It was another brew day today, so we started early at 9. I started to hook up hoses, but the burner was being ornery again. Bryan had already been trying to reset it for 20 minutes or so and passed it off to me to watch the lights on the box and walk around to hit the reset every few minutes. Not really long enough to accomplish much of anything else. After about half an hour of tapping the igniter tube, adjusting the flue venting and blower fan, and resetting the box, it finally fired up and got the water heating.
The hoses and pump were set up and then we dragged the grain sacks into position. It was an early morning and the coffee hadn’t kicked in yet, so some of the hoses needed to be moved around. The sacks were opened up and the grain augur lowered. The water wasn’t nearly up to temp, so some time was spent moving kegs around, straightening up the Grundy Room, and preparing some backup kegs (the smaller 5 gallon logs to fit into the kegerators out in the bar) of the Chocolate Stout and the Crabby Apple Ale (which includes some apple cider).
Once the water was close to strike temperature, the input hose was attached to the side of the hydrator and the flow was turned on. As in the past, we preheated the mash tun and filled it up to just a bit above the false bottom before was started sending the grain up the augur. The augur chute dropped into the top of the hydrator and the wetted grains fell down into the mash tun. The oar was constantly moving to avoid any doughballs in the mash.
After the water was shut off, the mash was let to rest. Then recirculated by pump through the sparge head to set the grain bed. Once the sight glass ran clear and clean, the sparge water was turned back on and the pump started to move mash to the kettle.
The Mt. U (short for Mount Uncanooc) beer is a cream ale. It has a fairly light grain bill and hop schedule, so it is correspondingly light in colour and intensity. It is a pleasant introductory beer with a bit of flavor that is good for wooing macro beer drinkers into craft beer.
With the light recipe, the boil, chill, and transfer went very smoothly without any memorable complications. This time, Karen ended up cleaning out the mash tun while I clambered into the boil kettle to clean it out.
The kettle is much more awkward to get in and out of than the mash tun for a few reasons. The manway hole is much smaller – and much closer to the ceiling. Although there are lots of pipes and such around, nothing is strong enough to use to brace yourself, which makes it awfully hard to get your feet and legs up through the hole without becoming unbalance and tipping over. This effect is significantly magnified by being tall, as I can attest.
For an extra bonus, there are no handholds or footholds inside the kettle, and the opening is above your head. The one safe brace is a bolt through one of the old mill ceiling beams. Attached to it is a length of plastic-coated steel cable that is clamped in a loop at the end to drop through the kettle hole and use as a step to get high enough to pull yourself out.
That awkwardness of getting in and out aside, I much prefer cleaning the kettle to the tun. I can stand up inside, it’s much less claustrophobic, not nearly as hot, and much less messy.
Tired from a long day, we cleaned up everything else, paused for a few pints and went home to rally for the next day’s cleaning.
(Once again, catching up on posts – photos will be added soon.)