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Back at it, brewed for first time in 4-5 months

Early this year I had just moved to all grain and successfully did 4 batches with my old tried and true set up and brewing space. I moved back in March and I finally have a basic brewing area set up and tried to brew a batch late yesterday afternoon. What A Disaster! Everything that could have gone wrong did and I had to improvise. And I mean everything!

  1. I made a recipe on Beersmith and could not get printers to work to print it. I just don’t print much at home :blah:
  2. After formulating the recipe, I could not locate one of the secondary grains and had to wing it with a substitution
  3. Heated my strike water and put it in the cooler before mashing in. When I started mashing in, there was no where near enough water, so I quickly heated up and added more. Moved my cooler up on a stone wall while it was mashing and walked away. Few minutes later, there was liquid running down the wall. I looked on the ground where I started mashing and there was a big pile of wet grain sitting there! I forgot to close the damn plug in the back of the cooler. So I scramble to scrape up what grain I could salvage and add back into the cooler and then I run and guesstimate that I lost 5-6 oz of grain - quickly grind up some more, heat MORE water and finally get something that resembles a normal mash consistency.
  4. The remainder of the mash and sparge went fine and I actually took a pre-boil gravity reading, which I usually do not do. It was dead on.
  5. End of the boil, I realize that I do not have enough ice for the bath I use for my cfc, so I send my son for a bag of ice, he comes back with 3 (thank god)
  6. Scramble to set up and sanitize my CFC and realize that my old system had a natural high tier for gravity feeding my hot wort, which I no longer have. Scramble Scramble and Set up something temporary
  7. Lug hot wort down the steps and put up on temp shelf. Make ice bath and turn on the little fountain pump I have, water shoots everywhere as the gasket was not set right.
  8. Fix gasket and turn on pump - no water through CFC. I try everything and nothing is working. The CFC was more elevated in this setup that my old one because of the temp shelf height
  9. In absolute Pi**ed Off mode, I disconnect pump and CFC and throw across room. My only option is to try to cool this using an ice bath. Full 5.3 gallons in a bucket. Thank god for 3 bags of ice and frozen water bottles. It took about 90 minutes, but I finally got it down to 70 degrees or so. GOOD ENOUGH!
  10. Finally aerate and add yeast starter.

The good news is that after all this, with my adjustments, my gravity was dead on. Couldn’t believe it. I am confident the beer will turn out great, but what an afternoon/evening. I was not having fun at the end. Lots of lessons learned and a very quick lesson in the stuff I need to figure out before the next session. Feel sorry for my wife and grown son as I was not very pleasant to be around for several hours.

We all have those days, glad to hear the beer didn’t suffer as a result. It only takes one or two of those experiences to show you how you need to set up at your new location.

Moral of the story: when trying out a new set-up, it is advisable to do a “dry run” using just water from start to finish to make sure that you have identified the unforeseen problems.

All good advice. I expected some blips, but not to the extent that I had. I probably learned more in 4 hours yesterday than in the last several months after I got my procedures “down”.

I was itching to get back in the game and now I get to spend a little time assessing some things.

[quote=“560sdl”]All good advice. I expected some blips, but not to the extent that I had. I probably learned more in 4 hours yesterday than in the last several months after I got my procedures “down”.

I was itching to get back in the game and now I get to spend a little time assessing some things.[/quote]

Thanks for sharing your saga. Puts my minor mishaps from last weekend into perspective.

I’m sure you’ll get everything squared away next time and find the process enjoyable once again.

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