Monday, January 31, 2011

Something's Brewin'...

So, the brewery finally got all hooked up and sync'd up with the controller and computer. The first test batch , Kitchen Sink Ale, was 2 weeks ago and I just threw together some Maris Otter base grain with some old specialty grains and hops I had laying around. It actually tastes pretty good right now in the fermentor. Tastes and looks like a Red with Columbus and Cascade hops, coming in around 7.5% ABV. This one brewed pretty smoothly without any MAJOR hitches (of course, there were a couple minor ones). Just yesterday, my brother and I finally got the chance to brew the beer we've been talking about brewing all year, a Pliny the Elder clone. I named it Pliny the Brother...clever, right? The brew day was great and it is always nice to share my passion of brewing with Jeff and have him get more and more excited about it...I'm pretty sure he'll be as hooked as I am in no time. My rockin' wife, Sally, also helped stir the cauldron. Check out the video below of the brew day: 

Here are some other photos of the day:
Moxie was apprehensive about the brewery in the garage and all the weird noises...he'll get used to it

Getting ready for brew day with some over-exaggerated smiles and thumbs-up...

Newly labeled control panel and pretty lights

Hot Liquor Tank steaming away, lid off for effect...not for heat loss!

Recirculating the mash (vorlaufing)

Jeff lending a hand cleaning kegs and creating a skating rink in the driveway

Boiling away in the kettle
All and all, the brewery is working out great and I am very happy that 6 months worth of work has paid off. It is much easier brewing now than it was before the new brewery. My back has been thanking me at the end of each brew day! There are a couple of minor issues like working out the temp calibration on the RIMS heater outlet and trying not to clog the plate chiller with hop debris and break. It will be a work in progress for a little while, but I am very happy with how it turned out. I never thought my little drawings on post-it notes would actually become what I have in the garage.

So, right now, Kitchen Sink Ale is 8 days into fermentation and activity has subsided. I will probably rack to the keg in a few days once it has completely dropped out and cleared. Pliny the Brother is bubbling away as I write this (check out the video). So far, it smells great and the color looks good. Let's hope for a nice clean fermentation. After that, we'll be dry hopping for about two weeks in a secondary fermentor! Now, I just have to keep the pace of brewing once a week up! It's easy when you have to fill 4 vacant taps, but might not be when we have to drink 5 gallons a week to make room for batches brewed once a week! We'll try our best to keep up...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Brewery Wired!!!!! Now comes the programming part.....

First off, I'd like to give a big thanks to my friends, Scott and Dale (electrical engineer and facilities guru) who came over on Friday and looked over the system. There were a couple of things that I didn't exactly wire correctly. Without being fixed, lights would have blown and my control box probably would have been turned into a pile of melted goo! I fixed the wiring and fired the brewery up on fires, no melting. It's a good feeling to get it up and running finally. I hooked up the BCS controller to my laptop wirelessly (it's nice to run the brewery from the warmth of your living you can tell from the temperature readings on the screenshot below!)

Screenshot of Brewery Controller hooked up

Next step, calibrating my temperature probes and running a water batch through the brewery. After that, writing some programming! I feel like a brewery run is getting close....I guess, that is, until the water batch reveals some major leaks! Fingers crossed

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Here's a little peak at the brewery...Happy New Year!

So, almost everything is hooked up now. There are a few plumbing things that have to be resolved and 3 connections have to be made in the control panel. I wired up all the thermocouples today to the control system and re-plumbed one of the outlets on my pump. About 5 months after I started, it's finally coming together.