Tuesday, 2 February 2010

An As Live Brewday At Hopdaemon

I fancied a bit of Gonzo blogging this week, so while brewing an eight barrel brew of Skrimshander today, I wrote everything down on my BlackBerry as I did it, creating a timeline for the brewday. I'll try and do one of these every day, to show you what I get up to over the course of the week.

The Today Programme on radio 4 wakes me up, it is 6.30am.

I get up and perform the normal morning tasks, make a sandwich for lunch and leave the house at around 7.15. Once I have arrived at work, the first thing to do is to check the hot liquor tank is up to temperature, about 72 degrees. The heating elements not being switched on correctly are the one thing I lie awake at night and worry about.

7.30 I open the requisite valves and recirculate the hot liquor for 5 minutes or so to make sure there are no hot or cold spots.

The Hot Liquor Tank

7.40 Grab the malt out of the malt store, sling it on a pallet and wheel it to the pre-mash pump ready for mashing in.

7.50 Open the sacks and add a little DWB, while this is happening I preheat the mash tun with about 50l of water from the HLT through the rotating sparge arm.

8.00 Then I start mashing in proper, water and malt are mixed and pumped into the mash tun. Once all the grain and water are in the mash tun, a quick stir and temperature readings are done.

The Mash Tun

8.30 Kettle on. Cup of tea. Weigh out hops and sanitise heat exchanger for later.

The Heat Exchanger

9.25 Connect the mash tun to the copper and start sparging hot water over the bed of malt. Switch the mash tun pump on and start to transfer the wort into the copper.

The Copper

10.10 Switch on the 18kw element in the copper and add bittering hops.

10.15 Put kettle on. Cup of tea #2

10.30 Switch on the 30kw element in the copper.

10.35 Jump up and sit on the mash tun lid in an attempt to keep warm, realise all the water vapour is making me damp. Too lazy and warm to move. Warmth makes me feel slightly snoozy.

11.00 Sparge liquor ends and transfer to the copper nearly complete.

11.20 Transfer into the copper complete, I faff around with the valves on the copper and switch the wort pump on to recirc for 15 minutes. This helps the copper boil a bit faster.

11.30 Pull the lid off the mash tun, wash off all the bits of malt. Open the side manway and grab my trusty malt shovel and start digging.

12.00 Mash tun is dug out but not clean yet. The copper comes up to the boil and I jump in the mash tun with a brush and a bucket of caustic.

12.30 Halfway through the copper boil, time for some floc tablets.

12.35 Scrub the mash tun plates and get them hauled back into the mash tun.

12.50 Mash tun lid goes back on. Now the start of the tricky bit.....

12.51 Dash upstairs to the fermenters and run some Peracetic acid into the fermenter to sterilise it. Connect the hoses and cip sprayball and get it on recirc.

FV1, 2 and 3

12.54 Put the standpipe in to sterilise.

12.56 Take the hops and rouser up to the manway at the top of the copper.

13.00 Switch off 30kw element and add late hops and stir.

13.05 Back upstairs to the fermenters. Switch off the acid recirc and drain the fermenter. Remove hoses and attach runoff hose to the side rather than top of the fermenter.

13.15 Undo the valve at the bottom of the copper for the hot break. Run some wort through the heat exchanger to clear it of peracetic. Attach other end of runoff hose.

13.20 Switch on wort pump and cold liquor pump. Visual check wort is running into fermenter.

13.23 Fiddle with cooling side of heat exchanger to cool to 24 degrees.

13.30 Sandwich. Ham, mustard and lettuce on brown granary. Kettle on, cup of tea #3.

A pause for lunch...

13.50 Grab the bucket of yeast from the yeast fridge and take it upstairs to the fermenters.

13.54 Take a few jugfulls of cooled wort and add them to the yeast to bring it up to temperature gently. Too much of a quick temperature change can shock and kill it.

14.00 Add the yeast and give it a really hard rouse.

14.12 Take another jugfull of wort and do a gravity check, we are aiming for 1045 today and we are bang on.

14.18 Seal the fermenter and wash up yeast bucket.

14.30 Runoff ends. Disconnect everything and recirc the heat exchanger with hot caustic.

14.50 Grab trusty shovel again and start digging out the hops.

15.20 All the easily removed hops are gone, now time to climb into the copper with a bruch and some caustic to get it properly clean. This is my least favourite job apart from cask washing.

15.45 Clamber out the copper with all the grace of a blind Labrador puppy with no limbs. Swear a little bit.

15.50 Rinse the copper and backflush the heat exchanger with fresh water.

16.20 Run the flexihose upstairs and connect it to the peracetic tank and run a bit though the heat exchanger and wort pump.

16.30 Disconnect all hoses and put them back upstairs filled with peracetic.

16.45 Gun the floor down and clear up any spent hops or malt left on the floor.

17.00 Set hot liqour timers, weigh out the malt, add water treatment, switch mains water off and drain everything down so it doesn't freeze overnight.

17.30 Fuck! Is that how cold it is in here?

17.32 Pull off wellies, lock up, drive home.

17.50 Arrive home, shower, change, open a beer, get dinner cooking.


  1. Fantastic Pete, really get a feel for how hectic your brew days are! I found this really interesting so please do more if you can find the time to jot it all down.

  2. Fuck that! I'll stick to just drinking beer, making it sounds too much like hard work!

    Great post though!

  3. Baron- Expect a weeks worth of blogs, with maybe some explanatory blogs in between. Glad you enjoyed reading.

    Mark- Hard work but rewarding. You stick with drinking, I'll carry on brewing!

  4. I don't envy your day between 12.50 and 13.23 Pete! Or any of the washing for that matter... But I think there are days that what you do beats sitting in an office. I'll come down and help you in the summer if you like, a holiday in Kent!

  5. Great post Pete, interesting to read the detail of the process, more of the same please...

  6. Great post. Enjoyed reading that. Sounds like bloody hard work, but fun and rewarding at the same time.

    Be interesting to read about what you get up to between brew days.

  7. It’s always interesting to see how other brewery's run! So many little differences between each brewery.
    What Floc tablets do you use and how much? I use Murphy’s Protofloc 1.5 tabs per brl. I put them in 5 mins before the last hop addition.
    You use a lot of peracetic I don't really use any. Do you sterilise with caustic in your Fv's before peracetic?
    Ps I enjoyed the Leviathan

  8. Mark - I can't imagine anything worse than wearing a collar and tie all day dat in a chair in front of a pc. You are welcome to come down any time, i'd suggest coming down for the Canterbury beer festival in the summer though.

    Chunk. Mybrewerytap - Expect more posts like these!

    Stu - We use Protofloc too @ 1 tab per barrel halfway through the boil. After racking All our FVs get gunned out with water then a hot caustic CIP, then another water rinse. On the brewday they then get a 15 minute peracetic rinse. Glad you enjoyed the Leviathan, Southerners can make decent beer too!

  9. I'm sure I posted on here yesterday - but anyway - fantastic post - really interesting.

  10. Random question: How long does fermentation typically take and then how long after this until the beer is dispatched for drinking.

    I know fermentation will probably take a similar length of time to homebrewing, but it always seems odd to me how quickly beer is sold and drunk from a commercial, compared with how long a home brewed beer takes to condition.

  11. Collar and tie? The digital geeks are in t-shirts and shorts in the summer (I draw the line at short in the office, that's a step too far).

    I'll book a long weekend for Canterbury!