An annotated brewday
I decided yesterday to photograph and document a "typical" AG brewday for me, so I could share it with those who are interested in stepping up to AG brewing. In the next few posts, I'll be walking you through a "typical" brewday at the jds home.
First off, let me say this: Brewing is a craft. There are a whole lot of different ways to make beer, and most of them work. I'm not using this to tell you how you should make beer. I'm telling you how I make beer.
So, first off, the recipe. I wanted to make a full-bodied pale ale with some german character. I started with my American Rye recipe, which makes a dandy pale, replaced the carapils with Melanoiden malt, and bumped them mash temperature to about 155F for 45 minutes, to keep the beer more full-bodied. The recipe looks like this:
BeerSmith Recipe Printout - BeerSmith Brewing Software, Recipes, Blog, Wiki and Discussion Forum
Recipe: Full Fall Pale Ale
Brewer: Joe S
Style: American Pale Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.059 SG
Estimated Color: 7.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 43.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Total Grain Weight: 12.00 lb
So, let's get started brewing, shall we?
This is my setup. I really like the wok burner as a boiler support -- it's just the right height for brewing.
After buying and milling my grains at my LHBS (Beer and Wine at Home in Denver), I got ready to brew. Notice that I'm checking the temperature of the grain. It had been in my car for a couple of hours on a sunny day, and was several degrees warmer than ambient. If you want to hit your temperatures, this is an important step.
Next, I needed to preheat my mash-in water and MLT to temperature. Notice that this is hotter than the 168F I need to mash-in at. I preheat the water hotter than required, fill the MLT to the correct level, then adjust if necessary using cold water. I think it's a lot easier to adjust temperatures DOWN than up.
After some minor adjusting, I had my MLT and water at the correct temperature and volume, so I could dough-in the grain
I doughed-in the grain, plus a tablespoon of pH 5.2 buffer and a couple of large handfuls of rice hulls. My method is to add a bit of grain, stir it in, add a bit more and stir, etc etc. This helps make sure all the grain gets wet and that there aren't hot or cold spots. 12 Lb of grain plus rice hulls is about all I can mash in this cooler at a ratio of 1.25 quarts / lb.
After doughing-in, I add a floating thermometer to the mash and seal it up. Yes, this thermometer says 152F. I find that the indicated temperature comes up a few degrees once I put the lid on and the mass equalizes in temperature.
Now, I start my sparge water heating while the mash proceeds. I also played some frisbee with my daughter while the enzymes did their magic.
After 45 minutes elapsed and the sparge water was up to temperature, it was time to start sparging.
Here's my "HDPE lauter grant" charged with an ounce of Sterling hops for the first wort hop addition. Yes, it has a bottling spigot on it. No, it doesn't matter -- the bucket is just a leftover.
And so the sparging begins. I batch-sparged to collect about 8 gallons of runnings total. Yes, Beersmith says 7.5 gallons, but I know the hops will absorb some of that, so I was looking for 8 gallons. For batch sparging, I first drain the MLT, add water to the top, let it sit for a few minutes, then drain until the wort runs clear, with no particles. Cloudy wort goes back into the MLT to be filtered through the grain bed. It usually takes 2 or 3 additions of water to get the correct amount of wort.
With 8 gallons of wort collected, it was time to start a boil. Preboil would be the time to take a gravity reading for efficiency. Today, I didn't. With this process and crush from the LHBS, I usually get 75-78% efficiency. Note the nice head of bubbles. I try to boil as vigorously as possible, and I can tell from experience that it is actually possible to boil over a 15.5 gallon sanke keg with a five gallon batch of beer.
Hops and irish moss were added per schedule, and the immersion chiller was added with ten minutes left in the boil.
Here's what was left after chilling. See how high up the sides of the keggle the hops are? That's how much foam I was making. I nearly boiled this batch over after my neighbor came over and I ran downstairs to get a couple of beers.
Finally, it was time to charge the fermenter. This doohickey on the end of the sanitized siphon tube is intended to entrain air into the wort as it flows through the nozzle to improve aeration.
The fruits of my labor: About six gallons of wort, ready to ferment. Pleas notice that the fermenter is in a milk crate. I do that to provide a good place to grip when transporting close to 70 lb of beer and glass fermenter.
After that, I moved the fermenter to the bsement, cleaned up, and pitched an evelope of Safale US-05 yeast. This morning, it's bubbling merrily along.
Like any brewday, a few things went wrong. To wit:
I got impatient early on and didn;t heat my strike water quite high enough to get to 168F when added to the cooler, so I had to reheat it.
I couldn't find my hydrometer. Not wanting to take the time to drive to the LHBS, I brewed without it. Assuming I hit my normal efficiency, this beer should work out to about 1.060 OG*
With a few minutes left in the boil, a miller moth decided to commit hara-kiri into my boil kettle. Now, it's Miller beer.
*of course, I found my hydrometer this morning, just in time to not be able to get an OG reading.
When you bottle this or keg you should definitely make a Mock Miller label, but don't explain it to people And I'll delete my interrupting post.:D
Thanks! this really helps!
jds...also, nicely done! Thanks for the detailed account of an AG brew session. I like your little adapter for the end of your siphon tubing to help aerate the wort. Looks like part of a broken racking cane with holes drilled into it? I might need to make one myself.
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