Bag of Joe White malted barleyIt was supposed to be a marvellous day. A day of making beer in a new house with some new equipment. We were prepared for the occasional hiccup as we got used to our new surrounding, new equipment, and the fact that we haven’t brewed in a while.

Because of this, we decided to make our Priestly Pale Ale. It’s one that we’ve made lots of times so it shouldn’t have been too challenging. Also it’s a great beer recipe and we would put us in good beer for quite awhile while we were deciding what to make next.

Unfortunately things didn’t go according to plan.

It Started With a Broken Thermometer

We use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the grain so we can work out the strike temperature for our mash. Without the grain temperature, working out the strike temperature of the water can’t be done.

Unfortunately our digital thermometer broke… and late in the afternoon on a Sunday, we just couldn’t track one down at the shops.  We did have analogue dial thermometer used for roasting meats though. It would have to do the job.

The analogue thermometer didn’t give the most accurate results and didn’t even start measuring until about 60 degrees Celsius. So we had the guess the temperature of our grain and hope for the best on the accuracy of the strike temperature. We were given a range of a few degrees. It really wasn’t good enough.

Why didn’t we just stop and try again next weekend with the right equipment? Well, a brew day must go on! That and the grain was already milled and we had already spent a bit of time getting set up. We could persevere!

And We Couldn’t Play With Fire

Since the new apartment only has an electric stove, we went out on Saturday and bought the most powerful LPG stove we could find. This thing is massive and we were told it would boil 30 litres of wort without any problems. We were excited to see this puppy go! But a little bit terrified too.

We sparked it up and… the flames were orange. We just couldn’t get a blue flame out of it. The directions for the burner outlined very clearly that orange flames are bad. If the flames were orange we were to turn off the stove.

We weren’t going to take a chance with LPG so decided to do the smart thing and moved to the electric stove in the kitchen. We turned on two of the hot plates and… an hour and a half later, there was something resembling a boil. A fairly pathetic boil, but a boil nonetheless.

It was time for hops!

And from there, things seemed to start going our way. It wasn’t the most rigorous boil, but we could make do. We were going to have some sort of beer out of this.

Grain mill

Then We Flooded the Kitchen

It was nearly time to cool things down so we put the wort chiller in and got the hoses ready. The laundry in our flat is just off the kitchen and the taps for the washing machine can have a hose attached. So it was nice and convenient to just unhook the washing machine and put a hose in. Or so we thought…

Everything was hooked up, we turn on the tap and water started leaking out of the connection all over laundry floor and into the kitchen. It couldn’t go tighter. It was just a crappy connector.

Eventually we were able to minimise the leak but not eliminate it all together. So we had to choose: a ruined batch of beer or water on the kitchen floor. The leak was minimal so we let it happen and tried to get our wort cold.

Just as we started mopping up the mess the doorbell rang. It was the pizza that we had ordered only 15 minutes prior and weren’t expecting for another 45 minutes. Great!

Founders Mosaic PromiseThen Dinner Time

We let the wort cool for a few more minutes, drained it into a fermenter and dug into our pizza.

The gravity of the sample we pulled was 1.054; higher than the 1.045 we were aiming for. But not bad considering we were going a bit blind when trying to get to our target mash temperature. According to our ABV calculator, if we ferment down to 1.010 as per the original recipe this beer will come out at 5.9%. A little higher than we want, but we’ll how it turns out.

They say that a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day of working. This goes tenfold for brewing. Through it we managed to drink some decent beers while listening to some nice tunes.

And it only took four bath towels to mop up the mess.