We should change our name to Trainwreck Brewing Co…

Mostly Mosaic - Mashing the grains

Mostly Mosaic – Mashing the grains

Worst. Brewday. Ever.

I’ve wanted to brew with Mosaic hops for quite a while now and this Saturday we finally got around to making it happen, sort of.  We were pretty excited as we’ve upgraded our equipment and were moving up to 5 gallon batches, over our previous 4 gallon batches.  We had a shiny new 15 gallon brew pot, new carboys, oxygenator, fancy heat-resistant gloves… a pretty big upgrade all around.  In addition to brewing we were also bottling our Just the Tip spruce tip pale ale.

Most (OK, maybe all) of the things that went wrong could have been prevented with some better planning and focus.  To start the day off we had to season our 15 gallon aluminum kettle.  For those that aren’t aware an aluminum kettle needs to have water boiled in it for 30-60 minutes before the first use to oxidized the aluminium.   So we did this and everything seemed fine there.  In the meantime we were cleaning bottles and racking our Just the Tip to the bottling bucket.  We forgot to take a final gravity reading on it, but measurements a week earlier showed fermentation was complete.  What we forgot at the time is that we also use our bottling bucket as an HLT for fly-sparging, and this bit us in the rear when it was time to sparge, we ended up having to batch sparge.  Once the boil was going we thought we were in the clear but then it struck me that we had a lot of mash/sparge water (11.25 gallons) for a 5 gallon batch of beer.  Somewhere in Beersmith I must have had something set incorrectly for the batch size and equipment.  Finally, even though we had a second immersion chiller in a bucket of ice to pre-chill the water, it took almost 50 minutes for our wort to cool to 75F, way too long.  We’ll need an upgrade to our chiller very soon.  To top everything else off, I burnt my stupid self on the propane burner stand.  Apparently those things get hot when a flame is applied to them for 90 minutes… how was I supposed to know?

After all was said a done we missed OG by over 20 points.  There’s no telling what we’ll get out of this but it sure won’t be what we intended it to be.  On a positive note we got our Just the Tip bottled up and it’s napping and conditioning nicely.  Also, whatever beer we did brew on Saturday started fermenting quickly and I’ve been able to hold fermentation temps to 68F.  I guess we’ll see in about a month what we’ve got going on here.

Mostly Mosaic fermenting nicely

Mostly Mosaic fermenting nicely

The World’s Cheapest 3-Tier Homebrew System… or damn close to it.

It’s hard to remember back to the beginnings of Mostly Harmless Brewing Co..  That’s been many, many days ago now… maybe even weeks.  But it’s still nice to reflect back on the days we started with a Mr. Beer kit and a dream and to look at where we are now… two guys who know just enough about brewing to be dangerous.  Ahhhh… I do love reminiscing.

This week we had a couple big upgrades to our equipment.  Due to my temporary hiatus from the daily grind I’ve had a bit more time on my hands lately and I’ve been tinkering around with things.  Brian got sick of ice-bathing our wort to chill it and got us a shiny new stainless steel wort chiller and after seeing a friend brew with a fly sparge head I built one for our setup.  While cleaning the gara… I mean brewery out I stumbled on a partially built aquarium stand that a buddy started and never finished and I had an idea.  We’re going 3-tiers, baby!

Pretty simple build out here.  I added a platform to the top of the stand to put our hot liquor tank on (tank, bucket.. whatever) and then put some blocks on the front of the stand to keep the MLT from sliding off and still allowing us to tilt it and get all that delicious wort.  With the addition of a few feet of high-temp hose and some clamps we had a gravity-fed 3 tier system happening.  I’ve run a test with water through it and it works great, this Saturday we’ll be having a Brewbecue and we’ll test it out on a live batch.  Wish us luck.

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The fly sparge head in action.

In addition to the equipment upgrades we also bottled our White House Honies honey ale.  Our Horse Pop lemon wine and an all-grain version of Hair of the Dog Oatmeal Stout (HOTDOS) will be ready to bottle up soon.

 

By the way, if you happen to run into us and try our beers we ARE on Untappd!  So log away. 😀  Have a great week!

Our R&D department is always working.

Our R&D department is always working.

A triple brew day and more lessons learned.

This Friday we had another brew day here at tMHBC.  We’d planned to do two brews – a Lemon Wine and an Imperial Stout.  On the way to the “brewery” Brian called me to ask if I had cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  I’ve learned not to ask why so, I just told him I did and left it and that, I figured I’d discover what kind of craziness he was up to soon enough.  It was a nice day for a brew and we had a couple of friends join us as well for some cigars and sharing of some craft brews.  We’re living the dream over here, folks.

Brian showed up and started plopping jars of honey, citrus fruits and raisins on my counter and busted out a little Fleischmann’s action to boot.  While diving into the recesses of the interwebz, he’d stumbled on a recipe for Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead and decided to try it out.  It’s a very, very simple recipe that is said to produce a very good mead.  It’s drinkable after a couple months and supposed to be excellent at about 6-7 months.  Starting it now should have this ready for us at the holidays.  We’ll keep you posted.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

Next up for the day was some Horse Pop.  “WTF is Horse Pop?”, you ask. (Some of you likely know the reference already, for the others… enjoy. PS – NSFW) Horse Pop is our version of Skeeter Pee lemon wine.  While I love the concept of Skeeter Pee I really hate that name.  I wanted a classy name, one you’d be proud to serve to your pastor or take to the yacht club.  “Pardon me, but might I top off your Horse Pop, good fellow?”  “Oh yes, it’s quite delightful… merci.”  It’s going to be awesome.

So after fighting with Brian about adding malt or hops or berries or whothehellknowswhat to the recipe we finally made “by the book” Skeeter Pee.  This is a quick fermenting wine and should be ready to bottle in about a month, just as the heat of summer hits us hard here in Atlanta.  I hear it’s a very sneaky drink and comes in at 10% but drinks like Kool Aid, easy to get out of control if you’re not careful.  Fermentation can be tough to get going with lemon-based beverages but I made a yeast starter and it started up nicely not long after pitching.  I look forward to bottling this one and getting stupid on it.

Horse Pop.  Some assembly required.

Horse Pop. Some assembly required.

The final brew for the day was V1.0 of our Signature Stout.  Brian and I both love a good stout so we decided this is the first style we want to perfect.  We’ve come up with a recipe that puts us in the right range of where we want to be with ABV and bitterness and using some malts we know we love.  This sucker has 18 1/2 lbs of malts in a 4 gallon batch.

This one, of course, is a bit more involved than the mead or the lemon wine.  We have to watch mash and sparge temps and time hop additions, etc.  We followed the recipe to the “T” and we’re dumbfounded when we missed our OG by 0.020.  A HUGE number to be off, and we know we followed the process dead on.  BUT… one thing we missed was how much wort got stuck in the deadspace of our mash tun.  The answer is “a lot”.  That much grain held a lot of water and we should have given it longer to  drain, we also need to upgrade the MLT drain hose as it’s quite possible even with the supports that amount of grain and water restricted our flow.  We didn’t notice how much was trapped right away but the next day, while cleaning it out, there was a lot of liquid that had settled.  A lot of delicious, sugary gravity that we missed out on.  Lesson learned.

The stout still looks very good and the wort tasted great.  Hopefully we’ll get a nice brew out of it but we’ll have to go back to the drawing board to get a perfect and reproducible recipe for our stout.

Black Gold, Texas Tea, Imperial Stout

Black Gold, Texas Tea, Imperial Stout