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  1. Shawn Hargreaves

    What I learned about brewing with spruce

    Inspired by the Alaskan Winter Seasonal, I wanted to try brewing a spruce flavored beer. After much online research, I discovered a surprising lack of good information about this. Much of what info does exist is contradictory, hearsay from people who never actually tried it, or reports of failed...
  2. Shawn Hargreaves

    The water bath fermantation trick

    Rather than submersing the entire carboy up to the level of the beer, put just six inches or so of water in the outer container, then dress the carboy in an old tshirt which trails in the water. The former way can only cool to the level of the water bath, which isn't much unless you continually...
  3. Shawn Hargreaves

    Anyone ever tried WLP029 for a barleywine?

    I'm planning a big barleywine brew, and currently have a Kolsch on the go using WLP029. I know this isn't a typical high gravity yeast, but have used it for a range of low to medium gravity styles recently with great results, so I'm curious how high it can go? (plus seems a shame to waste the...
  4. Shawn Hargreaves

    Dark Wit / Porter hybrid

    I guess only time will tell for sure :-) I'm not too worried, though: the need for aging a porter or stout is mostly proportional to the amount of roasted malts (and alcohol content of course), and this is fairly light on the roast...
  5. Shawn Hargreaves

    How often do you need to rack?

    I'm a fairly experienced beer brewer, currently attempting my first batch of mead, and am wondering how long I can reasonably leave the mead without racking? Where I'm at: - Racked to a second carboy after ~1 month - After two months, gravity was at 1.022 - Yesterday, three months in...
  6. Shawn Hargreaves

    Dark Wit / Porter hybrid

    I bottled this yesterday, lookin' good so far, nice and light (in body, not color!) with an interesting chocolate/citrus balance.
  7. Shawn Hargreaves

    Dark Wit / Porter hybrid

    I find myself intrigued by the idea of making a hybrid Wit / Porter, or to put this another way, a dark colored Wit that includes some roastey malts. Anyone ever tried anything like this, or care to offer any advice before I try it out? Here's what I'm planning right now (partial mash)...
  8. Shawn Hargreaves

    Anybody toasted oats in an oatmeal stout?

    My pulldown includes a link to my oatmeal stout. I toasted 1.2 lb of flaked oats to a nice golden brown, then left them sit in a brown paper bag for two weeks (following Randy's advice). I have no idea what the effect on the beer would be if I hadn't aged them, but they did smell pretty acrid at...
  9. Shawn Hargreaves

    Bad Cat Wit

    I thought I should update this as I've refined the recipe over the last couple of time I brewed it. Only minor changes: - Simplified the hop and spice addition schedule - Increased the amount of grain, as I got more confident with my partial mash setup - Added a protein rest to the mash...
  10. Shawn Hargreaves

    Enzymes for Oats

    It depends on what specialty grains you are using. Some have enzymes, others do not. Malted oats would provide enzymes, for instance, but would also have a somewhat different flavor to the unmalted oats that are more commonly used. Generally, though, some amount of base malt is a good idea. Not...
  11. Shawn Hargreaves

    Belgian Wit Spices

    I've never used cardamom in beer, but cook with it all the time. This is a very powerful flavor, so I'd err on the side of caution. Maybe two or three pods to start with? (that's assuming green cardamom: black cardamom has much bigger pods so you'd probably just want one or less of those)
  12. Shawn Hargreaves

    Hefeweizen jackassedness

    You're exactly right - hefes are a nice simple style that does not require a complex grain bill. Pretty much just a mix of Pilsner malt and wheat malt (or use wheat extract, which is made of exactly that mix). I've heard of a few people adding a small (0.25 lb or less) amount of aromatic or...
  13. Shawn Hargreaves

    Bad Cat Wit

    I've brewed this a few times since with minor variations, but always including the acid malt. A half pound is about right for my taste: enough to contribute a noticable tang in the finish, but not so much acid as to mess up the mash or fermentation chemistry.
  14. Shawn Hargreaves

    Controversy!!!

    1) It doesn't really matter. Some people like to keep the trub out of their fermenter. Me, I just pour the whole thing in. It'll settle out over the next couple of weeks and won't make it into the bottles, so I don't see much point worrying trying to avoid it earlier on (and siphoning hot wort...
  15. Shawn Hargreaves

    Sour Mashing?

    Vinegar is mostly acetic acid, yes. But too much lactic acid will taste equally unpleasant :-)
  16. Shawn Hargreaves

    Mad Scienctific Expermients

    If you play classical music during fermentation, be sure to include a nice long diacetyl rest to compensate... The Clash would probably be ok for an ESB or a Porter, but I'm thinking something a little jazzier would be good for a Belgian, to encourage those spicy flavor notes...
  17. Shawn Hargreaves

    Mad Scienctific Expermients

    I mostly give my yeasties a little pep talk right before pitching. "ok little guys, I've made a nice yummy wort all ready for you, now you've got some work to do, I'm counting on you to stay focused on the task at hand and not let me down, right? Have fun in there!"
  18. Shawn Hargreaves

    Crash cooling too soon?

    "clean up" and "mature" are umbrella terms that include a lot of different processes! Obviously, if you crash too soon, that will stop fermentation, which could lead to an underattenuated beer if there is still any last few percent of slow fermentation going on at the time. Also, crashing too...
  19. Shawn Hargreaves

    Why can't Wheat beers age?

    The main problem with storing a Belgian style wit too long is that the coriander flavor doesn't last forever. I tried a bottle of a year-old wit a few weeks ago, and it was horribly out of balance, all bitter orange peel with no aroma left at all.
  20. Shawn Hargreaves

    Sour Mashing?

    Another thing to consider is that with a sour mash, you're pretty much guessing as to how long you should leave this to reach the desired level of sourness. Too short, and your beer isn't sour enough. Too long, and it either tastes like vinegar, or won't ferment at all because you've made the pH...
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