I paired up with my buddy Eric and broke in my backyard as the new Bono Brew headquarters on October 13th. It was a glorious sunny October Sunday, and I had cooked all the pumpkin the night prior which saved me a ton of time in the morning. I was able to put to use some new equipment I’d just bought from @HomebrewFinds:
- Refractometer ($15)
- Candy thremometer outfit on Big Blue mashtun ($10)
- 10 Gallon pot, without a cover, I used tin foil in the mean time ($70)
- 300K BTU burner (3$0)
You can see for yourself that those prices are pretty low for equipment that I’m very happy with. Certainly check out @homebrewfinds for your equipment and ingredient kit needs.
I mashed in and looked at all the grain I had… 14lbs for a 5-gallon batch. I certainly have to increase my efficiency from above its basement-dwelling 68%, but it’s tough without a pump to pull my liquor out of the mashtun. Ideally, I’d love to institute a continuous recirculation system for vorlafing (pulling wort out of the tun and recirculating it to compact the grain bed) but the time, money, and tools escape me at the moment. I’d also love to try a decoction mash now that I have a “leftover” 20-qt pot. But for Nice Pumpkins I had to deal with what I had.
After I fixed the burner up and finished the mash (still only dropping 2 degrees in an hour, that beautiful machine) I hit my pre-boil gravity spot on the nose. Refractometers are so freaking cool. Get one.
I started the full-volume boil without boilovers – unlike my compatriot Eric, who had no less than 5 boilover events in a single session brewing a Zombie Dust PA clone. His fiance was a great help in trying to stir it down whilst adding the hops. My boil took a long time to heat, but I attribute that to my lack of a pot cover. Regardless, I hit my post-boil on the nose as well. How loverly.
Only after cooling my boil and pitching the yeast did I see that I neglected to vorlauf completely, and there were still some medium particulate in the beer. It will just settle out in the trub, but still I may have missed out on precious sugars and added a little tannin. I didn’t taste it when I checked 8 days into fermentation, but it might present itself later after the beer cleans up. I fermented with WLP051 at outside-my-kitchen-backdoor temp (62-65) for 10 days and finished it off in front-closet temps (68-72).
Bottling tomorrow night will give me lease to start my sour experiment, Gourds Gone Wild, where I take 1 gallon of Nice Pumpkins and spike it with homebrew lambic dregs from another friend, Chris. We’ll see what these bugs will do to the beer – I’m not sure what to expect! I’ll probably only leave it for a week or two before cracking and tasting it.