Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two-Day Brew

Well, I haven't posted much here since I became an unemployed brewer, but yesterday's homebrewing fiasco deserves a mention.


Mike Roehrich and I brewed a Tripel for the upcoming Extreme Beerfest. Fourteen pounds of Weyermann Pilsner malt, a pound and a half of Weyermann Wienermalz, and a pound of Weyermann Carapils, along with a couple pounds of candi sugar in the boil. The local shop didn't have the Wyeast 3787 yeast that I usually use, so I picked up the 3864 instead.

The mill clogged once, then let the malt fall through uncrushed. Turns out the drill was running backwards. Forgot to set the gap back to its usual setting, so we ended up with a lot more fines than normal.

Mash-in went well, and the vorlauf started smoothly, but soon slowed. A lot. When we switched over to running off, we got just a trickle into the kettle. Poking at the mash suggested that it wasn't stuck, so we suspected clogged pipes. But disassembling the plumbing didn't turn up any leaks; the only thing left was that the screen must have clogged, so we dumped the mash into the kettle, cleaned out the screen, and reassembled everything. We heated up some more water to add to the mash to lower the viscosity.

Forty-five minutes later, when the water was hot, we poured the mash back into the mash tun and restarted the vorlauf, which ran for about a minute before the mash stuck for real this time. We figured out a way to float the mash (rigging a piece of copper pipe and blowing into the underlet) and decided to skip the vorlauf and start the runoff right away.

While the wort was running off, we decided to make sure we could get flow through the counterflow chiller. The temperature hadn't risen above 32°F for some weeks, and the inside pipe was blocked with ice. The kerosene heater helped some, and we took turns blowing through the outlet trying to dislodge any blockages, but no luck.

(By the way, I managed to put an extra half-gallon of warm water into the kettle while it was boiling, thereby adding fifteen minutes to the boil time.)

Near the end of the boil, we decided to throw a third pound of candi sugar in, because why not. Boiled a further fifteen minutes. Original Extract: 20°P.

Gave the chiller another fruitless try. So how should we cool the wort? We wrapped tinfoil around the top of the kettle, put the lid on top, and duct-taped two layers of blankets around the whole thing. With the temperature dropping to 7°F overnight, I knew the wort would cool down, but I didn't want it to freeze. That was at about 6:30 last night.

The kettle was surprisingly slightly warm to the touch at noon today. The chiller was still clogged, so I just drained the kettle into the carboy.

It's in the house now, and we're waiting for the fermentation to start. It's going to be an interesting glass of beer.


Fenton said...

Good to see some liquid in the fermenter!

Jay Anderson said...

Hey, guys! I have one question concerning brewing. Have you ever tried adding baking soda? I've made my first beer according to this recipe how to brew but the beer taste wasn't that great. I think that brewing failed because of soda. This method doesn't presuppose using baking soda. What do you think about adding baking soda? How does that influence the taste?

Richard Stueven said...

In 23½ years of brewing, I've never heard of putting baking soda in beer. The only possible effect it would have would be to make your beer tasted tremendously salty.

OK, I just read that first recipe. There's no way that can taste anything but nasty.

Your second link goes to John Palmer's "How to Brew" site. John's a good guy and a fine brewer. You'll do well to follow his advice!

have fun