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Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

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    Varying OG Readings from a Refractometer

    Hey folks, Just brewed up an AG batch and had a weird experience. At the end of the boil I grabbed a little sample for an OG test with the itty-bitty turkey baster/pipette thing that came with my refractometer. I set the sample aside for a while until the wort was cool and on its way into the...
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    Great Little Immersible Thermometer This thing is only about $30. It's got a 10' long fully immersible probe. You can dump it into the middle of your mash, seal up your tun, and monitor the temp for the full rest. It can go up to 300F, so you can...
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    More Durable Auto-Siphon??

    I love my auto-siphon, but the thin plastic seems to get tiny cracks after only a couple uses...and eventually the cracks get big enough to allow it to leak (and allow it to harbor bugs, I'd imagine). Anybody seen an auto-siphon made of more durable materials?
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    Sourdough Starter Questions

    My starter is acting really bizarre. I'm afraid I just don't know enough about what is going on to care for it properly. Maybe you folks can help. 1) I made a starter with 1/2c water and 1/2c whole wheat flour. It went totally nuts in 12 hours. I poured out the hooch, and added more water and...
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    Fruit Fly in My Starter!!!

    Argh!! It's just one of the little buggers, but I know they're covered in acetobacter. It's a 3qt starter from a smack it's not like the wort is overwhelmed with cells (as it might be in a smaller starter). Would you start over?
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    Best Books?

    Hey folks, I'm making the jump from brewing to cheesemaking. I'm looking for the equivalent book to Palmer's How to Brew, meaning a book that doesn't just tell you WHAT to do, but WHY you're doing it. I've got Tim Smith's "Making Artisanal Cheese" and frankly I was hugely disappointed...
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    Mashing Bananas

    Hey folks. SWMBO wants a banana milk stout, and honestly, I'm excited to try brewing with an unconventional ingredient. So. What do you think the best process would be for mashing bananas? The thread on doing a grocery store beer mentions that bananas are self-mashing via a-amylase at around...
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    How Saturated Is Your Priming Solution?

    Hey folks, I was reading someone else's (Revvy's? Can't remember) bottling process, and they said they boil their 3-5ozs of priming sugar in a pint of water. I use just enough water to get the sugar wet, but certainly not enough for it to all go into solution, and then I use the heat to create...
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    Cold then warm = dormant yeast?

    Hey folks, I planned on serving a beer at a party, so I put the whole batch in the fridge. I had only given it a week and a half to carb, so I knew I was pushing it, but the test bottle was carbed. Well...the others weren't, and thus nobody drank it. Now that the beer has warmed back up...
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    Wine Yeast for Beer?

    Well...brewday came, and I thought I had a pack of dry yeast in the fridge. Well, I did, but it was montrachet wine yeast. Ooops. LHBS was closed, so rolled the dice and pitched the wine yeast in a 1.070 stout. Any guesses as to how this thing is going to come out??
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    Repitching at Bottling Time

    Hey folks, I've had two beers get 1/2 carbed this year. Really frustrating. I've kept them warm, I've swirled them to get the yeast back in suspension. Nothing. Both have had smaller than expected dustings of yeast at the bottom of the bottle. One of the offending beers was a pretty strong 8%...
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    Why Oak?

    I have a few questions on oak: 1) Why are wines (and beers...and scotches) only aged in oak? I've never heard of people using hickory, or applewood, or elm, or cedar. 2) What is the purpose of toasting oak? Does it prepare the wood somehow? Remove volatile compounds that would not be...
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    It seems like nobody on here has ever put food-grade cedar chunks (like the planks used for salmon) in their beer. Is there a darn good reason? Would you have to toast the cedar first? What is the point of toasting, anyway?
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    Special B v. Crystal 160?

    Hey folks, My lhbs doesn't have Special B. Would Crystal 160 be a decent substitute in a weizenbock, or is Special B...well...special?
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    Dialing in Temperature Control

    Hey folks, I use a Sanyo 4912 as a fermentation chamber. Just started with it. I noticed the other day that even though the fridge is set to 70* the sticky thermometer on the carboy says 74*. Do you usually drop the fridge temp a bit when the yeast is just getting started? Say, 66 to try to...
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    What Is That Taste???

    Hi folks, I've noticed in beers from at least three acquaintances a sharp, minerally, metallic taste. Almost like "minty" hops. One was an Irish Red (all grain, British hops), one was an American Wheat (all grain, American hops), one was a Cream Ale (all grain, noble hops), one was an...
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    Summer is Coming - Effect of Heat on Mead Conditioning

    Hey folks, I have a mead that's about 2 months into its ferment. If I leave it to continue to ferment/condition through the summer is it 100% necessary that I keep it chilled? Or, is the summer heat not a big deal in terms of production of fusel alcohols at this point? I realize that I'm...
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    When Yeast Does What.

    (Using Safale S-04 and almost 100% light DME) So, I brewed Sunday evening, had the windows open, so I pitched cool: 66F. Closed the windows around 9, and the beer sat overnight: 68-70F. By the next night (24 hours after pitching) my landlord had the heat up in the apt: 83F. Yesterday (48...
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    4912 Ferment Chamber...Help!

    Before I do anything stupid, how do you suggest running the temperature probe from a Johnson Controls external thermostat into the interior of the Sanyo 4912? Does it go through the drip hole?? If so, how the heck do you get it up there with the compressor in the way? (And it doesn't seem like...
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    Impact of fruit on starting gravity?

    Hi guys and gals, I'm about to embark on a beer I like to call Maverick Cat No. 10 (Magic Hat No. 9 clone). When calculating the OG, should I basically ignore the 3lbs of Oregon fruit puree in the secondary? (I noticed there're no fruit options in the ingredients list in Beersmith.) Or, is...