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Old 03-14-2011, 09:00 PM   #41
BmillaTheBrewzilla
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Originally Posted by android View Post
did you mention what yeast you used for the cream ale?
I used the Wyeast 1272 American Ale II for that one (as well as with the amber). I had several washed jars of that yeast from a previous batch... so it made its way into a few of my brews.
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:03 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by gr8shandini View Post
Oh and by the way, would you mind sharing the recipe for that "California common?" Sounds like the only thing they didn't like is that it didn't fit the style. I'm intrigued enough to want to try it.
For sure! I'll have to post it when I get home, though. It is a tasty brew... it has some of those steam beer qualities, but a very different hop profile.
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:35 PM   #43
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I'm going to impartially comment on both sides of this one:

A. You got some consistent feedback on a couple of your beers. I see the word fruity (estery) on three beers, and I see oxidation notes on two beers. Whether or not the judges know what they are doing, if you're getting the same feedback on multiple beers, there is probably something in your beer-making process that can be improved.

Personally I find that the best part of competitions, finding the room to improve. Your beers don't look bad, better than average, but it sounds like there were some things that detracted from them being 'great'.

-Fermentation temps. This is a very misunderstood topic. When people(yeast companies) talk about the proper temperature for yeast, they mean the actual temperature of the fermenting wort. Room temperature and fermenting beer temp can be up to 10* F different. The Fermstrips everyone uses also don't give that good of an idea. They seem to read the 'average' temperature between the ambient air, and the temp of the wort.

You say you fermented these beers in the mid-60s - Was that the temp of the air, or the temp of the bucket/carboy? If my room temp is 62*, my ferm strip says 65, I'm assuming my fermenting wort is about 68*. make sure to take that into effect. If your room temp was 65*, your wort could have easily been 70+. I don't know your exact sceanario, but this is something i learned the hard way, and something many people get confused about. Just FYI. The only accurate measurement is a thermowell, or a thermometer directly in the wort.


-It looks like judges picked up some hints of oxidation in a couple brews. This could be a simple as a loose connection at your syphon tube that is sucking air, or some splashing when racking, or any number of reasons. Something to look at. It looks like you got good feedback though, take it with a grain of salt, and look at your processes.

B. Judging is tough and thankless. It's possible these judges weren't experienced, and were really trying to 'find' flaws in your beer that weren't there. It's also possible that these judges were experienced, and your beer isn't quite a amazing as you thought. I find competitions to be a good learning expereince so long as you don't carry your beers worth on your score. Comps can be an eye-opening experience for many people; Let's face it, we all think our beers are great. Take the results with a grain of salt, but consider what they found, and look for areas to improve.

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Old 03-14-2011, 09:53 PM   #44
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The Fermstrips everyone uses also don't give that good of an idea. They seem to read the 'average' temperature between the ambient air, and the temp of the wort.
I have read that people who have tested these with a thermowell say that they are accurate to within a degree if the temp difference between the beer and ambient temp is 10* or less
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:53 PM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BmillaTheBrewzilla View Post
I used the Wyeast 1272 American Ale II for that one (as well as with the amber). I had several washed jars of that yeast from a previous batch... so it made its way into a few of my brews.
from my experience, you really need to use am. ale or kolsch yeast with cream ales, for one it will reduce the esters (discussed already) and two, it will attenuate more than the 1272, which (as the judge stated) is desirable for the style. IMHO, 1.012 is a little high for a cream ale, especially with all that corn. also, consider flaked or instant rice for a portion of that corn (or all of it), i've used both and like the rice in the final product better (seems crisper).
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:39 AM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottland View Post
-It looks like judges picked up some hints of oxidation in a couple brews. This could be a simple as a loose connection at your syphon tube that is sucking air, or some splashing when racking, or any number of reasons. Something to look at. It looks like you got good feedback though, take it with a grain of salt, and look at your processes.
The possibility of picking up oxidation this easily does worry me. I feel like I do my transferring to the bottling bucket and then bottling pretty smoothly and efficiently without introducing any oxygen. I also use those oxygen absorbing caps.

I am definitely thinking about all the ways I can assist my yeast in getting a more healthy fermentation. The fairly consistent comments I got about fruity esters and the feedback from this forum has me considering better aeration. I am not sure if I want to go with an aquarium pump type system or something with pure oxygen. I don't like the thought of having to buy and then dispose of those oxygen tanks... I'm also considering my starter size... and hopefully someday soon I'll have the space for a little temp controlled fridge or freezer setup for better temp control during fermentation. Again, I really appreciate all the helpful comments I'm getting on this thread.

Shandini-here's that "California Common" recipe. In quotes because it only loosely fits the guidelines. In all honesty- I went home one night and built the recipe after going to happy hour with a bunch of co-workers. We were at a bar with a limited beer selection, so after a few Sam Adams I was really digging the noble hop spiciness. I also had been wanting to use the cal common yeast... hence this recipe. Certainly not brewed with the intention of competition. Calculations on Beer Smith... 5.25 gallons.

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.010
Color: 11.5 SRM
Bitterness: 29.4 IBU

U.S. Two Row: 61%
Vienna Malt: 31%
Caravienne (22 SRM): 6%
Chocolate Malt (350 SRM): 2%

Perle (7.5% alpha): .80 oz at 60 min
Hallertauer: (4.7% alpha): 1 oz at 15 min
Hallertauer: (4.7% alpha): 1 oz at 0 min
Hallertauer: 1 oz dry hop

Wyeast 2112 California Lager

Let me know how it turns out if you do it!
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:55 AM   #47
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I have read that people who have tested these with a thermowell say that they are accurate to within a degree if the temp difference between the beer and ambient temp is 10* or less
Was this with a glass, stainless, or plastic? I find quite a difference with my plastic buckets between ambient and wort temps. I'd bet it's much closer with stainless due to the thermal transfer capabilities of stainless vs glass/plastic.
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Old 03-15-2011, 02:27 AM   #48
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:08 AM   #49
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I just got scoresheets back on a Cali Common that earned a bronze in another competition I entered it in. It is definitely brewed to style, using only N. Brewer, and both judges, one BJCP national, remarked that I should have used N. Brewer and that my hop selection was off...a bit frustrating that they would mistake only N. Brewer hops for citrusy hops...

That said, I have gotten some great feedback from most of the competitions I've entered, and will continue to enter competitions for that feedback (and medals are nice...)

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Old 03-18-2011, 03:10 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BmillaTheBrewzilla View Post
I used the Wyeast 1272 American Ale II for that one (as well as with the amber). I had several washed jars of that yeast from a previous batch... so it made its way into a few of my brews.
Washed yeast could also be a source of your estery flavors. It's just another variable to control. I was very excited to try yeast washing last spring and made a few batches with some washed Pacman. I don't regret the experiments because I absolutely love that yeast and it was worth it to try to stretch it out past the production date, but I had off flavors including some unpleaseant phenolics creep into my batches with 2nd and third generation pitches.

There's the sanitation angle which is much more unforgiving than it is in working with fresh from the lab pitches as well as the possibility of stressing your yeast out or possibly not selecting the best cells.

Everyboy's got a different comfort level, but I decided to work strictly with fresh yeast pitches until I can reliably get great fermentation with every brew. Your mileage (and brewing preferences) may vary.
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