30 December 2007

posted by benjy edwards

This weekend we were supposed to go to Vermont, but thanks to the evil airlines never made it.  Instead of brewing I did a lot of brewery cleaning, including a complete soak and flush of the six new faucets and shanks (hot water, PBW, BLC, and sanitizing steps), plus a thorough cleaning of the three handpumps (hot water, acid cleaner, and PBW).  Finally, the floor got a good mopping and the rubber mats got hosed off and cleaned with bleach.

I also vented the pin of the Boathouse Bitter, probably about three weeks past when it should have been done.  Needless to say, it was highly carbonated.  After venting for about 5 hours, in which several pints were lost through the shive, I hard spiled it and put it in the serving tank.  The first half of the batch was finished on Friday, so now there’s space to serve the pin.  The first keg of the Christmas Ale bit the dust as well, so the second keg is hooked up now.  I meant to keg another five gallons of Simcoe IPA, but didn’t get to it, so that will be a task for New Year’s Day.

25 December 2007

posted by benjy edwards

This weekend I installed the collar on the chest freezer where the new stainless steel faucets will go.  First I replaced the weatherstripping on the edges of the freezer so the collar will seal well.  The collar was exactly the right size to fit on the freezer lip, so that worked out well.  I took out all of the kegs and cleaned the inside of the freezer, then put the collar on and bent the steel wood ties to match the shape of the inside lip of the freezer and the collar, so as to hold the collar in place.  The wood ties were screwed to the collar and render it immovable.  The the lid went on top of the collar, and the hinges were screwed to the collar.  New holes were drilled in the hinges to screw into the top holes on the freezer, and extensions were made out of aluminium bar stock to extend the hinges down to the original bottom mounting holes on the freezer.  This keeps the hinges and place and prevents the lid from working loose after repeating use.

By Christmas Day, I had all of the parts needed to set up six of the nine stainless faucets.  Installation was easy, the only tricky bit being heating the 3/16″beer line in boiling water to make it soft enough to stretch onto the 1/4″ hose barbs on the tailpieces.  After hooking all six up, they seemed to pour pretty well, with some foaming at the beginning when the shanks had not yet cooled to the temperature of the beer.  I didn’t get a chance on Christmas to dispense any except the Christmas Ale, which filled a take-away bottle without excessive foaming.  I kept the beer line length the same for now, we may need to shorten them after some testing.

The stainless steel faucets sure look nice, I am eager to get the other three shanks so the remaining faucets can be installed.

16 December 2007

posted by benjy edwards

There won’t be any more brewing this year, but today I kegged up the first 5 gallons of the Christmas Ale so it will be on tap before the holiday.  Final gravity was 1.012, so it’s 7.4% ABV.  The cinnamon and ginger flavour is subtle, but enough not to need any more additions at kegging.

On Friday I tapped the cask Boathouse Porter, and compared it to a bottle of Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter.  They look identical, but the Taddy Porter is sweeter, while the Boathouse has more of a roast and chocolate flavour.  It’s not overly roasty, but it’s enough for the strength.

On Saturday Steve and I began construction of the collar to go on the chest freezer which holds the force-carbonated kegs.  The collar will hold the new faucets, replacing the plastic picnic faucets with nine stainless steel Ventmatic forward-sealing faucets.  We got the collar built and the holes drilled for the shanks to go through, then painted it with a couple of coats of primer.  On Sunday I put on three coats of gloss white paint.  Once it’s dry we need to drill a hole for the co2 line to pass through, then modify the hinges and install it on the freezer.  Once Christmas rolls around we can put in the faucets and hook everything up.  Pictures will be posted on the site when it is all finished.

9 December 2007

posted by benjy edwards

The Christmas Ale has had eight days in the primary, so we racked it to a couple of secondaries.  Gravities on the primary fermenters were 1.012 and 1.013, so quite a good drop from the 1.068 original gravity.  Looks like we won’t have any trouble hitting 7.5% alcohol by volume.  The cinnamon and ginger flavours are there, but pretty subtle, which isn’t a bad thing.

The Boathouse Best Bitter was tapped on Friday, and the corny keg was quite lively, so the first few pints through the handpump were primarily foam.   Even on Saturday night the  condition was higher than it should be.

1 December 2007

posted by benjy edwards

Time to brew the annual batch of Christmas Ale so that it’s ready in time for the holiday.  It’s also the last use of the yeast, which works well since there will be cinnamon and ginger left over in the trub which would not be good for any subsequent batch.  The clarity of the wort run off to the kettle was great, and no slow runoff issues today.  Target gravity was 1.068, and on reaching full wort volume in the boil kettle we were set to hit 1.060, so the rest was made up with honey.  We ended up needing a quarter of a pound more honey than we planned on, and we hit 1.068 on the nose.  Hops were Cascade throughout, with the cinnamon and ginger added during the last 5 minutes of the boil.

The previous batch, the brown porter, had 8 days in the primary, and on racking the gravity was still up at 1.018.  That’s higher than it should be, but it didn’t taste sweet.  One half was racked to a corny for conditioning, the other to a secondary where it’ll perhaps ferment out a little drier.