HOMEBREW Digest #5103 Thu 30 November 2006

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  Re: Better Bottle drain port and availability question (Bob Tower)
  Re: Sparkalloid & Carbonation (Bob Tower)
  Re: Better Bottle (Nate Wahl)
  Better Bottles again ("Dave Draper")
  Broken Carboy (Rick) Theiner <rickdude@tds.net>
  A Dutch home brewer advises ("martin hofhuis")
  Re: Better bottles (Joe Gerteis)
  Mash mixing ("Doug Moyer")
  Carboy thread ("Stevens, Jonathan C")
  Better Bottles vs. Glass Carboys ("Alexandre Enkerli")
  Wassail Recipe ("Brian Dougan")
  Smartgroups is Dead . . . . But UK Homebrew lives On!! (UK Homebrew Administrator)
  Re: ACS HCl ("Greg 'groggy' Lehey")

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 22:29:29 -0800 From: Bob Tower <bob at constructotower.com> Subject: Re: Better Bottle drain port and availability question Robert Marshall asks about installation of spigots on Better Bottles . . . . -snip- One question I have though. Does anyone sell the bottle WITH the side port drain already installed? I checked out morebeer.com, which is a stone's throw from where I work, but I didn't seem to find an option to buy it installed? If it isn't available that way, is it easy to install yourself? My imagination is that its akin to building the ship in the bottle, where you've got to use long appliances to get it right, which is something I don't really appreciate! Al -snip- As far as I know they are not available pre-installed. However, they are extremely simple to install. The trick is to use something to hold the inside portion through the port while you thread the outside half of the spigot onto it. I believe the Better Bottle web site recommends using a 2-3 foot piece of 1/4" rod (available at hardware stores) slipped into the racking arm on the spigot to lower it into the bottle and hold it in place while the outside portion gets attached. I just use a 3/8" racking cane which works great. The installation is extremely simple once you go to do it. To explain it makes it seem complicated. Really, if you are clever and handy enough to home brew then you can do this with ease. Good luck! Bob Tower / Los Angeles, CA P.S. Careful though when you go to purchase the spigot, you may fall over and hurt your head when you see the price. It's as much or more than the bottle itself! Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 23:11:18 -0800 From: Bob Tower <bob at constructotower.com> Subject: Re: Sparkalloid & Carbonation Fred Johnson made a post concerning the use of Sparkolloid to clarify beer and was concerned about it stripping out yeast for bottle conditioning. I feel that it does strip out a considerable amount of yeast, whether it strips it ALL out is debatable. I've never tried it on beer because somewhere a long time ago I read that it was not recommended for beer as it tends to pull out hop character (not sure if they meant bitterness or aroma) plus I rarely have problems with yeast clarity for the beer I brew. However, I do use it quite regularly for cider. I ferment cider for two weeks on the fruit then rack and treat with Sparkolloid and allow it to settle for two more weeks. Then I rack to kegs and force carbonate. I sweeten a certain amount of the batch that I give to friends (they DEMAND that it's sweet!) and then counter pressure bottle the sweetened cider. To avoid any yeast that still might be hanging around from going to work in the bottles I treat the sweetened portion with potassium sorbate. However, I add it at HALF the rate prescribed and I've yet to have a bottle bomb (I've probably done 10-15 batches like this over the years). Just for a little quality assurance, I'll keep a sweetened bottle or two from each batch at room temperature for a few months and then drink it. The carbonation level has never increased nor have I gotten yeast sediment in a bottle. It could be that 4 weeks (2 with Sparkolloid) with a flocculent strain (Lalvin K1V-1116), chilling for a few days (for forced carbonation) and the half dose of sorbate is enough to keep whatever remaining yeast down for the count. But my gut feeling is that not a lot of yeast are making it through the Sparkolloid treatment. Rather than adding the dregs from the fermenter (which has got trub and other substances better left out) to ensure yeast activity for bottle conditioning why not just add a neutral strain of dry yeast (like Nottingham) at bottling time? That way you are only adding yeast and it's strong and healthy yeast at that. Plus the dry yeast is cheap. For my beer, I occasionally use Polyclar and I have found that it tends to strip out yeast too. The first time I used it my beer carbonated eventually, but it took much longer than usual (6-8 weeks vs. 1-2 weeks). Now I always add a little dry yeast before bottling or cask conditioning and it brings the conditioning time back to normal. Others who've used Polyclar and not had any bottle conditioning problems may not be using enough Polyclar. I've found that the dosage recommendations on the Polyclar available at HB shops (which are almost always bought in bulk and repackaged either by the store itself or the vendors they buy from) are notoriously low. I obtained instructions from the manufacturer (they are not easy to follow!) and worked it out for myself and came up with much higher dosages. The dosage does vary with starting gravity and wort make up (adjuncts or all malt) so there's no "one size fits all" dosing rate like the instructions on the repackaged bags and jars of Polyclar you're likely to encounter at your LHBS would have you believe. The same goes for kettle finings (Breakbright, Whirlfloc, etc.) and yeast nutrients: low or misleading dosage rates on the package. Bob Tower / Los Angeles, CA Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 06:16:04 -0500 From: Nate Wahl <oogiewawa at verizon.net> Subject: Re: Better Bottle Here's a link to some plans to build wood carriers for carboys that several of us around here have made, and they work really great. http://mysite.verizon.net/cruiser570/Carboy/carboy.html No stress on the neck, they make the things one heck of a lot easier and safer to handle, you can sit them upside-down to dry, on their sides for cleaning, and even stack them when empty. Sorry that the construction photo link doesn't work, I haven't had time to fix it yet since switching providers, but if you FTP around you might be able to find the photos. However, that said, I've switched to the Better Bottles and am glad I did. The convenience, performance and safety/peace of mind, seemed worthwhile enough that I got another pair despite what I thought was a rather high price. I still use the glass ones, but only for long term storage of meads and such, and I've built a carrier for each one.. As an aside, Brian's posting got me really fired up; a while back I really wanted to try to have some of these carriers made up and sell them as kits, because I know how dangerous it is throwing glass around like a lot of homebrewers do. I had a near miss that convinced me so, hence coming up with the idea for them in the first place. I really wanted to get them out there to help people. I even researched what it would take to get the top and bottom plates made out of injection molded plastic. Getting stuff done like that is very expensive, incredibly so for small runs, and I would have had to charge way too much to have made it worthwhile. Sorry, please build your own, its not that hard and its cheaper anyway. I'd bet coming up with a relatively tiny run of these specialty plastic bottles, labelled, packaged and distributed, along with developing all the racking connections and stuff was similar. Advertising to get them out there isn't cheap either. Probably not a whole lot of profit there. I sure didn't expect to make a killing and retire from the few piddly bucks profit I might have made from a couple of dozen homebrewers for all my efforts, that's just rediculous. I dissagree and suspect that safety really would have been a big factor in his passion, but that's just a take on it; you gotta know someone to know what motivates them. Cheers, Nate Wahl Oak Harbor, OH 64.3, 145.8 Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 06:29:22 -0700 From: "Dave Draper" <david at draper.name> Subject: Better Bottles again Dear Friends, Robert Marshall asks about the installation of the drain port in a Better Bottle. Robert, it's a snap, takes two minutes. You get a length of PVC pipe that has an ID that fits over the intake tube (I don't have that dimension handy, it's on their site), turn the bottle upside down, insert, and the pipe holds the works in place while you hand-tighten. I won't rehash my preference for plastic fermentors-- you can Google the HBD if you're really interested-- but I will restate my conviction that there is zero evidence that beer fermented in glass can be distinguished from that produced from properly cared for plastic. If glass works for you and you don't have safety issues, like I do with tile, hard wood, and concrete everywhere my beers go during my process, rock on, more power to ya. Given these constraints in my home and the fact there is no difference in the end, it's a no-brainer for me and worth the extra thirty bucks to never have to worry about needing the ER to sew my hands back on. :-) Cheers, Dave in ABQ David S. Draper, david at draper.name Institute of Meteoritics, 1 Univ New Mexico, MSC03-2050, Albuquerque, NM 87131 Lab: http://epswww.unm.edu/highp Homepage: http://www.unm.edu/~draper Commercial email unwelcome. Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 9:16:46 -0600 From: Eric (Rick) Theiner <rickdude at tds.net> Subject: Broken Carboy Mike Stumpf asked about the events leading up to my sudden carboy failure, and I'd say they're good questions that perhaps we can all learn from in handling glass carboys. >I'd guess stress and microfractures that built up over >time caused something that is unlikely, but given a large >enough sample size is far from impossible. Could you >elaborate a bit on what happened? Had you ever misused the >carboy (hauling by its neck)? Did you ever temperature- >shock it? Can you in any way account for what happened? The unnamed guy at Better Bottle that I referenced also brought up the glass microfracture phenomenon. Because glass is amorphous, I didn't think that stress was something that accumulated... of course, I'm not a materials scientist, so I probably have flawed reasoning on that. Anyway, the point is that glass does accumulate microfractures which can lead to weak spots over time. In my case, I can't point to any one incident, but here are my former glass carboy handling habits. Oh, and I can only guess at the age of the carboy, but I think it may have been 3-4 years old. It was of a type that I first purchased in 1995, so it could have conceivably been 8 years old. First off, my former brewhouse had a brick walk leading to it and the brewing area itself was under an overhang that had a pea gravel surface. The brick walk was often used to "stage" carboys on brewing days when we could clean them and sanitize them. So setting the carboys on both the gravel and the bricks could have had a cumulative effect. My method of lifting a full carboy was to push the neck away from me to create a groove between the ground and the carboy that I would fit my fingers into. I would then lift primarily from the bottom, although I'm sure I exerted some lifting force on the neck as well. (Incidentally, my current method involves me giving the carboy a bear hug and simply pulling it up.) I'm guessing that let to the eventual failure. I did have a carboy handle, but I only carry via a handle when the carboy is empty. Maybe even that can produce some weakness.<shrug> But I am at a loss to say whether or not there was a significant event that led to the break. Rick Theiner Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 17:33:05 +0100 From: "martin hofhuis" <martinhofhuis at home.nl> Subject: A Dutch home brewer advises Hallo Bob Tower, I am a Dutch homebrewer, who red about your quest for home brew organization in the Netherlands. When you are searching for homebrew club's in the Netherlands in the Neighbourhood of Utrecht than there Are 2 club 's to consider. 1. 't Wort Wat; in Hoofddorp. The place is on the other site of Amsterdam, nearby the airport Schiphol. 2. De Amervallei; in Amersfoort. Amersfoort is a place jus ton the other site of Utrecht than Amsterdam. The addresses can be found on the site of Jacques Bertens on www.hobbybrouwen.nl. Succes with your stay in Holland. Martin Hofhuis, a Dutch homebrewer in Tilburg, member of De Roerstok the Netherlands. - -- Mijn Postvak In wordt beschermd door SPAMfighter. 75 spam-mails zijn er tot op heden geblokkeerd. Download de gratis SPAMfighter via deze link: http://www.spamfighter.com/pro Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 17:13:00 +0000 From: joe_gerteis at comcast.net (Joe Gerteis) Subject: Re: Better bottles For what it's worth -- you do not need the port on the better bottles. To me, that's a needless expense that I can't justify and it makes it more complex -- I like using the same system for the plastic and the glass carboys. The secret is that the regular carboy caps fit on the Better Bottles. The orange ones fit, though a little loosely. The purple ones (6.5 gallon) fit better. You need to force them, but once on they are snug. I just push a regular S-shaped airlock in the larger hole for fermentation. For racking, I use the cap with a racking cane and push the beer through with CO2 top pressure in the other hole of the cap. Works great, and no worries about the carboy breaking. For the record, I am not a Better Bottle evangelist. I like them and have had good luck with them, but I'm not giving up my glass ones. I got mine initially because I needed more fermenters and with I started to get nervous with 2 kids running around my house and in reach of some of the carboys. For that, it's worth the extra expense to me. (Extra expense since I don't expect them to last as long as glass.) Just my two cents. Joe G St Paul MN Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 12:35:50 -0500 From: "Doug Moyer" <shyzaboy at yahoo.com> Subject: Mash mixing Jay sez: ================================== Bazooka screens are tough little buggers, so if you're deforming them it sounds like you're running waaay too much flow. As an aside, I see a grant as a useless introduction of air (at least in my system). Just throttle the flow back and see if that helps. ================================== Yep. An obvious solution. Unfortunately, it is a solution that doesn't apply. I barely crack the ball valve. I ordered fifty pounds of rice hulls. We'll see if that helps. I think the only thing I've changed recently was trying to mash-in at a lower temp to avoild flour balls. I wonder if that is causing the mash to be pastier or something... This is what my double Bazooka setup looks like: http://img374.imageshack.us/img374/6864/dscf0041vy9.jpg Brew on! Doug Moyer Troutville, VA Star City Brewers Guild: http://www.starcitybrewers.org Beer, brewing, travel & kids: http://shyzaboy.blogsome.com Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 10:36:00 -0500 From: "Stevens, Jonathan C" <Jonathan.Stevens at dhs.gov> Subject: Carboy thread Y'all Just to throw in my $0.02...I've been brewing in 6 gallon plastic buckets for...18 years now? I like them most of all because they are easy to clean; just never use anything rougher than a sponge on them so you don't create scratches in the plastic. I've had one contaminated batch in all those years, and it was a yeast issue, not bucket hygiene. And I've left beer in them for up to a month with no oxidative notes. I think the concerns about buckets came from winos who converted over to brewing in the 60's, and brought their long term aging/oxidation concerns with them. Certainly, I wouldn't leave a beer in plastic for a year, but short of that, they're fine for most primary fermentation needs. FWIW, Chad Stevens QUAFF San Diego Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 14:11:30 -0500 From: "Alexandre Enkerli" <enkerli at gmail.com> Subject: Better Bottles vs. Glass Carboys Brewers, I'm currently working, a few days a week, for a winemaking-on-premises place. They're currently switching from white plastic carboys to Better Bottles (without the spigot system). I believe the reason we don't use glass is in fact to prevent injuries but weight is also a factor. BBs are much lighter than glass carboys, which makes them easier to handle. With wine kits (which contain metabisulfite), O2 permeation isn't much of an issue. The dangers associated with glass carboys are real. I did get some glass carboys explode, in my absence: http://enkerli.wordpress.com/2006/11/30/beer-explosion/ Another carboy was destroyed by cold (there was some liquid at the bottom). I'm not necessarily that worried about carboy explosions causing harm to my physiological integrity. But plastic carboys and Better Bottles do offer some advantages over glass. As has been said by Craft Beer Radio's Jeff Bearer (in a comment on James Spencer's Basic Brewing Radio), Better Bottles are quite convenient but they do scratch easily. All told, cornies are probably the best secondary fermenters, as they can withstand pressure, are virtually indestructible, and rather easy to sanitize. As for the grain-related pregnancy test, someone must have thought up a joke with an alternate interpretation of "SWMBO"... - -- Alexandre, in Montreal http://enkerli.wordpress.com/ Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 16:44:07 -0500 From: "Brian Dougan" <dougan.brian at gmail.com> Subject: Wassail Recipe After a hearty thread on the pumpkin ale I figured I would start up (what is probably seen every year) the next holiday themed recipe thread. When the family gets together for Christmas I would like to do a bit of "wassailing" but I am finding vastly different recipes out there. What I am looking for is a fairly traditional wassail recipe. Does anybody have one to share? Thanks so much, happy holiday season. -Brian Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 23:24:25 +0000 From: UK Homebrew Administrator <ukhbadmin at ukhomebrew.info> Subject: Smartgroups is Dead . . . . But UK Homebrew lives On!! Hi all, Well after 5 years at Smartgroups UK Homebrew has been forced to move, due to Orange deciding that it can't run a free group service for zero cost. Luckily due to ongoing support problems with them this year a group of us were already planning a revolution, and have set up another site. "The UK home brew discussion list exists to talk about issues related to brewing at home in the UK with the emphasis on the brewing of UK styles. To be honest if its related to brewing we generally talk about it" I know there are many readers of the HBD that were contributors and I can see that several of you have migrated over, however if there are any of you that have missed the emails that were sent, or are interested in life this side of the pond, if you send an email to mailto:subscribeme2 at uk-homebrew.info, you'll get an invitation to join along with joining instructions. - -- UK Homebrew administrator Return to table of contents
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 10:37:02 +1030 From: "Greg 'groggy' Lehey" <grog at lemis.com> Subject: Re: ACS HCl On Wednesday, 29 November 2006 at 14:19:09 +0000, A.J deLange wrote: > Made curious by Steve's post I looked at the lable on a jug of ACS > hydrochloric acid. To my surprise heavy metals were listed at less than > 1 ppm and arsenic at .01 ppm. That doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I thought at the time that Steve was misunderstanding. My experience of decades ago was that analytical chemicals are generally an order of magnitude more pure than pharmaceutical quality. > To put this in perspective this acid is about 36% HCl by weight so a > gram of this solution (1/1.186 cc) would contain 10 mEq HCl enough > to neutralize all the bicarbonate in a liter of water of alkalinity > 500 ppm as CaCO3. This would add 1 microgram or less of heavy metals > to the liter of water i.e. heavy metals would be at the 1 ppb or > less level. The drinking water standard used to be 50 ppb for lead > and the newer (but perhaps not current) action level is 15 ppb. So > still well under that. Don't worry so much about the proportions of the impurities as their absolute quantity. I don't know if the 0.05 ppm for lead applies generally, but if they are, drinking a litre of water would give you 50 <insert prohibited micro symbol> grams of lead. One gram of HCl with 1 ppm of lead would give you another 1 <insert prohibited micro symbol> gram of lead. > This does NOT mean that I advocate the use of non FCC chemicals in beer. > In fact I don't advocate the use of dangerous chemicals in any grade by > home brewers. I occasionally put a few drops of commercial HCl in my brews to adjust pH. HCl is probably less dangerous than bleach, though you need appropriate care with both. Greg - -- Finger grog at lemis.com for PGP public key. See complete headers for address and phone numbers. Return to table of contents
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