Tuesday, 9 February 2010

As Live: Racking

Remember that 8 barrel brew of Skrimshander from last week? Well, it finished fermenting and has been chilled down over the weekend. It is now ready for putting into casks. There is also a 10 barrel brew of Incubus to do today as well.

I took the keystones and shives out of the dirty casks on Friday and gave them a blast through with hot water too. The first job when I arrive at the brewery...

8.30 Is to put some water into the caustic bin on the cask washer.

8.34 Attach sprayball and switch on heating element on the cask washer.

8.37 Attach hose to the rinse tank of the cask washer and turn on.

8.44 Turn on the music and attach my iPod. Select 'Brewery Tunes' playlist. A mixture of punk and ska to satisfy Tonie, some Madchester and Reggae for Neil and a bit of everything else for me. Neil Young's 'Old Man' is the first tune on. A corker!

8.50 Nobody else has arrived here yet, but it is snowing outside and the traffic is heavy.

8.51 Fill up the kettle and make tea. Flick through Good Beer Guide for ideas for places to go near Reading for a decent pint and lunch on Saturday.

8.55 Kettle boiled, brew in hand, grab some finings and take them upstairs to the clean area near the fermenters to dilute them down.

9.10 Tea finished and finings at the right strength. 1inch reducer on bottom RJT of fermenter.

9.12 Run off some beer until it clears, don't want to drag any big lumps of yeast through into the casks.

9.14 Run some peracetic acid through a long flexihose to sanitise it and attach it to the reducer on the fermenter. Place racking spear into the peracetic bucket.

9.20 Neil and Tonie arrive. An accident on the A2 has held them up for nearly an hour.

9.25 Grab the bags of keystones and shives and bung a handful of each into a bucket of fresh peracetic.

9.25 Neil starts washing casks and banging in the keystones

The Cask Washer

9.55 I lay the cask stackers out and fine the first 6 casks.

10.00 Runoff begins.

Casks ready to go on stackers and be filled

10.23 Fuck yeah! Led Zepplin on the stereo.

12.00 The last of the Skrimshander is run off and the flexi hose is disconnected.

12.04 Run off some of the Incubus to remove the big lumps of yeast.

12.10 Quick pause for a cup of tea and a sandwich. Sandwich today is pastrami, mustard and diced gherkin in a white roll. Pretty awesome.

12.20 Start racking the casks of Incubus.

13.14 This week's malt order arrives. Everyone downs tools and helps carry it off the lorry.

13.30 Racking resumes.

Flexihose and racking spear

14.45 The last of the Incubus run off, time to clean down.

14.50 Disconnect all the hoses, to drain them of beer and then attach one end of the racking hose to the tap and run through with fresh water.

14.59 Lift the lid on FV1, remove standpipe and spray with water to wash all of the solid yeast out.

15.15 Attach cip sprayball to the top of FV1 and connect one end of the flexihose. Attach other end to hot water and pump about 70 liters into the FV.

15.20 Attach second flexihose to bottom rjt valve on FV1 and other end to CIP pump.

15.22 Turn on pump and get hot water recirculating. Add caustic.

15.30 Once recirc is going take steps to FV2 and spray with water to remove yeast.

15.48 Switch off cip pump and connect hoses to FV2. Pump caustic from FV1 to FV2. Put on recirc.

16.02 Spray FV1 with fresh water to remove all the caustic.

16.17 Switch off cip pump and drain caustic from FV2.

16.24 Spray FV2 with fresh water to remove caustic.

16.31 Gun down floors and gutters to remove any yeast or caustic left on the floor.

16.42 Attach flexihoses to the tap and rinse with fresh water to remove causic. Coil up and put them away.

16.50 While I have been upstairs Neil has put all the full casks away, washed down the cask washer, sprayed the floor clean, cleaned all the finings jugs.

17.00 Top up the hot liquor tank to the right level for brewing tomorrow, weigh out the malt, add liqour treatment, print out a brewsheet and fill in the gyle number, abv, and date.

17.30 Kick off wellies and put shoes back on. Remember I haven't set the hot liquor timers and run back to do it.

17.40 Leave work, get home, realise I have no food in the house and mission it to the shops.

Evening: Eat, watch a crap film and sleep!

Dinner- Homemade pizza with N'Duja De Calabria and onions.


  1. sounds all too familiar. Even the home made pizza!

  2. Do you make the pizza with yeast skimmed off the fermenters?

  3. best pizza base/bread is made with some very active wort from a half fermented brew no water or dried yeast required


  4. Brew monkey-It becomes a regular routine doesn't it!?

    Barm, Stu- Haven't tried making pizza/bread with fermenting wort. Must give it a go at the weekend.

    Oh, and Stu- we use caustic @5% and peracetic at 200ppm.

  5. nice one, im really enjoying your brewday posts, the pizza looks awesome too!

  6. it works very well i used my wheetie-bits last time.
    something else to try for bread is roast a hand full of spent grains spread out on a tray, leave to cool then mix in with your dough. adds a nice crunch.

  7. Nice post.

    Couple of questions for you. When you said you downed tools to take the malt in ... do you ever worry that leaving sterile casks around in the open air could end up in them becoming unsterile again? Is there like a time limit that you have or is just not a concern?

    Does the racking spear go right down into the bottom of the cask? Whenever I rack homebrew, I go to lengths to try and avoid getting any air in the fermented beer. Just wondering if it's something you do or don't really worry about.

    These make excellent reading ... keep up the good work! :)


  8. Interesting series of posts. Your kit looks familiar. Is it one of Dave Porters breweries?

  9. Andy- Glad you are enjoying them! You would love the pizza, nduja is seriously hot!

    Chunk- We try not to leave sterile casks open to the air for too long, generally they will never be left for more than about 15 minutes. The racking spear reaches right into the bottom of the casks, there is a real knack to getting it running in so it doesnt fob up too much and mix with the air.

    Sean- Glad you are enjoying reading them. Not one of Dave Porter's efforts, although they look similar. It is actually a 10barrel ex Firkin plant, removed from the Fizgig and Firkin in Bath.