The last lager I brewed was "Bridge Fog California Common" back at the end of March, and I thought it was past time to brew another.
I recently won some money and I had decided to treat myself to an Anvil Stainless Bucket Fermenter with part of those winnings.
And ... part of the reason I decided to go with Anvil was because it has a cooling system that goes with the "bucket".
I hope to write more about the Anvil Stainless Bucket Fermenter and its cooling system in later blog posts ... stay tuned for that.
Those two things arrived the Friday before, and it was a no-brainer to brew a lager over the weekend.
The recipe I came up with was a German Pilsner:
I don't know German real well, but according to Google Translator, "Schreck Gartenzwerg" means "Fright Gnome" in German.
As you may or may not remember ... I have an irrational fear of Gnomes. Or you might say, I am frighted by them.
"Schreck Gartenzwerg" seems like a good name to represent my fright of gnomes in a German style beer.
I made a fairly sizable yeast starter on Saturday for it to be at peak activity for brew day Sunday.
Brew day was the same day as my last Overnight Pork Butt finished. Partially because of being busy with the Pork Butt, my brew day began a bit late. My mash wasn't really going until 7:30 or so.
Everything went fairly smoothly as far as I remember. The pre-boil gravity might have been a bit high, but certainly not anything to be concerned about.
The pork butt smelled amazing the whole time.
The boil went well.
The OG was a couple points higher than I expected, but again, nothing to really worry about.
I used my pond pump to help me cool the wort into the 60's. And filled the new fermentor.
Then, I used the new Anvil cooling system to bring the fermentor down to pitching temperature.
Basically, the cooling system is very similar to the immersion chiller with ice-water and pond pump.
I had ice and water in a 10 gallon cooler connected to tubing which connected to stainless steel tubes that fit in holes in the stopper. There is another hole in the stopper for a thermowell, and a temperature controller with probe that goes in that.
I set the temperature controller to 50 degrees. The pump circulated ice water through the tubing and back into the ice in the cooler.
Simple thermodynamics brought the wort temperature down.
So, this system helped keep the beer fermentation temperature in the 50's. The first couple days, it was 50 and I slowly ramped it up for about a week to around 58.
Now, I will turn off the controller and pump and let the beer finish off at ambient.
I did have to add ice several times, which isn't ideal for lagering. I may investigate ways to store my cooling water in a fridge, so that I don't have to maintain the system as much. I may even look at using glycol stored in a freezer.
But for now, the ice water is better than my old method of temperature control.
As I mentioned above, I'll probably give more details around my new fermentor and the temperature control system at Sheppy's Blog: Anvil. Stay tuned for that.