Critique the Process Start to Finish
Hello all, I have been making my own brew for quite sometime now. I have advanced the equipment to the point of making things pretty straight forward and easy for cleaning. Although when I was using kits I tried everything from American Lights to Dubbels to Barley wines and beyond. Since most people around me cannot tell the difference (believe it or not) I am just trying to make a generic good tasting beer. My fermentation tank is about 380 litres (just shy of 400 gallons). I am interested in a critique of the process by people using similar equipment and methods.
I am am not looking to make anything particularly exotic. Just plain good tasting beer.
I have access to:
Hops (Cascade, Northern, Amerilo)
Extract, generally I use light DME;
Yeast Safale 4 /5
Most fortunate, I have access to a machine shop and small fabrication facility
I had a 380 liter rectangular fermentor made to fit into a large chest freezer ( converted with a ranco controller to be a refrigerator), The bottom third on each side has a 30 degree slope to the middle. Trub usually goes to the middle. ** I do not reuse yeast as I wait months between brews. - I would like to if the process was simple. There is a 12 " protlight in the top for clean out.
Hand clean fermenter
Fill to top with iodine sanitizer for 30 minutes.
Pump out iodine with sterile CO2..iodine water comes out through dip tube
Place the fermenter into the refridgerator
Crank up the 100 liter kettle full to the brim
When almost boiling, run the hot water through the plumbing (wort pump, counter cooler and silicone line that goes to the fermenter.Dump the first 2 gallons of hot water out , so as to lower the kettle level.
Than recycle the cooling loop back into the top of the kettle (Effectively sterilizing the cooling loop and line to the fermenter.
Add 1 hour hops (between 2-4 oz per 5 gallons)
Put the lid on the kettle and turn on the mixer and start adding the DME
@40 minutes I ad whirlfloc
@50 minutes add flavor hops
@59 minutes I add aroma hops
Crash cool the kettle contents by running a contercooler and returning the line to the top of the kettle (at an angle to create a swirl)
I first use swimming pool water (at about 75 degrees) then when the wort is at about 100 degrees I use and ice bath.
I can get the temp from 212 to 70 in about 25 minutes.
Than I turn on the inline oxygen and start sending the wort to the fermentation tank (the whole tank and freezer are on wheels) There are two oxygen injectors with .5 micro stones. The wort then travels about 10 ' up the side of the freezer/fermenter into a static mixer (vertically mounted ) then down the dip tube in the bottom of the tank.
When the tank is full (about 4 boils =350 liters) I make sure the temp is around 64 degrees and I pitch the yeast (18 packs).
I have an in tank temp sensor and inevitably the freezer compressor cannot maintain temp...(if it goes over 70 its going to hit 80) so as it approaches 68 I through bags of ice on top of the stainless stank... Than keep the temp under 67.
After about 10 days, significant CO2 production has stopped, I open the hatch and introduce 12 -14 oz of hops pellets on to the surface (higher alpha acid like Amarillo). I then run co2 into the tank through the an new, clean sterile vent line with the hatch a little loose for 5 minutes to purge the O2.
I wait about 4 more days, add bentonite, then cold crash for 2 days down to 32F.
Then I take the kegs:
Fill them with water and Iodine
Close them and let them sit for 30 minutes then , flip them upside down for another 30 minutes.
Then connect the OUT of one tank to the OUT of a second full tank
Connect the IN of the second tank to the out of a third tank.
(Essentially running the sterilizer through the dip tubes in a daisy chain. )
What is left are sterilized kegs with CO2 in them.
Then I put a CO2 tank on the fermenter and bleed co2 at 1 psi into the fermenter and I use the dip tube and a diaphragm pump / filter set up to fill the kegs.
I charge them at 60 psi (in about 3" of headroom in the keg - basically to set the keg seals) then let the kegs sit at about 72 F for a week (to condition a little)
Then I put the kegs in the freezer (I have removed the fermenter to make space) Start carbonating at 40 psi one day, 25 psi 1 day , then store them for final carbonation when installed on the 3 head tap. After about 2-3 days I remove 1 cup from each to take the sediment out.
That is about it. The beer comes out very clean. I have experimented down to a .1 micron filter....pale as hell and gave head worse then my high school gf. So now I stick to 1 micron.
Any recommendations are appreciated.