Homebrewing, anyone?

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owenm
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Post by owenm »

GA Russell wrote:Thanks, Owen! That's all good to know!

However, you mention the need to rinse three times. That is my concern. With iodophor, StarSan, Final Step and LD Carlson, there is no need to rinse. The product you use is so diluted it is safe.

If I lived in a town which is famous for its spring water, I would experiment with tap water to see how good and how different the result is. But in most areas of the US, the chlorine and fluoride levels in city drinking water are high, and I believe that one's homebrew will taste better if these chemicals are removed or at least substantially reduced.
That's also true - I forgot to mention that a campden tablet is always used to treat the water (sodium metabisulphate) - it removes free chlorine, flouride and chloramines. Star san is well spoken of on the forums and is an excellent sanitiser but it doesn't clean, which is one reason why you might want to use bleach (to do both) or use a separate cleaning product. Personally, I use Oxi powder for cleaning and an iodophor for no-rinse sterilisation.

The brewing forum I spend most time on is Jim's Beer Kit
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Owen
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GA Russell
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Post by GA Russell »

Jim's Beer Kit looks very interesting! I'll take some time to check it out. Thanks!
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Post by dosco »

GA Russell wrote:However, you mention the need to rinse three times. That is my concern. With iodophor, StarSan, Final Step and LD Carlson, there is no need to rinse. The product you use is so diluted it is safe.
The other trick with bleach is to use very hot water during the rinse, which "deactivates" the bleach.
But in most areas of the US, the chlorine and fluoride levels in city drinking water are high, and I believe that one's homebrew will taste better if these chemicals are removed or at least substantially reduced.
Chlorine comes out with a vigorous boil, however if you are doing a partial boil and are using chilled water to cool the wert, then you'll have to try something else. I've used bottled spring water, chilled, to cool partial boils, so maybe you could try that instead of distilled water.

If you are doing a full boil and have a wert chiller, don't worry about the chlorine ... it will come out during the boil.
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GA Russell
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Post by GA Russell »

That's interesting, dosco. I've been planning to boil three gallons, chill it with ice in the sink, and then add two gallons of cold water. That always worked for me twenty years ago, but I haven't bought the brew kettle yet, so maybe I should think about a ten gallon kettle.

I finished Chapter 6 of Palmer's book last night, and he supports Owen's views regarding minerals in the water. In fact, Raleigh has very hard water, and I'm not concerned about that. I don't use a water softener. My concern is about chemicals in the water.

Here's what Amazon's page says about the water filter I bought:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005A3 ... UTF8&psc=1

This advanced compound multi-stage water filter can eliminate over 90% of the fluoride, arsenic, and selenium from your tap water, in addition to chemicals, including VOCs, TOCs, chlorine, and other contaminants that create foul tastes and odors in your tap water. The Tap Master Jr. F2 has special Channel Blockers to ensure even filtration, and avoid problems which are found in other competitor granular filters. To maintain optimum fluoride filtration in your Tap Master Jr. F2 change the filter every 3 months or 500 gallons depending on the hardness of your water. Taste and odor purification will continue long after fluoride filtration. Please change your filter regularly. IMPORTANT NOTE: Some websites selling fluoride removing filters are using a figure of 5000ppm to indicate the filter life. In real world conditions this equals 300 gallons. The longer gallonage life that they imply with this figure can only be achieved in laboratory conditions, and not with municipal tap water which contains other substances such as calcium which are also filtered by the fluoride removing media.

It seems to me that this filter will be going after the chemicals rather than the minerals the way a water softener would. That's my goal.

As I stated in my OP, I suspected that there might be a few of us here who would be interested in homebrewing. I'm delighted that so many have already taken the plunge. And I note that this thread has over 500 views; which is quite a bit, I think.
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Post by GA Russell »

I've now read through Chapter 8 of the Palmer, and he shocked me when he recommended that low gravity beers (pale ales) ferment in the plastic tub for three to four weeks without transferring the wort to a carboy.

He feels that the risk of contamination during the transfer is too great.

Another surprise is that the Midwest Supplies DVD recommends putting water in the airlock. All the homebrewers I knew back in the day used vodka because it would kill germs without fear of changing the taste of the wort.

I received my catalogue from The Home Brewery today. I'll spend the weekend looking it over.
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Post by GA Russell »

I skipped the six chapters on all-grain brewing, and have now finished Chapter 19 of the Palmer book.

He makes the interesting point that there was a good reason for the creation of the many styles of beer in Europe. Each city developed the style that worked best for it. A primary factor was water hardness.

For example, Pilsen in the Czech Republic has extremely soft water. They created the Pilsner style, the most popular form of lager. Many places tried to duplicate it, but were unable to because their water was too hard. So each city created its own alternative based upon its water, its climate and its local hop varieties.

This tells me that I should research what styles are best for very hard water like Raleigh has, and give those styles a go.
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Post by owenm »

GA Russell wrote:I skipped the six chapters on all-grain brewing, and have now finished Chapter 19 of the Palmer book.

He makes the interesting point that there was a good reason for the creation of the many styles of beer in Europe. Each city developed the style that worked best for it. A primary factor was water hardness.

For example, Pilsen in the Czech Republic has extremely soft water. They created the Pilsner style, the most popular form of lager. Many places tried to duplicate it, but were unable to because their water was too hard. So each city created its own alternative based upon its water, its climate and its local hop varieties.

This tells me that I should research what styles are best for very hard water like Raleigh has, and give those styles a go.
A lot of the water side relates more to all-grain brewing than extract or kits; I suspect you'll be OK if you just use a campden tablet. High sulphate water is best for hoppy beers though, so if you're after one of those I suspect you will be fine if you boil your water for 10 minutes, syphon it off any precipitated calcium carbonate and then add a campden tablet and a teaspoon of gypsum.
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GA Russell
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Post by GA Russell »

Owen, I think I'll contact the water company for a report of what minerals are in the water.

I took a simple test of my water last month, and the result was the highest hardness category.
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Post by Pauldog »

I've had good luck with these people for water filters. Good prices, too.

http://www.purewaterproducts.com/
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Post by GA Russell »

I finished the Palmer book yesterday. I skipped the section on All-Grain Brewing because that's just not in the cards - my kitchen is too small.

Tonight I ordered the Papazian book. I'll feel more comfortable after I have read them both.

One problem I have is that, as Palmer says, 70% of homebrewing is cleaning and sanitizing. My kitchen sink is too small to sanitize my bucket. I may have to go to the laundry room for that.
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Post by GA Russell »

My copy of the Papazian book arrived this week, and I'll plow into it this weekend.

I gave the Palmer only three stars on Amazon because I felt that he far too often lapsed into lengthy discussions of chemical reactions. I can't imagine any beginner or novice being interested in that; and those who might be wouldn't want to spend their time reading all the simple instructions of how to get started in the hobby.
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Post by GA Russell »

Today was a beautiful day in Raleigh, so I visited for the first time the new brew supply shop three miles from my place (very near the State campus, by the way), and picked up a few things...

5 gal. brew kettle.....$31.75
metal dial thermometer.....$11.60
5 oz. oxygen-absorbing bottle caps.....$2.25
Last edited by GA Russell on Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by GA Russell »

If I may tell a personal story...

I'm a Catholic. As you know, the cardinals are currently meeting in Rome to select a new pope.

Catholics believe in the power of prayer. Someone decided to start a movement for Catholics worldwide to pray to the Holy Spirit that He would inspire the cardinals to select a fellow who would be a good pope.

My sister informed me today about this, and about the website adoptacardinal.org

The idea is that each Catholic will be assigned at random a cardinal to pray for. So I went to the site, and was assigned...(wait for it)...

Cardinal Dominik Duka, the Archbishop of Prague!!! Is it possible for a homebrewer to have a more appropriate cardinal? Maybe the Archbishop of Dublin, but the Czech Republic is the home of Pilsner beer and Saaz hops, and I'm confident that Cardinal Duka enjoys good beer!
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Post by GA Russell »

I read on the internet that when you get a new brew kettle, you should first boil water in it for half an hour to remove any metallic taste. So that's what I'm doing now. On my stove, it took a half an hour for the water to reach boiling temperature.

You will recall that my original LivingSocial order of my OP included a $25 coupon for another order of a beer kit. I spent my coupon today, but not exactly as they had intended. But the computer honored it, so apparently they don't care.

I bought...

a 10 1/4" stainless steel strainer....$14.99
Alexander's Pale Malt Extract.....$15.99
White Labs Irish Ale Yeast.....$6.50
White Labs Cream Ale Yeast.....$6.50
US Saaz pellet hops....$1.80
Super Irish Moss.....$7.99
2 carboy wedges.....$5.00

These are items not carried by my nearby brew shop.

A buddy of mine likes light American beers, and he would like me to make him something; so that's why I ordered the Alexander's and the Cream Ale yeast.

Both Papazian and Palmer say that homebrew tastes much better with liquid yeast, so that's why I ordered the two vials of yeast.

Irish Moss is a clarifying agent that makes your beer look more professional, but doesn't change the taste.

The carboy wedges tilt the carboy so that you can maximize the amount of beer you bottle without getting into the dregs.
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Post by dosco »

Hard water = British style ales. Yummy.

Softener doesn't get rid of the minerals, rather it exchanges some for others.

Carboy wedges? Interesting. The thingus I wanted to try was a gizmo that held the carboy in an inverted position, thereby allowing the brewer to draw off the yeast/stuff that settles to the bottom after fermentation is complete.
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Post by GA Russell »

Here's a New York Times article from yesterday's paper entitled "How Beer Gave Us Civilization":

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/opini ... ef=general
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Post by dosco »

GA Russell wrote:Here's a New York Times article from yesterday's paper entitled "How Beer Gave Us Civilization":

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/opini ... ef=general
You may enjoy this book. I found it to be fascinating.

I'm considering trying some of the old recipes in the book, although I'm not sure how authentic they'd be considering how much different old beers are to new ones (in terms of formulation, sanitation, etc.).
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Post by dosco »

Interesting recommendations, I'll add them to my list. Thanks.
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Post by GA Russell »

My March 17 Midwest Supplies order arrived today. I ordered another copy of their DVD on making beer and wine.

If anyone would like it, I will shoot it out to the first person who PM's me his address.

CONUS is on my dime. Sorry Canada and the UK, but the Post Office raised their rates significantly. I'll be happy to send it to you if you will paypal me the price of the postage.
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