thaen (thaen) wrote in geekbeer,

Nanobrew: v0.1a

So by the time Tom and I got done with breakfast, it was noon. We headed over to Tam's place to see what was up in the Den of No Brewing. There were 20 gallons of brew in the closet. Tom and I tasted each one.

The two porters were skanky. How, exactly, I couldn't tell you, but they tasted foul. Like oxidized and partially under-fermented and just... skanky. They smelled sour. Almost like rotting lettuce. It was nasty. The blonde ale was severely oxidized and slightly soured. The last 5 gallons (which we think was an Amber, though we don't rightly recall and were in no mood to look it up...) were soured.

All in all: Zero for Four. Twenty gallons down the sink, completely undrinkable.

By that time it was about 2. Too late to brew a full batch. What to do? Nanobrew.

The main problems with the nanobrew turned out to be the following:
- Lautering is made very difficult because the grain bed is so small. I believe that we will have to fashion some sort of container to do the lautering.
- The smaller amount of grain did not drop the temperature of the mash water (hot liquor, i suppose) as drastically as it does with a larger batch. While the thermodynamics of this make no sense to me (heat transfer should be heat transfer, right? same ratio of water to grain should yield the same ratio of heat lost to grain), the fact remains that adding 3 lbs of grain to 3 quarts of water resulted in a 10 degree temperature drop rather than the normal 18 degree drop that I am used to from a larger batch. So the mash temperature was about 165 instead of the 155 I wanted.
- Because of the lack of good lauter, the inefficiency of the bag system described in the first Nanobrew post, and the high mash temp, the clarity of the final product left something to be desired. Okay, fine, it looked like mud. Whatever. We used extra Irish moss.
- The normal rule of 10% boil-off per hour seemed FAR too low. We started with approximately one gallon of wort and added two quarts of water to compensate for boil off. We ended up with about 3/4 gallons of boiled wort, with only about half a gallon ending up in the container (the rest lost in transfer, mostly in wet hops).
- Because of the small final volume of liquid, I didn't take an original gravity measurement. In the future, I'll add this amount of liquid into the original calculation.

Things that went RIGHT:
- We got a hot break! w00t!
- Fermentation started in earnest after only 5 hours. This morning it was bubbling happily about once a second. A full tube of yeast for only half a gallon of liquid is... a lot. Maybe even higher than commercial pitching rates.
- The liquid this morning was decidedly more clear than it was last night, with a thick layer of sludge on the top and bottom. Better lautering would remove a lot of this beforehand, but for now this is acceptable.
- The wort was sweet. The high mash temperature didn't totally destroy the enzymes necessary for sugary love.
- The whole process took 2.5 hours.

I'll be doing a transfer filter next weekend. After that, I'll wait a couple days and then bottle what's left. I anticipate that I'll get a few bottles out of the deal, and we'll see how it tastes.
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