Blog 9 – I’m Back

It’s been a while – but I have not been lazy (much), I have indeed been keeping busy updating my knowledge and buying more upgrades. I shall not bore you with the in’s and out’s – lets just jump straight to the Brew Day.

Brew Day 2 – Brewers Revenge.  Now if you read about my first brew then you will be aware that I did not make my numbers, I over boiled in an attempt to reduce the water content (and thereby increasing the proportional sugar content of the wort) and managed to boil the bittering hops for 2 hours not 1.  Still, in the end I did drink it all…  So, brew day number 2.  I will save you the suspense and tell you right now that I didn’t make the numbers again – same recipe but a slightly different process (which I shall later expand on).  This time I fell short by 8 points, it was 12 last time and that whole process took nearly 10 hours – so to make the additional 4 points did seem like a little win, oh and this process took “just” 4.5 hours including cleaning up which I thought was pretty good.

Now it has to be said that the recipes I am following assume (I think) an efficiency of about 80-85%; my chosen process of BIAB is less efficient so with copying the grain bill and timelines, one should expect a different result.  My current efficiency looks somewhere near 61% for the record.  Now, at the batch size I am working at you gain very little (except a few pence on grain and perhaps an hour on electric) so it is not hugely important.  There are several remedies for correcting this, the first is to extend the MASH time from 60 minutes to see if the extra mins will be enough to work through all of the grain and extract/convert all of the sugars.  Or I could simply add sugar to the wort (Dried Malt Extract – DME) – but this kind of defeats the process of grain brewing [but should be noted that it is a very acceptable method].  I could even increase the grain bill as to ensure that at my efficiency I have enough to extract the same gravity out as the recipe suggests.  Once again the great BrewTube community was on hand to offer advice, never judging it seems – a rare thing for a social media group; my thanks to all again that came to my aid.

I did make some changes this time.  I removed the Bag from the BIAB method and replaced it with a stainless steel wire basket.  I must say that this was much more manageable but I did notice that at 30 cm across inside my 40cm pot I did have what looked like 2 pools of wort.  That inside with the grain and that outside of the basket – I did worry about saturation of the grain and whether I would get enough liquid movement to wash out the sugars.  I did however stop the re-circulation and stirred the grain every 10 mins for 5 mins to ensure that the 60 minute mash had 4 good stirs, trying each time to draw in liquid from outside the basket.  I also measured the pH of the MASH targeting 5.2 – 5.4, which affects the efficiency also.  Here I wasn’t sure I added any real value – my pH monitor calibrated fine to the 6.86 sachet, but when I rinsed and placed it into the 4.01 sachet it read at about 4.6, I lowered it monitor and tested the wort.  I was getting 6.1 (roughly), but I couldn’t swear to it as my monitor is certainly not currently calibrated properly – in a slight panic, I threw a few ml of lactic acid into the mash and retested.  Again, it was closer to 5.4 but I could not say for sure.  Lessons learned for Brew day 3 I guess.  In addition to the grain basket – I also procured a second lid for my pot and inserted a spray valve (all the way from China).  See inset video below.

I also added a much needed extraction fan – this certainly improved the humidity I had from the previous brew and this time I was able to all but cover the boil with my insulated lid to produce a more vigorous boil.  It certainly was boiling off the DMS as it condensed and collected into a bowl at the back of the pot – judging on the smell I am glad it did not fall back into the wort and also judging by the amount collected I am pretty sure most if not all was removed from the 60 minute boil.  I will have to re-visit the extraction fan; it did get very, very wet…  Again, another little snippet of the fan in motion here ——>

All in all I thought this time around was a more pleasurable experience and I believe the 3rd will be even more so.  The next will be a London Bitter, I have the grains, hops and yeast all ready – I believe for this, I will extend on the MASH to and continue to stir and re-circulate my mash/wort to endeavour to get it all out.  I will also give the grain an iodine test to see if the full conversion has occurred.  Oh, I have also ordered more calibrating fluid for my pH monitor and will set about doing it properly this time.  I also received some good advice on water additions that I will take on board.  I do need to remind myself that things like water additions are the experienced tweaks to the brews to ensure that you are getting the very best out of the recipe and styles.  With only 2 brews under my belt I am a long way off from nailing all of the aspects – it seems everyone judges their own beers more harshly than perhaps it warrants and I will be no different there.

Some more pictures from the Brew Day.  Looking forward to trying this – different yeast this time (as I couldn’t get the same from Malt Miller – but an Irish Stout yeast all the same).

I hope to get some more pictures of the updated brewery soon – I am building slowly but surely.  I might even go to video at some point.

Until then – thanks all and keep brewing.



(aka Drunk Delilah Brewery)

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