Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween Brew Day Recap

The (inaugural?) Halloween Midnight Brew went nearly without a hitch. Technically, everything went as expected; socially, it went basically as expected, also.

In the social aspect, it ended up being just me doing the brew. Hopefully, next year I can convince a few more people to come over. Still, I often find that doing a solo brew goes more smoothly than doing one with others around. (I'd rather have a few others around, if only so I can chat with them as I go.)

The burners were lit precisely at midnight; by half-past, the grain was being mashed. A hair over 22 pounds of grain, it turns out, is about half of my mash-tun capacity. (Good to know, I think...) I even had room enough that I could have done two infusions, had I wanted. Three might have been stretching it.

Due to the lack of other participants, and looking at the time, and having had a really long day, I decided that I had fulfilled the spirit of my goal, and decided to allow the mash to go overnight. I picked up where I had left off at about 9:30 on Saturday morning, heating water for the sparge.

My experience with 'big' brews has shown me that my efficiency tends to suffer; I'm not certain of the mechanics of why, but I accept the 'fact-of.' I only got around 68% efficiency, as opposed to my more typical 75%; still, things were well within acceptable norms. The boil was remarkably well-behaved, and I only lost a couple of ounces to boil-over. The re-constructed pump worked well. I even heated up a couple of gallons of plain water to help with clean-up (especially the pump). The yeast had been pitched by noon, and active fermentation was underway by nightfall Saturday. I may tweak the spice blend, should I do this again--maybe ditch the nutmeg, add perhaps a little ginger, bump up the cinnamon. Still, come the end of a year, it will be a nice brew, I'm sure.

I haven't decided when my next brew day will be; probably the weekend before Thanksgiving. That's rather late in the month, but it's the only one I have really free; hopefully, my December brew day will be earlier.

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