‘Sustainable’ And ‘Green’ Is NOT Always Organic

Organic Grapes

Organically Grown Grapes

Organizations love the word ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ but, when you look under the hood, the actual practice of these terms are NOT always organic by any means.

Big agro loves these terms because they can hide their toxic chemicals under them with ease.

In my opinion, farmers who label organic growing as a “scam” may ‘appear’ to be correct on the surface, but they are (in my opinion), showing that they are lazy in reality.  Pesticides can make a farmer’s life a whole lot easier than organically growing the crop, but at what price?

Some grape farmers will tell you using organic herbicides and pesticides will wipe out natural predators, in this case ‘mites’, where a very toxic pesticide (Abamectin) will only kill the mites leaving other pests beneficial to the grape  plant unharmed.  This maybe a valid point but, I would rather work out the agro problem organically then  to roll the dice on consuming highly toxic chemicals, even if the toxicity is at extremely low levels.

Herein lies the crux of whether Organic Is A ‘Scam’ Or Proper Agriculture Practice 

I read in an article where a wine farmer used the term “scam” with regards to organic grape production, while at the same time, was promoting the use of a highly toxic chemical (Abamectin) to treat the vineyard.  The farmer NOT mentioning the actual toxicity of this chemical to the reporter, to me anyway, is the ‘real’ scam.  Or, maybe it’s just plain laziness on the part of this farmer?

Here is why people want organic vs non organic wine / beer

In the case of ‘non-organic’ wine agriculture, they are using a ton of fungicides, pesticides and herbicides with a variation of toxicity for each.

There is so much chronic disease, specially in USA where large corporations have become the ‘protected class’, within regards to any all toxic garbage they serve to the public.  For me anyway, the explosion of chronic disease and cancer isn’t just a ‘scam’ it’s an out right crime.   This world of exploding disease and cancer did NOT exist when I was young.

So what are people doing about it?

People are ‘rightly’ and ‘smartly’ trying to avoid the accumulation of toxic substances into their bodies.   Medical evidence supports this life style change in spades, as more and more people recover from chronic disease itself after making the change in life style.

In the case of the toxic pesticide ‘Abamectin’ used in grape production, where the toxicity negatively effects the nervous system of animals, toxic levels of Abamectin in the glass of wine maybe nil.  However, you keep accumulating this toxin over years of drinking wine, along with the combining of all other toxins in non-organic wine, then with the addition of everything else in the non-organic foods, what are the long term effects on a person from all these toxic substances building up in their body?

So, the decision to go it ‘organic’ as a ‘lifestyle’ change, is NOT a ‘trendy scam’, but just plain common sense.

True, there are a lot of moving parts when trying to produce a food product to a large population. Small ‘locally’ grown can have a huge impact on local food supply chain but food from a far still needs to be brought to local areas as well. I grow organic grapes without a hitch at home my only biggest problem are dealing with the raccoons. Maybe I’ll build a robot.

By growing organic crops with today’s sciences farms, and ‘truly dedicated farmers’, have learned a great deal on how to ‘sustainably’ grow ‘green’ vinegards and barley crops. It’s not a scam but a ‘direction’ we as human beings need to keep heading for.

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Malting Organic Barley Grain At Home.

Home Malted Barley Grain

Home Malted Barley Grain

Why would you ever consider malting organic barley grain at home for home brewing beer?

Speaking for myself, I guess the #1 reason why I chose to malt my own organic grain at home, was for the simple fact, that I could.  I also believe malting my own grain for brewing at home, is fun with a payoff at the end.

One very important reason a person maybe inclined to malt their own organic barley grains at home, is for the simple fact of availability. (or lack there of)  It maybe more difficult for a person to get a hold of already malted organic grains.

For me, I brew at such a small scale, that I can malt grains on an equally small scale over and over, eventually producing 30 lbs of base malt and 10 lbs of specialty grains in the end.

My goal for this blog post is to give the reader all the recourses needed to  help them get started malting ‘BASE’ organic grain at home.  I will give, in addition, certain details that you may not be able to get online anywhere else.  This blog post serves as ONLY A GUIDELINE to malting organic barley at home and is certainly NOT to serve as the ‘definitive solution’.

This blog post addresses ‘small scale’ base malting.  You can obviously ‘upscale’ your organic malting operation to fit your needs using these guidelines.

By the way…

You can apply this home malting ‘guideline’ in malting organic non GMO corn to be used as a 2%-3% adjuvant, giving your organic home brewed beer extra ‘octane’ for increasing the alcohol levels of your beer

I feel that it is important first, to understand base malting at home before getting into the ‘home malting’ process of specialty grains.  Home malting specialty grains, by itself, needs a separate blog post at a later time.

I would like to state up front, that I have ‘downscaled’ my own home brewing operation from producing six gallon batches, to only brewing two and a half to three gallon batches at a time.  I call this ‘scaled down’ method ‘Bonsai Brewing’.  I do this because, I don’t go through enough home brew to keg, plus, I prefer to bottle my home brew for aging purposes.   ‘Bonsai Brewing’ is something I would like to address in a blog post later, as a separate topic unto itself.

Getting Raw Organic Whole Grains With Hull Attached

Organic Barley Grain

Organic Two Row Raw Grain

This can be tricky.  In the Photo above I am able to get certified organic NON GMO ‘Alba’ two row grown in the state of Washington from Scratch and Peck Feeds However, there’s a catch.  You have to buy the barley from a retailer who can get the raw grain from a distributor.  A grain / feed distributor will only sell gain / product by the ton or pallet.  (2000 lbs).  This is one example where an organic home brewing ‘cooperative’ could really pay off for organic home brewers.

Fortunately for me, living in the Denver metropolitan area, an absolutely  phenomenal ‘healthy pet’ store called ‘Hero’s Pets‘ orders the organic raw barley with hulls attached for sprouting.

A quick note.   It’s not only healthy for humans to eat sprouted plants for the important enzymes they hold within them, it’s important that your pets ‘also’ eat sprouted plants, like barley, for their health as well.

When you purchase raw barley for home brewing malting, you have to make certain that the grain comes with it’s hull attached.  Malting will NOT happen if this important part of the seed is removed.

Before Starting Your Home Malting Process

ONLY malt the amount of grain you can Kiln (heat)  It’s important to know just how much grain your heating method can handle.  You don NOT want to get stuck with ‘germinating’ barley grain parked somewhere, waiting to get heated because the heating  / drying process takes a couple of days minimum.  Your geminating barley may (most likely will) over germinate and will be no good while waiting for your kiln to become freed up.

Cleaning Debris From Grain

Fortunately for me, Scratch and Peck organic raw two row barley, which I use shown in both above photos, was extremely clean straight out of the bag.  All I did was put X amount into a steel mesh strainer and shake what little debris was left, out.

It’s my understanding that raw barley can contain a certain percentage of debris consisting of other grains and parts of plants.   If your grain falls into this category, I would find a ‘dry’ screening method to remove all the debris,  BEFORE moving the gain to the ‘steeping’ step of malting.  At the bottom of this blog post, you’ll find a video on malting barley grain that may help in giving you an idea on a ‘downscale’ method for cleaning higher debris grains.

Steeping and Temperature 

Steeping grains for malting

Steeping Raw Barley For Malting

Germination Temperatures

It really works out for me that I malt my raw organic barley grain from November through April for two reasons.  The least import reason of the two, is that in these months, I have the down time needed to malt. (using my method)  However, you can malt grains in methods which won’t tie up much of your time.

The second and most important reason why malting from November – April, has to do with the temperature.

During this time of the year, I Keep my house at around 65F.  Barley grains love sprouting at that temperature because, barley is a fall and spring sprouting plant.  Ideally you would want to ‘germinate process’ your grain at the 65F (18C) temperature.

If you can’t germinate process in a room at those temperatures, one method I thought of, was to use a large ‘chest’ type of cooler.  Somehow wall off inside the cooler, the grain from frozen plastic water bottles.  I believe you could bring the temperature inside the cooler down to spring and fall temperatures within the cooler with this method.  The only downside to germinate process using this method, is that you would have to stir and turn the grains by hand at least every couple hours or, as often as you possibly could.

Will barley grain sprout at high temperatures?  I suppose they will however, it’s not what they tend to do in nature.  So the question must be asked, will the higher temperatures effect the production of starches in the ultimate efficiency of the grain?  I don’t have an answer for that.  However, I’m sure home maltsters could experiment and find out.  I have an educated hunch efficiency would be affected by geminating grains at higher temperatures.  More on that below.

Steeping Your Raw Grain

Don’t confuse this type of ‘steeping’ with steeping a ‘mash’ (multi step).  In the ‘germination process’.  You’re submerging your grain in water however, you are NOT ‘raising’ the temperature of the water.  Again temperatures of your should water should be around 65F (18c)

Water pH

It is said that the ‘preferred’ water pH for the steeping process of germinating barley grain be ‘alkalized’.   You can purchase a pH ‘meter’ rather inexpensively online.  You can ‘alkalize’ your steeping water (I suppose) with Gypsum which you can purchase at your local home brewing store or online.  I haven’t done this yet, though I plan to in the near future.

Below is a link which discusses this pH process in malting barley grain and much more.

Malt and Malting

Washing Submerged Grains 

The ‘industrial’ rule of thumb says to submerge your raw grains in water for two to four days,  until chitting occurs .  During  this time, it is recommended that you strain the submerged grains each of those days and rinse the grains before ‘re-submerging’ the grains in fresh water.  By doing this you eliminate harmful bacteria that occurs during steeping. I would recommend washing your grains two times a day.  Also, I would recommend allowing your grain to ‘breath’  out of water for about a half and hour before re-submerging the grain into your steeping water.  This is called a ‘rest’ period, and allows your grains to release CO2

Chitted Grain 

Here is where things get interesting because now, you are really on the clock.

Barley Grain Chit

Barley Grain Cross Section With Chit

Soaking the organic barley grain ‘should’ produce what is called a ‘chit’ as shown above at the grain’s far right end.  These grain chits will look like white nubs at the end of the barley grain.

I need to say…  that when I did this for the very first time my organic barley did NOT show any chitting after three full days of steeping and washing.   Figuring that I had a bad batch of grain I never-the-less took the grain out of the steeping phase and put the non chatted grain into my organic grain ‘germinating tumbler’.

After you see chtted grain or, three days of soaking (steeping) and washing, place organic barley grains in a tumbler.

The ‘Almost Germinated’ Malting Process

Barley Germination Tumbler'

Steeped Organic Barley Grain In ‘Germination Tumbler’

My apologies for the blurry photo using my phone.  What you have in the photo is a 5 gallon ‘food grade’ bucket that I drilled four vent holes on the bottom (shown) and in the lid.  I took an old door screen and covered the holes. (glued on).  I used four wooden (inch and a 1/2?) slabs that were throw outs at Home Depot (three shown in above photo).  First I hot glued them in place but, after they came off the first time I used it, I have since ‘screwed’ them (ALL 4) into place.

malting tumbler

5 gallon home organic malting tumbler

Malting Tumbler Rivet

Rivet paddles into place using wood screws

Why Tumble Chitted Grain?

Once the steeped grain has formed a ‘chit’, the next step is to grow the ‘acrospire’ BEFORE it becomes a ‘shoot’, which I’ll discuss a little further down.

So, what you are now doing by ‘malting’ the grain in a tumbler, is actually ‘growing’ the grains with the goal of ‘growing ALL the grains’ equally.   

In the malting process, your organic barley grain is moist, giving off heat and CO2 which needs to be released.  I put the ‘vented’ lid on my 5 gallon malting tumbler and I simply roll the bucket a few revolutions per hour (or when I can).  This  a.) releases CO2 gas and heat build up.   It also b.) keeps the grain from developing mold while, maintaining a humid environment need to germinate the organic barley grain.

In the resource section at the bottom of this post, there will be a video provided that demonstrates an ‘automated’ 5 gallon grain tumbler so you don’t have to roll the bucket tumbler by hand.

One other step you must take during the tumbling process is to use a ‘general purpose’ spray bottle which, you can buy just about anywhere, and spry a mist of water on your grains.  I live in the SW United States  where the climate is dry so, I give the grain a couple of spray treatments a day.   I simply eyeball the grain as I spray and tumble to ensure it has a ‘visible’ coating of water around the grain.  Then I simply put the lid back on and continue to roll the bucket by ‘hand’ as time passes.

Electric Barley Roller (How To)

Malting Organic Barley Grain

Organic Barley Grain Illustration With ‘Acrospire’ pictured

The ‘art’ and nature of malting organic barley is to stop the growth (germination) of the barley grain at just the right time.

Ideally you want your grain to stop growing ‘just before’ the grain’s acrospire becomes a ‘shoot’.  Meaning that, in a perfect world ALL your malted grain would stop growing just before the grain’s acrospire pops out at the top of the grain.   The ‘art’ of malting really, is to get the majority of your grain to stop growing when the grains acrospire is at the ‘maximum’ ‘pre-sprouted’ stage of germination.

In commercial barley malting production (grain modification), the specifications on where to stop grain germination may vary depending on the type of beer being brewed.  For home ‘base’ barley malting,  I believe that taking the majority of the grain as far as you can go with it BEFORE ‘actual germination’ occurs, should be your #1 goal.

Where to stop growth of the ‘acrospire’ in the malting process?

Protein modification is really what we are doing by malting our organic grain.  What that means to the home brewer, is that we are ‘increasing’ the amount of enzymes from the levels in a ‘harvested’ grain to the final ‘malted’ grain, with the goal (speaking for myself) to produce the most ‘efficient’ organic grains for home brewing beer by reaching ‘maximum’ enzyme levels across the board.  In the video ‘malting at home pt1’, at the bottom of this blog post, the author gives you a great visual presentation on what your are looking for as far as when the grain is fully ‘modified’.  This is the point where you need to stop germination of the barley grain.

You need to ‘kiln’ the grain 24 hours BEFORE it reaches maximum growth.

The Kiln Drying Process Of Malted Grains

In order to reach the maximum enzyme production of the grain,  put the malted grain from your tumbler into your kiln 24 hours BEFORE the acrospire has reached it’s  full growth (before actually sprouting).

Types Of Kiln Ideas For The Home Barley Maltster

Again, I want to stress that, you ONLY malt what you can Kiln at a time.  You do NOT want malted grains ‘parked’ somewhere waiting to be dried.

A Home Oven

Even though this is how I am currently drying my grain, this is the ‘least’ desirable method I would recommend for drying malted grain.  If you are ‘stuck’ using this method you are going to have to do a lot of ‘hands on’ time with your grains in order to dry the grain evenly throughout the drying process.  I would recommend getting stainless steel mesh baskets where you ‘turn’ your grain every half and hour or so.  This method does work if your actively engaging your drying grain but, you’ll be limited on the amount of grain you can malt at a time.

Home Malting Wire Basket

Wire Mesh Basket For Malting Barley In Your Oven.

For ‘finishing’ grains, you will have to use an oven to bring temperatures above 120F (53c).  I will discuss this process further on down.

Home Made Barley Kilns

One method to malt more effectively is to build a ‘kiln box’ powered by three 100w incandescent light bulbs.  As a rule, the drying process of barley grains only requires a temperature of 120F – 130F (49C – 54C).  Screen trays are layered shelves inside the box and a computer fan at the top draws the hot air to the top.  I would suggest rotating the screen trays during the drying process.

Below is a video showing one of these homemade barley kilns in operation.

Below Is A Barley Kiln Made From A Clothes Dryer

Space during use and storage is an issue for me in dealing with a barley kiln.  So, I am working out a kiln design that incorporates fireplace / stone oven ‘brick’ (no mortar) a mesh cylinder basket that rotates ‘slowly’ heated by thermal controlled hotplates.  The idea is that I will be able to assemble the kiln when needed then, disassemble, and easily store it when I’m finished.

Drying Organic Barley Grain, The Process (For BASE Grains)

As you are malting organic barley grains in your tumbler you are keeping track of the growth of the ‘acrospire’ NOT THE ROOTLETS. Barley grain can and ‘will’ sprout with just a single chit.

The goal in barley drying is that you start your drying process 24 hours ahead of the maximum growth of the acrospire before it ‘sprouts’.

You need to put the grain at this time into your kiln and, for the next 24 hours, slowly turn up the temperature to 90F (32C)

Based off my research, it’s been known that protein levels in barley seem to increase when barley is sprouted in cool temps (spring) followed by above normal summer temperatures.

By slowly heating your grains in your kiln over the 24 hour period, the hot (not too hot) muggy conditions in the kiln, mimic this process in nature which seems to maximize your grain’s enzyme potential during the last 24 hours of acrospire growth.  (My interpretation).

After this 24 hour heating period, you can now crank up the heat to temperatures 120F – 130F ((49C – 54C) and run you kiln for 12 to 24 more hours or, until dried.  This will stop the growth of the grain.

YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOUR GRAN IS DRIED when it is no longer ‘spongy’ and ‘CRACKS’ easily.

The next step is to ‘cure’ your grain at temperatures 170F- 185F for 4 to 48 hours, depending on what your malting preference is going to be for the end product.  For Example, I bumped up the kiln temperature to 180F – 200F for 4 hours to produce a ‘Munich’ style of base grain.

Lower curing temperatures of barley for shorter periods of time represents a pils style of grain.

I could never put in words how great the smell of FRESH malted grains smell, and I can’t wait until  I brew with them.

at this point, and can be stored (in a cool dark low humidity place) until you either decided to brew or .

An Advantage Of Building A ‘Home’ Barley Kiln.

While your home barley kiln is drying ‘base grain’ you can use your oven to take some ‘green barley’ from your tumbler and use your home oven to malt ‘specialty grains’.

I will come back to this blog post after I have brewed my first batch of beer with the grains I have malted to give a report.  I’ll have several people try it.

Here Is The Final Organic Barley Product

Barely Sifter

Barley Sifting Screen

After your home organic barley has kiln dried, use a screen sifter to sift out the barley rootlets from the barley.

Barley Rootlets

Barley Rootlets

Rootlets from barley are easily removed by rubbing the barley in your hand in the sifter.

Organic Barley

Home Malted Organic Barley

The Final Product.  Home Made Malted Barley!!

The Malting Process Video

Thermostatic Control For Home Made Kilns

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0146L1NKE?psc=1

Malting At Home Pt1

Home Malting On A Larger Scale

My Dam Mash Tun! Hydro Design.

I’m going to present to you, a type of mash tun you’ve ‘never’ seen before.  It works great!  I will include efficiency stats at the end.

Even though I just made this brand new mash tun, I plan on making a unique brew-in-a-bag ‘system’ out of my 16 gallon boil keg for my very few 6gal + batches.  I will make a video on that when I’ve completed the project.

I wish to state for the record, that I do ‘NOT’ recommend any home brewer to go out of their way, and mash grains in this manner.  The reason I say this,  is that the amount of work involved to make this mash tun run in a ‘sanitary’  / ‘efficient’ manner is much more time consuming than should be allowed by law. lol.

I’ve been brewing this way for quite awhile now so, for me, the extra work does not take very long and the pay off is worth it in the end.  I’m posting this strictly for ‘your’ entertainment and educational purposes only.

Background Story Stuff Bla, Bla, Bla…

When I started doing all grain brewing I, for whatever reason, never had any luck pouring hot water in a cooler, then add the gains, and so on…

Like most people struggling, I said to myself… “STOP THE MADNESS!!!… There’s got to be a better way!”  What I really wanted to do was raise the temperature in the pot in order to mash the grain but, how do I get wort out of a pot full of grains?

With that thought, I got the ‘hot’ idea to pour the grains into the pot of hot water, raise the temperature,  then dump it all into the cooler.  No problem right?

I got a rectangle 10 gallon cooler my parents were going to throw out and purchased the hardware to convert ma and pa’s cooler onto a rock’n mash tun!  Cool!, right?

So, I dumped the hot grain / water mix (@ about 155F) into the cooler, and waited an hour or so.  So far, so good!

I opened the mash tun (A little over an hour later) took a temperature reading and the the first thing that went wrong was that the temperature dropped further than I was expecting.  I closed the cooler at around 150F and the temperature dropped 5 – 7 degrees.  Not the end of the world but, I didn’t expect that much heat loss.

The next thing that went wrong was a big deal.  The damn mash tun was ‘almost’ stuck.  It seemed to take half the day to collect that sweet wort from the mash.  So, sparging the mash went out the window right then and there.

This ‘sticking of the mash tun’ didn’t make any sense to me since people use coolers all the time to mash out their grains in.  I could only conclude that the ‘force’ of all the contents dumped onto the screening while pouring has an effect on clogging the mash tun.

How do I keep the mash tun from clogging?  Then, for better or for worse, the light bulb moment happened.  Hydrology!

Growing up in Colorado, my father would take me to some of the really big jobs he was working on.  One of these jobs was a big damming project.  I remembered they used rock to ‘filter’ derby from getting into where the water would be used to spin a turbine or just regulate the water flow.

I decided that since I had a dump truck amount of 1 – 2 inch granite rock in my backyard, I would use that rock to ‘shield’ the mash tun filter from the force of dumping the grains onto it.  I know your saying…  “NO! Don’t Do It! but, I did do it.  It works great, and below, I will show you how I fitted my second mash tun to run with a hydro system and explain some upsides you might not have expected.

Constructing The ‘Double’ False Bottom Mash Tun

Someone was going to throw out this perfectly good 10 gallon Gott cooler so, I was able to save it from the dumpster.

I got all the valve and gasket hardware to convert it into a mash tun and, the first thing I noticed was that the amount space from the valve port to the bottom of the cooler was over a half inch.   I wanted to fill that space mainly to give my screening system proper support.  Also, that waisted space would provide enough sweet wort to fill my hydrometer cylinder.  So, why waste it?

False Bottom

First False Bottom Of Double False Bottom Mash Tun.

 

Above is the first ‘false bottom’ made from food grade plastic which sits at the very bottom of the cooler. raising the bottom of the cooler up to the level of the ‘bottom’ of the valve port.

I special ordered the plastic from a company that uses this material for custom made cutting boards.  Lacking the tools, I could have paid the coin and had them cut the material ’round’ to fit perfectly into the cooler giving no gap, but I’m cheap and just cut the material with a hacksaw.

DSC00035

As you can see the ‘screening infrastructure’ rests nicely on top of the cutting board material.

I found this screening system material for cooler mash tun conversion online.  I really like the fact it is so porous.  Normally, people would shy away from such porous screening for their mash tun.  However, with my ‘hydro’ mash tun method, the larger screening material is desired because ‘it will NOT clog’!

DSC00037

To shield the screening material and protect it from the granite rock (ESPECIALLY WHERE THE SCREEN CONNECTS TO THE VALAVE COUPLING. IMPORTANT!) I use 5/8″ ID copper couplings.

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I cut slots into the copper couplings and make sure to face them down towards the cutting board when place over the screening material.

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SANITATION ABOUVE ALL ELSE!

Even outside this mash tun project, I spend as much time breaking stuff down and cleaning as I do brewing.

You’re sure to get a laugh out of this… I scrub these granite rocks with a brush and PBW, I then sanitize them before placing them into the mash tun.  I have the most clean and sanitized rocks in the nation.  I will assure you.

This is were my fellow ‘clean freaks’ are going to flip out.  I really am a clean freak too, and have ‘never’ had an infected batch using this hydro method (yet), and I have done many, many batches using the rocks.

DSC00042

A Rock Solid Foundation!

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The screen tubing is surrounded by 1″-2″ cleaned and ‘sanitized’ granite rock preventing the tubing system from moving when pouring the hot water and grain into the cooler.

false bottom

A granite mash tun ‘second’ false bottom

The rock is stacked in such a way that the majority of the rock is piled on top where the tubing enters the cooler, giving the screening / tubing’s weakest point maximum protection from the contents being dumped onto it.  The screening material will NOT budge.  I always dump the grains to the opposite side where the tubing enters the mash tun.

The marbles were just extra material I had (for boil foam reduction) laying around so, I put it to work, for added filtering.

Granite false bottom mash tun

Rock at bottom of mash tun maintains heat!

One of the upsides I found by using this method of mashing grains is that the rock does not cause great heat loss when it absorbs the heat.  However, the heat absorbed by the rock ‘radiates’ back into the mash, maintaining heat duration.

With this ‘hydro’ method I never used a blanket for heat loss yet.  Outside temperature  (brew day in photo) is 65F.  Beginning temperature inside cooler 151F.  After one hour + (a little over), inside cooler temperature was 148F.  Very happy with that, since I never wrapped cooler in a blanket.

 

sparging wort.

Makeshift sparge setup.

Since I changed my mash tun from rectangular to circular I have not yet converted my sparging apparatus for a circular mash tun so, I had to rig my sparge in this ‘less desired’ way.  Here, I ended up flushing two, 1 quart or so, rounds of 170F water over the grain bed.  Although, this was NOT my desired method of sparging, my efficiency, never-the-less turned out to be in the upper 70%!  I strongly believe that my efficiency would have reached into the 80% without a hitch, had I sparged in a more ‘fluid’ and proper manner.

Photos below was my first time ever using this mash tun.  It exceeded my expectations!  Great operation and clarity!

Wort Runnings

Crystal Clear Wort Runnings!

Wort runnings

Clear Wort Runnings In Tube.

You may find this interesting

With this particular batch, I ground organic non GMO blue corn as an adjuvant.  This corn was ground to a fine powder.  No problem for the hydro mash tun to handle!

Clear wort

LOOK! I CAN SEE THE VERY BOTTOM!

You can see the very bottom of the Kettle from the mash tun!

 

Old Fashioned Yeast Starter

I’m behind schedule to get my fall / winter #lager going. My ‘lager-rator’ bit the dust so, what I plan on doing is dragging the broken chest freezer(where I’ve always lagered my #beer) out of my basement and into to the garage where it faces to the north and keeps very cold temps this time of year. what I’ll do is fill the chest freezer with frozen plastic ice bottles around the glass #fermenter.

I’ve done this before with great success. I put a glass fermenter into a plastic trash can and by rotating frozen bottles was able to keep the fermenter temperature at an average of 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

With a broken chest freezer in a cold garage, I can lift the lid at night when the temps are really cold and shot the top during the day when the temps get warm.

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German Lager Yeast & DME

The jar of German lager #yeast (pictured) has been in my fridge for over a year, from last years lager.  Before you freak out and say, “that yeast is too old” here’s the trick…

The yeast ‘at the bottom’ of this jar is fine.   What I do to get it and only it…

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Tools of the trade in sanitizer.

Everything is first sanitized.  This is a must.

Then, I measure the water I will need for my initial starter.

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DME on the boil

I eyeballed an amount of DME I felt was sufficient and threw it in the pot.  I boiled this stuff for about ten minutes.  It was only twenty degrees Fahrenhei outside and only took 45 minutes on the front porch to cool.

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Turkey baster into jar of yeast.

See that nasty dark stuff at the top of the old trub?  With the ‘sanitized’ baster, I can bypass that nasty stuff by collapsing the baster bulb ‘BEFORE’ I plunge it into the old trub, and none of the bad stuff gets in.  With the end of the baster at the bottom of the yeast jar, I ‘allow’ the baster bulb to re-inflate and only the good stuff at the bottom gets sucked into the baster!

Even though I for some reason am already getting a little activity, I don’t expect full activity until teo or three days have passed.  once this first phase has run it’s course I will decant and pitch it into a growler or 1/2 gallon glass milk jug of DME for the final starter phase.

I don’t have a magnetic stir plate (wish I did) so I am constantly shaking the starter.

 

Clean That Wort Chiller!

For the simple reason I share ‘some’ of my private reserve of ‘West Canyon’ Brewery #organic #homebrew #beer with other people, I am what some would call an ‘over-the-top’ clean freak.

As a matter of fact,  I schedule my ‘pre-brew’ day(s) cleaning just like it was a #brewday event.

One major thing some home brewers don’t seem to clean are their wort chillers.

wort chiller

My chiller (photo above) was rinsed thoroughly after the last brew day I brewed an organic molasses porter.  To the eye, it looked clean.  However, after brush cleaning it with 5 Star PBW cleaner…

clean_brewing

…it left clean ‘soapy’ water looking pretty grimy (as shown above).

Anyone, please correct me if I’m wrong but,  the way I hear it, the people at ‘Star San’ recommend that after you have ‘properly’ cleaned your wort chiller submerge your chiller in sanitizer for a number of minutes (15min?), 24 or so hours just BEFORE your brew day.  Then take the chiller out of the sanitizer, DO NOT RINSE.  Allow 24 hours or so for the wort chiller to sit and air dry.

Go to ‘Beer Smith’ podcast look for the interview with Jon Herskovits of Five Star Chemicals.  If you’re a serious organic home brewer, it would definitely be worth the listen for sure.

DEEP CLEANING With John

Just a couple of quick notes.

When I schedule a ‘deep clean’ day for my equipment, it means that I’m going to be taking things apart.  One of the things I ‘deep clean’ is my boil keg piping.

tube_brush

A bottle brush is too large to fit through piping so, I use a tube (or pipe fitting) brush.

feed_tube

I also take the piping apart when I clean.  A it turned out, there was hop peddles stuck in the elbow of my brew kettle ‘feed tube’. By taking the inner tubing out I can also inspect the boil keg’s gaskets.

HOW TO ‘PROPERLY’ PURCHASE ‘USED’ 16 GALLON KEG(S) FOR HOME BREWING.

Brewers get a bit ticked off when they see one of there Kegs in a photo online all chopped up.  Some people don’t realize that they do NOT own the keg they ‘rented’ from the liquor store for whatever event they needed a keg of beer for.

People after the event, usually unwittingly, need to get rid of the keg at some point and either put it out for trash or try to sell it online.

The ‘proper’ method for purchasing 16 gallon Kegs to be converted for home brewing is to go to ‘any’ brewery and ask to purchase a Keg from them that no longer is functional.  If they do not have any they will put you on a list for when they become available.  I’m told the wait in not too terribly long.

From the AHA

5 Homebrew Tips from a Dogfish Head Quality Technician

Great article however, water should have been included. #1 NO! NO! for me is municipal tap water with 150 – 300 different chemicals (from China) added to it, all ‘hiding’ under the names of ‘fluoride’ / ‘chloride’.

The Completely Ad Hoc Organic Homebrewers Association

Organic Homebrewers Association Mission

Hello friend,

Living in what some may call the ‘Mecca’ of home brewing, Denver Colorado, I thought brewing all organic beer would be easy and relatively inexpensive.  Unfortunately I was very wrong in assuming both of those assumptions.  The biggest frustration as a organic home brewer (in Denver) was that ALL the local Denver area home brew grain supply stores told me that they would NOT carry organic grains.  So, what that meant, was that I would have to buy my grains online and have them shipped to me.  Buying grains this way is very expensive and impractical, really.  There is a much better way we organic home brewers can enjoy the craft of great organic home brew, we just need each others help.

The Organic Homebrewers Association mission is to support all facets of organic beer brewing in your local area.

The Organic  Homebrewers Association servers it’s members by providing local networking between fellow organic home brewers.  Local organic home brewing networks provides for a ‘trusted network’ of organic home brewers working as a ‘cooperative’ between themselves for the purpose of purchasing and distributing bulk organic grains.

Organic Homebrewers  Association Cooperative Project

The purpose of an ‘Organic Homebrewers  Association ‘Cooperative’ project is to build a ‘trusted’ community of organic home brewers with the goal of expanding local organic home brewing resources and decreasing the cost of organic grains / adjuvants for the individual home brewer.

The Organic Homebrewers  Association is an ‘Ad Hoc’ association started and ran by John Housand as a organic brewing (wine making) resource, networking and research center.

John Housand