Jim's Beer Kit

Practical Homebrewing

Brewing process comments please

Make grain beers with the absolute minimum of equipment. Discuss here.

Brewing process comments please

Postby Meatymc » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:43 am

Just on brew 17. Am happy with my base Porter and getting closer to a base IPA. My brewing process is still very clumsy and amateur hence I'm asking for suggestions to improve things with what I've got or at minimal additional cost. I brew in the garage which has electric but no water or gas - using butane/propane bottles.

My 'kit'
30L pan - just fitted with tap but couldn't have temp gauge fitted as curve of pan too severe
8kw burner
Ikea sieve
Home made grain and hop bags
15L bin for sparging
25L 'cube' - using for the 1st time having had the tap fitted at Xmas - previously had to leave the wort to cool in the pan
23L lidded FV - poor/no real seal but don't bother with air locks anyway
23L screw top FV (good seal) with tap - only use for bottling
Brew fridge - best thing I've come up with yet

My 'process'
20L hot water from the house transferred to the garage
Heat to circa 70C - flame-out
Add grain and check I'm at target mash temp
Cover with whatever I've got to hand (don't forget I'm in a garage) - usually coats etc
Check temp every 20/25 mins with standard brewing thermometer - having to remove everything including lid to get it into the liquid
Heat as/if necessary (remembering to lift the bag off the bottom of the pan so it doesn't melt
Last 20 minutes - heat up 12L sparge water to circa 72C
End of boil - transfer bag to bucket and whack up the heat on the pan
Keep dunking the bag up and down in the sparge water (I know, I know but better than nowt) until wort near boil then add the pan
Add hops as per recipe
Flame out
Now able to transfer 'boiling wort' to cube and leave to cool - previously just left the pan sat in the garage (I did say amateur didn't I!)
Tfr to (poor seal) fermenter and into brew fridge with rehydrated yeast - currently Safale 05 so fridge set to 18.5C
Leave until near target FG - cica 7 days
Add dry hops in weighted' hop bag
Batch prime to (good seal) fermenter
Tfr brew to said fermenter
Bottle immediately

Lot's to go at there I know - any comments/thoughts/critisms welcome!
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Re: Brewing process comments please

Postby vacant » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:21 pm

Better insulation for the mash would help. You could fashion a "tea cosy" that could be removed in one go from a hot water cylinder jacket (£9.99) and duck tape.

Keep your bag clear of the base on a high rack from a halogen oven (£4.50).

If money is an issue, go electric with a couple of Asda kettle elements.
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Re: Brewing process comments please

Postby Meatymc » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:00 pm

Cheers vacant. Putting those 3 suggestions together - element(s) sat under a rack linked to a controller (as on my brew fridge) with cylinder jacket around would well sort mashing issues.

The rack - defo - thanks.

The jacket not quite as straightforward as if I need to fire up the burner it needs to be lifted away to some extent - but again, it would certainly help.

However, I'd also been thinking about drilling through the pan lid with a suitable grommet so a thermometer could be put in place and monitored throughout the mash so even if I needed to remove the jacket (less likely than now), at least the lid could be left in place. So yes - thanks

As for the element idea, I don't think you're suggesting instead of the primary heat source - the gas burner? This would be just to maintain the temperature during the mash - yes?

If so I'd need a removeable element that 'cables' out through the wort/top of the pan not directly through the pan side. I'm already a bit concerned about the heat created during the burn - particularly impacting on my new shiney tap! Had the pan off-centre on the burner at the weekend for that reason. I'd double the problem with an element connection wouldn't I - and wouldn't the external connector to this be even more heat sensitive? Or am I misunderstanding?!?
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Re: Brewing process comments please

Postby vacant » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:21 pm

I was thinking you could sell the burner/cylinder and switch to electric for your heat. I was never tempted by gas but then I started off with a plastic boiler (easy to drill holes) and then my second hand stainless bolier was all set up with twin backer elements, sight glass & tap :)
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Re: Brewing process comments please

Postby AnthonyUK » Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:02 pm

Meatymc wrote:Cheers vacant. Putting those 3 suggestions together - element(s) sat under a rack linked to a controller (as on my brew fridge) with cylinder jacket around would well sort mashing issues.


If you go electric I'd look at a PID for mash temp control. Those STC devices are not accurate enough and react too slow.

If you can build a fridge controller you'll have no issue with a PID/SSR combo.
I would also recirculate with a small pump if you are continuously heating.
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Re: Brewing process comments please

Postby Meatymc » Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:16 pm

I hadn't seriously thought about switching to electric to be honest. Don't know why as it could bring the whole job 'back-in-house' (could easily ramp-up the extraction in the utility for the boil and which already houses the brew fridge) - less temperature variables etc etc. Having said that, it's usually rather pleasant raiding the bottle cupboard whilst (supposedly) working in the garage!

What/Which element would anyone suggest to get 27+L up to boiling point and any idea on power useage? SWMBO had smart meters fitted last month - switch on even a single bloody light bulb and it tells you what it's costing!!
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Re: Brewing process comments please

Postby AnthonyUK » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:09 pm

I have a 40l Buffalo with a single concealed 2600w element and a chutney barrel with 2 Tesco kettle elements. There is not much in it as far as boil times go.
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