HOMEBREW Digest #4601 Wed 08 September 2004

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  re: ATC Refractometer from Northern Brewer ("Charles Boyer")
  That British Caramel Taste ("William Frazier")
  Re: ATC Refractometer from Northern Brewer (Christopher Farley)
  Re: Jeff Renner's priming method (Jeff Renner)
  Re: Tuff-Tank from EC Krause (stencil)
  Re: Rye IPA/Candi sugar (Denny Conn)
  RE:  Tuff Tank (Kevin Brown)
  sankey spear removal (MICAH MILLSPAW)
  Re: wild hops (Ed Westemeier)
  Son of WLP-802, The Movie (Michael Owings)
  The Story of one Brewpub. (Philip J Wilcox)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 22:37:12 -0400 From: "Charles Boyer" <cboyer at ausoleil.org> Subject: re: ATC Refractometer from Northern Brewer I use one, and get quite accurate results from mine. Rather than using a friend's refractometer, I would suggest using a hydrometer instead, to see if specific gravity reading from it matches the specific gravity calculated from the Brix reading on your hydrometer. Thomas Eibner wrote a little web page for conversions here: http://brew.stderr.net/refractometer.htm Good luck -- once you get the hang of using a refractometer, your hydrometer will start gathering dust! Charles Boyer http://www.homebrewhelp.com Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 21:47:06 -0500 From: "William Frazier" <billfrazier at worldnet.att.net> Subject: That British Caramel Taste Fred Johnson likes British beers with a caramel flavor. He says "I have not been able to reproduce (the flavor) very well in my many attempts at the style. My beers come out more like the American style except for the distinctive English hops character." Fred - If you are able to keg your beer try this out. Make your typical British-style ale. Rack to the keg. Figure how much sugar you want to add to carbonate and carmalize this sugar in your kitchen. Make a syrup out of the caramel and add this to the keg. Let the beer carbonate naturally and see if this will give you the flavor you are after. My experience is that you will have some caramel flavor for a while and it will fade as the sugar is fermented. Fuller Brewery adds about 5 gallons of caramel syrup to each batch of beer. They say it's for color but who knows. Bill Frazier Olathe, Kansas USA Return to table of contents
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 23:34:30 -0500 From: Christopher Farley <chris at northernbrewer.com> Subject: Re: ATC Refractometer from Northern Brewer Rob Dewhirst wrote: > > I have the relatively inexpensive refractometer sold by Northern Brewer. I > am getting consistently LOW brix readings with both wort and grape juice. > Samples reading 22-24 brix with friends refractometers read 17-18 with mine. > > I calibrate the device before each "session" with distilled water. I let > the sample and refractometer sit for at least a minute so they are the same > temperature. I look at the sample in good outdoor sunlight. I have no > bubbles on the sample glass. I still get low readings. > > Has anyone else experienced this with this model? I made a quick look and > could not identify a manufacturer. Hand held refractometers are pretty durable, but can be knocked out of calibration. This can happen during shipping, or if you drop it, etc. Our refractometer includes a small screwdriver to mechanically calibrate the scale. It may not sufficient to calibrate at zero with distilled water; you may want to make up a solution of known gravity. If you have a good scale, you can put 10 grams of sugar in a large cup. Add water until you have a total of 100 grams. Completely dissolve the sugar, and then test this solution at 68 degrees -- it should be 10 brix. (68 degrees is from memory, check the refractometer documentation to determine what the "standard" temperature is. It is either 60 or 68 degrees.) If you don't have a high-quality gram scale, you can use bigger numbers. 1 pound of corn sugar in 1 gallon of water should yield 9 brix. After calibrating at a non-zero point, try distilled water again and make sure that reads zero. If it doesn't, then something is definitely wrong with the instrument and you should return it for a replacement. We have sold hundreds of these instruments, and have found very few (<<1%) defective units. If you suspect the unit is faulty and don't want to go through the bother of testing it, just ship it back and we can test it for you. By the way, I find that refractometers (unlike, say, pH meters) are very low-maintenance instruments. You shouldn't need to calibrate them often once they're set, unless you drop them or something... - -- Christopher Farley www.northernbrewer.com Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 09:44:47 -0400 From: Jeff Renner <jeffrenner at comcast.net> Subject: Re: Jeff Renner's priming method Bill Velek <billvelek at alltel.net> writes: >In HBD No. 4599, in reply to a comment by Glynn Crossno that he >dissolves 3.77 ounces of priming sugar in a quart of water, Jeff Renner >then commented that: > >"... that's way more water than I use, and often I use >beer because I don't like to dilute the beer." > >Jeff, do you boil your priming sugar in the beer, or just add it at room >temp and stir until it dissolves before putting it in the bottling bucket? >Also, what proportion of beer to sugar do you use for what size batch? I don't bottle a lot, but lately I have been brewing with several new brewers so I have been. When bottling my usual 7.75 gallon/30 liter batch, I probably use about 1-1/2 cups of beer or water and 5 oz/150 grams of sugar, maybe less for less carbonated styles or strong ones that I expect to keep a long time (they tend to ferment some of the slow fermenting sugars left from the original mash and become more highly carbonated). I generally heat it with the sugar in the microwave in a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup. When it gets warm enough for the sugar to dissolve easily with a little stirring, I stop heating it. I suppose that is a little hotter than hot water out of the tap. Maybe 125F/50C? I don't want to cook the beer. Then I top it up with beer to and add it to the beer as I rack it to the priming bucket, making sure to gently but thoroughly mix it. Jeff - -- Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, JeffRenner at comcast.net "One never knows, do one?" Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943 Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 10:29:05 -0400 From: stencil <etcs.ret at verizon.net> Subject: Re: Tuff-Tank from EC Krause On Tue, 7 Sep 2004 23:51:28 -0400, in Homebrew Digest #4600 (September 07, 2004) Rob Dewhirst wrote: >(PS, if you research this product you will find a thread on >rec.crafts.brewing about this and a claim that these can be purchased >through US Plastics. The product sold through US Plastics is not the >same. It has a rubber seal. The Tuff-Tank does not have any separate >seal or gasket.) > Beg to differ. Quoting Kraus's page: >22 GAL TUFF-TANK VESSEL > >Price Quantity Buy Now >$73.30 >Click Price to view special pricing > >(TT220) Holds 22 gallons. These specially designed tanks come with a >patented gliding "Thread & Gasket" lid design. Basically this is the GammaSeal, an adapter sold to convert standard plastic buckets into screw-top containers, mated to a very practical rectangular body. It is variously marketed as GrainVault, VittlesVault, and TuffTank. In its 80# VittlesVault incarnation, the 22gal TuffTank can be had for $44, far cheaper than Kraus's offering (cf www.pet-dog-cat-supply-store.com.) FWIW, I have three of the 14gal units and they make superb fermenters. The thread-on lid means you can easily replace an airlock with a spigot, and their shape makes them very handy to fill, empty, and clean. The major caveat is that since these employ the snapped-on GammaSeal assembly, there is a channel running around the interior just below the mouth that has a high potential for harboring soil and bacteria. Further, I'm not convinced that this attachment seam is hermetic (although the screw-on lid certainly is) and that renders the whole oxygen-permeability question moot. Gamma Plastics keeps a very low profile on the Web but one who was really motivated to investigate the airtight/O2permeable question could chat with them: Gamma Plastics 4606 Santa Fe St. San Diego, CA 92109 619-272-5099 800-842-6543 619-272-5659 gamma at fda.net stencil sends Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 08:43:35 -0800 From: Denny Conn <denny at projectoneaudio.com> Subject: Re: Rye IPA/Candi sugar Guy, hearing that you loved the Rogue Two Tier Bier is music to my ears! John Maier developed it pretty much directly from my homebrew recipe after trying my Rye IPA at Big Brew last year. He had asked me for the recipe there and commented on how it was just the taste he was looking for. I was highly honored when I found a few months later that it would be one of their 15th Anniversary beers. There are some slight differences...I use a high proportion of crystal, which is something I got from John, along with just a bit of wheat. John had carawheat on hand, so he used that for both of them. It makes for a little less crystal that I use and that, coupled with Rogue's Pacman yeast, yields a little less body and a bit sharper taste than my recipe. But I'm pleased that the overall flavor is so true to my recipe. Having a brewery like Rogue brew one of my recipes is about the biggest honor I can think of for me as a homebrewer, and I'm extremely grateful to them. If you'd like to see my original recipe, it's at http://hbd.org/cascade/recipes/recipes.html . Just scroll down the page to it. Graham, I'm grateful for the time you took in responding to my inquiry on candi sugar. However, I must not have phrased my question very well, becaus in spite of your information I still don't have an answer! I have looked and looked and still can't find any references to candi sugar being either inverted or carmelized. Maybe it's because my only experience with candi sugar is the Brewer's Garden brand,. but I was under the impression that Brewer's Garden produced an authentic candi sugar, so I use that as my example. As far as I can find, candi sugar is made by crystallization, not cooking. Also, in tasting medium and dark candi sugars, I don't detect any hint of carmel at all...almost as if the sugar is just using a coloring to darken it. Maybe there are other candi sugars that I'm not aware of that are the basis of your comments? If so, I'd appreciate any information you or anyone else could point me to in this regard. Thanks for any help, --------------->Denny Conn Noti OR Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 14:17:34 -0400 From: Kevin Brown <kbrown at uvi.edu> Subject: RE: Tuff Tank Rob, This is a version of what I use for a primary fermenter. I purchased a "Vittles Vault" from a local store. They are made by this company http://www.gammaplastics.com/ and mine is the Vittles Vault 50. I paid 25 bucks for mine. The one you are looking at is the Vittles Vault 80. You should be able to pick one up at Petco or Petsmart for about 50 bucks. I use mine for 10 gallon batches and could probably go to about 12 gallons. I added an airlock to the center of the lid and located a spigot in the corner section as shown in your reference.(The corner has a heavier wall than the sides.) You state there is not a seal/gasket, well they do come with one, maybe the home brew vendor removed it. The o-ring is captive in the lid and seals it against the seat on the container. It may be hard see with a casual inspection. It is not always that captive and can be remove for cleaning. I have used mine for about 6 batches so far and it has been working out O.K. I don't think it is a long term solution for me but it sure was cost effective for a large fermenter. The biggest problem I have encountered so far is in cleaning and sanitizing. The problem is it will not completely drain by just inverting the container. There is a rather large lip that protrudes into the inside forming sort of a well that keeps solutions captive in the container. I have a complete cleaning regiment for it and will post it if anyone is interested. Kevin St.Thomas, VI "Rob Dewhirst" wrote: > Over the weekend a friend showed me his 22 gallon Tuff-Tank from EC > Krause. I was very impressed with how light and durable it was, and the > price seems quite reasonable. > > I am concerned about oxygen permeability of the plastic, and the amount > of light they seem to let through. Has anyone used one of these long > enough to age beer in them or dry hop in them (for which they would be > ideal with the large opening)? > > <http://www.eckraus.com/prodinfo.asp?number=TT220&variation=&aitem=3&mitem=7> > > <http://snipurl.com/8wpx> > > (PS, if you research this product you will find a thread on > rec.crafts.brewing about this and a claim that these can be purchased > through US Plastics. The product sold through US Plastics is not the > same. It has a rubber seal. The Tuff-Tank does not have any separate > seal or gasket.) Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 11:20:36 -0700 (PDT) From: MICAH MILLSPAW <mmillspaw at ameritech.net> Subject: sankey spear removal > I have a couple of freshly donated kegs that are >different and I'm at a loss. The brewery gave them >to me because they don't know how either. >Keg #1 is a sankey type valve but it screws in >rather than just >slide in. I have unscrewed it where it is nice and >loose. I can raise it up about a half inch but it >will not come out. I thought >maybe it had a second set of threads down low but I >don't seem able to engage them if they exist. I was >pretty sure I've >removed screw in valves before without this problem >but apparently not. the reason that the probe does not come out easily is because of a safety catch that prevents it from being shot out under pressure if someone tries to take apart the keg. there is a tool for removing getting it out and cheaper way (5 cents). The correct way is to use a wash coupling, which is what a keg washing machine uses to couple to sankeys, it has a longer probe that depresses the catch and allow the probe to come free. The cheap way to do this is to use a regular sankey tavern head and a nickel (US). Place the coin on the ball in the center of the sankey valve and the carefully place the tavern head over it and twist it to lock on. Then depress the lever on the head (this may require some extra effort) this will push the ball in far enough to depress the catch and release the probe. After the probe is removed the safety catch could be removed if so desired. micah Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 16:16:23 -0400 From: Ed Westemeier <hopfen at malz.com> Subject: Re: wild hops On Sep 6, 2004, "Sean Harper" <seanjharper at hotmail.com> wrote: > I > happened to look at the crown of this long-departed tree and see > something > quite interesting. The vines that are quite litterally keeping the > dead-wood > from collaps appered to be hops! ... > . I would also love to identify the type of > hops growing on my land... Any idea's? All suggestions will be greatly > appreciated! The native hops growing in North America since time immemorial are generally regarded as belonging to the Clusters variety. You can find them in almost any part of the continent north of a latitude line the approximately bisects the USA. We have them in numerous places here in the southern Ohio area. Of course, the Clusters hops you would buy from a hop merchant today are actually a hybrid of traditional European hops and the native, wild hops. Most of these "wild" hops are rather scraggly things compared to cultivated varieties, but they were what our foreparents used to brew with, and can still be used for that purpose today. They tend to be relatively low acid hops with not very desirable flavor characteristics. For that reason, if you want to use some in your home brewing, I would recommend just throwing a handful in the early boil for bittering. You won't raise your calculated IBUs by much, and you'll be better off without the flavor contribution, but you'll be able to say you did it. Ed Westemeier Midwestern hop gardener Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 15:26:00 -0500 From: Michael Owings <mikey at swampgas.com> Subject: Son of WLP-802, The Movie (Also posted to rec.crafts.brewing) One more clip added. This time I've stained the sample with methylene blue -- you can see that a couple of cells have taken up the dye. There is also an individual in the process of budding. Run this puppy full screen at work when you're not at your desk. Women will love you -- men will fear you. You'll get a raise. At some point, I'll do a time lapse of cells actually budding. I need to stablize the slides with some agar or gelatin, I think. Mebbe next week. Suggestions welcome on procedures for doing this. http://www.swampgas.com/microscopy/yeast/index.html Have fun -- m - -- Teleoperate a roving mobile robot from the web: http://www.swampgas.com/robotics/rover.html Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 16:39:57 -0400 From: Philip J Wilcox <pjwilcox at cmsenergy.com> Subject: The Story of one Brewpub. Bill, Jackson Brewing Co./ Zigs went out because of poor management and declining location. They never had great management, but had a good thing going the first few years with higher overhead in separate GM, Chef, Brewer and Bar Manager positions. The problems started with those 4 jobs went to 3 people... Spencer hit the nail on the head, Brewpub are restaurants that have a brewery on the side. The top three rules in restauranting are Location, Location, Location. JBC was surviving its early growing pains but was not making much money for the two investors. They started in 95-96 before the legislation was completed. They essentially betted they could economically do both a small distributing micro and a Brewpub in the same location. They built a 15 bbl brewhouse with room enough to add a bottling line if they got the right legislation -- they didn't) Hence, they overbuilt and overspent and overleveredged financially on capacity they couldn't never hope to use...So after the initial success, and a slow decline eventually the Managing partner wanted out. The blind partner, having more money and time than brains took over. They could have gone up (.2 probability), or down (.4) or stayed the same (.4) in my estimate. Not wanting to stay the same the new owner got rid of the talented executive chef who couldn't manage a staff for beans. Which was a good move. And hired 3 managers who claimed to have experience from somewhere... Unfortunately Larry, Curly, and Moe couldn't run a restaurant any better than they could make Duck Soup. (Being the blind partner he didn't know jack about this type of business, [but to an accountant, which he was, it at least looked good on paper]) He hired the first people through the door, and it really burned him in the end. Somebody wanted to make a name for themselves and the place was renamed for the owner, this was not only unnecessary, but also unwise. They had been in business 6 years and had a good reputation. Good Beer, good food, poor service and its way the hell outside of town, but right next to a good sized lake community. In other words it had a good share of regulars. They announced they were closing for 2 months to renovate into a more sports themed place and promptly re-opened half a year later. The new drywall and carpet looked new, and the 60 inch high definition TVs were cool, but the old world Bavarian charm was gone. It was rather blah and scantly had any more sports stuff than the previous place. The menu was totally new and really sucked. Gone was the famous whitefish dip, the salmon sandwich, the fish and chips, the biggest thickest fries in town... Gone were the free muscles during happy hour, and the best hand dipped beer battered fish sandwich I have ever had... lastly gone was the tasty breads and funky multi seed crackers served with the samplers that had been their hallmark. -- They threw the baby out with the bathwater. Pissed off the locals something fierce. The new bread looked exactly like the hamburger buns at the Whitecastle across the street. The food was horrid. Directly out of the Cisco catalog. Like a greasy spoon out on the county line gone bad. But the owner did do something right. He didn't fire the brewer. He gave him free reign to do whatever he wanted. And that kept him in business for longer than they deserved. The brewer kept but renamed a few of the regular beers and rotated 5 different beers. He kept the beer crowd happy. Great beers. He dropped to making 7 bbl batches on a 15 bbl system. A serious PITA for himself, but worth it to keep the beers fresh. He resurrected the handpump; and dealt with all its problems, rebuilt it, junked it, and bought a new one. When business started getting really lean. He brought in his 1/2 bbl system and brewed on that to create fresh beers for the handpump and later for the regular taps too. Dedicated brewers cannot save a beached whale, however. Eventually management did bring back some of the favorites from the old place, but it was too little too late. They had been losing their traffic off the interstate to the big chains on the other side of town. Olive Garden, Texas Road House, Cracker-barrel, Hudson Grille were all clustered a few exits down and had been picking away the traffic for years. With a "soft opening" and no advertising to speak of, sans 2 expensive neon signs on the property where one did the same thing at half the cost. And one placed 75 feet higher would have allowed both the East bound AND the West bound I-94 traffic to see it... but no... one monstrous redundant sign for the locals on the street, and one for half of the highway traffic. They even reengineered and repaved the entrance and exit to the place around the sign. Completely utter waste of capital.... They lost the local market, never gained the highway traffic the didn't have in the first place, and when the brewer finally left to pursue his own place, they quickly lost the beer crowd. They were closed in less than four months. Could this location make it? Yes, it could. Its been closed almost 2 years now or there about... enough for the bad taste of Zigs to go away. With real management, real marketing and real ale, a hardworking owner/manager could make it happen. Necessary ingredients: Food to please the locals. Beer good enough to attract the beer crowd off the highway. A brewer that knows how to brew AND train a staff to serve the beer knowledgeably and with a first class smile. A lunch menu/philosophy that will get people out of downtown, in for lunch, and back to their office in 1:20 minutes. An hour would be better, but that's wishful thinking. Purchase the old name if the price is right, if not, remember the locals are not Jackson--but in Gillette's Lake. That's the market you have to own. Gillette's Lake Road House would do nicely. Places to emulate include The Beach Bar in Clark Lake for service and local attention, The Hudson Grille for target marketing strategies. The arbor brewing co for knowledgeable staff and local owner/operator experience. It could make it. Add a beach volleyball league like Hudson Grille, supplement with a darts and/or pool league for the winter... Or... One could junk the declining location take the equipment downtown Jackson and try to work the New Holland model. File as a micro, distribute custom beers around town to help foster a beer culture. Be the only upscale downtown hang out after work. Focus on great hors de ovures and beer. Double as a coffee house in the morning/afternoon if you have to. Use extra space for conference space. If you decide to do a Brewpub the lunch crowd will be crucial. Avoid putting brewing/beer in the name and make sure to do custom soda's to over come the no beer during lunch for the downtown business folks. Resurrect one of the 1930 local brewery names like Henley's or Schele... This could also be done well...Do I sound like I am trying to convince myself? I am. I just need to find someone with a large fortune who is willing to have me make a small fortune out of it for them ... ;<) Phil Wilcox Graphic Designer Corporate Communications - Consumers Energy Parent of three kids five and under... Return to table of contents
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