Brewery Shakedown Cruise

The time had come.  Nearly nine months after signing the lease, enough systems were online and licenses approved that it was time to brew the first beer on the new brew system.

Now, know that this represents a 6x scaleup from what I was doing in the Florida room of my house.  I had to choose a recipe that I REALLY knew the taste of, and not necessarily a popular style.  I had to choose a lighter beer with less hops as to not mask any undesirable flavors.  Besides that, I had to start yeast-culturing for these big batches – something which I never really had to do.

A lot was riding on this batch being that it costs 6x as more too – so lot’s of variables on this first scaleup.

I chose my Amber recipe, which is the most tweaked recipe that I have and one that I know the flavor profile intimately.

We ran into delays the minute we tried to get our initial 70 gallons of water ready.  How are we gonna measure 70 gallons?  The boil kettle and hot water tank have site-glasses, but I never calibrated them.  So John, Jesse, my Dad and my wife filled and emptied five gallon buckets of water into the kettles while I marked it off on the site-glass.  This took awhile…we had to do this for 120 gallons – or 25 times.  But after that, the brewday ended up being a four hour comfort cruise…

Calibrating the brew kettle.
Calibrating the brew kettle.
Mash in!  I need a canoe paddle - this one is too short.
Mash in! I need a canoe paddle – this one is too short.
Starting the recirculation of the mash.
Starting the recirculation of the mash.

photo

Setting up the site-glass for the recirculation.
Setting up the site-glass for the recirculation.
Sparge starting.  Working perfectly so far.
Sparge starting. Working perfectly so far.
Getting the hops ready for the boil.
Getting the hops ready for the boil.
About to open the mashtun for cleanout - sooooo much better than the homebrew-way of scooping it out or lugging a heavy kettle full of spent grain.
About to open the mashtun for cleanout – sooooo much easier than the homebrew way of scooping it out or lugging a heavy kettle full of spent grain.
Cleaning out the mashtun.
Cleaning out the mashtun.
The grain bed.
The grain bed.  If anybody needs spent grain for livestock, just contact me.
A closer look.
A closer look.

20150329_175542

20150329_180016

Waiting for the wort for boil.
Waiting for the wort for boil.
Getting ready for pumpout to the fermentors.
Getting ready for pumpout to the fermentors.
It's a longer way to the fermentors unlike homebrewing.
It’s a longer way to the fermentors unlike homebrewing.
Propagated yeast.
Propagated yeast that I started growing about four days before brewday.

I have to thank homebrewdads.com yeast calculator for helping in the yeast scale-up.

Collecting yeast from the fermentor of a prior batch.
Collecting yeast from the fermentor of a prior batch.
Repitched yeast from a prior homebrew batch of pale ale.
Repitching yeast from a prior homebrew batch of pale ale.
Adding yeast to the beer...from a ladder!
Adding yeast to the beer…from a ladder!

The brew day ran too picture-perfectly.  Everything that I had planned for months worked seamlessly – Jesse and I even got a little bored.  I was tempted to spill something.  We also increased the efficiency on this system so we can use even less grain for the same amount of beer.

There is still a lot to do on the brew system to get it ready for primetime, but this first real brew allowed us to see what we still needed to do, where the spills are, what plumbing needs changed, etc.

Thanks!

Jesse and Rebecca, John, my Dad, my wife and Daniel.  We hope to have a few future sessions open up to a few more of the ‘usual suspects’ soon as I get a few more things in order.

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