Phyro's first run at an AG write up, tips, suggestions welcome (pi

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[SIZE=10.5pt]Evening folks, [/SIZE] :icon_cheers: hope you're bored, to be reading this, you probably have to be
[SIZE=7.5pt]Apologies if I'm putting this up in the wrong spot, wasn't sure if here of the welcome page. Can be moved...this will also not be overly serious. I'm too new to the sport for that to be the case.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]So, without much further ado, the other day I picked up a Robobrew with the whole hearted intent of dipping the toe into the AG scene - after a few extracts and a partial that we won't talk about just yet. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=6pt]Or Ever.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Thought I might chuck this write up here [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]a) so I can find it again later, B) so I can commit to being serious about getting better about this c) for the methodology to be reasonably critiqued. Might I add, this forum, having lurked a fair bit of late, is a hell of a different [/SIZE]neighborhood[SIZE=10.5pt] to car clubs. Kudos to that,[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]I'd been picking up a few odds and sods here and there when I realised I was going ahead with this. Many sods are still arriving thanks to the unhesitatingly expedient nature of Oz post here in WA. Ah well. Wait Awhile.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]But by yesterday I had enough to go ahead. As someone who hasn't done an AG, participated in an AG, watched and AG - is even still only learning half the acronyms - the learning curve has been wonderfully steep.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]So, I'm keen to hear areas where I can improve that I haven't already worked out (many...many bleeding obvious parts were worked out along the way). There are also a few parts to the science/art that I haven't full wrapped my head around. Like efficiency. Still working on getting that concept. [/SIZE]


[SIZE=10.5pt]-Get Robobrew[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]-Swing via LHBS[/SIZE][SIZE=6pt] (go team acronyms!) [/SIZE][SIZE=10.5pt]and have a chat with Roy (Milk Lizard was correct there, great guy)[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]-Grab ingredients from their list of recipes (Around the horn English Bitter) on the grounds of it's fairly tolerant brew.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]-Realise the Robobrew IC isn't fully fitted with ....fittings, and that I'll be batch sparging at the least, and not enough time (reasons) to get the IC up and running.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]-Go back to T.W.O.C the next day (Hi Roy) and buy a cube. And a 15lt fermenter (reasons). Aaand a thermowell and some other stuff. And more yeast. And scales. Ah jeez. Stop buying stuff.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]-Ok so first brew is going to be no chill (go Oz!), have a chat to Roy re: hop schedule, advice is play it the same, fair crack. Off we track.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 1 - try not to wildly underestimate how much time it will take for a rookie to brew holy heck i'm an idiot.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]After prepping all the ingredients and tools I thought I'd need, brought strike water to temp, then a bit more. Checked refractometer's calibration (followed by a mad google to see if lack of natural light is a problem) and we're good to go. 'Bless Fremantle's desal. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 2 - you still do not full understand brix and stop pretending you do[/SIZE]


[SIZE=10.5pt]Commence dough in on roughly 17.5l of water at an annoying 81c that was a bugger to get down to recommended strike temp. By the time I had the recommended strike temp of 65 I'd added 2l. At this point a Viking mate with a fair amount of experience was online and able to baby sit me and his new born (aww) while working from home. Scandinavians eh? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 3 - a whole bunch of everyone/recipes/rules/advice will vary by degrees, confounding a newbie who's trying to play it straight. Probably a case of find what works for you?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]At this point probably worth noting I'd decided to follow Deliverance's guide and recipe as I could always defer to direct feedback from 'em (16mins down the road); where it differed from any other guide. Case in point strike water volume and temp. Calculators’ online (brewersfriend) has indicated higher litrerage. And when you think about it, I ended up adding more as I wrestled the temp down which had the added benefit of allowing me to stir the 5.7kg of grain.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 4 - buy a stronger damn stirrer[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Let it mash for a while, paying attention to the temp more than needed. The Robobrew holds its temp marvellously. I did consider wrapping it in The Minister's (for War and Finance) yoga mat for insulation, but didn't seem needed. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]After the recommended time had passed (the recipe [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Proceeded to hoist the malt pipe outta the main vessel and this is where the learning really kicked off. [/SIZE]


[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 5 - don't put the Robobrew in too high of a place you'll pull a muscle or something getting the malt pipe out.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 5.5 - have a helper on hand to get the bracket that supports the malt pipe in place or set the pipe aside for a moment, put the bracket in place, pick the pipe back up again and place back in the bracket, [/SIZE][SIZE=7.5pt]maintain the curvature of your lower back, [/SIZE][SIZE=6pt]toes slightly outwards, wear proper lifting shoes and a lifting belt may be needed. Rerack your weights when finished. [/SIZE][SIZE=10.5pt]An assistant helps. Not the end of the world if you're not weak as me.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Commence sparge. This is the most obvious issue I had I bet. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 6 - bloody heck at least have a stock pot large enough for sparging water good grief![/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]So the best and largest pot we had was about 8-9l, filled with 8l and had to then dip in a smaller pot to carry from, oh lord, from the stove in the kitchen to the room with the Robobrew in it (ostensibly called a laundry, despite no supporting evidence of laundering) and back again. And again. Repeat this enough times to empty the first 8l and pour the recently boiled kitchen kettle into the stock pot to commence again. Strewth. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 6.5 - you're a nonce and you should have picked up on the signals and got an HLT of some sort. Pretty obvious at this point eh?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Recipe called for 20lt sparge. I assume (?) if you use an amount for bringing the mash down in temp, you simply deduct that from the sparging amount?

As I was sparging, and wondering when that word will sound normal, I noticed something. Somehow, despite how basic it was, I had too much wort. Recipe advises that it's for 25lt and will boil down. I ended up with closer to 32l. Magic water? Never was good with numbers. I've thought about this for the last day and can only think I overfilled my initial strike water, and then added 2lt and then sparged with another 16ish litres. Yet the guide from the mob indicates 3lt strike water per 3kg of grain, and I had 5.7kg. Not that anyone likes making their stuff ups public, but just over 17lt of strike water, 2lt for temp correction, 16lt of water used to sparge (guide indicated approx. 20lt), I should have had 35lt and change; I did have closer to 32lt.

[SIZE=10.5pt]I got nothing here, all I can do is watch myself next brew and see what happens? Probably something rather simple and I just missed it. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]At this point I doubled down on the concept of ancient folks of ancient days praying to ancient Dionysus or whoever, to make beer 'happen' - a few extra litres is 'learning curve' material. Weak beer maybe?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Took readings before the boil
Refractometer read: 4% brix solid
[SIZE=10.5pt]Hydrometer read: 1060[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Then after letting the damn things cool down a bit
17.5% Brix and hydrometer had 1072.
[SIZE=10.5pt]Not experienced enough to have any initial reactions to those readings. But the recipe indicated an OG of[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Oh well, on with the boil and we'll see what happens. This whole thing is a learning curve and if I end up with 20lt of dishwater in a cube, that's still more than I had before, losses are acceptable in this stage of my brewing/getting wort all over the house. As well as, lurking has shown me a number of posts of people posting about bottling rubbish end ending up with a decent brew. To the tune of 'it isn’t over ‘til it's over'. So I kept that in mind.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 7 - keep learning from each brew and other people[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]From 65c to 100c took about 40 mins. In this perhaps insulation may speed things up...[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 8 - [/SIZE] [SIZE=10.5pt]SHMBO isn't using the yoga mat anyway... :rolleyes:[/SIZE]

Sorry kid, brew day.

[SIZE=10.5pt]Boiling. Followed by the Foam monster from planet foam. In spite of using some antifoam additive. A Guinness like brown head appeared and then turned on me like a foam beast does. A quick flick of the mains power, some wet rag action to get as much cleaned up, a turn back on and a quick panic when the control panel doesn't do what I think it should do, then success. Viking Boy (this adventures co-pilot in absentia) advises stand by and stir. I turn the smaller the element off and stand by, stirring in any overly aggressive foam action, while the laundry slowly turns into a parody of a Chinese laundry in those old cop shows that Dad used to watch. 30 mins into the boil and it seems to not be overly aggressive in the foaming category and I flick the smaller element back on. The gentle rolling boil kicks up into a real decent bugger but the foam/boil over I was expecting never eventuates. Well, hop schedule time it is.[/SIZE]

A mad dash clean up occurred with middling levels of success.

Scrubbing did occur the next day, turns out hot foam on hot metal is stubborn fresh or 24hrs mature.

[SIZE=10.5pt]Lesson 9 - don't boil over the Persian rug you love. Use the one you hate instead? or tiles. Or don't boil over.[/SIZE]


60gs of EKG in at 60mins, some reactionary foam action but otherwise the house now smells fantastic and the walls are sweating. Who the hell builds a laundry without an exhaust fan? Window open and the oddly cool Freo air is mixing with the hot brewery air and a cold front is developing in the laundry, with rain expected sometime this evening.


[SIZE=10.5pt]Ah, forgot to buy whirlfloc, ah well - interested to see this brew without it. I stir occasionally but this boil is so active I'm probably being redundant.

Lesson 10 - to do: buy whirlfloc or gelatine et al and try later on.

[SIZE=10.5pt]Rolling boil held really steady, temp gauge did barely budge at all. Pretty impressed with that really, cold window open, though it wasn't that close. Given how difficult it was to get the mashing temp down to the ideal and all.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]15min to end of boil, in with another 20g of EKG[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]1min to boil though I'm fairly certain it was late by 4mins, in with the last 20g of EKG. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Off with the power and give it a decent stir to start a whirlpool and let it rest for a few beats.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Not much settling going on. Ah well. [/SIZE]


[SIZE=10.5pt]Rack to the cube I cleaned, using a towel based tourniquet to squeeze the air, do the rotation business. And since it's a cool night, it can drop in temp outside. Why not? Seems logical. And my fermenter fridge isn't too conducive to a cube just right now [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]And onto some mild cleaning as by this point I was tired as heck.

Next day

[SIZE=10.5pt]Everything proceeded fairly normally with the usual anxiousness over how sanitised everything was. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Utilised a sieve as I decanted to the fermenter. Wound up with 22lt of sweet wort, not too bad. It's the first AG so it isn't going to be amazing and I'm not likely to want too much of it, ha, am too excited to fix the errors and brew the next one. [/SIZE]


[SIZE=10.5pt]Fermenter will sit like an orphan wizard, under the stairs where the temp stays fairly steady at 23-24. Recipe called for 18-24 and the days are getting cooler, should be fine for now. Rehydrated the yeast and let come to the same temp as the fermenter. Took readings just before pitching. I believe new brewers are allowed to take a million more readings than necessary? ...but this seemed relevant to my learning. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Refractometer 15% brix[/SIZE]
[SIZE=10.5pt]Hydrometer 1060. Odd? No?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10.5pt]Time will tell, from here.

So, if you can see any low hanging fruit I've missed; please feel free to point them out. Next brew I should have a converted fridge ready for the fermenter, and some insulation and whirlfloc for the Robobrew. And a better approach to sparging. And better maths.

Update: word from back home (am at site now) is that the fermenter is sitting at about 26c, any idea if Nottingham yeast can handle that temp? Brew fridge isn’t set up yet, figured the room the fermenter is in was steady after measuring it for a few weeks – likely the heat from the yeast itself I guess?

Thank you in advance, if you put up with the rambling and had a read. Sometimes the info out there can be a bit paralysing, hence staying close to the recipe on this one.

- Phyro
Got to say, enjoyable read. Sounds like you are having fun which is what it is about (and good beer). Funny after your first brew (I've not done that many yet) it becomes a lot easier as you aren't so worried about it all, being organised up front is always useful. Good luck with the brew, interested to hear how it comes out
Fair to say, smells amazing. Has the GF on board now (keeps going to where the fermenter is for a whiff).

Yeah, pretty much rite of passage for rookies to overanalyze and stress about it all. Figure I'll just ride that wave.
Good read !

Re boil overs: Keep a spray bottle with water on hand, turn down the heat as soon as the boil starts, and stir the brew while spraying cold water on the foam. Result: no boil over. And before all of that, watch your brew come to the boil like a hawk. Turn your back for 30 seconds, and it's likely to reward you with a boil over.
A spray bottle! strewth! Genius! I've got starsan and sodium met in sprays but not water. I did notice stirring brought the foam under control - after the fact.
Gah! Forgot to give credit where due, can't edit the initial post it seems -

Robobrew purchased from señor Andrew at BulkBrewing Supplies. A small business starting out. Polite and helpful chap. Kudos
Nottingham is a yeast I use a lot of. Ferments fast, clean and drops clear without cold crashing . But, I've found 16c is notto's sweet spot. Much over that and it produces flavours I don't like. 26c? Prob turn out mighty estery. Temp control really is a must to make consistently good beer .

Anyway , your first AG seemed to go smooth. Back when i did mine there were so many fuckups it took 11 hours. Being blind , maggoted pissed at the time may have contributed to my problems a tad though. The resulting beer was surprisingly good . RDWHAB.
Yeah, pretty much what I was thinking. I've gutted the brew fridge and worded up her ladyship on operation don't-suck-in-the-air-lock-when-moving-fermenter. I didn't have all the requisite parts to convert the fridge fully. Got it turned high and a temp probe in a glass of dihyrogen monoxide to see how cool the highest temp it can reach while stock is. Option 1b is keep the fridge door ajar. Ghetto but could work.

Consideration: say the fridge only gets as high as...13 deg. If she punts the fermenter in there and yeast activity drops rather low until I can get home and manage the temp better (9 days), better option for the end result than hovering 23-26?
The horse has probably already bolted mate. At that temp the Notto would likely finish in under 48 hrs.
crivens it's a cheeky bugger. Well. it's on it's pat malone until I get back to it. Shall ask herself to take a reading just for gigs,
Project-defeat-The-Heat is pretty up there on the list.

Err. and maybe run the same brew again with a more WA friendly yeast.
Though Freo the last few days has had a crack at mimicking Melbournes weather.
cheers Wereprawn
Interesting -
pestered the girlfriend lady to take a few measures the last few days, gravity seems to have plateaued at 1000.
Which is rather low I would have thought, I'm still a week away from home, but she took multiple measures over the past few days. Isn't water 1000? hah
Bit low. Did a brew with Notto recently which finished @ 1003. Mashed that at 64c. Any chance your temp may have dropped a bit over the course of the mash?
Nah, while I'm not confident of much in these, sparkly, early days; the Robobrew holds its temp damn well. I actually had to struggle to get it down to the 65 I was after. a guess 10mins at closer to 71 with me stirring and pouring and such to get the temp to drop? And that was just at doughing in stage.
Phyro said:
A spray bottle! strewth! Genius! I've got starsan and sodium met in sprays but not water. I did notice stirring brought the foam under control - after the fact.
Make sure to label them clearly... Don't make the mistake I made.. :)
Well, been a few weeks since brew 1, I finally got around to opening one or two.
Working out in the remote areas, our gear gets stored in a permanent locker when we're off camp. Temperature controlled room. Bout 20°
A work mate is interested in starting AG brewing so we waited top an extra week had passed.

Well I had a feeling it would be boozy but we lost feeling in our et by the end of bottle 2 ;)


Held the head ask the way down. Quiet on the nose bye definitely EKG

The few spikes in the fermenters temp gave some fruity esters. Banana through to chocolate depending on who you ask.
(If you don't think chocolate is a fruit...there's no hope for you)

As you should be able to see, it looks like its made from Mordialloc creek water (3915, represent!) And while the colour was decent, the murky ok surprised me. Cold crashed for ages. Shall investigate a few alternatives (additive) approaches to just the cold crash.

Important: would have been happy to make "not shit", and wound up landing on "encouragingly decent".

The last few weeks and few brews have been a ridiculously fun learning curve
Some of the chemistry hurts my brain though.

Well I'll use this brew recipe as a spat brew to see how I'm going. Punched a 15l version as brew 3 and added bit of whirflock to it. Huge difference.

Cheers for all the feed back. I'll wrote up brew 6 and you can go nuts with pointers. Pretty sure my set up now is such that the improvements will now come% learning and not buying.


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