A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to brew in the GABF ProAm competition. I got lucky and won the Dred Hop Homebrew
competition and the Mt. Sun Pub and Brewery in Boulder, CO chose my IPA to brew for the GABF ProAM competition.
I showed up at 7:30 am and ready to mash in with the head brewer Brian Hutchinson. We planned on brewing a 6 bbl batch and the recipe was scaled up using pro mash and some math. The brew went typical of one of my home brews, which I should say was not exactly to plan. Their mill is located in a warehouse across town so they mill the day before the brew and bring the bagged grain to the 500 square foot brew house on Pearl street.
Just before we mashed in we got a phone call that the mill rollers were bumped and we needed to check the crush. So Brian opened up a bag and sure enough only 1/2 the kernels were crushed. Instead of chewing all day or throwing the bags off the roof we decided the brew must go on and we mashed in 300+ lbs of 2 row and aromatic malt nailing our mash temp of 152.
Brian stirring the mash while wondering about efficiency:
After a 30 minute mash and a bagel and coffee we began a 30 min vorlauf with an improvised plastic bucket to prevent channeling.
Brian thought the sparge was going to have some problems so we performed a under-let or underblow or reach around. Which is basically just forcing hot sparge water in through the lauter tun out to clear the false bottom. Just after our sparge started we broke the one and only hydrometer, which made me feel better for only owning one. We had no idea what kind of efficiency we were going to get with the bad crush so it was time to improvise.
I threw in the first wort hops and we started sparging.
The bets began as to how much wort we could collect to hit out OG of 1.068. After a quick trip to the homebrew shop to get a hydrometer, a few measurements later, and some rough math we stopped collecting at what we thought was about 4.5 bbls. Their kettle doesn't have a sight glass so just like my homebrew it was a guess.
Homemade grant (a grant is used between the lauter tun and ketter so the pump isn't sucking the grain bed out of the lauter tun. Gravity feeds the grant and you pump out of the grant into the kettle)
With less then 5 bbls in the kettle and hops measured for 6 we had to make another decision. Should we just throw all the hops in or scale down? Feeling adventurous and in the mood for luplin we went for it and thew all 15+ lbs of Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial the boil.
I cleaned out the mash tun as the boil started.
Measured out hops ready to throw in the kettle:
After a 90 min boil and bit to eat we did a quick hand whirlpool and a rest. Our last and final problem for the day was clogged up the chiller on the way into the fermenter. (Getting hops out of a plate chiller is another reason to keep the old immersion chiller.)
Me getting the whirlpool going:
Over all it was a great experience. Brian was fun to brew with and I picked up a few tips. Their brewery felt like a big homebrew setup complete with homemade sparge arms and no filter. We dumped a lot of beer on the ground, overflowed the grant, broke stuff, had a few cold ones, made a mess and hopefully made some good unrepeatable beer. Stop by the Mt. Sun or their table at GABF and let me know how you like "Patrick's Big IPA". (I know not a creative name)