Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making the Brew Day Shorter

I don't brew beer to save money. Let's get that out of the way up front. I've brewed enough beer that my brewing equipment has paid for itself, but from a budgetary standpoint I'd be way better off to pick up some work on the side and use the money to buy beer, rather than taking the same amount of time to brew my own. I brew because I enjoy the hobby and the beer. Even though brewing is a great hobby, the brew day can get long, so I look for ways to do things quicker, easier.

I've noticed that if I'm not actively heating or cooling water during that process, not much progress is being made. I need to heat up my strike water just to get the day started, so I've been thinking about getting a higher capacity burner to be able to heat my water faster. But I found that I was able to cut my "getting ready to mash" time in half with my existing equipment.

Some people heat water in their mash tun, and add the grain directly. Others heat water in a a hot liquor tank and run it off into the mash. I liked the second way because it let me be more precise about mash temperatures.

When I was thinking about the best way to heat a large amount of water for a double batch of RIS, I finally realized that I could do both at once. The key is that you need two burners, which I've had for quite a while. I just heated half of the water in the mash tun, the other half in the hot liquor tank at the same time.

Having a lot of water to start in the mash before I add my grist makes the process of doughing in easier than it used to be, and I can still fine-tune my mash temps by controlling the amount of water I run in from the HLT. It's enough of a speed gain that I now have to scramble to get my malt measured and ground by the time the strike water is ready.

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