Monday, January 25, 2016

Ol' 22 -- Brew day

A steamy sensation

The next batch I had planned was an old ale/barleywine. The grain bill required a hefty 16 lbs of grain to make 5 gallons. I'd never attempted a batch this large before. But if I didn't try now, how else would I be able to expand my little homebrewery to maximize its full potential? It was time to start brew day once again.

Jump to: 
Yeast Starter
Mashing in

Yeast Starter

Using yeast harvested
The yeast emerges from the fridge. Is it still viable?
 For my yeast, I selected WLP023 -- Burton Ale yeast. I saved a few mason jars worth of yeast from the starter I made for my last brew, the Burton Bomber in order to save on yeast cost. I started by sanitizing all my starter materials, boiling up some DME, and decanting my saved yeast (I have to admit, the beer made from the harvested starter was very tasty).
Starter beer was tasty
This gives me an idea for a future batch!
I used a 40 oz bottle for the starter this time as I did not plan to crop any of the yeast for later as I still have 3 jars in the fridge. With that set aside, I needed to wait a day before brewing.
Yeast starter in a 40 oz bottle
Don't let me down yeast

Mashing in

I acquired/built some new equipment to help complete this new batch. I first acquired a new 16 qt kettle to complement my brewhouse. I was not getting the full 5 gallon fill on my bucket using my existing 16 qt kettle plus the 12 quart kettle, so I needed the upgrade. Now my boils are split between the two 16 quart kettles. The 12 quart kettle will still be useful for heating up water for mashing (or if I'm trying to boil for an 8 gallon batch).

11 gallons worth of boiling capacity
I needed a new kettle for this one
Since the BIAB in a bucket method was not going to cut it for 16 lbs worth of grain, I built a mash tun out of a cooler I found in my backyard. It was time to test it out for a real brew.

Setup the new mash tun
I like new toys
I acquired some hosing to attach to the barb on the outlet of my cooler. It was able to easily slip on once it was heated. This made the lautering process significantly easier.

Tubing for my wort
It wasn't easy sticking this thing on
To get the mash tun ready, I assembled my CPVC manifold and heat cycled the inside of the cooler. I was told preheating the cooler made temperature control during the mash easier. I had the time of my life trying to fix a small drip from the bulkhead. Eventually I gave up trying to fix it and decided to continue mashing in.

This is a lot of grain
If all the grain fit in this one bucket, without water....
Finishing the heat cycle
Let's get to mashing!
As I began to mash in, my leak out of the bulkhead ended up stopping. I guess the grain ended up plugging the hole. Or the viscosity of wort is enough to prevent that leak. I have to admit that using the bucket to slowly load in the grain made the mash much easier.
Mashed in
This is when it started to smell good
The temperature stabilized at about 60°C after adding in the grain. I determined that was a good starting point for this 90 minute mash and closed the lid. The plan was to add small amounts of hotter water while stirring every 15 minutes.
Blanket for extra insulation was unnecessary
I quickly found out that the blanket made no difference
I'm fairly certain stirring the wort helped improve efficiency, but I'm not convinced that adding hotter water helped out the mash. I was only able to get the temperature to go up to 62 at the highest by the end of the batch. This is something I'll need to look at for next time.

With the mash complete, it was time to drain the wort. I only had to vorlauf the wort a few times to get any grain bits to stop coming through; much more efficient than my older mash tun!
Vorlauf and color
The slits stopped all the grain
Once the first kettle was nearly full, I added in another 4 gallons of water to batch sparge the grain. I have not constructed a sparge arm for the mash tun, so this is the method for now.
Thick and brown
It was incredibly syrupy at this point.
Foamy grain depleting wort
The water level quickly went below the grain bed
I took extra care to balance out the runnings into both of my kettles. That should make the boil more uniform, despite having an underpowered burner. The flow came pretty fast, so I had to be careful to regulate the valve. I've still got to figure out all the idiosyncrasies of this system, but I feel confident that this can mash much larger amounts of grain.
Distribution of wort
The tubing made the distribution a cinch
Mash and lauter complete
All done
After sparging, I got about 7.5 gallons of wort ready for boiling. I took a reading of the first runnings (which were incredibly syrupy, even at mash temperature) and got 1.090. The later runnings were likely not as strong.
Leftover grain
Now I need to empty out this grain and give it to a local chicken farmer

Boiling Up

Once all the wort was retrieved, it was time to boil. As I started heating, I soon learned I only had 1 hop bag for my additions. Luckily, my old steeping grains bag from my beginning days of extract brewing was a suitable substitute for my hop additions.

The calm before the boil
90 minute mash to 60 minute boil
Foam forming
As the wort heats the foam gradually forms...
Once the boil got going in kettle #1, I threw in my hops and started the timer. For this brew, there were three separate hop additions.
Foam dissipates
...until the boil starts

Kettle #2 was boiling 10 minutes after the first one started. It wasn't too difficult to put the steeping grains bag in, I just had to ensure the stove wouldn't char the outside of it.
Hop additions using the steeping bag
Good to know that this bag was still useful
Once kettle #1 finished boiling, I moved the second kettle over to the more powerful stove burner for that wort to experience a good 15 minutes of vigorous boiling.
Beginning of the cooldown in style
Hot tamale!


As kettle #2 was finishing it's boil, kettle #1 was plunged into a nice cold bath of ice water. It went pretty fast, and I was able to fill up the fermenter without requiring any additional top up water. The new kettle acquisition was successful!
Cooling down the brew
In the future I will acquire a wort chiller
The amount of wort each kettle contributes
About 2.2 gallons of wort from each kettle
The wort was chilled and the starter was foaming up. It was time to pitch the yeast.
Starter is ready to pitch
The yeast in the starter is ready for some action
Yeast pitched
Will 2 inches of headspace be enough to contain WLP023?
This is where all the fun happens
Sure will be a sight to see with this thing blowing off a much of yeast
The hydrometer read an original gravity of 1.070. This beer should finish between 7% and 8%, depending on how much of the wort remains as unfermentable sugars. I'm expecting this yeast to blowoff in a similar way the Vanilla Porter did, as the gravity on this brew is higher. All the necessary blowoff precautions were installed to ensure that any foam or beer coming out of the top will land in the jar of in the secondary containment. Only time will tell as this brew gets going.

Ol' 22 (5 Gallons)

11 lbs 2 Row Malt
1 lb Crystal 60
2.5 lb Munich
0.5 lb Midnight Wheat
0.25 lb Rye Malt
0.75 Chocolate Malt

1 oz Northern Brewer (60 min)
1 oz Centennial (30 min)
1 oz Willamette (5 min)

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