Breakpoint Brewery

What's your BREAKPOINT?!

Leave a comment

Conversion Factor

The day of rapture is upon us!* No better time than now to brew a beer – hopefully, I’ll still be around to enjoy it after it’s fermented!

One of the bonuses of being a scientist is that you can occassionally come across an unwanted laboratory item that can be re-purposed and utilized in the brewery. This was the case with the scale I use to weigh by base malts because it has a larger area for weighing and can handle larger amounts of grain than what I use for specialty malts and hops. The only unfortunate thing is that it will only weigh in kilograms which isn’t a big deal because I have a conversion app on my phone and it’s always easy to use Google for such a thing.  Plus, I’m single-handedly trying to overthrow The Stonecutters. Today, though, it kind of bit me in the butt. I thought my base malt was 9 pounds (in actuality, the total brew was 9 pounds with the base just being 7.5 pounds), so I converted that and then weighed out the 4.08 kg of pale malt – only to realize my mistake after I had crushed the grain and was preheating the mash tun. Oh well, I guess this beer will be a little stronger than planned…maybe more of a ESB, then just a Best Bitter. I did add an extra hop addition to hopefully keep the balance between malt and hops.

My original plan was to FWH with the Simcoe’s and then bitter with some Centennials followed by a finish with Centennials. With the extra gravity I added another charge of Centennials at 30 minutes to increase the bitterness. Of course, it may not have been necessary seeing how fragrant all the hops were, but especially the Simcoe. Fortunately, when weighing out hops, I have a scale that reads in both metric and English (though I typically weigh out in grams because it seems a little more accurate than weighing in ounces on this scale).

I did overshoot my gravity by about 10 points. Also, I ended up with only about 4 gallons in the fermenter because I had trouble with the siphoning from the kettle again. For whatever reason my kettle diptube clogs even with only 2.5 ounces of hops in the kettle. I’ve been slowly collecting the parts to set up my March pump, so that I can whirlpool my wort during chilling and pump the wort into the fermenter without moving the kettle.

Otherwise, the brew day went pretty well and I wasn’t raptured – even the yeast were not raptured and started fermenting the wort in under 12 hours.

* – Apparently, the rapture has been moved to October 21, 2011 – better drink up!


Leave a comment

A Mooney Brew Day

So, I actually brewed this beer a week ago. I didn’t post it because the weather has been too nice and the brewery (aka garage) needed a clean up (still ongoing) and the yard needs some massive clean up due to that nasty ice storm we had this winter.

Anyway, the brew day really wasn’t revolutionary or noteworthy. I mashed in at 152F with the Simpsons Golden Promise malt crushed on my newly renovated malt mill.

I had a couple of brew assistants since the weather was so nice.

The biggest issue with the brew day was the 8 oz of leaf hops in the kettle that clogged my dip tube. I eventually got so fed up waiting for it to drain that I just dumped the whole kettle into the fermenter. I’ll have to careful about the transfer so that all those hops are left behind. It did smell absolutely delicious during the boil and the fermentation, which it has been doing for about a week at 62F. I’ll probably keg it in another week or so and I just had another position open in my kegerator, so I’m ready to taste this one.

1 Comment

The First “Mashing with Merge” Brew

Yesterday was sunny and mid 40s – still cold, but enjoyable to be outside. Today, though, was craptastic – gray, overcast and 40 with wind, so it feels like 30. Awesome.

Anyway, the brew day went fairly well. This will probably be more of a pictorial, then wordy post. Plus, I’ve kind of alluded to the fact that I’m not really going to make this a “how to brew” site because that already exists here.

So here we go…

I weighed and crushed all the grain yesterday and today I heated up the mash water to about 180F. I like to heat it a little warmer then necessary because it’ll lose a few degrees in the transfer to the tun, especially on a day like today, and the tun will absorb some of the heat initially. I was shooting for a mash temp of 152F, but ended up at 149F. It’ll just create a more fermentable wort which may not be a bad thing because I’ve mentioned the yeast I’m using in the brew tends to leave some sugars unfermented.

I drained off the first runnings onto the ounce of Columbus pellet hops. First wort hopping (FWH) gives an interesting dynamic to a beer. The hops essentially steep in the high gravity first runnings from the mash and are then boiled for the entire length of boil. While it’s all subjective, most people say this technique smoothes out the bitterness from the hops making them seem more like a 20 minute addition. For me, this technique gives that nice resin-y hop flavor to the beer.

Overall, the mash and boil were uneventful. My biggest issue with today’s brew day was that my mash efficiency was a dramatically low 55%. I typically shoot for 75%, then end up with 85% and have a bigger beer than intended. I’m not exactly sure why this happened today – I may not have drained the sparge completely, leaving sugars behind – but I think this is just a reminder that I need do some of my own mash water and efficiency calculations instead of relying on websites and Excel sheets. Also, I need to keep better notes so that I can completely figure out my system. I’m hoping that this project and my new set up in the garage will aide in these things.

When I get it figured out I’ll post the recipe over at the recipe page, but as I mentioned the boil was uneventful. Afterwards, I chilled the wort using some recirculated ice melt. It worked a little too well and chilled it down to about 50F. Despite the low temp, I still pitched the yeast because fermentation is an exothermic reaction and the house will warm it up too. Plus, the low temperature will keep the yeasts from forming off-flavors and fusel alcohols.

Now, we wait for the yeasts to do their work.

Since this was the first “Mashing with Merge” brew, I made sure to listen to all Merge artists – Arcade Fire: Funeral; The Rosebuds: Birds Make Good Neighbors; Superchunk: Here’s To Shutting Up; Portastatic: Ideas for Bright IdeasNeutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea; Polvo: In Prism; and of course, M. Ward: Post-War while I was mashing.

I also worked a little bit on Breakpoint Brewery’s office space.