I got an early start today and had good time brewing up a five gallon batch of Da Yooper’s House Pale Ale. After making a few adjustments to my system, I was looking for a relatively uncomplicated recipe to dial my numbers back in and was looking for a change of pace from the Irish Red, Dry Irish Stout, and Gaelic Ale that I currently have on tap. I ended up settling on this American Pale Ale recipe I found on the Homebrew Talk forum. There are currently over 50 pages of enthusiastic reviews on that particular thread, so I’m looking forward to tasting this one.
I’m pleased to report that I did not have a stuck mash this time, so I’m cautiously optimistic that the mash tun modifications I posted about recently may have done the trick. Until I have a few more consistently successful batches, though, the jury is still out.
I’m also really happy with the performance of the plate chiller. This is the third batch with the chiller, but the first with the new digital thermometer and cam lock fittings. I actually slightly under shot my pitching temperature, thanks to the 55 degree water temperature from the garage tap. The digital thermometer is pretty fast, but there is a slight lag between adjustments of the flow out of the boil kettle and the resulting temperature change at the chiller outlet. A little more practice should make it pretty easy to hit my pitching temperatures in the future, though.
Of course, there’s some room for improvement. My volume from the mash tun to the boil kettle and from the boil kettle to the fermenter were off ever so slightly as were my pre-boil and final gravity. A little fiddling with my BeerSmith equipment profile should do the trick, though.
I recently posted about my Duda Diesel plate chiller assembly after adding some cam locks and some slick digital thermometer fittings from Brewhardware.com. Ben from Duda was kind enough to provide some very helpful advice in the comments of that post.
I had the chiller positioned with the hot wort entering at the top of the chiller and flowing out the bottom. My reasoning being that since we’ve got all this gravity lying around, I might as well make it work for me. I was thinking that I wanted the wort to take the path of least resistance. The problem with this approach is that the top to bottom flow does not allow the chambers within the chiller to be filled completely, resulting in a loss of chilling efficiency.
So I flipped the chiller around as Ben suggested and did a quick test run by heating up a few gallons of water in the boil kettle and running it through the reconfigured chiller. I was able to get the hot water out of the kettle right down the to the same temperature as the water out of the tap in my garage with just a little throttling of the ball valve on the kettle. I didn’t record any data from the last batch I chilled before flipping the chiller around, but the new configuration seems to be considerably more efficient. Now I just need to decide on my next recipe and give it a try.
I’m constantly amazed at the things people throw away. Case in point: These high quality, heavy duty, stackable storage containers, with lids. I found a large stack of these mysteriously left next to the dumpster at my office. I brought these home for the brewery and kept a few to use at the office.
They were embossed with a drug company’s name, and were apparently used as shipping containers to mail prescription drugs from the distributor to pharmacies. They were in great shape and luckily, were stank free. Best of all, they fit perfectly under my work table. In fact the six containers pictured fit in roughly the same space as the three mismatched containers I had been using to store all my smaller pieces of brewing paraphernalia.
In fact, the new storage containers are so efficient, I may have to buy some new stuff, just to fill them all up. I think I hear a pH meter calling my name.
Having used an immersion chiller for my last 25 batches or so, I’d been perusing plate chillers and whirlpool immersion chillers for a while but had managed to put off purchasing either. Then I happened upon a slightly used Duda Diesel plate chiller from someone on the Homebrew Talk forum. The price was right, so I jumped on it.
So far, I’ve only used the plate chiller for one five gallon batch and it is much quicker than my immersion chiller. I managed that first batch with some hose barbs and assorted other parts I had on hand, but I’d already seen some slick cam-locks and an inline thermometer over at Brewhardware.com so that was my next stop. Unsolicited endorsement: Everything I ordered was good quality, priced right, and arrived quickly. They get my seal of approval. Stamp. Stamp. Initial here. Sign there. Done.
My order included the digital thermometer, stainless steel tee and cam-locks for the plate chiller. I also got cam-locks for my hot liquor tank, mash tun, and boil kettle, and vinyl decals for the sight glass on my HLT. Finally, I got ten foot length of Brew Hardware’s nearly clear silicon tubing because you can never have too much silicone tubing around.
It took less than a half hour to set up the plate chiller and all of my brew vessels. I ran several gallons of water through the finished product just to be sure there were no leaks and it seems to be good to go. I’m looking forward to trying it out on my next batch.
I’m a big fan of Saisons, and have been wanting to brew one for a while. Traditionally Saisons are brewed for consumption during the summer months, but I didn’t want to wait that long, so I came up with this recipe for a dark Saison for the winter. Originally, I intended this to be a black Saison, but had to make a few last-minute changes based on ingredient availability and my brewing schedule.
The result is a dark, but not quite black, beer with just a touch of garnet color. Wyeast’s 3711 French Saison yeast gives it a touch of the spicy, Belgian flavor, but overall resulted in a very mild brew despite being over 7% ABV. The dehusked Carafa III and chocolate rye malt add a good bit of color, a bit of flavor, but not a lot of roastiness.
I may make a few small changes, but I’ll definitely brew this one again. Also, as this is the first recipe I’ve posted here, I’m not sure if the recipe format I’ve used here is the best choice and I’m open to suggestions.
Nearly Noir Saison
78.8% Pilsner Malt
3.9% Aromatic Malt
2% Carafa III Dehusked
1.5% Chocolate Rye Malt
5.9% Amber Candi Sugar
5.9% Turbinado Sugar
26.4 IBU Tettang Hops
Wyeast 3711 French Saison Yeast
So I finally broke down and bought a new burner for the boil kettle. My relationship with my last burner had become untenable. For starters, It would never burn with the clean, blue flame that you want. Instead I got a tall, yellow flame that never failed to coat the outside of my keggle (and the burner itself) with a thick, black layer of soot. No amount of adjustment to the air damper made any difference and nor did swapping regulators with my other burner. Then I managed to melt the plastic part that screws onto the propane tank.
I settled on this Camp Chef burner for Sportsman’s Warehouse, which met my two main criteria; It didn’t cost a ton of money ($65.00 at my local store) and its base fit my keggles. Many burners are designed for flat-bottomed pots, so a keggle’s domed bottom and skirt don’t always fit. It passed a quick visual inspection in the store, and once I got it home, I confirmed that the keggle fits on there just fine. As an added bonus, the legs are reversible, so you can take them off, flip them over, and reduce the overall height of the burner for storage.
Once I unpacked and assembled this guy, I hooked it to my propane tank and fired it up just to be sure that it was not a smoky mess like the last burner. I’m happy to report that it produces a tight, blue flame and looks to be a big improvement over the old burner. I let it run until the burnt paint smell subsided so I don’t have to smell that next brew day. I look forward to a full report once I brew my next batch.