Round 1 of this beer was my best to date. I made some bad ones over the past months so decided to try this again, with some upgraded brewing equipment. I bought some "keggles" - keg/kettles - from someone. They are the best and cheapest way to get a stainless steel boil kettle and mash tun. Plus they are huge so no boil overs, and they help with efficiency (barley used vs. alcohol in beer basically).
A huge benefit of these new keggles is I'll be able to do 10 gallon beer batches instead of my usual 5...but I'm not confident enough to do that much yet. I need to make sure it's going to be good before I take that leap.
New mash tun and boil kettle
Thermometer and ball valve built into each keggle
This was my first time using spring water to brew. I think my tap water was producing some off flavors, maybe related to chlorine or calcium. My City does a very lazy water report so I can't tell what's really in it. Best solution rather than additives like gypsum - just buy spring water.
Spring water and yeast starter with Wyeast Whitbread 1099 yeast
Time to mash in with 18 lbs of barley: Pilsner and British Amber 60L.
New mash tun ready to add water
Add hops and boil for 90 minutes
After the wort is cooled, aerate and siphon to glass carboy. I usually use a plastic fermenter but had some issues, these should allow less chance for bacteria I hope.
Adding yeast starter slurry to wort
The things I did differently this time than my last 10 batches or so:
1) Use new keggle equipment for boiling and mashing. This allows less chance for boil over (15.5 gallon container vs. previous 8 gallon boil pot), more temperature control with built in thermometers, better efficiency due to quality false bottom and pressure pushing wort through the keggle.
2) I used a 6.5 gallon glass carboy as primary fermenter. I think the plastic one I like to use may be scratched, less air tight, and it's hard to clean since you're not supposed to scrub/scratch it. The last batch I made I had to toss - it tasted like plastic - a problem due to heat and cleanliness...even after all that sanitizing.
3) I'm fermenting the carboy of wort and yeast in a refrigerator in the garage. I bought an old refrigerator mainly for this purpose. It needs to stay at 68-70 degrees. I'm using a regulator on the refrigerator which keeps it the right temperature. The last batch had the "fussel" / gasoline type of flavor that is a result of fermenting too hot (room temperature - 76 to 80 degrees).
4) I used a yeast starter - sometimes I don't due to time but I made sure to this time.
Let's hope it was worth the trouble...or at least that it will be soon enough on the next few batches. All grain brewing can be a tough science for the weekend brewer.
This batches specs:
1.072 OG (supposed to be more like 1.086 but should be ok)
1.018 target FG
Target Alcohol by Volume: 7.25%
This is less ABV than the recipe intends (9%) but should still be good. I blame the new mash tun and using a bit too much water. I should know for next time. Cheers.