Last Sunday was a long day, as two friends (Johan & Marcus) and I brewed up two batches of smoke-themed beers (a smokey lager and peat-smoked porter). We started at around 11:30 AM and put the primaries in the fermentation fridge at around 7:30 PM, so a total of about 8 hours. Everything went quite well, but we did have some problems. First, we noticed the cordless drill my friend had brought for my malt mill wasn’t that powerful, so crushing the grains took some time. The battery in the drill lasted through about half the grain bill of each beer, meaning we had to make a total of 3 battery changes. Luckily he had two battery packs, so we had one constantly in the charger. Mashing went well, and with batch sparging we hit total efficiencies of 62% for the lager and 68% for the porter; which is an improvement over my previous batches. I’m still sure that the efficiency could be boosted a bit by crushing finer. Boiling went well, but the hop filter in my boiler kept getting clogged, even though we used cones instead of pellets, so it took some time to get the beers into their fermenters. In the end, the lager hit an OG of 1.050 and the porter an OG of 1.064. The taste samples were promising, but it became evident that we had been a bit too conservative with the amount of smoked malts in each of the beers, as there wasn’t much smokey character present in either of the pre-fermentation samples. Hopefully a smokey aroma and flavor will become more pronounced after fermentation. As if we hadn’t had enough problems already, I managed to grab the wrong combination of fermenting bucket + lid from home, which meant the lid didn’t fit the bucket perfectly. We fixed this by using some tape, to keep it down. After 24 hours the porter, fermented with WLP002, was already bubbling vigorously at an ambient temperature of 16C (meaning the beer itself is probably around 18-19C), while the lager showed no signs of activity in its fermentation fridge (set at 10.5C). Lagers usually have a longer lag time though, and since carbon dioxide is more soluble in cooler water, it will take more time before ‘visible fermentation’ is achieved. Hopefully the beers turn out good (and I won’t mind even though the beers don’t turn out smokey).