Beer Quotes & Wisdom

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline-it

helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear

weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. -- Frank Zappa

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brew Day at the Tin Whisker

Brew day at the Tin Whisker starts out with the careful measuring of the grains to make up the mash.  They are weighed out and put into the hopper of the grain mill where they are ground before adding to the mash tun. 

I use a 10 gallon cooler with a 2 piece filter for my mash tun.
First a mash pad made from a floor scrubbing pad that is cut to fit goes on the bottom of the cooler and covers the outlet of the mash tun.  Next (and this is a very important step!) the false bottom goes in.  In this case it is an old bucket (that has seen a lot of mashes and is showing its age) that has many holes drilled into the bottom.  It is a very tight fit inside the cooler and keeps the grain from clogging up the mash pad and creating the dreaded stuck mash.  Read my last account of brewing a maibock to find out about that.  After the water & grain are mixed well in the tun, the lid is put on & temperature checked.

When its time to sparge and begin run off, I heat the sparge water and add it to the top pot of my rudimentary 3 tier system.  It drains onto the grain bed through a "sprayer" made of pvc.  The tun is draining into the brew kettle at the bottom and flow is controled by adjusting the taps on the tun & pot.

In the case of this brew, and in response to Jeff's question at the last meeting, it took about 26 minutes to collect the 6 1/2 gallons for the boil.  As it became time to add the homegrown cascade hops, I borrowed an idea from Andrew who showed off his hop bag at a meeting earlier last year.  It is a great way to keep the hops from clogging any racking equipment come time to transfer it to the carboy.  It is a 5 gallon paint straining bag held in place through more pvc and suspended over the kettle by, you guessed it, more pvc.

Cool down time for the boiling wort happens in my kitchen sink.  A double sided sink that has cold water in one side that is the bath for the kettle.  A copper coil wort chiller put into the wort with 10 mintes left in the boil is hooked up to the faucet by the tubing of the right of the picture.  The tube on the left is the out-flow, and it runs back into the bath around the kettle.  As the water drains over the divider in the sink I can monitor when the bath water begins to cool down and adjust the amount of flow through the chiller.  Stirring the wort as the cold water flows through the chiller and the cool water circulating on the outside of the kettle brings the temperature down pretty quickly.  It takes about 17 minutes to bring the wort down to about 70 degrees.  Ice can be added to the bath to bring it down even more.

When transfering the cooled wort to the carboy, I run it through a 3 stage filter.  Another 5 gallon paint straining bag is slipped over a large, fine meshed strainer.  That is set an a 1 gallon glass funnel that sets in the neck of the carboy.
Siphoning the wort out of the kettle, you have to keep the tube moving to wash the trub to the bottom of the bag.  I also try to keep the siphon just below the top of the wort in the kettle to keep the runnings as clean as possible for as long as possible  The majority of the trub is caught in the top layer of the bag, but there is always some that makes its way through to the sieve and bottom layer of bag.

This system not only really helps to clarify the wort, but does an excellent job of aeration as well.  From this point I add the yeast, take an OG reading, put in the arilock and wait.

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