Thursday, April 22, 2010

30 Gallons in 12 hours. A Recap and What we Learned

Our barrel is calmly waiting for us to put it to good use.  The biggest hurdle (hopefully) was completed last Sunday.  In about 11 hours, we managed to brew three 10-gallon batches on one set of equipment.

The first burner ignition kicked off at 10:50 am and the last primary fermenter was sealed around 10:00pm.  We were exhausted in the best way possible and have to say that the day was remarkably smooth considering the potential variables as well as a few 'firsts' that we were able to adapt to remarkably well.

Pre-planning was huge and have to thank Griz's crew over at SF Brewcraft for getting our order together and squared away nicely.  In total we were using over 80lbs of grain.  Here was the grain bill per each 10 gallon batch:

10.5 lbs Maris Otter
6.25 lbs Pilsner
2.00 lbs Munich Light
1.50 lbs Crystal 120L
0.10 lbs Black Patent

60 min:  2.0 oz East Kent Goldings 4.0 AA
30 min: 2.0 oz East Kent Goldings 4.0 AA

Kettle Additions:
15 min:  1.5 lbs Dextrose
10 min:  Servomyces yeast nutrient

Primary Yeast:  WL English Ale
Secondary Yeast:  3 WL Belgian Sour Mix, 2 Lactobacillus

60 minute mash as 152 degrees.  Sparged with 170 degree water to collect 12 gallons of pre-boil.

OG:  1.055

Remarkably, we hit our numbers all three times.  Some notables from the day (and night as pictured):
-  Brewing software is good.  For the first time, we set out to make 10 gallons and actually ended up with 10 gallons.
-  Running the wort chiller inbound hose through an ice chest bought us time in terms of getting our wort ready for pitching.
-  The lauter tun we use is not sealed as nicely as we'd expect as evidenced by minor burn injuries.
-  The yeast dance results in soreness when done 3 times in one day.  The yeast dance consist of our primitive manner of oxygenating our yeast when first pitched.  It looks cool to the casual observer.
-  Using glass carboys as a primary (which we needed to do) is not so fun on two levels. 1.  Getting the wort into the carboy is a pain.  2.  Blow-Off tubes are required to prevent yeastastrophes.  We applied ours about 8 hours too late.  No real harm done, but what a mess.
-  Slow cooked pulled pork inside made inside smell just as great as outside.  We rewarded ourselves with a glass of Cascade's Sang Rouge and homemade pulled pork.  Sleep about 15 minutes later.

So now. . .we have six primaries going crazy all waiting to finish off in the barrel.  Once these calm down, we'll transfer to the barrel and add the bugs.  There will be a barrel soaking before all of this to make sure that there aren't any leaks.  Will update when the time comes.  For now, happy for a really smooth day and it didn't hurt that we had great weather.

Update:  Barrel was soaked overnight starting 4/28 to promote expansion of the slats and prevent the beer from leaking.  4/29 all primaries transferred to the barrel and bugs added.  Speaking of bugs, we added three vials of Belgian Sour, all of which practically exploded on opening.  We also added two vials of Lactobacillus D w/o issue.  We may end up adding more Belgian Sour mix to make up for what was lost.  4/30, all is looking good.  No barrel leaks and not even signs of seeping.  We'll keep an eye on this for the next 4 months at a minimum.  Fingers crossed.