Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Watermelon Wheat Brew Day

Great weekend here in Denver and I was able to get up early and start brewing on Sunday morning. This brew day went unhitched and everything fell pretty close to where I wanted it.

Heated up my mash water to about 170 and let it sit in the mash tun for a little to heat up the tun and lower the temperature so that after adding the grain I would hit my mash temp.

Added the grain to the mash water slowly while stirring to avoid grain clumps. If there are clumps all of the starches in the grain will not convert to sugars. I also added 1 tablespoon of Five Star pH 5.2 buffer. This would get my mash pH to exactly 5.2, this is the area you want so that the mash works correctly. My pup Ellie was helping out.

After stirring in the bag of grain I let it sit for a few minutes so that the temperature would equalize. I was shooting for 153 degrees but as you can see i was 1.3 degrees off. Nothing too extreme so I left it where it was, this will give my beer a little more body and sweetness.

I covered the mashtun and let the enzymes brought alive by the warm water convert the grain starches into sugar that will eventually ferment and give me alcohol. I let the mash go for about an hour and a half while I walked my dog. I then drained the wort into my boil kettle.

After sparging (rinsing the sugar off the grain) I had a kettle full of sweet wort that I took outside and put on my burner.

I brought the wort up to boiling and added my one hop addition, .35 oz of GR Magnum. I usually use a hop bag when I use any type of hop, I decided just to throw them in for this batch because there was so little that I didn't see them causing a problem. After that I set the timer for 60 minutes and did some other stuff.

With about 15 minutes left in the boil I added my immersion chiller and hooked it up to the hose. When the boil was done I turned off the burner and started the hose water through the immersion chiller. Basically cold water runs through the copper tubing and transfer the heat to the cold water in the tube, the hot water exits and cools the wort. Proper cooling is important to create cold break that will cause haze in the finished product and also so that you do not let it stay in a temperature range where it is more likely to get infected. 

After letting the chilled wort sit awhile, so that some of the break material that forms can settle at the bottom, I opened up the spout and let the wort transfer into my fermenting vessel. It is transferred by gravity and is fed through a funnel with a screen. The screen has two effects, it will catch any hop junk from going into the fermentor and it will also aerate the wort as it passes through. This is important because yeast need oxygen to ferment the sugars into alcohol.

I took a gravity sample and my predicted original gravity was just about right. The wort was still at 78 degrees at this point so I adjusted the reading for temp (hydrometer is calibrated at 60 degrees) and wound up with an original gravity of 1.053.

A few days earlier I made a yeast starter with my smack pack of Wyeast 1007. This is basically a procedure of making a small amount of wort with dry malt extract. Adding the yeast and letting it ferment the starter wort. This will allow the yeast numbers to grow and ensure that your yeast is healthy. I use Mr. Malty's Yeast Pitching Rate Calculator to determine how much yeast and how big of a starter to use so I have enough yeast to ferment my wort cleanly. I put the yeast into the fridge the night before so that most of it drops to the bottom.

After decanting most of the starter wort off the yeast I left a little and swirled so the yeast would be pourable. I poured it into the fermentor and shook it a little to mix it in the wort.

After adding the yeast I attached the blow off tube and I put my fermentor into my mini fridge. I taped the temperature probe from the Johnson Control (thermostat) to the side of the fermentor and set it at 60 degrees. This will cool down the wort and keep it at my fermenting temperature. 

My final page in my brew log, such a simple recipe that it barely took up half the page.

After about 18 hours this is what the fermenting wort looks like. As you can see my temp is right at 62 degrees which is what I was shooting for with this strain of yeast. I will let this ferment for another few weeks. I am going out of town next week so it will sit for awhile and fully ferment out. The next update will be racking and bottling. I am skipping the secondary on this beer so this will hopefully be ready for 4th of July festivities.

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