Reader alert – I started this post 5 months ago.
Let’s start from the top: I’ve been on the hunt for a brew stand. I’d thought about making one, getting one made, buying one right out , sat around looming at craigslist and walked the lanes big-box home improvement stores looking for possible structures and so forth. Nothing was ‘just right.’ I’m quite particular about most everything – research to find the ‘right thing’ can be exhaustive, to the point of missing out on ‘good enough’ items due to waiting. It can drive other people crazy – namely my wife, my father-in-law, anyone directly affected. It can be maddening, but to me persistence and patience pay off.
A few months ago a Craigslist ad popped up, a sale for some shlub’s entire brewhouse somewhere in the depths of South Bend, Indiana – easily a 4-hour drive. I posted the link to the local homebrew facebook group with a serious offer to buy up the stand but not the entire deal; I had no need/want for the rest. Long story short that is what happened. Some helpful guy snatched up the whole lot and contacted me to have me come take the stand. In the crunchy earth mid-winter that is January in the Midwest, I rolled into St. Charles with a three hundred pound plus behemoth. My brew stand is a three tier gravity stand with two natural gas burners (3rd eventually coming). It’s a heavy iron stand centered around a thick-walled 3″ pipe. It’s an exciting step toward being content with the hot-side of my brewing. A big plus: Not having to lift the mash and HLT. While it won’t necessarily make better beer, it’ll make brew days more manageable.
I’ve also procured a keggle (kettle meets keg) as well; excellent for never worrying about ten-gallon boil overs again. It’s been great thus far.
Bouncing around in the back of my head for a while was this beer I’ve wanted to do for some time. It’s a less-common style outside of breweries/monasteries: a small(er) beer that takes on a lot of interpretation – some have caramel malts or long boils or are this or that. For me, I believe the focus should be on something simple, drinkable, and not really ‘for the public.’ A Belgian single, patersbier, etcetera.
My version comes from a couple of recipes for a single I found that built around their entire malt bill being pilsner malt. My choices were German or Bohemian at the LHBS I chose the latter. I also added some Carafoam b/c I “feel” like I’m getting better head retention using it thus far, even if it is placebo.
The brewing part of the day was relatively uneventful – fired the MLT after finishing the stand, ground grain, mashed in at 152f, got the sparge water headed, sparged, boiled and tossed in hops, cooled, and pitched. I also bottled four batches and we were on our way.
I bottled half in 750ml Belgian crown-capped – plainly put: pry off champagne bottles – at four vols of co2 and the other half in standard bottles at 2.8 volumes. Side-by-side tasting notes very soon. As a preview, they are both lovely with nice mellow hop and malt profiles with the primary focus on the yeast.