As we approach December many of the teething issues we have had with the equipment have been resolved and we have now completed a commercial brew that is ready to sell.
With Michael taking a well deserved break in Spain it was down to me to do the first brew. I had planned it out so that it could all be done by one person by installing the hopper. While the water was heating up I measured out all the grain and filled it.
For the Dryfe Ale recipe the grain all fit into the hopper.
For the Dryfe Blonde which has a higher alcohol percentage and more grain I needed to add the last bag half way through.
It is important that all the grain is mixed together. Dryfe Ale uses much more roasted barley and the grain appears much darker in colour than the Blonde.
At this stage I also added DWB powder which adds important minerals to the water to make it perfect for beer.
Once the water was up to temperature I started to mash in mixing the grain and water in the mash tun.
I had to have the hot liquor tank (HLT) up to almost 80 degrees in order to get the optimum mash temperature in the mash tun. In summer this will be lower!
After mashing in the mixture of grain and water had to sit for one hour to allow all the sugars to be extracted from the grain. I then recirculated the mash tun to make sure that anything that may have got under the false bottom gets put back in. This is called a Vorlauf.
I then began the 'run off' into the kettle. When I was doing earlier tests I discovered that when the kettle was half full and I had both heating elements on the whole vessel began to shake violently. After a bit of advice I found that the feet on the kettle weren't quite even. To solve this and stop them rotating during the process I put a small heat proof mat under each one.
When the beer- or 'wort' as it is called until it has fermented- hits the kettle it must boil for one hour. This is when the hops are added.
After the boil it must be cooled as quickly as possible by running through a heat exchange and into the fermentor where I aimed for 20 degrees.
I then pitched the yeast and let the beer sit for a few days taking gravity readings to track its progress.
After it hit the right alcoholic percentage I chilled the fermentor down to 13 degrees for two days in what is called a diacetyl stand. I then crash chilled it down to 7 degrees and removed the trub that is produced from the yeast.
Once the trub was removed I added auxiliary finings to negatively charge the yeast so that when I add isinglass finings the beer clears.
I then racked off the beer into casks and it is currently undergoing a secondary fermentation to carbonate it.
It has been a fun process so far and there have been a few learning curves to conquer!