Tips & Tricks

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by BOB357, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    While responding to a post on HBT I was thinking that a T&T thread would be great here. It would be nice to have the opinions of fellow brewers regarding pieces of equipment before buying, as well as tips about their use. Also great for new brewers and those upgrading their systems. I've got a tip to start this out:
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Flush your vessels with CO2 before any transfer. Your beer will thank you.
     
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  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    You seem to have left out your tip. ;)
     
  4. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    What are you tipping Bob?
     
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  5. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    Fermentation temperature control.
    It will come in good time :)
     
  6. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    20% for very good service :)
     
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  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'm not touching that one ^^^^
     
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  8. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    Keeping the temperature down in your fermentation chamber.
    (Cooling only)

    Thermowells are a great tool when used at the proper time, and for the right purpose. If you want to quickly cool you wort down 10, 15, or more degrees in your fermentation chamber, sensing the temperature close to the center is the way to make that happen. Since the wort is pretty much motionless it will take a lot more time for the center to cool than the outer portion, so the compressor will spend a lot more time on until the center reaches the set point. The down side as that you can expect to overshoot your target temperature by several degrees due to the outer areas of wort being cooled faster. Mileage may vary, but after a few batches you'll be able to estimate how much with a good degree of accuracy and compensate by raising the set point.

    Once fermentation is active the wort will be in motion, so the temperature will be very close to the same throughout the fermenting beer. Using a thermowell or sticking your temp probe between the fermenter wall and some insulation will net the best, and very similar results.

    Once active fermentation has slowed to a crawl and you want the temperature to increase by a few degrees to aid attenuation, setting your controller to the desired temperature and sensing the air temperature surrounding the fermenter is probably your best bet to ensure a gradual change. While this sensor placement would allow broad temperature swings during active fermentation, it works well in the absence of motion inside the fermenter and affords little chance of temperature swings..

    When it's time to cold crash you can opt for a slow lowering of the temperature by sensing ambient air or a fast lowering using the probe attached to the fermenter or in the thermowell. If you crash to within 5 degrees of freezing, I don't recommend in the thermowell.

    Hopefully, after reading this you'll understand that each of the different popular temperature probe placements have their pros and cons.
     
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  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    ....and if you don't have a thermowell....

    As Bob mentioned, the wort is moving, carrying heat from the middle of the fermentor to the outside. If you set the fermentation to an ambient temperature a bit below the desired temperature (about 1-2 degrees F, or 0.5 - 1 degree C), most of your wort will be at or very near the desired temperature. I had to go to this system when I switched to an upright freezer, it got too cold too quickly and I got yo-yo temperature swings, worse for yeast than a consistently off temperature!
     
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  10. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Re: temp control...I have both my big fermenters set up with internal chiller coils, thermowell sensors and a makeshift glycol cooling system. I'll never go back to the old fashioned way. :)
     
  11. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    What do you (and others) use for purging the open containers? No trouble doing this with the kegs, but I haven't looked at how I'd do it for the demijohns I use for secondary or other more open containers.
     
  12. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    I purge carboys by filling them with starsan, I seal the top with one of those orange caps. It has a racking cane inserted into the carboy through the cap. I inject a cO2 through the second port at very low pressure, 1 pound or so. The carboy is elevated and just enough pressure is used to start a siphon after that the cO2 just fills the void from the siphon.
    Here’s a video

    Oxygen is a huge problem with beer prematurely staling, beer loses a lot of hop and malt flavor when handled incorrectly. Most homebrewers are unaware of it and professionals struggle with it as well.
     
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  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Stick an open-ended hose in to the bottom and let the gas blow in. If you really want to test you can hold a lit match or butane lighter over the hole and when the flame goes out, your vessel is flushed.
     
  14. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    That does work, kind of. I used to do the same thing, until I realized from research and from experience that it takes more CO2 flushing than pushing/siphoning a liquid (starsan solution) out and replacing the liquid with pure CO2.

    The other problem has to do with residual oxygen still in the flushed container, there is still a potentially a good deal of oxygen left behind. 1% oxygen in the carboy/keg can still cause problems with DO (dissolved oxygen) in beer, that works out to 10,000 parts per million still in the container. Most breweries try to limit DO levels to 50 parts per billion, and some achieve as low as 5-25ppb. It's an amazingly low amount of oxygen. Even at the higher threshold of 300ppb, it's an extremely low level but is considered to be too high. Staling begins very fast at that level. That's why it so important to reduce oxygen levels as low as you can.

    It's very hard to get to those levels with simple homebrewing equipment. New Belgian Brewing did a test with a Blichmann gun, filling bottles from a keg and afterward sent the same bottle to the lab to test for DO levels. They ranged anywhere from 20ppb to 400ppb, showing that low levels can be achieved with a simple Blichmann gun, but high levels crept in as well. They gave a presentation at the 2017 AHA convention and for me it was eye opening. The best advice they gave was to "cap on foam", let the foam come out of the bottle and cap it as it flows. Simply cracking a bottle of beer and recapping caused DO levels to exceed the threshold of 300ppb and staling in the beer in less than a week. Sometimes it doesn't show up right away, the staling comes across as a diminished malt or hop character. Another flavor that appears is a sweetness in the beer that wasn't there before, it's not a pleasant sweetness either. Bitterness gets sharp and unpleasant.

    Homebrewers need to be careful when handling finished beer, replacing a liquid in a vessel with CO2 is one way to keep the DO levels down, bottle conditioning is another way because the yeast act as an anti-oxidant. With low levels of DO, the beer will keep longer, hops will remain fresher longer and the malt will stay cleaner and crisper longer. It's a daunting task, but I think it's well worth it. I have seen a marked improvement in my beers since I started using these methods.
     
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  15. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    o_O

    Here’s my tip... and it really needs to be first and foremost!

    RDWHAHB
     
  16. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Coles notes, I like it, so much that I am doing that presently! All those parts per billion... very stressful!
     
  17. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, I kind of geeked out. Your right, it can be stressful, but in a good way.
     
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  18. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    To help the new-to-brewing folks that check out this thread... As long as you follow good common sense practices for sanitation and safety and read and follow the instructions that come with the kit, you’ll make pretty good beer on your first attempt, whether it’s a recipe kit or a Mr Beer kit. It may not be the best or greatest, but it’ll taste great, especially since you brewed it!

    Arguably, first year brewers can expect to get 85% of the beers potential with conventional equipment generally found around the kitchen. The last 15% is where a lot of experienced brewers that frequent these forums strive for and achieve. And they have my utmost respect for the passion they have for their craft.

    Me... I would consider myself (and my wife), ‘loyal hobbyists’ that enjoy our brewday and a Keezer with a couple homebrew kegs, that enjoy making consistently good beer and am happy being in the 85% range.

    My point is (to expand on the RDWHAHB), don’t be intimidated from all that you read or hear. Not everything in brewing is a “thou shalt not” rule. It is a great lifetime hobby/craft and if you don’t find a way to enjoy it, the brewing equipment will end up on a shelf in the attic.
     
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  19. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    All good here buddy, no need to be sorry.
     
  20. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I few brews ago I started measuring out my hops a few days before brew day. I have little resealable containers, I mark them with "1", "2", and so on in order. This has just made my brew days a little simpler. I sometimes get busy doing this or that, and having not previously measured them out, end up rushing around.
     
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