While it's not quite complete, the new setup is finished enough to give it a test-run.
I've had a 4.8kg bag of Wey Pils that G&G crushed for me 3+ years ago, it's been sitting around since then and even sustained a family of mice for a while. So I figured it would be a good test-run for the new system, with the intention of no-chilling and if they don't get infected, use the wort for lager-starters that (in theory) I might be making soon.
Filling the HLT, food-grade water-hose directly from the shower-outlet:
In the future the HLT will be filled the night before brew-day so that any chlorine will have time to dissipate. I don't think the water here in Melbourne does not need filtering, but it will usually need brewing-salts added (something which I forgot this time), which will usually be added to the HLT.
Mash-tun is filled (from the bottom) via the pump, HERMS and hoses, this means that that the pump is primed while the mash-tun is filled:
HLT was set to 60C but by the time it was all mixed the mash-thermometer read 45C, so I'll need to test/calibrate what temperatures are required to achieve a specific mash-in temperature. The HERMS is not quite finished yet, it works fine, it needs to have the lid fitted and the fittings attached to that, but I wanted to check that it worked as expected while I could see what was going on.
No dough-balls undeletting at what turned out to be about 45C:
DIY perforated stainless mash-filter worked well, the pump was turned on as soon as the mash-tun was filled:
While it was very pleasing to have all the mechanical components work (no leaks, major failures or big issues to deal with) the main problem was uncalibrated thermometers and difficulty understanding the PID instructions (or the bloody thing not working quite as expected). Not sure if the auto-tune stuff worked or not, and for a while it seemed to think that 67C was a good temperature to run when I had it set to 65C.
As expected, after an hour of recirculation the wort was clear:
Filling the kettle while fly-sparging:
The mash drained well, but I presume there was a fair bit of channeling due to the dodgy-wort-return, detailed efficiency calculations indicated that even after an hour there was about 15% of sugar unconverted. Likely this was due to a combination of the poor wort-return and the grain being crushed about 3 years ago.
The 2 2200W elements worked well with with break starting to form even before the kettle was filled:
Once a a boil was achieved, a single element - running at full power - was sufficient to keep a rolling boil going. Volume-markers to the kettle are also on the 'to do' list and will help with efficiency calculations and to check the evaporation rate.
In most batches of beer I brew I use a combination of pellet hops (usually for bittering) and whole hops (most often for aroma/flavour, and most often because many of them are home-grown). It was also very important that I check the kettle-filter, since I plan to use a plate-chiller, so for this test I used some Cascade that didn't vacuum-seal in the freezer and home-grown Perl which I have an abundance of:
At the end of a 75min boil:
Kettle drained via the hop-back:
So after months of time and effort, work and cost, here is what it is all about, wort!:
Efficiency calculations indicated that the over-all efficiency was about 80% but I also need to brew with the system a few more times so I can hit the required volume-targets for each back. Interestingly efficiency calculations suggested that most was lost due to incomplete sugar-conversion in the mash, which is probably related to how old the crushed-malt was.
I no-chilled 24L into 2 small-plastic jerry-cans and tipped the last 4L. While this was the first (and likely the last time for the new future) that I no-chill freshly produced wort, since I don't want to ferment it right-away and expect to use the wort from this test-run for yeast-starters, no-chill was the best solution.
There are still a few things to do, including determining a decent cleaning regime and how to connect/disconnect all the hoses without spilling hot water/wort all over myself or the floor, but in-general things went very well for the first brew-day on the new system.