Monday, 6 September 2010

Fermentation Control

Well, things have moved on a little at the fledgling brewery. The latest addition is a fermentation control lid which i've called "the contraption". I'm fermenting my beers in the 80L thermobox which I also use to mash in, the contraption lets me control the temperature that my beers are fermented at. It is a custom made stainless steel lid with beerline around the edge to create a seal (not airtight but it keeps the bugs out!) it has two SS cooling coils drilled through it which are connected to a beerline chiller and a 55w aquarium heater also fitted. The whole thing is hooked up to a TC10 temperature contoller with the probe going through the lid and this submerges in the beer. Basically all that happens then is I set the desired fermenting temperature and if the wort is 1c above this it kicks the beer line chiller on which pumps icy water through the product coils until the wort reached the right temperature or if it's 1c too cold it turns on the heater until the temperature of the wort is where I want it. Pretty good eh! The whole thing works really well.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

I hate bottling

I've bottled and kegged the beer I made last Saturday which finished at 1.010 (5.1%) I bottled 3 crates (36 bottles) and filled 2.5 cornie kegs. I really hate bottling, seriously, I really hate bottling but, when it's time to drink them I'll be glad I did. I've also promised a few people a bottle or two to review so needed to do it. The bottles have been primed with 1/2 tsp sugar and the cornies are being force carbed. Now it's time to enjoy a pint of "Witches Wort" that I made back in September 2009. I found half a cornie of it today......and I thought I had NO BEER!

I think a Stout is up next, probably a Toasted Oatmeal Stout.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Starters anyone...?

A long long time ago I purchased some vials of White Labs liquid yeast, two of these vials have sat in the beer fridge unopened. The best before dates on them are October 2008. Being at a loose end this evening I thought I'd see if they will actually grow on after all this time!

So 2 x 2L starters made using 200g spraymalt in each, if they work I'll split each yeast into 4 x 500ml PET bottles and maybe even use them in a brew!

The strains are WLP002 (English Ale) and WLP023 (Burton Ale).

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Back In The Saddle, at Last!

Its been the longest layoff since I started all-grain brewing in April 2007 but on Saturday 20 February I got back in the brewing saddle it a few tweaks and additions to the Fledgling Brewery.

Equipment wise the major change was the addition of an 80L stainless steel tun, this is a thermobox from Nordic Optical kindly converted to be a bottom drained tun by user Muddydisco from thehomebrewforum there is a great thread posted there showing it's construction from start to finish which you can see by following the link here I have fitted a stainless steel false bottom which was custom made for me by John at homebrew shop Hop & Grape, although Muddydisco has also now started to make these too! Other than that I have fitted a sight tube to my HLT which has made life loads easier!

1st Brew In The New Tun

I decided to christen the new tun with a batch of my house ESB "Big Kenny"

Target 60L FV
Target 1.050
Target 30IBU
90 min 66c Mash
90 min Boil

97% Pale Malt (12.2kg)
1.5% Crystal Malt 120L (190gm)
1.0% Roasted Barley (130gm)
0.5% Chocolate Malt (65gm)
2.5tsp Gypsum

Challenger to 30 IBU
60g Bobek at 15 Mins
2tsp Gyspum

Fermenting with 2x 11g sachets of Nottingham

The brew went quite well, there were a few issues which I need to fix for the next brew, the biggest issue was the amount of grain particles that got past the false bottom, I've traced the problem and fixed it (I hope) but for this brew I had to pump back from the boiler to a cleaned out tun through a fine SS mesh and then back again to the boiler, again through a fine mesh to get the particles out. Something I'd rather not have had to have done! I'll also be wrapping the boiler in silver bubble insulation to decrease the amount of time it's taking to come to the boil. The picture here shows the fly sparge, gravity feeding water from the HLT to a spinney sparger and pumping out at the same rate to the boiler.

I backed off the boil strength a little and ran on one element, this mean that my losses were much less and from the 85L pre boil volume I ended up with 70L into the "fermenter" the OG was 1.048 which I'm happy with, I'd assumed a 75% brew house efficiency being the first brew, this volume and strength works out at around 85% which is quite good I think for a first brew with new equipment.

Why Waste The SS Tun?

Rather than ferment in my plastic fermenters I'm trying a new approach, the beer is being fermented in the thermobox tun! I have dropped an aquarium heater set to 18c in the "fermento-tun" and also placed a short piece of copper tube into the drain on the tun, the reason for this is so that when I come to draw the fermented beer out I'm hoping that the yeast cake will be just below this point so I'll be drawing beer and not yeast, we will see! As you can see from this picture fermentation has started well, tonight it's sat bang on 18c and is down 28 points to 1.020.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Christmas Wine

We are quite organised this year and have 8 demijohns of wine fermented out and clearing ready to be bottled. Kit wine's that we have made are:

Beaverdale Peisporter
Beaverdale Pinot Grigio
Beaverdale Barolo
Beaverdale Rioja Red
Beaverdale Chablis Blush
California Connoisseur Riesling

We have also had a bash at a wine which I have heard good things about, Wurzels Orange Wine, we have made 2 demijohns using the following method:

1Ltr 100% Pure Orange Juice (smooth)
1Ltr Pressed White Grape Juice
1.5Lbs Granulated Sugar
1tsp Yeast Nutrient
1/2tsp Tannin
1tsp Pectic Enzyme
1tsp Glycerine
Water to 1 Gallon
1pck White Wine Yeast

Add Orange Juice, Grape Juice, Yeast Nutrient, Tannin, Pectin Enzyme & Glycerine to the demijohn along with a pint and a half of cold water and shake to mix well

Dissolve sugar in a pint of boiling water

Add Sugar water to demijohn

Top up to 4ltr with cold water and mix, and add yeast.

Ferment under airlock until the initial vigorous fermentation is over then top up to 4.5ltrs and continue to ferment until done.

When fermented rack to a sanitised demijohn with 1 crushed campden tablet and a tsp of potassium sorbate. De-gas for 24 hrs by shaking a few times. Then add wine finings. Bottle when clear.

Ours is at the de-gassing stage at the moment, the wine smells lovely, looking forward to trying it! It works out at around 40p a bottle!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Time flies....

Wow! - it's been such a long time since last posting anything here, time has been taken up with other projects and also spending (probably) too much of my time on the forum!

The Keggerator which I last posted about is un and running and working well, I have it set to serve my beer at 13c and i've been pleased with it's performance. It uses an ATC800 to control a 60w tubular heater and the freezer itself, switching between the two where it needs to call for heat or cold. Mostly through the summer I have been dispensing via my beer engine which is a HiGene 1/4 pint jobby, I use a cask breather connected to the corni and an inline check valve also - it works pretty well.

I've not managed to brew as much as i'd like to have done lately, I did manage to fit in a brewday to get a beer ready for halloween though recently. Witches Wort was kegged last night and turned out at around 5%. It's mt first time using Nelson Sauvin hops i'm impressed was with the smell from the FV and also the small sample I had when kegging it. Fingers crossed it'll do the job come the 31st!

Here is the recipe

Witches Wort

Pale Malt (98%)
Crystal Malt (2%)
Bobek 90 mins (33 ibu)
Nelson Sauvin 15 mins (12 ibu)
Nelson Sauvin Steeped at 80c for 15 mins

Due to the mash tun dying on me when I added the mash liquor I had to mash in a smaller tun, so the brewlength was reduced from the intended 60L to 36L just right for 2 cornies. One fermenter was pitched with s04 the other was pitched with Nottingham.

The introduction of a pump and a therminator plate chiller has made life easier at the Fledgling Brewery, no more lifting dangerous amounts of hot wort!

The next imminent brewery upgrade is the addition of an 80L stainless steel thermobox tun. This is currently awaiting conversion. I'll put a post on about how I do it, all the bits and bobs are here, all I need now is time, peace and quiet!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Wezzerator - Work Begins!

Work started tonight on the Wezzerator. The chest freezer that I am using is not deep enough to hold a cornie keg so this collar effectively means that i'll have a cut & shut cooler. It's just the framework at the moment - I will be picking up the insulation for it tomorrow and fitting that.

I tried it out on the freezer and it fits like a glove.