Day 423

Back in the Teaching Brewery. Since I had been told yesterday that other members of our team would be brewing, I arrived with loins girded for cleaning and packaging–then found out I would be brewing after all. Although I usually bring my notebook of potential recipes to the brewery, today was the one day when I had left the notebook on the kitchen counter (along with my lunch). It was an inauspicious start to the day. Fortunately my brewing partner had brought his recipe.

We were brewing two batches of an ordinary bitter, a standard style of British beer, so things should have proceeded smoothly. However, for some reason, the first batch would not convert. And would not convert. And would not convert. (In layman’s terms, the starch in the barley kernels should have been converted to sugars by enzymes in the barley.) What should have taken 45 minutes took much much longer. A head scratcher…

Vorlauffing and sparging went well, but in the middle of our boil, the power in the brewery–and other parts of the college–went out. Without power, no steam. No steam means no boil. The problem turned out to be an electrical breaker somewhere else in the college, so that took some time to sort out, then we had to wait for our kettle to boil again. From that point on, things went well, although our final gravity was a bit off, likely because of the interrupted boil; however, the long mash and long boil conspired to put us two hours behind.

The second batch went smoothly, and we even successfully made some small adjustments to the second grist bill so that the overall batch exactly hit the final gravity we had planned.

However, there was no way to make up for the two hours we had lost on the first batch; the end result was an eleven-hour brew day–a useful reminder that in the brewing world, the length of your work day is highly dependent on factors beyond your control.

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