Export Helles, 80/20 Barke Pilsner / Barke Munich, 13.4°P, ~22 IBU Saaz, WY2206.
Shakedown cruise for a bunch of mods to the system. All the numbers dead nuts, found only a couple of minor equipment issues to address. Pretty good day.
Consider giving us a tour of the new setup and thoughts behind the changes.
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The reason behind changes was, one, little things always occur to me and this is the time of year I do something about it, and two, I wanted to be able to do low oxygen without a new system -- simple LODO brewing if you will. No desire for a bells and whistles brewery, but brewing mainly light lagers I can taste the need. I figure with yeast oxygen scavenging and antioxidants, the little gaps remaining in my system are mostly harmless. So the main changes I made and had to get used to working with were:
Caps for everything. I still have the same rig. Mash in kettle, transfer to round cooler LT, heat sparge in HLT, collect in 2 gallon bucket "grant," then to kettle. So I found floating pans to fit every vessel including the grant, so surfaces are only exposed when I have to briefly remove the cap to check mash temperature or stir and ramp, add sparge water, etc. It's a little juggling at those points, but was easy really, and I don't have to introduce pumps with their own drawbacks like shear and needing cleaning. As the brew day went along, I happily realized I'm almost never looking at an open surface. The wort is capped right up to boiling. I also made a Reflectix jacket for my mash kettle so it holds temperature without opening up to stir and boost during the mash steps. I didn't forget it was there and melt it with flame, so, cool.
Rebuilt LT, back to a ball valve. For (I imagined) simplicity I had a bottling spigot on it, but that somehow always drew in air and I had a vortex of bubbles in the wort stream. Only problem was a slight leak around the bulkhead I didn't find on a hot water test. Sealed now. (Silicone belongs on the list with duct tape and bailing wire, as in you can fix anything with.)
Big one, finally got a utility pump to recirculate ice water in my IC. Had to get used to switching from tap water to ice mid chill, works fantastic. Lager pitching temperature in under 30 minutes, no leaving wort in the fridge to cool.
One other thing I found, apropos of another thread today. I had readjusted my mill gap. Should have stopped one adjustment ago lol.
More changes on deck as fermentation goes along. I've got Clear Beer systems for all my kegs, and built a new spunding valve using that Australian Blow Tie valve. Far superior. Going to start spunding, so I had to get used to a little different racking and pitching routine to prepare a FFT.
Also have most of a roll of of EVA barrier tubing left from that, so I'm waiting for parts to arrive and I'll refit the keezer with all EVA barrier tubing and Duotight fittings on gas and liquid.
Some of this was incrementally added already, this is the first batch with the full new protocol. I'll run it like this until I've fully evaluated the results. The wort is absolutely popping with flavor.
Oh, and I designed a new, simplified brew day sheet. Because yes, my sheets are still actual sheets of paper.