The First Brew!

Yes, you heard right!  After passing our Health Department inspection last week, then scrambling around to get ingredients ordered, we managed to pull together our first brew session this past Saturday, the 14th of November.

Being our first batch on this system, we figured it would be a very long, hard day of work, and we were certainly right about that…From start to finish it took us 19 hours!  Somehow though, there seems to be just a little bit less stress knowing that we have beer in our fermenters.

Here’s a few photos of the day.  We were scrambling around so much for the first half of the day though, we didn’t manage to get any pictures of the mash-in.  Oh well, there’s always next time….

Here’s my dad setting up to do some transfers.  The pump he’s working on is receiving the mash run-off and transferring it into the kettle.  The pump in front of him is pumping the hot water into the mash tun for our sparge.

You’ll notice most of these pictures look a little hazy…We were surprised at just how humid it got in there throughout the day.  Downright tropical even.

And here’s part of the source of the humidity…our sparge arm (on the right).  For those who don’t know, sparge is a German word meaning “rinse”, so we’re basically just rinsing our mash with hot water.

Here’s a better shot of the sparge arm in place and in action.  I’m looking on, getting a nice steam bath…

Actually, I’m just watching the sparge level to make sure the grain bed isn’t getting too exposed and dry as the wort flows out of the mash tun and into the kettle…

Ah, the first wort flowing into the kettle…a beautiful sight!

Ting watches as the kettle fills…

…and then…

…the boil begins!

Here’s the spent grains in the mash tun, after all of the wort has been run-off.  I know it doesn’t look like much…but remember this is a mild, so you really don’t need a whole lot of malt…

Either way, you’ll notice there is no “grain shute” from which to eject the spent grains.  So in other words, climb in and start shovelling!

Okay, well, skip ahead a few steps (because we didn’t manage to get any pictures taken in-between) and here’s our yeast pitch, ready to add to our chilled wort as it flows into the fermenter.  Pretty cool to have a giant package of yeast with our name on it!  7.5 liters worth of yeast in fact.  The homebrewers out there will recognize the 1098 number on the yeast package too…

And finally, here’s a picture of our finished wort!  Yeast pitched and ready to begin fermenting.

And the exhausted brewteam, ready to call it a day!  Until next time…

Still Cleaning…

It has been a while since I posted anything, but we certainly have been busy during the past week!  Here’s a picture of the underside of the kettle, all cleaned up, painted and ready to be installed.  What a difference!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s one done, and on to the next one…

Here’s a couple pictures of the Hot Liquor Tank, which will be the next thing we’ll clean.  The outside is pretty grimy, and you can see some mineral deposits on the inside that need to be removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little food-grade phosphoric acid should remove the mineral deposits and get it nice and shiny again.

Also this week we’ve been continuing to work on the floors.  We pulled up the carpeting in the area where the tap-room will be, and found a ridiculous amount of carpet glue stuck to the concrete.  Removing this stuff is seriously hard work, and requires a LOT of scraping.  In the picture below you can see an example of the floors before and after the glue has been removed.  Not very exciting, I know, but since there is so much of this stuff on the floors, we’ll be working at this for quite awhile…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other thing we’ve been busily working on is acquiring all of the proper permits from the City of Los Angeles.  Admittedly, this process is not as exciting as cleaning brewing kettles, but necessary nonetheless.  Yesterday I spent about four hours running around between the Planning Department and City Hall, trying to make sure I have all of the proper paperwork for our applications.  I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg though…

The floor plans and site plans have been completed, and next week I have an appointment with the Department of Building & Safety to do a preliminary review of our plans.  They will be checking that everything in the plans is compliant with building codes, that we have enough exits and parking spaces for the proposed number of occupants, etc…  Wish me luck!

Kettle Cleaning

This weekend we spent some time cleaning up our brew kettle.  After sitting in the same spot for 13 years in it’s former home, it developed a bit of grime and rust on the steel plate underneath the kettle.  This plate isn’t stainless, like the rest of the kettle, but it sits beneath the outer steam jacket and acts as a protective base-plate for the whole tank.

In the pictures below you’ll see that we lifted the kettle onto some concrete cinder blocks, so it would be easier to work underneath.  The first step is to get rid of the surface grime & rust with a wire brush, then treat it with a little phosphoric acid to remove the rust and mineral deposits, and re-condition the steel.

 

Steve working on the underside of the brew kettle

Steve working on the underside of the brew kettle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under kettle grime & rust

Under kettle grime & rust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll post more pictures to show our progress on this later in the week.