Brew day: American Amber Ale

Decided that I need to start using my stash of magnum and cascade so I took JZ’s recipe, changed out the hops (calculated ~35 IBUs) and then converted to mini-mash. I figured the mini-mash would only add another half-hour to my day since the little amount of water will come to temp quickly and I batch sparged. I used light DME to make up the difference in gravity (….4.25 pounds worth).
I didn’t hit my projected OG of 1.052 and ended up with 1.056 instead. No biggy, but the seemingly wanton nature of my refractometer readings is bothering me. Supposedly the thing has auto temp control….and I cool the wort on top of it. Not sure why my readings seem to be all over the place. In the end, I know my kettle pretty well and with the immersion chiller in the pot, I need to have the water level at about 6.5 gallons. So I got close to the OG I needed…by eyeballing it.
Due to water restrictions I am now cutting over to ice water recirculation at 120 degrees (instead of 90 degrees) when chilling the wort. This saved many gallons of water and didn’t really call for too much more ice.
Since we are having warmer weather in Berkeley, I worried about whether I would need to cool the ferment or not. The basement ranges between 66-75 degrees now, so I cooled the wort to 65 degrees, got it in the carboy and let it settle. Since the carboy is sitting on concrete and I put a wet t-shirt around it, it held at 66 degrees for pitching.
Come morning the t-shirt was still moist and the yeast had started up to the tune of about a ¼ inch of kreusen. Temp was still 66 degrees. Figure I’ll check tonight when the yeast is producing the most energy. If I am still 66 degrees, I’ll move to a heat wrap and do a warm temp control when necessary, to get it to, and keep at 67 degrees. If it has moved in temp up to 68 or higher, I’ll leave it on cool temp control, which will trigger a fan that is positioned to blow on the carboy. I can also add a pump to pump water over the carboy if necessary.
UPDATE: temp was holding at 66 with an air temp of 76…..so I put on the heat temp control with a dry shirt around it. Now happily fermenting at 67 degrees.

double pot for warming mash without scorching

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