Playing catch up!

I think one of these days I’ll start one of these posts without apologizing for it being so long since my last one but it is what it is! I’ve had the opportunity to brew a couple of times now but for the sake of documenting the journey I want to get some pictures and words up on the steps that I’ve taken so far.

After getting the panel setup and I wanted to run all the equipment through its paces with water before the actual brew day. Also it gave us a good opportunity to mark up the sight glass.  Additionally before using the equipment we passivated the stainless steel as per the recommendations from Stout Tanks. We used a citric acid solution and barkeepers friend to get the job done. This removes any contaminants on the outer layer of the vessels and allows the chromium to re-oxidize and provides a protective layer for the stainless steel.

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After that it was pulling out fittings, hoses and pumps to see if what the brew day might look like.

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Didn’t get the pumps hooked up to the control panel properly but we made do!

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Took some fenageling to get the pumps figured out and in all honesty still something I’m working on.

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Get to see the sparge arm in action finally!

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Had to check to make sure we have fittings for all the things that we need, so excited to ferment in stainless steel and in a conical fermentor.

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Held on to this beer for awhile and decided it was time to celebrate with something memorable. Ale Apothecary makes phenomenally complex and delicious beer.  Everything from their location to their process is unique and they have something special going on up there. If you get the chance to try anything form there don’t pass it up!

Eureka!

Okay, I’m really bad at this and I’m several months behind but dammit I’m not giving up!  Finishing up wiring everything in the control panel was a pain but hey I took some pictures along the way!

The big picture

The big picture

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So easy a child could do it!
PIDs wired up
PIDs wired up
More slow progress
More slow progress
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Beautiful organized wires
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Look at the right angles

After getting the inside all wired up, a big shout out to my Dad who finished up wiring all the 3 way switches and temp probes solo, we mounted it to the wall in the garage next to the 50 amp service and plugged it in!

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Hanging out in its new home
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Houston we are go for launch
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Look it reads temperatures!
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Next stop water test

Nothing blew up and no one got electrocuted so I call it a success! Everything powered up and seemed to function as intended which was a great surprise.  After getting some labels stuck to the control panel, hoses cut and drinking water hoses purchased it will be time for a trial water run!

Colorful buttons!

The Going ons…

“Hello, world!”

It has been another few (6) months but I wanted to give you guys an update on whats been happening around the farm. Mostly its been shopping which is pretty exciting!  So far I’ve picked up a whole host of additional stainless steel fittings, tubing, a sparge arm, pumps and electrical elements for heating the hot liquor tank and the boil kettle.  I also spent a lot of time researching different electrical control panel options and ended up settling on a kit from ebrewsupply.com.

Boxes of boxes!
Boxes of boxes!
Brew Hardware Heating Elements and enclosures
Brew Hardware Heating Elements and enclosures
Center line Chugger pump
Center line Chugger pump
Silicone 3/4" hose
Silicone 3/4″ hose
Its new home
Its new home

I ended up deciding on going with a 50amp 4 element PID control panel.  The panel will be able to select between having both elements on in the HLT or the BK and then single element in both vessels in case I decide to do back to back batches and need to heat water in the HLT while maintaining the boil in the BK.  The panel will also control the two center inlet chugger pumps.  After some shipping delays we have all the pieces and have started wiring up the control panel which has been quite the endeavor so far.

For the time being the plan is to get things setup for finally brewing some beer in the garage and as such we now have a 50amp service ran and will be ready to go when the control panel finally gets finished.

Things to ponder
Things to ponder
Still pondering
Still pondering
So many goodies
So many goodies
Wires!
Wires!
Big Wires!
Big Wires!
Colorful buttons!
Colorful buttons!

Getting all of the things pulled out and laid out was a task within itself.  These pictures are a couple of months old as of finishing this post so I will post another update soon as the wiring is getting close to completion. Some of the customizing that I asked for has made this panel build a little bit more challenging.  After several long weekends of my hands deep in wires I have often cursed the decision to not have the panel pre-assembled but I am hoping that this increased knowledge of electrical components and inner workings of my own control panel will be valuable in the future.   Stay tuned for some additional control panel updates in the near future!

Is this thing still on…

Sorry everyone I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything but I’ve had some exciting new developments and thought I needed to share with everyone!  On Christmas I became the proud new owner of some new stout tanks 1 barrel kettles!  My partners (aka my parents) surprised me with these shinny beauties on Christmas morning!IMG_20141225_083434 From left to right in the picture there is the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT), Mash Tun (MT) and the Boil Kettle (BK).  Also there is a pile of sanitary tri clamp fittings!  There are extra ports in the HLT and the BK for installing hot water heating elements so this will be 100% electrical heated system.   IMG_20141225_083447  Everything will work on 1 1/2″ TC fittings. It is set up for reducing down to 1/2″ hose but we are going to look into possibly sizing everything to be 1″ and upgrading to butterfly valves instead of ball valves. IMG_20141225_083502Inside of the HLT is a stainless steel HERMS (Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System) coil.  While mashing this gives me the flexibility to to change the temperature (or hold it constant) of the mash by pumping the wort through the coil while there is hot water in the rest of the HLT.IMG_20141225_083518Sorry for the blurry picture but this is the inside of the MT.  There are 3 ports on top for recirculating wort and attaching a sparge arm.  The sparge arm will sit above the grain bed and after mashing is done it will sprinkle hot water evenly over the grain bed to properly rinse and collect as much wort as possible.  The bottom has a perforated false bottom for separating the grain and wort. IMG_20141225_083625I should probably not be so excited for the bottom of the MT but it has a center drain which will eliminate dead space and allow for more wort to be collected.IMG_20141225_083609

The BK has a fancy tangential outlet (the one on the side) that is used for whirlpooling.  This allows for the wort to be pumped out and back through the tangential outlet that will cause the wort in the kettle to rotate.  This whirlpooling helps clarify the wort before its transferred to a fermenter, its also allows for a great time to add more hops!!

Now that the bulk of the brewing systems there is a wide variety of additional things to get before the inaugural batch of beer can be brewed.  Since there will be a electrical heating elements installed in the kettles components for a control panel need to be purchased so it will be easy to control the temperatures of the water and wort during brewing.  There will also be pumps, hoses, chillers, fermenters, kegs, filters, fittings and a whole host of other things to purchase so stay tuned for more updates hopefully fully of shinny stainless steel Things.  Cheers and happy new years!

 

 

 

2014-03-02 14.25.26

Fellowship of the funk

Early in March I assembled the fellowship of funk and ventured forth to the dark summit of Mt. Doom and cast  “clean” and “safe” brewing practices into its fiery chasm.  I was lucky enough to secure a couple of vials of East Coast Yeast’s (http://eastcoastyeast.com/) BugFarm or for short, ECY01.  East Coast Yeast is a fairly small producer of yeast and generally Al, the owner/yeast wrangler, doesn’t have the time or facilities to keep up with the demand from homebrewers.  I’ve had success getting some ECY01 by joining and e-mail list and waiting to see when there is yeast available and then trying to be one of the first few people to respond with what they want.  ECY01 and some of the other sour/wild blends that Al puts out have the reputation of creating some of the most complex and delicious sour ales achievable on a homebrewing scale.

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The blend contains a handful of different species of Brettanomyces, lactobaccilus and pediococcus.  Brettanomyces is commonly referred to as wild yeast because it is often found naturally on the skins of fruit.  Brettanomyces aka brett can create a wide range of flavors some of the favorable and many of them not. In the wine world brett can be a real problem because of the off flavors it produces in wine and its ability to survive normal cleaning and sanitizing procedures.  Lactobaccilus and pediococcus are both two different strains of bacteria that produce lactic acid. Lacto and pedio are responsible for the majority of the sourness produced in sour ales.  Additionally lacto and pedio both can take a long time to really develop acidity and are some of the reasons that sour beers take much longer than normal beer to produce.

I was shooting for crafting a traditional lambic with hopes of aging a portion on some yet undetermined fruit and continue aging  another portion for use in blending with another sour beer in the future.  There are a lot of literature online and published on what your grain bill should be and how you should mash your grains to get the best wort for lambic production.  Through it all most people agree that you wan a simple grist composed of pilsner malt and wheat.  Also you want a fairly dextrinous (wort full of complex long chain sugars) so your brett and bacteria have things to work on after most of the simple sugars are used up in the first few weeks of fermentation.  I decided to keep things simple for my first attempt, my grain bill was:

  • 58% French Pilsner
  • 37% white wheat malt
  • 5% acid malt

I mashed high at 158 degrees Fahrenheit to help create a dextrinous and generally had a pretty uneventful brew day.  Traditionally aged hops are used as they still provide some preservative effects and flavor contribution to the beer but not so much so as to inhibit the beneficial bacteria.  I didn’t have any aged hops but I had some crystal hops that were hanging out in the back of my freezer that are very low alpha acid hops so I used two ounces of crystal hops in the beginning of the 90 minute boil for 14 theoretical IBUs.

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After the 90 min boil I cooled and transferred close to 7 gallons of wort to my fermenter.  If I was a more daring soul I would rig up some sort of coolship to transfer the hot wort to and let it cool overnight and expose it to the natural microflora of my back yard but maybe next time!

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Overall the day went really well and I hit my original gravity of 1.048.  My plan for this beer going forward is to pretty much leave it be for the next year or so and then I would like to transfer a portion to age on some yet to be determined fruit, bottle some straight and continue aging another portion for blending with another batch I hope to get going soon as I was able to procure 2 more vials of ECY01!

2014-03-02 14.25.26

Hop philosophy

I recently(ish) brewed a beer to be ready by Christmas as part of a present to my Dad.  The rest of his present was a two tap kegerator that is setup to take 1 ball lock corney keg (homebrew keg) and one 1/6 bbl commercial keg.  My Dad is a fan of hoppy beers so I took a stab at brewing an Indian Red Ale.  I was striving for something with loads of hoppy flavor and aroma but balanced by a clean malty backbone.

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The beer encompasses a lot of my philosophy on how to use hops in beer so I thought I’d share with everyone else!  I really like IPAs and other similarly hoppy beers, because of this people often assume I like bitter beers but I don’t! Well they still might be more bitter than many would like but I don’t like enamel strippingly bitter IPAs so I aim to craft beers in a similar fashion.

A lot of the maltiness comes from using Maris Otter as a base malt (~78%).  Maris Otter is an English base malt that is a little darker and has a little bit more “character” than normal 2 row pale malt.  In addition to the Maris Otter I used two different crystal malts (~10%), Munich Malt (~10%) and some dark kilned malts that make up less than 2% of the total malt bill.  The dark malts are added primarily for color in an attempt to get that really nice red/ruby color.

For all this malty goodness I wanted to balance it with lots and lots of hop flavor and goodness.  I started by First Wort Hopping (FWH) with 1/2oz of homegrown Columbus hops.  Traditional brewing techniques call for the first hop addition to be added when the wort starts to boil and FWH calls for the hops to be added to the boil kettle the hot wort is being transferred from the mash tun.  Almost all the beers I brew I use FWH because in my own process it lends a smoother bitterness with some flavor contributions.  The somewhat debatable “science” behind FWH is that some of the volatile organic compounds isomerize at lower temperatures and transformed into compounds that aren’t blown off by the vigorous boiling that happens later.  After the first addition all of the rest of the hops are added with 20mins or less in the boil.  Late addition hopping or hop bursting is a technique used to really saturate the wort with hop flavor and aroma. One of the drawbacks of hop bursting is that you have to use a lot more hops to achieve the same IBU level of a more traditionally hopped beer.

In total I used 7 1/2 oz of hops on the brew day. 3 oz of hops were added after the boil.  In a larger scale operation this addition is called a whirlpool  addition because the wort is whirlpooled for a length of time to help the wort clear before being cooled and transferred to the fermenter.  To simulate this I add hops at flame out and let them stand for ~20mins before cooling the wort and transferring to the fermenter.  After fermentation I like to keep cramming in the hoppiness so I used a short two stage dry hopping schedule.  Recent research shows that dry hop aroma is imparted very quickly and dry hopping for long periods of time isn’t more effective at imparting hop aroma to beer.  I chose to do two, two day dry hop additions with 5oz of hops.  In retrospect I think I would increase it to 3 days or 6 days total when using loose leaf hops because I don’t think there was enough time to fully saturate the dry hops.  In total I used 12.50oz of hops and 12oz of which were used with 20mins or less in the boil.  For hops, I used Columbus, Citra, Mosaic, Pacific Jade and Simcoe.  This also reflects my belief to use highly aromatic/flavorful hops to produce unique and flavorful beers.

Inspiration!?

During my last-ish visit to Broken Oak Brewing (sounds cooler than saying my parents’ house) I took some pictures to share some of the motivations behind the name.  So while this isn’t THE stump at the end of the drive way its an oak tree that fell down a couple of years ago.

IMAG1943  IMAG1944  IMAG1947IMAG1945

You can also see some shots of the barn in the background.  The barn itself is pretty massive.  The barn is T shaped and we affectionately call the two different sections the yellow barn and the blue barn based on the color of the walls. The section closest in the the pictures is the blue barn and it is 100ft long and 50 ft wide.  The yellow barn is 85ft long and 35ft wide… I think.  Please forgive my poor photo editing skills but here is a Google maps overhead of the area.

google_overheadIn addition to the blue and yellow barn sections there are two rooms attached to the yellow barn.  The current plan is to have the brewery located in the yellow barn and have the tap room and seating in the front two rooms.  Below are a couple of pictures inside the front two rooms where we are currently ferment/aging wine.

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The room has both an outside door and a large door leading into the yellow barn.  Inside the barn there are  trenches running throughout the whole barn so adding floor drains for the brewery shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. IMAG1872The only downside of the barn is the low ceiling height.  If/when Broken Oak expands ceiling height will be a limiting factor on the size of brewing equipment that could be installed.  The ample square footage does have lots of room for other possible projects I’d like to implement.  Someday I’d like to have space setup for processing farm grown hops, malting farm grown grains and other things grown on the property!  If anyone has an creative suggestions, ideas or questions please e-mail/Facebook/comment or whatever is easiest for you. If my poor ms paint editing skills are any indication any graphical suggestions would be much appreciated.

First steps

Thank you everyone who has been following along and the kind words and support you’ve already offered!  I thought I would try to elaborate a little on what my initial timeline is looking like.  Also I am happy to report that I’ve filled articles of organization for Broken Oak Brewing LLC and have registered with the IRS for an Employer Identification Number!!  Having an EIN allows me to do fun things like pay taxes and open a bank account!

The next step toward being able to sell beer is working towards getting approval through the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).  Getting approval through the TTB requires compliance with of lots of different regulations regarding the physical structure where you are planning to have the brewery, environmental impact and how you are going safeguard your beer for proper taxation.  Part of submitting for a license is having complete plans for the layout of your brewery, including the equipment you going to use.

After submitting the paperwork to the TTB you then have to wait to hear if you are approved which is on average a 90 day waiting period.  It seems that there is a wide range of experiences with the TTB both good and bad so cross your fingers that when the time comes I end up having a positive experience with the TTB agent.

Once paperwork has been submitted to the TTB I will also file to get approval through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission which carries its own specific requirements.  Currently the plan is to file as a brew pub because in Oregon this allows you to self distribute beer as well as sell beer on premise for consumption regardless if you are actually planning on serving food or not.  Oregon is one of a handful of other states with reasonable regulations where this is possible which is another reason why the nano industry is so successful here.

In addition to both the TTB and the OLCC to open a brewery you also have to file with the Food and Drug Administration.  Filing with the FDA is pretty straight forward and free (yay!) but its another hoop to jump through. The TTB and the OLCC both collect excise tax on any finished beer that is sold so even after getting approval through both agencies they will be actively involved during the life of the brewery.

After the these steps are complete then it will finally be legal to brew beer commercially.  Add a couple of months after this for to have beer ready for drinking then bring on the grand opening!  Looking at it all seems daunting and figuring out all of the specifics needed to make everyone happy is headache inducing but in the end it will be well worth it.

As far as when all this will get accomplished is hard to pin down.  Our immediate goals are to figure what we are going to need to do to the barn to get it up to code for brewing. We are going to reach out to local OLCC officials and the county planning office to see advice and information they might be able to provide.  Some other major obstacles we’ll have to overcome is the lack of water and sewer available to the barn and bringing the electrical up to code.  Ideally while we are working on improving the barn we’ll keep an eye for used brewing and restaurant equipment that we can pick up.

Go small or go home?

So I thought I’d try to expand a little more on what I had in mind for Broken Oak Brewing.  The plan is to start a nano brewery.  The loose definition of a nano is a brewery that is 3 barrels or less.  A barrel (bbl) is 31 gallons so a 3bbl system would produce 93 gallons of finished beer which is currently the size of system I’d like to start with.   Now there is a lot of info out there that says this is a bad idea and most people will tell you that if you want to start a brewery (not a brew pub) it needs to be at least a 15bbl brewery if you want to be successful.  If you want to open a brew pub then it drops to at least a 7bbl brewery but either way anything under 7bbl is a waste of time and money.  The reasoning for statements like this is that it takes the same amount of work and time to make 90 gallons of beer as it does to make 500 gallons.  With the assumption that you will be distributing your beer (or using a distributor), it is easy to see why people say going small won’t work.

example of a 3bbl nano brewery.
example of a 3bbl nano brewery

The nano model works by having a tasting room to sell beer directly to customers either by the pint or by the growler and by cutting as much overhead as possible (small system, no bank loans, macgyver skillz, ect.).  There are several reasons that I believe a nano brewery will be the best fit for my vision of a brewery.  First, the biggest reason is, location.  Oregon is unique in its appreciation for alcohol as well as getting that “local farm fresh” experience.  Additionally the tasting room experience is something that Oregonians are intimately familiar with. The plan is to open the brewery at my parents’ house in Yamhill, Oregon.  I am fortunate to have amazing parents that support and believe in me enough to partner with me in this crazy endeavor.  The name Broken Oak refers to the broken oak tree that used to be an indicator where the driveway is.  Just before the pavement ends turn left at the broken oak tree.  The property, in addition to being in the middle of beautiful wine country, also has history as a large turkey and pig farm so there is a large barn that is begging to be used again.

See 3
See 3
yamhillvines
See? Beautiful

Another reason to go the nano route is the flexibility it provides.  It gives flexibility in brewing and flexibility in schedule.  Part of the charm of going to a nano brewery is trying things you can’t get anywhere else and potentially tasting something that won’t be made again. Small batches of beer allow for experimentation and, if anyone knows anything about my brewing habits, than they know that I have a hard time brewing the same recipe more than once.

Lastly another reason to start at the nano level is to be able to start small and grow the brewery organically.  Hopefully, maybe with a little help from friends and family, we’ll be able to open Broken Oak Brewing with minimal debt and lots of hard work.  In the beginning I expect to continue working during the week while brewing and running the tasting room on the weekends.  Also for more exposure I’d like to sell at farmers markets throughout the area.  Hopefully as things start to take off I can extend hours and focus more on other brewery projects (hop farm, food, events, bottles, ect.).

More on nanos!

http://hessbrewing.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html (Nano inspiration!)

https://www.facebook.com/SantiamBrewingCo (Salem nano!)

https://www.facebook.com/SalemAleWorks (Another Salem nano!)

Currently Fermenting: 

  1. Malted Cider

Currently on Tap: 

  1. Split Mosaic Saison
  2. 100% Brettanomyces fermented Split Mosaic Saison
  3. American IPA  
  4. Late Addition American Wheat 

Introduction

Well here goes nothing!  Since I seem to have overwhelming support (thank you everyone for your confidence) I’ve decided to start documenting my steps toward opening a brewery.  As you all may know my homebrewing “hobby” has surpassed healthy levels and the obvious next step is to work towards opening a brewery.  I hope to include as much of the process as possible on here as well as document some of my homebrewing endeavors.  The next few posts I’ll try to detail my current vision of  Broken Oak Brewing.

Currently Fermenting: 

  1. Malted Cider

Currently on Tap: 

  1. Split Mosaic Saison
  2. 100% Brettanomyces fermented Split Mosaic Saison
  3. American IPA  
  4. Late Addition American Wheat