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Screwy Brewer

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About Screwy Brewer

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    Brewing Guru

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    New Jersey

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  1. You'll find out as you go along that temperature control has everything to do with brewing beer. Especially when pitching yeast and throughout fermentation.
  2. I have always used pure cane sugar for bottle priming and batch priming. Mainly because, when I first started brewing, it was right there in my kitchen. Since then I really saw no reason to use anything else.
  3. Haha....rumors of my demise have been grossly overstated. It has been a while and apparently I now have logged in with my original account. Hope everyone has been well and looking forward to the new year.
  4. I've collected plenty of bottles over the years, Sierra Nevada short and stubbies, Anchor Steam round shoulders and the ubiquitous long necks too. The only issue I can see you having with a bottle's cap size would be if your 'larger lid' bottles were screw tops. Even 22 ounce bombers will seat standard sized caps perfectly on them.
  5. I've used Hallertauer (Germany) hops for bittering, flavor and aroma in my Belgian Witbier when I brew it. And for my American Wheat beer I like using Columbus for bittering and a mix of Cascade and Centennial for flavor and aroma. The two beers while completely different in style are both delicious.
  6. Using a hydrometer to take a final gravity reading before bottling is always a good idea. The trick to it is getting the same gravity reading for two or more days in a row, this way you are assured the yeast has converted all of the remaining fermentables before bottling up the batch. If the final gravity changes from one day to the next then your beer is not ready to bottle and needs more time in the fermentor. If the gravity has stopped falling then rest assured you're safe to bottle. If those bottles turn into 'gushers' then it's time to take a very close look at your sanitization process.
  7. As a new brewer it was common for me to use the 3/3/3 rule. That's where fermentation, bottle carbonating and conditioning all took 3 weeks apiece to complete. Adding another week of refrigeration, to those initial 9 weeks, helped to produce some really great tasting beer. I was uninterested in 'peeking behind the curtains' to see what was going on inside the LBKs during fermentation then, so I was willing to wait things out. Many batches later I bought my first hydrometer, the one that I still use today, and it helped me see exactly when my beer was completely fermented. I was pleasantly surprised too.
  8. From my years of experience I can only suggest that you put extra effort into maintaining temperature control over your wort. For the guaranteed best results: 1) Pitch your Ale yeast into 65F wort 2) Maintain a strict 65F during the first week of fermentation 3) Let the fermentation rise 2 or 3 degrees before bottling the beer I remember how my first dozen or so Mr. Beer batches tasted, before buying a good thermometer and using it. Looking back, and knowing what I know now, I know for sure that poor temperature control led to less than perfect tasting beer. Don't get me wrong, I loved my first batches a lot and was very proud to have brewed them too. What I am saying is this, "pampering your yeast will only encourage them to repay you with great tasting beer".
  9. Without getting too technical let me just say that the Mr. Beer recommended priming sugar amounts are a tad high. Now with that said, at some point you will decide to use a bottle priming calculator, to 'dial in' your carbonation levels to a specific style of beer. As beer ferments a small amount of residual CO2, about 0.75 of a volume, will naturally be retained in the fermented beer. A good priming calculator includes this residual CO2 its calculations when determining the correct amount of priming sugar to use. "Naturally carbonating your beer should be done soon after your beer has reached it's final gravity, which is based on getting the same hydrometer reading two or more days apart. Adding the right amount of fermentable sugar to the beer will provide the yeast with just enough food for them to create the right amount of CO2 needed to hit your carbonation level. Remember when using the calculator be sure to input the 'warmest' temperature the beer has reached prior to bottling it, colder beer holds CO2 in solution better than warmer beer which allows CO2 to escape easier."
  10. Is "extract twang" merely a brewing myth or Internet legend? For first time liquid extract brewers, who are following the brewing directions to the 'T', probably not and here's why. When you boil 4 quarts of water, turn off the heat and stir in a few cans of LME to make wort, well nothing could be any easier right? To this newly made wort you next pour in a gallon of cold water to cool the wort down to near pitching temperature. A very basic brewing process yes, but its one that is likely to blame for any 'extract twang' that develops in your finished beer. On the other hand if the 4 quarts of water, and the gallon of top off water, were combined and brought to a boil at the same time you could do a full wort boil. Adding the liquid extract to a larger volume of boiling water and then continuing the boil for 10-15 minutes will eliminate that twang for good. The twang, or caramel and toffee like flavors, are really caused by having a higher concentration of sugars in the wort produced using only a gallon of water. Doing full wort boils also requires the use of an ice bath or immersion chiller to cool the wort down to pitching temperatures, now that the top off water will no longer be used. As the brewing water heats up you could steep 8 ounces of grain in it, maintaining it at a temperature of 150F for 20 minutes. A full wort boil also allows you the opportunity to add hops to the boil for increased aroma. If you decide to advance your new found hobby and stick with it, you may soon find yourself owning a wide array of brewing gadgets and really enjoying yourself too.
  11. To prevent a big spill and to keep peace in the home, its a good idea to slip the lid of a plastic storage container underneath your fermentor. These lids have a one inch lip all around and that works well to contain any wort that overflows from the fermentor. Just place the flat side of the lid down on a solid surface and then lay the fermentor on top of the lid. Its much easier to clean up the lid than is to clean a messy spill from your furniture, floors and carpeting.
  12. The most accurate way to control fermentation temperatures is to insert a thermowell 12 inches down into the fermenting beer. The probe of a digital temperature controller, such as the one found on the venerable STC-1000+, is then inserted into the thermowell to provide accurate readings on the fermenting beer. When used with a small chest freezer and a paint can heater, the temperature controller can easily maintain the temperature of fermenting beer to within a single degree.
  13. Regarding fermentation, my goal has always been to allow the yeast time to soak up flavor precursors before they go dormant. The flavor precursors cause off flavors to develop in your beer if left unchecked. And the yeast loves soaking them up, to use as a food source, when storing energy after fermentation has completed. With Ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) my primary fermentation completes in about 4 days at 65 degrees. At that point I let the fermentation temperature rise to 68 degrees. Which translates into raising the fermentation temperature 3 degrees over the next 3 days, starting once airlock activity slows down. Of course I use a digital temperature controller to regulate the temperature inside a chest freezer, and a thermowell for the sensor that gives accurate readings of the fermenting beer. In short maintaining a constant temperature, near the low end of the yeast's optimal range, will make a huge difference in the taste of your beer.
  14. @slym2none If I didn't know any better I'd say you were ready to brew bigger batches so you didn't have to rush your beers. With the exception of Wheat beers, which I drink after 7 days of cold crashing and force carbonating, beer does improve when left to condition over time. My California Steamin' Common Beer (5.9% ABV) really starts tasting and looking good after 4 weeks and my Scotish Wee Heavy (8.1% ABV) has been cold conditioning for almost a year now.
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