Finally back at it!
Woohoo! Beer is finally being made again at the house. After almost a year and a half long hiatus, my buddy Sean and I got a batch of beer whipped up!
A little over a year ago, I needed to take some time off from homebrewing while I focused on getting my weight and health back under control. My cycling hobby had taken a pretty severe back seat to other things in life and my weight was really starting to creep up. I decided that it was high-time that I got things back where they should be. I began eating healthier again, doing cycling workouts 4-5 times a week and gave up drinking entirely. It definitely wasn’t easy, but things had gotten a bit out of control and I needed to do something about it. I successfully took a year long break from any kind of drinking, was able to lose 40+ pounds and got myself back to a much healthier lifestyle.
After a year of staring at my equipment every time I did a cycling workout in the garage, it was finally time to get a batch of beer going again. I just needed the extra boost of motivation to get things cleaned up and back in working order again. Homebrewing equipment sitting neglected in a dirty, dusty garage had certainly taken a toll on things and I was dreading deep cleaning everything and getting stuff back to 100% operational condition.
A week or so ago, I was sitting at the local brewery in Manhattan with my buddy and coworker Sean, and he threw out the idea of me getting things all cleaned up and then us brewing a batch together so he could see the whole process and hang out while we worked through everything. I thought it was a great idea and we agreed to get the ball rolling again. Motivation to start cleaning had finally made an appearance! Thanks Sean!!
I let Sean decide on the base beer style and an Oktoberfest/Marzen was what he came up with. Being that it’s late August, it was definitely too late in the year to do a traditionally lagered Marzen, but we can fudge things a bit and come up with a serviceable solution. Taking some pretty generic recipes and putting my own Ornate twist on things, the recipe was designed and features Imperial’s Loki kveik yeast as the star!
Friday last week was brew day and Kansas weather tried it’s hardest to kick our butts! Although there was no rain or ungodly wind in the forecast, we still got to deal with some pretty brutal heat. The high for the day was 95 with a heat index of well over 100. To say that we were sweaty messes is quite the understatement! Cracking open our first beers at 10am certainly didn’t make things any better, but it’s almost man-law that you need to drink beers while you brew beers. There’s no way that were going to ignore that important facet of homebrewing!
For the most part, brew-day went off without a hitch. There were a few set backs along the way as I relearned the quirks of my system and dealt with previous computer problems, but in the end, BEER WAS MADE! While designing the beer recipe over the week leading up to brew-day, my computer decided that it needed to be restored from a very old backup, so I unfortunately lost a lot of my saved recipes and even the equipment profile for my brewery in BeerSmith. Annoying to say the least, but I was still able to get things mostly dialed back in. Because I was going off my memory for the finer details, I wasn’t 100% confident in knowing that all my volumes and brewery specifics were accurate, but things worked out just fine in the end. I just need to trust my math and things will come out perfectly. All things considered, everything went exceedingly well, volumes were spot on and gravity samples nailed their target.
Notes for future brewing on the Ornate system: 1) My igloo cooler mash tun has performed well for a long time and is great, but it’s time to put the 80qt stainless mash tun into service. I need to get figured out what all I need to build it out and get things rolling, but it will certainly be an upgrade. 2) It’s time for a refresher on the glycol system as well. The glycol solution is starting to get a bit grungy and could use replacement fluids. 3) It might be time for new chiller as well. The one I currently have works, but is very underpowered for the beer volumes I’m doing. With all the new chilling solutions out there, I’m sure I can find a suitable chiller up to the task for doing 10-15 gallon batches.
In the end, finally getting the brewery shined up and back in action was truly a great feeling! My excitement for homebrewing and having cold delicious beers on tap has been renewed in full and I can’t wait for the next brew day!