A few weeks back it was time to take our brand new 100l brewery out for its maiden brewing journey. A slight setback meant that we had to move temporarily indoors for this brew but it did mean we had all the running water, electricity, warmth and more importantly a supply of beer close to hand.
Our recipe was designed to be a basic IPA recipe but using a Vermont Ale yeast to give that juicy, peachy, slightly citrusy flavour. With this being our first recipe on this kit the idea was to keep it as simple as possible and whilst the end beer was massively important it was more about working through the performance of the gear.
Would the mash tun hold temp? How much loss would we incur across the process? Did we get the ingredient amounts right? We started with a mixture of Pale, Vienna, Crystal 60, Aromatic and Wheat malt, hoping to mash in around 65.
Our initial liquor was up to the 72C needed but when we transferred to the mash tun the temperature dropped considerably more than we'd expected so additional boiling water had to be added bring the whole batch up to the correct temp. Not the start we wanted but not a major obstacle to get over. Once there we mashed for 75 mins and the tun didn't appear to lose anything, maybe a degree but that's all. It was getting better.
Onto the transfer and we wanted to hit 68 litres to be able to boil down to around 60; we ended up sparging just enough water to hit 70 litres which would allow us a bit more to account for trub.
We kept the hop additions simple, 50g of Summit @ 60 minutes, 50g Wakatu @ 25, 50g more Summit @ 15 and 50g more Wakatu with 10 left. Finally we dropped a whole 100g of Mosaic at the end, the smells coming from the boil kettle were amazing.
Introducing another new piece of kit and one we seemed to be the most excited about - our new plate chiller. We've read differing opinions, some preferring to use immersion while others liked counterflow. We had been used to an immersion chiller which did the job very nicely but it would take up to 45 minutes to cool 20 litres of wort. This was close to 60 litres...
We rigged up the cold water and started that running to initially cool the chiller, then we introduced the boiling wort. All I can say is...WOW...within an instant our wort was through and into the fermenter at 20 C. The whole 60 litres passed through in a matter of minutes and we were able to introduce significant enough amounts of oxygen as we dropped into the fermenter from a height.
This transfer caught us a little by surprised as the yeast wasn't quite ready by the time the wort had been transferred. We took our usual gravity reading - a respectable 1052 which is roughly where we wanted to be, but as mentioned this batch was more about learning about the equipment. We had to wait a little while but then our Vermont Ale yeast was introduced to the party and the whole thing was put to bed.
A good first test of the equipment.