Sunday, February 26, 2012

My First 10 Gallon All Grain Brewday

 There was snow on the ground and I could hear the wind howling outside as I poured my morning coffee and put together the list of things to pick up at Princeton Homebrew. Today I would be kicking my brewing game up a notch by increasing my brew volumes to 10 gallons. It wasn't all that long ago when I first made the switch to 5 gallon batches from single Mr. Beer sized brewing. It soon became clear to me that it didn't take much more time to brew 10 gallons all grain recipes as it did to brew Mr. Beer sized batches.

6.5 Gallon Ale Pails
Now that there are two 5 gallon mash tuns ready to use on brewday it made sense to go out and buy some 6.5 gallon Ale Pails to use for fermenting and bottling my 5 gallon batches.While there I also picked up another 20 quart boil pot to use with the extra volumes of wort I produced now on brew day. I haven't abandoned my smaller Mr. Beer fermentors, I still use the six of them to make smaller batch sizes that are perfect for experimenting and making slight variations to the base recipe. 

10 Gallons Of Screwy Witz Witbier Primary Fermentation
I've got the square footage to pull it off so I've managed to keep my brewing process indoors, I do 10 gallon batches in my brew room on my gas range. It makes the weather irrelevant to a certain degree I don't care if it's snowing, raining or blistering hot outside I can just focus on brewing my recipes. The other advantage I find when brewing indoors is everything is already there sink, stove refrigerator brewing supplies bottles, fermentors and storage area.

Indoor Brewing Has It's Benefits
 Every brewer has to learn how to brew different styles of beer on their equipment and it can take a while before the volumes, temperatures and brewing steps are perfected using a particular setup. Increasing my brewing capacity meant adapting my Mr. Beer sized batches to use multiple mash tuns, boil pots, larger fermentors and increased storage capacity. Timing all the processes together so that brewing all 10 gallons were completed in as little time as possible was important too.

Increasing Wort Volume Using Multiple Mash Tuns
 As part of my plan to brew 10 gallons of beer in a single day one of the main goals was to lay out the brewing steps in such a way so the brewing was completed in the same amount of time as it took me to brew 5 gallon batches. I theory the obvious choke point in the whole process would be the wort cooling process, no matter how much wort I could boil I knew I could only cool down 5 gallons of hot wort at a time. In practice I found that this wasn't as big a problem as it first appeared.

Staggered Brewing Times Keep The Wort Coming
Of course brewing 10 gallons batches in a single day meant picking up all the ingredients the day before, getting an early start on brew day smacking the yeast packets and heating up the 170F water to burnish the mash tuns so they were preheated before adding the grains and strike water for the mash. At one point in the brewday I had all four burners going heating up strike water and boiling wort at the same time. Brewing is mostly all about temperature control, calculating water volumes and precise time measurements. Of course sanitization is an important part of brewing too but in the hotside of brewing it's pretty easy because you get to boil everything.

Rapid Cooling Keeps The Brew Day Short
   So I took a lot of notes and learned a lot of new things about 10 gallon brewing as I brewed my first large recipe. The timing for heating the strike water, mashing the grains, boiling and cooling the wort all worked out pretty much as I had anticipated they would when planning my first larger all grain batch. In the end the results turned out to be exactly what I had hoped they be, double the amount of beer at the end of the brew day. The other thing that did kind of surprise me a bit was the enormous amount of beer I had to bottle, which is by all means a very good thing. As more and more people try my recipes there is less and less doubt in my mind that I'm definitely on to something here with this brewing thing of mine.

Packaging And Storage Needs Are Larger Too
 I found out I could store fifteen 12 ounce bottles inside each cardboard box that my one liter plastic PET bottles originally shipped in, I don't really use the plastic PETs anymore and it's a shame since I have plenty of them already. Yesterday I was able to bottle both batches of my Deutschland Hammerfest Oktoberfest/Marzen Lager and my Screwy Witz Witbier recipes. It took more than 200 bottles to fit it all but naturally carbonated they should be ready to drink in another two weeks. 

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