Well, I'm hoping that this brew will turn out ok. It was one thing after another with this one and quite frankly I'm glad it's over. Now I've got my fingers crossed it doesn't spoil on me. I guess I'll know in a couple of days or so.
I figured this time around I'd try some whole cone hops. I picked up some Yakima kiln dried Cascade hops and then researched the best method to use them and to understand the pros and cons. One of the big cons was the fact that the whole cones will clog up the spout when transferring to the fermenter (later on that). I considered a few things, but everything pointed towards letting them swim freely in the boil to get the best extraction of the hops.
So I started out this morning with a SMASH recipe and the first thing that went wrong was I overshot the temp about 30 minutes into mash while attempting to keep the temp in the correct range. It shot up to about 170F, but I was able to shut it down and get the temp back to ~152F in short time. At the conclusion of the mash I did a quick check of the conversion using the iodine test and it looked good. So I concluded that this wasn't going to be an issue.
Then I moved on to the boil and adding the whole cone hops into the kettle. Everything went well and at the conclusion of the boil I started cooling the wort with my wort chiller. One of my hoses was leaking a bit and I noticed some water making it into the wort. Tightened the clamp and went on with my business.
Next was my biggest challenge - transferring the wort to the fermenter without getting clogs, etc. fro the hops. First attempt was unsuccessful. It clogged after a few ounces and subsequent attempts clogged the spout. Next I tried to siphon and same results. So I poured the wort into the fermenter using a kitchen strainer I had already sanitized just in case. This wasn't easy and I wound up contacting the wort with my hand a few times.
After this I pitched the yeast and put this beast in the closet. Now only time will tell....
Lesson learned - Stick to pellet hops in the future. But I can say been there - done that.
Just FYI, the OG was 1.052 (on target) and it looked/tasted good (for now ). I pitched the yeast at ~80F (using the Imperial Labs Kvieking).