Brewing with BCS

I’m settling in to my new brew set up quite well.  The thing I love the most is the precise control to the process and temps.  For example, I have my process configured to heat my HLT to my strike temp and hold it there until I’m ready.  It’ll hold water at 160F for hours if I want.  This allows me time to put the kids to bed, crush malt, etc.  This control is even more important when it comes to holding a consistent mash temp.  With coolers, I trusted that it held temp well, but was never confident in what the temperature really was.

Here’s a screenshot of my brew dashboard with BCS.  I have visibility on my tablet/phone of all three kettle temps, which state the brew system is in and the ability to override anything.  Brew processes can be configured to wait for manual intervention, good for holding temps… or can automatically move to the next process after a certain criteria is met (e.g. after 60 min mash, move to mash out).

 

BCS Utility

 

It’s taken me a little fine tuning, but I’m learning my system, temperature offsets, etc.  I turned data logging on for the last batch…Skipping Stone IPA.  Here are a couple charts of the brew day and a close up of the mash.

Brew Temps

 

 

The picture below has a section for temps during the mash.  You’ll notice my strike water dropping down to recirculation temp and a little fluctuation after that (as I over shot the amount of cool water I added).  However, after that… you’ll notice a very steady range of 147-149 and then a very even 148 for a majority of the mash.

Mash Temp

Hoping to have the system nailed to do some step mashing this winter/spring.

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E-HERMS Build – Part 1

I’m building out a 20 gallon, E-HERMS brewery and will share updates a long the way here.

E-HERMS

E-HERMS stands for Electronic – Heat Exchange Recirculation Mash System.  The whole system is powered by a 220V, 30A brew panel.  The brew panel contains a BCS (Brewery Control System) computer which allows the brewer to configure and monitor things like water temp, pumps, etc. You can read more on HERMS in general, here and here.

I ordered a DIY kit from E-Brew Supply.  It came with a stainless steel NEMA box, DIN rails, contactors, breakers and several coils of various gauge wire.

E-HERMS-Boxes

E-HERMS-Parts

 

First thing I wanted to do was spray the box with a hammered black paint.  Here’s a pic sanded and primed.

E-HERMS-BOXB

E-HERMS-BoxT

 

Next up will be painting the enclosure black and then starting in on wiring.

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I2-PA: Racking to Cask

I2-PA is a new Black IPA recipe I’m trying.  Crazy…it fermented out in about 4 days!  Tastes great out of the fermenter, so we’re ready to rock.

Here’s a few shots of racking to cask.  I added 2oz of Nugget and 1oz of Columbus hops to the cask.  Also added 1oz Nugget and 1oz Columbus to the fermenter to hop for a week before kegging.  REALLY looking forward to this one.

BlackIPACaskRack

BlackIPACask

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Whirlpool

The whirlpool is a process that takes place after the boil.  It is important, especially when using pellet hops and other adjuncts that break apart during the boil, because it gathers all of those materials into the center of the boil kettle.  While those ingredients have purpose (bitterness, flavor, etc) during the boil, they are not necessarily desirable in fermentation.

So, the whirlpool (just what it sounds like), will bring all of the solid material to the center.  As you can see in the pic, a good whirlpool will allow you to rack (transfer) the wort (unfermented ‘beer’) from the outside leaving behind the trube (stuff you don’t want).  The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but this is a 20 gallon brew kettle.

whirlpool

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Fermentation Frenzy

It’s been awhile since the last few posts…but lots has been happening.  It’s actually crazy here.  We’ve got 3 batches going right now…

12 gallons Skipping Stone IPA

5 gallons American Wheat

5 gallons American/Belgian Wheat

wheat ferm1

wheat krausen1

Inside a Fermenter

Here’s a look in my 14 gallon conical fermenter after a recent batch.  The top line is high kräusen mark (the yeasty/foamy part that forms at the top during active fermentation).  Near the bottom of the cone, you can see where the yeast settles.  The main benefit of the conical shape is to reduce the surface area that the dead yeast contacts the beer.  It also provides a narrow valve to drain the yeast and other materials off, leaving mostly clean beer behind.

insidefermenter

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Cask Day

This is a good day… means there’ll be a cask ready in a couple weeks.  This month we’ll have a mint chocolate stout on pour.  The last batch was a huge hit and early samples on this one taste delicious.  Instead of using unsweetened cocoa powder, this time I used cocoa nibs from Ghana. It’s sure to be packed with chocolate flavor and the ever so slight mint adds a perfect holiday touch.

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