Archive | November, 2012

Community is Wine? I’ll have some.

25 Nov

So I recently stumbled across another great resource for homebrewers. I talk plenty about how valuable resources like HomeBrewTalk or the American Homebrew Association and such, so I was surprised I missed this one. The aptly named TastyBrew.com has indeed been hiding from me, and, possibly you. This site is on par with the others, boasting a huge forum (find yourself some more Partial Mash talk), a section for recipes, a journal section to log your brew experiences, calculators for measurements and gravity and more. Go explore, as there is plenty of content waiting to enlighten you at Tasty Brew.

-Zach Attack

Monsters Partially Mash..or All Grain

25 Nov

The coolest thing about being a beginner at homebrew, are all the surprises. One of those for me, was the discovery of Partial Mash and All Grain brewing. For my first batch I got the kit and did my steep and boil liquid extract. It was quite a fairly simple process from boil to ferment.

Utilizing the kit, and my 6 pounds liquid extract, I have made quite a tasty brew. In fact, I’ve got some bottles carbonating as I type. I am extremely satisfied with my yield, and it tastes delicious. There is nothing wrong with using primarily Dry Malt Extract or Liquid Malt Extract.

This can lead one feeling a little like “that’s is!?” Don’t get me wrong, keep it simple stupid is my motto. I just couldn’t help but feel there must be “more”. Enter my surprise, PM and AG brewing.

Here I am going to highlight PM because I feel it still lies in novice/amateur domain. PM and AG brewing is different in that you are doing your own extraction process. This means you will spend less money on extract ingredients, as grains will cost less than DME or LME. 

The process of PM is considerably less intensive and holds less risk of complication than AG brewing. The key here, is that it adds a more intimate aspect to your brewing without making it too overwhelming for less seasoned participants. It normally doesn’t require you to obtain extra equipment (less maybe an extra container), and greatly adds to the involvement of the craft. I imagine once I take on PM, no longer will I fill my primary without a sweat band. Half the fun of homebrew is the act of brewing, do what you can to drag it out.

This hasn’t even mentioned the added control PM or AG brewing gives the brewer. Much tighter flavor profile, or custom gravity control is a definite bonus to the process. Starting with a PM compared with AG is probably the best way to go for the beginners and first time extractors. Also, PM brewing tends to be more convenient for the college brewer or brewers in apartments because stoves can greatly impact how a boil goes down.

There are many benefits to PM versus DME or LME brewing. And once again HomeBrewTalk.Com has a great forum read on the benefits here. Also, there is a great read on the process of Partial Mashing and how to at BeerSmith.Com. This article is relevant to the Partial Masher looking to mash without having to obtain a bunch of new fangled equipment. Good luck brewing, and remember RDWHAHB.

 

-Zach Attack

From Canes to Bottles

12 Nov

 So my first batch has completed fermentation and it’s time to get bottling! That’s the good news, bad news: my primary fermenter had a spigot, and I’ve yet to use a racking cane. My beautiful brew has finished up inside a five gallon glass carboy, so how do I get it out? All I have is a plastic cane with a tip, and am expected to rack five gallons of liquid with it! A beginner could easily baffle themselves trying to figure how to start suction without using a mouth. I read a few things that sounded helpful, but mouths and tap water aren’t sanitary (which is priority with brew). Also, purchasing an auto siphon was not ideal.

 Finally, I was able to make a connection at BrewOrganic.com. This link leads you to their page on how to properly siphon your brew. They suggest some leftover sanitizing solution to initiate the draw- the perfect solution! Not only that, unlike other reads, it is complete with easy to understand pictures and hints for a smooth racking process. If you want to dive a bit further in, the bottom of the page will lead you into the next step of the process: the bottling one.

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Cheers, Zach Attack

Ido-phor Fun

5 Nov

Every homebrewer has the responsibility of sanitation. How we go about our sanitation can completely change the name of the game. There are many modes available for homebrew sanitation, some cheaper, some more accessible. The key here, is to remember the goal of thorough and proper sanitation. Despite the means, always have the health of  your brew as priority.

That being said, I am here to help you change the name of the game. Mentioned before, as long as you take necessary steps with your mode of sanitation, you can effectively sanitize many ways. Bleach, for instance, is accesible and works fine. Except all surfaces in contact of cool wort must be soaked for 15 minutes and quite thoroughly rinsed. In this case, rinsing is imperative to decrease risk of creating defective flavors. Just because you have some laying around, doesn’t mean you should avoid alternatives.

As a beginner brewer I’ve searched for some alternatives for you. In fact, here is a complete guide to any sort of alternative and the process required for successful sanitation. It has a guide for bleach, acetic acid, and even dishwashers. It even goes over my beloved choice sanitizer: Idophor.

Idophor is awesome. It’s used by most food industries and even for commercial applications. I got my bottle for super cheap, four ounces for five bucks. You only need to dilute a teaspoon for every 5 gallons of water, its effective at 12.5 ppm. Idophor completely obliterates microbes, bacterias, and viruses that would affect your elixer with only 60 seconds contact time. Take that bleach! The best part, it doesn’t need to be rinsed either. Just pour it out and let it air dry, better yet, put it in a sprayer, mist, and let sit.

So you can see why I’d never bleach when I picked up a bit of Idophor that will last me ages. Not quite sold, or heard confliction in reviews? The most informational and non-biased page I have read regarding the demystification of Idophor is located here through BayAreaMashers.Org. When I compare to others like Star-San, I always worry about keeping tabs (literally) on solution pH levels and if I still have viable sanitizer. The Idophor has switched so pH balance isn’t ever an issue. After reading that enlightening Idophor article, it seems if you tuck your solution away you can get it to keep around a week. According to the manufacturer, if the color and smell is in tact the solution should be quite active.

So change the name of your game to  cheap and convenient, reduce your hassle. Don’t waste your time and energy soaking and rinsing. Use it on helping pitch your yeast or brewing up your wort- let Idophor do the work. So get brewing and stop rinsing!

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Zach Attack