Whenever I get to brew with someone else I think it is very interesting how their brewday differs from mine. I would like to think I am doing the right think when I brew. I have carefully thought about each step and ingredient. However, when I see someone doing something different it always interests me. So, I thought, this week I am going to share a brew day with you.

Brewing gear pulled out and ready to go.

I built a brewing cart a while back. It has served me pretty well. It holds everything I need in the garage when I am not brewing. I just roll it out away from the wall on brew day. I fill my kettle up directly from the outdoor tap and carry it in. I think my old hose leaves a taste to the water. After everything is setup I add a crushed campden tablet and start heating the water.

The grist for the Brittish Brown Ale that is on the menu today.

While I wait for the mash water to heat up I head down to my basement and assemble the recipe. I have a room with all my grains and a fermentation chamber that is right next to my beer fridge in the basement. I assemble the recipe, grap hops from the beer fridge (freezer), and a clean Big Mouth Bubbler and head back out to the garage.

Mash in has started.

By now the water is normally getting somewhat close to strike temp. If I mess around too much I could overshoot my temps, but this hasn’t happened yet. While I wait I measure and add water chemistry additions like gypsum, baking soda, and epsom salt. Once the temps are correct I turn everything off and wait a minute for the temps to equalize, check again, then adjust if needed. I next put my bag in and add the grains. Unlike a lot of people I generally just dump it in and stir after. With BIAB there is so much liquid at this point that dough balls rarely happen for me. I generally stir for about 2-5 minutes after mashing in.

Checking the pH, looks like we nailed it.

When mashing, I stir about every 15 minutes. I find it really helps with efficiency. In between stirring I wrap up my kettle in 2 blankets to keep the mashing temp consistent. After the first 15 minutes I check the pH. I try to get a clean 1/4 cup of wort and set it aside. I let it cool to under 120F before testing. I will add lactic acid to adjust if needed, but Brewfather gets me close so I normally never have to do adjustments when using my regular water.

Using a brix refractometer to check the mash efficiency.

Thoughout the mash I will take brix refractometer readings in order to determine when my mashing is done. I know expected preboil gravity thanks to Brewfather, so I just keep checking until I get the required gravity readings. I try not to get too hung up on getting the exact gravity readings I need. Sometimes I go over, and other times I go under. Not a big deal.

Mashout with gloves.

Once I am happy with the mash it is time to pull the grain bag. If there is one thing I could tell BIAB brewers to get, it is grilling gloves. These things are great. For one it keeps the heat at bay when pulling your grain bag, it also has the added benefit of keeping your hands clean and dry! I DO squeeze the grain bag a bit to help get the pre-boil liquid volume up in my kettle. After the bag is pulled I crank up the burner and take the bag and dump it in a compost pile.

Measuring hops out.

While the water is coming to a boil I get to prepare the ingredients for any boil time additions I might have. I don’t do this before hand as there is plenty of time during the boil for this. This is also a time where I normally enter measurements into Brewfather to keep track of the brew day. I also like to add notes to the brew session in order to keep track of other things that may have worked well or went wrong.

The wort is boiling.

Now that the wort is boiling we can add our hops and other boil time additions. The boil is a GREAT TIME to start cleaning and preparing for flameout.

Making some sanitizer.

While we boil I also make sanitizer. I normally make it in the fermenter. Then 10 minutes before flameout I will dump it into the kettle that holds the wort chiller. Then I don’t need to deal with the wort chiller in the boil, which messes with the boil and gets in the way of the hop basket. I normally make 2.5 gallons of sanitizer. I have a couple spray bottles that I also like to fill up after brew day is done so that not all of it goes to waste.

Oh look, its 12:00 somewhere.

Since we have been working so hard it is time to enjoy a beer and watch the boil.

The boil being monitored.

It’s now the calm before the storm. Everything we can put away and clean is taken care of now and we can relax and enjoy the day. However, the clock is ticking and we will have a lot to do shortly.

Chilling the wort.

After the boil timer goes off I pull the hop basket and drop in the wort chiller. I like to stir with the wort chiller to help cool the wort a little faster.

Checking the temperature of the wort.

It is summer and the ground water where I live is about 76F. So chilling with the wort chiller does not get it to pitching temp. I like to get it to under 90F then transfer it into my Big Mouth Bubbler.

The easy way to move wort into a fermenter.

I like to transfer in a way that helps aerate the wort. This is not the only time the wort is aerated though.

Trub settling is always fun to watch.
Chilling to pitching temp.

After the wort is in the fermenter I take it downstairs to the fermentation chamber. Here is where I get it under 70 in the summertime in order to pitch yeast. It normally takes about 2-3 hours to chill it down. However, I sometimes just leave it over night. If I am doing this I like to be careful and spray a little extra sanitizer inside the fermenter before sealing it up. Also spraying inside the chamber since there is going to be air sucked in through the airlock at this point.

Cleaning. Looks like today I left it all for the end of the brew day.

After we have the wort in the fermentation chamber it is cleaning time. I like to clean outside if it is nice, but looks like it was a hot one today so I am doing my cleanup in the kitchen.

The wort is now chilled.

Now that the wort is pitching temp I pull it out of the chamber to do the last few steps. First I aerate the crap out of it. Rocking the fermenter for about a minute seems to do a good job. Next I add the tilt hydrometer and use it to check the OG (original gravity) of the wort. I like to do this before adding the yeast if I am adding from a starter.

Hello wort, meet yeast.

The final brewday step is adding yeast. For this beer it looks like I have about an 800mL starter. For this size of starter I just pitch everything. If I run up any larger I will cold crash and decant so that I am not adding so much liquid to the beer. After the yeast is in it is back into the chamber.

At this point I will go through my brew day on brewfather, enter additional readings, and add additional notes. I normally also will send some brewday pics to a friend and enjoy another hard-earned pint of beer!