LHBS: nice people, bad advice

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homebrewdad

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I recently posted here to brag on how great my LHBS was (I had lost a gift certificate, and they basically used the honor system with me). They are friendly and helpful people, and seem to be genuinely good folks.

But for the second time, they have given me advice that I know to be bad.

I've decided that my next gear addition will be an oxygen setup. Nothing fancy; just a regulator, some tubing, and a stone. I'll power it from a $10 Home Depot oxygen tank meant for welding. Life will be good.

I have discovered that these are not the simplest pieces of gear to find. I figured that before I ordered online, I'd check with the LHBS.

The owner's wife answered my phone call, and had no idea if they carried what I needed; she gave the phone to the owner. First, he explained that they did not carry oxygen tanks (I assumed this and had not asked for one).

He then explained to me that he never personally uses pure oxygen, that bubbling plain air is enough. He went further to tell me that using oxygen is really not a good idea, that it's easy to use too much, and that I could end up with bad results. I politely thanked him for his time and got off of the phone.

It bothers me that this is his livelihood, and nice as he is, he is dead wrong on this. This is a subject that has been researched quite a few times; it's widely accepted that for ideal fermentation, you need at least 10 PPM of dissolved O2, and that higher gravities can benefit from higher levels. It's also widely accepted that you cannot achieve more than 8 PPM of dissolved O2 from the use of air alone, no matter how vigorously you might shake, or how long you might run an aquarium pump.

According to Wyeast, you literally cannot get too much O2 in your wort; even if you get it as high as 26 PPM, all of the oxygen will either be consumed or will bubble out of solution.

This is pretty common knowledge. I'd like to think that I would keep abreast of information better than this if I owned such a store.

But then, I'm not as nice a guy as he is. I guess it all balances somewhere...
 

IffyG

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Given the shear number of brewers that DO NOT use pure oxygen and still produce great beer, I'd be inclined to believe that the LHBS is correct in saying an aquarium pump (or shaking) is 'enough. I don't agree with him saying pure oxygen is bad though... that's nothing more than ignorance or misinformation.
 
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homebrewdad

homebrewdad

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Given the shear number of brewers that DO NOT use pure oxygen and still produce great beer, I'd be inclined to believe that the LHBS is correct in saying an aquarium pump (or shaking) is 'enough. I don't agree with him saying pure oxygen is bad though... that's nothing more than ignorance or misinformation.
I'm not saying that plain air isn't "enough". I've been brewing for better than a year now, and have been quite happy with my shaken carboy beers. I'm simply trying to take my beer from good to great, and proper oxygenation is a component of that.

My issue is with the advice that one should be careful when using oxygen, that it's easy to get too much, etc.
 
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I am pretty sure I have read somewhere that getting too much oxygen is an issue. I don't remember where I saw that but he is not the only one that thinks that. He probably read it somewhere and just has not researched enough to debunk it.
 
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homebrewdad

homebrewdad

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I am pretty sure I have read somewhere that getting too much oxygen is an issue. I don't remember where I saw that but he is not the only one that thinks that. He probably read it somewhere and just has not researched enough to debunk it.
Perhaps. I think my original point still stands - if this is my livelihood, I need to know what I'm talking about.

That being said, understand his tone and mannerisms weren't "be careful that you don't use too much", they were "don't use oxygen, you'll mess up your beer".
 

IffyG

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homebrewdad said:
Perhaps. I think my original point still stands - if this is my livelihood, I need to know what I'm talking about.
One can say this about any business, but it doesn't change the fact that its best to be an educated consumer and make your own decision.
 
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homebrewdad

homebrewdad

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One can say this about any business, but it doesn't change the fact that its best to be an educated consumer and make your own decision.
Agreed. That being said, the LHBS fills an important niche for the homebrewer - especially, the newer one.

This is the second piece of bad advice I have been given. The first was to use B-Brite as a sanitizer (which I understand is debatable), but to assume an instant contact time for sanitizing with it.

One piece of bad advice is dismissible. Two starts to worry me.
 

IffyG

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I hate to break it to you, but I've gotten bad advice from every LHBS I've been to. The issue is they tend to be run by older folks that still hang onto ancient knowledge without even knowing how the body of knowledge is changing on a forum like this.
 
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There is a section in either how to brew or designing great beers that discusses oxygen vs air. I believe there is a small (debateable) issue against pure oxygen but I'm at work and can't remember what it said. Maybe someone can post the section if they can find it, otherwise I'll do it when I get home.
 
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homebrewdad

homebrewdad

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I hate to break it to you, but I've gotten bad advice from every LHBS I've been to. The issue is they tend to be run by older folks that still hang onto ancient knowledge without even knowing how the body of knowledge is changing on a forum like this.
I know, I know. Doesn't make me any less convinced that they SHOULD know better.
 

Clonefan94

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I know, I know. Doesn't make me any less convinced that they SHOULD know better.
Well, running a small business takes a lot. Granted, they should know a lot about what they sell and the advice they give, but it may be a situation where they just don't have the time to research everything to the last T. They are probably relying a lot on suppliers for information as well. Basically, they can't possibly know it all. So, my advice would be to go in and actually discuss some of this with them. If they are as nice as you say they are, I can't imagine them being anything but happy to get some information they may not have known. It's kind of like the old, "If it aint broke, don't fix it" mentality. It's always worked for them, so why change it. But, if you could introduce "better" information, maybe they would take note. Hell, maybe the guy that sells aquarium pumps told them pure oxygen was bad. They can't possibly cross-reference every bit of information they get.
 

ajdelange

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It bothers me that this is his livelihood, and nice as he is, he is dead wrong on this.
If that bothers you you can look forward to a troubled life. I can't tell you how many times I've had to correct 'professionals'. Sometimes it is amazing what they don't know. But they are human. They, over the years, evolve ways of doing things, have given certain pieces of advice for years, have confirmation biases have failed to notice that a time honored method has been confirmed ineffectual etc. And we're talking here about the ones who are honestly trying to do the best for you they can. I've also been told, for example, by an electrician that he couldn't do something because the code forbids it when indeed it is allowable under the code but he didn't want to do it.
 

norsk

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Sometimes being kind is enough... especially if you know and have researched the accurate information. There are only two LHBS in my area... and one is 85 miles away, and started by customers of the other LHBS. The other LHBS is owned and run by a Master Brewer who has gone through the Davis curriculum and is the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. That being said, he offers antiquated information on a regular basis. For example, he became slightly irked when I advised a customer to use table sugar or make their own inverted sugar rather than buy the expensive Belgian candy sugar and suggested that they had to use Special B or it wouldn't really be a tripel. Heck of a guy though and is great at evaluating beers.

Perhaps if a LHBS gave me information that really messed up a batch of beer I would become annoyed. But being a life long autodidact has paid off many times over the years. Same with brew pubs and wineries. Some places I go to for the ambiance and the nice people. Some I go to for the great beer or wine. And sometimes it works out that I obtain both from the same place. It's all good...
 

malweth

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The original answer regarding O₂ is debatable. There's been a lot out there discussing too much O₂ (including Brewing Network shows, articles in magazines, web sites, etc).

Just search Google for:
"too much oxygen" brewing
You'll get tons of results for and against.

As much as brewing is a science, homebrewing isn't. There's a lot out there that seems right but is actually wrong. There are even right answers that are technically wrong but still right for homebrewers (Hot Side Aeration is a real thing, but it's almost impossible for the average homebrewer to cause).

aside. . . where did you find your O₂ regulator? I've looked about 6 months ago and didn't find a great solution (that's still available).
 
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homebrewdad

homebrewdad

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The original answer regarding O₂ is debatable. There's been a lot out there discussing too much O₂ (including Brewing Network shows, articles in magazines, web sites, etc).

Just search Google for: You'll get tons of results for and against.

As much as brewing is a science, homebrewing isn't. There's a lot out there that seems right but is actually wrong. There are even right answers that are technically wrong but still right for homebrewers (Hot Side Aeration is a real thing, but it's almost impossible for the average homebrewer to cause).

aside. . . where did you find your O₂ regulator? I've looked about 6 months ago and didn't find a great solution (that's still available).
I'm going to order from Austin Homebrew.
 

sweetcell

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Jamil Z has warned against too much O2 several times on his podcasts. according to him, 1L/min for a minute is ideal IIRC. he mentioned that someone's beer (Doc? Nathan?) had an off-flavor that was due to letting the pure o2 rip for 2+ minutes. sounds like an extreme, but here's one example of a respected brewer who thinks you can over-do it on pure O2.
 
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I know Fix mentions that over aeration can cause issues with excessive cell growth resulting in off flavors in the beer. When using air you'll never hit this saturation point, so perhaps they were attempting to prevent you from having issues. (Sort of like crushing grain coarsely for customers to avoid stuck sparges, at the expense of lower efficiency)
 

Shooter

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Jamil Z has warned against too much O2 several times on his podcasts. according to him, you 1L/min for a minute is ideal IIRC. he mentioned that someone's beer (Doc? Nathan?) had an off-flavor that was due to letting the pure o2 rip for 2+ minutes. sounds like an extreme, but here's one example of a respected brewer who thinks you can over-do it on pure O2.
It was Chad. All of his beers were exhibiting the same off characteristic and when he explained to him he was oxygenting for something like three minutes he told him to cut it back.
 

Yooper

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I know Fix mentions that over aeration can cause issues with excessive cell growth resulting in off flavors in the beer. When using air you'll never hit this saturation point, so perhaps they were attempting to prevent you from having issues. (Sort of like crushing grain coarsely for customers to avoid stuck sparges, at the expense of lower efficiency)
Yes, I'm pretty sure that I read that in Fix as well, and I know I've heard it from Jamil Z.

I'm not a microbiologist, so I'll leave it to the experts to decide for sure but my understanding that 8 ppm of O2 is acceptable.
 

Mike M

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I've heard that about oxygen. You get too much you get too high ... or was that love? :confused:
 

the_trout

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I have the same issue with my local shop. Nice folks but not knowledgeable. The shop is half hydroponics, 35% brewing and the 15% hot sauces and cheese making supplies. Ive got no issue with hydroponics, hot sauce or cheese but I sure wish there was a dedicated home brewing only store around.
 

Echoloc8

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I know the LHBS in question (went there today for tomorrow's brew day ingredients), and the owner's certainly a good guy, but he seems to take a real delight in contrarian positions.

The annoying thing is: he's usually been right (in terms of what was likely to help versus needlessly complicate) in the cases I've talked to him about stuff I've read online.

I'm personally of the opinion that there are some parts of brewing that are science (mashing/lautering efficiencies, attenuation, etc.), and some that are art (recipe formulation, flavor evaluation, etc.).

I don't know a thing about aeration/oxygenation, other than that getting chilled wort frothy before pitching is generally a good idea. :) I know that the LHBS owner in question would be chagrined to learn he agrees with Jamil on something. :D

-Rich
 

planecrazy29

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I have the same issue with my local shop. Nice folks but not knowledgeable. The shop is half hydroponics, 35% brewing and the 15% hot sauces and cheese making supplies. Ive got no issue with hydroponics, hot sauce or cheese but I sure wish there was a dedicated home brewing only store around.
I have a similar LHBS. I was recently in there and picked up some Belgian bottles, corks and cages. We were discussing how to cork them (corker) and I was told to insert the cork all the way into the neck. When I asked what the cages were for...."decoration" was the answer. I just smiled and nodded. I've never corked anything and I knew better. You win some and you lose some.
 

MississippiSlim

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Just my opinion but I think that alot of us over complicate the process due to the ease of gathering information f this makes any sense. Think of all the debate here on a plethora of topics...Pitching n yeast cake, the importance of sanitatizing, primary-secondary, etc, etc, etc. I take all advice with a grain of salt. I personally think you could simply follow "how to Brew" word for word and make good beer. As far as that goes you could probably follow the crappy instructions with a beer kit and make decent beer. As we as hobbyist get more and more into our hobby sometimes we obsess in our search for perfect process and try to use "science" as justification for our obsessing. I think "Do you thing, I do mine" is my mantra. As far as seeking advice I usually ask a couple brewers who I respect and have drank their beers. And sometimes I still don't follow their advice. But hey, I make my beer for me so as long as I am happy its all good.
 

srtce142

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mine gave me 3lbs carapils for a 5gal recipe. Thanks to this forum, I have some extra carapils lying around for future beers (to be fair it's a wine / beer store with 1/4 an aisle of homebrew products - so I really wouldn't expect them to know what they're doing).
 

Ondori

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In the aeration epidose of Brew Strong,Jamil and Palmer both agree that over oxygenating is in fact a bad thing and can produce some off flavors. I am not sure what data they have on it, but I think I will take their word for now :) They say to just blast it for a minute.
 
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