Monday, March 30, 2009

A new Wort Chiller, and hopefully a finished hot liquor tank

I built a new wort chiller last Saturday. It wasn't very difficult... but I'm proud because it's the first piece of equipment I've built from scratch! Here's a picture:

(seen here undergoing cold-water leak testing)

What I've got is 50ft of 1/2" soft copper, with 3/8" vinyl tube clamped on each end, about 1 foot on the inlet side and 14 feet on the outlet side and a hose bard for a garden hose on each end. It's very similar to this wort chiller from except that mine only cost me about $22!! But I have to admit... it only cost me this little because the cashier at the hardware store SCREWED UP... BIG TIME. At the store where I bought the copper, it was supposed to be $2.49 per foot. I bought a whole 50' reel, so it was still in it's cardboard box. There was a young girl working the cash register so she just scanned the barcode... and called it good. Well apparently the barcode is in their system as 1 foot... because I only got charged $2.49! I didn't even realize it in the store because I didn't know what the price was before I got to the cash register... I was just prepared to pay whatever I was told the cost. It wasn't till I got back to the homebrew store and mentioned what it cost me that the owner of the homebrew store tipped me off to how much the store got ripped of... if you haven't already done the math, that copper should have cost me $124.50!! So I got royally hooked up. I can't wait to put this new chiller to sue though, it should take my beer down to yeast pitching temp pretty darn quick!

I also got the rubber stoppers I needed so that I should be able to use my old mash tun as a got liquor tank... I just need to open the mis-drilled hole a little more to get the stopper in it. Then I have to decide if I want to use a mini stopper to plug the whole in the bigger stopper, or put a hose it in it to use as a "sight-glass"... The sight glass is probably a little silly... I can just open the lid to see how much water is less, this is only in the 5 gallon range, not the 10+ barrel range ;-)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Van Den Heuv Ale

Next Saturday is supposed to be in the low 50s and mostly sunny... a PERFECT day for brewing. And that's exactly what I intend to do.

What I've got planned is an American Pale Ale or IPA which I will dub Van Den Heuv Ale in honor of Jon Vandenheuvel and his sister Sarah, my sister-in-law, who grew 100% of the hops that will be used in this batch at their greenhouses in Zeeland. Here's my recipe:

Van Den Heuv Ale
8lbs 2-Row
2lbs White Wheat
1lb Crystal 20L
1lb Victory

1.25oz East Kent Golding - First Wort
.5oz Centennial - First Wort
.1oz Cascade - First Wort
.5oz East Kent Golding - Aroma
.5oz Cascade - Aroma

I'm using grains that I've had for a while... in fact I'm using the grains that I bought for the recipe I published on August 1st last year. But I've added 2 more pounds of 2-row, and a pound each of Crystal 20L and Victory... my standard pale ale specialty grains. A pale ale with wheat malt isn't by any means "standard", but at the most it will make the beer a little cloudy and thicken up the body and possibly add a hint of sweetness, though I doubt it will be noticed under the Victory and Crystal 20L. If I get my normal 65% efficiency, I'll be looking at an Original Gravity of close to 14° Plato*, which is right at the top of the American Pale Ale range. If I manage to get 75% out of my mash tun, then I'll be looking at 16°, which puts me right at the bottom of the American IPA range. IBUs will be in the low 40s at either 65% or 75% efficiency, which is perfect since the top of the APA range is 45, and the bottom of the IPA range is 40. So... I'll choose my style after I measure my gravity ;-)

Well I'm really hoping I don't run into my old infection issues on this one... I've got a brand new never-used bucket, and I've got a nice long tub to sanitize in, long enough that I can get my whole racking cane submerged and can get a bucket to lie down in it sideways. Also, I've bought some latex gloves... at the Mt Pleasant Brewing Company (MPBC) we wear gloves any time we touch anything that is sanitized or that will come into contact with the beer after the boil or before sanitation.

And, no more kegging... I've actually gotten rid of my tap-fridge and kegging equipment. I figure if I'm going to be brewing on a professional basis I'm not going to need to brew everyday drinking beers very often, and most of the higher-gravity specialty beers I would rather bottle anyway. I'll be putting this beer in 24-12oz botles, and 12-22oz bottles. And I'll likely give a fair amount of it to Sarah and Jon... even if they don't drink it (I don't think overtly hoppy beers are their favorite), they might want to give some away to showcase their hops!

*Up at MPBC, gravities are all measured in Plato, so I'm trying to convert myself to the Plato scale. An easy conversion rule is that one degree plato = four points of "standard gravity", so my 14° Plato wort here would have a standard gravity of about 1.056.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Back in action!

It's been a LONG time, both since I've blogged, and since I've brewed. But finally, I'm back in action! After spending nearly a week up at the Mount Pleasant Brewing Co, I've got the itch and MUST SCRATCH!

I'll get into more detail in the next couple of days, but today I got some more equipment, including a brand new 50ft wort chiller, and some ingredients, and on April 4th, I'll be brewing a batch of Pale Ale with the hops from my sister-in-laws' hop farm over in Zeeland.