Brandon’s System

Brandon’s been a home brewer since 2015 and has brewed around 100 different batches as of this post. Some of his favorite styles to brew and drink are Saisons and lagers.

The quick stats

  • All grain brewing
  • Cereal Killer grain mill
  • 10 gallon Igloo cooler mash tun and SS Brew Tech boil kettle
  • Cheap turkey fryer style propane burner
  • Blichmann Riptide pump and silicone hoses for wort transferring and whirlpooling
  • Jaded ‘The King Cobra’ copper immersion chiller
  • Dorm fridge w/ Inkbird ITC-308 temperature controller
  • 6.5 gallon big mouth bubbler fermenter
  • Insignia 2-tap kegerator

In Brandon’s Words:

Depending on my yeast choice I may or may not make a yeast starter. If I am making a starter, I’ll use a 10:1 water:DME ratio and set it on my stir plate. For example, 800mL of water would get 80g of DME.

Yeast starter a few days before brewing

A typical brew day for me starts the day before when I buy ten gallons of RO water so I can control the mineral and salt additions as needed. The night before brewing I usually weigh out my grains and get all of my salts, minerals and brewing equipment set out so I can start brewing first thing in the morning.

I use BeerSmith to build my recipes so I make sure to write down all my volume and gravity numbers in my physical brew log so I can keep track of it while I’m brewing.

My typical brewday setup

While I’m pulling all of my brewing equipment out of the shed on the brew day, I bring a gallon of tap water to about 150’F and add that to my mash tun while I measure out my water and crush my grain. I do this so my mash tun is already pre-heated and my strike water doesn’t lose as much temperature when I add it.

After mashing in, I set a timer for 15 minutes (to take a pH reading), 50 minutes (to start getting my pump ready for vorlaufing and start heating water for my sparge) and 60 minutes to know when to start collecting the wort.

Checking the pH at 15 minutes into the mash
Vorlaufing my mash with my Blichmann Riptide pump

I drilled a hole in the top of my mash tun and have a spray nozzle attached to some silicone tubing. I use this to take wort from the bottom of my mash tun, through my pump, and out through the nozzle to really set my grain bed.

Vorlaufing in action

After vorlaufing for about 10 minutes, I simply move the whole top of my mash tun over my boil kettle and then turn the pump back on to collect my wort.

Pumping wort from mash tun into boil kettle

When I’ve collected all my wort and my sparge water reaches temperature I add it to my mash tun and let it sit for 20 minutes after stirring it up. After 20 minutes I start vorlaufing again and then collect my wort. I’ve found that anything less than 20 minutes doesn’t allow the grain to initially set well enough and I end up with some major channeling on the sides.

I usually do two separate sparges since I’ve found that I get the highest efficiency on my system that way. The second sparge is done the same as the first.

After collecting all my wort, I take a pre-boil gravity and crank the burner up to start my boil. I usually only do 60 minute boils unless I have a high amount of pilsner malt, in which case I’ll do a 90 minute boil to prevent DMS production.

Hopping varies depending on the recipe but I always add yeast nutrient and some kind of flocculant (whether it’s whirlfloc or irish moss) at 15 minutes. This is the same time I add my wort chiller to get it nice and sanitized.

Once my boil is over, I hook up my pump to the kettle and start a whirlpool going while I have water going through my wort chiller. Having the wort in constant motion over the chiller really helps cool the wort down quickly.

Chilling my wort after boiling
Whirlpooling over the immersion chiller to speed up the cooling process

When my wort reaches my desired knockout temperature, I remove the chiller and then continue whirlpooling for about 10 minutes. The whirlpool is followed by a 10-15 minute rest to allow all the proteins and hop particulates to settle out. I use this time to sanitize my fermenter and get my yeast ready. I also take my OG reading while the wort is settling out.

Whirlpooling with chiller removed to help get any proteins and hop debris to settle out

Depending on the yeast I’m using, I’ll sometimes build a starter (such as lagers or higher ABV beers), or I’ll just pitch the yeast directly into the wort.

Yeast starter after being cold crashed

I use my pump to transfer the wort into my fermenter, trying to aerate it as much as possible during the process. After a little wort has already been collected, I’ll pitch my yeast during the transfer process to really ensure it gets mixed in well.

Transferring chilled wort to my fermenter

When I’ve collected all my wort, I move my fermenter into my temperature controlled fermentation chamber and attach my temperature probe to the fermenter.

Once fermentation is complete, I rack into a sanitized corny keg and then put it in my kegerator to carbonate!

Racking finished beer into a serving keg

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