Testing out the Chronical

it's unwrapped!

SS Brewtech 1/2 BBL Brew Master Edition Conical, leg extensions, wheels and blow-off cane.

After many years of promising myself and others that I’d get a conical I finally did.  It took a while.  I really had wanted a Blichmann; mostly because they had just about everything right from the start and most of the other options we’re either much more expensive (hard to believe right?) or just not as well made.  My close friend picked up a smaller 7G Stout tank and ended up upgrading the connections as well as fiddling with the lid for a tight seal and the 3-leg design was rather tippy but ultimately didn’t use it that often since it lacked a good mechanism for chilling.  Blichmann of course doesn’t either but were constructed to fit upright freezers or fridges.  My search continued.

My initial look at SS Brewtech bucket as well as conical left me not convinced.  The primary use-case for the conical was to have a vessel from which I could complete fermentation, yeast dump, dry-hop, recirculate and ultimately bottle or keg the beer without exposure to O2.  Initial buckets and conicals came with warnings that pressurizing was not supported.  The cooling system of coils was an add-on and it lacked a simple way to clean the conical in-place.  The most recent so-called “Brew Master Edition” however was aimed at addressing all of those points.  I found myself convinced after viewing a couple of threads on Homebrew Talk where some users had started to put together a complete solution.  In June I finally ordered the half-barrel and all of the parts needed for a CIP cart.

Clean Me!

Conical with Clean In Place (CIP) cart. This pumps PBW (or Acid cleaner) into the top which has a spray-ball. It outputs liquid through both the racking port and the bottom dump. 1″ host at the bottom back into the the pump.

Shiny!

I swapped out the pump face for a Chugger Stainless Steel Center-inlet on my March 815 HS pump.

After some time with the conical learning the tri-clover connections, figuring out the CIP process as well as how I was going to transfer beer from the boil-kettle to the conical, I was ready for a brew session.

I decided that my best course of action was to brew something that I wouldn’t mind having a lot of (15 Gallons is a lot for one brewer to drink) but light enough in cost that if this failed I wouldn’t be tempted to ignore the flaws that a new process and equipment might introduce.  I also had a nice 500mL slurry of yeast from the previous 5 gallon batch which was a ready-made pitch for a 16 Gallon batch!

woxford-morning-brew-is-hot-so-double-fan-1024x768

Due to various time constraints, I unfortunately had to brew during the day.  Texas is not enjoying the previous two weeks of mostly 100+ F days.  Today was no exception, high of 100F; though a 40% chance lies, err of rain?  Woxford, however is equipped for summer brewing and two fans were strategically placed near the brewers station.

Don't try to brew and fight off wasps...

On brewday I ran a batch of Saniclean (non-foaming sanitizer) through while I was draining wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle.

After a 60 minute mash and waiting for the HLT to bring nearly 15G of sparge water to temperature I transferred from the mash tun to the boil-kettle.  While that was running I ran 1 oz of Saniclean (no rinse sanitizer that foams *much* less than Star San) through the conical with the CIP Spray-ball and the tubing connected.  That only requires 3 minutes of contact time but it ran for about 20 minutes.

I wish I could do 5 gallon batches in this thing but the coil is too high up.

Inside of the conical during transfer. The stainless chilling coils are built in for maintaining temps.

After a 20 minute whirlpool of hops I started transferring the chilled wort (about 80F with ground water) into the conical.  The slow rate due to the warm ground water resulted in about a 20 minute chill time into the conical; that likely added a bit more IBUs since the hops were in-contact for a bit longer.  That’s OK, it was under 20 IBUs already.

I'm full.

Transferred all 16 gallons and aerated with Oxygen

16 Gallons in the conical now.  I applied oxygen for approximately 180 seconds (60s per 5 gallons) and pitched the yeast.  Closing the top and connecting the blow-off tube and it’s all done.

Bubbly

Blow-off arm attached and connected to bucket/airlock

The temp in the garage is going to hit mid-90s, but the yeast strain from Jester King is highly temperature tolerant and produces a super-dry and attenuated beer.  After it’s fermented to dryness, I’ll connect the glycol chiller and bring the temperature down to around 60F which will help the bacteria start to sour the beer a bit.  I’ll follow up with a post on connecting and using the chiller as well as a post on recirculating bottling sugar and yeast when I bottle the batch from the conical directly.

I’m superbly happy with the conical so far and I’ll be sure to share any issues I encounter along the way.

Here’s Hoshi no Ojisama scaled up to 16G, along with some hop-changes for using older hops I still have around.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
16 gal 60 min 23.3 IBUs 2.2 SRM 1.026 1.005 2.7 %
Actuals 1.025 0 0.0 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 17 2 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 5 - 7 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 13 lbs 81.25
Wheat (BestMälz) 3 lbs 18.75

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Target 2 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4.3
Tettnang 2 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 2.3
Target 2 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 4.3
Tettnang 2 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 2.3
Galaxy 0.87 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 8.3
Crystal 3 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 0.9
Willamette 2.37 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 1.7

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 20.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 1.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Jester King Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 84% 65°F - 77°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 156°F 40 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

http://jesterkingbrewery.com/jester-king-homebrew-recipes-part-ii

Hop Change:
EKG -> Target
Fuggle -> Tett
Add Fruity hop (Galaxy or Moz) to hopstand

2016-07-25 - 9AM -> 1:45PM
Hydro was below 1.000, so estimating at 0.995; temp 175F ~ 1.022
O.G post-boil @ 17.33 gallons was 6.4 brix, which resulted in 1.025 S.G
Pitched 500mL of JK slurry from last Hoshi, aerated for 120 seconds with Oxygen
Temp reading at 86F in garage, likely to rise. No chilling attached.

Subtlety and Nuance: A Brewer’s Beer

Nom!

The prince is a big fan of Zwanze!

One thing I miss when I was brewing more often was the chance to try out a bunch of different beers in a session. At a brew night, I’d sample close to ten or twelve beers but not have to worry about drinking the whole bottle. As I’m brewing less often I’m finding that I really enjoy having something lighter, but interesting to drink along side a larger bomber.

Dirty keg is dirty; fixing that!

Until I finish this batch, I’ll have to make due with some Han’s PIls

As with many brewers, profession and otherwise it’s a great enjoyment to drink beer while working. In some cases any beer is fine, but when there’s a long day and one would like to stay sharp, the lighter, refreshing (dry) beers tend to be a favorite. This has has proven true for myself. I can recall a number of brewery mishaps after a long brew night (and beer sampling session) due to a lack of lighter beers. A perfectly reasonable solution is to have lots of lighter, flavorful choices available.  If you’re not into the lighter stuff, then you might be into the complexity; some might say the subtlety and nuance of these expressive beers.

Soon you'll be filled with funk and sour!

It was a great day to sip a refreshing beer in the yard.

My recent brews have been stronger, longer aged brews which leaves my taps devoid of anything lighter so I figured it was time to remedy that situation.  My previous brews using the Jester King mixed-culture fermentation have been more successful using an initial hotter fermentation, 75F up to 90F for roughly a week, or however long it takes to get below 1.010 S.G.  After that point, lowering the temperature allows the souring bacteria to take root and bring the pH down under 3.6 for some solid sour flavor.

I’m a huge fan of a local pub, Pinthouse Pizza’s Calma Muerta, a session IPA with huge flavors and strong bittering.  I’ve got that on my list to brew next yet my good friend suggested that we start experimenting with cultivating a high level of funk out of the Jester King yeast since we’ve got a good hold on target gravity and souring methods.  Besides producing an excellent lighter beer, ala, Jester King’s Le Petite Prince, exercising the funk in this brew will help in our sour-aged hot sauce experiments.

For this brew I’m adapting the homebrew recipe Jester King posted and supplying my ingredients.  I’m really excited to give such a lighter brew a go!  Enjoy.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
6 gal 90 min 20.6 IBUs 2.3 SRM 1.026 1.004 2.9 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 17 2 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 5 - 7 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 5 lbs 83.33
Wheat (BestMälz) 1 lbs 16.67

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 3.2
Fuggles 1 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 3.7
Fuggles 0.5 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 3.7
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 0.5 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 3.2
Fuggles 0.5 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 3.7
Goldings, East Kent (2011) 0.5 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 3.2

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 9.60 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 0.60 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Jester King Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 84% 65°F - 77°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

http://jesterkingbrewery.com/jester-king-homebrew-recipes-part-ii

Initial thoughts using a Blichmann BrewEasy

Ooh, sexy beast of a beer: Jester King Le Petite Prince!

10 Gallon Electric BrewEasy (TM) Setup. Photo by Mark

My longtime assistant brewer has slowly transitioned into a full-time brewer on his own. Mark initially started with a Brew-in-a-Bag (BIAB) setup to brew Kombucha. Over time, the recipes changed to BeerBucha, all-grain beer recipe but Kombucha SCOBY for fermentation. Finally he just switched to beer and exclusively employs a mixed-culture blend from Jester King. After the completion of the Battle Shed Mark’s Rebel Brewing Alliance decided to get ahead of opposition and transition into an electric brewing setup, Blichmann BrewEasy.

Last week he invited me over during his initial brewing run to take a look at his new setup and become *his* assistant brewer. The first beer is Jester King’s Das Überkind Vieille Saison. The BrewEasy 10G equipment profile is available in BeerSmith2, merely selecting the Blichman 10 Gallon profile, which uses a 20 Gallon BoilKettle and a 15 Gallon Mash Tun. The BrewEasy is slightly different since it’s doing a recirculating mash process combined with BIAB-style where all of the water needed is provided up-front and split between the two pots. The BrewEasy recirculation loop consists of liquor from the mashtun using gravity to drain through the false bottom into the lower boil kettle using a custom steel tube that connects to the output valve on the 15 gallon mash pot. Inside the boil kettle resides the electric element which requires approximately 6 gallons of liquid to ensure the element is always covered. The output of the boil kettle is connected via hose to a pump with a stainless T adapter in which resides a temperature probe connected back to the Tower of Power for reading the current temperature of the liquor/wort. The output from the pump flows up to the side of the mashtun and into a Blichman Autosparge which uses a ballast (floating arm) to control the input flow back into the mashtun. The brewer controls the level of the floatarm and the opening of the mashtun to balance the flow of wort between the mashtun and boilkettle.

At the start, we split the water between the two kettles and started the element to heat the water to a target of about 161F for dough-in at about 152F mash temp. We set the float arm to keep 10.5 gallons of water in the mashtun and the remaining 8 gallons in the boil kettle. We noticed during this process that there was a delta in temperature reading between what was being measured at the T off of the pump and the actual water in the mashtun. We measured about about 4F degree loss between the pump and the water in the mashtun. My initial thought was that the temperature probe really ought to be right next to the input to the mashtun, right before the sparge arm. With the delta in mind, we raised the temp to reach our target and started the dough-in. The strike temperature was calculated by using the upper mash volume (10.5 gallons), the amount of grain and the grain temperature.

After doughing in, we noticed two things. First we had overshot our strike temperature, and second that the sparge arm was not open due to the additional volume now in the mashtun. After fixing the arm level, recirculation resumed and now our temperature rose again. This revealed the second “flaw” in the system. The temperature sensor that controls the element in the boilkettle/grant measures temperature as it passes in the loop. When the sparge arm closes the value, we’re no longer recirculating and the temperature in the loop falls meaning the element in the kettle is active to raise the temperature. Without recirculating, the controller never knows the temperature inside the kettle and we ended up raising the remaining water in the kettle far above our strike temperature. Additionally since we recirculated 18 gallons instead of 10.5 gallons, the additional thermal mass meant that we didn’t need to raise the strike temperature up to 161F, rather we should have only reached about 157F to ensure a target of 152.

Mark worked around this overshoot by leaving the mash isolated and reciculating the remaining liquid in the lower pot itself until it returned to the target temp of 152F. Several times during the mash itself, the same problem repeated itself, as we attempted to raise the volume of liquid in the mashtun to match the water/grain ratio, this ended up closing the recirculation valve and leaving the element on raising the temperature in the boil kettle higher than needed to retain a target mash temp.

Upon reflection, and examining how The Electric Brewery has designed their HERMS loop, a few things come to mind for the BrewEasy. First, the autosparge is not needed at all. In the case where all of the water needed for the batch is available at the start, the closing of the loop via autosparge is only going to cause problems, as we described above. Removing the autosparge would have fixed the major issue above that prevented the temperature sensor from controlling the element temperature. The second issue was the location of the temperature sensor. To keep the mash temperature held, we really want to measure at the output of the mashtun; after the water has gone through the grain bed. This is just not possible on the BrewEasy setup due to the design of the return pipe which directs the flow via gravity directly into the boil kettle below.

breweasy_g2_adapter_lid_kit

BrewEasy 10 Gallon Adapter Kit. Photo by Blichmann Engineering.

In the picture, you can see the bent tube, which is the Drain Pipe with Orifice, designed for the G2 Kettles. Contrast that with the kit for the G1:

breweasy_g1-adapter-lid-kit

BrewEasy 20 Gallon Adapter Kit. Photo by Blichmann Engineering.

Even with the G1 kettle which uses a 90-degree street-elbow, it’s not clear to me that one would be able to introduce a stainless T and move the temperature sensor there.

With the mash complete we moved on the to boil which went off flawlessly if eerily almost silent due to the electric coil heat source.

A few other items worth mentioning.  On the Tower of Power (ToP) itself the display could use some UI/UX improvements.  The current and target temperatures are easily seen but it’s not immediately clear whether the heating element is on.  There is a small green dot indicating whether it is on or not but it should be quite a bit more obvious. Given the Tower of Power history, originally designed to control a Blichmann gas burner, it’s easy to see that a small light on the ToP wasn’t a big deal as the noise from a running burner would make things much more obvious. The silent nature of the electric element though exposes this design issue.

I’m a huge fan of the plastic hose clamps.  They are easily manipulated by fingers, rather than tools.  Since they’re not metal, one doesn’t have to worry about tearing or ripping the hose material.  Excellent attention to detail here.

The G2 kettle sight tube includes a metric scale (yay!) however, instead of having a second part, the sight tube now includes metric on one side and US on the other oriented upside-down so as to not confuse the brewer when in use.  I would have preferred the tube to include the unit abbreviation (L, G) next to the numbers so I could measure either in in Gallons or Liters without detaching the sigh tube to switch.

As mentioned above, if one does make use of the Autosparge, the 3-way flow meter from Blichmann should be a requirement, otherwise with the lid closed on the mashtun there is *no* way of knowing whether you’re actually recirculating wort or not.  It would be an improvement for the Tower of Power to require a *flow* meter in addition to the low-water detection switch and stop applying heat if either are tripped (no flow or low water should prevent firing of the element instead of just the sounding a horn as it does now).

In all, the BrewEasy is a really nice setup but I do believe that the current version certainly has some issues that make it more difficult to use than the current state-of-the-art setup from The Electric Brewery.

I’m looking forward to more brewdays with Mark as an assistant brewer; always something to learn from anyone’s brewday.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
12 gal 90 min 13.1 IBUs 5.6 SRM 1.045 1.011 4.4 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 17 2 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 5 - 7 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 18.15 lbs 84.03
Wheat, Torrified 1.729 lbs 8
Oats, Flaked 13.83 oz 4
Caramunich Malt 13.7 oz 3.97

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent 1.18 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 5.6

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Ramping up a base beer

You looking good kid!

Tasting Atrial Rubicite Blend 1 (2013, front) with Atrial Rubicite Blend 5 (2015, back)

We’ve got a number of beers planned for the future and all of them include using sour, aged beer and blending with fruits.  In order to have enough of this base beer, we need to brew and age quite a bit.  To get started, we’re brewing up 13 gallons, max for the current system and get things aging while we wait for the various fruit seasons to occur.

Nothing special here, just my take on the base beer that Jester King uses for their fruited sours.  Enjoy!

Astroboy (aka Das Wunderkind)

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
13 gal 90 min 29.7 IBUs 3.8 SRM 1.040 1.005 4.6 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison 16 C 1.048 - 1.065 1.002 - 1.012 20 - 35 5 - 14 2.3 - 2.9 5 - 7 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsner (2 Row) Bel 15 lbs 68.13
Munich Malt 2.35 lbs 10.67
Oats, Flaked 2.333 lbs 10.6
Wheat Malt, Ger 2.333 lbs 10.6

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Goldings, East Kent 4.5 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 5.6
Saaz 2.25 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 7.6
Saaz 4.5 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 7.6
Goldings, East Kent 2.25 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 5.6
Cascade (2012 - Nikobrew 2012-11-23) 2.17 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.9
Columbus (Tomahawk) - 2012 Crop - Purchased 20130220 1.08 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 15.3

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 2.72 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 2.72 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 0.35 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Yeast Nutrient 2.36 tsp 5 min Boil Other

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Jester King Mixed Culture (JK01) Jester King 86% 50°F - 95°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min

Tasting: Dai Tajín

IMG_20150224_173148

Dai Tajín is my first barrel-aged saison. As I mention when brewing, I struggled with what else to put in that Rum barrel and thought the saison would be a good bet. Early on, it tasted great, rum and saison perfectly balanced. Life got in the way and well, it spent a lot longer in the barrel than I had anticipated. At bottling, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to work out. I never picked up any real Rum flavors. This beer was bottled on Jan 30th, 2014, so we’re not even 4 weeks out in the bottle and the great news is that it’s perfectly carbed. This was something I’ve struggled with for the last 3 beers that have aged in barrels. This time I used The Mad Fermentationalist barrel-aged beer priming spreadsheet and it turned out to be just what I needed to get priming just right. Now, what about the beer?

Appearance: Amber to orange color, slight cloudiness. Solid foamy head which settles down into a thin, but persistent creamy head.

Smell: Tart fruits, slight funk (Bretty? won’t be the first time I’ve infected a batch in a good way accidentally), oaky, earthy.  The tart, funk and oaky spirits really reminds me of Jester King Boxer’s Revenge.

Taste: Spicy, oaky, slight booze, long tannins and it ends dry. Slight carb bite, prickly. Very saison-like though the boozy nature makes it stand out from a typical saison.

Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel.  Solid to high carbonation, but not past where I would like it.  Tingly on the tongue but not distracting from the thicker smoothness.

Drinkability & Notes: I must say that I’m quite impressed with this beer given it was not something I’ve seen brewed before. I’m in love with the great nose and flavor, mostly because it reminds me of one of my favorite Jester King beers.  While it’s not sour itself, it just begs to be innoculated.  Next batch of Dai Tajín will be aged in-barrel with Jester King mixed culture.