Thinking I might recommend my last two posts Total Zen to Total Fail in 3.2 Seconds and Witbier 2.0 as prerequisite reading before this one.
It's rare that I brew two weekends in a row... was pretty great. The house was full empty, total zen mode. I am noticing that even after the 20(?) batches I have brewed, things are still getting easier. I am getting my process down well enough that I have time to chillax (lulz) between stages. Also, I can keep cleaning as I go, so when I am done, I only have 15 minutes of cleaning left... which is awesome bc I am usually wiped at that point.
For this batch I tried to do everything the same as last time. So the only change would be my recipe and I could see how much that affected my efficiency. With my system and process, it's hard to exactly reproduce everything though. Didn't take a lot of pics because everything was mostly the same as the last batch. Probably easiest to just discuss the things that were different this time.
Rice Hulls... I talked about them last time. This time I tried just using a half pound instead of a full pound. It worked fine... so that's cool. One small thing I can stretch a little further to make my batches cheaper (even though rice hulls are super cheap) I had to ask for an explanation the first time I used them so I figured I would take some pics and go over what I do real quick...
These are the dry Rice Hulls in the bag
I rinse them in a pot with warm water. To me this serves a few purposes... Rinses off any debris or rice flavor/odor (the water from rinsing always smells like rice). Pre-soaking keeps them from sucking up my strike water, that way when I calculate how much water to mash with, I don't have to take them into account. Also I like to use warm water, in my head this preheats a tiny bit of the grain helping me hit my mash temp??
After rinsing and soaking I strain and toss (toss like salad to evenly distribute) into the grain. Also, like to put a few handfuls in the bottom of the mash tun around the manifold. Idk if this is necessary, but it makes sense to me?
So... strike water. I like to mash at 1.125 qt/lb. My grain bill was 9.5 lbs so I measured out 10.75 qts and heated. When I mashed, I noticed a few things... My mash looked looser than I have ever seen it. Wondering if I measured wrong? A thin (more water) mash, I am told, could cost a few efficiency points. Also, after checking my notes from the last batch, I realized that I only used 10.25 qts for my mash.... Idk how much difference any of that would make though.
Mash... I mashed at 154 this time, two degrees higher than last time. I overshot a little, but because my mash already looked thin to me, I didn't want to add cold water to try and adjust. So I just let it ride. mashed for a long hour, no rush. Also I did an Iodine test to confirm full conversion.
Iodine test... A few drops of first runnings in a white saucer and a drop of Iodine (I used my sanitizer concentrate) If conversion was not complete the Iodine would change purple or black in the presence of the complex starches. If all the starches have broken down to fermentable sugars, there is no change in color.
Just a pic of the last of my sparge going into the kettle. I got nervous that I had over calculated my water and was going to overfill the kettle. So right after taking this pic, I shut it off, and started draining into another pot. I got a full cup into the new pot and it stopped anyway... of course. (no emoticons blogger?? I need a rolling eyes smiley here)
Oh! So... every brewday I forget to take a pic of my wort chiller for you. This time I fully forgot again. But, after about 5 minutes in the boil I remembered, pulled it back out and took a pic. I totally burned my hand on the hot copper to show you a pic of my ugly junk (that sounds terrible) It's ugly but it does the job.
If you look close you can see the spices and orange peel floating on top here. Trying to keep things the same, I forgot the tablespoon of flour at flame out... again. The wit style is supposed to be cloudy. The flour is just a little trick to make sure it stays cloudy no matter what. So we'll see what happens there.
My yeast starter was fully active when pitching. I wish I could have given it a little more time (I kinda started it at the last possible second) I had a little lag for fermentation to start. It was just starting to bubble (I know, I know HBT peeps... not a good indicator) the next morning... I hooked up a blowoff tube just in case it decides to go full nuts like the last one did
Here are the two fermentors side by side, one week apart to the day.
Results... I took a preboil gravity reading 1.036 at 7.25 (ish) gallons. I'm not sure on the relevance but I have been asked about this on the forums a few times, so I figured I could at least be prepared with an answer this time. I boiled off more than I expected to in the 90 minute boil (remember 90 minutes whenever I use pilsner) so I topped up about a quart to get to 5.5 gallons and I measured gravity at 1.047. That puts me at 71% efficiency? which is ok... not what I was shooting for but ok. I have a few more questions that I will keep to myself until I answer them... I will brew again and see what happens. Probs not next batch (thinking I'll get sick of wit if I do 3 batches in a row) So... Victory?? I guess... not as decisive as I was hoping but it's progress..
Also, sidenote... The SMaSHed Pils keg kicked tonight. :( (Also, shhh on the fact that it was only two weeks) But the timing is actually good bc I can get the first wit into the kegerator to carb for next weekend (total family party for three year old birthday...) Quick cider has been sitting a week carbing. Planning on leaving alone till party. Probably quick cleaning of the Pils keg and tap then kegging the wit tomorrow night. Maybs see ya then... Getting to be hard to not be repetitive here... thinking blog posts will be getting shorter? Anyways... Later.