Tag Archives: wort chiller

Pilsner Brew Day

I brewed my Pilsner last Saturday, just as the snow ended. The snow setting made brewing a real treat compared to the normal blustery winter brew day. The recipe for this beer was pretty simple and the grain crush went quickly. Even though it was cold out, my mash water heated up quickly. My goal was to use a high water to grain ratio at low temperatures to get as much sugar out of the grain as possible, I ended up putting four gallons of water into ten pounds of grain. This gave me a 1.6:1 quart to pound of grain ratio. Typically this ratio is closer to 1.25:1. I have been doing these higher ratios recently and I have found that my efficiency has gone up, so I’m sticking with it.

I mashed for 90 minutes hitting my target of 151 °F through the whole mash. I then added my strike water at 175°F and let the whole thing rest for another ten minutes. Once everything was completed I began my boil. I went for a 75 minute boil this time around as I collected a bit more wort than I was anticipating. I added my whole leaf Hallertau hops at 60 minutes as you can see below.

I rarely use whole leaf hops, but they look awesome in the beer. For the next 45 minutes I read my book while waiting for the next hop addition. At 15 minutes I added the Sterling hops (pellets), my wort chiller, and the Irish moss. At 10 minutes I added a yeast nutrient that I have had good success with. Come fame out I turned on the wort chiller water. At this time I also begin transferring a different lager beer from the fermentor to the keg. Doing two things at once is nice, but also hectic.

I had to switch between checking on the beer transfer and stirring the wort to help it cool more quickly. As the completed beer finished its transfer, I put the airlock back on the fermentor in order to protect the yeast cake from the air. The wort cooled down to 60 °F in about 20 minutes and I decided to put it in the fermentor. The whole leaf hops tried to clog my auto-siphon but they did not succeed. After all of the wort was in the fermentor I shook it up to make sure that the yeast mixed with the beer and to make sure that it was properly oxygenated.

My target goal of 1.053 was hit dead on. I really love hitting my goals and I am going to continue to do a looser mash and longer mash time as the success that I have had with it continues to impress. Within six hours this beer was producing bubbles in the airlock. I plan on leaving it in my basement for a month at 55 °F. From there I will keg it and lager it at colder temperatures for two to four weeks. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I transfer it over to the keg. Continue reading

Brown Porter Brew Day

This is the first Brew Day post that I have done in almost half a year. I am really trying to document my homebrewing more this year and this far I think that I have done a decent job. My Brown Porter recipe was pretty straight forward and didn’t have a complicated hopping schedule or anything else that would cause difficulty. I am getting more used to using my grain mill now, as this is the third batch of beer brewed using it, and I think that I have all of the kinks worked out.

 The image above shows that nice grain crush that my grain mill has been giving me. While I crushed the grains, the mash water was heating up on the burner outside. Once the water reached the correct temperature, I combined it with the grain in my cooler and hit 152 degrees Fahrenheit on the dot. Go me!

Pictured above this are the cracked grains pre-water. You can clearly see the darker grains, chocolate and roasted barely, that will give the beer its darker color. I then drained the first runnings out of the cooler and added the strike water. I held the strike water in the cooler for about ten minutes before draining it as well. I collected a little over six gallons total. I then boiled for an hour and followed the hopping schedule as noted in the recipe.

At 15 minutes I added the wort chiller and Irish Moss in addition to the hops. At the 10 minute mark I added some yeast nutrient as well. I boiled off a little over a half a gallon of water during the hour long boil. During the winter, the water coming into the wort chiller is super cold and this beer cooled down from 212 to 65 in about 15 minutes. During this time I transferred the IPA to a keg. I then put my new Brown Porter wort right on top of the yeast cake from the IPA. I left the hop particles at the bottom of the boil kettle and collected five gallons of beer. I did better than my expected gravity of 1.052 by getting a 1.053. It was the first time that I have ever done better than expect. I generally fall a few points below where I want to be. I think it was mostly due to the higher water to grain ratio of ~1.6 qt/lb then the normal 1.25 qt/lb. I started seeing bubbles in the airlock within two hours of this beer being put into the fermentor.

As a sidenote: I had to hook up a blow-off tube for this one because the fermentation was very active.

I will have some tasting notes up for this one as soon as it is ready to drink. The same goes for my IPA. Continue reading

Summer Blonde Ale Brew Day

I hadn’t brewed in a long time, so I was pumped to finally get a chance to brew some beer and enjoy/use my new equipment. My brew day was supposed to begin around 11:00 AM or so, but I had some chores to do so I didn’t actually get to brewing till around 3:30 PM.

There were two new pieces of equipment in use on this brew day; 7.5 gallon pot and a propane burner. The burner is such an improvement over my previous gas stove and my current electric stove. Heating of the mash and strike water took half of the time and who doesn’t love the sound of gas burning?

I began my day by smacking my smack pack of Wyeast 1318 London Ale III. Within three hours it was fully inflated and ready to go. I’ve had some trouble in the past with the smack pack not really going, but this one took off like a rocket.

I heated my mash water (~4 gallons) to 163, to give a mash temperature of 153. While the mash was going for an hour I prepared my fermenter and other equipment for sanitation. After the hour was up I used a new “method” to get the wort out of the mash tun. The reason behind this was that I was listening to a homebrewing podcast a bit ago and they talked about boosting efficiency in your mash by letting your wort run slowly out of the grain instead of letting it flow like crazy. I’ve always let it flow like crazy, so this time I only opened the valve  a bit and let a trickle. It took a lot longer, but the resulting wort gave me a 79% efficiency.

Once all of the wort was in the pot, the real fun could begin. I fired up the burner and awaited a boil. Wonderfully enough, the boil began in about 10 minutes. Have I mentioned how much I love my new burner? I was slightly worried about a boil over as I haven’t had a chance to test the temperature control on the burner yet. My worried were unnecessary as a small increase or decrease of the gas flow had an immediate impact on my boil.

From boil time to 15 minutes before flame out the brewing was pretty unexciting. With 15 minutes left to go, I placed my wort chiller into the wort to sanitize it and threw in some Irish Moss. With 10 minutes left to go I threw in a new product to me, Wyeast Yeast Nutrient. With 5 minutes to go I added the last addition of hops and at flame out I switched off the gas, started the water through the chiller, and awaited proper temperatures to be reached.

Being that it is the summer, the ground water is kind of warm and the chiller took almost a half hour to get near 70 degrees. I placed the wort into my new better bottle and threw the yeast in as well. Once completed, the better bottle, wort, and yeast were placed into my kegorator with the temperature set at 68 degrees. The is my first attempt at temperature control so we will see how that goes. I was encouraged to see bubbles with 8 hours of brewing. All in all, it was a wonderful brew day and I got the chance to play with a lot of new fun toys.

Homebrewing wants/needs

I haven’t brewed a batch of beer in almost three months now and it is driving me crazy. There were two contributing factors for the lack of brewing over the past few months. The first was that I had no room to put finished beer. My kegorator is currently home to two kegs, both of which contained beer (a wonderful porter and a pale ale that needs some work). I wanted to finish off both beers before I brewed again.

I am a big fan of reusing yeast, so it makes sense to brew a batch and brew another when the first one is finished. Because of this I need two free kegs. The second reason for the lack of brewing was that I moved this last week and I didn’t want to have to move a full keg or a fermenting batch of beer.

I am now mostly settled into my new house and I love it, but I would love it more if my kegs were full of beer. There are a lot of things that I want to do with my homebrew setup and this lead me to make a list of wants and needs.

Needs

  • More kegs (at least two) to put beer. Even if they are not on tap, it will give me a place to put finished beer and to have something ready to go when a keg kicks.
  • Gas burner. My old apartment did not allow for a gas burner because of some apartment law, but at my new house I can burn outside. The stove is also electric but the amount of time needed to get a boil is unnecessary.
  • A larger pot. I currently have one five gallon pot and one 3.5 gallon pot. I generally do a split boil in order to get five gallons of beer. This gets annoying really fast and also causes problems since I only have one wort chiller.

Wants

  • My kegorator is able to hold three kegs so I want to get everything necessary to do that. I want another faucet, shank, and all of the tubing necessary.
  • Going along with the additional tap, I want a second regulator so that I have have different pressures in my kegs. I currently have a two output manifold, which works great, but only one pressure can be set. An Irish Stout and an APA should be sitting at different PSIs.
  • The final thing that I want to get is an extra manifold. Most of my beers can sit at the same pressure, so I would like to have an extra two output manifold to go along with the additional regulator.

So what can I do on a budget? My wants are all on the more expensive side of things. Regulators run around $50-$100 and another manifold will cost about $35. The shanks, faucets and additional hose/connections will be around $50. Now those prices are not outrageous, but they are a bit pricy for me right now.

In the needs arena the kegs can be a bit pricy at $35-$50 a keg. Gas burners can run around the same price and large pots ~7.5 gallons can also be pricy. My solution, Amazon and my credit card rewards. I just purchased a turkey fryer kit that includes a burner and a 7.5 gallon pot for $65, but it only cost me $15. The reason for this is that my credit card does rewards points and one of the prizes is a $50 Amazon gift card. I’m thrilled to have two of the three needs crossed off of the list.  Once I finish my needs list I am hoping that Santa can help with the wants. I should be brewing next week and I can’t wait. I’ll get my recipe posted as soon as I finalize it.