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…

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We’ve Got Hops!

Exciting news…The hops we ordered last week have just arrived!  As most of you probably know, there has been a bit of a hop shortage this year, and brewers throughout the craft brewing industry have been scrambling to get their hands on enough hops to meet their production schedules.

Obviously we haven’t been able to start brewing yet, but with the shortage of most hop varieties, and with some varieties being nearly impossible to get these days, I figured I would order some while they were still available and store them in the freezer until we can start brewing.  We ordered 165 pounds in total, which will be just about half of our hop supply for the first year of production.  We were even lucky enough to snag a 44 pound box of Cascades!  Woohoo!