Save the drama for your mama

So Christchurch has had close to 6000 quakes since February 2011, but I wonder if they’ve ever experienced a disaster like we had on our last batch of home brew.

We have been having trouble with our efficiency and we decided we needed further modifications to the brew kit to sort it out. We looked into some pricing on a sparge arm as well as some options on how to remedy our lack of a false bottom. Unfortunately we don’t have a limitless budget, so things tend to be done in stages and involve a cost vs performance analysis. In this case we decided our next addition to the kit would be a sparge arm.

Confident as always, we figured we could mount the arm on the morning of brew day without it impeding too heavily on our schedule.

A few adjustments to the kit and we were good to go. A quick test proved the caps on the end of each arm weren’t quite tight enough but this was easily fixed with some thread tape. Before too long we had started our mash and needed to get it circulating to maintain temperatures. This is where we met our first obstacle.

The sparge arm currently attaches to a solid stainless lid which means we have to lift it every now and then to ensure it’s spinning as it should; not too fast, not stopped and not clogged up. Things started smoothly enough, but on our next check we found we had lost the cap off the end of one of the arms into the mash, never to be found again, and wort was just pouring out that end.

This required running repairs and with some good ol’ kiwi ingenuity (read: a screw and more thread tape), we were on our way again.

Unconvinced that our repairs would ensure smooth sailing we figured it best to keep an eye on things, lest the other end fall off too. Ten minutes later, the cap was still on the other end but this time the entire arm off one side had been lost into the mash!!

After a search we managed to fish the arm out and reattach it.

As if these problems weren’t enough, all the losing bits and trying to find them must’ve played havoc with our temperatures as we couldn’t maintain our mash temps at all.

Temperature varied throughout the process with three thermometers all reading different results. Not ideal.

Brew day was pretty much a write-off and filled with flaring tempers, but we maintained the course  and took our home brew process through to the finish. I’m hoping we will still end up with a drinkable brew, but as they say the proof is in the pudding, or in this case; the beer.

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