My first all-grain brew to my own recipe was conceived less than 24 hours ago when I decided that I needed to try reusing the yeast slurry that I saved from Twisty Listy last week. I couldn’t save that for the upcoming Yeti imperial stout because the style is too different, so I thought I’d do a quick & dirty pale ale from whatever’s left in the inventory once Yeti’s ingredients have all been earmarked. As usual I’m too late in the day to write this up fully now that I’ve cleaned everything (to be fair I only started at 14:00) so I’m pasting the brew day notes in verbatim below and will tidy it up tomorrow.
One Week Later
Well, I guess ‘tomorrow’ is more elastic than initially thought. Truth be told I’ve been trying to post-rationalise some sense into the weird loss of wort but I just can’t figure it out. On my last brew I had to add 4 litres of water to the fermenter to get back up to my target post-boil volume. On this occasion I seemed to be 3.5 litres short after sparging, but I after topping that up I decided to add another 1.5 litres, because I wasn’t happy with the (again) short sparge and because I took a guess and felt that 5 extra litres in total would put me in the ballpark for my pre-boil gravity, adding some welcome volume while staying inside the kettle’s limits. That bit was right and I’m just one point short at 1.043, with post-boil being three points short at 1.045. I’m not too concerned with either of those, but I need to sit down properly one day and try to figure out why I’m always about 3-4 litres off my target volume after mashing. Maybe a side-by-side comparison of my adjusted hardware profile against the B40 default in Brewfather is the place to start.
First Scratch – Brew Day Notes
- Dough in started 14:35, tank temperature 68.1 ℃
- Dough in finished 14:45, started 20 minute timer for mash rest. Only a few bits of grain poking up above the parapet, very gentle top stir got them all in the mash water.
- 60 minute mash timer started at 15:05, let’s start circulating outside and inside the malt pipe, no doubt juggling the balance so that the elements stay covered and we don’t suck air.
- Able to maintain a fan somewhat easier than last two brews, only tried to suck air very briefly so far. Stirring in 10 minute intervals just to keep things fluffy, so far so good.
- 15:45 – might have spoken too soon, things are getting a bit sucky now. Struggling to get a decent flow through the mash above 50% pump power while also recirculating outside. There’s no real formula to it, just got to keep playing with the flow balance and the pump power. Just over 15 minutes to go and I don’t want to end up with bits of malt outside the malt pipe, but also not a too compacted mash risking a stuck sparge. Mind you, the last two sparge have been over in a matter of minutes, so I’m optimistic.
- Post-mash SG is 1.040 @ 57.2 ℃, translates to 1.054.
- Bit of vorlauf, starting sparge at 16:17, over at 16:24. Damn, that was quick again. How can some people take 30 minutes? Leaving the malt pipe to drain for a while, heaters now on manual and heading for boiling temperature, pump recirculating the wort, temp 70.0 ℃.
- Post-sparge SG measured at 1.033 / 60 ℃, equal to 1.049. I should be at 1.044 and 26.78 litres but B40 reads 23 litres with malt pipe raised.
- I’m adding 5.0 litres to the HLT and will sparge some more – can always boil off it it’s too much. Malt pipe still at 66 ℃ – good.
- Revised pre-boil SG now 1.025 / 63.5 ℃, equal to 1.043. Just one point short, but at least it looks as though we’re at 27.5 litres indicated by B40, slightly over the planned 26.78 – maybe I shouldn’t have added quite so much extra sparge water. Let’s see what the boil brings. Heaters to the max, tank temp 78.6 ℃, malt pipe out at 16:50.
- Could be just me, but heating to boil seems to take less time with the standard lid fitted instead of the steam hat. Even so there’s easily enough time to run outside and empty the spent grain into the bin, giving the malt pipe and mesh a good hose-down.
- Foam appearing at 93 ℃ – is this the hot break?
- 17:12 – rolling boil starting at 99.6 ℃. 60 minute additions in, boil timer started, steam hat on.
- 17:16 – 100 ℃ reached, reducing heaters to 80%.
- 17:19 – still boiling ferociously, reducing to 70%. Cold water feed to condenser keeps popping off the 3-way join, can’t have cold water tap on full.
- 17:23 – rolling boil has left a high tide mark of what looks like most of the 60 minute hops. Remove steam hat and rinse them off.
- The yeast slurry I pulled out of the fridge earlier has been slowly adjusting to pitching temperature and is about there now. There’s evidence of small bubbles having made their way to the surface of the slurry whereas before it was just a uniform grey lump. Let’s hope it’s waking up and wants breakfast!
- 17:58 – 15 minute boil addition Protafloc is in, cutting chiller into circuit to sanitise.
Whirlpool / Hop Stand
- 18:16 – Dropped temperature down to 80 ℃ at the end of boil using a quick blast with the chiller, added hopstand additions. Whirlpooling at 20% power, kettle volume looks like 24 litres. Brewfather reckons 24.38, which isn’t bad. But how to account for those 5 litres I added?
- OG looks like 1.045, three points short of Brewfather. Can’t tell what the fermenter volume is as there was too much foam from the aeration during transfer.