When Brewers Gather Together to Brew: A Brew Session Report

Kevin: a man in love with a great system. But as brewers we tend to be in love with great brew systems. We know the… drill.-Ken

Editor’s note: this was passed on to The Professor by our own Ken Carman. Welcome to Music City Brewers who click the link in The Brew-Score to see “the full report.” Ken has also added a note here and there. For homebrewers brewing has become an occasional communal experience where more heads can make a better brew, and a fun time! Brewing is, if nothing else, a creative endeavor.- The Professor

Written by Kevin Jones for The Brew-Score

Ed Wildermouth, Pat Bush, Ken Johnson, Julieann Kapelan, Patrick and I brewed a Belgian Wit (Wit Your Whistle) during the February MCB meeting. I included a text version of the recipe below.

I had some excellent help that day from our five MCB members. They were interested in learning more about transitioning to all grain brewing so I was happy they took me up on my offer to do a joint brew.

Brew day went great. We (I) had the usual amount of oops moments. Such as… while explaining how the malt husk-supplied enzymes would convert the flaked grains, I realized that we (I) had forgot to add the flaked grains to the mash! No problem, we were only a few minutes into the mash, so a quick add and another 45 minute wait for conversion. Our target was 20 gallons at an OG of 1.055. We got 20 gallons at 1.054. Gotta love the ProMash program.

We put a ton of yeast (4 vials of WLP400 and 2400 ml of starter) into my new Blickman 27 gallon fermentor (Rebel Brewer) and 20 gallons of fresh wort. Airlock activity started in a few hours and before going to bed I decided to swap out the airlock for a blow off tube. Smart decision. The next morning krausen was pouring from the blow off along with a steady stream of bubbles. This lasted almost 24 hours, then I returned to an airlock.

After such dramatic airlock/blowoff activity, which was slowing on day 3 I did a gravity test and was surprised to find the gravity higher than expected, 1.040 (OG 1.054). I check my temperatures. Thanks to my new Digital Dual

Function Refrigerator Thermostat with thermowell (also Rebel Brewer – Santa was very good to me) I had an exact reading of the fermenting beer. The reading was 68 F degrees. Optimum for the WLP400 is 70 F, which scared me a little so I had 68 F set. I bumped it up to 72 F (again beer temp vs. ambient air temp) and airlock activity took off again.

On a side note. Until now I have always controlled the ambient temp around the my fermentors and guessed at the real temp in the fermentor. I assumed as much as a 5 degree rise inside the fermentor (10 gallons and up) from yeast metabolic activity. Turns out it is only about 2-3 degrees difference in the current 20 gallon batch.

All in all, it should be a killer batch of Wit. This is a proven recipe with more than one blue ribbon to its credit…if it is judged while really fresh! Once I got a blue ribbon on this beer and 3 weeks later it did not place. This one is best fresh. We will be kegging/bottling and DRINKING this beer in a about a week!

The system I brew on is the B-2050, manufactured by More Beer. About 6 years ago I was able to visit More Beer in northern CA and go over every option with them. It was a fantastic day. I was the kid in a candy store. After looking at this system for years, it was finally on order.

The B-2050 in the largest (or was at the time) system More Beer makes. It is considered a 20 gallon system although it has a 26 gallon kettle, mash tun and Hot Liquor Tank (HLT). You need a 26 gallon capacity to produce 20 gallons. Brewing the Belgian wit, our target run off into the kettle was 24.75 gallons, which boils down to 20 gallons. 24.75 gallons in a 26 gallon kettle is close to the top, so there is not much room for the boil. In fact if I’m making a beer that really need a vigorous boil. I will plan for less than 20 gallons, so I have more head room and can boil it harder.

Some of the other features I love about the B-2050 are its massive natural gas burners, 200,000 BTU under each vessel. It also comes with a HERMS, Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System. More Beer calls their HERMS a SMART, Step Mash Adjusted Recirculation Temperature. It is a way of adjusting your Mash temperature without the concerns of scorching that can be associated with applying direct flame or use electric heating elements. Think of it as an emersion chiller in reverse.

One other feature I included was float switch in the mash tun. It keeps the water level above the grain bed at a constant level by controlling the sparge water via the high temperature pump and the HLT.

I looked at several systems before buying the B-2050. What sold me on that one was a feature they call the tippy dump mash tun. The mash tun sits at the highest point on the frame and pivots to dump the spent grains down a shoot and into a trash can. With the size of this system, I knew that cleaning out 110 lbs (35+ lbs of grain hydrated with 9 gallons of mash water) of steaming grain can be a problem. It’s too heavy to carry off and scooping it out is no fun. With this design the mash cleanout is the easiest part.

The down side of this design is that it is very tall, 76 inches, so you need a tall space to use. My answer to that was to build a house around it, or so the joke goes.

I did have blueprint of my dream brewery, designed around the B-2050.

Behind the system you see our final destination.-Ken
When Regina and I built our house, we altered the house blueprints so that the walkout basement would have everything I needed for my Man Cave Brewery, including enough room for the B-2050, which gave me a 10 foot high basement and raise the entire elevation of the house by 4 feet. So I love to joke to people that our house is built around my brewery, which is not entirely untrue. I’m very lucky to have the personal brewery, a wife that understands my passion and enjoys the beers it produces. The only thing better than brewing on it is sharing it others.

Wit Your Whistle

Recipe by ProMash-Witbeir: BJCP Style and Style Guideline, A ProMash Brewing Session – Recipe Details Report

Recipe Specifics
—————-

Batch Size (Gal): 20.00 Wort Size (Gal): 20.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 41.67
Anticipated OG: 1.055 Plato: 14.03
Anticipated SRM: 3.8
Anticipated IBU: 23.8
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Formulas Used
————-

Grain/Extract/Sugar

% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
—————————————————————————–
8.0 3.33 lbs. Flaked Oats America 1.033 2
80.0 33.33 lbs. Pale Malt Malteurop America 1.036 2
12.0 5.00 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat America 1.034 2

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.

Hops

Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
—————————————————————————–
3.33 oz. Hallertau Northern Brewer Pellet 6.00 23.8 60 min.
3.33 oz. Saaz Pellet 3.90 0.0 0 min.

Extras

Amount Name Type Time
————————————————————————–
3.33 Tsp Irish Moss Fining 15 Min.(boil)
3.33 Oz Corriander Seed Spice 10 Min.(boil)
3.33 Oz Dried Spicy Orange Peel Spice 10 Min.(boil)

Yeast
—–

White Labs WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale

After the session I’m sure the brewers retired to Kevin’s great taproom.-Ken