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20 gallons of Wheat

Improv 20 gallon gravity systemThis Sunday marked my 4th 20 gallon all-grain batch, the inaugural run of my new 26 gallon kettle, and several other brewing moment firsts for me. Brian and I worked up a recipe and managed to get through the brew day with a minimal amount of drama… he took a full 10 gallons home, and I rolled a full 10 gallons into my basement at the end of the day. The mash tun, insulated with my custom-made jacket (Donna rocked this) did a very good job of holding the temperature – as best as I could tell, the thermometer did not budget the entire 70 minutes it took to get our mash-out water up to temperature. The new burner seemed to do well, I just did not crank it up far enough to begin with, so it took 70 minutes to heat the mash out water instead of 60 – big deal.

massive mash proteinWe did end up sticking the mash pretty hard core after about 3-4 gallons were collected. We were both a little worried even before the day began, but kept hoping for the best… unfortunately it did stick, but it was very quickly remedied. I think remixing the mash and the second vorlauf only lost us about 15 minutes, and we didn’t have any further problems. This picture shows the 1 – 1.5 inch layer of protein that caked ontop of the grain bed – it was totally insane. I didn’t cut through it fast enough the first vorlauf, and all that stuff just formed a layer of cement ontop of the barley, and compacted everything down to the point where water couldn’t flow through. Lesson learned – and admittedly not unexpected for a grain bill that was 50% wheat malt.

Wheaty wortThe wort itself was pretty free of chunkiness – very little grain matter, but lots of hazey proteins left over. The 75 minute boil did a good job of producting a good quantity of break material, but since this was a wheat beer we weren’t expecting to get crystal clear wort. It is a gorgeous color, and I expect will be a pretty light color once poured into a pilsner or pint glass…

Fermetation has commenced...The yeast we repitched from a previous batch of pale ale Brian had brewed. He managed to capture an exceptionally clear, thick and healthy slurry of WLP001 California Ale yeast, and we split it between his 2 carboys and my large demijohn. While we had positive pressure in the airlocks this morning around 7am and a very minor amount of visible fermentation, things seemed to be rocking by the time I got home from work – thick krauesen and plenty of airlock activity. I will admit to being an airlock sniffer – and it smells great. I think our choice of Bravo and Centennial hops is going to work great in this beer.

I still haven’t decided how to defile 5 gallons of my wheat – raspberries, blackberries, or black raspberries? I guess I can’t really go wrong with any of them.

So all in all, I’d say that this batch was a success – and its funny putting my 14 gallon kettle away after doing a 20 gallon batch with its bigger, meaner brothers – a 10 gallon batch seems … small.

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Categories: Brew session
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  1. April 29, 2008 at 3:46 am

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