The Great Bottle Opener Giveaway

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Back in the saddle...

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 12-13-2011, 05:36 PM   #1
cms
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Lees Summit, MO
Posts: 169
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default Back in the saddle...

So I took a few months off for a couple reasons. Every one of my AG batches were worse than my previous extract batches (various off-flavors along the way) and because time was against me for a while.

During my hiatus, I mostly killed my stash (about 6 more medicinal, yeasty Oatmeal Stouts left to choke down) and am ready to get back at it. Also during my hiatus, some mice got into my brewing gear, and ate through my bag of 2-row (I never put the bag in a sealed bin - my own dumb fault. Interesting how they leave the grain husks and just eat the insides of the kernels). Mouse crap all over all my equipment.

For the new brew, I went back to my best batch to date - a simple amber from extract. I changed the hops around to use some that I've had in the freezer since summer, but I'm hoping that removing the mashing and keeping things simple, I can make a good batch again.

Brew day went very smoothly. I approached it like my first brew - everything was perfectly measured, labeled, organized and scripted before a drop of water went in the kettle. I scrubbed so much with PBW and then a double-strength batch of StarSan that my hands are still stinging a week later. It grosses my out using the kettle and bucket that had mouse turds in them but they've GOT to be as clean as non-mouse-exposed ones after all that cleaning.

The apparent fermentation has wrapped up so I'm getting antsy, but I'm planning two more weeks in the bucket to clear the beer and let the yeast finish (I won't bother with a gravity reading for another week). When I push down on the lid to get a whiff, it's just glorious. No reason to expect a problem, although my last few nasty batches seemed fine at this stage as well.

Anyway, to get to some sort of a point, my break from brewing (and drinking only my own gross beer) has given me some time to think about where I went wrong. I know of a couple things that contributed to the problem and there are a couple others that I may keep trying to isolate until I can hammer them out...

1. I was using two thermometers while mashing/brewing. Turns out that the 'meat probe thermometer' read about 6°F lower than the one with the long probe I got from the brew store. I'm still not sure which one is right. I wish I had one that I could trust.

2. When I built my MLT, I got a new 5G bev cooler with a stainless braided water supply line, hose clamps and washers. After one or two mashes, I noticed that the hose clamps and washers were not solid stainless - they were plated. And the plating was worn off and plain steel (or whatever metal - probably an alloy of some sort) was exposed. I think I need to replace these parts and maybe replace my brass ball-valve with a stainless one before I try to use that again.

3. I have only ever used tap water for brewing - I measure my pH and my mashes have all been at about 5.4 (with and without using pH buffers). I used gypsum once and it did lower the pH, but I don't think 5.4 pH was a problem, anyway. Since I only ever do partial boils, this means that I always end up topping off with cold tap water. My first few extract batches were wonderful, but more recent batches have been off.

4. I built an IC and started using that with my first AG batch. Not sure if this was a coincidence or not - After my first stinker of a batch, I cooled on in an ice bath and that one turned out nasty as well - so I'm thinking this is not the problem.

It's all frustrating because I don't know which thing(s) I need to back out of my brewing to fix the problem. One thing I am confident is wrong is mash temps. All my AG brews have fermented way below the estimates (I had a wheat beer that finished at 1.004 (target: 1.010) and tasted like lighter fluid, my oatmeal stout went to 1.007 (target: 1.015) and tastes like a cross between caster oil and schnapps.

So hopefully a nice confidence-building extract batch will do the trick. Even though it seems good now, I sort of wish I would have just gotten a kit to remove my suspect recipe-making from the equation also.

So - wish me luck. And any ideas about how to sort out this mess would be much-appreciated.

__________________
cms is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-13-2011, 05:46 PM   #2
unionrdr
Wannabe author
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
unionrdr's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Sheffield, Ohio
Posts: 27,788
Liked 1826 Times on 1609 Posts
Likes Given: 1295

Default

I use a floating thermometer tied to the BK handle with 3-4 twist ties put togther like a hangman's noose. The noose let's me adjust The height of the thermometer. And keep your mash temps between 150-160F.
The PH sounds ok. I see guys using good quality SS valves & plastic hoses that can take the heat on their rigs. PVC set ups to filter the runoff in the MT.
__________________
Everything works if ya let it-Roady(meatloaf)
My new book is on Amazon Kindle! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L3MCU0W
unionrdr is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-13-2011, 05:50 PM   #3
beergolf
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
beergolf's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: collingswood, nj
Posts: 3,942
Liked 356 Times on 292 Posts
Likes Given: 109

Default

Welcome back.


A couple of simple brews getting back to basics should get your confidence up.

sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.....
pitch a healthy amount of yeast...
control ferment temps...

And you will make good beer.

Hang in there.

__________________
beergolf is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-13-2011, 05:52 PM   #4
helibrewer
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
 
helibrewer's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 3,069
Liked 171 Times on 155 Posts
Likes Given: 39

Default

Have you tried using bottled water to eliminate tap water issues? I have a water conditioner that I use Potassium Chloride in so I use bottled water to brew, that way I control the water chemistry.

You might get a good digital cooking thermometer to help with your temps, either as a calibration tool or to very your readings.

Sanitation, water, temps, and process....look at them all with fresh eyes.

__________________
Something is always fermenting....
"It's Bahl Hornin'"

Primary:
Brite Tank/Lagering:
Kegged: Hefeweizen, Chocolate Hazelnut Porter, Kumquat Saison, Tart Cherry Cider, Belgian Tripel, Maibock Bock, Ommegang Abbey Ale Clone, Belgian Golden Strong, German Pils (WLP830)
Bottled: Belgian Quad (Grand Reserve), Derangement (Belgian Dark Strong)
On Deck:
My Site: www.restlesscellars.com
helibrewer is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-13-2011, 06:20 PM   #5
cms
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Lees Summit, MO
Posts: 169
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by helibrewer View Post
Have you tried using bottled water to eliminate tap water issues?
I haven't, but I think I will if the new batch has a problem. As I understand it (or misunderstand it) bottled water will either come from a spring or from a municipal water source. Not sure if either is necessarily sanitary, but what should I look for, other than not being distilled?

Quote:
Originally Posted by helibrewer View Post
You might get a good digital cooking thermometer to help with your temps, either as a calibration tool or to very your readings.
Are those accurate enough to use as a reference? I may spring for a certified lab thermometer and then get a digital one that I can calibrate with it - I'd love to never worry about this aspect again.
__________________
cms is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Frustration! Back-to-back infected batches khanti Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 16 02-03-2013 05:56 AM
Any tips for bottling more than 1 brew back to back? BearsWickedBrew Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 2 02-13-2009 03:16 PM
Back to back on same trub -- Questions iXanadu Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 1 10-23-2008 03:01 AM
Back in the saddle-- wit homebrew! Tommish Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 8 03-10-2008 04:09 AM
Back in the saddle Cass Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 6 03-22-2007 12:38 PM