Barrel Pick Up

Finally… Drove to Montreal yesterday to pick up my barrel at my friend’s house. It is now safe and sound at my house and awaiting an addition of a lovely Imperial Stout to age for a while. VERY excited!

The barrel

The barrel

Artsy barrel image

Artsy barrel image

Another artsy barrel image

Another artsy barrel image

A brewer and his barrel

A brewer and his barrel

A brewer and his preciousssssss

A brewer and his preciousssssss

The fit couldn't have been more perfect in my car

The fit couldn’t have been more perfect in my car

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Barrel project update

Time to get the barrel… I’m off to Montreal tomorrow to visit my friend who is storing my barrel for me. Heading out tomorrow morning, arriving in Montreal late afternoon, headed to Saint Bock for dinner then to play some wonderful renaissance music for cornetts and sackbuts.

Friday morning I’ll load in the barrel to my car and head home. An all too short but sweet visit in Montreal.

I’ll be taking pics along the way and do a full blog post and update when I return.

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Just add gas

Scott was at my house last night to start in on the gas plumbing for the brew stand. He has mad skillz in that regard. I held things. And took pictures.

valve and tools

valve and tools

Burners and pipe wrenches

Burners and pipe wrenches

Dope with pumps in the background

Dope with pumps in the background

Love the red handled valves. Such red.

Love the red handled valves. Such red.

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Brew Stand Update

Got my burners today!

One big, one small

One big, one small

I have two of the large burners and one small one. I’m thinking one big burner for the HLT, small one for MLT, large one for BK.

Pumps are being housed and wired by Scott. He’s got a nice method using a metal tool box to house everything and have that mounted on the brew stand. It’s protective AND portable.

More updates to come…

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Maxed Out

With the brew stand nearing completion one of the things I wanted to do was run my large volume equipment through a brew day. This is not my complete setup, I used only one of the large vessels instead of both and I don’t have my pumps hooked up yet.

My process is pretty common with this setup:

  • heat large volume of water in HLT but what will become the BK
  • mash in with portion of hot water
  • add more water back to HLT and heat up for sparge
  • transfer all sparge water to coolers and empty the vessel
  • sparge from coolers into MLT and lauter into BK

This gives me two vessels to work with and the need for only one burner. I actually use two burners in case of the need to heat the MLT. The second time I brewed on this set up I didn’t need to heat the MLT but the first time I did.

Here are a few pics of the process…

Mashed into a 50L keggle which according to my calculations would be able to hold 40lbs of grain. It did but it was completely MAXED out. No more room for anything! That was, in fact, my intent with this particular brew: max out every vessel to find out what my volume limits were. I found out. ;)

MLT maxed out

MLT maxed out

 

Tried a new technique for me this time: fly sparging. It’s just setting the flow of sparge water to match the flow of lautering. Not difficult it’s just that I had never been set up for that before. Discovered it’s the best thing ever! It’s just too easy and there’s really no babysitting of the MLT or much scooping of water involved.

My fly sparge setup.

My fly sparge setup.

 

I did heat my MLT half way through the rest to bring the temp back up. With the MLT maxed out there was really no room for much stirring so I really didn’t have an accurate sense of the temperature. After emptying the MLT I did see that there was a bit of scorching evident but I’m sure I’ll still end up with beer.

Scorch!

Scorch!

 

Lautering and boiling were just fine and got to about 80L or so pre-boil. Another new addition to my set up is the plate chiller seen in this photo on the work bench. (The pump and burner are courtesy of Scott.) Sanitizing the plate chiller prior to chilling was dead easy. I just hooked everything up in the last ten minutes of the boil and ran the boiling wort through the system. This dropped the temp a bit and halted the boil for a minute or so but I just kept running the system and the boil came back. Super easy!

Sanitizing the chiller

Sanitizing the chiller

 

The chilling and cooling in itself was super easy. Once the boil was done I whirlpooled and rested (manually, just by stirring the BK). My chiller was already set up from the sanitizing stage so all I had to do was get my carboys in place and fire it up. With this set up and the water turned on about a half turn on the faucet I was able to cool and transfer the full volume of about 80L in just 10 minutes! You can also see it’s reasonably aerated, not something I’ve worried about a whole lot but it’s certainly not a gentle transfer.

Cooling in

Cooling in

 

There are a few things that will be changing with this setup and moving to the brew stand: My pumps will be wired in, burners will be in place, less moving of vessels, more space for me to move around. All of this… Soon.

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Brew Stand Update

Well, it’s in my garage!

Clay finished all the welding on the weekend and I was able to pick it up this evening. None of the hardware–Pumps, gas lines, burners–is mounted but most of it waits patiently. It certainly does a bang up job of holding all the vessels with a decent amount of space in between and VERY solid support.

Here is a gallery of photos courtesy of Clay. I wasn’t around for the build but he took some really fine pictures to show the various stages of assembly. Thanks for that!

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GRAB Barrel Project

Another fun project on the go. This time in collaboration with a few people from my homebrew club: GRAB. We’re getting a barrel!

My good friend, Peter, alerted me to an offer that the Montrealers (Montreal’s homebrew club) were getting. It turns out the family of one of their members lives near a winery and the winery was getting rid of some used surplus barrels. For cheap!

Peter contacted me and with very little thought I went ahead and reserved one through him. He was kind enough to do all the logistics and is currently storing the barrel at his place until I’m able to get there for pick up.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding what to do with it. We’ll definitely do some sort of big brew into it with the members of GRAB and that is in discussion on our forum but one of the more important decisions is exactly WHAT to brew into it. Your input is welcome on this. We do know it was a red wine, Frontenac varietal, American oak barrel. Let’s go with that.

Here are a variety of pictures of what I bought with thanks to Peter Christensen and Sebastian Verreault for the photos:

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