From the HBD Archive
From: (Jeff J. Miller)
Subject: Mega Batch - long
Date: 1992-05-20 14:13:39 GMT

Sorry this is so long but I'm a wordy person I guess :)

Congrats Warren and welcome to the world of Mega BREW! I cook in
an old piece of dairy equipment that is a little larger (60 capacity)
so perhaps some of my experiences might help.

> This is it, my brew buddy and I are ready to take the plunge into
> some larger batches, we have aquired a nice 40-45 gal. stainless steel vat
> from a nearby dairy, even has a stirring wand in it !!

The stirring wand sounds like a great addition. The big problem with
large batches is getting all that mass up to temp. Constant stiring
is a requirement to avoid excessive heat spots (burn wort!).

> We have a nice pump
> to help do the sparge and as of this moment we have four 10 gal. milk cans
> to be used for something ?? We also have a Creole Cook'r and a 100lb.
> propane tank.

I hope this pot has a spigot on it. The pump would probably be a hassle
if you had to lift the wort out of the pot but this is just an opinion,
try it and find out. Seriously, if the pump will work for you it should
make life LOTS easier. Without the pump you will end up with lots of
intermittent carrying and holding containers. The milk cans might work
for this but I would bet that 10 gals will be too heavy for you to deal
with over a long brew day. Perhaps the cans might work for fermenters
that you can siphon out of (put them high when you start ferment so you
don't need to move them later). When heating your pot, check for hot
spots and be careful of burns. My pot is insulated with fire brick but
because its been around the block so many times the brick is in a sorry
state and this causes hot spots in odd locations; I have been burned
more then once by these hot spots.

> So I would really like some input from all of you on how
> much grain, hops and so forth we would need for a batch of this size.
> As of now we are still doing 5 gal. batches, so we use 1.33 qts.
> of water per lb. of grain, if we use 10 lbs. of grain we mash with approx.
> 11 qts. and use around 5 gals. of water to sparge with. So if we want to make
> 30 gals. of beer do we just use 6 times as much of everything ??

Yup! About the only things that won't scale up real weel is hops. I'm
a hop head and I notice that for a 20 gal brew I hop at about 3/4 the rate
I do for a 5 gal brew.

You may want to watch the thickness of the mash also. When I mash I
usually use much more water then most so I'm not sure how yours will
scale up. The important thing is that 60 pounds of malt is a lot!

> Any ideas on how to crush the grain ?? We've got some cleaning to do
> so we probably won't
> try it for another couple of weeks or so. Any suggestions would be greatly
> appreciated !! I can honestly say I've never REALLY worried about any of
> the 5 gal. batches before, but I am getting a tad worried about 30 gals. of
> brew, I'm sure once I see and smell 30 gals. of black as night stout, I WILL
> relax :*)

You NEED a motorized grain mill (Jack can probably help). Some suppliers
will mill for you but if you walk into your average homebrew shop and ask
for 60# of milled grain I doubt that you will get a very good reaction.
A nice kicker is that when you buy this much grain at one time you do
get some nice price breaks.

Something you should think about is how your going to get all that grain
out of the pot (I'm assuming your mashing and boiling in the same pot).
If you need to sparge off the grain and hold the wort until you shovel
the grain out of the pot you are going to need lots of holding vessels
and you will add a significant amount of time to the brew. Grain bags
are nice but you need a whole lot of them for 60# and I'm not sure how
they would work with the stiring mechanism. I currently use a stainless
mesh bucket that fits inside the kettle. When the mash is complete I
lift it out and sparge through it. This works great but I am still
working on ways to get better efficiency. Do you have cattle around?
Getting rid of 60# of grain will be an experience. You can compost
it but you better have a big pile if your going to brew more then
a few times a summer.

Fermenting this much beer is interresting. If you do this indoors,
watch for excessive CO2. You may want to open a window at the peek
of fermentation just to air out. I think fermentation in a single
vessle is the way to go. I use a barrel but I think a garbage can
would be easier. Planning is the key; put the fermenter where you
can siphon out of it without moving it. It is damn difficult to
move 40 gal of beer. Oh yea, when I first got my cooker I used to
use it as a fermenter also. It has a lid but it is not an air seal.
This worked great until I got an infection; I don't ferment in it

If you don't have one yet, get a kegging system! I always like to
1/2 a batch in bottles and 1/2 in kegs. Sure makes bottleing day
go faster.

If you don't have a chiller - get/make one.

Be VERY careful about infection. Loseing 5 gallons is a bummer but
it really hurts on a big brew.

First batch: I would suggest starting with an extract batch in the
10 to 20 gallon range. This will get you used to the amount of water
that your going to be using as well as get you used to some of the
logistics of using this thing. After doing a brew like this you
will get a better feeling for time frames, hop rates, and all sorts
of things that you never thought of. After you conquer these problems
then you can add grain and feel like your starting the learning curve
all over. Get a stick or some other measuring device. It is very
difficult to look in a large pot and know within even 5 gallons
how much is in there.

> Yes I can hear it now :
> Me: How many pounds of Northern Brewer do you have ??
>Homebrew Supply : Do you mean pounds or ounces ??
> Me: You heard me right, I mean pounds !!
>Homebrew Supply : Uh, okay, let me check !!
> Me: Great, you don't happen to have a pallet of grain !!

Grow your own hops! If you can get bulk extract/grains from suppliers
your costs will be greatly reduced. The only thing I can't get cheap
from suppliers is hops. Since you have allready figured out that your
going to be using pounds instead of ounces, growing your own is about
the only way to brew and keep costs in check.

You might be able to check bakery suppliers for a source of bulk
extract. If you happen to have a malster around you can sometimes
bring them 5 gallon buckets and some homebrew and get a great deal.
Or... you could join/start a club and supply most of the need for
a true pallet of grain purchase :)

Good luck!

- --
Jeff Miller Network Systems Corporation
Internetwork Group 7600 Boone Avenue North Minneapolis MN 55428 (612)424-4888

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