Home > Brew session > Mt. Rainier Stout

Mt. Rainier Stout

I took the long Labor Day weekend as the perfect opportunity to brew a big batch of beer – 15 gallons of american stout, brewed with Columbus and Mt. Rainier hops. It had been quite a long time since I had used my large brewing pots, so it took me a little while to get comfortable with the equipment again, but everything during the first part of the brewing went pretty well, except for some minor problems with BrewzNET and the wireless communication. Fortunately none of that negatively impacted the batch itself.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the XBees to reliably communicate with the PC inside the house. This caused the program to throw a couple errors, and as a result I didn’t record most of the brewing session to the database. These issues were also enough to convince me that I seriously need to consider putting an LCD display on the grant control box that also shows gallons collected, time remaining, etc – all the same information it sends to the PC. This would allow me to at least benefit from all the intelligence I built in without having to run back to the PC, mess with it to get the communication up and running again, etc. I also could run BrewzNET on my laptop in the kitchen, dramatically reducing the distance, or use some XBees with duck antennas to improve reception (right now I’m just using tiny chip antennas), but that’s all stuff for later.

While I was running around fooling with the electronics, I somewhat lost sight of what was going on outside. As the kettle filled, the vinyl hose in the kettle can more easily slip out of the kettle due to increased buoyancy and the pressure from the pumping liquid… and unfortunately it did just that as I ran out to check on things. The hot wort sprayed all over me, my feet, the control box, pumps, etc. as I tried to get it back into the kettle. This fortunately kicked the GFCI, which killed the power and prevented electrocution and damage to the electronics – I finished collecting the last 2 or so gallons manually and pouring the contents into the kettle, not wanting to tempt fate or risk my slightly soggy electronics. I only lost about 2.5 quarts of wort, the tops of feet were only a little tender and my t-shirt took the worst of it, but no burns or blistering so I really dodged a bullet there.

NOTE TO SELF: Find a good way to securely fasten the hose into the kettle.

The remainder of the brew was pretty uneventful – 90 minute boil, 2 oz of Columbus at 60 minutes, 3oz Rainier at 10 minutes, 3 more of Rainier at 3 minutes. The wort went into the fermenters crystal clear thanks to a decent bed of spent hops, and we were fermenting within 12 hours of pitching. Hopefully 5 gallons will be ready to bottle and 10 gallons ready to keg in a couple weeks, which will help restock my dwindling stockpile in the basement.

These cooler temperatures mark the coming of fall and my favorite time to brew. Expect more frequent updates in the next few months as my brewing activities ramp back up, absent the heat of summer.

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Categories: Brew session
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