Tuesday, May 25, 2010

AG #2 - Steam Punk - Brew Day

For my second all grain brew I decided to brew a califoirnia steam beer, I named the brew Steam Punk. So all grain #2 was brewed on Sunday in the glorious sunshine. Brewday started at 9am and I was cleaned up and finished by 2.30, so 5 1/2 hours in total, not too bad for only my second all grain brew. I took a few pictures of the brew day and thought I would share these along with some of the brew day problems that arose.

Grains weighed out and in mash bag
First thing I did was to put 20l of water on to boil in the kettle, this would be my strike water. While this was heating I had some breakfast and then started to weigh out my grain. This was the first time that I had not added any DME to the recipe and so I used just over 5kg of grain. This was made up of 4kg of Maris Otter, .75kg of Munich malt, .25kg of Crystal Malt and finally .025kg of Chocolate Malt. The grain was all weighed out and then placed in my large mashing bag. My 20l of strike water was heated to a temperature of 72c to give me a strike temperature of 67c. In the end the water ended up overheating and was at 80c within 25 minutes, I cooled this with some cold water and mashed in. My strike temperature ended up at 66c, which was close enough. After 30 minutes of the mash I put 26l of water on to heat which would be my sparge water. I calculated that I needed 19l for my sparge, however it is always good to have extra sparge water on hand just in case it is needed. The mash tun maintained 66c throughout the 60 minute mash, this was obviously aided by the fact that the outside temperature was 22c. After the mash was complete I started to recirculate the wort from the mash tun in order to clear the wort of any debris from the grains, once the wort was running relatively clear this was drained into the fermenter (At this point I was using my kettle to heat the sparge water). The sparge water was added in batches of 9 ltr of 80c water, this was given a good stir and then the wort was recirculated again to clear the grain debris and then drained into the fermenter. By the end of the mash and sparge I had 27 ltr in the fermenter, this was then drained into the kettle and put on the heat. Pre-boil wort grabity was 1042. My day had started at 9am and the wort started to boil at 12.13.

Second hop addition and Irish Moss
First running from mash tun
After three additions of Northern Brewer Hops and some Irish Moss the wort was ready for cooling. I use an immersion wort chiller to cool my wort and this had the temperature down from 75c to 23c in 32 minutes. It is improtant at this stage of the brew to make sure that your wort cools as quickly as possible, this is mainly for two reasons. 1) it will help create a cold break, and 2) this is the most vulnerable time for your brew for infections, the quicker you can get the wort cooled and into the clean and sanitised fermenter the better. After the wort was cooled it was allowed to drain into the fermenter, splashing as much as possible in order to introduce oxygen into the wort, this will create the right environment for the yeast to work in. Although quite a lot of home brewers use electric paddles and other equipment to make sure the wort is well oxegenated, I find just opening up the tap and letting the wort cascade into the fermenter does just as good a job. After the wort had drained into the fermenter I then checked my OG which was 1047. The fermenter was then moved into my brew closet and the yeast added. The yeast for this beer was Safale US-05. This was rehydrated an hour before pitching, this is poured in and then the bottle is washed out with wort in order to make sure I get all the yeast I can into the fermenter. The blow off tube is then attached, as is the temperature probe (taped to the side of the fementer), and the yeast is left in the dark to do its work. After only 5 hours there was a vigorous bubbling from the blow-off tube.

Chiller goes in 10min before end of boil
Wort getting well aerated as it is transfered to fermenter
So for the most part the day went well, however there were some brew day problems:

  • This was the first time that I had used a full 5kg of grain and I think that my mash bag struggled a bit with that weight of grain, when adding the first sparge the bag slipped down into the mash tun and took a lot of coaxing to get it fixed in place again. Hopefully this issue will be resolved as I am trying to source a false bottom to use with this mash tun in future.
  • I found it difficult to get my wort to clear during recirculation and so quite a lot of debris entered the boiler, this may cause clarity issues in the final beer. Hopefully this issue will also be resolved by using the false bottom.
  • Unfortunately I only realised when going to transfer my wort into the kettle that the tap on my fermenter (where I had collected the wort) was a little unusual and so I had no tubing that would fit to it. This meant that I needed to pour the wort into the kettle, this may have caused some hot-side aeration.
  • I was aiming to get 23 ltr of 1050 wort into the fermenter, and in the end I got 21 ltr of 1047, I will need to adjust my calculations in future to try and make sure I get the full 23 ltr

    Safely tucked away in the brew closet

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