Brewday in Pictures and Video

Brewer's Notes, Process

We have some wonderful weather here in Central Texas during wintertime… truly the most redeeming quality of this area. That and crazy good BBQ. Anyway – an A/V document of my brew day… a truly beautiful day and most everything went extremely well.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I built a new grist mill and case. This was the first chance to brew with the crush. I was fairly happy with the results, but may make some adjustments along the way. I will say that it was a bit underwhelming watching the 20# of grain burned through in about a minute. The skirt worked well, no dust kicked out to speak, just what kicked pouring the malt into the hopper.

I can’t hold a camera and grain in… so assume it all went very well. I prepare my strike water in the tun and heat to about 164F to hit 154F. Minerals split between the strike and sparge water. I run the RIMS with direct heat to bring the water to temperature – which also helps even the heat distribution in the system. After mash in, I slowly bring the recirculation speed up. With a more fine mill, the circulation is slow. With this grind, I was able to recirculate very quickly… nearly double the rate of the fine grist.

The Brew Magic deploys a hybrid fly sparge method. I establish the flow rate with the first runnings, and match the pump over from the HLT to that rate. Circulation also introduces a rotation of the wort at the top of the mash and pulls the liquor down through the MLT. The result is very clear wort through the process.

I tend to boil with a lot of energy. The vigorous boil helps to create strong break material. I do need to find a path to moderate the boil strength as it tends to darken beers like Pils. I use a few drops of FermCap-S as well as drop in a couple of bits of hops to help control the foam. A spray bottle helps me when adding new hops – like below – however it never threatened to overflow.

I have built a hop spider, but have fallen back to simply pinning a mesh bag floating free for pellet hops. Whole hops go into the kettle and are caught on the false bottom. Since moving to the counterflow chiller, I worry a lot less about trub and hop material plugging up the chiller.

I clean as I go – so the judicious use of a wet dry vacuum to knock out the mash and to clean up any loose bits is useful. Remove the mash and give a light rinse and then wipe down the sides. Vac the remaining out and your tun is pretty clean! Plus I find emptying the plastic bucket easier than a heavy keggle.

I also compost my spent grains. I took the time to turn the compost pile and was thrilled to find live and wriggling earthworms! In February no less. The pile is about 2 years worth of grains and compacts pretty quickly in the heat. As long as the top dries quickly, the smell is not too bad.

I added my last addition and prepared to knock out. I decided to proceed with ground water, as opposed to circulating ice water, and still knocked out at 66F, perfect for pitching. I have modified my Chill Wizard to use a convoluted counterflow chiller rather than the big plate chiller. I have been frustrated with the difficulty in keeping the plate chiller clean. I chilled and pumped directly into my SS BrewTech 1/2 Barrel Chronical. Hit target gravity right on.

The day ended with some light cleaning of the BK and a quick yeast count. I pitched right at 400 billion cells and fermentation showed in just a few hours!

The recipe is a scaled version of Brülosophy’s Best Brown Recipe, which will be featured in a later post.

4 thoughts on “Brewday in Pictures and Video

    1. Thanks! With help and a ‘normal’ beer like an APA – just over 4 hours. Everytime I do something different – like a step mash, it seems to take 5-6. Helps to clean as you go, of course. With a friend, we can shave at least 45 minutes off the post knockout clean up.

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