It's been almost a fortnight since I started a brew day that I thought would never end. Loving these Amarilo hops, I had chosen to brew a nice pale ale, and followed Wheeler's clone of Exmoor Gold, but added a few Amarillo for the last few minutes of the boil, plus a dry hop in the fermenter.
Since I have been brewing, I have used one of these for boiling, and now mashing (using BIAB). Apart from me being dense and switching it on for the first time without water in, thereby shorting the element, it's been fine. But this time, it decided to be a royal PIA. Mashing went fine (more of that later), and, as I went to lunch, I set the thermostat to max to get the water to a rolling boil. Back from lunch...nothing. Left it a while longer...starting to boil......bit longer.....nothing.
So, the element worked, but obviously started tripping at too lower a temperature. A quick visit to the Internet and I found that I was by no means the only one with this problem. Basically, if the element gets dirty and scaled, it trips......and I live in a chalky water area!! So, I had to decant 20 litres of wort into a spare bucket (THAT'S what I'd bought it for!!), deconstruct everything, and get cleaning. 20 mins with a wire brush later, and I switched everything on tjust o short all the electrics in the house! BUGGER.
Obviously a bit of water had got into the wiring, so it was time to drag out a hairdryer (THAT'S what she brought it for!!). Back on....fine!! So, fellow brewers, the moral of the story is avoid dirty elements at all costs. The rest of the boil proceeded as planned, and I have just taken a FG reading 12 days later.....think it's time to barrel.
One note on the mash. You'll see I got an efficiency of 64% via Hopville. That's substantially better than I had experienced before. My BIAB calculator reckons this is an end of boil efficiency of over 80%. Now THAT'S more like it. Unfortunately (!), I had planned on my previous efficiencies, so over catered on the malt. Thus, instead of a nice drinkable 4.6%, I'm nearer a slightly more pokey 5.6%. Life's tough. Why the change, well I chose to step infuse rather than mash at one temperature: 15 mins @40C, 15 mins at 55C, 60 mins at 65C, and a final 15 mins mashout at 70C. Looking at the theory, this all about increasing efficiency (and hopefully balance). The lowest temperature fluidized the mash, so the grain and water mixed better. The next step gets outs highly ferementable sugars (so the beer is stronger but thinner). The main step is where most of the sugars you want are extracted, and the mashout gives you that little bit of less fermentable sugar, which adds little to alcohol but gives he beer a bit of sweet body. It didn't seem too much faff - I didn't add water as you might in full mashing, I just turned the heat up. And it seems to have worked.
To test that view, it will be time to start another brew soon....looking at a Banks's Mild Clone to see what I can do!!