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I’m diving in to sour beers headfirst. Since I don’t have a clue how any method will turn out I figure I might as well try 4 methods on the first attempt. I mean why not? 

Upfront is the plan for the beers (30a, b, c, and d). Below that are various questions or bits of information I ran across when trying to figure out what I’m getting myself into.  Along the way I discovered Milk the Funk and the Mad Fermentationist that have turned out to be invaluable. 

 

Base Recipe

The base recipe is based on the Rare Barrel golden recipe. I’ve upped the OG  to 1.060 so the pre-boil will be 1.051 for the raw beers (30a and 30b), will mash at 148, and will add first wort hops to 3 IBUs.  After 5.5G taken for the raw beers, I’ll will add water to drop actual OG to 1.052 and add ~25 IBUs.   The water profile will be Brewers Friend’s Water Calculator Balanced Profile water.  

I plan to sit on these for about a year before thinking about any blending ideas.  Any thoughts of adding fruit to anything will be determined after sampling and more research (which I’ll have time to do). 

30a & 30b

This will be a raw beer with lacto.  Then 1/2 will be 30a which will be clean fermented and then Brett added . The other 1/2 will be Brett only.

Here are a few more plans for these beers

  • pasteurize in kettle:  155 @ 15 mins
  • transfer out 5.5G and cool to 90
  • pre-acidify drop to 4.5   (est 1mL 88% to drop 0.1 pH)
  • add lacto – goodbelly straightshot
    – Need starter: no need for starter
    – monitor for 2-3 days
  • Add hop tea (~22 IBUs) and wait 24 hours
  • Transfer 1/2 to 2.8G carboy and add Brett (30b)
    • Imperial Yeast W15 Suburban Brett
  • add sacc yeast (US-05) to 30a 
  • Xfer after high krausen to 2.8G carboy and add brett

beer 30c

The third beer will be ~5.5G and will be a Pedio/Brett fermentation 

  • Pedio:  Bootleg Biology Sour Weapon P BBX0089
  • Brett: Bootleg Biolofy Funk Weapon #3 BB0022
  • Create a Brett starter 1.5 weeks out
    • About 500ml starter per 25 liters of wort seems to be the current best practice.
    • Data from Thomas Hübbe supports that the initial pitching rate doesn’t have a great effect on the final cell count in pure Brettanomyces starters or beer, indicating that Brettanomyces is fairly forgiving in regards to small initial cell counts (MTF)
    • An alternative to the second approach is to use a stir plate on a very low setting so that only a very small “dimple” of a vortex is formed (with foil covering the top)
  • Transfer the chilled wort to 5G carboy
  • Expect 3/4″ rise from fermentation
    –need to worry about time on yeast cake?  No.

beer 30d

The fourth beer will be ~5.5G and will be primary fermented Sacc then Brett (I know this isn’t a sour, but should be fun anyhow) 

  • Transfer to 6.5g carboy
  • Add sacc
    — clean or belgain yeast? US-05
  • Just after high krausen tranfer to 5G to secondary
  • Add pedio and Brett

New gear

I’m a bit freaked out about all of these e\new bugs so here is a list of new gear that I think I’ll need.

  • Stoppers
  • Use old autosiphon
  • Bottle bucket And bottle filler
  • Wine thief

Use extra caution cleaning

  • pH meter
  • Hydrometer 
  • Cylindrical beer sampler (hydrometer testing) 
  • Glass carboys
  • Airlocks

Other random notes

 

Here are a few other random notes I captured while looking into this idea.  It isn’t cleaned up.

http://jeffreycrane.blogspot.com/2015/06/blending-calculator-ph-abv-and.html?m=1

 

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/best-cleaning-method-after-sour-beer.529378/

You can try:
a) PBW – to dissolve any particles. Clean before and after with soap and water and a dedicated sponge.
b) 1 gallon of water + 1 ounce bleach + 1 ounce of vinegar (added to the water, not the bleach directly). Let it sit 5 minutes then dump out and air dry. [this is the sanitize concentration, and may not kill all bacteria]
Follow up with 
c) Iodophor – 2 minute contact time, then air dry.

(You can use Hydrogen Peroxide or One Step in addition – it kills with Oxygen).

No need for new bottling equipment, use glass and just clean really good.

 

Raw Beer Notes

Raw beer watch out for DMS creation and pasturize before starting

DMS temp (Milk the Funk):
The primary source for DMS in beer (as well as cooked vegetables) is caused by the decomposition of SMM into DMS. This decomposition is caused by heat above ~80°C.(176°F)
Allow the beer to age longer, particularly if it contains Brettanomyces. Studies in lambic brewing have shown that DMS will volatilize over time if left in the fermenter.

DMS forming temp/time (Homebrew talk)
Conversion happens around 70C. Rapid conversion happens around 80C. I’ve seen information that says the conversion of SMM to DMSO occurs “above 60C.” Brewing: science and practice – Google Books

Anticipated issues to overcome, and how I resolved them (Experimental Brewing)
1) No-boil = DMS
Not necessarily. My understanding is that DMS is produced at 180 degrees, which explains why true no-boil berliner’s don’t have a DMS profile. As long as the mash and mashout stay below 180, it won’t be a problem.

2) No-boil = no sanitation
Again, not necessarily. Pasteurization occurs at 160 degrees in just a few seconds, so as long as the mashout is above 160, no problems.

If need more Beer 1a to blend in with  then this fastest beer to turn around

 
Raw beer watch out for DMS creation and pasturize before starting

Need new bottling equipment.   Glass just clean really good.

 

DMS temp (Milk the Funk):
The primary source for DMS in beer (as well as cooked vegetables) is caused by the decomposition of SMM into DMS. This decomposition is caused by heat above ~80°C.(176°F)
Allow the beer to age longer, particularly if it contains Brettanomyces. Studies in lambic brewing have shown that DMS will volatilize over time if left in the fermenter.

DMS forming temp/time (Homebrew talk)
Conversion happens around 70C. Rapid conversion happens around 80C. I’ve seen information that says the conversion of SMM to DMSO occurs “above 60C.” Brewing: science and practice – Google Books

Anticipated issues to overcome, and how I resolved them (Experimental Brewing)
1) No-boil = DMS
Not necessarily. My understanding is that DMS is produced at 180 degrees, which explains why true no-boil berliner’s don’t have a DMS profile. As long as the mash and mashout stay below 180, it won’t be a problem.

2) No-boil = no sanitation
Again, not necessarily. Pasteurization occurs at 160 degrees in just a few seconds, so as long as the mashout is above 160, no problems.  

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Beer Name: Kolm Knights – Dusk (first barrel), Twilight (second barrel), Dawn (no barrel)

Style:  Imperal Baltic Porter (Pohjala OO Clone)

Brew Day: 4/21/2104

Alcohol: 9.7% (not including barrel changes)

Color: 81

This beer was a struggle.  Chris from Pohjala Brewing set me up with an amazing recipe.  Since this beer was so big I figured I could get a partygyle off of the second running like I did with my Kate the Great Clone, the Empress.  The plan was for 11G batch, the mash in was packed full, and the boil started as planned.  About 15 mins left in the boil I did a measurement and discovered I had way too much wort.  I did some quick calculations and determined I needed to boil for another 2 hours on top of the planned 1 hour boil.  So 3+ hours later I called the boil complete and did all the normal cold crash, oxygen, and yeast pitch.  The fermentation kicked off like a machine and twice I had to clean the bottom of the fermentation chamber.  Well after about 7 days I measured the FG and it was 1.044 rather than a planned 1.026.  I gave it a few more shots of oxygen, roused the yeast up, left it for a few days… and no changes.  So I assumed that my yeast tuckered out.  Using the yeast from one of the partygyle beers, I did a starter to get things going and re-pitched.  I got a few small bubbles over the next too days, but no real changes.  I think what I saw was the starter fermenting out, but that made me think that the yeast wasn’t the issue.  I started tinkering with the recipe in beersmith to see if I could find any errors. Randomly I selected the muscovado sugar to be non-fermentable (like lactose) and what do you know it predicted the FG to be right where I was at.  So either something was off with the muscovado sugar, I added it to fast and caramelized it, or the 3+ hour boil caramelized it.  Either way this at least eased my mind about what was happening.  To correct for this I make a simple extract porter beer and blended it in at about a 10/4 ratio.  This got the FG down to 1.032 which seemed okay for this large of a beer and kept the ABV in the range that I was aiming for.  So instead of 10G I ended up with about 14G.  I’ve placed 5G in a whisky barrel that my brother had and let that sit for about 2 months.  The taste sample was amazing and I’ve now bottled 5G of the barrel beer (Dusk) and 5 G of the non-barrel beer (Dawn). The other 4G are now sitting in the barrel and will be Twilight whenever I bottle it.  All the bottles were bottled with cask ale yeast and priming sugar.  I haven’t yet cracked a beer yet as I’m waiting until Thanksgiving or so. Updates to come

I spent way too much time coming up with a beer name for this.  The beer name for the original recipe is OO which means night in Estonian.  In trying to be clever I wanted to do a play on words and call this Knight or tie this back to Estonia.  I researched Estonian knights and learned about several famous clans(?) including Order of the Cross which most everyone knows by the cross on the shield.  Since I knew I was ending up with 3 variants of this beer I was looking for a succession class or something that would work nice, but I struck out here. Instead I landed on Kolm which is Estonian for three. I like the way Kolm Knights looks, even if I am probably mispronouncing Kolm, and it translates to 3 Knights, very fitting.  Since OO means night, I’ve named each of the variants a phase of the night.  And there you have it clever beer name that nobody will probably ever get if I didn’t write this down.  I’ve worked the estonian knights onto the beer cap which depicts the Order of the Cross shield on it.  Yes, I spent too much time thinking about this.

PHOTO GALLERY TO COME (after I open the first beer)

My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

  1. Had to boil for 3+ hours.  Later discovered that this was the first beer where I had lids on the kettles when warming the water.  I used to loose about 1G and with 2 kettles I calculated needing 2G more.  With lids I don’t loose any water and have adjusted the spreadsheet for next time
  2. I’m weary of muscovado sugar since it didn’t ferment out.  It was probably me, but I’m still recovering PTSD over this beer
  3. Large beers need a blow off tube.  I had to clean off 2 huge messes. Drew helped me clean (ha)
  4. The blender beer saved this batch.  I think I got this idea from a Session podcast on the Brewing Network

Recipe Info

Recommendations for next time

  • Get the sugar to ferment and try the recipe exactly the same way!

Research

Pohjala OO Info

  • ABV=10.5%
  • FG=1.104
  • OG = 1.026

Pohjala OO website

Pohjala Head Brewer Email

Hey Brian,

This is Chris, Head Brewer at Põhjala. Apologies for the late reply, it’s been a busy week here.

Awesome to hear you’d like to try brewing Öö, it started on the homebrew scale so it’s quite an honour to hear that 🙂

We use:

36% pale malt

39% munich malt (light)

9.75% carafa type 2 special

4.9% dark roasted crystal (Simpsons)

4.9% chocolate malt

4.9% cara 300

And about 10% of the fermentables will come from a dark muscavado sugar – currently we add that at T-60.

We use Viking malt from Finland for the majority of our malts, and they have a  very British style, so 2 row probably wouldn’t be the best substitute for the pale malt, I’d rather try Maris otter if you can get it.

Gravity starts at 24.5° and finishes at 6.5°, and we bitter to approx 65-70 IBU using magnum, with a finishing dose of Northern Brewer at T-00.

In terms of yeast, we ferment this one at cool temps of around 16°c with WLP090, San Diego Super yeast, which we use as our house strain. A cool fermentation helps as you really can’t feel the alcohol.

Water profile helps a lot as well, but that would be harder to give some tips on for me.

Otherwise, that’s about it – hope it helps, and good brewing!

 

Aitäh,

Chris Pilkington

Head Brewer

chris@pohjalabeer.com

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Beer Name: Persuasion Saison

Style:  Single Hop Saison (Funkwerks Nelson Sauvin Clone)

Brew Day: 8/6/2016

Alcohol: 8.2%

Color: 4

Super good beer.  Kind of a mix of a sauvin blanc and a saison beer.

My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

I had a lot of fun making this and filling in the blanks.  I ended up using a repitch of Belgian Saison and a starter of French Saison for my yeast.  I ended up overshooting my mash efficiency and ended up with 15G rather than my planned 13.2G (calculated batch size for one can of Muscat grape juice)  to keep the OG about where I guessed Funkwerks might start with (~1.063 w 90% attenuation).  I think my lack of quick cooling and less hops per gallon of wort contributed to my beer not being as aromatic (still plenty good and something to aim for next time).  To add to things mine attenuated better than I planned (1.004) and end up being an 8.2% beer.  Finally, since this was a Saison with a good amount of wheat it didn’t occur to me that Funkwerks was filtered in some way until we did a side-by-side comparison.   So in the end Funkwerks looks better, smells better, and taste a bit more crisp than mine, but boy are both still good.

Recipe Info

Recommendations for next time

  • Add hops a bit later to help shine
  • Cold crash and add gelatin

 

Research

Funkwerks Nelson Sauvin Info

  • ABV=7.5%
  • FG=1.006 (estimated)
  • OG = 1.063 (estimated)

Funkwerks Head Brewer Email

Here are some quick tips for cloning Nelson Sauvin. We use very light Pilsner malt, Best Malz Heidelberg or Briess Pils. 20% is light Wheat malt and 12% of fermentables is Muscat grape added at flameout. 0.5oz/5gal Nelson at 10 minutes, 1oz/5gal Nelson at flameout. There is no bittering addition. Ferment with favorite Saison strain.

Let me know how it turns out.

Gordon Schuck

Yeast:

  • For the yeast nerds out there, the Funkwerks house yeast strain comes from Wyeast’s 3711 French Saison varietal*.

Funkwerks Brewery | Nelson Sauvin Saison

Brew Day

  • Mash at 148 to help with attenuation
  • Muscat Grape Sugar Calculation
    • 68 brix /(1 g of water = 8.33lbs) = 8.16 brix per lb

Fermentation Schedule

  • Likely Funkwerks profile is familiar to tropic king: pitch at 65, ramp up to 75 over 48 hours.
  • Maltos Faclons recommendation:
    • Place the wort in a temperature controlled environment at 65F (18.3C) for 3 days before letting ramp (or if you’re like me and don’t have enough space for temp controlling everything – I’ll place the fermenter in an iced water bath and let the heat of the day and the ferment melt the ice and raise the temperature to mid 80’s and 90’s (29-35C). It’s perfectly safe to drive a Saison yeast this hard if you’ve started cooler.
    • https://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/guide-saisons-and-saison-yeasts
  • Only place foil over top (i.e. no airlock) per link below to help attenuation

Under Pressure – Pt. 4: Airlock vs. Foil With Saison Dupont Yeast | exBEERiment Results!

 

Serving

  • Serve at 50°F (10°C) in a tulip glass.”

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Beer Name: The Student

Style:  Pliny the Elder Clone (Double IPA)

Brew Day: 12/24/2014

Alcohol: 8.28%

Color: 5

I am super happy with how this beer came out as it is one of the best beers I’ve made, but it isn’t exactly like Pliny the Elder. I had some process issues that probably altered the beer a bit, but I the recipe wasn’t quite right either. It turns out that a copy of the RRB brew house recipe was posted after I made my beer and did the taste comparisons. Here are my thoughts from my comparison before reading the real recipe.
Color – mine was a bit darker
Taste – level of bitterness and maltiness seemed about right. Mine seemed a bit too citrus, I think maybe too much Amarillo.
Aroma – my certainly didn’t have that dank smell. Not enough Simcoe (either in amounts or utilization)

My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

I’ve always used RO water as I didn’t know what was in my home water for a long time.  When I finally figured out my water I learned that it comes from two sources which are pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum and there is no way to know what is coming out when.  So I’ve continued to use RO water which is cheap at the filling station next to the grocery store (30 cents per gallon).  This was the first time I tried doing water adjustments from the RO water.  I bought some things last minute, but didn’t have anything to make Chloride adjustments.  I’ll work to get better at this, but was focused on doing too little rather than too much.

Had similar issue with the mashing again where I started hotter than planned and then dropped about 8 degrees over the coarse of the mash.  My numbers came out okay, so nothing to worry about on this batch but certainly something to work on.

I tried using a little pump from ebay to do a whirlpool (not a real whirlpool, but enough to keep the wort moving over the coils when chilling), but clearly wasn’t ready as I fussed with that for about 20-30 mins before giving up and just using a spoon to stir.

Other minor notes.  My measurements don’t seem to be too accurate as I gained wort from the post boil measurement to the fermenter.  Need to get better at that.  I allowed for 30 mins for the trub to settle and then used my filters for the post boil transfer which resulted in a very low sediment in the fermenter. I collected the yeast into a clean spagetti jar as practice for yeast washing.  The yeast came out really clean and if I do things right (sterile jar and water) it seems I can start re-using yeast in the future.

Recipe Info

  • My Recipe: Brewtoad
  • Recipe Source: see my research post
  • Schedule Link: #11

 

Recommendations for next time

  • Mine ended up not being as piney as PTE.
  • Work on limiting oxygen during transfers to make the beer last longer
  • convert this recipe

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Beer Name: Fighting Irish Red

Style:  Irish Red

Alcohol: 6.87%

Color: 28

My second successful all-grain beer!  I decided to make a few adjustments to the original recipe.  I upped the grain bill instead of adding honey to keep the same ABV and replaced the 2 row pale ale with Maris Otter Pale to allow for a thicker mouth feel.  I tried it 2.5 weeks after bottling while home for thanksgiving and it was okay.  After 6 weeks the beer has hit its stride and is pretty nice.  The beer came out smooth, malty, and very tasty.  The head is a little off and collapses pretty fast, but it appears to be carbonated about right.  Definitely worth doing again, but I might make some minor adjustments to the hop schedule.

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My Brew Notes

Execution Notes

I’ve always used RO water as I didn’t know what was in my home water for a long time.  When I finally figured out my water I learned that it comes from two sources which are pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum and there is no way to know what is coming out when.  So I’ve continued to use RO water which is cheap at the filling station next to the grocery store (30 cents per gallon).  This was the first time I tried doing water adjustments from the RO water.  I bought some things last minute, but didn’t have anything to make Chloride adjustments.  I’ll work to get better at this, but was focused on doing too little rather than too much.

Had similar issue with the mashing again where I started hotter than planned and then dropped about 8 degrees over the coarse of the mash.  My numbers came out okay, so nothing to worry about on this batch but certainly something to work on.

I tried using a little pump from ebay to do a whirlpool (not a real whirlpool, but enough to keep the wort moving over the coils when chilling), but clearly wasn’t ready as I fussed with that for about 20-30 mins before giving up and just using a spoon to stir.

Other minor notes.  My measurements don’t seem to be too accurate as I gained wort from the post boil measurement to the fermenter.  Need to get better at that.  I allowed for 30 mins for the trub to settle and then used my filters for the post boil transfer which resulted in a very low sediment in the fermenter. I collected the yeast into a clean spagetti jar as practice for yeast washing.  The yeast came out really clean and if I do things right (sterile jar and water) it seems I can start re-using yeast in the future.

Schedule

Schedule

Recipe Info

Recipe

Water Adjustment

Water Adjustments

Recommendations for next time

  • When compared to a Red Seal Irish Red mine is more malty and not as hopped.  I think I’ll slightly up my hops a bit next time, but not too much.
  • Get pump to work
  • Take better measurements
  • Try harvesting yeast

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Beer Name: Change

Style:  Kolsch

Alcohol: 4.5%

Color: 4

This is the second all grain beer that I’ve made.  After the last one blew up in my face, literally, my goal for this beer was to pick a simple recipe and really work on producing the clearest beer that I could.  During our summer trip to Denver I had several good Kolsches and decided that this is what I’d brew.  The brew day went well and the final product is a really nice beer.   Its refreshing to have and there is a good chance I do this one again, but maybe as a 10G batch next time since it goes down pretty easy.

My Brew Notes

Recipe Info

 Recipe

Execution Notes

The brew day went pretty well considering that last time I had stuck sparges and all-grain brewing was new.  My mash temps wavered around more than I’d like and will need to refine this.    I tried to use PH strips and iodine to check the mash, but have to say that I have no idea what I saw and will need to work on this more.  I did boil off more than I thought and had to add 2 gallons of water back in.  Though with that the gravity was on target.  Also, my pump broke so chilling took way longer than it should.  My plan to have a coarse bag around the metal screen in the boil kettle  and a fine mesh bag on the output side of the hose really helped me to remove most of the trub prior to going into the fermentor.  I cold crashed twice and used a secondary in addition to Irish moss in the boil and gelatin prior to bottling.  I’m not sure which helped the most, but I have a good beer.

Schedule

 Schedule

Recommendations for next time

  • Try hitting and maintaining the mash temp better
  • Plan for a higher boil off than most other people (try to turn down the burner a bit too)
  • See if I can figure out idodine and PH strips.

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  • Beer Name: Burnin’ Spades RIPA
  • Style:  Black, Rye, IPA
  • Alcohol: 7.1%
  • Color: unknown

My first venture into all grain brewing has literally blown up in front of me.  So who know how it tastes, but here is what happened.   After coming home from vacation I saw liquid coming from the fermentation chamber.  When I opened the doors about 6 bottle or so had exploded at the bottom.  So I took everything out and cleaned things up, exactly what you want to do after a long travel day.  Just as I was putting the beers back in the fridge, the bottom of a six pack broke open and the bottles dropped maybe a foot.  Well all 6 of those bottles exploded.  Sounded like a bomb went off.  I was lucky no glass hit my face, but my legs and feet were not so lucky and had blood streaming down.  Now I had another mess to clean up.  So while I was cleaning that up 2 more bottles exploded just sitting on the sidewalk.  Awesome, I have bottle bombs.  Not wanting to loose everything. I place the remaining beer bottles in a cooler and inside my fridge.  That night I heads several more explode…sounded like a gun shot.  Hoping to save the beers, I planned to pop the tops on the remaining bottles and then re-cap them.  I put on my bomb squad gear (an old paintball face mask, a thick long sleeve, and some gloves) and reached into the cooler to take the tops off.  The first one gushed everywhere, same with the second, third and so on.  After a bit there was so much foam I was just feeling through the cooler to find unopened bottles.  Well needless to say this was a total loss.  I did try about half a glass full just to see what it was like and it was sweet almost like the raw wort.

So here is what I think happened.  During my last batch of beer my fridge died, so I didn’t really have good fermentation control while this beer was fermenting.  We had really hot days and warm nights.  I think the yeast shutdown due to the high temperatures.  I should have noticed that my final gravity reading was high and done something, but just moved right into bottling.  After I bottled I also replaced the AC unit with a min-fridge coils and was able to set the temp.  I think when I did this the yeast woke up again and started chomping on all the unprocessed sugars, thus creating my bottle bombs.

On the fun side, I got some 3/4″ stickers to make cap labels for my beers.  I got lucky and made labels for my previous beers as I had to move my bottles all around while cleaning.  Making a label is now part of my beer making process.

My Brew Notes

Recipe Info

 Recipe Notes

Execution Notes

Tried making a 2L starter in a 2L flask.  Resulted in a boil over.  Separated into two flask for the boil then recombined when they cooled.  Ended up with 1.6L of the 2L.

First time making all grain batch.  MLT filter was too small and got a stuck sparge.  I knew what my number were supposed to be, but wasn’t prepared to be able to measure if I was hitting them or not (ie. depth to volume conversions). Messed around switching in a different filter which caused the temps to go wild.  Through all the hops directly in which wasn’t so bad.  What was bad way the bag I had to catch the gunk at the output end of the hose when transferring to the primary got clogged up and ended up not using it which passed a lot of material in the fermenter.  When transferring to bottling bucket the the filter around the tube also was causing problems so a lot of material ended up in bottles.  Need to do this better next time

Schedule

  • Brew day: 6/13/2014
  • Cold Crash Start: N/A (Broken fermentation chamber)
  • Secondary Fermentation: 7/2/2014
  • Dry Hopping: 7/29/2014
  • Cold Crash 2: N/A
  • Gelatin: N/A
  • Bottling Prep: 8/4/2014
  • Bottling: 8/5/2014

Recommendations for next time

  • Get the filtering down much better
  • Make sure the fermentation chamber is working
  • Know numbers better and know how to take measurements

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I’ve finally completed my mash tun build, the last new tool I need for all grain brewing.  For my birthday, I got a 110qt Igloo Glider Roller cooler from Costco,  a ball valve kit, and a 12″ stainless steel water heater connector.  With this I will be able to brew the highest ABV beers (all the way up to 18%) in 10 gallon batches.  Which is perfect since I recently got new kettles and burners (see my other post on that) to do 10 gallon batches too.

With my new gear I’ll had to do was take out the coolers drain and then put in my own drain.  Well 8 hours later I’ve finally finished.  Apparently my cooler is thicker than most coolers so I had to get some additional parts.  With my new parts, a female to female (f2f) extension and a male to male extension,, both stainless steel, I had a setup that was too long and I had a leak out of the hole.  So I then hand cut the f2f extension on both sides to shorten it up.  Still this leaked.  I tried several other configurations with additional washers and they all had leaks.  Then when I was in DC I stopped at a My Local Home Brew Store  and got some help from some very friendly staff and purchased several O-rings, some heat resistant some not.  Well when I got home I still could screw things together without having an ever so slight leak.  Note, the leak on the outside was slow, which is bad, but I was also worried that it was leaking into the center of the cooler, even worse.  So then Chase and I made another trip to another hardware store and picked up some more washers and another pipe wrench.  With that final trip to the store I finally got a mash tun that didn’t leak.  Hallelujah! Oh, and it turns out I never needed to cut through any of the f2f extension, but it works just fine short too.

One final note, most coolers advertised size includes the lid and seems to not always add up correctly.  This cooler, Igloo Glide Roller Premium, is advertised as a 110qt cooler.  When you measure up to where the lid hits 13.5″ (which is needed to keep the heat in while mashing) and take out the bump in the inside this cooler ends up being about a 96qt cooler.  Still plenty big for 10G batches, but something to be mindful when selecting a cooler.

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In a fortunate sighting on Craigslist, and a very understanding wife, I was able to get some “new to me” equipment for very very cheap to allow me to do all grain brewing for up to 10G batches.  The stuff could use some cleaning, but I got:

  • 24G stainless steel kettle with thermometer, sight tube, valve, and bazooka screen.
  • 16G stainless steel kettle with thermometer and valve.
  • 2 propane burners.
  • 6.5G glass carboy with top, thermometer tube, and 3 piece airlock.
  • 2000mL Erlenmeyer flask with stopper
  • homemade stir plate (no stir bar)

 

I had this great plan on how to do incremental upgrades from 5G extract brewing to 5G all grain brewing then to 10G all grain brewing, but this purchase basically jumps me right up to being able to do all grain brewing now!  I’m still going to do a couple of 5G batches to start so that I can figure out how to all grain brew and to understand my equipment a bit more, but stepping up to 10G batches will mean that I have/need/get to brew less and will have to do more fun things with Lisa and Chase.

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I’m getting ready to make the leap into all grain brewing and am pretty excited, but I want to do it right.  I don’t want to buy things to turn around a few batches down the road and wish I had bought something else.  So I want to either make sure the things I buy now will work for future upgrades.  A couple of key things to keep in mind is that I am doing 5 gallon batches now, but might want to do 10 gallon batches in the future.  Also, I like high gravity brews which requires more grain to get the more sugars, so again I need to think about the volume capability of the upgrades.

Key Items for all grain brewing

  • Hot Liquid Tank – HLT
  • Propane or Electric Burner
  • Mash/Lauder Tun – MLT
  • Mash Paddle
  • Kettle / brew pot

To get into all grain brewing from what I have now (see my tools here) I will need to get a mash/lauder tun (MLT), a mash paddle, and a large kettle.  I’ll explain my logic as I go through each one.

Hot Liquid Tank – HLT

A HLT is a fancy brewers way of saying a pot or kettle for heating water.  The hot water here will go into the MLT.  I have an existing 5G stainless steel pot which will be sufficient for 5G batches.  For 10G batches I’ll need a large pot, but my plan will be to buy a larger pot when time comes for this.  At the very least I’m not buying something now that won’t be used later.

Propane or Electric Burner

I have an existing 38,000 BTU burner from the turkey fryer kit I bought to get into home brewing.  From my calculations my burner should be good for batches up to ….TBD

To eventually do a 10G batch I have calculated that I’ll need about a TBD burner.

Mash/Luader Tun

Since a MLT isn’t needed for extract brewing I don’t have any existing equipment and will have to buy something new.  Seems like when someone gets into a really fancy brewing setup the MLT is a stainless steel pot, but many successful and far cheaper options use a converted cooled as they can easily be converted into an MLT and are fairly inexpensive.  Additionally, MLTs can be made for fly sparging or batch sparging.  I’m going to plan to do batch sparging as it seems this is relatively foolproof and the advantages for fly sparging aren’t too great.   I want to be sure that the MLT that I end up with will be good for 5G batches now and 10G batches in the future.

A high gravity (barleywine) 10G batch will have 45lbs amount of grain and at most 27.25  gal of water in the MLT at one time.   Remember the space in lid usually counts as part of the volume for a cooler so plan for a slightly larger cooler.  From this I get a cooler size with at least 94qt of internal space.   Well a 100qt coleman extreme cooler is going to only have about 80.25qt of internal space, but I figure I won’t be making any 10G batches of barelywine and will call it good.  Also, many poeple have recommended that a 70 qt (17.5G) is good for up to 10G batches.  The coleman extreme cooler comes highly recommended since it has a drain groove through the bottom.  With this cooler in mind a 5G batch will have a volume of 18 qt.    So with that in mind a 70-100qt cooler should be good into the future.

So I received a 100qt coleman extereme cooler for my birthday, but I have some questions about it as it isn’t as I thought it would be.  Read more on the Home Brew Talk Forums.

Mash Paddle

I’ll need a mash paddle.  I’ve read to use a hardwoord such as maple makes a good paddle.  Also, when making the paddle drill/cut good size holes in it to break up the dough balls well.

Kettle Upgrade

As I mentioned below I’m planning to use my existing kettle 7.5G kettle to become my HLT and then will purchase a new kettle.  Since I want to to small brewing upgrades without having to discard things in the future I’m planning to buy a kettle that will work for 5G and 10G batches, but to save money now I’m going to pass on any of the extra gizmos (thermometers, valves, sight tubes) for now.

Other posts suggest that a 80 qt (20G) stainless steel pot/kettle can do 10G batches.

In my quest to selecting a kettle I asked for some help with the selection criteria on homebrewtalk.com forums (here).

 

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