Joe's Bob the Discobrewshed brew days

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Hi all,
Thought I would try and write up my brew days here... This was my second go at an all grain brew - the Malt Miller Elusive Spellbinder coffee porter clone.
Set up was quite straightforward, as I was doing BIAB I decided to mash with 26l and just have 4l sparge water on standby in a saucepan rather than using my HLT as well.
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My set up is based on a 27l Burco boiler, a home made PID and one of those cheap 'solar panel' pumps for recirculation. As the boiler is old school with an exposed element I've concocted a stand out of a pizza tray and some 60mm bolts, you can see it on the table next to the PID. This keeps the bottom of the bag away from the element. It's got some nylon string attached so I can pull it out before starting the boil.

The PID:
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Small amount of salts added (1g each of table salt, Epsom salt & baking soda), I'm in London so my water is a good match for dark beers. Brewer's Friend suggested the pH would be 5.5 without adding any acid.
Up to strike temp (71C), time to dough in:
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No pics of doughing in, really should have got my son to help!

Hit mash temp spot on at 67C but, for some reason, the pH was way off at 6.2, maybe the meter needs adjusting/calibrating but it was showing 7 in the deionised water.
An emergency Google for acid additions which didn't help, so I winged it and added 4ml of 80% lactic as I thought that wouldn't effect the Cl/SO4 levels too much. That brought it down to 5.7.
Set up the pump to recirculate, such the lid on and left it for 30 mins. (actually I didn't leave it, I ****** around trying to gerry rig a sparge arm using the back of my plastic brew spoon, that probably explains the next bit!)
Came back and checked the top temp with a thermometer, annoyingly despite the PID showing 67C the top temp was only 63C so I increased the PID temp to 71C and left it for the last 30mins.

After the hour I lifted the bag and stuck an old wire fridge shelf under so it could drain, this is the bit I like least, everything gets so sticky! Must come up with a better way of doing this, maybe a bucket or old FV with holes in the bottom to make a malt pipe type thing.

After a good squeeze I dumped the bag into a bucket and poured over the other 4l of water, more lifting and squeezing and then poured the results into the boiler.

I was a good 5-6cm below the 27l mark so guestimated I had around 24l in. Took a gravity reading and it was spot on to the recipe at 1.053 though my volumes are down. Note to self - don't be lazy, get the HLT out, have it on standby and sparge properly into the boiler so I get the proper pre-boil volume!
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Up to boil now, seem to take an age today, nearly 30mins.

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Lots of headroom at least so not too worried about a boil over, far less crap on top compared to my last brew (GEB Pimped Up APA).

Hops in and set a timer for 45 mins. After 45 mins I chucked in a Whirlfloc tablet.

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Hour is up, as an experiment I tried to set up a whirlpool using the pump and put in 4ml of Brausol clarity agent - didn't seem to be doing much so I switched it off and did a manual one with my paddle for 5 mins or so, not entirely convinced this works, seems to make all the muck remain in suspension!

Final move of the day (other than the clearing up) was to pour into my no-chill container and leave it sitting overnight to cool down.
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Looking at the markings on the side I appear to have around 18l, so 10% down on what I hoped. OG at 1.062, which came out at 1.064 when adjusted for temp.

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So tomorrow will just be a case of pouring from where the jerrycan is straight into my All Rounder, hopefully leaving any more trub that settles out overnight, give it a good shake and pitch with two packs of S-04. Then I'll whack it in the fermentation fridge at 20C for 5 days. This is followed by 'dry hopping' with 100g of coffee beans, I'll probably just throw those in loose, 1 day more at 20C then down to 5C for 3-4 days.

I'm going to keg half of it in my 9l 1/2 Corny for drinking in a few weeks and bottle the rest for Christmas.

Next brew I'm planning is the Mountain IPA that the Craft Brew Channel did, looks to be a hoppy monster so should be good for the summer, if we ever get one!

Cheers!
Joe
 

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Today was the transfer over to the FV and pitch...

Wort coming out is nice and clear, getting good aeration by pouring from a height but I'll give the FV a good shake after the lid is back on, another bonus of the All Rounder is it's fairly compact so easy to give it a good old shake once sealed up.

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Then onto my fridge and stick a blow off bottle and spunding valve on. Later on, once the initial fermentation has dies down a little, I'll connect up the Corny to collect CO2 as a reservoir for cold crashing. Must remember to go check on everything later on, the spunding valve is set for 7.5psi. Also want to swap the 1l blow off bottle for a 2l one once the kids have finished the 49p Asda pop I bought them 'as a treat'!

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The temp is a tad high at 23C but the fridge should soon bring it down to the desired 20C.

And here's the iSpndel in Ubidots, maybe I should spring for the Brewer's Friend subscription so I can keep everything in one place but I like the geekiness of Ubidots!

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Ended up with 19l in the FV, the last knockings were a bit cloudy, maybe I should have left those out! Not sure the iSpindel is entirely accurate as it showed 1.0568 to start with, compared to my measured 1.064.
 
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Less than 48 hours after pitching and specific gravity is levelling off at about 1.009, that was fast. Keeping a little bit of pressure on the FV stopped the Krausen from getting too high and messing up my blowoff bottle.
According to the recipe I should leave it for another 2 days and then bung the coffee beans in, 100g, I got the same beans as Elusive’s current batch so, if the beers I ordered ever come, I can do a direct comparison.
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I also did a little experiment, the first day I had the temp probe in the thermowell in the FV, see how it slowly oscillates with quite large swings, on day 2 I went old school with taping the probe to the wall of the FV with some foam over it. I think this method leads to a more stable temp as it is more reactive not having to wait for 19l of liquid to warm up or cool down and overshoot each time.
 
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Flatlined at 1.0094/95 all day Sunday so I added the coffee beans in Monday afternoon. It did say to use a sterilised muslin bag but, for ease, I just depressurised my All Rounder, lifted the lid and dropped them in from a sterilised cup. I then purged a bit with low pressure CO2 and reconnected my collection tank (1/2 sized corny). Will start cold crash later today, down to 5C for the rest of the week and then fill the corny and 20 or so 500ml bottles.
 
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Spellbinder now kegged and bottled, filled my 9.5l half corny, will force carbonate to around 2 vols CO2, and also got 15 500ml bottles, each with a carb drop in. Will leave the lot in my fermentation fridge at 21C for a few weeks. Measured the final gravity at around 1.016 after temp conversion, which I think makes it around 6.5%.
Had a taste of the SG sample and it already had some slight carbonation, I did ferment under around 2-3 psi. I thought it tasted just a little thin but, when I cracked open a tin of the real stuff, it didn't taste that far off.
I should have bought a tin before I brewed it as it is a little underwhelming, I think my sample tasted a bit nicer, then again, I probably had me brewer's googles on!

I think I need to recalibrate my iSpindel as it reads higher than actual for OG and lower than actual for FG

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athumb.. Nice write-up, Joe! For a second AG brew, it looks very highly "engineered", so good on you.
 
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Yesterday I attempted the Mountain IPA, a recipe from the Craft Brew Chanel in collaboration with Wild Card brewery of Walthamstow.
Only needed to add a little Table and Epsom salts to match the water profile they used plus a bit of Lactic acid to bring the pH down a tad.

As it was raining it's backside off and on yesterday I decided to brew in the Disco Shed, so I set up at the bar:

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18l of mash water heating up to 72C, BIAB in place and, in the green bucket to the side my latest attempt to prevent stickiness whilst trying to sparge...

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Inspired by @The-Engineer-That-Brews brew bucket mash pipe I butchered an old 10l bucket I had in the shed whilst waiting for the water to come up to temp. Depending on how successful this is I might high tech it a bit for the new brew session.

Also trying out a slightly different method with recirculating, this is an Asda pizza tray with a 60mm M4 bulb in the centre, I've bulldog clipped the silicon pipe onto the bolt, works really well. Hit the 67C mash temp pretty spot on, pH is a bit high at 5.8 so I added another 2ml of Lactic to bring it down a bit. Ended up at 5.65 - I think I need to recalibrate my pH meter and also double check my water profile, that's two brews now where the pH has been higher than predicted.

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The recipe called for a 10 min mash out at 75C, so I dialled the in on the PID and, when the 10 mins were up, tried out my new 'sparge in a bucket' idea...

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Worked a treat, and a lot less mess than just resting the BIAB bag directly on the rack. I tried to sparge through the pizza tray but that wasn't really working so just poured the water around the top of the grain. I had heated 16l of sparge water to 75C in the Perco and used around 14 -15 of that to bring the level up to just over the MAX indicator in my Burco (so around 27.5l), pre boil gravity at 1.044 Vs 1.042 predicted.

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Just coming up to the boil and 10g of Magnum hops added, allegedly it helps to chuck your 60min hops in a little before reaching boiling point, less chance of a boil over.

Only other additions were 20g each of Centennial and Chinook at 10 min plus half a fining tab at 15.

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Now waiting for the temp to drop to 80C, I've had much more boil off than usual, looks to be around 5l I think it might be due to the large fan I had blowing over the equipment to try and reduce condensation. Post boil gravity was 1.050 instead of 1.045, should have liquored back a bit but forgot!

Once the temp had dropped to 80C I added the whirlpool hops, 30g each of Centennial, Chinook and Strata.

I tried to whirlpool using the pump but it looked to be breaking up all the coagulating gunk (BrauSol added to try and clear it a bit), I gave up with that and stirred for around 10 mins, this was still breaking everything up so stuck the lid on and just did a hop stand instead!

For the final 10 mins I turned off the PID to let everything settle to the bottom, temp only dropped to 79.5C so all good for having the wort hot enough to sterilise my no chill jerry can.

Left overnight to cool, poured into my All Rounder and pitched a pack of Lallermand Verdant yeast.

Going to try pressure fermenting this so rigged up a spunding valve onto my Keg, via a collecting bottle just in case there's Kreeping Krausen though I don't think there will be as I have a lot of room in the FV.

The bottles in there are my last brew conditioning, Elusive Spellbinder coffee porter. Stuck one in the fridge to try later on.

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Can leave this for 7 days at 18C now. Will check tomorrow on activity and pressure, I have preset the valve to 12psi.
 

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Well had a complete dry hopping disaster, I used those tea strainer things and, even though they were only half full when dry, when I kegged the beer and looked at the strainers they were both packed tightly with damp hops and hardly any flavour or aroma had transferred. Stupidly I threw the hops out, should have just chucked them into the keg! The beer tasted fine if a little bland with no real hop aroma or flavour.
Anyway, reordered the hops, brought the keg back up to 15C and transferred back into my FV where I had put the hops in and purged.
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Will leave at 15C for today then crash down to 0.5 until Saturday and then transfer everything back again! I've just left the keg connected via the gas post so it can act as a balloon for the cold crash. Smells miles better already, lets hope this works.

Also ordered the ingredients for a Proper Job though with Verdant IPA yeast, will try and do that this weekend so I can throw it straight in the FV after swilling it out.
 
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Time to try my hand at a Proper Job clone and also my first attempt at a 'brew and work at the same time' day.
Set all the gear up early before starting work at 9..
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Pop out at 11 to switch on the PID and leave it for an hour to heat up to strike temp.

Couple of meetings later I dash out to mash in and go back to check emails, leaving the brew it for 15 mins to soak.

Pop out again to switch on the recirculation pump, managed to get myself a Chugger on eBay, a lot more powerful than the solar pump I was using before

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Wait for 10 minutes to make sure water levels are ok and back to the computer, with a quick pop out with 30 mins to go to switch on the sparge water heater.

The hour is up so I come out again to sparge, I sparged until the water level was way over the 'MAX' limit, was trying to squeeze 29l or so into the boiler. Was roughly 12l or so of sparge water.

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PID turned up to 102C which usually give me a good rolling boil, meanwhile I go and measure the hop additions. Left to right, 60, 15 and whirlpool. Just over 220g in all.

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Checked the pre-boil gravity, 1.050 at 25C, which equates to 1.054 some 4 points over prediction.

Up to boil, first addition in.

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Time to deal with spent grains and wash out BIAB bag.

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After this is went a little awry so there's a gap in the photographs!
I stuck in my new (to me) immersion chiller with the 15 min additions (hops and Irish Moss) and then, when the 60 mins were up, cooled down to 75C for the whirlpool really quickly and gave me a tub of hot water for cleaning.

Stuck the whirlpool hops in and left the Chugger pump running, it seemed to be getting a bit slower as the time went on.

After the 30 mins were up I started the water going through the immersion chiller, seemed to be taking an age to cool down though, unknown to me the blue hose that I was dispersing from the chiller onto the flower beds was blocked so there was no water really going through it! I started the chugger pump up again to try and increase the cooling rate, 45 minutes later and only down to 45C and the flow through the pump has slowed right down.

Then I checked the blue hose and saw it was blocked so I removed it. This kicked the cooling into life and it cooled down to 25C fairly quickly and seemed to level off at about 24.
Guessed it wasn't going to get any cooler so decided to move it to my All Rounder, removed the pump hose and stuck on my usual short length of silicon hose to the tap, nothing was coming out though, both the bazooka filters were completely blocked.
Tried connecting the pump again but there wasn't enough flow to keep it primed.
Quickly sterilised my plastic brew spoon and tried rubbing the filter with it, no real effect, it did free up a bit but then got blocked again...

I then remembered I have an auto-syphon so I dig that out, give it a clean and sanitise it and syphon the wort into the FV. Stuck the FV in the fermenting fridge set to pitching temp (17) and leave it for the night, meanwhile I get on with the clean up.

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As you can see, 220g of hops leave a dirty big mess! The powerful Chugger pump, instead of allowing a cone to develop, had pulled all the hop material into the filters and blocked them completely. Won't be doing that again, think I'll use muslin bags for hop additions and possibly put my BIAB back back in for any hop stand or whirlpool additions and remove them before doing a final whirlpool to centre the trub.

On the other hand, post boil gravity is 1060, again 4 points over expected. Colour looks bang on for Proper Job.

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And, two days in, fermentation is going well.

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Just a quick update… brewed the KegThat mountain IPA in September, the entire keg got drunk at my neighbour‘s party last weekend!
Weekend before that was the christening of my new G40, an old speckled hen to start with.

Unfortunately I was a tad too excited to take many photos!

Went for a no sparge to see how my efficiency would be. Ended up bang on the predicted OG but with 24l in the FV rather than 21!

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The counterflow chiller was miles quicker than the immersion one I had before, took about 20 mins to cool down to 20C and whack into the all rounder. No idea why these photos are going in sideways, I’m on the iPad rather than the computer!

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All in all, a much easier brew day with hardly any stress and a quick set up and take down.
Hoping to keg this and serve with the beer engine I’ve just fixed up, might take the keg and engine up to my mum & step dad’s for Christmas, it was his kit I brewed, he didn5 have the time!

Planning to keg this and brew an oatmeal Porter this weekend, if it goes to plan I’ll just chuck the Porter straight onto the yeast cake. Saves a bit of cleaning!
 
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Managed a brew-day on Saturday, the Deya Hokum Stomp Oatmeal Porter. Went for an outside brew on the G40...
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It's a lot simpler set-up than my old one, especially when doing full volume mash/no-sparge...

33l of water weighed in

Looks to measure just under 33l on the gauge however, a squirt through the pump and it shows a litre higher

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Bought a couple of cheap digital thermometers, useful for double checking temps

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Mashed in and recirculation is on, tried checking pH but my meter is dodgy now, always seems to measure higher than actual when compared to a dip strip.

Smells gorgeous though

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Mash finished, I sparged with 1.5l of warm water to get to my pre-boil volume of 29l, guessing that equals 30l on the gauge



First wort hops chucked in and up to boil
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Giving me time to clean up the malt pipe and have a cheeky pint

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Pre-boil sample now down to temp, so time for some figures

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I'm guessing 1.044... 6 points down on what was predicted, maybe I shouldn't have added the extra water!

Boil over and transferred to the FV, the counterflow chiller is so much quicker than my old immersion one. 23l into the all rounder, so meeting my boil off volumes, just need to work on grain absorption.

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Post boil gravity checked...
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1.050, make that 1.054 after temp correction. Still 4 points down. That looks to be a 10% drop in efficiency over my last brew, think I'll try sparging next time!

Overall I'm very happy with the G40, it's a lot quicker to set up and to clean/break down after the brew and having the remote app is a god send when you are trying to brew whilst showing a plumber the massive water leak under your house!
 

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