these methods to extract brewing I'd get better beer than I used to with extracts. Nevertheless, the biggest leap my brewing ever took was when I switched to grain. Using first-rate nitrogen sealed hops was second. Maybe I'll give extracts another try. Do you have a favorite ale recipe? There is one other item. All-grain brewing forces you to boil all the wort, force cool it, and get rid of the trub. I never did this with extracts. There is the slight possibility that this, rather that mashing, is the key. I doubt it, though, as there are brewers whom I trust who have moved from all-wort-boil extract brewing to grain. [ On aging....] = Let me talk about ales in particular, since lagers obviously have some = aging in the brewing process. After an ale is brewed, fermented, and = bottled (or kegged), the only time it needs is enough to carbonate and = clear. This is a matter of days. As soon as it's ready, serve it!! There = are tastes which are going off from the minute it's done. If your beer = takes a long time to be "ready" to drink, it means that you're getting rid = of some off taste, since there are other things going downhill (unless you = happen to like stale beer:-). In this case, you probably need to find out = what you're doing in the brewing that is keeping your beer from being = drinkable young. I think the homebrew books want to get you to the point = where you can make a beer that you can enjoy while it's still fresh, alive, = and young--something you can rarely do with a commercial beer. I suggest = (in my eternal optimism) that it is the prospect of fresh beer, and not the = promise of instant gratification, that makes homebrew texts recommend = little aging. Since most homebrewers start with ales (for simplicity and = better chance of success), there is no reason to age. Homebrew books attempt to make the process simpler than it should be, and certainly aim for instant gratification. Told that they won't have beer for three months, many persons won't ever brew. Aging depends upon malt and alcohol content. There is no doubt that my all malt OG 1.047 pale ale improves for two months or more. It is nicely drinkable after one week, though, so I do agree that beer that tastes terrible after clearing but better two months later probably has serious flaws. = I made a beer for a party last year. I got a late start on it, so it was = served just 16 days after brewing...and it was a very good beer (IMHO!:-). = It was racked at day 4 and bottled at day 8, so it was in bottle for 8 = days when it was served! I have a few bottles left, and I tasted one this = evening as a check. It is still a good beer after almost a year (it was = brewed 3/2/88), sound, tasty and all, but it's not fresh the way it was at = the party. This makes sense. I should be better 8 days in the bottle than a year later. In my experience ale peaks at 2-3 months, and then begins to deteriorate. After a year, especially if it spent the summer at 70+ degF, it will be stale. = >...The point is, an IPA I brewed on New Year's = > day was very bitter and still yeasty two or three weeks after = > bottling... = = Hmmm..."yeasty" is a wrong term. Yeast does not impart a taste to beer; if = you have a taste you want to call yeasty, that's just power of suggestion. Yeast do taste bitter. Have a spoonful off the bottom of a bottle sometime. But this is not the yeasty flavor in beer. Yeastiness in beer is more in the aroma, similar to freshly baked bread. Yeast taste and aroma should be almost entirely gone after two weeks in the bottle. Strong bitterness after just four days in the bottle is due to overhopping, failure to get rid of trub, or some other failure--not to yeast. Many novice brewers mistakenly attribute bitter flavors to yeast. If the flavor is objectionable it's something else. But even aged, excellent beer can have a slight yeast taste or aroma. This is not a defect, and is certainly not objectionable. = > What is the general consensus on aging? = = I don't think there is one...but there are lots of opinions, and mine is = that for ales, you shouldn't need to age. I agree with your statement that there is no consensus. I agree that ales don't "need" aging, and should be tasty when the bottle clears. This should happen in less than a week. But ale tastes "green" to me for two weeks, and high gravity all-malt ales do improve up to at least two months. My ales exhibit poor head formation until they are two weeks old. - Len Reed Return to table of contents
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