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Posts posted by Cato

  1. Back into the brewing this week trying a Josh Weikert based Altbier recipe. As usual with a new recipe, I'll stay fairly close to the grist ratios with just some slight grist substitutions on my part. So interested to see how it fares against my Dusseldorf Alt. I think I'll always want to have an Alt in my inventory.


    Next after the Alt will be my return to a Witbier. Heavy wheats are totally out of my wheelhouse but Erdlinger Wit, Mothership Wit, and Blue Moon fall in it. I find myself often adding either white or red wheat instead of Carapils or Carafoam to my recipes these days.


    Poor wheat grinds from suppliers prompted me to get a grain mill last fall, and since then it's made a big impact on my BIAB process.

    • Like 2

  2. 9 minutes ago, StretchNM said:

    A large plastic bowl was what I used too, until I got the Sterlite container. It's long, narrow, and shallow so 1 gallon of sanitizer covers tubes, scissors, openers, my silicon spatula, a measuring cup I use to pour solution over and into long objects, and all else.


    My issue is not with those who put utensils in the LBKs, but rather with Mr Beer for not warning against it (as my humble opinion thinks they should).


    In an earlier post, I complained that Mr Beer should include more information in their instructions about ambient vs active wort temperatures, a little information on the actual process involved and how beer develops from wort, etc. Someone reminded me that they're aiming at first-time brewers who have only average knowledge, equipment, and space. That's all true, of course, but is no excuse for lackluster instructions. People will have trouble with their first batch(es), give up, bad mouth the company, receive info that MRB is junk and "here's how you should do it", start doing it that way, become successful, and join the ranks of the mockers and bashers.


    I guess I ought to just mind my own business and rest in the comfort there are many other sources of equipment and fermentables out there.  

    Lol, that is how I first found this forum, Stretch! I brewed my first two batches exactly by the directions on MRB, and couldn't  understand why they were so bad. Once I discovered on here about temp control, then things rapidly improved.

    • Like 2

  3. 38 minutes ago, Shrike said:

    Four utensils go into my LBK for sanitizing:

    First, a silicone spatula.

    Second, a silicone whisk.

    Third, a can opener that has no sharp edges.

    Finally and potentially most dangerous, the kitchen shears I use to open the yeast packet and LME packets (If used).  These are placed very carefully on top of the other utensils.


    The LBK sits in a spot where there is practically zero probability of it being jostled and absolutely zero probability of it being dropped.  


    This method has served me faithfully through all my brews. 


    But you should do what makes you most comfortable.  Making home brew shouldn't be stressful, so if you want to sanitize your utensils outside of the LBK, you should do so.

    I use a big clear plastic bowl that I sanitize my utensils in. 

    • Like 1

  4. I do that to my jars of LME. Use what I need, pour a little vodka to cover the top layer, put the top back on, and back into the fridge.

    For your HME, I'd use a clean/sanitized resealable jar and do the same. Should be good to go and easily last your time frame.

    • Like 2

  5. 10 minutes ago, Bonsai & Brew said:


    You could always make a 1 gallon batch of 6% ABV CAL. :)

    True dat!


    3 hours ago, Mic-S said:


    Because I don't have any.  LOL

    That was a great answer to my question Shrike, and is what I have been seeing (tasting) in several of my brews when I added DMEs.  What I want to do is make my son-in-laws a good batch of beer like their favorites (Bud and/or Miller) but kick the abvs up just a bit, > than 3.7-ish.  I'm out of boosters (finally!) and do not want to change the flavor of the CAL recipe, just boost it some.  Was thinking of adding a cup of cane sugar or two.  5 abv would be a good point.

    Sounds like time to rebuild inventory.

    I know your down at the end of the line and a long ways from LHBS, but I'm guessing UPS delivers?


    • Like 1

  6. 6 hours ago, Jdub said:

    i guess my question is......adding hops at 0 means basically adding at boiling temp. whirlpooling suggests to cool the wort down a bit and then add the hops and stir for like 15 min. wondering what the difference is if any. i have an upcoming recipe which wants me to add at 0 min. wondering what i should do, b/c my one experience with whirlpool was great. is this minutia?

    What @Creeps McLane is saying makes sense. 


  7. 13 hours ago, Jdub said:

    anyone have an opinion when a recipe says to add hops at 0 mins (flameout) vs. whirlpooling? whirlpooling as i understand it is cooling the wort from boiling to around 170-190 deg or so and then adding hops and stirring it up good in the kettle for a period of time. i had excellent results with a recipe by whirlpooling and i'm wondering if those 2 techniques are interchangeable, or is it specific to a certain recipe?

    Sounds the same as an aroma addition to me. I've been doing less dry hops, and more aroma additions at the end of the boil and at flameout. I'll whirlpool by stirring while the chiller does its thing and then squeeze the hop sacks and remove them prior to pumping into the fermenter.

    Been pretty happy with that method.

    • Like 1

  8. 4 hours ago, StretchNM said:

    I have seen videos of guys using electric pumps to go from mashtun to fermenter to bottling bucket, etc. Evidently it works well, but I wonder: Even though surely santizer is run through, is there any worry about lubrication oils or other debris from the pump "turbines" might get into the wort?

    What @RickBeer said. I use a small $25 mag drive pump and for it's size it does an excellent job. Saves me from moving any hot kettles or pouring and splashing.

    • Like 1

  9. 1 hour ago, StretchNM said:

    Thanks @Cato, I never even thought of that. MRB's and One Step have no foam (NOT that I fear the foam, you understand. No, no, I have a deep appreciation for the foam). :)


    Lol, the Star san foam coming out of my bottles as I'd fill them would totally bug me I'm sure. I use the Star san a lot for everything in my brewing process except the bottling and LBK sanitation. I'm okay with some foam but too much and it becomes kinda messy.

    I'm retired so my brew days or bottling days aren't under much of a time constraint. 

    I'll usually sanitize 8 or 9 bottles at a time and put them on my sanitized bottle tree. Doesn't take long to do for a 2-4 gal batch.

    • Like 1

  10. 21 hours ago, StretchNM said:

    @RickBeer When you use the vinator, does it cut down on the amount of foam in the bottle? I mean, is there less foam than if you had funneled some sanitizer in and shook it around a little? I know we're not supposed to fear the foam, but it scares me.



    By the way, just an FYI, when you click on one of those pictures in your post (tree and vinator), a window opens showing a smaller version of the photo. Pretty cool. :)

    @StretchNM, you can always use the MRB sanitizer on your bottles. I use Star san for my ss fermenters, but not on my LBK's or when sanitizing my bottles.

    • Like 1

  11. 8 hours ago, StretchNM said:

    I was kidding a little, but when I was bottling near the bottom of the keg, I remembered there was that hop sack in there. And when I lifted it out, I bet that thing held 8 ounces on its own! Plus I did leave a little bit of beer in with the trub, which washed down my breakfast trub. :)

    Hopsacks definitely hold some volume. I try and account for that when dry hopping, but when I add hops to the boil, I'll  squeeze the hop sacks before adding the wort to the fermenter.

    • Like 1

  12. 21 hours ago, StretchNM said:

    (Oh boy! Here we go again! Another newbie showing off pictures of his bottling process, like the greatest accomplishment of the decade. How many of these threads and pictures will I have to suffer before I die?) (((:D)))


    Ok. Just kidding. Maybe.


    Well we was doing it, and doing it, and doing it well! I got it done and this time the flat (Ale) beer tasted much better. I'm a little ticked off though - I only got 246 oz of beer out of 256. Today's Sunday, but tomorrow Mr Beer Customer Service is going to get an earful about this!


    Do you guys eat the trub? Even with toast, I vow never to do this again. Ever.



    If you filled to the 2 gallon mark, that's  an average yield. I mark my LBK's with a magic marker at 2.25. Helps your yield a bit and overcomes a bit of that volume lost to trub. One packet of booster will negate the dilution. Just what I do to boost the yield.

    • Like 1

  13. 10 hours ago, Jdub said:

    i was just wondering if i could add it after high krausen with no issues. from what i've read, honey is fairly bacteria resistant, so sanitation is not my concern, but would it have the desired effect of more abv. i skipped adding a lb of sugar in this recipe. i think i'll leave it alone.

    I'd thought about boiling a small amount of water and then dissolving the honey in it at flameout to add just after krausen but in the end, let it ride as is. Not like I'm going to taste the difference between 4.5 and 5.1, anyway.

    • Like 2

  14. 13 hours ago, Jdub said:

    hey, i have an IPA that's about 1 week into fermentation, so the bubbling and krausen is over. my OG came in a little low for what i wanted. i was thinking about adding honey to the fermenter now to boost it a bit. any thoughts?

    Had the same issue with my Irish Red, only I forgot to add the honey. I decided to leave it alone. I was shooting for 5.1 or so ABV and will likely be 4.5 or so.

    • Like 1

  15. 4 hours ago, StretchNM said:

    I received my bottle capper and some caps. Tomorrow when I bottle the MRB 1776 Ale, most of the brew will go into 16oz flip-tops, but I plan to put some in a few 12oz bottles that I've been saving. So I took a few caps and practiced with some Sam Adams bottles. The capper works well, but I didn't put anything in the bottles to see if they leaked.


    When you guys use your bottle cappers, do you just press once or do you then turn the bottle 1/2 turn or so and press again?


    Thank you

    New Items.JPG

    I've only ever crimped it once whether using the hand or bench capper.

    • Like 1

  16. Lol, ferried up and down the stairs quite a bit today, but good exercise for my knee. Weighed grains for my Mystic Red Irish ale and should get supplies in for an Altbier recipe tomorrow. Rigged up a long extension for my IC, so I won't have to move the kettle off the workbench while chilling the wort.

    My Red ale will be my first without roasted barley. Using Cara Aroma for most of the color, plus some melanoiden. Going to be an interesting red, and malty. Golden Promise, CaraAroma, Carafoam, and Melanoiden. Hops, Saaz for light bittering and some Cascade for aroma/flavor. Yeast- Nottingham. 3 gal.

    My Altbier, I'll just do an LBK batch size as this one will be a bit different from my last Altbier, but will be fun to compare to see which I like better. I hit a homerun last time, I thought, but this variation has some interesting different grist players, so........

    • Like 2

  17. 8 hours ago, StretchNM said:

    I weighed the provided grains at just under 1.5 pounds - 23.6 ounces or something. I called it a pound and a half. I put them in a muslim sack, put them in at 160+or- F, and steeped them for one hour. The recipe said to stir every 10 minutes, but I was much more attentive to them than that. It was a chore to keep my mashing temperatures between 149 and 152-F, which is what they wanted, but I managed it. I sparged with exactly 170-F water and I would say I used at least a quart for sparging. And.....I let the grains drain in the colander over the kettle for about 5 minutes, while I manipulated the colander from one side to the next, trying to get all the drainage out of the grains. Then brought to boil for one hour with the hops, and the remainder of hops at flameout. Then cooled in the sink to just shy of 70 degrees, and added almost a half gallon (or more) of water (at 70-F) to bring the wort up to the one gallon mark on the jug.


    Where did I go wrong? Again, I forgot to stir the wort and added water before taking the specific gravity reading, but when pouring in the extra water, it stirred things up pretty well and there were some bubbles, as if the wort and water were mixed ok. Upon pitching the yeast is when it occurred to me that maybe the OG reading was low because I didn't stir the wort well enough before taking the reading. Well, I pitched the yeast, put the cap on, covered the hole with my thumb, and shook things up pretty good. But by then the yeast was in there and I didn't feel like taking a reading again.


    The color of this wort is sort of a light greyish green, with some brown tones, but not brown like my MRB American Lager wort. Weird. Smelled like grains and hops when I was cooking it though!


    Anyway, it's done. We'll see what happens. When mixing up the Star San, I think I accidently grabbed the bottle of Stabil fuel stabilizer off the shelf for sanitization. I hope that didn't have anything to do with the weird color and low OG.

    My first thought was either not enough grains and/or a poor crush on them, which used to happen to me a lot.

    Um, if you weren't joking about contaminating with fuel stabilizer, if I had any doubt whatsoever I'd not waste 3 weeks and pitch the whole thing and hit the reset switch and start over again.

    Actually if I had that gravity reading, I'd take the loss and start over and use one of the free brew calculators and verify grain quantity, water needed, and review my whole process. It's a learning process and it's going to likely produce a few less than desirable results at first, but you'll get there.

    • Like 1

  18. 1 hour ago, StretchNM said:

    Thanks Creeps McLane. I'm able to keep my camping cooler in the proper range (about 60-F, thereby my ferment is at about 65-F +or-) using water bottles, BUT.... my problem is next week when I switch my jug fermenter from the blow-off tube to the air-lock, then it's too tall to fit in the cooler. The airlock adds several inches of height to the affair.


    Part of my mashing is to add remaining hops at the end of the boil - just before cool-down. I'm planning to put those hops in a muslim sack. Should I sanitize the sack first? Since it won't get more than a couple of minutes at boil temperature? And if so....... can I sanitize it by a short soak in the Star San solution?


    Thank you

    Why not leave the blow off tube and jar on? I've never used an airlock on my fermenters, and I just leave the blow off tube and jar in place until I bottle.

    • Like 1

  19. On 3/7/2019 at 11:31 AM, Joe G said:

    @RickBeer I may not be describing it right, it is just a flavor i tasted once before when tasting my beer before crashing.  I let it go a few more days and it was fine.  But that was a more basic recipe, this is the Howling Red, so maybe I'm just tasting the different hops I've never used before?  I don't know.  Would rather play it safe.  

    I did just get my hydrometer, I just need to learn how to use it first before trying, haven't had the time to read a bit more about it.  Will likely use it for my next brew.


    Hydrometer is a great tool. Make sure to log your readings and observations for each brew as it's a great help when you brew a recipe again.

  20. 4 minutes ago, Jdub said:

    @Cato hmmmm I might know someone in TX who could arrange a bottle for you if you can’t get it in VA. 

    Lol, thanks my friend. Actually the recipe looks pretty doable and since it's a saisons, it could be fun to try.

    Lol, first I'll need to produce some great smoked figs.

  21. 1 hour ago, Creeps McLane said:

    Youll have to go get a bottle of the smoked fig beer and steal their yeast. I just last night got my next grain order ready and put the noble king recipe in my cart. Im thinking a nice 4.5% beer for SD would be nice to pack.

    Lol, I think Jester uses wild yeast if I remember correctly but I've got time on my hands to do some research and make my best interpretation.

  22. Thoughts turning to how I want to rebuild my mostly depleted pipeline. 

    I'll need some good staple brews to form the backbone to start off with before I can start working in new styles.


    Sooo, it'll be spring and to get things rolling I'll  start off with an Irish Red recipe in an LBK, and a Altbier recipe in my ss mini brew bucket. These I can do pretty much back to back, allowing just a few days separation since they'll both fit in the mini fridge at the same time.


    Using the same combo of fermenters I'll  do a  citrus zest Witbier in an LBK, and either a variation of @Creeps McLane's Little Trees PA or if figs are in season yet, try to flesh out that Jester King beer that uses smoked figs. Lol, that would be very experimental for me, but I've got a nice digital electric smoker that can do cold smoke temps, and I like figs so there you go.


    Plus I figure once I get my wood and fig recipe down, I can vacuum seal those puppies and pack some off to Wisconsin and see what Creeps can come up with.


    Yep looking forward to spring 2019.

    • Like 2

  23. Lol, my mother's old saying, "when in doubt throw it out".

    I'm thinking fresh ingredients are time put to better use, but each to his own.

    Lol, quite possibly because I used up some older hops and grains at the end of the year and they fell in the "meh" category.

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