Thursday, June 28, 2012

(Wild) Brew Day 2


In order to fill the 30 gallon barrels that we purchased we need to brew two 15 gallon batches of beer. This past Saturday we braved the 100 + degree heat in order to knock out the second patch of Pale Belgian Beer that would make up our first barrel.

We started the day by filling the first of our barrels with the batch from the previous week. After a quick rinse of the barrel with water we added the beer (which was now at 1.015 G down from 1.062). Using the slurry that was left behind in the fermentor we inoculated the second batch.

We also purchased a couple beers from Belgium to add to the barrel in the hope of capturing some unique Belgian bacteria in the process. Added to the barrel were dregs from Nostradamous, Oude Gueuze, and Supplication (not from Belgian but still aged with Pediococcus and Lactobacillus).
Getting Ready to Grind Grain

Tasty Pilsner Malt
The brew day went well other than a slightly lower gravity (1.054) than desired. This was mostly likely due to a larger sparge than the previous week in an attempt to get more beer out of the batch (18 gallons) which we succeeded in. The beer will be given a week in the primary fermentation vessel before it too is moved into the barrel.

Monday, June 18, 2012

First (Wild) Brew Day

I am happy to announce that Wild Brewing has brewed its fist batch of beer!

This past weekend a Pale Sour Ale was born. It will mature and grow for the next year as it ages in French oak red wine barrels. The brew day got off to a bit of a rocky start as Andrew worked to fix the mash tun and we made some last minute purchases at the Brew Hut. However, once we got rolling everything went well and we were able to hit all of our numbers.

Pilsner Malt 90%
Carahell 10%

OG 1.062
IBU 24

Single Infusion mash at 150 F with 2 quarts water per pound of malt
Batch sparged at 180 F

60 minute boil of Hallertau to 24 IBUs

Cooled and pitched 2 packets of Roselare grown 2 days in a 1 1/2 gallon starter and a jar of lactobacillus I had living in my fridge.

Fermenting at 68 F

Here are some pictures!

Mash Tun and Hot Water pot

Getting Ready to Clean 30 Gallon Barrel

Draining Wort from the Tun

Mash Tun Filled with 35 Pounds of Grain


Fermenters Being Filled

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wild Brewing Pale Sour Ale


The calm before the storm.

Tomorrow will be the first brew day for Wild Brewing. The plan is to brew a rather simple Pale Sour Ale. If everything goes perfectly 1 year from tomorrow a magnificent beer will finally be ready for drinking. We will be following a rather simple recipe of 90% pale malt and 10% carahell. The wort will be lightly hopped to 24 IBUs with 10 ounces of Halleratu hops.

Other than getting together the equipment the biggest challenge is getting enough yeast ready to ferment 30 gallons of beer. You would need to pitch at least 6 smack packs from wyeast to have enough microorganisms to bring the batch to completion. Instead of purchasing so many packages of yeast I have been using a stir plate and a 2 gallon fermentor to grow yeast. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon I will have turned 2 packages of Roselare yeast into a slurry large enough for our beer. In the future we will be using the yeast cake from the previous fermentation for the following batch. I will also be adding some other cultures to the fermentor as I get them ready. They will include cultures from the dregs of a few Russian River beers, New Belgian beers, and some pure cultures of Brett and Lacto. The variety of bugs should help make the finished profile more complex. In addition, the cake will change over time as some species are better able to establish themselves. In order to help create balance I will be adding a new package of cultured Roselare each time to help ensure that everyone is getting a fair shot at helping make these beers great!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cooler to Mash Tun Conversion

Although we are ordering the majority of the equipment that we will be using for our Wild Brewing project we will also be constructing a few of the items that we need. Vital to the brewing processes is mashing the grains. The mash activates the enzymes in barley allowing them to break down complex sugars and starches into simple sugars that the yeast will be able to eat and turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

A mash tun is essentially a large insulated pot for making barley tea. The temperature inside the container needs to stay relatively stable which makes a cooler an ideal vessel to use (very little heat loss). Instead of buying a pre built mash tun I decided to take the more economical route and build one myself. Here is how it works in case anyone else ever wants to construct one.

What you need...

  1. A large cooler, the size is really up to you. You can fit at least 15 pounds of grain and the mash water into a ten gallon cooler. I am hoping to use this cooler to make 15-20 gallons of beer at a time, so I bought a 30 gallon cooler.
  2. Cooper pipe (the amount will vary based on how big the cooler is, I used 6 pieces of 1/2 inch pipe)
  3. 5 T push on connectors
  4. 4 90 degree elbow push on connectors
  5. A1/2 ball valve
  6. A 1/2 male to 3/4 barb plastic fixture
  7. A 1/2 male to 1/2 male connector
  8. A length of plastic tubing to fit onto the 3/4 barb
  9. A hack saw to cut the pipe
  10. Washers to seal the the outside and inside of the cooler with
  11. A shark bit connector to hook the 1/2 pipe to the 1/2 male to 1/2 male fitting

How to put it together....

  1. First I cut slits in the pipe about 1/3 of the way deep every 3/4 inches along the entire length of the pipe. The silts will face down and will work to filter the grain from the wort as it runs off
  2. I laid the pipe out to get a better idea of how many cuts I was going to need to make
  3. I made all of my cuts, making sure to measure
  4. Slip all the connectors onto the pipe and push them tightly together.
  5. Build the drain valve.
    1. I pushed the 1/2 male to 1/2 male connectors half into the wall of the cooler after taking out the previous drain.
    2. To the out side I added a washer and screwed on the ball valve adding the barb to the ball valve
    3. Next I screwed the shark bite connector to the 1/2 male to 1/2 male connector and added washers to make it seal tightly, and  then pushed it onto a piece of 1/2 copper pipe


It was about that easy! It took a little over and hour and a half to cut all the pipe and put it together. Total cost was 150$ which is a lot cheaper than trying to order something like this online!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding Barrels

Task number 1 is to gather the equipment that is need to start brewing. One of the most important items to find are some high quality used wine barrels. For a variety of reasons wine barrels make the perfect habitat for all the souring organisms that will turn otherwise plain beer into a wild ale.

Thankfully we were able to find used barrels of the correct size from Select Wine Barrels.

We purchased 2x 30 gallon barrels to start with but plan on buying at least 2 more when we get closer to having beer to put into them. For now we are still focused on purchasing grain, hops, yeast, and brewing equipment. Hopefully by the end of the week everything will be in the mail or will be available to pick up from out local brew store The Brew Hut where we looked at fermenters and other odds and ends last weekend.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Luanching Wild Brewing

Excellent News!

Wild Brewing was able to raise $6000 + dollars towards brewing a series of barrel aged beers!

I would first like to thank the donors that made this possible...

Rob Nash-Boulden, Tricia Jablon, James Lilliestierna, Ben Woodward, Keith Peetz, Dan Church, Jordan Verlare, juleslandis, Chris Bass, Kelsey Whitesell, Brian C. Natale, Greg Hoth, Amy Lassen, Erik Johnson, Gene Farnsworth, Brian G, Paul, Mac Crawford, James Zdrowski, Jesse Perlmutter, Mike, Julya Bridgewater, Brandy Renee. Rebecca Bennett, Monte Mitchell, and Barry

Without your generous support this would not be a possibility. 

We are currently pricing the equipment that we need so that we can start brewing within the month. If you are curious about what we are getting or where we are getting it you can keep checking back here and we will keep you posted on what is going on. I will also be posting frequent updates as we start brewing and aging the beer.
Once again thank you everyone that made this possible!