Monday, May 26, 2008

First Fly Sparge vs Efficiency

So I worked through my first fly sparge yesterday. All-in-all, everything went very smooth and I am going to enjoy brewing using this method. No more carrying pots of hot water from the stove out to the porch.

But back to the fly sparge. I was able to keep my in and out flow rates matched pretty well. The water level in the MLT stayed between 1-2 inches above the grain bed. I ran the sparge for approximately 35-40 minutes, collecting 7.5 gallons in the boil kettle (for a 5.5 gallon batch). My problem is that I still didn't hit over 70% efficiency (same as my batch sparge efficiency). I've tried everything I know and I can't get that jump to a higher efficiency. I am beginning to think that the crush from my LHBS might be on the course side. So I will be looking to purchase a mill as my next toy.

I'm going to stick with the fly sparge method because I do like it better. I only have to vorlauf once, set my sparge and run-off flow rates, and sit back and relax. If anyone has any ideas how to improve my efficiency, please chime in.

UPDATE 6/1/08:
Second roound of fly sparging improve by 5%-6%. I sparged a bit slower, a bit hotter, and may have collected an extra quart by the time it was all said and done. I hit slightly over 75%, which is a good improvement and the best efficiency I've gotten on my system yet.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Yeeaaaahhhh!!!! A three day weekend. I really need an extra day off right about now. My wife and I are going kayaking with a couple friends of ours on Saturday. We will either hit the Dan or Yadkin River for a couple of hours for nice, relaxing paddling...and maybe a couple of beers along the way.

And guess what? I am also planning to brew on either Sunday or Monday. I got my ingredients today (from Triad Homebrew in Greensboro) for batch #2 of my Rye-Centennial IPA. See my recipe below...

Recipe Specifications-------------------------
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 7.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.069
Estimated Color: 8.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 58.4 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

10 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter
3 lbs Rye Malt
1 lbs Melanoiden Malt
1.50 oz Centennial (60 min) (First Wort Hop)
1.50 oz Centennial (5 min)
1.00 oz Centennial (Dry Hop 7 days, Secondary or Keg)
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
2 Pkgs SafAle English Ale (DCL Yeast #S-04)

Mash Schedule--------------------------------
Saccharification: Rest 50 min at 152.0 F
Vorlauf: 1-2 gallons as needed for clarity
Fly Sparge: 45 min at 170.0 F

Thursday, May 22, 2008


So I kegged and forced carbed an APA a couple of days ago, let it sit in the kegerator last night, and pulled my first taste this evening. Blaaccchhh. It smells and tastes just like a garden hose.

Long story short, I brewed at a friend of mine's house a few weeks ago. We brewed a 10 gallon batch and split it 5/5 for each of us. I didn't think much of it at the time because it was his setup and he makes some good beers, but he used a garden hose for all our water needs (unfiltered water at that). I have to think this was a new hose because the aroma and taste of plastic is completely overwhelming. I am very disappointed.

Lesson learned.

Down the drain it goes...along with my tears.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Proposed NC Beer Tax Increase

There have been a couple articles floating around NC about the propose tax increase on beer. You can see this article using the links below...


Keep in mind that NC already has the 4th highest beer tax in the land. The increase is proposed at $0.04 per "can" (see 12 oz serving, can or bottle), which translates to an 80% increase. While $0.04 doesn't sound like a deal breaker on face value, you have to look at this on a percentage basis. What if the government proposed increasing your property tax by 80%? The only "Sin Tax" that makes sense to me is on cigarettes, but that's a different topic altogether.

With a budding local craft beer industry on the heels of the growing NC wine industry, I don't know why a tax increase at this time makes any sense. The industry is growing, which automatically means a larger base for tax revenue. The local and state governments should be advertising these industries to increase tourism, which will again create larger tax revenues. Embracing craft beer and promoting the incredible breweries we have in the great state of NC is much more positive way of increasing tax revenues without penalizing anyone. The local economy already sucks with manufacturing taking a nose dive and beer is one of the few pleasures a working man (or woman) can affordably enjoy.

I propose that the government -local, state and federal - quit wasting our tax dollars and subsequently finding ways to take more out of our pockets to make up for their waste. I guess I am a Libertarian at heart and hearing about increased government control or increased tax rates really irks me. We all need to start embracing education and responsible enjoyment of craft beer, promoting and elevating the image of beer, and using this industry to improve tourism and create jobs. This would be the right way to increase tax revenue for NC.

My Brewing Rig

Alright. After several months of not really being able to post, I'm back at it again. I have finally finished my brewery and I am quite proud of it. I will have an inaugural session ths weekend to test it out. I am particularly excited about fly sparging and seeing what will happen to my efficiency now that ingredient prices are through the roof.

Basically, I bough a couple of $50 wire racks from target, casters, a new HLT and burner, some ply wood, and misc hardware. I think any dummy could build what I did, but I am a dummy and I did it all by myself. Both burners will run off a single propane tank now that I fashioned a splitter. There is space to mount my pump, plate chiller, and water filter. The only thing I really have left to do is install a sight glass on the HLT and mark volume measurments. But this will be a project for later on.

I am still brewing on the screen porch (which my wife loves, as you can imagine). I'll be posting pics as soon as we get a new camera.