Saturday, August 21, 2010

Building a brew-cupboard-stand-thing

This is my spare room:


Zero space for an actual spare room here.  So time to up the storage space by building a storage cupboard that I can lock outside, store all my brew stuff (and other tools and goodies) in to make the spare room have some… well… spare room.

Here’s the bits and pieces:


Assembling (in a box):




Not a massive improvement in the spareroom (in terms of space) but at least the beer equipment is out the way so SWMBO can’t complain about it :)

Fermentation will still happen indoors, but once equipment has been cleaned it’s going in the brewcupboard for storage.  I’m still deciding whether or not it’s a good idea to store stuff in a sanitizer solution.

It’s not waterproof, but it’s not the rainy season so I have at least 2 months before I need to worry about waterproofing it.  Anybody got any ideas on how to waterproof it?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


So I’m being plagued by phenolic flavours lately.

That’s a problem.

Step 1 in fixing the problem is to identify where the phenol flavours are coming from.  At the last local brewclub meeting the local gurus indicated 2 major potential sources:

  1. Too much chlorine in the water
  2. Wild yeast

A bit of a search around also seems to point to the fact that it could be caused by a Bacterial Infection.  The BJCP Beer Fault List shows the phenol flavours can come from:

  • Water with chlorine or chloramines
  • Bleach sanitizers
  • Astringency
  • Infection
  • Too high a fermentation temperature

There are time-based indicators which could help identify the potential cause of the off flavours:

Flavour Effect Implication
Increase with time This would imply that the off flavours are being caused by something still in the beer.  Possibly a bacterial infection.
Stays the same This should mean that whatever caused the flavour isn’t volatile and isn’t active.  Could implicate chlorine or chloramine in the water or perhaps a bleach sanitizer.
Decreases with time This would indicate that the yeast is capable of cleaning this flavour up.  Which according to my logic means that it’s a byproduct of a high fermentation temperature.

I haven’t had the opportunity of keeping a sample for an extended period of time so I have made an effort of keeping 8 bottles from my previous batch.  I’ll try a couple of them each month and see if there is any change in the off flavours.

In the meantime though I’ll be keeping an eye on my water source and sanitation practices.

New brewday now includes an extra step to boil all water I use before-hand as well as to add metabisulphite to the water.  This should in theory get rid of all chlorine and chloramine in the water.  Note: I did this for the last batch but rinsed my no-chill cubes with hot water straight from the tap.  Hopefully that won’t have a negative flavour impact.

Also, cleaning and sanitation is going to get some serious attention.  I currently clean with a solution of Caustic Soda and sanitize with Chlorine Dioxide.  It’s already a pretty complete cleaning and sanitation procedure, so I’m just going to spend a little more care on the actual rinsing process of all equipment (such as the cubes in the previous paragraph)

Let’s hope the last batch doesn’t have any of the phenol flavours coming through.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Vuvuzela Herald

Brewed a batch of Pride of Raubsville a couple days ago.  It was the first time using my new mash tun.  My mash tun used to be a cooler box and a grain bag.  Now it’s a cooler box with a stainless steel manifold at the bottom.  It’s also been insulated with a good few layers of old Yoga mat.

I had to substitute local hops for the Target hops (hence the Vuvuzela reference).  I like the local Southern Promise hops so I’m sure it’s going to come out just fine!

Mash went beautifully.  I mashed the grain at about 69.1 degrees C.  The recipe calls for about 0.5Kg sugar so I mashed high to get some body for the beer.  The new mash tun held temperature beautifully!  Didn’t lose more than a point of a degree over the entire hour.  Lautering and sparging were absolute pleasures too. No stuck sparge and it probably took about 30 minutes off my brewday total time.

Only problem I had was I got distracted during the boil and probably ended up boiling for close on 2 hours (no hop additions yet thankfully) which means I’ve got substantially less beer than I should have had.  The OG is also a little on the high side.  I was aiming for around 1.040 but ended up with 1.050.