Home > Brew session > 20 gallons of Awesome

20 gallons of Awesome

sm20090712 004This past Sunday found me and my brewing colleague Brian roasting out on the back porch, brewing up a batch of Pale Ale using Summit and Bravo hops. We got started around 10am, when the temperature wasn’t too bad, but over the course of the day it got a little uncomfortable, with highs in the upper 80s. We spent most of the day out there, retreating inside only a few times to cool off and grab more cold root beer or water.

20090712 Temps20090712 Mash

The brew day went very well. We nailed the mash-in temperature of 153 degrees, and the sparge rate remained relatively constant over the course of wort collection. Towards the end we could tell the mash was compacting a little bit due to occasional slugs of kernels in the mash tun outlet line, however the crud never got severe or frequent enough where we were concerned with wort quality. The total sparge time was just under an hour – perfect timing. This batch was also the native run for the new Hot Liquor Tank insulation jacket my wife engineered for me (shown in the pic above), which seemed to do an exceptional job keeping the sparge water nice and hot. Last time we lost about 10-15 degrees in the HLT, whereas I did not notice any loss this time around. The boil and cooling cycle was uneventful, except for us employing the pump skid to recirculate ice water from a cooler through the immersion chiller to drop the wort temperature from ~105 down to 75 deg F. This time of year it is impossible to hit a decent pitching temperature without ice – the average groundwater temperature is in the upper 70s, and it’ll take 1+ hours to get down into the 80 degree range without ice… we managed to get it down in about 45 minutes, with about half of that using the pump / ice bath.

sm20090712 007We wrapped things up somewhere around 4pm, and Brian’s fermenters were rocking by about 10pm (he re-pitched fresh yeast from a previous batch), while my 2L WLP051 yeast starter took a little longer to get going (about 12 hours). By about 1pm on Monday, my fermenters were kicking off tons of CO2 and had a good inch of krauesen on them as well. I have started employing the poor-man’s fermentation temperature control method of using wetted dish towels and a fan blowing on the fermenters to keep the temperature below 70, and it works very well; even though my basement is around 72 degrees, the fermenters are sitting at a steady 68 despite all the fermentation activity.

Brian and I have another 20 gallon pale ale recipe in the pipeline, but have not firmed up a date to brew it yet. I am certain it will go as smoothly as this one did – we’ve got the routine down pretty good now and work very well together.

Categories: Brew session
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  1. July 15, 2009 at 5:12 pm

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