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October 31, 2005

brewing the club seasonal

another brew day for the biergotter crew. this time around it was our "club seasonal", a spiced imperial porter for the holidays. on hand for today's festivities were tim, jayc, jayw, eric, and me (russ). Tim's brother-in-law also dropped by for a bit to observe the magic that is all grain brewing.

we had a keg of our mild english bitter on tap for the day. This kept things interesting as the hops kept clogging up the works. we'd fill a pitcher until it came to a stop, then reverse the disconnects so we could "blow out" the outlet with co2, and keep going until it clogged again. by the time we got half way down the keg it was pretty much stuck and there wasn't much we could do to get it moving. so we popped the keg open and just poured it through a strainer and into pitchers. it was supposed to be lightly carbonated, so this worked out ok. next time we'll be sure to bag the hops before adding to the keg...small oversight in our first attempt at keg hopping.

with several of the biergotter crew at halloween parties the night before, tim and i volunteered to get things started early and let the other guys arrive a bit later. unfortunately, due to commitments with the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre rob wasn't able to join us for the day. he's been pretty busy with the theatre rebuild project and hasn't been able to take part in much brewing lately, but he tells us that he'll soon be rejoining us for some brewing fun. we still managed to arrange a time when jayw would be up visiting from windsor, so we went ahead with everyone else.

on to the photos!

"wheezy", the biergotter dog. actually, her name is nico, but she does wheeze alot. she mostly just layed around in the sun, but did try to take on several dogs approximately 20 times her size. fortunately we kept an eye on her and didn't let her get into too much trouble.

stirring up the mash to make sure the temp is up to saccharification temp of 155-156F.

jayc stirring the mash, eric drinking some of the bitter, jayw in his fine pirate hat also sampling the bitter, and tim striking a pose.

stir stir stir. still using a wood broomstick while we continue to search for a nice stainless paddle.

bringing the kettle up to 170F for mash out. pretty excellent color. guess that's what you get with a pound of black patent and a pound and a half of chocolate malt...

after vorlauf we started to collect some wonderfully black porter. well, i guess at this point it's still just "porter in training".

the tun full of 31 pounds of grainy goodness. that's jayc in the background keeping an eye on the flow.

still going. we got pretty close to a stuck sparge on this one. we had the flow going nice and slow, but it was gradually getting slower. even running wide open it was slowing to a trickle. we checked and found that the grain bed had really compacted down, so we stopped the sparge and gently stirred the mash, careful not to knock the manifold out. after another quick vorlauf we got it going again. it continued to flow slowly, but it was steady so we let it go. eventually we had 14 gallons of sweet tasty wort at a pre-boil gravity of 1.071.

standing around and waiting for the sparge. it took eric 5 tries to get a decent photo, but eventually he managed this one. from left to right we have tim, jayc, me (russ), and jayw. yar.

time to fire up the burner and get the boil going.

jayc skimming the hot break and eric showing off the bitter.

yay skum skimmin'. since we started doing this we've never had a boil over. highly recommended!

half way through the boil. can see the deep brown/green color of the head and first hop addition.

the jays. in case you were wondering, jayw was wearing the fine pirate hat from the costume that he wore to a halloween party the night before. he went as a priest from the church of the flying spagetti monster, wearing the appropriate full pirate regalia. he didn't go to bed until 4am, and then after a daylight savings mishap was awake at 7am. he was feeling a little rough, so we just kept filling him with bitter.

since it today is halloween we had some candy and party favours (prepared by jenn) on hand for the brew day. this one shows jayc trying out his new flashlight. oooh, frightening cat!

jayw had a frightening glowing red bat.

ooohh! scary!

jay with the bat, tim with his red skull necklace.

eric also testing out his flashlight. i think there's supposed to be two visible flashlights showing cats, but it's pretty hard to see...

eric enjoyed the bitter a little too much. i suppose it didn't help that we kept telling everyone who wasn't driving that they needed to finish the keg before they could leave. by the end of the night we were taking bets that he was going to be sick in jayc's car on the way home...

so the day went pretty smoothly, and when all was cleaned up we had about 11 gallons of 1.077 wort, lightly spiced and going into fermentation with two huge starters of white labs irish ale yeast. we're hoping to have half of this in bottles, and the other half on tap for new years eve!

Posted by grub at October 31, 2005 10:11 PM

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