Saturday was National Homebrew Day, with hundreds of sites all over hosting group brews. Ed Hoffman was kind enough to offer his bar patio to the cause. Our friend Jason brought his equipment down and set up to brew a Red Ale kit from the co-op, and I brought down enough equipment to brew 10 gallons of the Cascadian Dark Ale. It was a sunny, breezy afternoon. I showed up around noon and set some gear out:

The last time I used to keggle, I had issues with leaving wort behind. I took care of this issue by installing a dip tube that reaches down to the outside bottom of the kettle, leaving a quart of wort and hop material behind. This, coupled with the paint strainer hop stopper thingy I made should make for easier draining. Of course, when you load up the hop stopper with 11 ounces of hops, things happen. Let’s just say I’ve learned a new trick. Also, I need to rebuild the bulkhead and valve seal, since I tweaked it a bit installing the dip tube, but it was only a very minor inconvenience. Here’s the tube in place.

So for the brew data. I misplaced my pound of Cascade pellets (??!) so I switched up the hop schedule a little bit and did the following: 1.5 oz Columbus first wort hop, 2 oz Columbus at 30 minutes, 4 oz Cascade at 10 minutes, and 4 ounces Cascade at 5 minutes. After drawing wort, I added a few pounds of liquid extract to bolster the gravity to near the previous batch, since my mash tun was maxed out at 26 pounds of grain. A larger mash tun will be the next upgrade, but I am in no hurry. After a couple of minor boilovers, I ended up with around 9 gallons of wort, measuring a gravity of 1.074. I was only looking for 1.067, so I topped each carboy off with a quart or two of water to get the gravity in line with the previous batch. I pitched 1.5  packs of Pacman yeast per carboy. Color was not as black as last time, but plenty dark for me.

Here’s what they were doing this morning.

All in all, a very pleasant and successful brew day. Thanks to everyone who came out to check it out, thanks to Ed and Rebecca for hosting and grilling. We’re already talking about doing another brew there this summer.

After the last batch of rain and sun, my hops are doing fabulous! This was taken last night. That birdhouse is around 12 feet up.

I’m going to try and get at least one more 10 gallon brew in before the new baby girl arrives. Also, I’ll be brewing a kit from the local co-op in preparation for a homebrew demo in June I’ve been asked to do. More on that soon.