brewing equipment

State of the Beer

I finally got around to racking the Grove Street Honey Wheat lager this past weekend (and I’m glad it’s a lager, so I don’t feel too bad about having ended up leaving it in primary for eight weeks…).  It started out at 1.050 and hit 1.009, which is excellent; honey is great for efficient fermentation.  Nice light, clean taste.  It’ll be time to bottle in late July and time to drink it in early August, which should be perfect weather for this kind of beer.

I also finally made myself dump out the defunct barleywine.  I’ll try one again someday, but maybe not real soon; quite aside from the psychological blow of having all the expense I put into it go literally down the drain, it kept one of my carboys out of service for much too long.

As to what’s next, well, I still haven’t found the time to finish my mash tun, even though the remaining steps are relatively minor (cleaning up the burrs from making the slots will be a pain, though).  I’m going to try to get it done soon, but who knows.  If hop prices were lower, I’d be leaning toward an IPA, since I haven’t made one in a while, but as things stand that may not be practical.  When I come up with a recipe I’ll post it here.

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Brown Ale, "Pilsener" and Future Brew Plans

The Grove Street Pilsener has turned out much darker than it ought to be (I incline to attribute this to the mistake with the malt extracts), so I think I’ll have to put the word “Pilsener” in scare quotes when referring to it, from now on.  It’s pretty tasty, though, and the Grove Street Brown Ale is coming along very well at a week from bottling.

Next weekend I plan to brew Grove Street Honey Wheat Lager:

  • 1 3.3lb can light malt extract
  • 3lb honey
  • 1lb wheat malt
  • 1oz Crystal or Mt. Hood, or 2oz Liberty, @60 minutes
  • 1oz Crystal, Mt. Hood or Liberty @10 minutes
  • White Labs San Francisco Lager or Wyeast California Lager yeast

and a couple of weeks after that, if I have my mash tun finished (it’s been on hold in the “nearly-done” state for quite a while now), I’ll be trying my first all-grain batch, with the use of a friend’s burner and brewpot.

Sadly, I think it’s past time to give up on the Big 10/20 Barley Wine.  It started acquiring that awful, cidery-sour taste some time ago, and the fermentation’s been excruciatingly slow for months.  I just haven’t had the heart to pour it out, but I think I don’t have a choice.  Barleywines, like pilseners, are probably something I’m going to wait a while, and read up on some different techniques, before trying again.

I will endeavor to ensure my next post is about something other than beer.

Mash Tun Update

Over Thanksgiving I cut slots in the remaining three pipes for the lauter manifold, and cut and assembled the pieces for the sparge manifold. The long pipes for the sparge manifold will need to be cut a bit shorter, so that it’ll fit in the recess in the cooler’s lid, and I need to find an appropriate way to cut a hole in the lid for the end pipe to stick up through, so I’ll have a way to pour in the sparge water.

The spigot that came in the cooler turned out to simply unscrew, leaving a plain hole; the valve piece I have fits through the hole with only a little space around it, so I’m thinking that just sticking it in there and caulking it around with silicone or something will suffice. My only concern is that this will mean there’s a bit of a gap between one end of the lauter manifold and the floor of the cooler, but I’m not quite sure what to do about that. Probably the answer is “decide it’s not that big a deal,” but even when that’s the right answer, it’s not a very satisfying one, especially if you’ve got something of an engineering bent. But zymurgy isn’t a precise science, except perhaps if you’re Anheuser-Busch, and who wants that?

Finding time to work on the project continues to be a problem.

Mash Tun Progress

On Friday my order of CPVC pipes and fittings arrived, so on Saturday I spent some time working on the mash tun project. I’ve got the lauter manifold mostly done now, and building the sparge manifold will go quicker now that I know what I’m doing a little better. I still have to figure out how the outflow will work, and that’s going to mean actually modifying the cooler itself, so I figure I’m about a third done overall.

Pictures of the manifold assembly process after the jump.

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Mash Tun Plans

Since I’m planning to make a foray into all-grain brewing, I’m going to need a mash/lauter tun. I’m working mainly from John Palmer’s instructions in his excellent How To Brew (the 1st edition is conveniently available online, and I have the paperback 2nd edition as well), with some planned modifications of my own (I am a homebrewer, after all!).

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World Champion II

It’s half-past midnight on the East Coast, and the Red Sox just swept the Colorado Rockies to win their second World Series in three years. In 2004, to celebrate, I put together a recipe I called “World Champion Strong Red Ale” — clearly, it’s time for a reprise.

The original WCSRA was an extract brew with specialty grains, but I think it’s time to make the leap to all-grain brewing, now. From what I’ve been reading, it sounds like a large cooler fitted with a manifold of slotted pipe for drawing off the wort is a popular DIY mash/lauter tun, so I’m going to try that out. Planned recipe after the jump.

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