We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I know I did…and here’s what I’m thankful for:
A few months ago we started Taft Canyon Brewers over a bottle of bourbon as an experiment to see if two guys who majored in their native tongue could figure out the art and science behind brewing beer. After some successful batches, our thirst for knowledge (and high quality home brew) began to grow. Deeper and deeper research lead us to recipes involving the mysterious MASH. Being the ambitious scholars we are, we studied the various steps involved in mashing grains and after much discussion, decided to skip it…home brewing is supposed to be fun right? Mashing uses terms like “sparge” and “vorlauf”, plus there was math involved!!! So we happily continued on in our mash ignorance and “steeped” our grains. Heck, so far so good.
But the seeds of all-grain brewing had started to germinate. So after many hours of ignoring my family to scour the internet for information around all-grain brewing and mashing, I decided to make the investment in a 10 gallon mash tun. Now, I could have just ordered one from the Internet and spent the Thanksgiving weekend with my family…but where’s the fun in that???
So after multiple trips to the hardware store (apparently not all 5/8″ stainless steel washers are created equal…), I am now the proud owner of a 10 gallon cooler converted to a Mash/Lauter Tun. Now it was time to try our hand at an all-grain recipe. The first lucky contestant for our Mash Tun – Taft Canyon’s own St. Brigid Red Ale – 11.5 ponds of grains and 2 ounces of hops…this is going to be interesting.
Home Depot Special – 10 gallon garage Mash Tun
For the mash, I pored 16 quarts of 170°f water into the tun, and then added the grains. a quick stir to get the grain wet, then covered and let rest for 60 minutes. Target mash temp was 154° and I figured the tun and grains would absorb about 15°…Of course I forgot to preheat the tun…Temp after 60 min was about 150° so I was not too far off. I then drained the wort into my brew pot and attempted a batch sparge with 20 quarts at 165°f. I poured the 20 quarts over the grains, gently stired, covered, and let the grains settle for about 10 minutes, and then drained into my pot. This made a lot of wort…too much for my pot, so I used about 6.5 gallons and put 1 gallon back into the tun.
11.5 pounds of grain in the tun after the mash…smelled like a brewery
After bringing the really full pot of wort to a boil, I added 1 oz of hop pellets…and had the first boil over of the night. The pot was just too full. I took the heat down to a low boil for another 50 minutes, and then added the final oz of hops and Irish Moss. After a full 60 minute boil, it was time for the handy dandy wort chiller to do its work.
All said and done, the original gravity was a bit lower than I was hoping for – target was 1.064 and it came out at 1.030. So, here are my thoughts:
1- I didn’t stir the grains enough at the start if the sparge. I did a fairly gentle stir, but didn’t make sure all the grains were stored up from the bottom to release the sugars
2- I might have drained both mash and sparge too fast. I pretty much opened the valve full blast.
3- Too much wort in the pot. I was never able to get to a good rapid boil, so the wort never really concentrated.
St Brigid Red Ale Original Gravity
I hope this red turns out, but I am already looking forward to trying this recipe again soon…with a couple modifications of course…
While I was wrestling with this red, Steve was brewing the next incarnation of the soon to be world famous Taft Canyon Hop Titties IPA.