Wanted to post a quick thanks to HBT for all of the great information you have shared. It has helped me improve my beer. Brewed a batch this weekend that really made me feel like a homebrewer, hopefully it will taste good too! Here are the highlights:
Got a 1 liter starter going midweek from some washed & harvested Irish ale yeast that I had used in February. Was a little slow to get started since there was probably very little viable/vital yeast left after six months under distilled water. Let it ferment out, and stuck it in the fridge Friday night.
Combined an overnight and no-sparge mash. Brought all my gear up from the basement Friday night after the kids where in bed, mashed in at 152F with all my brewing water (almost 9 gallons) around 10:30 and went to bed. Woke up at 7, made coffee, drained my mash-tun (10 gallon cooler w/SS braid) and started my boil at around 7:30. Mash was at about 138F after a 9 hour mash. Got 7.3 gallons of wort to the kettle by draining my mash tun cooler (no sparge) plus 1 liter from the last drippings that I used for a second starter to wake up my newly revitalized yeast. Between my overnight and no-sparge mash, still ended up with 75% efficiency with a preboil gravity of about 1.050. Mash pH was 5.25. Pretty cool that I can make a moderately high gravity brew with no-sparge and make my brew day much shorter by mashing overnight, which the kids appreciate!
Added a bit of yeast nutrient to my mash-wort starter, boiled it for 15 minutes, cooled it, hit it with some O2, decanted my first starter and pitched the slurry. Fermentation was soon apparent in this second starter.
During the boil, I pulled the bulk order of amarillo, centennial, and simcoe pellets from my chest freezer and measured 1 oz of each, which i added with 10 minutes remaining. Used my homebrewfinds sourced foodsaver to package up the rest in 1oz increments. At flameout, I unclipped the bines of my first year Chinook and Columbus hops that are growing in the yard and harvested the cones (my cascade and centennial didn't make it). Threw the meager harvest in the 190 degree wort stirred up a little whirlpool, covered the kettle and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Cooled the wort through my therminator and stuck the 5.25 gallons of 77F wort in my temp controlled basement fridge until it hit 62F (around 6:00), at which point I oxygenated and pitched the liter starter which was at high krausen. Set my temp controller for 64 degrees. Blow off tube was rocking when I woke up this morning.
Hit all my temps and numbers, and was done by late morning with an American IPA recipe that I made up. Thanks for the inspiration HBT!