Sunday, April 15, 2007

Brew day (from hell): Lenticular Export

So, I really don't have the energy to recap yesterday, so I'm going to post an email I wrote to my buddy Samir a few minutes ago, and that will have to suffice for now:

Yes, yesterday was the day that we moved up to ten gallons.
Everything went smoothly until it was time to chill. I bought a
Shirron plate chiller and this thing called the "wort wizard" (it
basically uses the outflow from the chiller to create a vacuum to suck
wort through the chiller without a pump). I also used a new converted
keg brew kettle. Anyway, LONG story short, it didn't work. I think
the problem was two-fold: trub/hops got stuck in the kettle valve,
which greatly retricted the flow, and then more trub/hops got stuck in
the wort chiller. Eventually we had to re-boil so we could drop in my
old immersion chiller (which actually works pretty well with ten
gallons, at least when it's 40° F outside) and siphoned out with my
siphon starter.

Oh, and to add injury to insult, I managed to get cuts on four
different fingers (and I don't remember ever physically injuring
myself while brewing). Three of those cuts are related to threads on
the wort chiller, and I'm still not sure what caused the fourth one,
though it's the worst... Somehow while trying to backflush the
chiller, my hand slipped, slammed against the concrete, and half of
the skin on my ring finger got peeled back like if you peeled half a
grape. And since it was a cut pretty much parallel to my skin, there
was LOT of bleeding.

Anyway, by the time we got done (9pm, and I was up and getting stuff
put together at 8am), I was too tired to do much cleaning, so I have a
lot of work ahead of me today.

So yeah, that was the brew day from hell. I just hope the beer comes
out okay (sanitation was kind of spotty by the end).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Calibrating new keggle

So we recently bought an old Sanke keg and converted it into a brew kettle. As we will be brewing on Saturday, I decided to calibrate the keg so we know how much wort is in there. I'm posting it in case I lose the paper. Anyway, here's the calibration (height from 16" is the grade it reaches when holding a tape measure/yardstick with the top of the keg at 16"):

Height Height
Gallon (middle) (from 16")
------ ------ ------
1 2 --
2 3.25 1
3 4.5 2.25
4 5.75 3.5
5 7 4.75
6 8.25 6
7 9.5 7.25
8 10.75 8.5
9 12 9.75
10 13.25 11
11 14.5 12.25
12 15.75 13.5
13 17 14.75

FYI, there are two rings around the keg: the lower ring is calibration is 5.6 gallons and the higher ring is 10.8 gallons. Anyway, sorry to the two of you who actually read this, as it is pretty much of no use to anybody.

Monday, April 09, 2007

We have fermentation!

When I came home last night (around 8pm), I didn't see any bubbling from the airlock, but there was a little kreuzen visible on top of the beer. As of 6am this morning, it was indeed bubbling away. This is more exciting than usual (though I always get excited when fermentation starts) because I forgot to do the little iodine/starch-conversion test on Saturday, and while I was pretty comfortable that I mashed long enough, I was still a tad worried with this being my first all-grain. But now we have fermentation, so we just gotta wait a couple weeks to see how the dryness/mouthfeel is.

Next up, our Dortmunder Export!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Brew Day: None More Buzzed Coffee Stout

So today we did our first all-grain brew, a 5-gallon batch of sweet stout that will be aged over home-roasted espresso beans (courtesy of our friends Jamie and Christine). I mashed in (1 qt./lb.) at 167° F with a target mash temp of 156°F. Unfortunately, after fifteen minutes I checked on the mash at it was only at 151°F, so I added 3 cups boiling water to raise the temp to 154°F. I later found this online tool that calculates strike water temperature, and it correctly predicted a 151°F mash temp, so from now on I'm using the tool instead of simply adding 11°F to my target temp.

After an hour, the temp had again dropped to 151°F, so hopefully it won't be too dry/thin, but I guess we'll see. At that point I mashed out with roughly four quarts of boiling water to get up to around 168°F, and then sparged with 5 gallons of 170°F water. In the end I collected 6.6 gallons of wort. I boiled for 90 minutes (getting down to 5.5 gallons), with hop additions at 60 and 15 minutes. I cooled with my immersion chiller and pitched at around 75°F (no starter). I came in at 1053 for my O.G., and while it's slightly below my target of 1056, I noticed I made the recipe for 5 gallons instead of the usual 5.5. Had I calculated for 5.5, it appears the gravity would have been dead-on.

The plan is to rack into a keg after a week and add a half pound of whole espresso beans. Everything seemed to go well... here's hoping there aren't any surprises when I tap the keg!