The Wortsplosion and Lessons Learned

The title of this, coupled with last week’s post is chilling.

Brew day was not without hitches and major issues.  It started with me not hitting my mash temp.  The grain was cooler than I thought, so after making adjustments in BeerSmith, I set the temperature controller for the new temperature.  I learned something…

Lesson 1: before believing that the temperature is correct, stir the HLT

I added water to bring the temperature up, but probably only partially successfully.  My gravity was lower than I wanted by sparge, so I actually re-circulated the wort through the sparge again.

Boil went off mostly without a hitch, but I learned something else…

Lesson 2: it is possible to have too much of a boil

I didn’t get a mess (yet), but the wave caused by the over-active boil was a little scary.  I found that 212.6F was a pretty good boil without causing a wave.

Lesson 3: Ventilation is important

The condensation caused minor issues, but allowed to go too long, this could become dangerous (mold?).  Better work on a ventilation system.  In the meantime, I’m running a dehumidifier.

Lesson 4: Barbed connectors shouldn’t be connected to pumps used for hot wort

Yeah, this is where the wortsplosion happened.  I have a barbed connector going from my boil tun to and from the pump, to and from an immersion chiller in a bucket of ice water (I’m using it backwards, the heating element is in the way of using it normally, yes I cleaned it!).

Lesson 5: Wortsplosions are bad, especially where electricity is involved

Wort spraying everywhere means that it got on everything.

The pic doesn't do it justice - there was wort on the side of the boil tun, the switches, the transformer, the PID controller, and me.

The pic doesn’t do it justice – there was wort on the side of the boil tun, the switches, the transformer, the PID controller, and me.

Somehow I managed to not get electrocuted in all this.  The switches are not waterproof, and 24V AC and DC wiring is exposed.  Everything had to be disassembled for cleaning.

One thing I did not own is a mop.  I had to run out and get one, and I used some extra-strength purple Simple Green cleaner I had in my garage to remove the half-dried wort from the floor.

Total wort loss was about 3 quarts.  1 quart in my jeans, the rest to the floor.  Not a total loss.

I did end up hitting about 70% efficiency, which I partly blame on adding the grain to the mash water in the cooler as opposed to the other way around.  I also drained and sparged much slower.

Anyway, I’m going to consider buying a plate chiller. And new fittings (fuck the barbed hose fittings).  Probably cam fittings.

The Saison that I brewed is fermenting.