I think you’ve made some positive advancements.
I agree that traditional troubleshooting techniques prescribe one change at a time but (if you’re like me) I don’t brew enough to get the results I need as quickly as I need making one adjustment. It might take the rest of the year to get a desired result.
However, I recently had a couple failures due to something I did when I made numerous equipment and process changes at once. I had to take a couple steps back and think I determined the culprit. That was a couple brew mistake which is a significant hit to a four beer pipeline (two on tap, one conditioning, one fermenting). I had to expedite a couple brews which could have been better had I been able to apply my normal timeline.
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Exactly right. I embrace learning from my failures, but I just want it to work right now. I may have shirked proper troubleshooting procedure but I've still learned more than someone who just goes out and buys something like a Grainfather, with all due respect for those who take that route.
May I ask about your recent failures and how you found the culprit? It's much better to learn from others' mistakes.
Sure. Long story short: either a failed o-ring in a fermenter drain valve, a QD that was used to close transfer, the yeast, or the Potassium Metabisulfate. Not really sure.
Short story long: I used to brew outside on a propane burner. I heated strike and sparge water in a kettle, mashed and batch sparged in a cooler MLT. To move hot water I’d lift the kettle and pour it in the cooler. It was all gravity from the MLT to the BK and from the BK to the fermenter — no pump. I made some pretty good beer using this method but I was subject to weather conditions.
I always wanted to move inside so weather did not play such a significant part of my brewing schedule. Plus I was growing tired of taking three trips up and down the basement stairs hauling equipment outside. I also realized lifting ~5 gallons of hot water chest high twice a brewday was probably not the safest.
Then tragedy struck and my wife’s health deteriorated significantly. I could no longer afford to disappear outside on the Big Deck for five hours. She requires 24/7 attention.
So, the decision was made to move my brewery into the laundry room. That meant new equipment and processes including a pump, false bottom, induction cooktop, and ventilation. I also wanted to add step mash capability in the small space so a RIMS tube was plumbed into the system. The result is a two vessel RIMS system that I enjoy.
About that same time the LODO guys had not yet broken off into their own forum so the techniques they were discussing interested me. I added even more equipment and processes such as oxygen scavenging strike water, purging kegs, closed transfer, spunding, etc.
Oh and I found some beer stone so I cleaned everything with BS remover. I *think* I rinsed well enough.
So, from one brew to the next I went from all gravity batch sparge outside to adding all this new equipment and processes inside. Though I brewed a tried and true recipe, I used a different yeast manufacturer on the first beer.
The resulting Cream Ale was awful. I have only produced three dumpers: a Flanders Red which was true to style that I discovered I detest, this Cream Ale, and the beer after it (I’ll have to look it up). I couldn’t believe I improved my brewery for this. Devastated having spent some good money on all this new shiny stuff to produce crap, I had to figure out amongst all this change where I went wrong.
After removing, disassembling, adjusting, cleaning, sanitizing every freakin thing I narrowed it down to either a failed o-ring in a fermenter drain valve, a dirty QD that was used to close transfer, Kmeta used to oxygen scavenge, or yeast.
From that day to this I don’t really know but those are the only things I found as I cleaned and removed elements.
The happy ending is that I am producing beer I enjoy, safely, without regard to weather conditions.
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