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Old 10-13-2007, 04:04 AM   #1
Chad
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Default First PM in the can (er, bucket)

Finished brewing my first partial mash this morning. While there were several things I'd like to fine-tune for next time, overall the whole process went very smoothly. My efficiency might have been a little better than I was expecting, leading to a new pseudo-style, the Imperial Cream Ale

Actually, I'm just a bit high on OG (1.056 or 1.058). I'm hoping it will ferment out smoothly and not leave an overly malty feel or an alcohol burn. Should be interesting, however it turns out. Recipe and pre-brew discussion here.

Notes and things that could go better:

  • Mashing grains is a pain in the butt with a cooler & sparge bag rather than a real mash/lauter tun. An 8 to 10 pound teabag is problematic and strains the seams of even the sturdiest sparge bag. How many $6 bags can I go through before a real tun becomes cost effective?
  • When boiling in two pots (one of which contains wort from sparge water), check the OG of each pot to get a real reading.
  • Don't panic over low OG until you see how much wort you have and how much it needs to boil down.
  • Dogs (or at least yellow Labs) love spent grains. Put them on the leaf pile/compost heap much farther from the house to avoid major outgassing (from the dog, not the grains)

This was also my first time making a yeast starter. I'm sold. I pitched the yeast at 1:00 this afternoon. I had airlock activity by 4:30 and it's perking away like a champ at 11:00, even a 55f fridge temps. Impressive.
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Old 10-13-2007, 02:21 PM   #2
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Well a $20 5gal Victory cooler, and about $20 in plumbing parts, and you'd have a "real" mash lauter tun.
but if you plan to go All Grain, just get the 10gallon Victory for $50...same exact plumbing parts are used.

Also when I did two smaller boils instead of one full boil, i collected first runnings in both pots, and again with sparge runnings. that way my gravity in each pot was basically the same and I didn't have to worry about different hop utilizations. I just split hops evenly and called it a day.

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Old 10-14-2007, 03:50 AM   #3
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Thanks, Malkore. I appreciate the encouragement.

Yep, I'll definitely be getting or making a mash/lauter tun. The sparging bag method, even though I got decent efficiency, is problematic at best. I don't foresee going all grain for a while, just because I don't have the BTUs and don't fancy brewing outside. I have a wooden deck surrounded by bone-dry pine straw at the moment. Drought and propane burners do not mix well. I'm happy to keep things inside. Working with two pots shouldn't be a problem now that I'm aware of some of the pitfalls. I had to estimate my OG because I didn't think to check before pitching my yeast with the smaller pot while waiting for the larger one to cool. I did, however, check the OG of the sparge water in the 2nd pot before putting it on the heat, so I can estimate fairly accurately how it concentrated as it boiled down. My off-the-cuff calculations were within 1.010 of where Beersmith put things given the grain/extract bill and estimated efficiency.

My cream ale has been chugging along nicely at 55-66f. Thank goodness we hit a cool spell and I can regulate the temps a little better. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. So far, this one is a winner.

Chad

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Old 10-14-2007, 05:40 PM   #4
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Progress Report

Holy crap this is a vigorous fermentation. I woke up this morning to a clogged airlock and ominously bulging lid. Quite a spew when I removed the airlock to clean it. It clogged again shortly thereafter so I switched to a blowoff tube. About an hour later it had gunked up to the point that there was no activity in the big cup of sanitizer the end was sitting in and the fermenter lid was convex again. Removed the tube, cleaned and sanitized it and then took the lid off the bucket to see what the heck was going on. The layer of krausen looked like it was a foot thick. I used a sanitized spoon to gently swirl (without oxygenating) the some of the krausen back into the beer. That seems to have done the trick. The blowoff tube is chugging along at just under a bubble per second. All of this is occurring between 55f and 65f, so I'm pretty amazed (and have very high hopes for a clean, crisp cream ale).

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