Whats Your Worst Brewing Disaster?

Let us know your worst disaster and the best story will be published in the next edition of Better Brews Newsletter and the winner of the published story will win $100 off the price of a short homebrewing course.

I know I have problems with temperature control. You need to spend quite a bit of money to have good temperature control. I know I have to do that or suffer  the consequences. What about you?

It starts with the hot liquor. I have about 80L of water to heat up and do so with a 2400W heating element. This takes a long time and I have found the temperature varies alot between different points in the water reservoir. I do not use a gas burner because the tank is at head height and I am a stickler for safety.

However, I have a magnetic stirrer to keep the water stirred and homogenous. This works well. Secondly, when I mash in I lose quite a bit of heat as the insulated mash-lauter tun is not the best. You will always loose a bit of temperature when mashing in simply because of the lid being off and if your vessel is poorly insulated. So aim for at least 2 degrees higher than your expected mash temperature.

My kettle, which is gas heated, heats up really well as I have a high pressure regulator which you can purchase at some homebrew shops.

After boiling I can cool relatively quickly by using a small heat exchanger (from a homebrew shop). This is important to cool quickly in order to minimise infections.

Then there is the fermentation temperature and we want to have steady temperatures and not uncontrollable temperatures which result in bad tasting beer.I have a fridge with a temperature controller and I can set it to virtually  any temperature I choose. Just remember that the cooling isn’t instantaneous because it takes time for the beer contents to change temperature even though you have set the right fridge temperature. So, although not ideal like the glycol jacketed fermenters breweries have, it is certainly better than no control at all!

Once, when I was fermenting on a bench in the shed the temperature reached 30 deg.C and so the airlock was broken due to vigorous bubbling and the beer became infected. Not too good!

So what does this show? That being a good brewer isn’t always enough. You need good equipment and temperature control , not only to make good beer but to be consistent.

I talk about many facets of consistency in my brewing classes and I can talk with authority. Because I have worked as a brewer and scientist in improving beer quality for almost 30 years.