Home > Brew session, BrewzNET 2.0 > Summer Pale Ale 2014

Summer Pale Ale 2014

wpid-20140614_125800.jpgThis past weekend I brewed a 20 gallon batch of American Pale Ale with a friend. The BeerSmith 2.0 recipe can be found here. We used my 20 gallon kettle setup with the pumps & control box, and things went reasonably well – we hit all of our targets for volume and gravity, and the electronics did what they were supposed to with one exception – during our vorlauf / recirculation step the high level switch didn’t turn on the pump one cycle. We caught it before it became an overflow situation, but there was no obvious reason why this hiccup occurred. My belief is that the XBee Coordinator modem had one of its problematic data floods and missed the communication from the grant. Unforuntately that issue persists and I am no closer to resolving it. I think it is a Digi firmware problem, and there is very little I can do about that other than wait for a new version to be released.

wpid-20140614_125806.jpgwpid-20140614_125811.jpgOnce the sparge began, we didn’t have any further issues with the electronics. The sparge arm worked as expected, and the control box managed the pump cycles appropriately. The sparge rate history screen even proved its worth as we watched our sparge rates slowly drop from the high 1.9 qt/min down to 1.7 qt/min, followed by a steep drop to near 1.0 qt/min, signaling a stuck mash. We added some hot liquor, stirred up the mash bed some, and did a quick recirc to resolve it. The flow rate was not a problem after that, and we lost maybe 10-15 minutes max. The boil was uneventful, and we collected 20 gallons in our fermenters. We pitched 2 vials of WLP001 into 2 of the fermenters, WLP051 into the third, and US05 into the fourth.

wpid-20140615_195129.jpgJake took 5 gallons home with him, and the other 15 stayed with me. The fermentation was rocking and rolling less than 24 hours later. When I checked on them about 12 hours after that, one of the carboys (the WLP001 I think) was so active that it filled the headspace with yeast and blew the airlock. I had to quickly scramble to resanitize, and added some foam control to knock the yeast back down. I’ll give the yeast another week to clean up and flocculate out before transferring them to secondary fermenters for dry-hopping and aging.
With my brewing activities approaching a summer hiatus, I am unsure what new brewing-related mayhem I will perpetrate this summer. One possibility is resurrecting the control box to PC data stream to capture and display session data, but that’s not really terribly exciting to me. Another (much stronger) possibility is implementing an Arduino mini & Bluetooth-based temperature monitoring system for my fermenters. This latter idea was inspired by a friend, Mike Castagno. It would be really cool (and useful) to design a system that collected the fermenter temperatures and sent the data wirelessly to the PC, and use a VB.NET Windows service to collect and log that information to a database. If the database were hosted online, you could even display that data on a webpage and remote monitor what is going on. We shall see if I can bring that particular vision to reality.

Categories: Brew session, BrewzNET 2.0
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