We take advantage of school holidays to brew here at FSB, and today was no exception. Things were still freezing when I started this morning, and were freezing by the time I finished this evening. In between it was a gorgeous winter day here in The State of Jefferson. I attempted another "no-sparge" brew, but with the lautering problems I have, I wound up sparging the hell out of it! I used a big horizontal cooler as a mash tun, figuring to get more surface area and make it easier to stir. I figured to use my bucket and strainer bag for the lautering. The cooler worked OK, but I still had many hot and cold pockets in the mash. I "doughed-in" by adding water to the grain (20 lbs: 15 lbs. pale, 1 lb. chocolate, 1 lb. Carafa II, 1 lb. oat flakes, 1 lb. flaked barley, 1/2 lb. roast barley, 1/2 lb. 120 ºL Special Malt). Five gallons (20 quarts) at 170 ºF only managed to bring the grist to 146 ºF. I used the decoction method to finally get it up to 152 ºF after several additions. I took out a gallon or gallon-and-a-half of mash out and cooked it to boiling in a saucepan on the hot plate (I have a primo commercial hot plate). Then I tossed it back in for a big mix-a-roo. Slowly but surely I got the mash to a saccharification rest. (I think I might get hooked on this decoction thing.) I attempted to lauter, but the mass of grain and liquor was too big and eventually the flow on my bucket shut down. It seemed to be a lack of air--the fat plug of mash in the bag ballooned in the bucket and acted like a stopper. After lots of heaving, wrestling, sloshing and splashing I managed to get a wort into the kettle. Man, do I need to solve my lautering and sparging problems! Nonetheless, I got just shy of 5 gallons at about 17 ºP (1.067). Ideal, really, for my St. Patrick's Day Stout. I under-hopped with an ounce of whole Northern Brewer (IBU approx. 33), but I'm looking for some dark malt and roast flavors with this one. Lots of cleaning up to do tomorrow and the next day, but the big messy stuff is done, and I can relax. I pitched my flask of SF Lager yeast at 1713 hours PST.
a.d. XII Kal. Feb.
4 days ago