Yesterday turned out to be a rather long brew day. I started just after 6am and didn’t finish until nearly 3pm. The addition of time came from having to pick and prep the hops, doing a 10 gallon batch, and from having to stop for lunch with Ella, which then required a trip to the grocery store to get some bread for our grilled cheese. All said, I think maybe 1.5 extra hours were added by the extra child-based side trips, 1/2 hour from the extra hop-related work, and maybe an extra 45 minutes because of the larger volume of beer.
All told, the process went rather smoothly, and I ended up with over 11 gallons of wort, using 35 ounces of fresh hops, 2.5 ounces of commercially grown summits for bittering, and 1 ounce of mystery hops that I got from a neighbor and dried on an old window screen in the garage. The original gravity turned up around 1.052, lower than initially planned, but I ended up with more volume than expected. No complaints though.
The prototype tier is still in use, and this time I set up a perimeter using patio chairs and a dog lead. I didn’t want any curious neighborhood person or scrap metal collector to try and mess with a precariously perched tier with 9 gallons of 180F water sitting 6 feet in the air.
I’m still brewing on a proto-tier system and taking notes about the height, usability and relationships between vessels so I’ll know exactly where I want things before I make them static. I used to be somewhat sensitive about that state of my “brewery,” until I started looking at other people’s tiers on the internet. Now the white towel rack from our first apartment no longer embarrasses me. And I know it’ll be retired soon after a second productive career.
I started heating water in the HLT at 6 am on Monday (it was light and so very nice out) and was really happy working in the quiet and cool morning, and I’ve grown so very fond of brewing outside, so I’ve got to make sure this system is still portable and can be broken down to store and transport. As I was setting up and breaking down, I started to realize how many piecemeal items that were added along the way can be made a permanent fixture and save time. I also realized that my wort chiller needs some modification to work in my new brew kettle.
Oh, and I still dislike pelletized hops. Such a mess.
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.