Going Large - Today's the Day

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phillc

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Really interesting. Have you any updates on the beer fermentation?
Thanks for the reminder! We became so focused on what was going on, that I did forget to update the thread.

Unfortunately, it's sad and frustrating news. Our next batch went sour. How? We don't know. Instead of a nice Hefeweizen, we have something more resembling a Berliner Weiss.

Just for interest, here's a picture of the fermented batch. Looks can obviously be deceiving:

photo_2021-07-12_11-07-03.jpg


After all the cleaning efforts and care we took, it really was a depressing event to taste the fermented brew to find that something had gone wrong. Still, after drinking a few beers (not ours in this case!), we came up with a plan to move forward.

In the mean time, the brewery owner has successfully brewed two batches - a honey beer and a type of lager/pilsner (actually more of a Kölsch). Both of these turned out fine and tasted pretty good. What can we learn from this? Firstly, he seems to ferment pretty cold, with the room temperature set to between 10-12C, but uses a top fermenting yeast. Here's how his honey beer looked after seven days in the fermenter:

photo_2021-07-12_11-09-25.jpg


He also leaves the finished wort in the mash tun overnight, before transferring to the fermenter, allowing it to naturally cool. Given that neither of his beers are particularly hoppy, we guess the long, slow cooling is probably fine and maybe the honey also acts as some kind of antibacterial agent. On the other hand, we were transferring our hot wort directly through the plate cooler, immediately after the boil was finished, and into the fermenter. Even though we cleaned it, and we thought thoroughly, perhaps there's some ugly bacteria lurking in the plate cooler. We will take the whole thing apart in the coming weeks for a "manual" clean.

After thinking long and hard, we've decided to somehow mimic what the brewer is already doing with success. We'll brew a "honey beer", we'll leave it in the tun to cool overnight and we'll top ferment but at lower temperatures. We haven't given up on the hefeweizen, but for our own morale and financial satisfaction, we need to produce something that's drinkable first. Only later will we return to our hefeweizen plan. We have an agreement to supply beer for a private party on August 26th, so need something ready for that date! Our "first" customer, the Hops bar mentioned earlier in the thread, also confirmed that they'd be more than happy to take a honey beer first.

We also took some additional steps, buying an ozone generating machine and a UV light. Already last weekend we gave the cool/fermenting room a good blast with ozone and UV, to try and kill any nasties hanging around in there. We'll do the same again this Thursday evening, as our next brew day is scheduled for Friday, 16th.

Wish us luck. We might need it.
 

AXW123

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How disappointing. However what you have come up with seems like a really good plan. I guess all new breweries have set backs which is essentially what you are and it’s onwards and upwards. Keep us updated we are all very interested and supportive of what you are doing!
 

DocAnna

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@phillc thank you for sharing another update but so sorry to hear of the outcome not being as hoped. It's a shame to hear that the plate chiller may be the culprit for the contamination. Somewhat reassuring in someways that the brewery owner has since managed to brew a couple of batches, though perhaps frustrating in equal measure.

Anna
 

Bernhard

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Hey Phil, sorry to hear that :( My 3 cents:

- our plate chiller had some really nasty stuff in some corner. Even regular treatments with cleaner (lye) did not help. that's the only thing that separates your from the successfull process of the owner - but I guess you disassembled, checked and cleaned the plate chiller prior to use?
- IMHO: In general slowly cooling wort down is not the better option, gives more room for bad stuff to happen.
- Pitching yeast close to the optimum pitching temperature is the best option. Maintaining this (high) temperature until yeast kicks in, is IMHO a viable way to maximize the odds the yeast wins the "battle".

Cheers and good luck with your next trial!
 

Flan

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Brilliant thread, keep posting, hope everything turns out well and you get the brew you’re aiming for.
 

phillc

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We brewed a honey beer last Friday. A good mix of pilsner, Vienna and Munich malts, with a little caramel teak and melanoidin added. The "secret" ingredient was 4kgs of honey. Something a bit different, but also maybe a bit more robust than the hefeweizen.

We built a new plexiglass lid for the open fermenter:

photo_2021-07-21_11-52-33.jpg


Looks nice.

Then the yeast went and did this:

photo_2021-07-21_11-52-14.jpg


The piece of purple tape you can just see at the bottom of the first image is a 400 litre mark. We only put 325 litres in the fermenter, so you can estimate about how big that yeast krausen is! There's always something...... Best be clamping the lid in place next time.

Edit: Also to add, this was a standard top fermenting ale yeast. It was pitched into wort at 20C. The fermenter is in a climate controlled cool room, with an air temperature of 9C. Therefore, the surprising thing is that the yeast went quite so large, at these lower temperatures. We may have over pitched.
 
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phillc

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Back at the brewery yesterday, preparing for Friday's brew day - CIP process, cleaning kegs, general prep.

Current honey beer seems to be going well. It's not finished fermentation yet (still about 1020 gravity, 5deg Plato) but we took a small sample and at least it doesn't taste sour!

Fermenter a real mess though:

photo_2021-07-21_22-07-35.jpg


Cleaned up the lid and added a thermowell, so I could stick in the temperature probe from the Bier Brick.

photo_2021-07-21_22-07-56.jpg


Friday's brew will be a "Festbier". Should end up around 6.5%. 50% Vienna malt, then a mix of pilsner, Munich and a small amount of caramell malt. If all goes well, we'll give it two months of maturation and we'll have something nice for Oktoberfest.

And as an aside, I discovered that a surprising amount of kegs fit in my car. The picture doesn't show the 75kg of malt which was added later!

photo_2021-07-20_18-56-34.jpg
 

MmmBeer

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We brewed a honey beer last Friday. A good mix of pilsner, Vienna and Munich malts, with a little caramel teak and melanoidin added. The "secret" ingredient was 4kgs of honey. Something a bit different, but also maybe a bit more robust than the hefeweizen.

We built a new plexiglass lid for the open fermenter:

View attachment 51302

Looks nice.

Then the yeast went and did this:

View attachment 51304

The piece of purple tape you can just see at the bottom of the first image is a 400 litre mark. We only put 325 litres in the fermenter, so you can estimate about how big that yeast krausen is! There's always something...... Best be clamping the lid in place next time.

Edit: Also to add, this was a standard top fermenting ale yeast. It was pitched into wort at 20C. The fermenter is in a climate controlled cool room, with an air temperature of 9C. Therefore, the surprising thing is that the yeast went quite so large, at these lower temperatures. We may have over pitched.
With krausen like that, maybe you should consider adding some antifoam in the boil. From memory, you add 1ml per 100l and it should prevent the beer from escaping from your fermenter, also reduces the amount of cleaning required.
 

DocAnna

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And as an aside, I discovered that a surprising amount of kegs fit in my car. The picture doesn't show the 75kg of malt which was added later!

View attachment 51336
That's really good to hear that the fermentation has gone well this time, possibly too well given the krausen. Do you have much control over temperature of the ferment, I've wondered before about the amount of heat that fermentation at larger scale produces and the limited scope to keep it cool?

As for your car - ok it fitted but crikey :oops: could you actually move it with all that weight in the back!
Mind you it could be worse...
1626942939665.png
 

phillc

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With krausen like that, maybe you should consider adding some antifoam in the boil. From memory, you add 1ml per 100l and it should prevent the beer from escaping from your fermenter, also reduces the amount of cleaning required.
That's an interesting idea. Honestly, we probably just really overpitched. The tech sheet for the yeast said, "pitching rate varies between 50 grams and 100 grams of active yeast to inoculate 100 liters of wort." We started with 400 litres of water, but that reduced to about 325-350 litres after lautering/boiling. We used 400g of yeast, re-hydrated in a wort based starter. I think we just went overboard. Next time we're cutting it back to 50g per 100 litres.


That's really good to hear that the fermentation has gone well this time, possibly too well given the krausen. Do you have much control over temperature of the ferment, I've wondered before about the amount of heat that fermentation at larger scale produces and the limited scope to keep it cool?
As for your car - ok it fitted but crikey :oops: could you actually move it with all that weight in the back!
The fermenter is in a cool room and the temperature of the room can be adjusted. It's usually kept below 10 degrees though. The fermenter also supports water coil cooling, but this is not automated (yet!). One basically connects a Gardenia hose and pumps cold (or warm I suppose) water through coils surrounding the bottom half of the fermenter. When my partners made the new lid, they didn't immediately fit the thermowell, so I don't know what temperatures the wort was at in the early days. It's at 12 degrees now.

The kegs in the car were empty, for now. At least I know I can fit that many in, but yes they will be heavy!

Also, 50 litre kegs are a lot more tiring to work with than 19l Corneys! Didn't realise quite how much until collapsed into bed last night. Cleaning them is quite the process.
 

clyne

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Out of interest, where did you get the kegs from and how did you wash them? Does the brewery have a keg cleaner?
 

phillc

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We got the kegs from Brau Union, the company which owns all the biggest breweries in Austria, and are in turn owned by Heineken.

They will rent kegs for a €40 deposit, returned when you return the kegs. Obviously there is a limit to the number they will supply. We have 12 and I don’t think they want to give us more.

We are thinking of buying a stack of 30l and 20l plastic recyclable kegs with the disposable internal bags. This would save us a load of cleaning and also hassle in buying more 50l metal kegs. The best price we could find on the 50l metal kegs to buy was around €100 each.

Regarding cleaning, we have our own pump and connection. Basically pump in CIP acid, shake it all around, pump it out, pump in Oxi solution, shake it all around, pump it out, pump in water, shake it all about, pump it out. It’s some work, even only filling the kegs about one third full each time. I will try to take a photo of the device in action next time.

7AA0E5EF-C6F7-4FA5-8390-F303D87FD402.jpeg
 

AXW123

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Thanks for posting it is really interesting particularly if you’ve had a hankering (as many of us will admit to) for running a microbrewery - it makes you realise how much harder it is to brew at scale and the learning curve of using the available equipment particularly as it belongs to someone else. Keep us up to date. We love it!!
 

phillc

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Here’s that keg cleaning rig connected today as I rinsed a keg with water.

5F24637B-3331-41FE-8C7E-EE9307459CA0.jpeg
 

clyne

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Thanks @phillc for the info on kegs and cleaning, really interesting. And I can see how you’d get a good workout from cleaning!

keep the posts coming, this is my favourite thread right now 👍🏻
 

phillc

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Brewed again on Friday. This time was meant to be a Festbier, as mentioned earlier. The brew day seemed to go reasonably well, but the gravity was a little lower than expected. Only looking at something around 5% ABV now, rather than the 6.5% we thought should have resulted. Not sure where we went wrong there. One thing I noticed was a lot of fines in our crushed malt and also perhaps we should have allowed slightly longer rests at the different temperatures. Anyway, apart from that all looked to be fine. We pitched less yeast this time, and it seems to be working OK. Here's some pictures of yeast progression, starting around one hour after pitching and ending around 24 hours after pitching:

photo_2021-07-26_12-56-07.jpg

photo_2021-07-26_12-55-52.jpg

photo_2021-07-26_12-55-55.jpg

photo_2021-07-26_12-55-14.jpg


We also bought ourselves a decent platform scale. Not necessarily for weighing half full kegs, that's just the example model. Our real use case is weighing out the malts.

photo_2021-07-26_12-55-06.jpg


And finally, transferring the honey beer from fermenter to kegs. I think we'll call it a Braggot. Should be ready for drinking by the end of August. Initial taste tests are promising! Final gravity was 1007.

photo_2021-07-26_12-55-31.jpg


Next on our "things to buy" list are some flow metres. The use case is to know how much is going into the fermenter, so we can accurately plan how many kegs we'll need. The last keg, as per the scales picture above, only has 23 litres in it. This could have perhaps been better handled with a 19L corney and a 5L minikeg, using them for samples or our own thirst quenching. Just seemed a waste to half fill a 50 litre keg.
 
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