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Old 03-11-2011, 11:53 AM   #1
jfowler1
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I am beginning to question the additives I use during my brewing process. 5.2, campden tablets, whirlfloc/irish moss; could they be adding flavors to my beer that are doing more harm than good? I am seriously considering just carbon filtering my water, and letting the brew day ride.

I am wondering if anyone else has dropped all the additives and just gone back to making beer relying solely on good practices (hitting my brewday numbers, yeast health, fermentation temp control, sanitization).

I recall my first beer; a stove top mini-mash pale ale. My process stunk, but I liked it so much, probably because I couldn't believe I actually made beer. I am not enjoying today's beers nearly as much, and I do not know if it is because I have become a much tougher critic, or if all the additives I have picked up along the way are interfering with the process.

I would love to hear if anyone else has made this move back to Reinheitsgebot, and what they thought of their results.

Joe

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Old 03-11-2011, 11:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfowler1
I am beginning to question the additives I use during my brewing process. 5.2, campden tablets, whirlfloc/irish moss; could they be adding flavors to my beer that are doing more harm than good? I am seriously considering just carbon filtering my water, and letting the brew day ride.

I am wondering if anyone else has dropped all the additives and just gone back to making beer relying solely on good practices (hitting my brewday numbers, yeast health, fermentation temp control, sanitization).

I recall my first beer; a stove top mini-mash pale ale. My process stunk, but I liked it so much, probably because I couldn't believe I actually made beer. I am not enjoying today's beers nearly as much, and I do not know if it is because I have become a much tougher critic, or if all the additives I have picked up along the way are interfering with the process.

I would love to hear if anyone else has made this move back to Reinheitsgebot, and what they thought of their results.

Joe
Im the opposite. Ive refused to use additives. But im questioming that and want to work on a clearer beer. I dont think there is anything wrong with adding this stuff. If you want to stay true to an ancient beer law, then youll have to skip the yeast too.

How someone figured out to put isinglass in a beer, i dont know but theyve been doing it for ages so how wrong can it be?
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:38 PM   #3
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That's true.....no yeast would make things difficult. The 1800's were a crazy time. Maybe my point was unclear.

I know that the law was really covered in BS, and a lot of it was due to taxation issues rather than really protecting the quality or "purity" of the product. I am not bringing this up because I want to emulate historic German practices. In fact, I think it is a good rule of thumb to avoid historic German practices.

I am equating this more to organic chicken. Eat an organic chicken, and eat one that has been pumped full of additives that were designed to make the process easier....the organic is typically better. Is homebrewing becoming the new factory farming?

Joe

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Old 03-11-2011, 12:50 PM   #4
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Reinheitsgebot is just like religion. It serves as an important resource and standard in the absence of knowledge.

When that law was created, brewers were putting all sorts of things in their product and using up staples that were needed by the Bakers. It was sort of mediation attempt to divy up the grain resources of the country and make sure that brewers weren't throwing weird stuff into their brews.

That law has since been completely thrown out and any ingredient or additive used in any other food can be used in German brewing too. That law has no place in good brewing practice today. The only component of that law that holds true is that beer be made with water. We now know that perfectly good beers can be made with or without hops and barley.

You mention dropping all additives from your brewing. For the most part, those additives should be transparent in your beer flavor. But, I see you mention 5.2 Stabilizer in your list. That right there is probably the source of all your problems.

Over the past few years since 5.2 Stabilizer has been on the market, brewing water experts across the board have determined that this product is not well suited for brewing use. It DOES NOT do what it implies it does (keep the mash pH at 5.2). It does buffer the the mash pH to about an upper limit of 5.8, which only somewhat helpful. But adding 5.2 to your mash adds a bunch of sodium to your water and that is likely the problem with your beers.

You (and EVERY other brewer) needs to stop using the 5.2 product and learn to properly adjust your mash and water pH with simple acid additions. I understand that acids can be scary and its easy to overdo their addition, but there are tools out there to help the brewer understand and properly use acids. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A BREWER CAN LEARN TO PRODUCE BETTER BEER.

Bru'n Water software is one tool that will help you to understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. You can download it at the link in my signature line below.

Enjoy.

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Old 03-11-2011, 12:55 PM   #5
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I understand that acids can be scary and its easy to overdo their addition, but there are tools out there to help the brewer understand and properly use acids. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A BREWER CAN LEARN TO PRODUCE BETTER BEER.
Hmmm, I said this in another thread and got laughed out of it. I'll be interested to see if people scoff at someone way smarter than myself.


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Old 03-11-2011, 12:59 PM   #6
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I've never done a side by side comparison of organic chicken / non-organic. There isnt that much theyre allowed to do with a chicken anyway, and I prefer non-organic veggies. Half the organic stuff I see was half eaten by bugs (or still has bugs on it) and generally I don't buy the hype, or trust the sources. 80% of people think is organic is really just labeled as "natural" which is meaningless.... but enough of that, that's way OT.

Most of the things you're doing, you started doing to improve your beer, no? When you started adding additives was the intent to make it easier, or to make it better? I understand what you're saying, but I think in general, the things people put in their beer are because it makes the beer better, especially homebrewers.

Now if you were using hop extract and enzymes - then I'd begin to question if that's really going to make the best beer.

Also I have no experience with the 5.2 product.


But it sounds like you want a more "natural" product. Which has historically been my philosophy up until now, when I brewed a lager which has horrible chill haze.

I say go for it. See how you like it. For most beers I bet you wont notice a difference. I don't think that stuff is making your beer worse or less healthy. But I bet you would feel better about your product without it.

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Old 03-11-2011, 01:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for that great answer.

The main thing I was looking to eliminate was the 5.2. I read through some things last night that said that people with ph meters tested its merits with less than stellar results. Even on the surface, it seems like there is something fundamentally wrong with throwing in a salt/buffer product when I knew nothing about my water chemistry to begin with. I was just flying blind. 5.2 will be introduced to the trash tonight.

Would you mind giving your thoughts on Campden tablets, whirlfloc, and maybe even fermcap (foam control) drops?

I have a really good quality carbon filter on my system, and chlorine was never something I picked up in my water to begin with. Should I consider dropping the campden tablets?

I became concerned with whirlfloc after hearing an episode of CYBI where JP added too much whirlfloc and without knowing it, Jamil picked up a seaweed quality in the final product. Should I chalk that up to user error and just continue using it. I use 1/2 a tablet at 5 minutes. I have been impressed with the clarity it seems to facilitate, but I am not obsessed with crystal clear homebrew.

Finally, how do you feel about silicone being added to the boil? Is it flavorless, or do you see it having any effect on the final product. I agree that it does a good job of preventing boil overs, but does it have any detractors?

Thanks,
Joe

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Old 03-11-2011, 01:03 PM   #8
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I'm with ya on the 5.2 hate. I've never used it, but it's ridiculous to believe that a single product is the solution to everyone's brewing water across the world.

But I'd also like to add that I don't think we should look down on salt additions. It's ridiculous that adjusting your water is also not part of the Reinheitsgebot (isn't it?). Certain areas of the world have perfect water for perfect styles - why shouldn't we strive to emulate that?

As for fining agents, that's questionable to me. I can't imagine the minuscule quantities we use have any effect on the final flavor of the beer. But on the other hand, they're mostly used for aesthetic purposes, so if you're concerned about flavors and you don't mind an occasional hazy beer then you could leave this stuff out.

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Old 03-11-2011, 01:06 PM   #9
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I became concerned with whirlfloc after hearing an episode of CYBI where JP added too much whirlfloc and without knowing it, Jamil picked up a seaweed quality in the final product.
Great episode... Shakespeare Stout I believe?

I really wouldn't worry about it - I think they used like 10x as much as they were supposed to... maybe more.
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Old 03-11-2011, 01:32 PM   #10
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I prefer non-organic veggies. Half the organic stuff I see was half eaten by bugs (or still has bugs on it)
Did it ever occur to you that the bugs are preferential of organic foods for a reason? Namely that it doesn't contain chemicals that kill them? If it's not good for them do you think it is good for you?
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but enough of that, that's way OT.
Agreed.
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