Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Burner Windguard build

I wish I would have snapped some photos of the actual fabrication process. In particular the shapes of the cuts for this wind guard.  I think it came out quite nice.  It is very practical, and works very well.

I used a 10' roll of 14" wide aluminum flashing and some aluminum short-rivets.

I used tin snips to cut the flashing, but in all honesty I think a decent pair of heavy duty scissors, similar to the type that come with a knife set for cutting meat and poultry bones and such would work better  The flashing was almost too thin for the snips.

Regardless, a few calculated cuts aside, an 1/8" drill bit, a rivet gun, and a small amount of foil tape, made a very effective wind guard that isn't too hideous.

Here she is in all of her glory:

By the way, I used a wire coat hanger to hold up the burner. It was hanging down some, and the burner wasn't level; I assume from the intense heat. Although the heat rises, it has gotten hot enough to crack the porcelain tile I set this on top of when brewing. I hope you like it, feel free to comment, or ask any questions about the actual fabrication.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Belgian Wit II Brewday...

No pictures of this brew-day unfortunately, but a blog update nonetheless.

I brewed up a batch of my BelgianWit recipe.  This time I was able to get the pale 6-row, instead of subbing the pale 2-row malt.

Brew-day started off well, I used my newly acquired hops, so a second difference in this recipe was the substitution of Chinook for Northern Brewer for bittering, and Saaz in place of Tettnang for flavor and aroma additions. I was able to source bitter oranges locally and I believe the bitter orange to be the one item absolutely necessary for Witbiers. Unfortunately could not get the whole Chamomile flowers like last time, so I used some 100% organic Chamomile Tea instead.  So substitutions aside everything that needed to be in the brew made it in.

Here is what went wrong with brew-day...

1. Beersmith calculated strike-water temp at 163.5°F, my strike-water temp was actually about 167°F. In the past I have normally added my strike water about 10°F warmer, but I usually end up stirring the crap out of the mash for 10-15 minutes to reduce the temperature to the proper rest temp.  So this time I tried to shave a few minutes off by starting a little cooler.  We did have some colder weather here in AZ, and I used a bucket to transfer my water, so I'm sure  I lost a degree or two there. I believe last time I emptied the strike water directly from the pot into the MLT, why I did it differently this time is any one's guess. 

2. So my rest temperature for this brew was 148°F but after stirring in my grain and such and allowing 10 minutes for the MLT temp to equalize my rest temp was about 145°F, I added a gallon of 180°F water, which remedied the situation...

3. ...oh but wait a second I forgot the oats in the mash, and I noticed with 25 minutes left out of the 60 minute mash,so I stirred in the flaked oats as quickly as I could attempting to lose as little heat as possible, and reset the timer for 60 minutes, therefore my total sacharification rest lasted bout 95 minutes, not too bad, a little extra time for conversion, I've done it before, but the 6-row was added for the extra diastatic power it had to convert the oat starch...

4.  So when I began to vorlauf, my mash temperature was about 145°F. I hope the wort did not become too fermentable.

5. Pre-boil gravity should have been 1.090, actually came out to 1.076, Original Gravity should have been 1.056, actually 1.050...

6.  I ended up with about 7 gallons instead of 6, so I did not have the boil-off rate that I am accustomed too.  Again, I'll chalk it up to the cooler temperatures we have had here.

What went right with brew-day you might ask?

1.  I got my boil going quickly

2. All of my hop and spice additions were on schedule

3. I hate the chilling process, and instead of the 40lbs of ice i go through in the summer, I was able to get my wort chilled to about 67°F in about 30 minutes with only 20lbs of ice...that is actually really impressive with my setup.

4. I made a nice size starter, and my wort was fermenting within a couple hours

5. For some reason, clean-up didn't seem too bad this brew-day, maybe because it is cooler, and the last time I brewed it was in the 100's!

This beer will probably be fermented out within 4-5 days, but I will allow it 14 days in the primary.  I am an advocate of the extended primary, most beers I would let sit for at least 3 weeks, usually 4, but Wits are meant to be drank young (one of the reasons I chose this beer to be my first to brew out of the 4 I plan to produce over the winter school break), I'll rack to a keg after the two week primary,  and let it carb up for an additional two weeks, and then it will be ready to drink!

I thank those of you who stopped by for brew day, and shun those of you who didn't...asses!

Well that's about it for this update, oh I did want to add, be on the lookout for my next project which will be mini-fridge fermentation chamber build, I hope to get that done early in the NewYear, so if you are following keep your eyes peeled!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hops Arrived!

My hops order arrived!

I was really excited to be receiving 6 lbs of hops. so here they are, nothing to exciting to the lay person.

As you may be able to tell, the Chinook bag didn't have an airtight seal, so I wanted to repackage them to ensure their freshness.

It appears that only 8 oz of pellets will fit into a pint mason jar.  I vacuum sealed my jars with my nifty $3 yardsale foodsaver, and jar attachment.

As usual, HopsDirect is famous for tossing in a couple extra ounces.  I ended up with an additoinal 2.5 oz of Chinook, I'll assume the same with all of my other pellet varieties.

Unfortunately, HopsDirect didn't have any Simcoe, I don't know if they grow that variety. So I placed an order from Brewmaster's Warehouse, for an additional 5 oz of Somcoe that one of my next recipes calls for, a Balck IPA, or Cascadian Dark Ale, whichever moniker you prefer.

Also, 1 lb of leaf hops is a ton! I purchased leaf varieties for dry hopping, and once the bag was opened and the vaccuum seal broken, I had hops coming out the wazoo.  Smelled good though, and my fingers were sticky-icky with lupulin glands.