Sunday, 28 March 2010

An eventful brew day

I brewed with a couple of friends yesterday.  Just a fairly standard bitter; pale malt and caragold with a good dollop of EKG's.

Why was it "Eventful"?  Well, no sooner had I started the recirculation and the bloody heat exchanger sprang a leak.  When I say it "sprang a leak" I mean it failed catastrophically!

Previously when I've had a leaky heat exchanger it's just dripped slowly allowing me to finish brewing and fix it later.  This time the whole of the based dropped away depositing 2.5+ litres of hot water on the floor.

I was broadcasting the events via a webcam at the time and this photo shows the point when the heat exchanger gave way.  It's difficult to see the exchanger itself, but you can see the steam that poured out.  I may look like I'm dancing around like a drama queen but I am, in fact, reaching up to cut the power from the control panel.

Luckily I have recently tidied up the wiring, placing all the connections in a waterproof box except for the connections to the pump. These are out side the box but I've used waterproof connectors for them.  It was also fortunate that the mash temperature was spot on 66°C at the time although it did drop a little over the next hour.

It was interesting to note that the run off was considerably murkier than I normally get when I recirculate throughout the mash.  I don't yet know if this will affect the clarity of the finished beer but I suspect it won't.

Also, I finally gave up on the Schwarzbier.  Unfortunately it just wasn't right.  While the S23 did it's thing and attenuated the beer down to 1.010 it was just too late.  The time it sat in the fermenter doing nothing, the yeast having given up the ghost after munching its way through about 5 points worth of sugar, was just too long and an infection got in.  So, down the drain it went!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Update on the Schwarzbier and another brew underway...

Been a while and in that time I've sunk a few beers and have been to the Sussex Beer Festival.  I thought it was about time I gave a bit of an update on the black lager but also give you a heads-up on my latest beer.

So the black lager has been interesting.  I grew a starter of WLP830 and then chilled it, drained off the spent wort and pitched the slurry.  Big mistake.  I probably tipped away the best part of the yeast.

After 3 days the gravity was down from 1.054 to 1.045 or so.  It then stuck here for the next 3 weeks.  In fairness, I wouldn't have left it that long if I hadn't been busy with other things.  Anyway, once I got a spare moment I hydrated 4 packs of out of date S-23 (I don't like this yeast as a rule) because it was in the fridge, pitched it and within 12 hours it was going mental.

So, as it stands, the beer is still chugging away and is currently at about 1.020.  It actually tastes surprisingly good considering the wort sat in the fermenter for 3 weeks with not activity.  I'm going to leave it alone for a few more weeks and see what happens.

Leasson learned.  Pitch the yeast when it's at high krausen.  Don't bugger about racking off the spent wort!

Anyway, I've got a couple of non-brewers coming over on the 27th to see a brew day and I obviously want to make a good impression so I've brewed another beer for cask dispense.

The beer's called Joel's Jaw Jammer (I know but naming beers is not my forte!) and the recipe's as follows....

Brew length 55l
Pale Malt 7.75kg
Flaked Maize 0.5kg
Crystal Malt 0.5kg
Black Malt 0.25kg

Green Bullet 13.5% AA - 25g @ 90 minutes
EKG 4.2% AA -10g @90 minutes
EKG 4.2% AA - 32g @30 minutes
EKG 4.2% AA - 32g @15 minutes

Whirlfloc 1 tablet @ 10 minutes

WLP 002 4l starter from slant stepped up to 100ml then 4000ml pitched at high krausen

This is now 48 hours in and is fermenting away like a good 'un.

I'm going to leave it for another 3 or 4 days then cask it, prime it, fine it, shake it, leave it for a couple of days, stillage it, broach it and, finally, I'm going to drink it!