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> chat transcripts - John McDermott, The Highland Brewing Company founder
post Jun 7 2004, 07:50 AM
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John McDermott will be this weeks guest. John started his brewing career at Catamount in White River Junction, Vermont. The then moved on to become the Brewmaster at The Dilworth Brewing Company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and finally founding The Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina where he designed and built most of the brewing equipment which is still in use today. John will be available to try to address any brewing related topics that we can throw at him.

ale: OK, my clock reads 8:00. Please keep things orderly for John.
rich: ?
ale: Go Rich
rich: Hey John, good to hear from you again. I'm sure a bunch of our brewboard memebers are unaware of your furniture building skills. Could you elaborate for them!
Jimvy: what's happening
cj_in_j: Rich -- the JPA often comes up a bit short because of "2nd-ary sampling error." (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/wow.gif)
mcdermott: sure, after my brewing career, i went nuts and started Bola Design in 1998...
cj_in_j: ?
mcdermott: you can find what i do at my website www.bolafurniture.com...end
ale: Go CJ
cj_in_j: What do you mean, "after my brewing carreer"? You're not brewing now?
mcdermott: just homebrewing, which i really enjoy since i do not have to make a living from it
ovendust: ?
cj_in_j: Ah, I see -- just kind of shocked me for a second there. (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/smile.gif)
mcdermott: i brew two marathons of brewing per year. brewing around 100 gallons each time
rich: ?
cj_in_j: WOW!
cj_in_j: Is that 100 gallons of different beers? Or 100 of the same???
mcdermott: i have a 20 gallon batch size and make most lagers ...
mcdermott: my favorite is pilsner which accounts for almost half of my supply...
Spectre: ?
mcdermott: my focus at home is cold fermenting lagers... hard to bet the flavor
mcdermott: end
ale: Go ovendust
ovendust: I am going to start reusing yeast to balance out the cost of gas. How many times can you reuse and how long can you store yeast trub? In a brewery and / or in homebrew?
ale: ?
mcdermott: reusing yeast is good if it is fresh and clean....
mcdermott: keep it active and fermenting...
mcdermott: clean, i mean contaminated free...
mcdermott: what is yeast trub?
cj_in_j: I think he means yeast slurry after primary
ovendust: whoops ya i mean slurry...thanks cj
mcdermott: taking yeast off the bottom, is the least desireable way to repitch....
mcdermott: because you will collect dead cells and trub....
mcdermott: tech, there should be little trub in the fermenter in the first place if you transfer your wort cleanly...end
ale: Go Rich
Spectre: ?
rich: how long does the 100 gallons last you? hehe
mcdermott: rich, are you my webmaster?
rich: yes
rich: need an update?
mcdermott: long time all hear, hope all is well with you in DC
ale: OK guys, let's stay on topic.
ale: Go Spectre
Spectre: Why does Amylase Enzyme get such a bad rap? If the on-line sites along with local stores sell the stuff can it be that bad?
mcdermott: i did not know it has a bad rap...
Spectre: Yes, it does.
DuncanDad: Good evening all!
mcdermott: if you use all malt in your process, there should be plenty of enzymes to convert
Spectre: So you think it is appropriate for certain situations?
Spectre: Stuck fermentions?
mcdermott: you do not need to add enzymes to the process
mcdermott: stuck fermentations is due to a yeast problem...
Spectre: What is it primarily used for then?
mcdermott: enzymes?
Spectre: Yes, amylase in specific.
mcdermott: to break down starches to fermentable sugars. i guess if you are using grains (corn, rice, etc) in your process...
mcdermott: you need these enzymes in the mash ...end
Spectre: So if you have a stuck ferment is a case where you are using corn, rice, it would be a good thing to add.
Spectre: in a case
mcdermott: i think it is too late in the process, the temperature would be to low...
Spectre: So at what point in the process should it be added, during the boil?
ale: John, I think that Spectre is reffering to the Amylase Enzime powder that's sold in HB Shops
Spectre: Yes
BlueDevil0206: ?
mcdermott: these enzymes work at temperature in the 140 to 160 F area
Kent: ?
Spectre: So they should be added during the mash
mcdermott: you tell me what they are used for...
Spectre: Hey forget it man.
mcdermott: ok
mcdermott: new subject
ale: If you boil these enzymes, you'll denature them...
mcdermott: yes
ale: they're fungus based.
ale: Go BlueDevil
BlueDevil0206: what beer did highland have at the thing at ziggys a few weeks ago? it said a 'special offering' and oscar told me on the tour that you guys might make a barley wine so I thought that may be it
mcdermott: i do not think so, they are naturally occurring in grains
Kent: What do we need to worry about this for,sorry about my late arrival,But other than using great amount of adjunts that will not convert themselves what was the point?
Kent: Sorry
mcdermott: not sure of the highland beer, i am not involve with the company anymore...
mcdermott: but i do know they brew a heather ale...
ale: John, Spectre was referring to the Amylase Enzyme powder that homebrew shops sell
mcdermott: for their 10 th year beer
ale: ...end?
mcdermott: i believe that product is for grains used in the mash that do not have enzymes, like corn, rice, oats etc
Kent: ?
mcdermott: there is plenty of enzymes in barley malt and wheat
mcdermott: to convert the starches to sugars
mcdermott: as long as they are not roasted away, for example black malt, carmel malt and some munich malts
twocents: night for the evening...
cj_in_j: ?
Kent: What amount of adjuncts as a % of the mash would require enzymes to convert them in your opinion?Do you think a recipe of 5lb Oatmalt,5 lb Amber Malt and 5 lb or Marris Otter would require enzymes?
mcdermott: what is marris otter?
ale: It's a igh end British Malt
cj_in_j: English pale malt, type of barley.
mcdermott: be careful, oats have alot of oil which is not good for beer making
mcdermott: with that receipe, you would want to add enzymes...
Jimvy: ?
mcdermott: pale malts have different level of enzymes ...
mcdermott: but you do need at least 50% pale malt in the mash
mcdermott: for good enzymes activity
mcdermott: end
ale: Go CJ
cj_in_j: What advice do you have for an experienced homebrewer who is thinking of becoming a pro? Besides "don't do it," that is. (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/wink.gif)
mcdermott: are you wealthy?
cj_in_j: Not particularly, but I have lots of semi-wealthy friends.
mcdermott: brewing is a noble professsion...
mcdermott: but hard to make a reasonable living...
ale: Amen Bro.
mcdermott: you must have a strong back, work long hours and have a good liver
cj_in_j: What about going the "own your own brewpub" route? (Ale, you can pipe in too (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/wink.gif) )
mcdermott: brewpubs can be a good business, but you are in the restaurnat business also...
ale: No Way!!! Not again!!!!!! My pro-brewing experience cost me too much!!!!!
mcdermott: they can be trendy. and you have to know the restaurnat business well...
mcdermott: brewpubs can be the best way to go, again alot of hard work and lots of risk
ale: You'd need some other kind of hook, besides craft brewing.
mcdermott: i have done both and you see where i am now
cj_in_j: ale -- Too bad, I had a job off for you! (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/tongue.gif) lol
cj_in_j: Fair enough, John.
ale: Unfortunately, most people that understand good beer are homebrewers...
mcdermott: call me if you are serious about the business
ale: ...and can brew their own...
cj_in_j: Well, I'm in Japan, so things are somewhat different here -- but costs even more to get started up. Next time I'm in Charlotte, though, I'd love to shoot the breeze with ya.
ale: ...and there aren't enough left over to pay the rent at a prew pub.
mcdermott: fair enough, have ale get in touch with me
cj_in_j: ale -- That's kind of what I feel too. Especially here in Japan, where brewpubs are generally NOT well done.
cj_in_j: John, will do.
cj_in_j: And now I think it's Jimvy's turn. (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/wink.gif)
ale: With all of the red tape involved, and backbreaking work, I'll remain a homebrewer.
mcdermott: good move ale
ale: Go Jimvy
Jimvy: when you say oats aren't good for beer making, does that include flaked oats? How does the oil in them impact the brew? And how much would you consider too much?
mcdermott: highland oatmeal porter has around .5% oats...
BlueDevil0206: and it is good stuff, mmmm mmmm
BlueDevil0206: (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/wink.gif)
mcdermott: or less if i can remember...
mcdermott: the oil is not good for foam retention and tend to stale the flavor over time....
cj_in_j: Is that 0.5%? Or 5%?
mcdermott: .5%
Jimvy: I have used 12% in my oatmeal stout, and it's excellent....just wondering at what point I'd see negative effects
cj_in_j: But then again, Jimvy, you use 3 pounds of hops for 10 gallons too -- mr subtle, you ain't! lol
mcdermott: oats are used to dark beer only because the strong flavor will hide the problems...
Jimvy: hey, I make "regular" beers too.....they just aren't as much fun
BlueDevil0206: seems a paradox that oats are used for head retention (as well as body etc) but it contains oil which should kill head retention ?
Kent: What's that supposed to mean?
mcdermott: in addition, the oats will create a problem with the runoff at mash tun
Jimvy: thanks
mcdermott: basicly, oats are used for marketing purposes in commercial beers
Jimvy: interesting.....thx
Jimvy: I gotta head out.....appreciate you coming out John, and thanks for organizing Ale....
mcdermott: just like the green bottle of most imports
mcdermott: sure
Thomas: ?
ale: Go Thomas
Thomas: do you consider rye to have any of the "bad" stuff that you say oats have?
mcdermott: i believe rye is ok, but i have never used the grain for beer making
Kent: ?
Thomas: go Kent
mcdermott: i think rye can be used like wheat malts in the process
Kent: Pass
mcdermott: it will give you a lite flavor and color
Thomas: the impression I've gotten from others comments about rye is that it is almost oily and rich too
Thomas: which is why I was asking the question related to oats
mcdermott: i would feel much more comfortable using rye in my process
ale: All, My clock is now at 9:00, and Mr. McDerrmott is now officially 'off the hook'. Any more questions?
mcdermott: i can spend some more time if needed
ale: cool, thanks
Thomas: jbc!
Aeneas: ?
ale: Go Aeneas
Aeneas: Could you comment on the lagering process used in commercial breweries and how it differs from the lenghty lagering process micro - and homebrewers use?
mcdermott: sure....
mcdermott: commmercial breweries tend to lager at higher temperatures and can process the beer faster....
mcdermott: it also gives the beer a blander flavor, which the big boys like...
mcdermott: masss appeal
cj_in_j: What temp do the big boys lager at?
mcdermott: the bottom line is, the colder you ferment the better the flavor....
Aeneas: hmmm, interesting about the bland flavor
mcdermott: 50 to 55 F
cj_in_j: Hell, that's warmer than I condition my ales at!!!
mcdermott: try fermenting at 40 F....
mcdermott: you will be amazed!...
Aeneas: as in primary fermenting at 40¨F?
Kent: try lagering at 32F
mcdermott: if you can get away with it, go for it...
mcdermott: it may take you a year or two
Aeneas: Ah, now I see!
mcdermott: it would be a good experiment for a club
mcdermott: if you can get alot of yeast to pitch you can ferment in the 30s
mcdermott: are there any breweries in your area do lagers?
Aeneas: and the impact on the flavor is what?
mcdermott: very clean and tasty....
Aeneas: Indeed, I can get copius amounts of lager yeast from a local brewery
mcdermott: in fact, as soon as it is ferment it is ready to drink!
mcdermott: what brewery?
Aeneas: Blue Point Brewery
mcdermott: Try it, make sure it is fresh and clean....
Aeneas: will do
Aeneas: thanks
mcdermott: yeast do not grow well at cold temperatures so over pitch, say 1 quart of slurry per 10 gallons
Aeneas: noted
mcdermott: keep the temperature consistent
mcdermott: you will be a happy camper!
cj_in_j: Would you recommend/suggest the same for something like an Oktoberfest as well?
cj_in_j: Or a bock?
mcdermott: absolutely
cj_in_j: Or is this mostly for pilsners?
mcdermott: any lager
Aeneas: I'm thinking doppelbock in the cold room at work for the next year and a half!
cj_in_j: Oh, too late. Okay, I have something to keep me busy this summer.
mcdermott: strong beers make it more difficult to ferment at cold temperatures...
mcdermott: add more yeast and wait another week or two...
Kent: ?
carluchi: Evn'n
ale: Go Kent
mcdermott: mixing really helps in the process to keep the yeast in suspention sp
Kent: What is your opinion on first wort hopping
mcdermott: elaborate
Kent: Nevermind
ale: First Wort Hopping is adding the hops to the initial runnoff
ale: Instead of waiting for the boil
mcdermott: i think it does not make any difference, you rarely see that is commercial brewing
ale: George Fix was big on this.
Aeneas: people argue the FWH adds hop-derived aromatics without a final addition
mcdermott: adding hops before the boil starts, helps in keeping the foam down
mcdermott: i do not think it does much for flavor
mcdermott: the aromatics will be gone by the end of the boil
mcdermott: it does make your preboil smell better
ale: I'm a bit of a FWH sceptic myself.
mcdermott: it does not make any sense
cj_in_j: Hey, any way to get more hops into the wort is fine with me! *evil*
Aeneas: but chemical analysis of FWH'd beers demonatrate the aromatics are present at similar to aromatic hop additions made late in the boil
mcdermott: i will buy that
ale: brb
mcdermott: well if we are all finished with the questions, maybe we should all get ourselves a beer
Aeneas: good idea!
cj_in_j: Sigh -- only 10:30 am here. Guess I'll have to crack open another diet coke. (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/sad.gif)
mcdermott: last chance
Wee_Willy: Guess colplink liked the idea of that beer mcdermotf sudjested
Thomas: gotta run
Wee_Willy: I'll be back
ale: Any more questions for John?
cj_in_j: John, thanks -- you gave me an idea about doing a lager in my beer freezer over the summer. Hopefully it's ready by October when I do my annual beer party.
mcdermott: happy brewing and keep your yeast clean
cj_in_j: Hey, my yeast is always clean!!! =)
mcdermott: excellent, thanks you-all
ale: John, thank you for joining us tonight.
Kent: Thanks John
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