Speidel Brewmaster: First Brew (mishaps, gotchas and some solutions)

When my BM arrived on Friday, I couldn’t wait to get brewing.  Unfortunately what with everything going I did have to wait until Sunday evening…

Saturday evening did allow me a little play-time, where I tested the pumps and set up the mashing schedule program for the following evening.  After reading loads of conflicting suggestions I decided to go with the following (bear in mind that this is an American IPA style beer and I’m still getting my head around more than one available mash temperature!)

Dough-in at 38C
5 minutes protein rest at 53C
70 minutes Maltose rest at 66C
5 minutes Alpha Amylase rest at 73C
5 minutes Mash-out rest at 78C


I filled up the BM with 25 litres of filtered water, set the pre-programmed program going and waited.  I got some beeps after about ten minutes – meaning that the dough-in temperature of 38C had been reached.  So I stirred in my malt bill, locked down the malt pipe and screens with the retaining bar, put the lid on and left it to it.

(yeah, right…I actually spent a good half-an-hour watching the recirculating mash.  My wife got tired of it waaaaay before I did.)

Everything went swimmingly, the mash recirculated and I did some clearing up, and some other things that needed doing.  I remembered to weigh out the hops too.

20130901_212605Smashingly clear wort.  You can even see the filters through it

After the cycle was complete, more peeping alerted me to the fact that the BM wanted me to do something…and that something was remove the malt-pipe for the “sparge” (yes, I even remembered to separately get 8 litres of water up to 78C in the meantime…)

I undid the retaining bar, put the angled rod across the rim of the BM and lifted the pipe.  Hell, it was heavy – especially as, even though I’m a good 6’2″, it was quite a challenge to lift it up when it was on already on a kitchen worktop.

BM Error No. 1:  Have the BM on a lower surface.  It will make things easier to lift in future…but make sure that it’s still high enough to drain into a fermenter

Then, for some reason unknown to me, I decided to try and work out how much sparge water was required by lifting the malt-pipe and screens clear of the BM to see how much wort was in there.  BIG MISTAKE.  Holding a full malt-pipe (5Kg grain and probably 5 or 6 Kg of water) at the almost full extent to my arm’s reach while trying to relocate it (unsighted) back onto the central spindle of the BM is a fools game.

I had to call my wife away from whatever it was she was doing to put some lengths of wood across the BM rim to take the malt-pipe while I sparged – whilst watching some of the delightfully clear wort piss all over the kitchen floor and worktops

BM Error No. 2: Don’t lift the malt-pipe off of the central spindle until you want to remove it completely when you’ve finished sparging.  If you want to work out how much to sparge, think about the volume of water you put in and what you want your pre-boil volume to be, and then work it out based on that – bearing in mind that the volume loss to grain absorbtion is usually about 1 litre of water per kilo of grain.

So after that comedy caper, and lots of swearing, topping up with some filtered water, etc. I got a pre-boil volume of around 26 litres.  Once it got going, the boil went like a steam-train, I’m glad that I got the insulating jacket as that must have helped it crank along so well.

20130901_222457Lovely boil.  Note the central spindle that I had trouble with

I added a total of 125grams of hops in stages throughout the boil and they all surged about nicely and everything smelt lovely.

My wort chiller fitted perfectly into the BM and I even managed to remember the Irish Moss ten minutes before the end.  At boil end I took the thermal jacket off and set the chiller to work…

After a fair while (I wasn’t running the pump with that many hops in there – no chance – that would have been asking for a blockage) it was time for the run-off.

BM Error No. 3:  Don’t use the supplied tap.  It’s just too weeny to be any bloody use to anyone.  After standing there for bloody ages while it blocked up with hops and tiddled wort about like a potty-training toddler, I ended up spraying the tap with star san and physically unscrewing it and letting the wort run off through a sanitized sieve and funnel combination.

So far as I understand it’s a 3/4″ BSP female socket where the tap screws into on the BM, so I’ve just been onto the BES website and am ordering:

16830: 3/4″ Stainless Steel one-piece ball valve £8.70
14409: 3/4″ Stainless Steel Hexagon Nipple £1.91
14559: 3/4″ Stainless Steel Hose Tail Adapter £3.13


That should be a much better tap solution than the current BM standard item.  I will also fashion a hop filter of some sort too.

I did have to do a little careful tipping of the BM to get the last of the wort out, but in the end I got a fairly healthy 20 Litres of 1059 IPA into the fermenter.  I would have liked more – and the BM is certainly capable of providing more, but for a first shot I’m fairly happy.

Given the amount of wort I spilt/didn’t sparge properly/lost to hops and trub and the fact that it was only a 5Kg grain bill I could have done 23 litres at 1059 or higher with no problems…the efficiency on the BM is that magnificent and there’s still plenty of room in that malt-pipe!

Recipe details to follow in a separate post…

BES (Pipe Fittings): http://www.bes.co.uk

BM Suppliers Extraordinaire: http://www.vigoltd.com

One thought on “Speidel Brewmaster: First Brew (mishaps, gotchas and some solutions)

  1. Pingback: Chinook and Cascade – Indian Dark Pale Ale (IDPA) on a Braumeister/Brewmaster | yeastismybitch

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