Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Parti-Gyle Experiment: The Brew Day Strikes Back

It always sounds easy, doesn't it? One Mash, two beers? Heating up a lot of water, draining a lot of wort? Cake walk. That's what I said Thursday night when I told Mrs. Muckney Brewing that "sure, I can brew tomorrow so we can go to your Dad's house on Saturday!". Well, while Eric and I were cooling the remaining 4 gallons of Barley Wine wort at 2:45 AM early Saturday morning, racing against an advancing storm, watching the chunky, Irish-moss-less, over-boiled, golden-caramel pre-beer move quickly through a transfer hose I grumbled under my breath that said "cake walk" had turned into a long, meandering marathon of a brew session.

It all started well. I had the brewery up and running by 6:00 PM. The plan was to mash-in by 7:00 PM or so and be boiling by 9:00. Well, the water took a bit longer to heat than anticipated, pushing the mash-in back an hour. All seemed to be going well through the sparge, though it too took a bit too long. We finally gathered enough wort (more on "enough" later) close to 10PM. This is where things took a turn for the worse. There were about 5 gallons of wort "left over" after the Barley Wine (MB0027) was "good to go". So instead of wasting it, I boiled the Table Beer (MB0028) in two separate pots with few issues, except forgetting the Irish moss. No biggie. I ended up with about 3+ gallons of 1.040 OG wort, which was about 10 points higher than what I was shooting for, but oh well. I'm not complaining.

Now for the Barley Wine. Well, as the Table Beer was boiling away, the BW was "coming to a boil", which, unfortunately took about 90 minutes. There was something inhibiting the burner from getting to full strength, so after a quick fix of the propane, we were boiling. Ninety minutes later, the BW was cooling (after an additional 10 minutes to sterilize the wort chiller) without the addition of Irish moss.

After transfer being an hour late and a gallon short, I took a gravity reading - 1.090, no where near the 1.100 I was shooting for, and this was for 4 GALLONS! That means at 5 gallons it would have been closer to 1.080. So this means that my efficiency was sub 60. This is where "enough" from above comes in. Basically, I left 20 gravity points in the mash. The last batch sparge read 1.030. It should have been closer to 1.010. So, I missed 20 points of wort. Basically another 4 gallons of golden goodness. All I can say is "D'0h!"

All in all, it was a 9 hour brew session that could have been shortened to about 6 with a bit more planning and little less stupidity. But hey, there are two beers, one big and one small fermenting away, so I guess in the end, it's counted as a success.

I'm planning on writing an "analysis post" on this in the near future, with some possible fixes for the above problems. As for now, I'll chalk this one up to "learning through experience". No excuses, but it was my first all grain by myself. More to come, including some twists on the two brews from this batch.

Stay Tuned.


A big shout out to Nate for letting me borrow his equipment, Pat, Craig and Eric for helping brew and to Rob for his moral support.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I hear ya. I keep imagining that I'll get up at 6:00 AM some day and brew instead of waiting until evening. In my dream I am bright eyed and clear in all my decision making and quick to catch things I've overlooked.

My dream is a good place....ahhh.