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Q&A: Homebrewing

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so... did it come out OK?

Give it 10 days.  And get it cooler than 79F. It should sort itself out.  Yeast makes all kinds of funny smells when it is concentrated and active.  They should blow off.  Give it a chance to work through the process.

Thanks Chris. I will try that. I was mostly concerned with the apparent complete lack of "gurgling" in the airlock. I've never seen this before.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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so... did it come out OK?
Give it 10 days.  And get it cooler than 79F. It should sort itself out.  Yeast makes all kinds of funny smells when it is concentrated and active.  They should blow off.  Give it a chance to work through the process.

Thanks Chris. I will try that. I was mostly concerned with the apparent complete lack of "gurgling" in the airlock. I've never seen this before.

I wanted to wait till I bottle the batch before updating, but since you asked :smile:. In short, and as far as I can tell, it seems like my batch is fine. Maybe the fermenter's top was not completely closed? This would explain the no gurgling in the airlock, but I found no proof of that.

I did not want to wait till bottling day to find out if this is a complete waste. So, a week into the fermentation I opened the fermenting bucket and took a whif. It smelled pretty nice to me. No major "funky" smells. Then with a very well sanitized ladle I removed about 2 cups worth of wort into a clean bowl. I tasted some of it straight first. Again, tasted pretty nice but a bit on the sweet side. I went ahead and bottled the remaining contents of that bowl into a small bottle with a spoon of honey for priming to see how it would behave. I replaced the top back on the fermenting bucket, sanitized and reinserted the airolock.

That one "test" bottle was opened after 4 days. It was certainly active and overcarbonated. I think I used too much honey, but I wanted to see what would happen and if the yeast is still active. The taste was again pretty nice but still a touch sweet. Since I read that honey is a bit slower to ferment I decided to give the beer an extra week or so before bottling. By this weekend it would be 3 weeks and everything from the airlock smells fine. I will either bottle this weekend or give it one more week (total of 4) at the most and hope for the best. What do you think?

Oh, since this beer seems to have come back from the dead, it is christened "Zombie Honey Amber". I'll update once I taste it, a week or two after bottling and report how it eventually turned out.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Wow, I am a new member here and was surprised to see a home brewing class on a culinary site. I am an avid advance home brewer and wine maker. I joined here to broaden my culinary skills but will keep an eye on this thread. I am always glad to help out a fellow brewer. I moderate a couple wine making forums as well as hang out at many home brewing forums. To the leader of this class, if you ever decide to offer a more advanced brewing class, I would be glad to offer assistance. It is actually very easy to brew all grain on a budget. Good job on the beginner class. You can also make great wines from kits if you have the patience.

This is my brew system.

BrewMagic004.jpg

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Steven-

Thanks for the kind words and offer to help. The eGCI has been moving slowly lately, so I have no ideas when a more advanced class might hit the schedule, but if one does, I'll ping you. Very pretty brew system you've got there... I'm just a cooler guy for my mashing needs...

So what are your house styles? And which homebrew sites do you hang out on?


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I am fairly new to eGullet and just discovered this thread and I have only read the last few posts, but I am not new to homebrewing!

Just a few quick comments:

Honey beer: I have never understood why homebrewers use honey. It doesn't impart a honey flavor to beer. Ever tasted mead? Doesn't taste like honey and it's almost all honey. Honey malt is the key! (A crystal malt with a honey flavor.) Commerical brewers will put some honey in a "honey beer" but that is not for flavor, it's only so they can call it "honey beer" without getting in trouble.

Foam Control: I was the first to bring this type of product to the homebrew market. It is used by large commercial breweries all the time. It works.


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

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Mgaretz--

Agreed that honey is a very much misunderstood adjunct... It contributes some small amount of the character of the crop the bees fed on... but not much more. Then again, some folks like the flavor of honey in their beer... and the German maltsters figured out a method of generating a malt that did that, bypassing the honey altogether.

So you are involved in the homebrew market? Foam control seems to have a much greater utility in much bigger brewing projects than I've ever engaged in... when 6 inches at the top of your fermenting vessel is 1 gallon the value such a thing is much less than when those 6 inches account for 30 or 60 gallons...


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I am fairly new to eGullet and just discovered this thread and I have only read the last few posts, but I am not new to homebrewing!

Just a few quick comments:

Honey beer:  I have never understood why homebrewers use honey.  It doesn't impart a honey flavor to beer.  Ever tasted mead?  Doesn't taste like honey and it's almost all honey.  Honey malt is the key!  (A crystal malt with a honey flavor.) Commerical brewers will put some honey in a "honey beer" but that is not for flavor, it's only so they can call it "honey beer" without getting in trouble.

Foam Control:  I was the first to bring this type of product to the homebrew market.  It is used by large commercial breweries all the time.  It works.

Yeah, the "Honey Scam" is a fun one. People who come to my shop are often surprised to hear that honey is useful for drying stuff out, upping alcohol, and whatever - but it won't really add the expected honey flavor. Then again, most things that are basically 100% fermentable without too many other chemicals (like grapes) just won't taste like much once yeast get a chance. "Honey Wheat" just sounds like music to the ears of most :biggrin: (Which, in the right hands, it probably can be)

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"Honey Wheat" just sounds like music to the ears of most  :biggrin:  (Which, in the right hands, it probably can be)

Yes "honey wheat" does sound good, and as you suggest, in the right hands, it is. We made one at my brewery (which I don't own any more) and it was very nice (if I do say so myself! :wink: ). Key ingredient besides two-row and wheat malts was Gambrinus Honey Malt. Is Gambrinus still around?

The other one in a similar vein was "pumpkin ale" - customers could never figure out why, after putting lots of raw (or cooked) pumpkin in their beer they ended up with a hazy beer that tasted nothing like pumpkin. Of course if they had ever bothered to taste pumpkin, they would have known that what they were after was the taste of pumpkin pie, not pumpkin! So my advice was to forget the pumpkin, use some 10-20 degree crystal malt for an orange color and use pumpkin pie spice.

Less often you'd get people who used rye malt and couldn't figure out why the beer didn't taste like rye bread. Of course the flavor they were after was caraway, not rye.


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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Mgaretz--

Agreed that honey is a very much misunderstood  adjunct... It contributes some small amount of the character of the crop the bees fed on...  but not much more.    Then again, some folks like the flavor of honey in their beer... and the German maltsters figured out a method of generating a malt that did that, bypassing the honey altogether.

So you are involved in the homebrew market?  Foam control seems to have a much greater utility in much bigger brewing projects than I've ever engaged in... when 6 inches at the top of your fermenting vessel is 1 gallon the value such a thing is much less than when those 6 inches account for 30 or 60 gallons...

I used to own a homebrew store (HopTech) and a commercial brewery (HopTown) (sold them both some time ago). The brewery was small enough that we didn't worry about using foam control, but for the homebrewer it's great for helping to prevent blowoff clogs that can be messy at the best and extremely dangerous at worst. (I am a big opponent of doing a primary fermentation in glass - I have seen the injuries it can cause.) It's also good for preventing boil-overs.


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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I've got all the materials for the first beer that was posted in class 1. I'm looking at the creation of the wort process and I'm wondering about the 3rd bag of hops (with the coriander) that is put in after the pot is taken off the heat (after the 60 min and 2 hop bag additions). Do I remove the 3rd bag when transferring to my fermentation vessel or just leave it in there?

Thanks!

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I've got all the materials for the first beer that was posted in class 1. I'm looking at the creation of the wort process and I'm wondering about the 3rd bag of hops (with the coriander) that is put in after the pot is taken off the heat (after the 60 min and 2 hop bag additions). Do I remove the 3rd bag when transferring to my fermentation vessel or just leave it in there?

Thanks!

I would never leave hops, bags or anything "chunky" like that in the primary fermenter. You don't want to risk it clogging the blow-off or airlock.

"Dry hopping" is the process of adding hops very late in the fermentation stage (or ideally during conditioning) when activity is low or ceased.


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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Cool, thanks!

I'm going to start the first brew tomorrow! I'll post back on how it goes.

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I think I'm going to use store bought distilled water for my first time. But, for next time, if I use my tap water about how much do I need for a 2 gallon final brew and how long should I be boiling it for to get rid of the chlorine?

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Lets see if I can contribute to a couple questions here. In regards to the "bags" of ingredients added you add the sack with the steeping grains to water that is around 150 degrees F. Hops and items like coriander are added during the boil at defined times. These items are not included during fermentation. You can "dry hop" after fermentation by adding to the carboy and letting it set a couple weeks but I would say i would not go that route until you have brewed a few beers and was comfortable with the brewing process.

In regards to the water. If you are using an extract kit, distilled water is fine and normally preferred. Distilled water has no mineral content. When the extract is made it is developed from and actual all grain wort boil. When the water is extracted from the wort to make the extract the minerals are still there.

You may ask why I am concerned about the minerals. In brewing various types of water, meaning different mineral content is ideal for various styles of beer. Ever wonder why different countries or regions make different types of beer? It all revolves around the local water supply. It is desirable to maintain the water profile as close as possible. Of course you don't know the mineral content of the water used at the malting facility though. On average though your home tap water should be fine. Boil it for 15 minutes or so and then let it cool to pitching temps ( the temp you want the wort when you add the yeast) and then add away. Distilled water is cheap and easy though. BTW, I don't boil my tap water first at all. I run it through a filter that strips the chlorine, cysts and other sediments out and add it straight the the pot.

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Lets see if I can contribute to a couple questions here. In regards to the "bags" of ingredients added you add the sack with the steeping grains to water that is around 150 degrees F. Hops and items like coriander are added during the boil at defined times. These items are not included during fermentation. You can "dry hop" after fermentation by adding to the carboy and letting it set a couple weeks but I would say i would not go that route until you have brewed a few beers and was comfortable with the brewing process.

In regards to the water. If you are using an extract kit, distilled water is fine and normally preferred. Distilled water has no mineral content. When the extract is made it is developed from and actual all grain wort boil. When the water is extracted from the wort to make the extract the minerals are still there.

You may ask why I am concerned about the minerals. In brewing various types of water, meaning different mineral content is ideal for various styles of beer. Ever wonder why different countries or regions make different types of beer? It all revolves around the local water supply. It is desirable to maintain the water profile as close as possible. Of course you don't know the mineral content of the water used at the malting facility though. On average though your home tap water should be fine. Boil it for 15 minutes or so and then let it cool to pitching temps ( the temp you want the wort when you add the yeast) and then add away. Distilled water is cheap and easy though. BTW, I don't boil my tap water first at all. I run it through a filter that strips the chlorine, cysts and other sediments out and add it straight the the pot.

What kind of filters are those that you strain your tap water with?

So, brewing today seems to have went fine. Of course, I am paranoid about contamination. One thing that bothers me is I used the 9 qts of water called for in the recipe (since about a quart was supposed to boil off leaving 2 gallons) and once I poured the wort into my fermenter I noticed I only had 1.5 gallons. Is that a huge problem? Thanks, again, for the replies.

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Tap would be fine... distilled would be OK too.

I wonder at the above opinion that distilled water is preferable. I've never used it. I've always understood that since distilled water is totally lacking in mineral content, it dissolves lots of stuff... Since I ferment in plastic buckets, I'd be concerned that using distilled might lead to plasticky off flavors and weakened buckets.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Tap would be fine... distilled would be OK too.

I wonder at the above opinion that distilled water is preferable.  I've never used it.  I've always understood that since distilled water is totally lacking in mineral content, it dissolves lots of stuff... Since I ferment in plastic buckets, I'd be concerned that using distilled might lead to plasticky off flavors and weakened buckets.

Tap water can contain chlorine which will create off flavors in the beer. I don't think the issue of distilled water "dissolving" things is much of a problem (actually I never heard this and doubt it's veracity). After all, it comes in plastic containers! Alcohol (which we're making) is a much better solvent than water and plastic isn't an issue for it.


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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Distilled water is totally acceptable when making extract batches and preferred my most kit manufacturers. Remember, the extract is going to have the minerals lacking from the distilled water and add it back in. This will keep you from having for example too high magnesium or carbonate in your beer. Now if you are making an all grain batch where you are mashing the grains to extract your sweet wort you want to use regular tap water. If you are using distilled water or reverse osmosis water you need to add the minerals back to meet the water style. The minerals allow you to reach the optimal pH level in the mash to allow full mash extraction. For example, if you mash grains in distilled water you will realize a pH of 5.7 to 5.8. 5.2 is an optimal pH level. The minerals in the water allow this to happen. There are actually recipes to build your brewing water to meet a style of beer. The water used to make a fine Pilsner will not allow you to make a fine Stout as well as vice versa.

Here is an excellent site that will tell you absolutely everything you will need to know to brew beer from extract or all grain. This is my Bible. I recommend anyone enthusiastic about brewing to buy this book. The first edition is free online. I have this in print as well as the second and third editions. I always have it in the brewery when I brew. Ask any home brewer that is award winning at the national level (myself included) if you had to have only one book, what would it be. Most will say How to Brew by John Palmer.

http://www.howtobrew.com/sitemap.html

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What kind of filters are those that you strain your tap water with?

I have this one mounted on the wall in the brewery. I am going to get a larger capacity model and put it inline for all water use. I bought it at Lowe's as I have a store on the corner.

http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=prod...815-98-3US-AS01

In regards to having a low water level. You can top up with no problem with an extract kit. The extract concentration is determined to me a specific gravity of sugar for a specific amount of liquid. When you add the extract to water and then boil you only boil the water back out leaving the extract at a higher level of gravity. Adding the water back is just fine and you really should to bring the gravity back to the desired level for the style. You really ought to boil the water first to sterilize it though prior to adding it but many just add distilled or tap water right back to the fermenter.


Edited by Steven Murphy (log)

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Those who have actually read my course materials will already know that I have dealt with the chlorine in tap water issue. I'm assuming that Pilori has.

I've been brewing for more than 15 years, and have never ever used distilled water. It is not necessary to make good beer. If your tap water is really undrinkable... then don't use it. If it smells of chlorine or sulfur or rust, then yes, do use something else. If it is otherwise drinkable, use it. It's free. It's already in your house. If it makes you feel better to go out and buy something like distilled water, go right ahead and do it.

Steven Murphy- why exactly do I want to keep the North Dakota mineral profile of the maltster where the extract was made? Don't you think that local mineral profiles can make for interesting variations on beers? Do you believe that using tap water puts too many minerals into play? Furthermore, Palmer in How To Brew never advocates using distilled water... Where are you getting the idea that it is "normally preferred"? I've never heard of it.

Tap would be fine... distilled would be OK too.

I wonder at the above opinion that distilled water is preferable.  I've never used it.  I've always understood that since distilled water is totally lacking in mineral content, it dissolves lots of stuff... Since I ferment in plastic buckets, I'd be concerned that using distilled might lead to plasticky off flavors and weakened buckets.

Tap water can contain chlorine which will create off flavors in the beer. I don't think the issue of distilled water "dissolving" things is much of a problem (actually I never heard this and doubt it's veracity). After all, it comes in plastic containers! Alcohol (which we're making) is a much better solvent than water and plastic isn't an issue for it.


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Steven Murphy-  why exactly do I want to keep the North Dakota mineral profile of the maltster where the extract was made?  Don't you think that local mineral profiles can make for interesting variations on beers? Do you believe that using tap water puts too many minerals into play?  Furthermore, Palmer in How To Brew never advocates using distilled water...  Where are you getting the idea that it is "normally preferred"?  I've never heard of it.

I hope it isn't coming across that I am advocating that one must use distilled water. I am just sharing that it is common in the homebrew scene. I normally brew to style and often try to clone commercial beers for the sport of it and more important, I can't find them where I live. For example, Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA is my favorite beer. It is not sold in my state. I load up when I go to Florida (like day after tomorrow :biggrin: ). John Palmer doesn't specify or demand Distilled water in the book but he does talk about it. If you look at the Brewing Network's site and search the show podcasts and look at the show Brew Strong. You can download about 4 hours of John talking about brewing water for all grain as well as extract. He explains how and why you build water. You build it from deionized or distilled water.

Many do indeed make excellent award winning beers at the National level with their tap water though. I have. Many areas of the country have excellent water to make the average beer. Many areas don't though. You mention for example the Maltster in North Dakota. Their water profile in that area is suitable for many beers. Also remember that not all extract is made there and many canned extract is imported.

Now lets look at my water. I have very soft water from the tap. I can brew an excellent Pilsner with my water profile but without really adjusting my water I can not brew a good Stout. I don't have the mineral profile or levels that compliment or create the style. I use my tap water for many styles but then there are many others that I have to build my water from Reverse Osmosis water.

Anyway, I am just very passionate about home brewing and winemaking. That is what I do when I am not working. Between cooking and brewing, that is life for me outside work. I just love to pass any information I learn to others to do my small part to spread the word and knowledge of brewing. I am just trying to add to the education process here. By all means, try brewing with your tap water, if it works fine then go for it. My initial peaked interest was someone thought you should not use Distilled Water for beer. I just wanted to point out that it is totally acceptable for extract batches. It should be avoided with all grain batches and not used for winemaking.


Edited by Steven Murphy (log)

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Just bottled my first batch! Looks good so far.

Once this one is ready to drink I think I'll start on the second recipe! Been fun so far, so thanks for all the recipes and advice.

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