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comment How do I reduce the amount of head when dispensing from a keg?
The title is somewhat misleading. The real question should probably be something along the lines of "How do I reduce the amount of head when dispensing from a keg?".
comment How do I improve my palate?
@Pulsehead They usually won't be advertised on their own, as they are geared towards a specific event. Namely the BJCP exam. So I'd recommend looking at the list of exams in your area and contacting the exam coordinator to see if they know of any study classes happening for the exam.
comment Alternatives to a hydrometer?
Agreed. An awesome little tool. I'd recommend using both for a while to ensure that you are getting consistent results with both (a refractometer can take some practice to use well).
comment How do I make a Yeast Starter?
No. The canning process does a great job of preventing contamination.
comment What are my options for brewing software?
I'm a fan of ProMash, though it is Windows only and doesn't seem to have had much development in recent time.
comment How do I make a Yeast Starter?
Stir plates are awesome and work very well. But it is definitely a pricey option.
comment Anyone have experience doing a decoction with a pressure cooker?
My memory of the technique (I've not used it, but there was a lot of discussion back in the day) is that you just take a portion of the mash and add it to the pressure cooker, not the entire kettle. And that you can use a smaller portion than in a normal decoction as it gives a more intense malt character, so you needn't do as much. Finally, it was hard to mess up. I don't have a pressure cooker, otherwise I'd just give it a shot. Thought I'd ask here to see if I should pick one up.
comment Using yeast from a local brewery
I think this is a huge deal. It isn't just that you won't need to do a starter, but I think that even with a starter, many homebrewers underpitch. I know that when I've used a starter from a local brewery, I get active fermentation much quicker than when I do my own starter.
comment How long should a barleywine be aged before bottling?
There are advantages/disadvantages to each. Aging in bulk will minimize the oxidation that will occur (all other things being equal) as it has less surface area. Some level of oxidation can be considered a benefit in a barleywine. So I think if you are looking at keeping a barleywine for a very long
comment When do I add spices to spice up a holiday brew?
I've done this several times. Beyond the other points raised, it allows you to blend more accurately. You can continue to add your "potions" until you get the right balance. Most other methods make you target things at your target potency and if you overshoot, there is not much to do. Also, the vodka will sterilize (sanitize) the spices to reduce chance of infection.