Sunday, October 2, 2016

My Brewing Process, Part 3 - The Boil

In the first two parts of this series, we covered recipe selection and adjustment, getting the ingredients ready, and performing the mash in The Grainfather. This week, we'll look at the boil.

The Grainfather makes the boil process pretty simple. The kettle is deep enough that boil-over on a 5-gallon batch is unlikely. The thermal cut-out switch reduces the chances that you'll scorch the wort when adding sugars, syrups, or other ingredients.

When we last saw our example beer, it was just starting to boil. When it finally reaches a boil, I take out my stainless steel spoon and stir the hot break foam back into the wort.  Once the foam stops forming on top of the wort, I'll rig up my hop spider and place it in the kettle. I take two soapstone rocks and drop those in the bag to weigh it down. I use binder clips to ensure that the hop bag stays on the spider and doesn't drop into the kettle.

Hop spider in place, ready for hop additions
As I mentioned in the first post, I have my hops already measured and laid out on the table. When it's time for each addition, I just dump the pellets from the plastic bowl into the bag in the hop spider.

Hops, candi syrup, and Irish Moss waiting to be added
While hops pellets, large spices, and other items will go into the hop spider bag, Irish Moss and candi syrup go into the kettle directly.

Near the end of the boil, the counter flow chiller (the large black coil you see below) must be sterilized inside to prevent contamination of the wort. To do this, you connect the chiller to the kettle's pump and drop the "wort out" line into the kettle.

Sterilizing the counter flow chiller with boiling wort
The boiling wort sterilizes the inside of the counter flow chiller as it flows through. When the boil is over, the pump is switched off. The "wort out"line is moved into the fermenter. The cold water line is turned on to run cold water through the wort chiller. After a couple of minutes to cool down the wort chiller, the pump is switched back on.  Now wort is flowing into the fermenter.

Chilled wort going into the fermenter

In my experience, the wort going into the fermenter typically enters it about 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit above the temperature of the tap water. So if your tap water is 57 degrees, the wort will be more like 67-70F going into the fermenter. During the summer, when tap water is more like 65F, wort will tend to go into the fermenter at 80-83F.

This concludes the boil stage. Next week, we'll talk about fermentation.

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