Monday, May 16, 2011


I'll never brew on Friday the 13th again.

I'm not a superstitious man. Usually. But Friday was not my greatest brew day. I wouldn't say everything went wrong, but I didn't have the best luck.

In continuation of my brewing binge, I brewed again this past Friday. I took an hour Thursday night and designed a pretty promising IPA (if I do say so myself). Friday I got out of work on time and got cranking. Well, like I did once before, I let my HLT get too hot. I was keeping pretty close watch on my mash, but for about 5 minutes I got distracted, and when I came back my mash tun was reading 160 (I needed it down at 150). 10 degrees might not sound like a lot, but for a human that can be the difference between a nice hot shower and 1st degree burns. For grain, it's practically life or death... for sugar extraction at least. Time for damage control. My method of damage control is to pop the top on my tun and spray water in. That usually works pretty well, but I was not getting the response of temperature that I was used too. Eventually the temperature plummeted to 140, so I started bringing it back up. Again, the temperature wasn't responding like I was used to. I was heating the mash full bore with little response. I had a problem.

I use my Blichmann autosparge in my mashing process as well, I just remove the float. It's nice since the tube floats on the surface, I get a continuous wash over the grain from the top to the bottom where it exits through my false bottom. Well the tube float was jammed up at the top of the tube, causing the tube to sink to the bottom. This directly injected my now superheated mash directly in to the exit of my tank, mostly bypassing the temp sensor. Good for jacked up Honda Civics. Not good for my mash. I replaced the float and the temp again raid upwards of 160. Damage control again. Finally it remained at 150 for the rest of the mash. But I knew I damaged the wort. Oh well press on.

The next step of my process is to tank the HLT, place it on the table, and sparge away. The keg is heavy as sin. 60 lbs easy. But I manage to put my back into it and heave it up there. Not today. No no. I don't know how buy my burner was stuck on my keg like a fly on a windshield (or if you're in Florida, a love bug on every part of your car... I digress...). Well I manage to kick the burner off, and in the process burn my leg, and almost dump the entire keg of 180 degree water on me (flash back, 1st degree burns anyone?). I've never seen a burn turn my skin bright white before.

Aside from dropping a package of hops, the rest of the brew went fine. It even dawned on me to put the pot in the pool while I'm cooling it with my chiller, which saved my 5 minutes off my cooling time (10 minutes to go from boiling to 90). So I'm happy with that. Unfortunately I missed my OG by almost .03 points (that's 3 1/2% alcohol less than it's supposed to be!), and who knows what the flavor profile is going to be like. It's vigorously bubbling away, but it's still frustrating to spend 5 hours preparing something knowing it's damaged.

But such is life! Next Friday I'm going to experiment with light toasted oak chips. Some people say beer aged over wood chips is amazing. Others say it makes the beer taste like moldy rotten wood. We'll see! If it works for Budweiser it should... wait... does it work for Budweiser?

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