Flask failure

While I was drying off my 1 liter Erlenmeyer flask yesterday, I heard a strange pop. I had just used it to culture a yeast starter for a beer, and after cleaning it up, there was a sickening clink that caused me to pause. A quick check revealed a long crack across the bottom of the flask. Luckily, this didn’t happen while I was boiling a mini-wort for the starter, or when I set the nearly boiling contents in to an ice bath. Best yet, it didn’t happen when the vessel was full of a bajillion yeast cells waiting to eat my fermentable sugars and poop out alcohol.

Do not use
Do not use

Now it’s time to shop for a new one. 1L has worked fine, but wouldn’t 2L be finer?

Trial and error

Today Rich and Brent stopped by to join in the brewing session. It was a slightly longer than normal session because I chose to modify several variables in the brew house. Not only did I try out a prototype tier system (fugly), I used my new kettle. Luckily, the gear-related problems were minor, and the major time consumer was actually a cold mash. My strike temp was too low, so we pulled off a gallon or so and reheated it before adding it back. This of course made it too hot, so I added water from the HLT and the hose when the HLT wasn’t quick enough, but that dropped it too much. After 2 more pseudo-decoction mashes, we finally go up to the right temperature and let it rest.

Rich brought over some great rye bread, so we stepped next door for some ham and swiss and had some fine sandwiches with a Green King Suffolk Strong Vintage Ale. Talk about a great lunch. The Suffolk Strong a blend of a pale and a strong ale aged in wooden vats for two years. It had a wonderfully sour woody flavor and gave off a delightful aroma. Literally like someone’s old, musty woodpile. Must be the Cooper in my lineage that makes that an attractive flavor.

Anyway, the lautering went quite well and we used Rich’s refractometer to watch the gravity and ended up boiling about an hour and a half later than I’d expected. Rich had to leave for another engagement so Brent helped me cool and rack the beer, which was problematic because something circumvented the false bottom and clogged the dip tube to the spigot.

Anyway, we came out at 1.058 and the wort tasted wonderful. So much sweater than usual, largely because it wasn’t obliterated by my usual overdoes of hops.

Thinking about tiers

My last couple brew days have included a weird shuffling ritual about half-way through lautering where my sweet wort kettle is nearly full and my hot liquor tank (also my brew kettle) still have hot water that needs to go in to the lauter. What ensues is a silly, high risk game of musical pots as I pour liquids between 4-5 different kettles and stock pots trying to get all the hot water from my main brew kettle so I can collect the remaining sweet wort.

Another method I’d like to leave behind is the constant ladling and scooping from the hot liquor tank and pouring it in to the mash tun. I’m afraid I’ll mess up the grain bed. I think I’m going to have to build myself a 2 tier rack so that I can harvest gravity’s natural talent in making water go downhill. Luckily, there’s lots of examples for ideas at Brewhalla.

Now I’m just mentally building it. And watching craigslist for potential kettles and parts.