Prower Pale Ale

Beer style: pale ale
Target ABV: 4.0%
Hops: Green Bullet and Amarillo
Ready for drinking: from 12 October 2014 (kegged)

This citrusy pale ale is a chance to raise a bit of money for my recently adopted homebrew charity. No – it’s not a charity supporting homebrewers who have fallen on hard times, but a charity that I’m hoping to support with my homebrewing activities. Some times kind people (like Jim Prower, who has requested this beer for his daughters wedding) refuse to take my beer for free, so now I have a charity site to direct them towards. And any donations they make will be very much appreciated by me and by the Kaleidoscope Trust, my charity of choice.

This pale ale is also an opportunity to learn a bit more about the efficiency of my mash tun. I’m hoping for significant improvements since I made the plastic false bottom out of a garden chair last weekend. It was the first time I really bothered to take regular readings with my refractometer during the sparging process. I took readings of the specific gravity (sugariness) of the wort I was collecting and also of the wort running out of the mash tun, every 4 minutes. This allowed me to calculate the volume of sugar I was collecting (assuming a specific gravity measurement of 1.0% brix is equivilent 1g of sugar per 100ml of water which I’m told is true but find hard to believe). It also allowed me to calculate my mash efficiency. Based on a conservative extraction rate of 250 degree litres per kg for the malt I’m only achieving an effiicency of 65% – I would like to be much closer to 75%. If you assume an extraction rate of 305 degree litres per kg for the malt then I’m only achieving 53% efficiency. That’s really low!

SpargeChart

You would expect the run off to start really sugary (say 20% brix) then drop down to 3% or so towards the end of the mash. You’re not supposed to continue the sparge lower than that to avoid tannins being washed through and into the beer. My wort is starting at a mediocre 14% and then only dropping to 6% or so – certainly in no danger of any nasty tannins. But that tells me there is lots of sugars left in the grain. Also the fact that my run off shot up to 16% right at the end when I was tipping up my mash tun to get all the good stuff stuck underneath the false bottom in my mash tun (look at the blue line) tells me that the geometry of my mash tun is really not working as effiiciently as it could do. As a minimum I should make sure that I’m collecting the wort from the centre of the false bottom, rather than one end. I should be able to do this by adding some tubing from the outlet into the centre of the bottom of the mash tun. I also may have a more significant problem with the space under the false bottom being too big. There isn’t much I can do about that as the tap won’t go any lower.

Before I resort to buying an expensive but very tempting mash tun like this one, I’ll make a few more changes to my mash set up and see how much I can improve.

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