Sunday, November 12, 2006

Whats new?

It's been a while since my last post and quite a bit has changed.

I decided I was tired of bottling my beer and keeping many cases of empties around the house. I bought a small refrigerator and a kegging set-up consisting of two 5-gal cornies, a 5lb CO2 tank and pony taps.

I've also added a few things to my brewing process.

To start with the brewing, I got myself a counter flow wort chiller (CFC). It's not a particularly efficient so I have to run the wort though it twice to get it down to pitching temp. What I do now is to put the brew pot in a sink of cold water when I first take it off of the flame. On my last brew, which was my first real run-through with this set-up, this brought the wort down to 160º. I then ran the wort through the CFC and into my bottling bucket. The brew pot does not have a spigot on it so I have to use a racking cane to siphon the wort into the CFC. My bottling bucket on the other hand has a spigot on it so on the second run-through I don't need to siphon. All this brings the temp of the wort down to pitching temps in a fraction of the time it used to take.

I made a starter for the first time on the previous batch. Everything went well and I think I'll be doing this for at least all my first pitching's. I may skip it if I'm re-pitching harvested yeast, although it's good to make sure the yeast is still viable so maybe I'll just start doing starters from now on. I'll have to get a good flask to make the starters in rather than transferring to a milk jar.

As far as the kegging goes

The fridge I picked up is one of the most recommended for a small keggerator set-up, the Sanyo 4912. Right now, as I mentioned above, I have pony taps (the black picnic keg taps) on my kegs. I will probably put real taps on eventually, I just haven't decided if I want to put a tower on top or put two taps through the door.

For now it is enough learning how to carbonate the beer correctly and 'balancing' the system. Balancing the system means that you have to balance out the pressure that you serve the beer at and the length of the hoses going from the keg to the tap. If it's too short you will get too much foam and if it's too long it won't pour well.

I've been getting a lot of information and advice from the Norther Brewers forum and the Brewboard.

The first beer I kegged is a Hefe Weizen with Weinstephan 3068 yeast. I figured it would be good to start with a simple and familiar beer. Originally I had based my carbonation level on some charts I found online. The charts list carbonation levels by style of beer. The one I went with said that a Hefe should be carb'd at 3.6 volumes of CO2. That is very carbonated, as most beers tend to be carb'd at about 2.5vol.

Getting the vol CO2 is affected by the temp of the beer. The higher the temp, the higher the psi needs to be set at. I have my fridge at 40º. So for 3.6vol at 40º you need to set the psi on the CO2 regulator to 24psi. In order to balance the system it is suggested that you have 1/2 foot of beer line from the keg to the tap for every lb. of psi. So for 24psi I would need 12' of beer line.

After it started to carb up I decided that it was too carbonated. I decided to lower it by decreasing the CO2 level to about 10psi (9-12psi seems to be the average of what I've seen other people serving at). In order to keep the system balanced I had to change the length of the beer line to 5 feet.

The problem is now that I have beer that is carb'd at a higher level than it is being served at. This caused the beer to foam a lot when poured from the tap. I have now disconnected the CO2 from the keg and bled the pressure with the release valve on the keg. After a little while I'll hook the gas up again at 10psi and see if resting the tank has helped.

In the mean time, I brewed a new version of German Alt beer. It is essentially the same as the first that I brewed but with German Ale yeast 1007 instead of Irish Ale yeast, and with the same grains as the recipe called for.

The recipe is:

BATCH: GERMAN ALT(V2.0)




SIZE

5 GALLONS




INGREDIENTS

1/8LB CARAFFE III

1/4LB CHOCOLATE(BRITISH)




6LB AMBER EXTRACT




2OZ NORTHERN BREWER 8%A.A.





NOTES:




STEEPED GRAINS AT 150º FOR 30MIN

ADDED STEEP WATER TO HEATED BREW POT TO TOP OFF TO 5.5GAL

ADDED 1.25 LB DME AT BOIL

ADDED HOPS

ADDED BALANCE DME AT FLAME OUT




AFTER BOIL:

WATER BATH TO 160º

CFC1 TO 80º

CFC2 TO 65º


STATS:

OG = 1.054 @70º

It's been in the primary for about 5 days now. I'm going to rack it to secondary in the 5-gal carboy and then use the CO2 to push the beer into the next keg, keeping any oxygen from coming in contact with the beer.

I'll post some pic's of all this soon.

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1 Comments:

At 7:49 PM, Blogger lynn said...

mmm beer...

 

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