Monday, July 19, 2010

New mash tun

I decided my next piece of brewing equipment would be a new mash tun so I started looking around for a good price on an appropriate vessel. I found a new 10 gallon rectangular chest cooler for $20 last week so I picked it up and started the build on Saturday.

I wasn't quite sure what design I wanted but this was definitely going to double as a lauter tun so I needed some sort of filtration system. Rectangular false bottoms are tough to find and fairly expensive so that was out. I originally headed to Lowes figuring I'd use a steel braided hose for filtration but after I got there I decided to build a PVC manifold instead.

I grabbed some 3/4" PVC pipe, 4 corners, 1 T, and a cross adapter for the manifold. I built an exterior rectangle with an output tube down the center. This fit almost exactly through the hole in the cooler and perfectly matched the interior size of the gasket that came with the cooler so I reused the gasket and used some Gorilla glue to seal, support, and insulate the PVC. This design seems to be pretty water tight. Although it is not as mechanically stable as I would like it saved me a bunch on the bulkhead so I think I'll stick with it for now and see how it holds up.

I drilled a bunch of 1/8" holes in the top and sides of the manifold for filtration. I ended up with a stuck sparge a couple of times so I might need to widen them a little bit next time.

An inline ball value connects to the output PVC and a 90 degree plastic PEX barb is a perfect attachment for a plastic hose and is easy to unscrew for cleaning.

I let everything cure overnight and brewed my first batch on Sunday, a citra pale ale. I calculated my efficiency and figure I hit about 80%. My collection volume was a ballpark estimate so this could go a few percent either direction but even low balling at 75% is pretty good for a batch sparge. It was reasonably easy to clean and can double as a chilling vessel if I need to drop wort temperature down really low for lager brewing. Overall I'm pretty happy with the new tun and at about $50 it was a real bargain.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Citra Pale Ale

I was looking to brew something that will be ready in time for late summer drinking and I've been intrigued by the review of citra hops so I figured I'd give them a shot. Another ingredient I've wanted to try is Canadian honey malt. Seemed like a the honey malt would go well with the fruity pineapple of the citra. Pair it with some American hop flavor and you've got an interesting American pale ale.

At the same time, I've been meaning to build a new mash tun so Brent and I set out on a weekend of beer. I'll make another post about the mash tun but here's the recipe for the citra pale ale.

Size: 5 gallons
OG: 1.040
Estimate FG: 1.011
Estimated Color: 8.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 42.5 IBU
Est. ABV: 4.67%

8 lbs American 6-row pale malt
0.5 lbs 60L crystal
0.5 lbs honey malt

Single infusion at 150F for 75 minutes. Mashed out at 168 with a double batch sparge. Ended up with about 7 gallons of wort.

We did a 60 minute boil with the following hop schedule and 1tsp of irish moss at 15 minutes.

0.5 oz nugget (13.8%) for 6o minutes
0.25 oz fuggles whole (4.0%) for 30 minutes
0.25 oz citra (12.3%) for 30 minutes
0.25 oz amarillo (7.2%) for 30 minutes
0.3 oz fuggles whole at flame out
0.5 oz amarilla at flame out
0.75 oz citra at flame out

Chilled down to pitching temperature and added a 1.5 liter starter with SafAle US-05. Had to add about a liter of extra water to pull up to a fermentation volume of 5 gallons.

Some fermentation was already happening a two or three hours after we put it in the primary. Planning a secondary in a few days so we're using a plastic bucket for the primary.

Efficiency was pretty good on the new mash tun, about 80%. There was a bit of a stuck sparge so I might need to open the holes in the manifold a bit.

22 July 2010 Update
Racked to secondary today. Fermentation was around 70-72F and down to 68F at racking time. A gravity reading was at 1.003 which is lower than I expected but I hadn't used US-05 before. Clarity was good and the nose had a nice pineapple and citrus edge. Flavor was pretty good; a little bready but this will likely fade with some carbonation. I plan to leave it a few days to a week for the remaining protein and yeast to drop out then I'll bottle for a couple of weeks.

2 August 2010 Update
Bottled today after a week and a half at 68-70F. Gravity still at 1.003-1.004. The color is a little darker than I hoped for, more an amber brown, but still good. Flavor is quite bready with a pleasant citrus hop aroma. The hop is fairly week but that's to be expected with no carbonation. I mixed with 4.3oz of corn sugar, going for a fairly well carbonated finished product to lighten it up a bit.We bottled five 6-packs and four 1L flip tops. I expect it'll take a couple of weeks to get a good carbonation going but I'll probably pop a tester next weekend just to check on the progress. When I taste expect a new post with a full report.