…we’ve sold out of your beer. It’s going down very well. Would you be able to do us a repeat of the order?
Sweet, sweet music. And with stocks running a little low, it underlines the need to maximise the efficiency of the time spent in the Shed. It’s not just that it’s wee or that I don’t have much spare time for extra brewing sessions, it’s the straightforward sense of making the most of the time and kit that’s there rather than doing more or spending money on bigger vessels.
This week’s experiment was taken from James Morton’s book Brew where he discusses liquoring back. In essence, you make the wort stronger than you need it to be and then dilute it back to the desired gravity before fermenting. It does two things: it allows you to make sure you hit the target OG for the recipe every time and, more important, allows you to get more out of the kettle. So, this week, instead of making two of my usual 60 litre batches (and spending about 10 hours doing it), I made one 100 litre batch in half the time. The mash quantities and the hops in the boil were calculated for 100 litres but there was only the usual 70 litres went into the kettle. After the boil, there was 65 litres of very strong wort in the kettle, with a gravity of 1068. To bring that down to the target of 1047, 30 litres of boiled water was added from the hot liquor tun and run through the heat exchanger. Think of it as two boils – one of very strong wort and one of water – which make the target strength when the two are mixed.
So, I got almost the same volume of beer for half the time. Of course, you can do the same thing after fermentation. If you fermented the strong wort, you’d have a beer of about 7%, which could be diluted with water down to the target ABV. Discussed here.