HOMEBREW Digest #5293 Thu 07 February 2008

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  Ann Arbor water ("A.J deLange")
  Re: Overnight mashing (Paul Shick)
  Gruit Ale (Randy Ricchi)
  Spam-o-rama! ("Pat Babcock")
  Re: Marzen (and soft water) (Denny Conn)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2008 08:40:52 -0500 From: "A.J deLange" <ajdel at cox.net> Subject: Ann Arbor water Based on: Total Hardness: 118-202 avg. 154 mg/L as CaCO3 Total Alkalinity: 54-132 avg. 76 mg/L as CaCO3 Calcium: 26-63 avg. 42 mg/L we can calculate the saturation pH as ranging from approximately 7.79 (hardest and most alkaline condition which, note, do not necessarily occur together) to 8.56 (softest and least alkaline numbers which also may not occur together) with an average of 8.20 (again noting that there may never have been a day on which the hardness and alakinities were simultaneously at thier average values). Thus the water company may well want a pH near or in the 9's in order to insure some deposition of calcite for protection of their mains. In fact to get the Ryznar index (2*pHs - pH) to 7, above which scale is, based on empirical observation, likely to be dissolved, requires pH 9.4 when pHs has the average value. A.J. Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2008 21:20:52 -0500 (EST) From: Paul Shick <shick at jcu.edu> Subject: Re: Overnight mashing Hi all, Leo Vitt writes about overnight mashing, using the oven to keep the temperature steady. I used to do this fairly frequently some years back, and I have to agree with Leo that it's a reasonable compromise when you need to find way to brew but can't block out 5 or so hours on one day. I had about the same temperature drop, too, from the low 150s to the low to mid 140s, high enough to avoid any noticeable lactobacillus problems. There is at least one potential drawback, though, at least for some styles, from my experience: the long mash produces a very fermentable wort, presumably from lots and lots of alpha-amylase action chopping things up. This is a real plus if you've got lots of Munich or Vienna malts in the grist, that usually require as much help as they can get in fermenting out. A simple grist might result in an overly dry beer. It might be best to take the long mash time into account when putting the recipe together, either adding more in the way of less fermentable malts or upping the conversion temperature some. An easier solution, at least for me, is to schedule my brew sessions for very early weekend mornings. Setting up the night before (milling, filtering water, etc) and using short "semi-batch" sparging procedures allows me to do 10 gallon batches in about 4 hours, including clean up, without too much loss of control over fermentabilty, etc. Paul Shick Still basement brewing in Cleveland Hts, OH, after all these years. P.S. It's great to have the HBD active again, without resorting to Clinitest trolling, etc. Thanks again, Pat, for keeping this great resource afloat. Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2008 08:04:55 -0500 From: Randy Ricchi <rricchi at houghton.k12.mi.us> Subject: Gruit Ale I just posted this on the hbd forum, and wanted to share it here as well, since this is my first homebrewing forum love :^) What with the hops shortage and all, and the fact that I brewed a gruit ale this September I have been meaning to post here about the experience. My initial inspiration for brewing a gruit came when I read an article about it in Zymurygy's 1993 special edition. A few years later there was another article in Zymurgy on brewing a yarrow beer. Every year since then I planned on doing it but never got around to it. Finally late in the summer of 2007 I decided once and for all that I would learn to identify and find the herbs I needed and make my gruit ale. I had no idea there was a hop shortage looming on the horizon. The herbs I used were the big 3 for Gruit: Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium),Sweet Gale (Myrica Gale), and Marsh Tea (Ledum palustre*), all collected fresh from the wilds in my area (Michigan's upper peninsula). The Yarrow is very common in my area and I had been familiar with it for years. The Myrica Gale is also VERY common along lakeshores in my area, but I wasn't familiar with the plant. Once I identified it, I was amazed at how ubiquitous it is. You chomp into a Myrica Gale leave and you instantly recognize that it could be good for bittering beer with. You might have noticed I put an * by the Ledum palustre, and that is because I'm not sure if I have the Ledum Palustre, or the Ledum Groenlandicum, which is very similar. Both have several different common names, some of which are shared, one of those is Labrador Tea. In my research the only visual difference I could find between the two is that the Ledum Palustre is a narrow leaved version of the Groenlandicum. I found Ledum in two different locations, both peat bogs, but the plants with the wider, darker green leaves were growing in shade in a very spongey, peaty soil, and the plants with the narrower leaves, which were a lighter shade of green, were growing on a floating mass of peat moss at the edge of a lake, in full sun. I used the narrower leaved version in my Gruit Ale. Maybe it's palustre, maybe it's groenlandicaum, but it's definitely Ledum. From what I've read, traditionally Gruit was fairly strong, around 1.080 gravity. Since it's a medieval brew it probably was kind of dark and hazy and probably had some sourness to it as well. I wanted to showcase the herbs just to see what they tasted like, so I didn't want darker malts in there covering up the herbs. I didn't want the beer to be too heavy either, so I decided I wasn't going to try to brew a true replica. I brewed a 1.072 gravity beer made from pilsner and pale ale malt (using up what I had on hand), with a touch (6%) of biscuit malt thrown in for a little more character. 15% of the fermentables was clover honey, in order to lighten the body and maybe throw a subtle character of it's own. I figured being a medieval brew they may have used some honey in their gruit, seeing as how mead was also made in those days. I mashed low and long and pitched a healthy harvest of Wyeast 1056. I ended up around 1.010 or 1.012 for a final gravity, so I got the strength I wanted while still achieving a light, refreshing, lawnmower quality beer (insert winky icon here). For the first month after bottling, I thought there wasn't enough bitterness, but after the esteriness died down a bit (yes, Wyeast 1056 is estery when it's young, especially in a higher gravity beer) I think it has a very nice level of bitterness. It also has a very herbal nose, and flavor. The nose is mostly Yarrow, but I think the flavor is a combination of all 3 herbs. I now think this beer would be better with some brown malt character to cover up the flavor of these herbs. They're not really that bad, but there is a reason everyone switched to hops when they were given the opportunity. I dried all the herbs at low heat in my oven, and stripped the leaves after drying. I crushed them a little by hand but did not pulverize them. My batch size was 7 gallons, and I used .7 oz of each herb in the boiler for 45 minutes of total boiling time. I added another .7 oz of each herb in the boiler 1 minute before end of boil. Somewhere I had read that you should use half the herbs in the boil and add the other half to the fermentor because the goods from the herbs are better extracted in the presence of alcohol. For sanitation purposes I opted to at least boil the "fermentor" herbs for a minute to sanitize them, and then I did not rack the beer after immersion chilling, I merely pitched the yeast and oxygenated, and let her rip with all the herbs in there, as well as the trub. Hey, it's supposed to be medieval, right? While making this beer I wondered (dreamed) about it's possibly enhanced inebriating qualities. I don't think I ever had more than 12 oz at one time, although I might have had two 12 oz bottles once. I can't really say it's more inebriating than any other 8% alcohol beer. Not that I want to get all jagged up on it, I'm too old for that, but it would have been cool if it really had a narcotic effect so you could have something on hand you made yourself to use for medicinal purposes, say when you hit your thumb with a hammer or something. I really enjoyed the whole process of learning about the different herbs and how to find them. I also identified a couple of other herbs I'd be tempted to try if I brew another batch. One of them is Mugwort (Artemesia Vulgaris, also known as common wormwood), which is abundant around here. Chewing on a few leaves, it doesn't seem to be very bitter or aromatic, but from what I've read it's supposed to be useful in inducing lucid dreaming. I used to spontaneously have lucid dreams, now and then, not too often, but that was years ago. It sounds tempting...... The other is Wormwood (Artemisia Absintheum), which is the stuff used in the liquer Absinthe. I haven't found it around my locale, but I do have a packet of the dried stuff I bought at my local homebrew shop. Never used it, but I understand it is extremely bitter. Anywho, I think brewing a Gruit Ale is a worthwhile endeavor at least once. You'll have something unique, it will be drinkable, and there's a lot of history there to talk about while sampling it. Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 10:13:53 -0500 (EST) From: "Pat Babcock" <pbabcock at hbd.org> Subject: Spam-o-rama! Greetings, Beerlings! Take me to your pork shoulder and virtual potted meat product... Wow! If you had trouble reaching the server Wednesday, we just came out of one of the biggest SPAM storms I've ever witnessed! Someone's bot-net apparently went haywire, and the HBD server was absolutely deluged with SPAM yesterday - I counted 16 different instances of 400 copies of the same SPAM to the same address in a 15 minute period - and this was while it was tapering down! In any case, it seems to have dissipated. The server seems to be responding OK now. - -- See ya! Pat Babcock in SE Michigan Chief of HBD Janitorial Services http://hbd.org pbabcock at hbd.org Return to table of contents
Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2008 09:01:27 -0800 From: Denny Conn <denny at projectoneaudio.com> Subject: Re: Marzen (and soft water) Brian Lundeen jumps back into the brewing fray with a real zinger...and I've gotta agree! NBLB may have value as a theoretical reference or maybe as a "how to" for commercial brewers, but SO much of what's in there has SO little bearing on hobbyist homebrewers! Of course, this is merely my opinion, but I've brewed a lot of darn good lagers while totally ignoring things he says are critical. AFAIAC, Brian's advice to pitch big (and cold), and ferment cold is pretty much what really counts. Now, as to water, a Vienna or Marzen is an amber colored beer, and as such will benefit from harder water rather than softer. Enough pragmatism for today, ----------->Denny - -- Life begins at 60....1.060, that is! Return to table of contents
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