Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wants, Desires and Realisation (cont.)

So here I am, contemplating, cogitating. I got the 50 cm pot, it’s 58 cm tall - 113 L capacity. It needs a 5-8 mm metal plate to go between the bottom and the burner to protect from scorching - it’s a bloody good burner 22,000 btu’s, or something like that. For the Lauter Tun I’m thinking of a s/s 45 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm square box with false bottom and a shower lid. 
Let me explain, the false bottom and the ‘shower rose’ are made of the same perforated material. Run the water into the shower lid - bit like a square shower rose and let it drip down onto the mash. The lid would be 1 cm thick, hollow and have a pipe entry from the side. I could equally do this with a couple of rubbish buckets, and cheeper too, but, I like the idea of durability.
The last thing I want to make is a copper cool ship with fermentation cellar under it. Basically a glorified Ice Chest. The cool ship would be covered and top insulated so that bar ice could be put into it. The cold would transfer into the cabinet and descend. Inside the cabinet I’d store my fermentors so as to control what’s going on. In a relatively, energy passive way. I’d probably be better off with a chest freezer, but finding a used one in VN is a hard ask.

Yesterday I also saw a 500 L brewhouse, sitting like scrap metal outside a brewery. It was the first time I actually got to crawl around one of these copper topped beauties. What I discovered annoyed the crap out of me. Basically, it was a large brew Kettle/Mash Tun with steam jacket heating. The other side of the system was a slotted false bottom Lauter Tun and a whirlpool. Nothing more! It's a single pot with two types of filter devices and a pump, plate cooler and bunch of programable control valves! Where has all the magic gone? Perhaps before I pulled back the curtain on the wizard I expected so much more, maybe a four chamber system, dunno why, but that was my thinking. These things are hooked up to a separate self standing HLT, and a CIP Unit. It would not be hard to build such a brew house using pots and a sludge pump, but then I think, why even bother? 

Mash in your kettle; transfer via hand, tipping cradle, or pump, to the Lauter Tun; Vorlauf back into the Kettle; Attach a pump to the side of the kettle and use that for whirlpooling. The reason most of these systems have a separate whirpool is due to the Kettle/Mash Tun having an integrated stirer. On a 50 cm pot system, it's still possible to manually stir, but then again... gadgets and devices... Maybe I ought to get a pot for whirlpooling...

Until the next time,

It's Your shout, Mate!

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.
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!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fears, Smells and Aromas

Have you ever poured that first new beer of a batch, looked at the copious foam on the top of the pour, taken a deep whiff and thought, "Damn! it's all screwed up! What is that 'spicy' note?"

I did, the other day,  How can I describe it? I smelt a spicy, almost pepper-like, seemingly chemical or 'bug-like' aroma. It's the kind of aroma I usually associate with oxidized beer. To me, personally I find it slightly unpleasant and certainly an undesirable quality in my beer, yet many barely notice it.

The interesting thing is, the flavour profile shows no hint of this spicy, nose flaring, aroma. Its a smooth, mildly bitter, mildly malty, with a moderate to soft mouth feel, low carbonated, easily drinkable beer. Ok, it's supposed to be a Red Ale: more by happy accident than by deliberate planning; which foams easily but has low head retention with mild, initial lacing of the glass.

I'm really quite surprised.

19L Batch, 1.5kg Czech Malt (3 EBC), 1.4 kg Aust. Pale Malt (4.9 EBC), 1 kg Munich Malt (18 EBC), 0.375 kg Karamel Malt (50 EBC),  15g Cluster@60 min, 7.5g Cascade@20 min, 7.5g Cascade@5 min, re-pitched live brewery yeast.
30°C x 10 min in 20 L; 63°C x 60 min - pH 4.9; Gravity = 1035
7L sparge; Gravity = 1020; pH 5.0
Post Boil
Gravity =1030; pH 5.3; Fermentation Temp 17.5-22.7°C x 2 days; Final Gravity = 1005
Kegged in 18L Cornie with 500 ml Unfermented Wort Primer. Color approx. 7.5-9°L (Light Amber). Sampled after 19 days.

So, there it is, a troublesome worry sitting in the back of my head - what is that aroma, and how did it get there? Yet, in the taste test there's nothing for me to worry about. Strange indeed. Cheers!

Until next time,

It's Your Shout, Mate!