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CCHBS News for May 2005

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  1. Recipe Specials for May
  2. White Labs / Pacific Gravity 10th Anniversary Contest
  3. Hop Rhizomes Are In
  4. Long Overdue Website Updates
  5. Spotlight on Water: What's Your Ideal SRM?

Recipe Specials for May

There's no Pacific Gravity style for July, because the Summer Party is held that month and anything goes. So we're offering some of our favorite recipes for you to share with the crowds: Sunset Boulevard Amber Ale, Burton Pale Ale, Kilkenney Irish Red Ale and Sepulveda Steamer. Sunset Boulevard Amber Ale is an American Amber Ale. This style is a bit darker and less hoppy than its pale cousin. Burton Pale Ale is a classic example of an English Pale Ale, with just enough color and hops to make it a flavorful summertime beer. Kilkenney Irish Red Ale is our version of one of the hottest styles of the moment, based on entry count in the National Homebrew Competition. Need we say more? Sepulveda Steamer is a fine example of a California Common beer. What's a California Common? You might call it a St**m B**r, but we can't because Anchor Brewing copyrighted that name. All these beers are on sale for only $22 during May, so what are you waiting for? Start your beer engines!

White Labs / Pacific Gravity 10th Anniversary Contest

It might be coincidence that both White Labs and Pacific Gravity are celebrating their 10th anniversaries this year, but we decided to bring the two together. We've ordered 20 vials of the new, limited release White Labs 10th Anniversary Ale Blend yeast and we're selling it for only $4.50 to the first 20 people who promise to use it to brew for the Pacific Gravity Summer Party. To sweeten things up, White Labs has given us a prize for the winner: a copy of their Brewmaster game, the only board game to capture the experience of starting your own brewery. If you missed last month's newsletter, the 10th Anniversary Blend is a blend of four of the yeasts White Labs started with: WLP001 American Ale, WLP002 English Ale, WLP004 Irish Ale and WLP810 San Francisco Lager. If you're wondering which styles might be appropriate to brew with this yeast, take a look at our monthly specials. Gee, how did that happen?

Hop Rhizomes are In

Our hop rhizome shipment arrived just a little too late to make it into our last newsletter, but there are still plenty of good varieties left. This year we ordered only American hops, to make it easier for you to grow. As of this writing, you can choose from Cascade, Chinook, Mt. Hood, Centennial, Sterling, Horizon, Nugget and Perle.

Long Overdue Website Updates

We know, we know, we've been ignoring our website for a long time now. But if you take a look at it now, you can see we've made a few changes in formatting in hopes of making it easier to find things like our address and business hours. We've also added a couple of links so you can read this newsletter and our list of recipe kits online.

Spotlight on Water: What's Your Ideal SRM?

This month's edition of Brew Your Own has one of the best articles I've read on brewing water. Written by well-respected homebrewer Bill Pierce, it clearly explains the importance of pH to your brewing, as well as giving some good practical advice on how to calculate and change your pH. One item that was of great interest to me was the concept of an "ideal SRM" for a given water and how to calculate it.

SRM, if you don't know by now, is a color scale used to describe beer color. A golden Pilsner might be 4-5 SRM, while a brown ale would be 17-20 SRM, and stouts and porters 35+ SRM. The pH of the local brewing water comes into play because the enzymes that convert grain into fermentable sugars work best in a ph range of 5.2-5.6. Water typically falls in the range of 7-8.5 pH and while the grain itself will lower the pH of water, pale malt alone might not be able to reduce the pH of a given water sufficiently to get into the 5.2-5.6 range needed for proper conversion. What keeps this from happening? Most often it's the residual alkalinity (RA) of your local water.

Luckily for us, alkalinity is one of the items listed in the water quality reports available from the local water authority. Less luckily, the alkalinity of water changes at different times of year for various reasons. However, by looking at the highest and lowest values we can determine a range for the RA value. For example, the Culver City water report shows an alkalinity range of 89 to 114. Knowing this, we can apply the formula for determing ideal SRM: (0.14 * RA) + 5.2 = Ideal SRM. Given our example, the calculations would be (0.14 * 89) + 5.2 = 17.7 and (0.14 * 114) + 5.2 = 21.2. So, the ideal SRM range for beers made with untreated city water is 17-21 SRM.

Of course, that doesn't tell the whole story. Obviously, it's still possible to make beers that fall outside this color range without treating the water. But if you've been wondering why some of your beers are more successful than others, you might want to read the full article in Brew your own for the whole story.

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