Friday, July 23, 2010

Wants, Desires and Realisation

I wanted many things for my brewing system. Stainless steel pots, 1 1/2 inch pipe work for transferring sludge, pumps that can move both grain and water, automation the whole gear junky bit. What I really want is simplicity.It took me months to look at my pot system and design a stand of it. Now, I’m gonna get a 50cm dia. pot that is way to big for the design. It’ll sit on top of the stand but the safety concept originally built in will be defunct. 
The other thing I’ve been tormented with is, “What sized pots?” Do I go with three pots all the same size or do I go with different pots? Conventional wisdom says, “All the same size!” I’d been wrestling with this idea for a while now, but my mate Peter turned up and started talking about latuering in a sink!?! Think about it for a moment. What is it we actually do, and what is the volume of fluid we use at each step? Lautering in a stainless steel sink (which has been insulated) makes sense. It’s no different to any other methodology we use where the mash is transfered to some filtering system.
This forced me to rethink the whole process. A 50cm pot has a workable volume of around 70 L after the boil and a total capacity of around 83 L depending on the height of you pot, here they tend to be as high as they are wide. So in end effect, we are talking about a brewhouse that make roughly 4 cornie kegs of beer in one batch.
Lets step it back a bit. After Lautering the total vol is somewhere near 80 L. Sparge is what ever the hell you want to use. Some go with 1:1 but I use a 1:2 ratio myself - that is 1 volume of sparge water to 2 volumes of mash liquor. This means I need an HLT with a 26L capacity max. It also means that I need a Mash/Lauter Tun that can hold approx. 53 L of fluid + grain.
Surprise, surprise! With a 50 cm Boil Kettle, I need a 45 cm Mash/Lauter Tun and a 35 cm HLT. Can you believe it? All this time I thought I needed pots all the same size! Now, if I mash in my kettle, all I need is a Mash Filter/Lauter Tun! 
Pappazian, where the fuck are you!
A light goes on.
The way I brew, now, is to mash in the kettle, transfer the mash to the Lauter tun, vorlauf the mash into an Underback until clear and then run the clarified wort back into the cleaned Kettle. Drain to near dry and then sparge. What would a sink do? The exact same thing as the Lauter pot! Which is the cheaper option? I guess that depends on which country you live in. Either way you need some kind of false bottom or manifold or s/s braid filter to separate the fluid from the grain.
Realization.
The way I brew is dictated by the difficulties I’ve faced with brewing. It’s cost me a packet of money to come to this point. I wanted to Mash and Lauter in the same pot. I couldn't get a false bottom here in Vietnam, it has to be custom made, for the pot and usually that is not with any great success. Stirring the mash disturbs a manifold or a braid resulting in a disconnect. Yet, if you don’t stir you get significant temp differentials throughout the grain. Extraction efficiency anyone??? I’ve lost count of the number of times I had to don a pair of long rubber gloves and put the braid back while blowing bubbles through the drain tube to clear any grain that might be blocking it as I reconnect. So, now I mash in the Kettle and transfer the mash by hand to the Lauter tun. I may as well be using fucking plastic! 
Where IS that Papazian guy....

Until next time,

It's Your Shout, Mate!

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