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TableHop! Beer brewing, wine making, for tabletop gamers (and general fermentation)


#61

Honestly, those slap-on plastic thermometers are fine (the ribbon-thin ones that look like a rainbow and are only a mm thick or so). I know I was kind of lackadaisical about a hydrometer, earlier, but a cheap-ass thermometer is actually less important than a good hydrometer.

You can just stick one of those thermometers on the side of the carboy (sparge or post-sparge). It gives you “good-enough” info. A decent but still pretty generic candy thermometer gives you “good-enough” temperature readings during the boil and mash.

The thermometer tells you when you’re ready for the next “RIGHT-NOW!” step when everything is hot, but the hydrometer tells you when your ready for the next “oh, heck, I should call some friends and my cousin for Thursday!”

I do know what you’re saying, I’m sorry if this doesn’t directly address your response, the most Funkiest of Jems. (@FunkJem, for anyone who didn’t catch that. Seriously…)

It’s both art and science, no one really knows how to do it totally right, and we’ll always screw it up (except for when we don’t, and then it’s amazing!)


#62

I know that I have a solution to the issue… but it is not a cheap one. It sounds like what you are looking for is a submersible data logger with wifi remote download capabilities. There is such a thing… but it is not practical in terms of pricing for homebrewing.

Here are some options that are not cheap by any means, but are still options. I am sure there are cheaper solutions out there. These are more examples of what type of systems to look for, as both of these items are still pretty expensive.

http://www.madgetech.com/data-loggers/product-applications/laboratory-and-r-amp-d-applications/microtemp.html

https://www.thermoworks.com/BlueTherm-IR

Personally, I do not use these. I have only used the long thermometer for boiling and cooling and then for monitoring the temp during fermentation I used the stick on “aquarium style” thermometer. In my searching though I found a video that shows a similar style of a stick on thermometer. It is not a great video… But you will get the idea.


#63

I made a mistake, recently, and this isn’t directly related to brewing. It’s a bit ancillary.

I had a flat beer that had been sitting around after a gathering (someone had put it down in a spot that was hard to see, and weirdly no one noticed it for a few days). So, I decided to use it to help water my potted herbs (not that kind of herb! Basil, culantro, (which is different than cilantro but tastes similar and is hardier here,) mint, parsley, etc.)

Well, it turns out that was very wrong. Like an idiot, I only looked up gardening advice after I had done it. It turns out that slugs and snails are attracted to beer, and it would have been better used in a shallow pan near the herbs as a type of trap.

This just after they ate all my cilantro and oregano, and are now going after my basil! :rage: I’m pulling out the crushed eggshells for a weapon, to heck with those slimy jerks!

So, from the several articles I’ve read, the take-away is: everything that you use to make beer isn’t bad for your garden, but beer itself is best used as a slug-trap.

Dangit!


#64

We brew on Thursday!

However, my hop supplier only has 100g Citra hops and my recipe needs 150g.

What would you guys use as a repalcement? I’m thinking Centennial, Amarillo or Cascade. The recipe is below:

0.20 kg CHÂTEAU CARA GOLD NATURE® (120.0 EBC) Grain 1 5.1 %
0.20 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC) Grain 2 5.1 %
0.15 kg Oats, Malted (Thomas Fawcett) (3.9 EBC) Grain 3 3.8 %
3.40 kg Light Malt Extract (12.0 EBC) Dry Extract 4 86.1 %
10.00 g Citra [14.93 %] - Boil 45.0 min Hop 5 15.0 IBUs
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 6 -
25.00 g Citra [14.93 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 7 14.9 IBUs
25.00 g Citra [14.93 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 8 8.2 IBUs
2.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35.49 ml] Yeast 9 -
90.00 g Citra [14.93 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs

#65

Centennial and Amarillo are going to be pretty close in AA%, right? The dry-hopping Citra addition should have a substantial enough effect on the aroma that you could probably replace the 10 min and 5 min hops easiest. If you can get a good sniff of them to compare, grab whichever aroma you like better.

Love the insane precision your brewing program offers in its recipes, btw.


#66

Admiral has a similar acidity, as does Newport and Summit, and they’re also pretty citrus-y, like Citra…but I don’t know if those are available in your region. Cascade is pretty much my go-to for almost anything I can’t get for a early boil. (I swear, if it weren’t for Cascade and Hallertau I’d never have made anything good in my early days.)

Actually, as long as it’s almost any other hop used for bittering, if it’s for only 50g, I think if you use the substitute a bit more heavily for the early, long boil, you get a lot of the more subtle things cooked off, and the Citra will work better in the later, short boils to get it’s characteristic flavor in the result.


#67

My supplier came through with the right amount of Citra, and tonight we brewed Monkey Tennis 2nd Set as above!

It tasted good, sweet, nice mouthfeel and a bit warm, but warm is better than cold. We bottle in two weeks.

We didn’t use malted oats in the first set, so I think we’ve done a better job here. Unlike last time, we pitched at around 30 degrees and as such, feel much more confident. It’s a waiting game now.


#68

Nice timing with the supplier, Citra isn’t super-common (it’s common enough, but not everywhere all the time). And that also means you have a fresher batch since they just got it in!

Take pictures of the carboy, or even video if it’s “lava-lamp” excited.

Good lord I miss having a pet carboy. You can talk to it and pet it, tell it that you love it, it’s so much more than a fish tank or sea monkeys, because you can drink it someday.


#69

We got lucky with the supplier. They also had the yeast we were after, which we had to pitch direct from the packets but we’ve done that before with success.

OG 1058.


#70

Yes! You don’t always have to start yeast! Only with the wimpy ones.

I’ve always been too afraid to do open fermentation, but my friends have had a great deal of success with retaining yeast strains for several generations. They never had to be started, they worked just like little troopers whether started or pitched directly from the reserve. We even had a batch where we sacrificed the last bottle to pour into the carboy, and hoped that there was enough active yeast to get it started, and it worked great (it took longer before the airlock started getting gross, but once it got going, it took off).

I don’t recommend that, however, if you’re kegging and using CO2, only just for bottling. The keg isn’t likely to retain viable yeast. I do recommend kegging in general, though, for things you don’t want to bottle condition or otherwise cellar. I know, it’s not exactly purist (neither is Irish Moss, heretic! JK, we’re not constricted by Reinheitsgebot or anything) but it’s a great way to kind of “freeze” the brew at the peak of its flavor without the hassle of bottling.

It’s a whole new ballgame, though, more equipment, more tech you need to learn…as always, it’s an art form. What works for me may not work for you. I’d recommend anyone to try it out, though, if they can, and see what works better for them. (Also, bottling is just kind of fun, you get some people together and have a bottling party, where you drink the results of the last bottling party!)


#71

Has anyone here tried keeping yeast strains alive in a container like they have for sourdough starters?


#72

Yes.
Don’t.
The best place to keep beer yeast alive is in beer.

You can do it, many others have successfully done this (you just pour some bottom smoosh in a bottle, assuming it’s not a lager) and keep it cool-ish and dark. There’s a lot that can go wrong with that, with bacteria and wild unwanted yeast. Sure, don’t forget, there are no human-malicious organisms that can survive a brew, but there are organisms that can yield off-flavors and hangover-inducing “not-quite-Ethel” alcohols.

Baking is different. The microorganisms in a sourdough starter, and the alcohols and CO2 they produce, get vaporized in the oven (more or less, most bread has a little EOTH).

So I’m going to say it again:
The best place to keep beer yeast alive is in beer.

Or, I suppose, in the packet you’re going to use to pitch it.


#73

Lost a litre overnight due to leakage. I think there may be a hairline crack in the fermentation vessel, or more likely, a little tiny gap in the tap.

I’ve vaselined it liberally (stop sniggering at the back) so will see how that holds. If it doesn’t hold, I’ll transfer it to another (tested!) fermentation vessel.


#74

Holy cow, that is not a small amount.

I don’t think Vaseline is going to stop that, it’s more of a H2O repellent than a sealant, and when there isn’t pressure within the vessel, you can get some contamination (not so much from it leaking in, as it’s hydrophobic, but there can be some leaching of off-flavors and petroleum adjuncts, and remember it’s not as ethyl-phobic as it is for water).

I have lost a lot through an airlock before during primary fermentation, we just cleaned up the mess on the outside and let it do it’s thing on the inside. As long as there was nothing getting back in, it always worked out. If you do have a crack, though, I hope you can siphon it to the new one. (Everyone says to avoid aerating as much as possible, although I haven’t ever had the opportunity to test this.)


#75

Update (I’d’ve updated yesterday, but eldest had a party (there’s a comedy story involving a pinata and bruised ribs, but that’s maybe for another thread)).

The Vaseline did its spectaular thing, and there’s been no more leakage. Still holding at 22l.


#76

Yiiissss.


I am still skeptical about the Vas, but hey, if it works, I’ll adopt it on your recommendation when you’re done. I’ll totally cave to proven practicality if it lets something good happen, even if it disagrees with my aesthetics.


#77

I’m worried that something may have got in and buggered it all up, but, it doesn’t smell bad. I’ll be taking a sample next week to test gravity and will also have a taste to see if has that homebrew tang or not. Fingers crossed! My hope is that the flow of liquid created the seal and that no oxygen got in. I don’t know, that’s a wild speculation on my part.

OG was 1.058, so I think we’re on for a 6% ABV beer. We were aiming for 5%. I think the sugar count may be off in the recipe?

Edit: I think I’ll vaseline the seal anyway. I vaseline the airlock spigot anyway, so a bit more vaseline never hurt anyone.

I also had a question for everyone. I’m going to leave this for 2 weeks for sure, however, I’ve read somewhere that for some beers - not sure which styles or grain/hop mixes - you should take gravity readings over three days and when it levels out, then you bottle/keg. Firstly, this seems like a waste of a whole bottle of beer which is sad, and also, is this necessary for some styles? Curious to get your thoughts (and I hope I articulated it correctly).


#78

Have done this, often. Not 100% necessary, but not a waste. It does help let you know when it’s ready for secondary (and then for bottling/kegging, so I suppose a “waste” of two bottles) but if you’re careful, you can watch for activity to slow to guide you. Also, if you can give the hydrometer a little spin you might be able to keep it away from the walls of the fermentation vessel (the neck of the carboy, in our case, usually) to get an accurate reading. It takes a little finesse, and very clean hands/gloves.

Unless you’ve been doing this for a while, though, do sacrifice the one bottle (for kicks, give a tiny prime and cap it and see what happens! For two of our batches, this happened: one exploded (too much primer) and another one was the best of that batch). If you’re not sure of the gravity, you can get a whole batch that’s way off-kilter. You can end up with vinegar or swamp water (actually not very likely, but still).

Repeat this mantra in all things brewing: 1. clean clean clean, 2. measure measure measure, 3. leave it alone dummy, it needs its space. Do the first two as well as you can, but do it so it doesn’t mess up the third.


#79

Tasted it and checked gravity tonight.

The leakage had no effect other than to reduce the yield, I am happy to say. The aroma was citrusy (to be expected) with no home brew tang. The mouthfeel was full and smooth. The taste was citrusy, grapefruity and not too bitter. Satisfying finish, as if we used lactose (we didn’t).

Gravity came out at 1.014, so we’re looking at 5.8%.

Quite happy. If we hadn’t lost that litre, we may have hit the 5% target ABV. Bottling in two weeks.


#80

Whoo-hoo! That sounds lovely!

That does sound like it’s going to be a little “hot,” but I wouldn’t worry about that with the hoppyness of the Citra. From what I’ve heard, it’s also a good stabilizer for the fermentation process (I can’t speak from experience, though, I’ve only used Citra when dry-hopping).

And I have to admit, most of my favorite beers have a high ABV (not for the reason you’re thinking! They just tend to be more complex, unlike a lot of hot wines that tend to be boring). I think the above mentioned beer that we malted the grains for ourselves ended up at a whopping 8-point-something, which was a big indicator that we did something wrong or our hydrometer was broken (it wasn’t, we did something wrong), but it was still delicious, and it still carbonated fine after bottling.