2 pot attempt (not pretty)

Post #1 made 5 years ago
OK, so a little primer. I got 2 Big W 19L pots together, took an AG recipe, scaled it down to 11.5L batches through BIABacus, and got great results. I then did it all again the next night, and added it to the first batch, for a full sized ferment, which is now in the bottle and tasting nice.

The following week, I was getting my ideas together, including building an immersion chiller. It didn't take long, and I still had an hour to kill... I realized I still had some specialty grain 1.25kg and hops leftover, and a Coopers can of English bitter, and a fully fermented AG brew sitting on US05 yeast. So I made my first partial. I mashed and boiled the grains, the remaining Amarillo, added the cooper can, cooled it using the chiller, built it up to 19L. I put the AG into a secondary, then poured about 600ml of thick yeast into a PET bottle, and fridged it, then used the rest of the yeast cake to pitch my new brew. I never really saw this ferment big, but it went from 1.052 to 1.012, so there is no doubting it did.

I had placed an online order for 3 AG recipes, but even with a little pushing, the order was not processed promptly, so I didn't have anything for my planned Friday. So, on my bicycle, I went for the first time to a local brew shop, and bought enough specialty grain and hops for 2-3 batches, and 5kg of pale ale malt. The recipe is another Pale Ale, a slight variation on a Fat Yak clone, which is an Australian beer, that is fairly pleasant without being too hoppy. It just fit in my bag, and took my bag to 10kg, and on a 30 degree humid day I rode this grain 20km! Yeah, I wanted to do a brew.

My idea was to make up a 23L batch with just the 2 Big W pots, and a 7L pot to do any sparging. However I do it in the future, it won't be this way again. With my previous attempts, the chilling was a pain, but the rest seemed easy. No mess, no fuss, just a pain getting the temperature down without the chiller. This time I had proper swiss voille, enough for 2 BIAB bags (well should have been), yeast was from the cake of the first AG, US05, and the chiller was not only working, but now had an aquarium pump, which I could dip into an ice chilled bucket to really get those last few degrees down quickly.

The start was OK. I got 2 Big W pots heating with 14L of water. I say "should have been" about the swiss voille, because I decided to cut the voille while it was sitting in my Big W pot, and shortly after cutting it, I realised I'd tugged it out of the pot a bit, so I'd cut it too small. The other piece I didn't cut at all, so this could fit a kettle 3x the size, and that worked fine. I split the grains, put them in the bags, mash went fine. I then boiled up some water, planning to take one off mash a little before the other, and start sparging into the 7L pot. FAIL. There was about 4L of water from memory, and it starting going over the sides well before the whole bag was in, and I knew this bag was a little smaller than the other. I poured some out, then dunked again, and the temperature now only went to 65C, so nowhere near sparging temperature. I continued onto the 2nd pot, bigger FAIL. This bag had a little more grain, and it seemed to barely get wet with the smaller amount of water to sparge in, and I'm sure got nowhere near temperature, so at this point I was a little frustrated.

The boil went fine really. I had to leave one pot partially covered, as it wasn't quite getting a rolling boil, but no dramas. Another change here was using the hops without a hop bag, and yet another change was putting Irish moss in at the end of the boil.

The chill also went OK, but given there are two pots, it still took time, and I was starting to get tired and sloppy. The process went, Pot 1 off the boil (with immersion chiller in it from 30 minutes ago), immersion chiller hooked up to tap water to get down to reasonable temp, me stirring it slowly to accelerate the process. Then I put a sanitised lid on it, took pot 2 off the boil, and put the chiller in that, same thing for 15 minutes, then put a heap of ice in the bucket, and got it down to 20C about 15 minutes later, then pot 1 with the ice down to 20C 15 minutes later. Probably just took over an hour, which is fine, but still a lot more effort than one pot would be, and that hour is still draining.

My final fail was the pouring into the fermenter. I used a sanitised sieve and swiss voille as I did previous time(s), however this time I had no hop bag, so there was blocking after a while of pouring. I managed for a bit, by shuffling the swiss voille, then at some point the sieve fell in the fermenter. This happened twice too! Fingers crossed there are no infections on this one. I then looked at the fermenter and saw about 17L. I'd forgotten that I didn't have anywhere near the sparge amount I'd calculated, so I was about 4-5L short of my intentions. I quickly mixed it up good with the yeast, and took a sample, 1.058 vs the recipe's 1.050. I didn't have the calculation on me to work out how much to put in, so I put about 4L, which calculations now show means it will start slightly lower than 1.050, and slightly less volume than I'd aimed for too. If nothing else, pitching temperature was spot on, and the in the temperature controlled fridge it went. It also looked a nice colour, and the taste from the sample was very nice, right to my liking I think. If this goes where I think it's going, this will be a recipe I repeat a bit.

By morning, it was going hard already, and has done so for 2.5 days so far. Far more signs of fermenting than the partial showed at any time, and it looks and smells great so far.

If this tastes good when bottling, I'm going to plan a party for some old work friends about 3-4 weeks after bottling, and this will be the beer. Our company had a 100% dry policy to protect against injuries at work, which we had to obey even though we had desk jobs. This meant no beers with lunch, not even on someone's last day at the company. I comically remember going to a pub lunch with our bosses for a work mates last day, and someone on maternity leave showed up, and ordered a beer. He said "I'm OK to drink, I'm not working today," so the rest of us got to watch him drink his beer, while we all had coke or lemonade. Anyway, a small bunch of us would escape to a pub lunch every couple of weeks, where the tap beer was Fat Yak, and I don't know if it was the beer or the avoiding the silly policy, but either way, it always went down especially well. So this brew would be a perfect tribute to our days of breaking company policy by having a beer with lunch.

Post #2 made 5 years ago
sb, let this be a lesson to everyone :). The beauty of BIAB is in it being a single vessel, full-volume method of brewing. As soon as you introduce sparging, more vessels, it can all become a bit hard/messy. Always good if you can buy a bigger kettle or aim for a smaller batch size ;).

Anyway, it'll never get harder than this so good on you :salute:,
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Post #3 made 5 years ago
Sounds like it'll turn out fine though. Wouldn't worry.

I work on the railways, haven't had a beer at lunchtime for about 8 years - I wouldn't feel hard done by! :)

Post #4 made 5 years ago
Yeah, well this was far from the only policy our big parent company shoved down our throats. They'd bought our business 15 years earlier, and let us successfully run ourselves, but suddenly got the idea we should be a lot bigger, so started trying to run our company like they run theirs. What they actually did was make our costs a lot higher, doing anything became far more complicated, and we became a big slow company with little control, and less direction. I watched as sales soared, but profits plummeted year after year, and to keep profits from going to negative, they started retrenching the most important people in the business. I left on my own will at that point. After I left, the big company finally admitted they didn't know how to run our business, and sold them off to an asset company, who rather than split up the assets decided to see what would happen if they reversed out the policies, and tried to run it like a small agile ship again. Fortunately for everyone I know that still works there, the asset company reversed things quickly enough to get the company back to profitable within 2 years, and things are looking up again.

It's not about a beer at lunch, it's about forgetting the individuals that run your companies. Each one needs focus, not a lot, but at least a little. Saying to your 100,000 strong work force, that everyone needs to do things the same way cannot work. At my new job, I can wear a T shirt to work, while others are forced to wear shirts/suits. Why? Because I sit at a computer all day, and rarely meet with customers, while the sales guys need to make a good impression with customers, so need to look sharp. I can have a beer at lunch, because after lunch, I'm not operating heavy machinery, or working in a warehouse where a small mistake could cause injuries to myself or others. It's just realising it's people working for you, not sheep.

Post #5 made 5 years ago
Brew #3 is done, and will be the last 2 pot attempt for a while if I can avoid it. I did change a couple of things, and this one went much smoother. I wasn't thrilled with mashing with 2 pots and 2 bags, so came up with the idea to use a 2nd fermenter I had to mash in. It is the Coopers DIY one, so was filled with around 27L of water, then about 6kg of grain and one big swiss voille was put in it, virtually full at that point. Insulated it up, the mash went perfectly well. I heated one of my 19L pots with about 10L of water to use for a sparge. This is the first time I had one big bag of grain, and it was awkward to hold up, as the fermenter was already up on a high bench, didn't think that through too well. The sparge water was a tiny bit high, but nothing like last times "disaster" sparge. It filled the 19L pot a bit too much, and I doubt it was a great sparge, as the temperature dropped to 65C after the grains were in, not 75C. While that was going, I poured wort out of the tap into the other 19L pot, and almost filled it, and put it on to boil. After the sparge, I poured the remaining into pot 2, so I had a very full pot 1, and half full pot 2. They both went onto boil, and as pot 1 boiled down, I refilled with pot 2. The idea here was to chill a full pot 1 properly with a chiller, meanwhile let the much smaller amount in pot 2 chill in a tub of cold water. After I got pot 1 to 19C, I put the chiller into pot 2 to finish it off. Volume was a little off, only 19L in the fermenter, and a little over the expected SG, so I topped it off with water to 22L. Sample tasted really yummy, looking forward to this one. It's fermenting nicely as we speak.

I must admit, this was a fairly relaxed brew day, very doable way to make an all grain 23L batch on the cheap. 2x 19L pots = $38, food grade 30L bucket $10-$15, big swiss voille bag, and it definitely helps to make a chiller, but not essential, especially as you can just no chill.

However, it's likely my last, as I have orderd bits for a proper BIAB now. I will probably end up doing the occasional small batch with the gear still, and still plan to use a 19L pot on brew days, so not concerned about any of the purchases I've made.
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