Brewery 2.0, Brew #1
Today is my first day brewing with the latest iteration of my brewery. That includes a Chugger pump, my countercurrent heat exchanger for wort chilling, and my conical fermenter with upgraded cabinet controller software.
Thank goodness the friends I invited had other plans. The day started stressful when I snapped a polypropylene female camlock fitting while tightening an adjacent threaded fitting.
I quickly replaced it with a stainless fitting, finished tightening things up, and the day improved thereafter.
The first task was to sanitize the conical fermenter. This meant making a 5 gallon batch of Star San. I knew it would foam when I turned on the sump pump, but what a mess!
The foam nearly filled the 15 gallon conical tank. When I turned off the pump, the foam ran out faster than I thought and overfilled two buckets. It got all over the place! I saved a gallon like I always do, but I had to store the other four in a couple of cornelius kegs. I don’t have anywhere to keep these cool, so I can’t reliably store the Star San for the next brew session. It’s not like the stuff is expensive, but I’d like to optimize my use if I can since it’s a synthetic detergent. At least I have two sanitized kegs ready to take the beer from this brew session.
Another difference is that my burner has wheels!
I like to brew close to the garage door for ventilation and to enjoy the weather, but I need to move the pot to the cabinet to pump it into the tank. I could either get really long hoses or make my brew pot mobile. Until I go all electric, I chose the latter. This has an additional benefit: I can fill the brew pot directly from the cam lock water supply I installed in my garage.
I burned a couple of new lines on my brew paddle at 10 and 11 gallons since I’m doubling the batch size and got to work!
One of the more annoying tasks with extract brewing is getting liquid extract dissolved. Dry extract is luxurious. It floats on top until it dissolves. It’s also expensive. Liquid extract is much cheaper, but it’s a sticky syrup that sinks straight to the bottom where it scorches. I previously dealt with this by slowly dissolving the extract with a metal strainer. Now that I have a pump, I can aggressively circulate the wort while adding extract!
Sweet. With the extract dissolved, it’s only a matter of getting through the hot break. This is the point in the brew when the surface tension of the wort transiently increases, and bubbles form like crazy. With 5 gallon batches, I never worried too much. A 15 gallon pot can hold the entire hot break of a 5 gallon batch. I braced for the hot break and watched vigilantly. I was very underwhelmed. The hot break was prolonged and mild. I suppose this was just a lesson in dimensional analysis, but a welcome one.
With things underway, the most important part of brew day becomes imminent. My in-laws just got back from a European cruise. My mother-in-law stuffed a few beers from Copenhagen into her suitcase. What better to drink than beer that’s a gift, especially when it is a very thoughtful gift?
The recipe for today is a dubbel:
- 60 minute boil
- 12 lb pale LME
- 2 lb pale DME (couldn’t fit all the LME in my bucket!)
- 1 lb Cara Munch and 1 lb Special B, steeped
- 2 lb homemade dark candi sugar (I’ll make a separate post about my recipe for this sometime)
- 3 oz Hallertau hops, added at boil start
- 2 oz Styrian Goldings hops, added with 15 minutes left
- Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale
- OG 1.061
Things took a little longer than I planned, mostly due to the new piping complexity.
When brew day was finished, though, 10 gallons in the conical fermenter was a pretty sight.
Here’s hoping it comes out tasty.
The final gravity was 1.018. This comes out to an ABV of 5.6%. It’s good. Although the body is a little thin, the hops and malts are balanced. A second keg is aging and may have a little more aroma and mouthfeel.