Tag Archives: grain

Brew Stand Brew Day

It’s all come together! It is, for all intents and purposes, done. There certainly is some tweaking to do and a few bits and pieces on my wish list but it works and makes a bunch of beer in one go.

My last brew day I took some pics to show the set up. Some of the line set up is not pretty but that is part of the tweaking. I’ll just have to have a few more brew days to figure it all out. 😉

This is generally what my driveway/brewery looks like on a brew day. The blue cooler is no longer a MLT but is now a bin to tote material from inside: scale, chiller, pumps, etc.

The Brewery

The Brewery


HLT set up for heating strike water. I recirculate the water as it’s heating just to avoid hot/cold layers. It makes the temp reading up top a bit more accurate. This is one place I could use an inline thermometer.




My fly sparge set up. HLT to pump to MLT. MLT to pump to BK. Flow adjusted so hot water into MLT is roughly the same rate as wort to BK. Works like a charm!

Fly sparge

Fly sparge


Top of MLT. Foil with holes just to avoid channeling in the grain bed.




Lauter line into BK. I had originally had the line with the tri clamp fitting as the lauter line and had that attached to the top port. This set up is better with the line going to the bottom of the BK. Less splashing, less foaming, easier to see volume when the wort gets near the top.




This is the set up for sanitizing the chiller. For the last 15 minutes of the boil I just recirculate wort through the lines and chiller. The line set up is not pretty and I’ll be tweaking that so that the moving of lines for cooling in and chasing wort with water is a bit easier and smoother. Using the MLT as a chiller stand was a last minute thought and works well. I had originally thought about mounting the chiller on the stand but knowing now how much back flushing is required it’s easier to have it loose for now.

Sanitizing Chiller

Sanitizing Chiller


Set up for cooling in. This basically works. The line from BK to pump needs to be on the other side of the keg the chiller is sitting on. Part of my waste water from the chiller is going back into the HLT so that when wort is done in the BK I chase the wort through the lines with the water from the HLT. This is another place I would use an inline thermometer just to adjust the flow and get the pitching temps right, or at least close.

Cooling In

Cooling In

There you have it! That’s basically a brew day on my new set up. Thanks to Clay for the build and thanks to Scott for the gas plumbing and pump box! Fantastic work!


I had been hearing from a few other brewers recently about the speed at which they run their mills. Hearing about optimum speeds and not full speed or not too fast. I’m sure I had heard this before but probably not paid attention at the time as I was getting my grain pre-milled.

Now I’m milling my own grain on the brew day and having heard these discussions about milling speed finally decided to see what the fuss was about. I did do a bit of reading over at homebrewtalk.com (this thread) and it seems that there is much discussion (surprise, surprise) about rpms vs face roller speed. I also found this quote on http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/grain-mill:

Milling should be done at low RPM (revolutions per minute) to avoid shredding the husks. Somewhere around 150-250 RPM (around 2-4 turns/second) is said to be a good compromise between the time taken and the amount of shredded husk material. At this speed it takes us approximately 2-3 minutes to mill the 15-20 pounds of grain required for a typical 10 gallon batch of beer.

I have to admit, I just wasn’t aware of that. Likely because I spent a fair bit of brewing time not having a mill. Once I did get a mill I just attached my drill and let ‘er rip… or crush, or whatever is supposed to happen.

So hearing about these points I decided to try my own rather non-scientific test to see if there was a difference. I attached my drill and did a run at it’s highest speed and a run at the lowest speed I could maintain. I then photographed the results:

Crush at highest drill speed

Crush at highest drill speed

Crush at slowest drill speed

Crush at slowest drill speed

I don’t really notice a difference.

Now, it may be that if I brewed a batch with a slow crush grist and a batch with a fast crush grist there might be difference in efficiency. It may also be something that is far more noticeable or applicable in larger scales like a commercial brewery would be dealing with. This may be like the many discussions that homebrewers have about hot side aeration.

I’ll leave it to you to assess the results and… Discuss.

Just in time

Just in time for St. Patrick’s day, my most recent stout is on tap! It’s a Maris Otter-based oatmeal stout with some cocoa thrown into the mash for a bit of extra chocolate flavour.

I’ve done a couple of stouts before on my own and felt them to be a bit thin and astringent. This one I deliberately attempted to counter that and mash-in a bit higher than my normal. For this batch I hit a temp of between 156F and 157F for some extra body.

Nailed it!

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“Happy Pils” and “MO stout“. It’s what’s on tap…

Partigyle Epicosity

My often brewing partner, Scott, had a get together a while back where he invited five other brewers to his place for a brew day. He had made a plan for a partigyle brew day for six brewers where we each end up with five gallons of beer for take home.

Following the link above will take you to an article about partigyle brewing but, in short, it’s basically one big grain bill from which you get several different beers rather than one big beer. The first runnings will create a small volume of very strong beer and then the second runnings create a larger volume of smaller (lower gravity) beer. Scott had plans to take that one step further to create another volume of beer that would be a mild.

His plan was for five gallons of Barley Wine, ten gallons of IPA, and 15 gallons of mild. We almost made it. I think we fell short by five gallons of mild. Not bad, though.

This was probably one of the most complicated brew days I have participated in. I have done big brews on my own and quasi-partigyle brews as well but this is one that has been on the back burner for a while. Scott and I have discussed doing an “epic partigyle” for many months. He took that plan and ran with it on his own for the visiting brewers and organized the entire day. Aside from falling slightly short on the volume of mild it was a huge success!

Here are some pics from the day.

Kicking and Screaming

If you can’t laugh at yourself, where are you?

My brew partner Scott is chock full of ideas and he came up with the idea of a Neopolitan (ice cream) Stout: Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. We bounced the idea back and forth and I amended it to Chocolate, Vanilla and Raspberry thinking that the Strawberry flavour would likely get lost in all the other big flavours.We both decided this would be the next brew.

I like to keep things simple both in process and flavour. Scott recognizes this and he came up with the name of Kicking and Screaming Stout. That is, dragging me kicking and screaming into making this beer!

We brewed it a while ago and it’s been fermenting away nicely. Primary is basically done and it’s ready to transfer to secondary for the addition of vanilla and raspberry. I dealt with the vanilla portion a while ago by splitting the vanilla beans and scraping the paste out of them. I then cut up the beans themselves and soaked everything in a few ounces of The Balvenie Scotch.

Any addition to secondary needs to be sanitized and whether you do that through heat or through alcohol, the choice is yours. It seemed much more enjoyable and flavourful to soak the vanilla in the alcohol and then add it to secondary.

I’ll be adding the raspberries this week as well but will be pasteurizing them by heating them to around 180ºF for 10 minutes or so. I don’t like to transfer things more than once, if at all, but even though the vanilla is ready to go I’ll have to wait to get some raspberries before I do the transfer.


Click the link for our recipe for the Kicking and Screaming Neopolitan Stout:

K&S stout

On tap now is the Kleine Schwarz (second runnings from our LISP) and Three Seas IPA.

LISP brew day

We did it before and it was awesome so we’re doing it again. This time with 10 gallons of the good stuff!

My birthday brew about five months ago was a Licorice Imperial Stout Porter (LISP). Scott and I brewed 5 gallons of it back then and split it and we liked it so much we each wanted 5 gallons of it. Only one way to do it.

Here are some photos from the day:

Here is the recipe:


Got grain.

Buying grain for brewing can be a hassle depending on what you need and where you live. For me, it’s not too bad but I normally have to drive about 45 minutes to Fergus to get what I need. It costs me around $45 for a bag of crushed grain but certainly worth when you figure that I can get around five batches out of the one bag.

A recent group buy through the Southern Ontario Brewers (that’s right, SOBs) allowed me and a couple of brewing friends to pick up grain at a significant savings. Because of the power of bulk purchasing that $45 bag of grain came down to around $25. A very worthwhile purchase even with the bit of extra driving to pick up the bags in Toronto.

I was quite excited to pick up the grain. With the help of the Amsterdam Brewery the SOBs were allowed to have the skids of grain delivered there. This also coincided with an event the SOBs were holding called “Learn 2 Brew” where homebrewers are invited to set up their breweries in the Amsterdam Brewery for the day to show off their gear and techniques. This also allows the public to see how it’s done and ask questions of the brewers.

It’s really the first time since I returned to homebrewing a couple of years ago that I have seen many other set ups. It’s always interesting to see how other brewers “work their magic”, so to speak.

Brewers are a notoriously friendly lot and the SOB group is no exception. I met several new people and re-met some that I had known in another setting. I’ll be attending a meeting this coming weekend where I will, no doubt, meet some more kind folks.

One of the highlights of the trip on Saturday was supporting Amsterdam Brewery and thanking them for their support of the SOBs through the grain delivery and the allowance of space for “Learn 2 Brew”. I purchased a couple of bottles of their Boneshaker IPA that I had only seen at the brewery and not at the LCBO. It was fabulous! Precisely my kind of IPA with lots of hop presence from some classic American hops and with a solid malt backbone to support all the bitterness. At 7.1% this was a true IPA unlike anything else I’ve had from an Ontario brewer. Kudos to Amsterdam!

I had to take it a bit easy on the drive home because of all the grain. Ten 25kg bags in the back of the car is more than I normally carry but we all made it safe and sound!