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!


  1. You should have given us a link to the webcam - can't belive I missed out on the drama queen dance tutorial :) Hope the beer is okay.

  2. Have a look at my web page Mark. There's a section called "Brewcam". It's not streaming video yet as I haven't worked that out yet. It's updating a still every 5 seconds. Maybe I'll give you a demo of the dance tomorrow night. I'll bring the rest of your hops too.

  3. Thanks Phil. I'm still not right though, but I am planning to make the trip. If I go downhill for any reason I'll let you know in advance.

  4. Nasty business Phil, good to hear no-one was hurt. And I do like the "I'm a teapot" prance photo :)

  5. Hey Phil, I would really like to know where you purchased your steel vessels. What grade are they? My email is I'd love to hear back from you. I'm building my own system -->, so any input would be gratefully received.

  6. Hi Nick, they are supplied through "all good Homebrew shops" by Brupaks.

  7. Hi Phil, love your setup - I ran across it when I was researching HERMS systems. I do have a question about it. If you've got a good HERMS system, would you still need a hot liquor tank?

  8. Hi Cliff, and thanks. I'm glad you like it. Even with a HERMS you still want an HLT for two reasons. Firstly, if you treat yourliquor you'll need to do it in bulk. Secondly I suspect the HERMS would need a large amount of power and a longer coil than I use to raise tap water from sub 20C to strike temperature with a single pass.

  9. Hi Phil

    Absolutely brilliant website. I have been reading up on brewing my own for sometime and came accross your site... a very interesting read. I am not far from Basingstoke and was wondering if I could have a first hand look at your set up. Let me know if it is possible.

    Many thanks