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  • Writer's pictureCiaran Cunningham

If it could go wrong, it did go wrong

0600am this morning came early, after dragging myself out of bed, it was time for a wee coffee and open the shed, for it was brew day... So looking forward to brewing my first all-grain brew since Christmas as I have been too lazy and KWM is too close, and they Deliver!!

I was brewing on my 100 litre Herms system, it is a great bit of kit but as with a fast Ferrari, you need a good driver...I am more Mr Bean than Lewis Hamilton.

The kit is from Powell Engineering in Wales and is solidly built, if a little expensive

And the control panel is one similar to the Electric Brewery but a 5th of the price

So today was a Dunkel Hefeweizen, from a recipe I pulled off the internet and a grain bill and hops from HBC.... here's what google says 'Dunkelweizen has the same spicy/fruity character of a hefeweizen, but it also has a rich Munich malt character, similar to, but not as intense as a Munich dunkel. Dunkelweizen is often hazy, ranging in color from light copper to a dark mahogany-brown, and topped with a large, dense, creamy off-white head. The aroma of a good dunkelweizen includes moderate spicy notes and fruity esters, usually described as clove and banana. However, one of the most common mistakes in homebrewed weizen-style beers is having too much clove and banana character.'

Grain: Dark Wheat Malt, Pilsner, Roast Barley, Chocolate, Black Malt

Hops: Target, Hallertauer Hersbrucker

So all in all it was going to be a tasty brew once done...well we will have to wait and see because I had an absolute 'mare' of a brew day...if it could go wrong, it did go wrong.

What follows is how my brew day went, tried to write in layman's terms so everyone can understand, don't know if I achieved it....

The day started great got all the utensils sanitised and sanitised the brew pots as they hadn't been used in a while.

Started to fill the Hot Liquor Tank and the kettle, the HLT is a HERMs system so that water is never used ( stabilises the Mash Temp) and I put the brew length into the kettle to bring to Mash temp and then transfer to the Mash Tun, so far so good....nope hose busts and I got my first shower of the day....thankfully only cold water but a shock to the system as I had my back turned and then I noticed that the brew length didn't match the markings on the volume sight glass, emptied the entire kettle and added water 2 litres at a time and remarked the sight glass - oops slightly out, I was wondering why my beers never turned outright

High Tech Marking system employed today!!!!!

So dropped the grain into the mash tun and put the recommended amount of water in, it hardly covered the grain so a rethink was needed - 100-litre pots are not good for a 15-litre mash, a bit of more water got it going so crisis averted.

Rest of Mash went ok, recirculated the first 19 litres and then it went tits up, drew off the first batch to the kettle and filled the second 14 litres to the mash tun and recirculated for 15 minutes.

It was now time to transfer the rest to the kettle, flipped on the pump to transfer and .....the pumped started transferring for 10 secs and then no liquid.....stuck grain bed, (My pump is too fast and as it sucked the wort down the grain bed solidified and no more wort would come through....drama drama drama, I was thinking to myself - what the **** do I do now, so google to the rescue and eventually go the wort into the kettle. The day was fast disappearing and the kit looked a mess with spent grain and sticky wort everywhere.....

To add insult to injury, I undid a hose coupling without closing a valve and about 500ml of hot sticky wort run down my leg, not the most comfortable thing at 80 degrees C.

The boil went as expected, but I really do need to get an extractor fan, as the brewery is tiny and with all the steam it is like a Turkish Steam Bath.

After the 60 minute boil and two Hop additions it was time to cool the wort and transfer to the primary fermenter...'Where is the connections for the plate cooler' .....nowhere to be seen, so as I type I have wort in a fermenter at 40C waiting until it cools to 22C to pitch the yeast, I am as sticky as a sticky thing with sticky stamped on it, my brew length came up short by three litres and my OG is 1.36 when it should be 1.46...........aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrhhhhhhhh.

Nice rolling boil below

I am a homebrewer, I brew for pleasure lol, I take my hat off to the guys that brew full time, yes some may have the fancy kit but I am sure they all have taken a shower of hot wort a time or two during their careers.

So anyways I will pitch the yeast in the morning and we will see how the this bad boy turns out. And hopefully, the finished beer will be worth drinking....

A wee slowmo of the Mash recirculating

And to top it all I didn't even get a drink tonight ........

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