Saturday 29 January 2011

My New Toy - A Wort Pump

One of the bigger pains in the bottom I've had to put up with recently is having to pick up a five gallon fermenter and pour the contents into my copper ready for boiling. Add to that, my set up is a a 10 gallon one and moving full containers that big is a bit of a non starter, especially for one with such a history of back problems.

Lugging 46L of wort is no fun
With there being a distinct lack of height in my shed I realised pretty early on that a gravity fed system was going to be a non starter so a pump was a must buy. My first attempt at using a wort pump was not exactly an unqualified success; I used a pump designed for transferring water around solar heating systems. As the pump was not self priming I had to suck the wort from the fermenter in the first instance. As a result I can exclusively reveal hot wort isn't the most comfortable thing in one's mouth. 

Having braved the blisters in my mouth I was then faced with the pipework coming out of the fermenter and spilling wort all over my shoes and jeans. To cap it all, the whole thing packed up after three brews. 

Having parted with the best part of £60 (that's a lot of drinking vouchers, folks) I was understandably reticent to put my hand in my pocket again. Luckily the brewing community is a broad church and full of such generous folk. James from Sandstone brewery suggested a flojet pump, his Epicness Kelly Ryan then linked me to the instructions and Pete Brissenden from Lovibonds saved me from having to fork out upwards of £100 for a compressor. How? Read on.

Flojet pump and pressure spray
The flojet pump in question runs on compressed air. It's also self priming so no more sucking (matron) and can be run from a compressor or via a bottle of compressed gas. I've got dispense gas for my bar but lugging it down to the shed was impractical, and you need to have adequate venting. I was all set to break out the credit card at toolstation when Pete suggested using a pressure spray, the type of thing you can get from B&Q. 

That rang a bell with me and following a short rummage in my loft I found a pressure spray (used for treating carpets in care homes for urine spills - don't laugh that'll be us one day) when the pressure relief valve had failed. I'd kept it for spares. All I then needed to get was a 1/2"BSP female to 3/8" JG pushfit and the job, as they say, is a good 'un.

Pumping water from lower FV to upper.
So, after some testing in the conservatory, all was working. I'd half filled the pressure spray with water to lessen the amount of pumping I needed to do.

So how did it perform? Pretty well and much better than anything I've used before if I'm honest. As well as pumping from a fermenting vessel to the copper, it also did a great job recirculating wort back into the mash tun. Fantastic.

I'll be honest, I did two brews today and I was a bit knackered with all that pumping so I enlisted the help of one my teenaged sons, made a few jokes about masturbation and low and behold my wort was in my copper. Another good thing about the pump is that it can be wall mounted so, going forward, there'll be more room. However, best of all I'll now be able to do double brewlengths the whole reason I invested in a 10 Gal set up. 

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Recipe Formulation - Starvation Point Porter

I'm trying to decide whether to "smoke" the porter or not but I'm looking for a dark brown rather than black beer with a hint of coffee/choc sweetness which is why I've chosen the Carafa1 and Pale Choc combination. I've come up with this: 

Starvation Point Porter 

Grain Bill 

4.00 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC) Grain 
0.40 kg Melanoiden Malt (39.4 EBC) Grain 
1.00 kg Rauchmalz (17.7 EBC) Grain 
0.30 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (500.0 EBC) Grain 
0.15 kg Carafa I (663.9 EBC) Grain 

Boil Ingredients 

90 min 30.00 gm First Gold [7.50 %] (90 min) Hops 
45 min 25.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [4.80 %] (45 min) Hops 
10 min 15.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [4.80 %] (10 min) Hops 
5 min 1.00 items Protofloc (Boil 5.0 min) Misc 

Yeast Nottingham 
EBC 46 
IBU 37 
Est OG 1059 
Est ABV 5.5-6% 

Starvation Point is a place opposite the harbour gates in Whitstable, Kent, so called because it was where sailors and dockers used to look for work in the 1800's. Clearly some were luckier than others. I'm not entirely sure whether I'll use the Rauchmalz or not but I've got a couple of days to think about it. 

Sunday 23 January 2011

How to set up a Gas Management Board.

Nearly six months after I bought it, I've finally got my home bar up and running. Properly. 

For this, I have to thank my good friend Yonny from Copper Kettle Home Brewing who bought one of these for his kegerator project. For those who don't know, a kegerator is essentially a modified chest freezer with cornies inside and taps coming out of the wall. Google Kegerator project and you'll see what I mean.

So this is a gas management board. They were originally invented for dispensing soft drinks but they work perfectly with cornies full of beer, once you set them up properly. 

I made the mistake of working from left to right but, actually, if you work the other way it makes much more sense. 

So, from the right you have the main reg, the display of which tells you how much pressure you have in the gas bottle.  Next are five (or six in my case) red gas control valves. 

The CO2 gas in goes on the main reg. You can't see it too well on this pic but there is a screw on the main regulator on the right. This sets the pressure on the furthest valve to the right. This dial is marked carbonator on my management board. There is a pressure gauge above it. 

The next valve is marked diet on my board; I think this is a bit of a bloody cheek frankly but if I ever do brew a diet beer..... The pressure on this one is set by the right hand (of two) red knobs on, to set the pressure you need to pull the knob towards you, set the desired pressure then push it back in. 

The following four valves are all controlled by the remaining red knob on the left hand side. The important thing to remember is that you can't set a higher pressure than the gauge to the right. I set mine up thus:

  • Disconnect all kegs
  • Turn gas on at the bottle and open valve number 6
  • With a blade type screwdriver adjust the pressure to the gauge above valve 6.
  • Open valve 5.
  • Pull the knob above valve 5 and adjust until you get the desired pressure. 
  • Open valve 4 and repeat the process, only this time using the left hand red knob.
I've got mine set to:

Valve 6 (carbonator) 40psi
Valve 5 (diet) 20psi
Valves 1-4 (syrup) 7psi