Brewing Experiment and Equipment Builds

Last weekend, at Lochmere's Night on the Town event, I held a brewing demo and discussion.  The topic at hand: the relative pros and cons of Extract and All-Grain brewing.

The brewing itself reflected this theme:  two "half-batches" (2.5 gallons each) of as near an identical brew as I can make, one each in Extract and All-Grain.  The basic recipe I tried to keep simple: I found a 3.3# can of Briess Munich liquid extract, and added a one-pound bag of Briess Pilsen Light dry extract; for hops, I went with two ounces of Hallertauer, one each at 15 minutes into the boil and flameout; WLP-838 was the yeast of choice.  For the All-Grain, I had to do some math--the liquid extract, while named "Munich," is not, in fact, all Munich malt.  So, I used 3.75 pounds of Pilsner malt and 2.3 pounds of Munich Malt.  The hop bill and yeast remained the same.

The process went fairly smoothly.  I had been worried about efficiency with so little grain in the mash-tun; it ended up being a non-issue.  After topping up the All-Grain batch (to even out the liquid levels), it had a gravity of 1.056, giving me a 73% efficiency; the Extract batch had an SG of 1.053.  The biggest difference apparent was, as expected, the color; I hadn't expected it to be quite as pronounced as it was, though.  The Extract batch was a good 5 degrees or so darker than the All-Grain, not the 1-2 degrees anticipated.  Regardless, it was interesting, and a good discussion was had, generally speaking.  I hope to serve the brews at Lochmere's Investiture, this September.

In other news, I'm gathering parts to (finally) shift to a RIMS system.  I've had the heating element for quite some time; I bit the bullet and started ordering other parts a couple of weeks ago.  I received yesterday a PID controller from Auber Instruments, as well as a thermocouple.  A solid-state relay and heatsink are en route, and should be here probably next week; most of what's left is plumbing.  I intend to do it all in stainless steel, which means I'll probably build slowly, getting a piece or two at a time, due to the cost.  Still, progress is progress.  Photos will be forthcoming as more parts arrive.

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