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.