Before blogging about my weekend brewing, I thought it would be worth detailing the kit I'm using. This is what I currently have, after about a year of all-grain brewing:
- A Grainfather and Grainbrother
- a sparge* water heater
- four bucket fermenters
- a refractometer*
- a stir plate and flask
- three corny kegs
- a CO2 bottle
- a working chest freezer
- a non-working chest freezer
- a heat pad
- a temperature controller
- a stirry thing that attaches to a drill for aerating wort*
The Grainbrother is the same thing, but without the grain basket, so after the sparge you empty the grain basket, transfer it to the Grainbrother and mash in your second brew. This makes for a more efficient brew day. If I'm organised (not an especially common occurrence) I can get three brews done in a day.
The kegs (and CO2) are a relatively new addition. Until very recently I was bottle conditioning. This was fine, but one does like to be able to take bottles of beer places without getting sediment all mixed through.
For a brief but glorious period I had two working chest freezers. This enabled me to do temperature-controlled fermentations and store frozen food. Good times! Then one broke.
The working chest freezer is currently storing kegged beer, which I'll shortly bottle. That'll then free up the temperature controller, which I'll plug into the heat pad and see if I can use that in combination with the non-working chest freezer for low-temperature fermentation.
I got the stir plate and flask specifically to make a scotch ale, which required a yeast starter.
*Glossary of terms for any non- or beginning brewers whose poor life choices have led them to this blog:
- Mash: the process of immersing crushed malts (mainly barley) in hot water to convert starches into sugars which can be fermented.
- Sparge: the process of draining hot water through the grain following the mash to extract the last of the sugars.
- Boil: More or less what it sounds like. The wort is boiled to sterilise it and boil off 'volatiles' that might cause off flavours. This is also when hops are added. Hops added early in the boil create bitterness, those added late(r) in the boil add hop aromas.
- Wort: Beer before it was cool. Or at least before the yeast has consumed the sugar and produced alcohol.
- Refractometer: a tool for gauging the gravity of - which is to say the amount of sugar in - wort, by measuring how the distortion of light as it travels through the wort.