Brew day: Hoar Frost Oktoberfest
Last year I decided to brew a more traditional Oktoberfest, or more specifically the kind that's generally found in Germany, which is basically a slightly ramped-up Munich Helles. I went half Pilsner malt and half Munich malt and it turned out to be a very tasty brew. This year I decided to give it a little more of an Export feel (exported O-fests are what we tend to find here in the States; they're slightly darker and have a slight nutty/toasty quality to them) so I added a touch of dehusked Carafa III malt. And because it's hot and I'm lazy I did a simple infusion mash rather than a decoction.
I mashed in at 9:45, overshooting my target temp of 154°F by a degree. Around 10:30 I started to recirculate but noticed an awful lot of grain coming through. That's when I realized my damn manifold had disconnected. (This is a too-frequent problem with my mash tun, but I've yet to figure out a good way to permanently connect the manifold to the tube since the manifold is PVC and thus I can't just use a hose clamp.) Anyway, I had to dump out half the mash, reconnect the manifold, and then dump the mash back in. Only set me back about ten minutes, but still a pain in the neck.
Anyway, by 10:40 I was recirculating. I started collecting my first runnings at 10:55 and had collected 12.5 gallons by 12:10. I boiled from 12:10 to 1:40. I ended up at 1055, two degrees short of my target gravity. I think this was due to a low evaporation rate because of the heat and humidity, which meant I did collect a higher volume than expected. (Quick math tells me that, had I collected my calculated 10.5 gallons instead of the 11 I actually got, I would've had an O.G. of 1058). No biggie.
Now, things did get a bit interesting when it came time to cool the wort. As I mentioned above, it was hot today, and I finally came up with an idea to cool things down to lager temps: I bought a submersible aquarium pump. Specifically, I bought this pump (pictured to the right). Then, the night before, I threw a carboy full of water into my garage fridge and filled three buckets with water and threw them in the freezer. When it came time to chill, I threw the water and chunks of ice into a cooler and pumped water from there to my plate chiller. Seems perfect, right?
Well, there was one slight problem: the pump wasn't as strong as advertised. It claims 258 gallons/hour, but I did a test afterward and was only getting 180. That was enough of a difference from my garden hose output that I had to slow my wort outflow to a trickle and even then only got down to around 62°F. As such, 1.) I'm going to take the pump back and (hopefully, if they'll let me) exchange it for this one, which claims 1315 GPH and comes recommended by another guy in my homebrew club; and 2.) for now I had to throw my carboys into my chest freezer set to 30°F so I can drop it to around 50°F before pitching.
Anyway, if all goes well I'll pitch a yeast slurry courtesy of Doug and Tracy at Metropolitan Brewing before I go to bed and we'll be rockin' in the morning!