Brewblog: All-Grain Bavarian Hefeweisen (Northern Brewer)

Just a quick update on my homebrewing adventures.

Finally got around to doing my first AG brew using my new mash tun, using the Northern Brewer Bavarian Hefeweisen kit. The crushed grain sat in my garage for a couple weeks, then got tossed into the kegerator for storage for the next 4-5 months. Hopefully the grains didn’t go stale and affect the flavor of the malt. As this was my first AG experience, I had a slight hurdle with the volume of the strike (?) water. I was attempting to do the more complex multi-step protein/saccharide rests, and may have started out with far too much water. Thus I ended up with about 9 gallons of liquid that needed to be boiled down to ~5. I still don’t fully understand what grain/water  target ratio I should be using at mash-in. Needless to say, I burned off a good amount of propane just boling off those 4 gallons of excess liquid.

I’m unsure of how to properly calculate mash tun efficiency, however what I do know is that the listen target for original gravity was 1.049, and I ended up with 1.046. I was hoping for higher, as I did rinse the grain pretty well (or so I thought), and by comparison, my experience with the extract version of this kit has resulted in an OG of as high as 1.052. The comparison might not be valid though.

Fermentation was very active, as usual, finishing up it’s frothy activity within the first 36-48 hours. This time around I didn’t have any issues with blowoff.

So, with any luck, I should have a perfectly drinkable beverage in just under 4 weeks. Now to figure out where to re-fill my 10# CO2 cylinder.

Here’s my current brewhouse/pub status:

On deck:        Pumpkin Ale (Indie)
Primary:        Bavarian Hefeweisen (Northern Brewer)
Secondary 1:    Empty
Secondary 2:    Empty
Keg 1:          Tapped-out
Keg 2:          Tapped-out
Keg 3:          Tapped-out
Keg 4:          Tapped-out

Brewblog: Rubbermaid 50 Quart Mash Tun

After several months of lingering in my garage, I finally finished my 50 qt. Rubbermaid mash tun. The cooler I used is the one shown below:

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I picked it up at my local Menards for about $30. You should be also able to find them at Walmart for about $40. I chose this cooler because I’ve purchased a few of them over the past years, so I know they’ll likely be making them for a while. Also, the design is relatively easy to build a mash tun manifold for. And, according to this chart, I should be able to make up to 10 gallons of wort comfortably in there, allowing me to eventually make double batches.

The manifold is a design that I came up with, and eventually I’ll get around to actually measuring and posting dimensions of the piping so you can build one too. I used under 8′ of copper pipe for it, and should have enough length left over to eventually build a fly sparge manifold (or at least a start on it). The design relies on two lengths of  bare copper wire to hold the whole thing together, and two small segments of tubing at the back of the cooler keeps the manifold  securely wedged in position. I’m not averse to soldering, or even all that concerned about contamination from the silver-based solder. My main reason for going solderless is to make it easy to clean. I can literally disassemble the entire manifold into individual components, ready for a thorough brushing if desired.

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Brewblog: Kickoff w/ Northern Brewer Nut Brown Ale

My wonderful wife got me a Northern Brewer Deluxe Brewing Starter Kit (Glass) a couple of Christmases ago, and I’ve been slowly expanding my “brewery” ever since. I’ve made maybe 6 batches of beer using the kit. One of which I royally messed up (NB Bavarian Hefeweizen) when I scorched the malt in my newly-keggle-fied boiling vessel (on high heat of course).

So far, here’s my inventory of equipment:

Northern Brewer Deluxe Starter Kit:
– 6 Gallon Primary Fermentor (Glass), Fermometer, Bung, Airlock, Blowoff Assembly
– 5 Gallon Secondary Fermentor (Glass), Fermometer, Bung, Airlock
– 6.5 Gallon Bottling Bucket, Bottling Spigot, Bottle Filler, Bottling Tubing
– Auto-Siphon, Siphon Tubing
– Beer Bottle Brush, Bottle Capper
– Carboy Brush

I also had a few pieces of equipment from my prior homebrewing adventures of years past:
– Another bottle-capper
– Another 5 gallon secondary glass fermentor
– Airlock (from a Mr. Beer kit)
– One of those common orange dual-vent carboy caps
– ~3 Gallon stainless steel kettle (w/glass lid that I interchange with the keggle below)

And a few new acquisitions and creations:
– 15 gallon boiling “keggle”, modified from an old stainless Miller keg (inherited)
– 10lb. CO2 canister w/ regulator
– 4 ball-lock corny kegs
– 1 set of ball lock inlet/outlet tubing, “foam-free” faucet, and connections (I can tap one keg at a time)
– 4 Perlick 545PC Flow Control Faucets (Xmas gift from Santa/Father-in-Law)
– ~7.x cu ft. Freezer (from grandmother-in-law)
– Johnson Controls A419 Temperature Controller (to convert freezer into kegerator)
– Bayou Classic SP10 High-Pressure Outdoor Gas Cooker
– ~20′ counter-flow chiller w/partial convolution (see: http://www.thegatesofdawn.ca/wordpress/homebrewing/wort_chiller/)
– ~2′ stainless steel spoon
– 2 reusable hop bags
– Yet-to-be-finished ~56qt mash tun cooler (still have to cut slots in my manifold, otherwise done)

Anyhow, I expect to be posting updates on future brewing exploits, so to kick it off, here’s my 6th-ish brew: the Northern Brewer Nut Brown Ale (extract kit). This is video I took of the fermentation just a mere 24 hours after directly pitching dry yeast into the wort. Not bad I think, considering that Danstar recommends prepping the yeast before pitching it.

Yum.

Vitals:
Brewed: 4/14
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.9%
Kegged: 5/21