Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas time brings some new toys and tools

Christmas was excellent! I got a therminator for wort cooling, and two march pumps for transferring hot liquids. I also managed to finish smoothing and drilling a second keggle. More pics will come as I get things set up and figured out.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Sunday, December 19, 2010

60 gallons of beer - by the numbers

I have some recipes planned, and will post them in due time as well (and pay homage where due) But here are some raw numbers on the supplies and how-to
  • Approximately 120lbs of grain
  • About 96 gallons of water
  • Over 8lbs of hops
  • At least 5 different yeast strains
  • 12 carboys needed (At first post, I had 4 glass, 1 plastic, I now have 7 glass, 1 plastic)
  • 12 kegs needed (I have 4 so far)

A few early planning efforts on each of the above:

I have been real lucky here. Austin Homebrew had sales on bulk grain both in store ($34 for canadian 2-row) and in an Austin Zealots group buy (2 bags of Gambrinus Organic 2-row for about $90)

Then the upcoming mother lode - The Austin Grain Group Buy. I have 160lbs on order for about the same dollars. That’s enough for the wedding, the rest of 2011, and some of 2012 possibly.

I have a lot of things that pay me via paypal in small amounts over the year.. Ebay, payouts for online deals, etc. So every month since about July, I have used those at Farm House Brewing Supply. Surprisingly, in larger bulk they really were beating my local AHS pricing without shipping. I think I have about 12 lbs of hops in the freezer. I'll document inventory/needs more in another post.

I do yeast washing to re-use yeast, but for this day, I plan on fresh new vials, and with starters to increase cell counts.

Water and Carboys
Had a brilliant plan of "renting" these from a local coop that has fresh spring water in glass 5g bottles. I need to go in store and order them about 2 weeks before brew day. Not going to post the name until I have the bottles on loan :) Also been watching Craigslist avidly. Scored 3 this week for $50, but am STILL cleaning them out.

So far, this is the biggest sticking point in the plan. 60 gallons of beer is a LOT of beer on hand (equivalent to four 1/2 barrel commercial beer kegs) but for home brewers using Cornelius kegs, it’s twelve. Like I said, I have 4 now. I likely will be avidly shopping these.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First post.. about two weeks into planning

Hi. My name is Chris Lehr, and I have been homebrewing for about a year and a half now. I did extract brewing back in college for a while, but fell out of the hobby after chasing work for a while.

My resurgence into brewing was thanks to Robin, my soon to be wife, and my best friend. I think I told her a story or two about the beers I made in school and she asked me if I wanted to get back into it. I said sure, and my next Christmas gift was planned!

She got me a carboy, a burner, a brew kettle, a plastic bucket, a hydrometer, a spoon, all the basics you needed, plus two extract kits.

Much to her dismay, I proceeded to not use this at all for about a year and a half. She asked me about it a few times, but I wasn't really ready to get going for whatever reason.

Then, I did. I did those first two batches, and they produced drinkable beers considering some of the rookie mistakes and somewhat questionable techniques I used at the time.

I am lucky to live in Austin, TX, a wonderful city, and home to Austin Homebrew Supply, a well known nationwide retailer of goods and knowledge.

I also joined up at HBT and learned an astonishing amount about the hobby and some of the ingenius ways to do more with less.

After a few months of good mini mash recipes, I got into kegging and had collected 2-3 more fermenters. I made some Apfelwine too. I was really getting into the swing and rhythm of keeping at least one beer on tap at home, regardless of my neighbors challenging me.

About a year into brewing, I decided to try my hand at all grain. My very first brew day was a success, and I swore to not use extract again. We shall see if this holds true next summer, as that is more time outside in the heat. I had an extract kit for a month that I didn't use just because I wanted to play with my all grain gear more.

After 3 years together in harmony, Robin and I got engaged. It seemed natural to want to involve my brewing in the wedding, so we decided - lets do all the beer ourselves.

And so began our quest! Our wedding is planned for about 60 people.

Using a bell curve of some guests not drinking at all, and some flat out challenging their liver's ability to process yeast farts, we estimated the median drinker to have 3 beers at a wedding.

Additionally, we have some pre and post wedding days at the location, but that will likely be only 10 people.

We did some math and came up with 60 gallons of beer total. In most homebrewing terms, that's twelve 5 gallon batches!

This blog (whether success or failure) will document the thought process and the planning as well as attempt to document that day, lessons learned and what I would do differently.