Thursday, December 27, 2012

Adventures in All Grain Brewing. Boring description of what I did follows.

So all grain brewing is a new and terrifying experience, I bought some software, Beer Alchemy, but honestly it isn't helping. I found a well recommended yet basic recipe on the net and went from there.
Centennial Blonde Ale calls for 2 row malt, which we don't see much of here. After reading up on the forums it seems that Americans use it as a base malt because its cheap, available and doesn't add a lot of flavour. We have access to a lot of UK pale and NZ pale malts here. Apparently they have a little more flavour so you don't need to add as much speciality malts. But once again, thats only what I could glean from reading online forums.

I didn't want to make a full 5 gallon batch as my pot is only 30 litres and I had no idea if I would get boil over  and foamy wort going everywhere or a wave of mashed grains spilling out the sides. Oh the paranoia when starting new things it was very high. So I toned down the recipe a little using Beer Alchemy. It is Alchemy cause I have no idea how to get the software to work really well for me. Must work on magic and lead beans. Once again due to paranoia I had a kg of DME standing by incase I got really bad efficiency of stuffed up the amount of grain completely

Anyway I had 4.05kg of grain total and about 20L of water preheated to 70. I turned off my flames and dropped in my cake rack (round made of sturdy wire to stop the bag hitting the bottom) lined the pot with my grain bag and tipped in the grain. Mmmmm smells good. Had to stir for a bit to smash up some dough balls. I was aiming for a mash temp of around 66 and I got about 65.8 (HAH yeah, my thermometer is THAT accurate....not). So I wrapped the pot up in an old polar fleece blanket and left it for an hour. 

When I got back the temp had only dropped a degree so that was cool. 

I turned the heat back on to warm it up for mash out, The I pulled out my bag and twisted the top until I had a nice tight ball of grain at the bottom, this was set over to pot on a wire rack to drain into the pot and 4L of approx 70 degree water was poured through to rinse out and remaining sugar.

So after all this I think I only had about 17L of wort. Pre-boil gravity was around 1.046
I did my boil and added hops (via hop bag) at all the right intervals, even added some Irish Moss for clarity and chilled it down with my wort chiller. I though I had at east half a pot of wort there but when I poured it into my fermentor I only had 12L! (I did leave most of the sludgy stuff behind) But the gravity was up to 1.06 I was aiming for 1.04 so I topped up to 18L with water and was bang on. There is so much more gunk when going all grain. I need to probably whirlpool and siphon to leave more crap behind. 

Yeast was a new strain to my homebrew shop, BRY-97. Yes yes, give the newbie the unknown performer for her first all grain batch. I'm a sucker. Anyway I rehrydrated them and left them to their beer making business. Its a bit of a slow starter but to be honest I really could have aerated my wort more thoroughly. The home brew shop guy said this yeast is supposed to be quite flocculant so maybe it'll help stick all the gunk to bottom of the fermenter. I'll definitely be racking to secondary with this batch

Of course I decided I had things under control in the last 45 mins of the boil and decided to have a beer or two. That did not leave me very motivated for clean up, but grains and hops are in the compost and everything else is rinsed out.

My Chinese market three ring burner had left carbon all over the bottom of my brew pot and I even up with greasy black fingers after pouring the wort out. But at least its grunty enough to get it up to a rolling boil. I think it was boiling a bit too vigorously though, I had it fine tuned about halfway through to a nice gentle boiling instead of the erupting boil. 

The wort tasted good though and thats the main thing.

Some brew day pictures.
Wort just starting to boil.

Wort boiling away with my hop bag clamped to the side.

Wort chiller added 15 minutes before turning off flame to kill any bugs. Fish bin for chucked the spent grain and used bits of brewing equipment till clean up time,

Wort Chiller is go.

Wort Chilled.

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