Well, I've been reading heaps of home brewing blogs online - and decided to start one of my own. I always check online to see how people are going with their brewing especially in regards to styles that I'm keen on brewing myself as well as checking to see how the different yeast strains are imparting their flavours to their brews.
I've been brewing all grain for a few years now - to varying degrees of sucess. When I started, my first brew was an Aventinus clone - 8kg of malt in a bucket in a bucket system with about 150 2mm holes drilled in the bottom: 4kg of wheat. I mashed in a square chillybin and transfered into the lauter tun. I got to about 2 Liters of wort in the kettle when the lauter became stuck.
One thing is for sure. My brewing could only get better from here. The rest of the brew took about 8 hours or something - and the beer actually turned out good. I used one sachet of k-97 in a 1082 wort: and funilly enough got heaps of banana and clove... this never happened for me with this strain again.
The reason I'm digging up the past is because I had that same feeling of uselessness when I was collecting my wort this morning for my 1st attempt at a Landlord Pale Ale clone.
I have to be honest. I thought that this would be a simple brew day - this is by far the lowest gravity beer that I have ever brewed. The estimated preboil gravity was 1.035. The recipe couldn't be more simple. 3.7kg Golden Promise, some hops to make 35 IBU and a bit of caramel for colour. No worries aye?
Well, I made the invert sugar (caramel/toffee) myself. I covered 300g of sugar in water, added a pinch of citric acid and boiled at 135degrees until it went red added water back in to make a syrup. I did this 3 days ago just to help ease the brew day. I mashed in and got 67degrees straight off - a good omen (calculations are correct) with 10mins to go in the mash, I decided to give my Dad a phone call to see how the haymaking went. 20mins later - my mash had been down for 80mins and had dropped to 63degrees. I started the pump and recirculated 'till the wort came clear. The ph was still 5.5 so I was still happy. I collected 3Litres of wort to reduce on the stove down to 1Litre. Then I started the transfer to the kettle started pumping the sparge water. All was going well. The Pot was reducing well - and the sparge inflow / outflow was even steven. I get to like 21 Litres in the kettle, and notice a freekin' earwig, earwig shit, eggs, mould in the site glass! This pissed me off a bit, because I know the wort wont boil in site glass - and the risk for infection was quite real. I dont have a valve on the site glass - so I couldn't just take it off and clean it.
I had to finish the sparge, otherwise the it would get too cold, the ph was still 5.5 so I went to go and check on the reduction. Talk about foam - there must have been 8 litres of foam, in the pot - just about ready to spill everywhere. Lucky I checked it. Once the main collection was complete - I checked the end run gravity: 1.008. Still having a lucky day. I started taking the siteglass off - but wort was leaking out making my fingers slippery. I was starting to get annoyed. I needed to rethink my strategy. What I ended up having to do, was transfer all the wort from the kettle into the HLT. This was done - but not with ease: my broken finger was getting caught on all sorts of shit. I took the glass out and murdered the damned earwig. I didn't fancy the flavour it might lend to my brew. It was damn hard doing all that with my broken finger - anyway, I did it and transferred back into my kettle.
I put the reduction back into the kettle as well as the caramel. Pre boil garvity check time. 1.043?!?!? Now I have to add 2Litres of water to the kettle to find my estimated preboil gravity. Done - 29Litres of wort. 1.035. I'm now 30mins into a 2hour boil - and the smell coming from the brewery is great. Plenty of malt, and a wee bit of caramel. Fingers crossed the rest of the brew goes better than it did this morning.
Thanks a million to Revilled for trading some WyEast 1469 with my house strain: wlp001. It was because of the trade that I was inspired to brew a special bitter. I'll be saving some beer for you mate. And Martin - I hope you are still keen to have a taste of this brew: even if there is a risk of having some earwig in the boil!