Yesterday was our first time, after months of relatively successful AG brewing, that was pretty much a complete disaster, a total chitstorm...
Moral of the story: don't brew like I do.
It started with, and this was probably the biggest issue, an error in translation on the order. Emailed the shopping list to the brew buddy who was responsible for placing the order. In addition to of course hops and yeast, the grain bill (for a 10gal IPA) was:
24 lbs 2-row
3 lbs 10L Crystal
24 lbs 2-row
Compounding the error - since it was in fact our first 10gal, we didn't twig to the fact that we had nearly twice as much grain as we ought to. So we ground it all up, then tried to fit the 50+# of grain into our poor keggle mash tun. Gave up at 48lbs, 6lbs just sat this one out. Lucky for them.
Then we tried to mash in. Of course, we needed a lot more water than we had. But we had plenty of time to heat water as we were trying to mash in, because... too much grain, and adding the water to the grain (never an issue before, but when you've got grain to the top of your tun...) well, it took us about half an hour to mix and get all the stuff decently hydrated. Of course, the temp was too low, thanks to too much grain, so then trying to recirc and get the temp up to a reasonable level for mashing. Oh, and of course the thermometer was surrounded by a bit of a doughball we couldn't mix in, so it was reading low... good thing we had other thermometers to run from the top.
Oh, did I mention we ground it way too fine??? Yeah, rollers on the mill slipped since last time, and we suspect the weight of all that wet grain up top made things even worse... so our false bottom was jammed up bad and wouldn't even recirculate.
So we've got a layer-cake effect, with a warm wet mash up top, dry/doughy grain in the middle, and a small volume of liquor on the bottom below the false bottom. We're trying to draw that off to recirculate, while heating as well to get temp in more evenly through the mash... and so of course since there's grain through to the bottom, and not enough liquor, we're also scorching...
So we finally got it up to between 140-145, and called it good enough, let it camp out for an hour to think about what it'd done.
Oh, and in case you're wondering... no, we hadn't even consumed any beverages at this point!!! No excuse for all the cock-ups except inexperience, rushing to get things done (of course, it was only 28F outside and snowing), and not closely checking our steps as we went.
So after an hour, time to attempt a sparge. Of course, it's a complete mess we're heading into; we know it's gonna stick badly, thanks to the excessive weight and too-fine milling. So we get the ball rolling. No extra space up top to add water and get things rolling - still full right to the top, even after pulling off some grain.
Sure enough, no matter how many times we try to blow back and get a bed going, it just won't ever set up a good drain. We end up stirring heavily and using the mash paddle to try to keep clearing space on the false bottom, to draw off enough liquor to have a boil.
Finally made it through to the boil after a stupid amount of effort, and it started to resemble a normal brew. Boiled over heavily, of course, thanks to the massive amount of particulate in the boil kettle, but oh well. Jammed our hops in, and as expected with the stupid overload of grain, came out with crazy-high OG in spite of my estimate of 41% efficiency. LOL
Oh, and we were a bit worried about how sweet it was coming out, so we did decide to kick up the hops a bit on the fly - only added 1oz additional Warrior, but made most additions ahead of schedule to bump up the IBUs. May have overdone that a bit; final numbers are:
Could be one helluva tongue-bruiser; OTOH, the Columbus hops do tend to be more mellow, so maybe it'll still be drinkable! Definitely going to pack a punch, should be able to clear 10% ABV with those numbers. May end up something like an Arrogant Bastard clone, in a way; if not all that arrogant, it's definitely a bastard of a brew!
Two more weeks, we'll crank through the Old Chub clone; looking forward to doing a much better job than this weekend... dang, I need a beer just thinking about all that again...