Downtown, San Diego
Step 1 when brewing? Review the recipe again! Why’s that? To make sure you’re ready for Step 2
Step 2 Make sure the ingredients are in the right place. That is to say, you should stage all of your ingredients and equipment in the right place to follow the proper Order of Operations. This is particularly true for Isaac’s brew as Brewmaster Kirk Roberts advised a specific order of operations for the milling of the grain so that Isaac’s award-winning Black IPA would get the right look and flavor. Say what?!? The order in which grain is added can effect, right of the bat, the outcome of a beer. As I soon learned, many seemingly small actions can greatly effect the life of your beer.
After staging over 1,000lbs of grain in the right order needed Isaac and a certain bearded assistant loaded 50lb bag after 50lb bag of grain into the mill. The mill cracks each grain so that the water in the mash ton can get access to the sugars inside, and convert them to starches, but that’s later.
From the mill the cracked grain is moved to the mash ton, via a vacuum like tube called an auger. The mash ton is the pot where the grain is essentially cooked in hot water, something like oatmeal, in an effort to leech out the sugars and starches.
It was at this point where Kirk stepped in, or rather, stepped up to the mash ton and began paddling the concoction therein to make sure the grain was evenly distributed in the mash ton. Moreover, Kirk took the temperature as well as the pH of the soon to be wort.
The right temperature ensures you will get the level of fermentable sugars needed to make the beer you are trying to make. The right pH scale measures how acidic or basic a substance is, meaning you need the right pH level to ensure your beer won’t be too acidic or too watery.
As the wort moved from the mash ton, to the hot liquor, to the brew kettle it leaves behind that piping hot spent grain. Well, almost spent grain. At this time Kirk started the sparge. O_o
Isaac noticed my blank stare and chimed in that the sparge is a light rinsing of the grain to ensure you get as much of the sugars out of the grain, making its usage as efficient as possible. The time it takes for the wort, the liquid result of the mashing process, to make it to the brew kettle is quite a while when brewing on a 15 BBL system. So… What to do, what to do?
Throughout the process Kirk directed us to clean up as we went along. I’ve noticed this in the kitchen of top chefs. Stage your ingredients and materials, follow an order of operations, clean up as you go along. Respect the process, keep your mind uncluttered, make beer. However, I don’t care how well you clean up as you go along, there is plenty to clean up when brewing on a 15 BBL system. And one very specific, very BIG job.
Kirk opened a hatch on the mash ton…
… Revealing the spent grain within…
…which Isaac hoed out…
…while I shoveled it down…
…and we loaded in to barrel after barrel.
At this point the name of the game was clean, clean, clean; sanitize, sanitize sanitize; and wait, wait, wait.
Hurry up and wait until tomorrow, Tasters, and see how Isaac finishes up his Black IPA in part 3 of 3 of The Best Damn Homebrewer