Wednesday, 13th February, 2013, 1pm, one year 11 months after Gregg and Bryan first started talking about opening a brewery, and 15 weeks after getting the keys to the unit that houses our brewery, Weird Beard Brew Co. doughed in their very first beer. We started off proceedings with a beer we affectionately refer to as Boring Brown beer. This beer is brown, around 7% ABV and 100+ IBU, so pretty dull. We went with this as it uses just a single hop variety with quite a simple grain bill. It will not be a regular, so the perfect beer to sacrifice to the commissioning and learning of the new brew house. This beer is currently sitting in FV3.
Boring Brown was not the first beer brewed on site. As many of you know, we
share the location with another brewery, Ellenbergs Brewery. These 2 breweries are
totally different entities, making vary different styles of beer, but sharing a
location and equipment. This has helped keep costs down for both breweries,
meaning we can bring you even more quality beer. The very first beer brewed on
the new brew house was an Ellenberg beer, and was their fantastic Alt. But we
have to admit, as you may expect, not everything went to plan.
First, and probably the biggest issue we had, almost resulting in the burning down of the place before
a drop’s brewed, was a badly wired/label switch. We have a large hot liquor
tank, which you will know has already caused us issues with leaking. Well, this
has a large thermostatically controlled heating element in, which we can dial
in the required temperature before leaving in the evening and return to a tank
full of water waiting to make beer. Well, this is the idea anyway. Monday night
we dialled in the temperature we needed for Tuesday morning, set the thing to
auto and went for a beer expecting all to be good the next day. On arrival
Tuesday morning, we found a cloud of steam in the air and condensation dripping
on everything. It would appear the installers had wired the auto setting in
such a way that left the element on, all night, boiling away. If we hadn’t set
the tank to auto fill with water as the level dropped it would have no doubt boiled
dry and possibly caught fire. We were not happy, as this was obviously a very
close call safety wise, everything was soaking wet, and the water in the tank
was useless. This delayed us, but did not stop us, and Ellenburgs Alt went into
FV1 at around 01:30 in the morning.
There are countless other small issues, Mike Ellenberg's kettle cleaning skills not being one of them, which there is little point in
getting into here and now. But these will hopefully all be fixed next week when
the installers return to finish the job. But one other major issue is the
cooling of the fermenters. Basically this didn’t work at all, and we had to
swap the fermenter chiller with the cold liquor tank chiller, which is not as powerful.
They have also managed to screw up the auto function on these units too, as
they are either on, or off. Temperature control of fermentations is kinda
important, so we are pretty annoyed about this too.
Besides all of these issues, we can brew beer, so that’s what we continued
to do. Friday we brewed the first of our proposed core beers. Hit the Lights is
currently sat in FV4.
So, to this week’s pictures, which were taken while we were cleaning down
after brewing Hit the Lights.
In the first 2 pictures, of the main brew house, the mash tun is being dug
out. The large white sack to the right of the first picture, and bottom of the
2nd, contains the spent
grain. The fermenter is about half full of Hit the Lights, as it makes its way
through the cooling and into a fermenter. The floor is very wet, which is why
we spent so much time and money getting the floor right in the beginning. The
thing hanging off the mezzanine down to the mash tun, that looks like a drain
pipe, is, a drain pipe. Well, it is our home made hopper and grain hydrator,
which makes adding loading the grain into the tun a lot easier.
The view from the rear is looking pretty tidy this week. That’s because water
gets everywhere, so most things have been stored sensibly now.
Looking down from the mezzanine gives the best view of the spent grain in
the big white sack. This went into the mash as 378Kg of grain, but will have
absorbed 0.8 of its body weight in liquid. This sack is heavy. By the door
there is a grain bag holding used hops. There were around 6 of these earlier,
but someone from the local allotments came and collected most of them, but couldn’t
get them all in his car, so left this straddler behind.
Nothing ever really changes on the mezzanine, well nothing you can see beyond
the sacks of grain. A couple of piles have gone down, but it’s hardly noticeable.Although you can see a trial jar in the second photo with a hydrometer in. Can you see the reading fro Hit the Lights?
3 out of the 4 fermenters in the fermentation room now hold beer. The 2 on
the furthest wall, FV1 & FV2 are Ellenburg’s, with their Alt in FV1. While
the 2 on the right, are Weird Beards. The closest one with the red hose
connected was being filled with Hit the Lights. The one with the green bucket
is holding a vigorously fermenting Boring Brown. It is so vigorous it is
escaping out of the spray ball pipe.
I expected this to be the last of the progress blogs, as the brew house was
meant to be in, and fully working. It is currently limping along waiting to be
brought up to an acceptable standard though. We also need to get the bottling
line working. We really need to get the bottling line working, as Boring brown
will be ready next week. So this will not be the last blog. I will let you
decide whether this is good news or not.
All views and grammatical errors are those of WeirdBeardBryan, and not always of the Weird Beard collective.