I've always used me the knock to test for ripeness, but I recently heard that an inspection of the stem end is needed as well. Flat or convex means ripened after picking, concave means ripened on the vine.
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Does Picobrew run its pump for the entire boil? That beer comes out fine.It does. Pretty sure Denny mentioned that this is what allows it to "boil" at a lower temp.
I think the suggestion to grind the grains the night before, and start early is a good one though.Yeah, but won't that mean my beer is basically ruined before it starts do to oxidation of the grain?
I might use Hooper's idea or something like it myself. It's not always windy here but it is often enough and often cold alone with it. I might include insulation along with it.Watch out with the insulation. A buddy built and insulated direct fire mash tun, and the insulation did char and shrink back around the bottom. Never caught fire, so that's good.
I bought a cheap roll of roof flashing at Home Depot and made a shield that wraps around the kettle. It's held together with two small bolts and hangs on the kettle handle with two small carabiners. When brew day is done, it unbolts and wraps small enough to slip inside the kettle for storage. I made it for my 15 gal pot so it would heat faster but I mostly use it with my 10 gal pot as a windbreak and it helps use less gas.I could see this being inexpensive and easy. Most costly part would be the tin snips. How thick is the gap between the flashing and kettle?
I get what you are saying here, but in practice I am not finding this to be the case. My theory is the pump is drawing wort from the base of the kettle, which is the hottest point, and circulating. In the two batches I have done this, I haven't needed to fiddle with the propane nearly at all.The pump will cause the wort to get colder. When it runs through the hoses it is losing heat. I think you should go with a better wind shield and grind the grains the night before.
I'd second this approach.