Another new AG convertee in the fold!

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Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Cheebs » Fri May 05, 2017 10:12

I'm super excited!

Firstly, thank you all once again for the community and information provided here. I have learned so much in my time here as a member, and also grown a large desire to produce beer from grains. I can't quite believe I've taken my first steps down the all grain road to delicious beers! [url][/url]

Yesterday I picked up an eBay auction I won for a 2 vessel system: clicky .
I also picked up a couple of AG kits from the home brew shop on the way home, a black ipa kit and a double hopped American ipa kit. I started looking into what gains to buy and where from etc but realised it was a rabbit hole of information that I need to get my head around. Since I have an empty fv already and another one due to be emptied in the next day or two I thought it better to get stuck straight in and try to get at least one filled up soon, hence the kits. I'll then have a few days to start getting to grips with choosing all the individual ingredients before I'll need to place another order.

Time for a full deep clean and leak test. I also need to find out how to calculate heat loss for strike water and mashing. I guess it's mostly making an estimate and then figuring out how the equipment works.

I finally have a good reason to start a brew day thread! Didn't seem much point before with only making kit beers. :drink:
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Pakman » Fri May 05, 2017 11:26

Welcome to the dark side.
Plenty of choice for sourcing grain but unless you fancy visiting a supplier, ensure you factor in the full delivery cost. Getting base malt is best done by the 25Kg sack as you'll soon be using that up quite regularly. I decant my grain into redundant (usually scored or scratched) FVs with tight fitting lids and store it in the garage to keep the rodents away.
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Dave1970 » Fri May 05, 2017 14:20

Good luck with it, sure you'll enjoy it. A slight warning about the Buffalo boiler- I used to use one and made some great beer on it but......

I'd recommend having a look around the forum for Buffalo Boiler problems - there are a couple of common problems people have with them - it's worth knowing in advance. There's 2 overheating safeguards fitted:

1: a thermal cutout- on the bottom of the element - This can make it cut in & out during the boil - when I used a Buffalo I changed this for a 125 degree one that was a bit higher than the standard one and helped stop it cutting out, but still kept a bit of protection if it was to boil dry.
2. a thermal fuse - inside some shrink tube - if this burns out that's it, dead boiler until you sort it. Very easy & cheap job, but not if it's full of boiling wort. This did happen to me but only after I'd bought a 2nd Buffalo with the aim of going 3V so I was able to transfer and carry on. I by passed this completely which worked, but does remove a layer of protection.

Yours may have had one or both of these things modified already - worth a look inside to see if you can figure it out, if only because it's worth knowing if any safety cut outs have been disabled - you can always post a picture and I can probably tell you what's in there!.

I found that my Buffalo was much less prone to cutting out when the air could move around the base. When the weather was good I'd clamp it to an old Black & Decker workmate outside and when it wasn't it'd be on the worktop inside. It seemed to cut out much less on the workmate where the air could get under it.

I'd also get some silver camping mat or similar and insulate it - but only the bit that holds the liquid, not all the way to the bottom as this would definitely encourage cut outs. You'll get to the boil much quicker if insulated.

Don't panic and think you've bought a dodgy bit of kit. My Buffalo worked well for me and I've passed it on to my brother who's now started to make good beers with it too, I just think it's better to be aware of possible issues than get caught out during one of your first AG brews and have to try to figure it out on the hop.

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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Cheebs » Fri May 05, 2017 20:32

You guys have to stop posting useful information, I'm feeling like a suck up with all the thanking I'm doing! :whistle: no seriously, thank you so much.

What I need to figure out is which base malt do I buy? How do you choose? I'm going to have a chat with the guys at my local Indian for mango barrels. I've not been doing this long enough yet to have buggered up any FVs.

Thank you very much for the heads up regarding the boiler, I thought I had read that before but still need to look into the details. I had a good rolling boil for around 10 mins earliest with the thermostat on max, I didn't notice it cut out but I was also servicing the false bottom on the mash tun at the time so I could have missed it. I wrapped the boiler up in one of those self inflating camping mattresses I have but did go to the table it was sitting on, I'll avoid wrapping the base next time.

The mash tun needed and still needs some attention. The false bottom was doing next to nothing with all the leaks in it. I had a waste volume of just under 3 litres eject I tested it before the service. A lot of the threads needed ptfe and where the Elbow connects through the perforated steel the o rings where missing completely! After the service I've reduced the waste to half a litre. Sweet! The insulation is woefully bad though. I wrapped it in the camping mattress, left the lid with its own very minimal insulation. I was outside and there was a cold wind but it lost 3 degrees c in an hour and ten minutes. Can I add a little of the spare water as the heat dissipates or should I hold some of the first Mash water back for that, or doesn't it really matter as long as the total volume is correct?
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby jonnymorris » Sat May 06, 2017 13:55

Cheebs wrote:I wrapped it in the camping mattress, left the lid with its own very minimal insulation. I was outside and there was a cold wind but it lost 3 degrees c in an hour and ten minutes.


You'd be better of sorting your insulation rather than faffing around adding more hot water. I used to wrap my cool-box mash tun up in a sleeping bag.

Also, make sure you pre-heat your tun before doughing in. I put a kettle's worth of boiling water in mine for 10mins before adding the grains. This will affect the required strike water temp more than help to maintain mash temp but it may also help a bit.

p.s. base malt for ales... maris otter. I use Rob the Maltmiller.
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby serum » Sat May 06, 2017 14:29

I agree with what's said above. Pouring a kettle of water into the mash tun will warm up the metal parts and stop heat loss. Brewing outside will mean you lose more heat if it's cold. My old cool box tun with manifold barely lost a degree over a 90 minute mash when I did it indoors and pre warmed it.

Malt miller is a great place to buy malt. If you make UK or us styles then Maris Otter is a good base malt. For continental styles you'll mainly want pilsner malt but potentially Vienna or Munich depending on recipe. You'll soon get the hang of that though.

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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Rolfster » Sat May 06, 2017 17:34

I use Maris otter for my base malt.
And I get most of my stuff from the malt miller.
I mainly brew hoppy pale ales.
When I started I just blindly followed the recipe, and kinda got to know what different ingredients added.
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Cheebs » Sat May 06, 2017 18:17

Ok so life got in the way today so brew day postponed... Hopefully tomorrow. I have been productive today though, it's amazing how beer can motivate me. I fixed the outside tap that's had burst pipework for about 2 years. My plumber mate has been promising to fix it but we kept forgetting, a few quid for some push fittings and pipe and half an hour. Why didnt I fix it sooner! Haha!

I also made a thick bubble wrap cozy for the mash tun, hopefully that and the camping mat will help.

Great tip on preheating the tun, not sure I'd have thought of that on brew 1. I feel like I'm bound to cock something up, hopefully nothing major.

Maris otter, great, thanks . I've got to look into some recipes and price them up. I'll mostly be brewing hoppy pale ales myself, gonna have to look at some of your brews Rolfster. Have you got any favourites?

Regarding the boiler, I did a lot of research yesterday night. The information is a little confusing. I understand that there are 2 company's that can cause issues . A thermal fuse that would need replacing if it fails, and a thermal cutout that cuts out at 120 if it's the stock cutout. I'm going to open the base again and see if I can see any markings on the cutout. I understand that the cutout can be triggered if the wort starts to catch on the element.

I've read of people doing other things too, like moving the temp sensor for the thermostat away from the base of the boiler, I guess this is to help maintain a stronger boil rather than help with cutouts, I can't see how it makes a bit of difference to the safety mechanisms. Probably exasperate the problem is anything.

To add to the confusion there have been different setups within the same models. Light colours changed, and also there seem to be at least 2 types of thermostat. One numbered with a max setting, and another that's marked to 110 degrees. I have the latter and have read that this one might not have as many issues with maintaining a boil and triggering the cutout. I think I'm just going to have a go and see what happens.
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby BarnsleyBrewer » Sat May 06, 2017 18:19

Welcome over my friend..... :drink: :drink:

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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Rolfster » Sat May 06, 2017 18:32

I've just got some citra and mosaic for my next brew. That's a good one, and my most recent earl grey ipa is very nice. It was supprisingly easy.
I tend to keep the malt bill similar and change the hops. I do one hop addition for the bittering and the rest all go in at 10, 5 and 0 minutes left on the boil. Then I dry hop once fermentation is dying down.
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby rats_eyes » Sun May 07, 2017 11:32

You won't regret going AG, this is where the fun really starts!

I use a similar boiler and have had problems with it cutting out before. All the above advice sounds very good to me. This has been an issue a handful of times during my 50 or so all grain batches. In my case it occurs when the wort gets burnt on to the element, usually with a high gravity beer with lots of sugars.

An easy preventative measure can be to use a paddle to stir around the element during the boil. I usually leave a stainless steel paddle in the boiler and use this to stir now and again. If the boil stops and the colour of yhe light changes, sometimes a stir and some patience helps it get back to work.

If the fuse blows (no light, no heat), you'll need to replace or bypass the fuse as described above. I don't have happy memories of this happening mid-boil with 23 litres of doppelbock in the boiler. Transferring the beer, removing the fuse and resoldering would have been a bit less fraught if i hadn't been a few beers in already. No fun! The beer survived though.

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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby rpt » Mon May 08, 2017 17:35

I've used a Buffalo boiler for over 60 brews. The first 20 were without incident but it then started cutting out. The problem was a loose connection overheating. I replaced the thermal cutout but I've now bypassed it and the thermal fuse.

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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Pakman » Tue May 09, 2017 10:57

I modified my Buffalo boiler with a toggle switch marked 'Tea' or 'Beer'. When in the 'Tea' position it is wired as standard. When in the 'Beer' position the Thermostat and over-temp cut-out are taken out of circuit so that the element is always on. I then use it with the STC to be an HLT or boiler. I do remove the caked on crud over the element on the bottom plate with vinegar after each brew as well.
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Cheebs » Tue May 09, 2017 23:11

Thanks for those additional tips and words of encouragement. I love the idea of the switch to disable the cutouts. Something that resets to normal operation after the power has been cut would be nice too... I feel a project coming on!

I did my first brew yesterday, not had a chance to write it up yet though. It was a long day, and certainly not without issues, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did have one cut off with the boiler, but that was a safety cut out on the extension lead. When I was heating strike and sparge water indoors I noticed the plug, specifically the live pin, was getting super hot. This tripped the thermal protection on the extension lead while I did the boil in the garden. I blew on the plug for a couple of mins, swapped sockets, hit the reset, and didn't have any more issues with it.

I had a stuck sparge due to adding a dip tube to the bottom of the false bottom that was a bit too long. I emptied the tun, removed the tube, and refilled and the rest of the sparge went well.

I also forgot about the nylon bag for the first hop addition and ended up blocking the hop filter. Is the any reason not to use a false bottom with the buffalo?

Other than that, and wort on my trousers due to forgetting to close the ball valve it was flawless lol! :rofl:
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Dave1970 » Wed May 10, 2017 13:48

Forgetting to close valves/ taps is always a favourite! I don't like the idea of a false bottom over the element, I think it would either kill your boil or cause the element to overheat.....possibly both.
When I used a buffalo I had a drilled copper pipe manifold that came out from the tap then split into 2 arms, one either side of the element. Easy to make but takes a while to drill a whole load of 3mm holes in copper pipe.

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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Cheebs » Wed May 10, 2017 14:33

Ahh, I hadn't thought that it would trap the heat to some extent. So your solution is kinda fork shaped with two tines? Do you solder the t or leave it push fit?
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Dave1970 » Wed May 10, 2017 20:37

Tried to find a photo, but don't have one and the boilers gone to my brother. Your description is spot on though..a 2 tine fork. I used compression fittings, one T fitting and 2 90 degree bends. To seal the ends I just squashed the pipe in a vice. If I was using solder fittings I think I'd try to leave it just push fit.

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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Cheebs » Thu May 11, 2017 11:30

Thanks for looking Dave. You described it very well, it makes perfect sense.

Strike water heating up and MT preheating... brew 2 underway. I inspected the plug before starting and its in a bad way. Some signs of rust inside, fuse nearly welded itself to the holder, quite a lot of internal scorching. Definitely time to replace it.
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Rolfster » Thu May 11, 2017 11:36

What are you making?
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Re: Another new AG convertee in the fold!

Postby Cheebs » Thu May 11, 2017 14:41

The double hopped ipa kit linked earlier in the thread. Again I'm not impressed with the way this kit has been put together,I'll explain more in the brewday thread, i hope to get both brewday threadsposted this afternoon. The boil is finished and it was a much another process today. Just letting the flame out addition steep while I walk the dog, then to get it cooled.
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