‘False Bottom’ Porter
I’ve come to the end of my year of homebrewing – brewing 1000 bottles was the challenge I set myself; it took me a few extra weeks but with this brew I hit the 1000 bottle mark. To celebrate I made a false bottom for my mash tun!
Over the next year I’ll continue to play with new recipes, develop the existing ones and hopefully improve my homebrewing techniques. The efficiency of my mash (how much sugar I manage to extract from the malted barley) has always been low and over the next few brews I’ll try to work out why and if possible improve it. First step – to improve my mash tun….
Previously I’ve used a mash-bag to contain my grist (the malted barley). It’s like a massive teabag. This sits in my mash tun and stops all the malt clogging up the tap in the bottom of the mash tun. Unfortunately the bag means that there is a easy path for the water around the outside of the bag rather than through the grist. And getting the water to flow through the grist when you’re sparging, to wash out the sugary goodness, is the main aim.
So, the alternative is to create a false bottom to the mashtun and get rid of the bag. The false bottom is just a sheet of plastic with loads of holes in it. It sits in the mash tun an inch or two above the bottom, above the tap but below all the grist. I made my false bottom out of the seat of an old garden chair. A few hours of cutting out the sheet of plastic into the right shape, and a few hundred 3mm holes later, my new mashing equipment was ready.
It’s been a while since I brewed a porter or stout. It just doesn’t happen so much during the summer. This is a variation on an old milk stout recipe I brewed last year. It’s got no lactose in it (the milky bit of a milt stout) but has lots of roasted barley, chocolate barley and a good few handfuls of flaked oats. I’m trying out a new variety of hops, a bittering hops called Green Bullet from New Zealand. The new mash tun set up worked well. During the next brew I’ll remember to record the sugar levels periodically through the sparging so I can really get a feel for how to optimise extration levels. I want to avoid water escaping round the edges of the false bottom but should be able to spot it happening if I’m getting track of the extraction rates.