Sunday, 4 July 2010

Brewers objects of beauty no3 - grist case and mash wetter


I don't know if readers of this blog are particularly interested in my excitement over the improvements I'm making to my brewery, but then, should I care? This is my blog and if I want to wax lyrical about the things that I think are good, then I'm going to.

Today we are brewing. The demand for our beer is increasing as we push into new markets. I'm trying hard to ensure that every brewday makes as much beer as possible, which involves mashing in as much grist as possible. The maximum my current mash tun can hold is about 110kg of grist, quite a lot to mash in by hand, although many brewers do. I have help today in the form of my nearly-14-year-old son, Alfie. You can see him in the background of the picture weighing out the grist. Despite his help I think the whole job of making the mash is so much easier with a grist case and mash wetter or mash hydrator if you want to be posh.

I have talked to brewers who are happy to mash 250kg by hand and they can't see the point of changing what they do. Sure, it's a good work out but there are bound to be temperature and consistency variations throughout the mash. I find, after mashing in even 100kg by hand, I'm getting to the point of thinking the mix is good enough, even though I know it isn't. It is quite hard work and the resultant mash often has sticky lumps when dug out, which is a sign of reduction in extract.

With the very Heath Robinson affair I have created, once I set the slide that controls the grist flow, and with the strike water at full flow, the mash tun fills almost without my intervention. Just a few turns with the mash paddle and a top up with hot water if required, and a mash at 65.5OC with homogeneous consistency is achieved.

If you brew beer commercially and you have the head room for it, get a grist case and mash hydrator, trust me on this one.

My grist case will hold about 100kg of grist and is made from one sheet of 18mm water proof board. It could do with being extended a little. The hydrator is made from standard 110mm drainage pipe fittings and a copper spray head inside. The hot strike water simple sprays on the falling grain as it travels down the pipe.

Warning, do not make a grist case out of MDF, it will swell with the humidity.

8 comments:

Ed said...

Surely you mean 'hot liquor'?

HardKnott Dave said...

Ed, indeed you are correct. In fact I'm rather mixing terminology. Hot liquor is what is mixed with the grist to make the mash and the strike temperature is the temperature of that liquor.

mentaldental said...

Nice job! What is the spray head like? any chance of a picture>

Crown Brewer Stu said...

nice work Dave! my grist case is MDF (I didn't build it) and its SHIT, it will probably fall apart soon but to be fare its been around for a few years.

ChrisM said...

Looking good, Dave. To answer your first paragraph, YES, it's definitely interesting to read about the brewery improvements!

Jeff Pickthall said...

Your pic doesn't quite do justice to the full Heath Robinson-ness of the plant.

Perhaps a blog post on Heath-Robinsonness?

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

I'm waiting for the blog entry about the sink.

HardKnott Dave said...

Mentaldental, look at the next post....

Stu, your grist case gave me great inspiration and I refuse to accept that it is "shit" - "an important learning experience" would be much more accurate.

Jeff, on it's way...

Ted, AKA BUL180. A sink? this is the third in the series of Brewers objects of beauty and you've only just mentioned a sink? you are falling behind.

But there are cask washers and drains to consider first.