Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Active fermentation

Over the past couple of days the Dos Wee Heavies have been fermenting along very vigorously. This has to be one of the most active fermentations I've ever seen. The krausen is up the necks of both carboys and I've had to clean yeast packed gunk out of one of the airlocks two days in a row.

OK so my picture taking skills with one hand while holding a semi-nasty, yeasty, airlock aren't the greatest. This is the same airlock that was packed with junk Sunday. This is how it looked Monday night. I cleaned it again, replaced it, and now it looks slightly milky brown on Tuesday morning. I guess it might have something to do with me putting slightly more of the starter in this carboy.

Here are the two carboys at full krausen. The one closest in the picture is the one I've had to clean the airlock on, twice.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dos Wee Heavy

What a brew day. Up at 7 am, light the burners at 8:00 (when the wife wakes up), brew all day, and done by 4 PM. Whew! Hopefully it's all worth it. Here's the recap:

Thursday night I started my first 2 vile starter. Yup, we're brewing 10 gallons this time!

Here's the starter wort in an ice bath and the White Labs Edinburgh yeast.

Friday night I weighed out and ground the grains. Two things for me to remember: First, buy a different scale. This one only goes to 8 oz! It takes a long time to measure out 32 pounds of grain that way. Second, either buy a better drill or grind the grains by hand. I burnt up my cheap drill I bought from Harbor Freight.

Here's what 10 gallons of water and 33.5 pounds of grain looks like. Heavy indeed!

The first runnings came out pretty dark. I think this brew will definitely come out darker than expected. Especially because I had to take two gallons of wort and separately boil it down to 1 gallon. This is supposed to give the brew a great caramel flavor.

Pre-boiled wort. The boil pot has never been this full!

Oops! This is the second brew in a row that I've had a boil over. My burner doesn't know it's own strength!

Here's the carboy with the corriander "tea" in it. It smelled heavenly!

Here it is. 10 gallons of Scottish Wee Heavy going into glass to ferment for a couple of weeks. I haven't tasted the hydrometer sample yet, but it sure did smell good!

Here's a picture of the two carboys in the chest freezer after a hefty dose of aeration with the mix-stir. It's basically plastic helicopter blades turned sideways and mounted on the end of a long stainless steel rod. I put it on my drill and whip the wort until the froth reaches the neck of the carboy leaving just enough room for the yeast starter.

Don't do it! Don't even ask me about the kegerator!

Edit: I checked the carboys this morning (Sunday) and both airlocks were packed with yeast and gunk. It took a bit of work to clean them out. Quite the fermentation!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Mashtun!

Well, I finally got around to building my new mashtun. It's about time since I need it this Saturday for my first 10 gallon brew. Here 'tis in all it's blue cooler glory!

The new mashtun is on the left, the old is on the right. One may think that having a bigger mashtun was the whole reason for doing this. But, we all know that blue coolers make better beer! ;-)

The spigot on my 19 year old cooler wasn't very sturdy. It barely grabbed onto the threads of the hose barb that's on the inside of the cooler. Also the plastic hose barb on this is a no-no as it could, and probably did, impart a little plastic flavor into the beer. I really never noticed it though. Not a great design, but it did make a lot of really good beer.

The new spigot was designed very differently. I've got a 1/2 inch nipple going through the spigot opening with a rubber washer, SS washer, and a brass hose barb on the inside. On the outside I've got a washer, ball valve and a hose barb. Very, very sturdy. After the second go-round with the plumbers tape it doesn't leak!

You can see that the inside of the old cooler is bubbling from the heat of the mash and sparge water. Hmmmm. Wonder what that released into the beer?

The inside o fthe new cooler is, well, new. It's smooth and shiney! Notice the channel running down the center of the cooler. I won't have to tip the cooler as much to get every last drop of wort.

So, that's the new mashtun. Her maiden voyage is this Saturday when I'm brewing a Scottish Wee Heavy. Five gallons will be traditional and I'm going to add corriander to the second five gallons for a spiced Scottish ale. Should be mm mm good!