Apr 162012

The BrewJam

Not sure of the best way to start the write up of this brewday, as to be honest the brewday was a bit of an after thought to the main event of the day – our please come drink our homebrew as we are running out of Corny kegs party.  Here is our bar setup:

Triple Reg

Triple Gas Reg

On tap we had, 2 kegs of each of our latest 4 IPAs, the last keg of wheat beer and the last keg of hodgpodge goblin.  We used the awesome reg that I picked up that has 3 outputs, so we can have 3 different pressures – we had the wheat and hodepodge at slightly higher PSI.  Plus we didn’t have to arse about with a billion JG fittings to split 1 line to 6, but instead split 3 to 6 which meant a lot less set up.

We then invited people over to drink our homebrew for free.  And they did.  We emptied 3 kegs.

As an aside, Corny kegs are very robust – I launched one across the field we were in into a pile of plastic chairs and the chairs came of far far worse.  I like to call it field testing equipment, not being a drunken idiot. (The Beer Fountain was also quite entertaining 🙂 – Matt)

While setting up for this we also decided to have a brew.  And because we are suckers for punishment we decided to brew a parti-gyle.  A parti-gyle is a beer where the beer is split out into two runnings – in our case we did 20l and 40l from the same mash.  This means you get 20l of a strong beer and then 40l of a weaker beer.  This allows you to make 2 beers from the same grain, which is pretty nifty!  Also saves some ££.


Parti-Gyle Brew

Grain Bill – Aim 70% Efficiency OG1.046 (Avg) 60L

12.5kg Marris Otter Pale Malt (100%)


Stronger Beer:

  • 60 min Challenger 75g
  • 15 min Goldings 25g
  • 15 min Irish Moss
  • 0 min  Goldings 25g

IBUs – 70.8

Weaker Beer:

  • 60 min Admiral 30g
  • 15 min Goldings 10g
  • 15 min Irish Moss
  • 0 min Goldings 10g

IBUs – 20.6


1Litre Starter on Stirplate

We did this a bit more properly than normal and planned ahead, making a 1L yeast starter.  We used a different yeast to normal Fermentis S-33 Ale yeast.  To make the starter we mixed 131g of glucose with 1L of boiling water and then left it to cool, this gives us an OG of 1.046 similar to our AVG target beer and by using boiling water saves having to worry too much about contamination. We added the yeast roughly 8 hours before we were planning on using it.  We placed the starter on a magnetic stirrer, chucked a stir bar into the yeast solution and left on a medium speed until required. By covering the flask with silver foil prevents general spores / bacteria in the air from landing on top but still keeping a nice aerobic environment at the top of the flask. By Stirring we are maximizing the surface area for the yeast to get working quicker and also keeping the wort gently aerated. We want to keep the starter aerobic (unlike in beer where we are making alcohol by anaerobic fermentation) because this gives the yeast the strongest head start to multiply and grow ready to tackle the sugars in the beer.


Doughing In

Doughing In

We doughed in using 2.5l of water per kg of grain, this is more than we usually use – we have used as little as 1.5l in the past.  So for 12.5kg of grain we used 31.25l of water.  We hit a temperature of 65.6C, we were aiming for 65C exactly, so not too bad at all.  We then left to mash for 1hr30.  The mash temp at the end was 65.2, so a drop in temp of 0.4C over an hour.  Shows how brewing when you aren’t freezing your nuts off helps with efficiency.


Fly Sparge

Fly Sparge

Fly Sparge

We sparged at a higher temperature than normal – 80C.  We know the temperature drops quite a bit as it goes through the grain bed, so we are hoping a higher initial sparge temperature will help to increase extraction of sugar from the grain. First 5l of runnings were recirculated.  We drew off 20l into one bucket.  We then drew off the next 40l into a secondary bucket.  I (James) screwed the pooch massively on this, I lost track of how many 5l jugs we had done and ended up making 65l of the smaller beer.  Rather than the planned for 40.  Usually I make a tally on a bit of paper, but not this time.  Whoops.  It all worked out okay in the end – we made 50 l of small beers and the last 15l we boiled without hops and are going to use to make yeast starters in the future (this reduced down over a 1hr boil to 5L @ 1.046, ideal for starters.)


Pump transfer

Pump transfer

We also used a pump to transfer the small beer wort to the boil kettle – this sped things up and made life a bit easier than jugging it.

The two beers were boiled separately in our 2 boilers – we did 1 x 20L boil and 1 x 50L boil.

We hit the hot breaks and then hopped as per schedule.  The stronger beer obviously hit the hot break first, while the smaller beer took a lot longer.


Counterflow Chiller

Tandem Counterflow Chillers

We decided to go back to using counterflow chillers rather than letting beer just cool naturally – especially as it is beginning to get too warm to just leave out over night. We used 2 x Cornelius beer dispense coolers linked together (as these are both quite small.) Ended up chilling the beer to just below <30C.  We saved the cooling water in our 100L bowser to use for the next brew.


Yeast starter was split between the two beers once temperature had dropped to 22C.  I (James) was pretty drunk when doing this, and forgot to take the magnetic stirrer out – it is currently residing in one of the fermenters.  Furiously bubbling after less than 12hrs.

Small Beer

Finished FG 1.008 @ 6 Day

Large beer

Still fermenting at the time of writing but appeared to have stopped at 11 Days @ 1.024. Assuming the yeast has reached it’s alcohol tolerance we have added champagne yeast  in an attempt to get down to 0.010 or there abouts. 2tsp of yeast nutrient has also been added to try and perk the yeast up. If this fails, adding oxygen may be the only option to kick-start fermentation again or possibly some Safale T-38 which will ferment over 11% and is quite vicious.


3.0% 39.5L – Pale Ale

10% 20L – Barley Wine

81% Efficiency! Whoop de Whoop.


Through each brew we’ve been getting better and this time we were the most organised and this is the smoothest brew we’ve done by far. With much improved technology, we managed to make a starter with the stir plate, use a pump to transfer wort and counter chill the beer and get it pitched in the same day and before midnight. All in all we’re getting slick at this… maybe. Plus we had more time to spend at our local homebrew shop (www.copperkettlehomebrewing.co.uk)and got to sup some epic beers with Ian (try the chilli beer if he has any left!) as we weren’t in our usual rush.

More water to grain ratio has upped our efficiency dramatically, this combined with the warmer weather has also helped us keep a more consistent temperature during the mash. Also we effectively over-sparged, collecting more wort than we intended which almost certainly helped our final efficiency as we flushed every drop of sugar out of the wort we could. By measuring the SG of the runnings in future we should be able to keep an eye on the gravity of our runnings, maybe with a refractometer.


 April 16, 2012  Posted by

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