Better Brew Day Record Keeping

 

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For a while now I’ve been using a dry erase board to keep me on track on brew day. Sometimes I also work off of a printed recipe, and I often refer to BeerSmith on my phone, tablet, or laptop, but I love having all my numbers up on the whiteboard where I can refer to them at a glance.

I finally took the time to write up a fill-in-the-blanks style chart on the board with a permanent marker so that I don’t have to rewrite the whole board for each brew day. Now I can just fill in the specifics for each recipe in just a minute or two so that once I begin brewing, I don’t have to fumble around for a screen or a piece of paper to figure out what the next step is. My mash in temperature, sparge steps, and hops schedule are all represented (I always weigh out grains the night before, so I don’t bother putting the entire recipe on the board) as well as fields to note my actual volumes and gravities so I have a record of the recipe “as brewed.” Those numbers will be fed back into BeerSmith and saved to the brew log for future reference.

Better record keeping is on of my brewing resolutions for 2015, so the upgraded whiteboard should be a big improvement.

 

I don’t always dry hop saisons, but when I do…

 

I’ll just add about 1/4 ounce each of East Kent and Styrian Goldings. I brew saisons pretty often. Yes, even in winter. This one was intended for Thanksgiving, since saisons pair really well with traditional Thanksgiving fare, but the calendar got away from me so New Year’s Eve is more likely.

This is my first time using East Coast Yeast’s ECY08 Saison Brasserie Blend. I’ve used Wyeast French Saison (3711) in the past, so I’m anxious to see how this one turns out.

Small Batch BIAB Kettle

 

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First off, a disclaimer. Electric brewing is of the devil. We all know this. And don’t get me started on the electric brewers. What with their spotless, soot-free pots and their precise, automated temperature control. It’s propane and propane accessories for me and mine.

Still, I admit that I did have a little fun tonight with my buddy’s small batch BIAB kettle. You may recall this kettle from a few posts ago when we performed a little minor surgery on its dip tube.

The original concept for this rig was that it would be used with an induction plate for 1-2 gallon BIAB batches. It turns out that while the induction plate does a respectable job of heating the strike water and boiling the wort, it was somewhat lacking in the temperature control department. Rather than having a true temperature controller, the induction plate has multiple power levels without the degree of fine tuning one would want for mashing. Furthermore there’s not really a way (that we could find) to use the plate with an external temperature controller.

The next step was to consult chapter one of The “Homebrewer’s Guide for Better Living Through Cash Expenditure.” A close reading suggested a solution: Throw money at the problem.

More specifically, that solution involved a sous vide temperature controller from Auber Instruments and some flexible rope heaters from Omega.

We’re still in the early stages of fabrication, but here are the basics:

  • The flexible rope heaters are wrapped around the kettle and held in place by metallic tape. Eventually a layer of insulation will wrap around the outside of the kettle.
  • The sous vide temperature probe fits into a thermowell in the kettle lid. The thermowell will extend into the grain bed when mashing.
  • The induction plate will be used to heat strike water to approximate mash in temperature.
  • Once approximate mash temperature is achieved, the rope heaters, controlled by the sous vide controller will hold the mash at a pre-programmed temperature. The controller also includes a timer.
  • Once mashing is complete the induction plate will be used to boil the wort.

During preliminary testing, the rope heaters reached around 173 degrees, so I’m hopeful that they will be able to hold steady mash temperatures without the help of the induction plate.

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We still have some fine tuning and fitting to do, but a test batch shouldn’t be too far off.

East Coast Yeast Strains for BeerSmith

Having been turned on to East Coast Yeast by one of my Brew Buddies, I happened upon some intel that I’m happy to share in hopes that somebody out there finds it useful.

Homebrew Talk Forum member PintoBean entered all the East Coast Yeast Strains into the BeerSmith brewing software and was good enough to share the .bsmx file for your loading pleasure. Get you some here.