Sunday, September 30, 2007

Workin' out the kinks . . .

I fired up my small 30,000 BTU/hr. burner this a.m. to heat my small kettle with 6 gallons of charcoal-filtered municipal water (we have great water here, I just like to get the chlorine out). The burner sits on legs, up on a table, and acts as a Hot Liquor Tank. I then run that (untreated) liquor into my mash tun (Gott cooler). The damn thing burned too rich, the thick yellow flame covering everything with black soot. What a mess! I pulled it apart, spraying water through the burner ports, even removing the propane hose and blasting it with 30 lbs. of CO2. The venturi tube area seemed clean, so there must have been some crud (dust? insect debris?) in the burner itself. Still workin' out the kinks! I have a large, 3-foot high double-burner set-up with another 30,000 BTU/hr. burner and a "blowtorch" 100,000-sized screamer. I use it for the boil with my big 10-gallon. So, I had to improvise a bit, making it a long day. I fired up the little guy again after all that cleaning and it appeared to be all fixed up--nice blue flame. In the meantime, I tried two new things today: 1) a RYE beer, which I called RYE-P.A., and 2) a "no-sparge" mash regime. I use a simple infusion and run the wort off the grist with a false bottom in the cooler and a ball-valve assembly. I did two 8-1/4 pound mashes with 12 qts of liquor each. I was only able to get about 4 gallons of wort from that. I added a gallon and a half more of liquor, and another gallon that had 1-lb. of DME dissolved in it. After 4 ozs. of Goldings hops (2 oz. for 60 mins., 1 oz. for 15 mins, and 1 oz. for 5 mins.), and a 70 minute boil, I found myself with . . . 4 gallons! However, it was 4 gallons at about 1.069 (17 deg. Plato)! So, I will have a big, unusual rye brew. Lots of work for a yield that was 20% too low--I wanted 5 gallons--but I'm not complaining. I brewed today by the "seat of my pants" and missed the target. My extract efficiency is pretty poor anyway, and the absorption by the hops (I use whole hops only) and the high boil-off rate (I've a big, wide kettle) combine to keep my yields low. And, I'm out of practice. I'll get the kinks worked out. In the meantime I'm going to have a really interesting new beer. Safale-04 was the yeast of choice today. Check in next week when I rack it.

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