Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boil, Float, Keg, Dump

Where does the time go? More to the point, where does the beer go?

First Boil

Yesterday I boiled a little over 16 gallons of water in my new 80 quart pot to season it, and to get an idea of its thermodynamic performance. The first thing I noticed was that it takes a long, long time to put 16 gallons of water in a pot. It takes even longer to bring 16 gallons to a boil. I estimate that it took at least two hours in the conditions that prevailed yesterday. (It was a little cool and a little breezy.)

I did note that I got better heat performance while the pot was covered, but once the boil began I removed the cover (since I wouldn't boil wort that way). Without the covering, the burner couldn't maintain the boil - it could sustain between 205 and 210 F but it couldn't push through the latent heat required to keep boiling. I don't think that's a show stopper because I'm not planning on boiling 16 gallons under normal circumstances, and the lower thermal mass of 10 gallons should be easier to keep heated.

However, I have to find a way to get more heat into the boil faster. I just don't think this burner I have is putting out enough BTU/hr to be effective. I have a few options. I could get a more manly propane burner (like the Bayou Classic banjo burner), but I see a big spike in propane use if I get it. I could switch to an electric immersion heater like this one or mount one through the side of the pot. I could also go with a natural gas burner but there's a plumbing issue involved.

What I may do is go in combination at first, and build a heatstick to assist the propane burner, with an eye on going electric at some point. The all-electric solution seems to require a control system which sounds like fun but I have other software to deal with now and can't be bothered with that additional complexity. (Also, I'm not sure the sidewall of this new kettle is thick enough to survive having the port for the heating element drilled into it.)

RIP: 090902 Por Favor

This was good beer. I have the ingredients to make another 5 gallon batch but I think I may go over to AlaBrew and get some more grain and make another batch of this as my first 10 gallon batch.

Kegged: 091001 Geordie Boy

This is the multiple equations in multiple unknowns version of the Newcastle clone recipe from HBT's Biermuncher. The original post noted that it came up short on volume and high on gravity - in hindsight I should have topped it up with water. The FG was 1.020, which is way higher than it should have finished. I left it in the fermenter for over 3 weeks, so the yeast had plenty of time, but the attenuation wasn't there. The sample tasted OK though, I could tell there was more hop character. We'll see how it tastes when I carb it tomorrow.

DIAF: 090502 Honey-Brew List

I gave up and dumped this batch. It never mellowed to the point of drinkability. I will remake this recipe in the spring but use 1/4 the amendments I used this time. A little goes a LONG way. I just hope I can get the smell out of the keg.

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