Homebrew #2: SFBC OISIN’S IRISH RED (5 Gal)

Mash for red ale

Overall, I’m happy to report that it went a lot better than the previous (first-ever) brew day. It still took 6 hours, but that’s because I messed up the cooling process (more on that later).

BTW, I chose Oisin’s Irish Red from Short Finger. Who’s Oisin? Feel free to go down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, and read up on Irish mythology

By Didier Descouens - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90312765
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
The Dream of OssianJean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1813 (Musée Ingres-Bourdelle)

Yes, I’m Capable of planning ahead!

While planning this second homebrew, I’d toyed with the idea of doing a scaled-down version of the full recipe. I’d contemplated 3 Gallon or 1 Gallon versions. Ultimately, I decided against it for a few reasons:

  • I got liquid yeast with this recipe kit. Once the pouch is open, I’m pretty sure I have to use all of it.
  • I don’t really want to spend all the same time and energy for a smaller yield. Doesn’t seem worth it.
  • I thought of some possible solutions to the problems I’d had with the 5 G last time.

So, yes. I planned on five-fucking-gallons of beer again.

I actually did some cleaning and prep the previous day too. I didn’t want to have a bad time again.

Another All-Grain BIAB Mash

I did BIAB again with two pots; this time, I wasn’t shy about having a high water level, since I’m just steeping the grain. The grain takes up a lot of room, and I need all the volume I can get.

Mash for red ale
The colour was a lot prettier this time.

I did seem to struggle with maintaining a consistent temperature for the smaller pot. The big pot easily maintained a temp around 155 F, while the small pot would dip to 145 F. I hoped that this wouldn’t screw things up too badly… (hey, maybe putting the two batches together cuts the difference… that’s how it works, right?!)

After the hour, it was bag drippin’ time. Last time, I’d let them drip as long as I could and then put the spent grain bags into a bag; I’d later observed that there was still liquid that seeped out (and I missed out on). This gave me an idea on how I might lose less “barley tea”.

I held up one until the dripping slowed, then placed it into a bowl. Eventually, I’d pour the “barley tea” that collected at the bottom of the bowl back into the pot.

The “Boil”

I was confident I wouldn’t screw up my hop schedule this time. It was pretty basic this time anyway.

Thanks to the advice I got on the last brew day post, I left the lid off this time (so hopefully there’s no weird “hop scum” flavour that makes it into the beer this time).

Meanwhile, I did the sanitizing. (I didn’t mention it last time, but I like the method from this amazing “Easy Guide to Making Beer” video … sanitize a piece of foil and put your sanitized stuff on it.)

I even had time to take the garbage out. I was rocking this.


Yes, in the sink again (this is “ya basic” brewing over here)!

Learning from last time, I kept replacing the water and stirring the wort. Eventually, I added the ice packs. I was able to drop the temp by 35 degrees in 15 mins. Things were going well.

Things slowed down around 6ish. By the time it was almost 7pm, the temp was 76 F (still not cool enough).

I made an error in judgement at this point and decided the pouring process would have some cooling effect (it did not).

Straining and Pouring

You may know that one of the mottos of this blog is “asking for help is a last resort”.

So I rigged up this ingenious (if I may say so) solution to keep the strainer in place.

I tested my “MacGyver invention” with sanitizer first, and it seemed to work.

It also worked well with the actual beer. It was heavy (as mentioned last time), but I had a good handle on it. I spilled very little this time, so I was proud of that, lol…

Struggling to Cool it again

It’s obvious in retrospect (and it soon became clear) that pouring didn’t cool it much and my kitchen had become too warm to help things along. I tried setting the pail (with a lid on) outside to chill in the 33 F evening, but that wasn’t helping much (wort temp was still 74 F and I needed it down to 64 F).

I soon had to admit that it was a prematurely-done pour. I sanitized the brew pot again, poured the wort back, and put the thing in the sink with cold water and ice packs. Again.

Thankfully, the second cooling didn’t take terribly long.

Taking the “original Gravity (OG)”

This time around, I was a lot calmer and able to take my time with the hydrometer.

The recipe stated a target OG of 1.046.

I spun the hydrometer around in the tube a bunch of times. The reading looked like 1.040… I think? That OG seemed to be within reasonable margins to me. And at least I have something to compare the FG with now.

Pitching Yeast

At least I’d had the foresight to take the liquid yeast package out of the fridge earlier in the process, so it could come to room temperature.

I liked that the yeast was from Escarpment Labs (I’ve heard so many good things about them).

I dumped it in there, gave it all a good stir, and put the lid and crap on.

Leaving it to ferment

This time, I did the blow-off hose arrangement correctly (I think, lol). I’d made sure the cork fit properly ahead of time, so there wouldn’t be a repeat performance of a cork going swimming.

I decided that I’d be able to regulate the temperature better in a different room (where there’s an air conditioner). So here we are: five-fucking-gallons of fermenting wort under my desk.

It’s a large desk, so I’m not going to accidentally kick this thing over or anything.

I’m rather proud of this one; I’m optimistic that it’ll be tasty (not just the low bar of “drinkable”) and I think my actual yield might actually be close to 5 gallons.

The recipe says ferment “for 10 – 21 days” … which seems like a huge range to me, so I guess I should read up on the effects of either end of the spectrum. Any advice or recommendations in the comments would be appreciated! 😀